After 14 weeks of training, we swore in as volunteers. We spent a week in Ouaga, ate delicious food, and feted (celebrated). For the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps, PC BF organized a wonderful and spectacular fair to celebrate. Our swearing in was filled with pomp and circumstance with speeches from fellow new volunteers in all of the local languages (Moore, Jula, Gourmanchema, Lobiri, Sissela, Nunni,) and a speech in French, and also a speech in English and French by our Country Director. The United States Ambassador to Burkina Faso gave a speech and swore us in with the oath of office (Which is the same oath that the president takes!). We also had His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso at our ceremony. He gave PC BF a huge statue of people holding up the world, and hopefully it will be in our offices for all to see. Our closing ceremony included more speeches, two songs by Burkinabe artist Floby, who wrote a song especially for PC BF and the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. We also had a speech by the Premiere Dame (The First Lady) of Burkina Faso, Chantal Compaore, the President Blaise Compaore’s wife.
Later that night I went to the Floby concert. In Burkina, one of the traditions of Burkinabe singers is to put in shout-outs for specific villages in songs. If people like the song, they go up on stage and put money on the singer’s face. This ritual also has variations including throwing money at the singer, wiping the sweat off the singer’s face with money, or wiping his face off. There was no security on stage at this concert. But I can say without a doubt that Floby made it rain. I guess the closest thing we have to this in America is giving money to artists in small cafes, or throwing various undergarments on stage or deciding to flash certain body parts…I personally found this weird because this was in one of the largest convert venues in the country, and there was no security on stage.
Affectation is an extraordinarily stressful time for stagieres. We have to buy stuff for our house for the next two years which is daunting. The other thing is that there are certain things that you can only get in big towns like stoves and mattresses. My site is new, so I was able to get a stove, a mattress, and a few other things, but I should be able to get most of the stuff at the marche in my site. As I am writing this I am staying in a hotel feeling excited, scared, and maybe just a little nervous about the whole process. Tomorrow the driver comes by at 7:30am to pick me up and help me move in to my new life. I can’t wait to get started, but I miss my stagemates, and it’s going to be weird not seeing them all the time. Even though I am a ball of stress and worry, as they say here, Ça Va Aller.