Presque (Almost) a PC Volunteer

After spending a week at post, we came back this week and hit the ground running. A joke among the trainees is that this is finals week because we had a lot of tests and presentations to prepare for. Most of the presentations were formal like facilitating a session on how to teach a SWOT analysis and the presentation to conclude our business internships' (all in French, of course). 

Our last presentation was by far my favorite because it was simple and fun. The only real requirement was to teach the rest of the trainees and our teachers something –anything—in French. I taught a solitaire card game called clock and other trainees taught Yoga, kickboxing, the Cha Cha, the moon slide, volley ball, cooking and how to prepare for a triathlon. Afterward, one of our language instructors taught us how to make peanut brittle. The amazing part is that she did it with only two ingredients—peanuts and sugar. I don’t know why I never knew/thought before that sugar melts without water or butter, just heat.

The best part of all the activities for me was that we were just having fun. We laugh and joke with each other all the time but yesterday just seemed so carefree. It was the last real stressful thing we have to do besides last our language test on Monday and we genuinely enjoyed our time together.

Today we had another fun time playing in a basketball game with some US Embassy staff. We took a half day trip to the capital to do it which was really fun too. Honestly, the game is partially the reason our week was busy. We normally have classes Mon. – Fri. from 7:30 am -5:30 pm, and sometimes on Saturday full or half day as well. Instead of having class this Saturday our activities were dispersed throughout the rest of the week.

Now the last major thing to do is our final language test on Monday. I tested at intermediate low for our mid-term test but I need to advance one more level to intermediate middle in order to become an official volunteer. My personal goal is to make it to intermediate high. 


Once I confirm that I somewhat mastered French, I will be busy working on my introduction at the Swear-In Ceremony. It is a small greeting to say “Hello, my name is Lydia Grate or Assibi. I will be working in Bafilo to aid local businesses. Thank you!” However, it will all be in the local language of Bafilo, Kotokoli. There is no written form for Katokoli, so I’ve been learning it by using the International Phonetic Alphabet, along with three other trainees posted in same general area (Thank you Dr. Eshelman!).

I know not all the readers of this blog have studied IPA nor could I figure out how to type all the characters correctly with the time I have now, so I will attempt to write it as if the words were in English. “By-yah-mah seh Lydia Grate yah Assibi. Lah temera mah-zuh-nah key-ah-koh lan-dah be-deh key-ah kengney.” Believe me, hearing it spoken definitely makes you realize it is an entirely different language.

Also In preparation for swear in, I am going to be get a new dress made. So far, I got made two dresses, two skirts, one complet (dress and skirt set), and one shirt made here. The cost of the fabric and getting it tailored for me is usually only about 3-5 USD each time. 

In addition to clothes, I’ve also gotten three satchel purse type bags made (one for me, and the others as presents for both my old and new host moms) for about 2 USD. They were all good but I did not have such good luck with a pair of shoes... They were only about 2 USD but broke the same week. I have since gotten them repaired (another great thing about Togo, virtually anything can be repaired); but they are starting to wear away again so I don’t know how much longer they will last.

That is all I have time for today. I think the next time I will post will be after Swear-In and by then I will be an official volunteer. I will try to post pictures once I get to post too.

A tout à l'heure.