Time To Go!

Here in New England the leaves are beginning to change, a sure sign summer is near its end. Coincidentally, the official end of summer on September 22nd marks the start of my Peace Corps journey. I fly from Boston to Philadelphia for what is called “staging,” basically where I meet my fellow volunteers and am briefed on Peace Corps policies. After staging we fly through Europe into Africa! Curious about what I’ll be doing for the next two years? I’ll do my best to explain below.

First a bit about the Peace Corps in general. Established in 1961, the Peace Corps sends Americans all over the world to exchange cultural ideas and improve livelihoods. I will be serving in the West African nation of Senegal, where there are currently about 220 volunteers in country. Volunteers in Senegal work in agriculture, agroforestry, community economic development, and health sectors. I am in the agroforestry sector, working to help communities improve their management of natural resources and enhance food security in a sustainable way.

Senegal has experienced widespread environmental degradation. The current land use systems are depleting soil fertility and increasing deforestation. The issues are intensified by climate change and rising temperatures. Many communities lack food security and the residents must survive on very little income. While I do not know exactly where in Senegal I will be placed, I aim to help the community sustainably increase agricultural production and generate income. During my first few months in Senegal I will receive language and technical training in the town of Thiès (pronounced “chess”).  Once there I will find out my community assignment and what language I will be learning. While the national language is French, volunteers learn to speak one of the many local languages, including Bambara, Fulakunda, Jaxanke, Mandinka, Pulaar du Nord, Pulafuta, Seereer, and Wolof.

With my next post I will have lots more info and can share my trans-Atlantic travel experience. Meanwhile I have one more week to enjoy the comforts of home and company of friends!

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