Our country director challenged all the new volunteers (like me) to not spend a night in a regional house for the first 5 weeks of service.
I myself successfully spent every single night at my site for the first 5 weeks. The argument is that these first few weeks are the most important in establishing yourself as a strong and present community member.
The incentive reward? A superbowl party in Dakar at our director's house in February.
The first 5 weeks have proven to be tough. Some days are great, some are depressing. Everyday I try to meet and interact with new people in the community. It's exhausting and difficult, but rewarding and fun.
As of right now, the new volunteers have little-no technical training. So for the first 3 months at site, our job is to meet the community, find potential work partners, and improve our language skills. Having no technical skills means having no current work projects. It's frustrating at times, but patience is something I'm learning and practicing in full force everyday.
As a reward for my 5 week challenge, we had a huge Thanksgiving celebration in my regional house (another blog entry).
Here's to another 5 weeks of hopeful success...
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009