I have been a Peace Corps trainee for four days. I still feel like I’m on vacation.
We flew into Port Vila, Vanuatu on Sunday. We had an awesome welcoming committee including sulasulas (leis), lavalava (sarongs), and coconuts to drink. From there we took a short tour of Port Vila and then off we went to IDS, our training center/camp. We are being housed in an old school. It is dormitory style for the individual genders and bungalows for the couples. Jason and I have a single room with a bed covered in mosiquito netting and that’s it. Our food is being prepared by the local women’s group, known to us as “The Mamas.” We have spent all day each day we’ve been here in trainings. We have lessons in safety, medical issues, Bislama, cultural expectations, expectations of the Peace Corps, and a million other topics I can’t remember. Today we are in town (hence the internet) getting our vaccinations and doing our interviews.
The food is interesting. At this point, mostly yams, sweet potatoes (kumala), cucumbers and rice for me. Apparently the curries are delicious but rather full of meat for my taste. I’m still a vegetarian, which it is likely I will be able to maintain, outside of ceremonies and cultural events. The food is also bland. I’m glad I brought spices.
The beach where we are staying is completely stunning. Imagine the picturesque view of the white beach with the palm trees and the clear turquoise water. That is where we are living. The place is beautiful beyond my descriptive abilities in my limited time frame. I’ll post pictures later.
Bislama is awesome! The language is a constant puzzle and my language learning group is pretty much great. My current favorite example is the words for “faint” as in passing out. “Eye go white” or “Eye go dark.” How perfect is that? It really is like playing word games, all the time.
Jason talked to the Country director today and got permission to teach martial arts. The weapons issues will be resolved once we are on site and can talk to our host family/chief of the village. I also talked to the country director today. I have a potential project, if I can do it, of learning the local language and then converting oral stories into picture books. I would have trouble thinking of a better side project more suited to my interests. I wonder if publishing in Vanuatu will give me publishing credits in America?
We tried kava two nights ago. That was an interesting experience. I didn’t get a lot of the effects, but some of the other volunteers did. I’ll have to report back more later, once I’ve had a chance to try it a little more.
So far, I feel like I’m on vacation. I have nothing to complain about, I like my other trainees and I’m not that homesick. I’m sure all of that will change with time. I wish I could share these experiences with all of you, and I wish you could see how beautiful this country, how fascinating the language, how exciting it all is. But I guess that is what this blog is doing.
This is copy-pasted from word. Sorry for any inconsistencies in the formatting.