i took my oath (and signed it too) yesterday at the ambassador's residence in dakar and am now an official peace corps volunteer. hooray!
performing the skit was a fairly traumatizing experience that involved not looking up from my script because i didn't want to remember that there was an RTS1 camera filming everything for the intents and purposes of broadcasting the thing across the country, forgetting to speak into the microphone for 80% of the time (we never practiced with microphones!), losing the script for one of the scenes and not knowing my lines, ripping (and thus breaking) the zipper on my skirt when i knelt for a scene (thankfully it was hidden by my top but imagine the fear that went through my heart when that happened...it would not be cool for all of senegal to see me bust open a zipper!), and being terrified of making my stage look bad.
in my mind's eye i don't really remember what happened but i had a few randoms tell me that my wolof was very good (despite not having memorized my lines) and my family in thies was tickled pink to have seen me on tv. i had told them i had a role in the skit but they didn't know i was playing the main role (simply b/c i don't know how to say that in wolof) so they all freaked out when they saw it on tv. moreover, all their friends called at some point last night to be like "we saw aicha on tv!" even better, i was in the market trying to buy pillows ("njegenay" in wolof), and the jaykat (vendor) recognized me and JC from the skit/television. he did not give us a discount.
so, ladies and gentleman, apparently i am now a rockstar in senegal.
after swear-in, we returned to thies from dakar and had a host-family appreciation dinner/party where there was a lot of food and dancing involved. the dance party extended way into the evening and after the family members left, the new volunteers and trainers continued sweating and dancing to 2AM in the lunch-hut-turned-dance-floor. i love that everybody here dances and i love their steezy and i am committed to learning how to dance like a senegalese by the end of my two years here.
i spent the night at the center along with a bunch of others and we stayed up, enjoying each other's company for what would be the last time for a while because this morning we shipped off a load of volunteers to kolda and kedegou. the sending out of volunteers has begun and we are being sent out to the far corners of the country (for some of us, quite literally) and we won't be together again until february when we all caucus in thies for 3 weeks of in-service training (IST).
i depart thies tomorrow at 6AM and have spent the day packing up (or at least trying to) my mess of a life into two bags and it has brought back many memories of when i was just getting ready to leave the states for senegal. it seems very far away but then again, i remember it clearly and then it doesn't seem too long ago. life has changed very much from since then. i wonder if i have changed. i know that i have in the sense that i look like shit everyday and don't care as much (but still a little) but in terms of the bigger things, i don't know.
my host family has been amazing and we are sad to be leaving each other. my sisters here have been absolutely marvelous and i will miss them. i got the three of us matching bracelets as a thank you gift and i hope that can convey my appreciation for them, because lord knows i can't express it in wolof very well. they let me choose all the meals for the day because they know that very soon, i will be eating village style aka millet everyday (maybe). so i just had an amazing lunch (one of my favorite dishes) and stuffed myself silly because i know that i won't be able to indulge like this for a while. dinner should be equally if not more amazing tonight and i am even getting tchaikry (spelling?) for dessert. tchaikry is this delicious lait caille and millet dish that is terribly addictive and i think about it every day but get it very seldom so i am very excited. my sisters are both excellent cooks and while i have heard many horror stories about the different kinds of foods other stagieres/volunteers experience at their homestays, i have never had a day of bad food in this house. if you've noticed some chub on me in the pictures i posted (flickr's been updated again!), it's because if i'm not studying wolof, i'm eating. i figure it's okay, as i need the fat reserves for village life.
a week from today i will be living in a mud hut with a straw roof. it's mind-bottling, really, and i am pumped. the next time i write, i should be in kaolack! (inshallah)