West Africa Love

Peace Corps Volunteer Experience in Mali and Guinea

Pre- Mali Anxieties and Anticipations

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This post should have been published during my time in Philadelphia where I was doing Staging/Orientation with all the other Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s) but the days leading up to it were pretty chaotic.  If I wasn’t buying things I wanted to pack I was spending time with family and friends.  By the time I got on the plane to Philadelphia the only emotion I felt was relief!

The entire 6 months prior to my departure I was always a little worried that something would get in the way of me serving as a volunteer.  Before I received my invitation I was worried that I would not get it at all or that I would receive an invitation for some place in Eastern Europe or Azerbaijan. These were some of the countries on the list of potential programs they would consider me for.  These are probably really cool but I didn’t want to be somewhere where it gets really cold! If that happened I thought I’d be scared to say yes but saying no would mean that Peace Corps may be unlikely to consider me in the future since I would have rejected an invitation.

When I finally received my invitation to Mali I was super excited!! Mali was my # 1 choice.  I wanted to go back to West Africa but I had some qualms about returning to Senegal because I thought I’d feel like I already knew what it would be like versus going in with no preconceived ideas.  Then came the mountain of paperwork you have to fill out and tasks you have to complete before you’re cleared to serve.. 1)Fingerprinting so that they can run a background check  2)passport application 2)Mali visa application  3)Full medical examination  4)Dental Examination.  At this point I was scared that there was some paperwork out there that I had somehow forgotten and that I wouldn’t be able to leave for Mali.

A month prior to my departure I received an email from staging with details about the flight to Mali and the orientation in Philadelphia.  You’d think I could stop worrying at that point but then I would get worried that I would get injured and not be able to serve in Mali.  I would go on a hike and think “That would really suck if I fell and broke my arm and couldn’t go to Mali anymore!”.

I was getting a little worried about meeting all the new volunteers because I haven’t been in a situation where I’m meeting a whole new group of people since my last semester of college when I studied abroad. Luckily they’re pretty awesome! =D

We’ll see how my goals change as my service progresses but for now my goal is to learn as much as I can from my fellow trainees, my host family and community, the other Peace Corps staff, etc.  I’m hoping that as I do more fieldwork I’ll learn more about what I like to do and what I want to go to grad school for.  Before applying,  I had thought I already knew for sure that I wanted to get into Agricultural Economics but I want to be open to things that I may not have considered before or even known about.

Gonna end off this post with a quote by Marissa Mayer. It’s a little corny but I like it =)

“New beginnings – professional, personal, or come what may – are always uncomfortable, but being open to them is the only way to grow. In the end, we are all capable of so much more than we think.”

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Author: moniq77

Peace Corps volunteer in Mali before the program was suspended due to security concerns. Finishing my service in Guinea.

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