It’s the last week before swear in! I can’t beliveve it! The two months of PST (pre service training) flew by. I swear in as a volunteer on April 12- sooo sooooon in the full regalia of my Stage’s brilliant plan: some (those of the more adventurous persuasion) will be swearing in wearing Malian fabrics tailored into bell bottoms, some (me included) will be dressed in some locally tailored malian style clothing picked from the incredible array of beautiful fabrics available in Mali, and yet others will be wearing the good ol’ standby of the suit jacket/formal dress, however all will be sporting a mustache (as far as the guys are concerned and theres been talk on the women’s end as well–get back to you on how that one pans out). So we’ve christened our stage name as: The Mustage in honor of this–not that we’re aloud to name our stage, that being the job of people in the stage before us but as you might have deduced from our master swear in plan, we’re a stage that doesn’t really conform to tradition and possibly good judgement. (the name Culture Shockers has also been tossed around) AND did I mention that we’re swearing in at the President’s Mansion?… and that’ll be in mustaches, bell bottoms, and who knows what else. It’ll be fun tho, some of our LCFs (language instructors and faciliators in Mali) are also jumping on the mustache bandwagon. Pictures will be coming sooon!

My last week at my homestay site was fabulous and as tough as it had been at times adjusting to a new language, culture, and people, I really didn’t want to leave. My togoma (namesake), Negese, was very generous and welcomed me into the family with open arms (quite literally actually–the first day at site when he found out I would be the one living in his compund out of the group of us at Soudougouba Koro he came rushing over with hands outstretched for a huge hug and landed a kiss on the cheek too for good measure), my host mom was kind, generous as well, and extremely fun to talk with. She was very involved in village life too, which meant I was able to meet tons of the villagers through her. My host sisters we’re fabulous as well, very encouraging in helping me learn the language, fun to joke around with. One instance I was assisting in the cooking which they got a huge kick out because a man cooking is a huge novelty for most people in Mali. I was able to cook and fend them off for a bit before they wrestled the cooking spoon back from me. And my host brothers were all fun, friendly, nice, generous as well. Really my whole family was,  my “somogow bee” at Soundougouba koro (my whole family) all 30 or 40 of them, ha ha! One of my host brothers, about age 4, i especially bonded with. We would joke around after my language sessions, often calling him “waraba fitini” (tiny lion) and calling myself “waraba billibilliba” (big lion) and we’d roam around the compound trying to catch chickens on our hunt for sogo (meat). I’m going to miss them, hope I can come back and visit every now and then. Pictures of my two months at homestay are coming soon too! And I got lots of my last day at site when we had a huge party, in which copious amounts of dancing, drumming, and mango feasting insued. We also had some chaplenchew (touring acrobats) come in and do an incredible show. It was amazing to watch them intermix traditional Malian dancing with stylized actobatics to the wonderful Malian style music. If you are reading this and haven’t had the pleasure of listening to some Malian music I highly recommend going on youtube and listening to some. Mali’s got a lot.

Anywho, hope all is well! Let me know the latest juicy bits of what you’ve been up to back in the states! Tell me , tell me, tell me! Gotta get it in now before I go to my site next week and internet becomes practically non existent for 3 months….BUT i can still get mail! So talk to Emily about my address, I can’t remember it off the top of my head right now. Hope to hear from you soon!

Mario

Quotes of the week:

“There was a party in my bed last night and the only invite sent out was to me”

Pretty much every answer to any question this past week: “Mustache”

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