At this point in stage (training en Français), we have completed the French language and culture intensive five weeks which also focused on administrative policies, health protocols and safety-security sessions. We now have a two day counterpart workshop here in Sé before leaving with our counterparts for a two week site visit.
You may be wondering what a counterpart is. Well, a counterpart (aka homologue) is a member of our host structure (work site, health center for me) and community that has volunteered to be your main point of contact within your village and work with you to achieve your goals. They play an integral role in community integration and project implementation.
Today I was lucky enough to have both my counterpart, Daniel, and my supervisor, Odette, join the workshop. Odette was also here with her 9-month old who is absolutely adorable (somehow
I get the placements with all the babies!)
Day one of the workshop focused on introductions, brief expectations (of both the volunteer and counterpart), review of PC goals, and a session on how best to support your volunteer. Both Daniel and Odette are excited to welcome me to their community, so I anticipate an easy transition to site.
We also reviewed how we will travel to site on Friday. While some people have much longer trips up north, I will be taking a taxi to Bohicon (probably 3 hours), then getting on a bus towards Parakou and disembarking in Glazoué (another 3 hours). From Glazoué, I'll take a zemi the remaining 10 km to Adourékoman!! (Seems easy enough, right?!)
There is a large packet of activities for us to complete while at site including meeting all of the officials, inspecting our future house (Lindsay will still be living there until I swear in, so I'll spend time with her too), visiting the local market (Wednesday's in Glazoué) and beginning to identify your action plan for your first three months at site. I'm really looking forward to finally exploring my new home and diving into local language tutoring (2 hours a day with my host father/village chief/landlord).
Here's to my next adventure and new life in the Collines!