It’s finally happened! I’m an official Peace Corps Volunteer! Yesterday was graduation, or swear-in, whatever you want to call it. We went to the US Ambassador’s residence, which was right by the beach. It was a hot morning, but cloudy. People started to slowly trickle in at around 9:30am. The program was scheduled to begin at 10am. The US Ambassador was there, the Peace Corps Country Director and all the staff were there, a representative from the Ministry of Education was there, and many current Gambian PCVs were there. Like any graduation ceremony, they had speeches and introductions. Lots of congratulations all around from the staff. We had Muslim and Christian prayers. There were speeches in each of the languages learned: Mandinka, Wolof, Pulaar, and Serehule (and I got to be the speaker for the Pulaar group). Then we all stood up to swear the oaths. It was a moving experience. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer. Now, it was happening. I got a little bit teary-eyed to be honest. It was really happening. We were each called up to receive our certificate. One by one, we walked up, said our thank yous and shook hands with the dignitaries. Then it was done. We were official volunteers!
Afterwards, we ate food… chicken yassa and chips (French fries)… so good… and it was in a huge bucket… a bucket of chicken and fries. It puts KFC buckets of chicken to shame!!! At the end, the last thing was the “traditional” swimming in the ocean in our asobis. (Asobis are traditional Gambian clothes worn by a group of people. During training, we all bought the same patterned cloth from a store and had tailors make traditional Gambian clothes for everyone.)
It was a good day. A very good day.