*Drum roll please *……….. Mon village est……… Birni!!!!!!
I wrote a better Blog post with more info but it’s on my laptop and I won’t have the ability to post it before I leave for site visit. So here’s draft #1!
As soon as they called us up one by one, we were given our site packet information and then we had to find and stand on our town on a huge drawn out map of Benin. It was awesome to see the map of Benin because I actually have no idea where anything is and I’m unfamiliar with the geography and regions. It was also cool to see where the other volunteers were in relation and distance-wise to one another.
So!!!! Birni. Here is what I know so far:
1) It’s in the northwest of Benin, sorta near the border of Togo. I think it’s just near where the border of Benin bumps out in the North.
2) It’s in the Atacora region. Current volunteers have said that Atacora is very beautiful– there are mountains and waterfalls. I am very excited for this! I’m very much looking forward to exploring the area 🙂 and adding some photos to my landscape photography portfolio. Get ready! Hopefully I can figure out how to post photos to my blog soon… I apologize for the delay.
3) The population is around 17,000-18,000 people. Large village? Small-mid size town? I haven’t quite figured out the criteria for the term ‘village’ yet… Can I use my life-line or call a friend on this question?
4) My house may or may not still be undergoing construction. There were 4 very small photos and I couldn’t quite make out what it looked like… But I think I have a front porch. So that’s good! I will also have my very own latrine. My water source will be a well, 40 meters from my house. I think there might be electricity… I couldn’t really understand that part. Maybe it meant the town has electricity?
5) The closest volunteer is 25 km from me, or so the packet says. I think that this is another TEFLer posted south of me, but I am not sure. There are 8 stagieres who were posted to the region, and 4 are are TEFLers. Yay regional friends! There are two current volunteers in the region too. One of them traveled down here for our site announcements, and he talked with us a bit. It was great of him to answer all of our questions, and to just actually be there for the event. A few other current volunteers came too…. They’re all so so great.
6) I will be near the city of Natitingou. This is also the location of my workstation (aka Peace Corps house where there are actual showers and wifi! Ohh what luxuries!). One of our language facilitators is from this city, and when he’s not training PCV stagieres, he is the regional director for all the Beninese English teachers and oversees the Beninese English educational system in the region– the head hauncho. Pretty cool!!! It’ll be nice to have such a great resource close by– he’s kind of great, and really funny too.
7) Mangoes, mangoes, and more mangoes.
8) The local language is Bariba. 95% speak the local language, and only 5% speak French. Looks like I’ll be getting a local language tutor!
Next week, we’ll all travel to our sites for site visits. We will spend 2 weeks there, living with a local host family and getting to know our communities. We have some activities to complete, but our main focus will be talking to as many people as possible. It’s a 12 hour bus ride from Porto Novo to my site… 12 hours to finally catch up on some sleep! 🙂