Thursday, March 7, 2013

Training down south

It was called IST which is an acronym I should probably know.  Pretty sure the "t" stands for training though.  My whole training class got together for the first time since we first departed to posts.  It was, as one might imagine, a bit of a shit show.  Extreme isolation ending suddenly with being surrounded by a language and culture you actually understand can lead to… certain excesses.  A couple weeks of that can take it out of you.

The training itself was relatively useful.  We brought our counterparts from all over Cameroon.  It was incredibly interesting to just watch how different people from all over interacted with one and other.  Cameroon is bilingual too; everything had to be in both English and French.  This kind of draws everything out, but can be pretty useful to someone still learning French.  Actually, it got really interesting when we broke into groups and I found myself in the middle of anglophones and francophone translating.  The classes or subjects were a bit simplistic and I found that incredibly boring and frustrating till it was pointed out how much our counterparts were learning.  Honestly the main things we taught were different methods for critical thinking.  I did learn a lot by listening to other volunteers both in my group and who have been here longer.  We shared best practices and strategies and I think I gained some useful ideas to try out in Bogo.  I look forward to what might hopefully be some fruitful projects.

The rest of the training was fantastic.  It was lots of catching up with old friends and sharing Peace Corps stories.  We looked a lot at how people had changed.  What does Peace Corps really do to a person's personality?  I will say… well, it makes sense to feel alone at an isolated post, but it is a strange thing to feel alone amongst a group of people all who are supposed to be your friends.  Even amongst people you know, love, and will always call friends, you still find yourself alone, thinking of all the people at home who know you best.

Training was an interesting transition.  It was a goal we were striving for.  "Stay at post, tough it out, and wait till you are reunited" was the mantra for the first months at post.  Now it is over.  We have no short term, easy goals.  It is "return to post and make a difference."  We have to find our own way.  Wish me luck.