The last month has been such a change from my normal life in Mali that I've been left breathless. To recap, I've left my village and am living in Bamako for about a month working as a trainer for the newest group of volunteers. My role is to pass along technical skills (gardening, extension techniques, pest management, etc...) along with serving as a role model/peer support. Consequently, I've been spending a lot of time on a computer (a major change from village life) gathering information to present. Afterwards, I go off to a home-stay village and present this information to a group of trainees. I'm really enjoying my new role and I've been told that I'm alright at it. It's good to be working with staff and having a say as to what a new generation of Peace Corps Mali learns is nice, but the most rewarding part so far is getting to know the trainees. Three weeks back forty Americans came to Mali and with some determination in another month forty new volunteers will venture forth into Mali.
The trainees are not the only people that I've met during my stay in Bamako. As the holiday season approaches peoples families are pouring into the country. Most notably for me was the father, mother and brother of my friend, partner and site-mate Tom. It is always interesting to see where a person “comes from”, and it was apparent that Tom's family shares the friendliness, humor and sense of adventure that I admire in Tom. It was truly a pleasure to get to know them. Meeting other peoples families has brought out a sense of homesickness in myself. For two years PCVs leave home in order to go to a far off place. In this place they see, experience and feel things that simply cannot be expressed in words. In order to gain an understanding of what we do/where we live one would actually have to come to Mali. Knowing that you are experiencing something that most of your family and friends can't relate to is mildly depressing, but on the other hand it binds PCVs together forging a bond between volunteers. As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach I'm probably going to miss Mom, Dad and Rob more and more, but I have another family here to fall back on. Dozens of volunteers that have been my support for months and a group of forty new friends to bond with.