Stitches, CCC, and HIV/AIDS Bike Trek Training…

So I’ve had a lot of time on my hands these last few days… I’ve been at
the PC Transit House since Sunday, and it is now Wednesday.  The reason
I’ve been here was because I bumped head on an AC unit at the school where
I’m teaching.  This happened last Thursday.  The bump hurt a lot, but it
was my fault.  I was looking at my phone to see the time (since I was
heading to teach a class) and didn’t realize I was walking straight into a
big metal box perfectly aligned to the height of my noggin.  The funny
thing, though, is that some teachers saw me hit the AC unit.  Staggering
and embarrassed, I walked to the teachers and they kept saying “Sorry sorry
sorry” (one thing I’ve learned here is that Gambians love to say “sorry” to
everything, even if it isn’t their fault).  There was some bleeding so the
Principal told me to go to the hospital, which was just 2 doors down, and
while there, the nurse that saw me recommended stitches.  Panicking, I
called the PC Medical Office.  The PC doctor spoke with the nurse and both
both agreed I needed 2 small stitches.  Fast forward… I got the stitches
at the hospital, I traveled to Kombo (Kombo = Banjul and the surrounding
areas near the coast), and the PC doctor had to redo one of the stitches.
Now I’m here, in the PC Transit House for the last few days, sitting on my
ass and feeling guilty for being here instead of at site.  The good thing,
though, is that I have been able to get some errands done and have been
able to visit the American Corner (which is where CCC in Kombo meets)…
and this is a great segue way to another topic, a club at my high school
called CCC.

As I said, I bumped my head last Thursday, but I didn’t come into Kombo
until Sunday.  Why did I wait so long to travel to Kombo?  Well, it’s
because last Friday, the US Ambassador and a bunch of Kombo students were
scheduled to visit my school.  The Kombo students are a part of a club
called The Competitive College Club.  There are many branches of this club
worldwide, not just in the Gambia.  It’s sponsored by the US Embassy, and
it’s main goal is to help educate Grade 12 students that are interested in
going to US universities about the application process.  CCC helps students
prepare for the SATs, helps them research prospective
colleges/universities, advises them about the college application and
student Visa processes, etc.  It doesn’t guarantee that the students will
get in; it just advises and helps them apply.  The Kombo kids were visiting
my town because CCC just started in my school recently.  I think there are
about ten Grade 12 students that are in CCC in my high school, and these
are usually the Top Ten students of the entire school.  The US Ambassador
wanted to meet some of these students and also the schools involved.  He
met with my principal and spoke to all the students, giving them words of
encouragement and advice.  I had met the Ambassador only briefly during our
Peace Corps swear-in, but meeting him again last Friday was a different
experience altogether.  We chatted about the school, Peace Corps, our work,
where we were from in the US, sports, food, the Gambia, etc.  It felt a
little more personal this time around.  And since I’m here in Kombo  and to
make it feel like I’m not wasting my time here, I’ve been visiting the
American Corner and was hoping to meet with some of the CCC folks as well.
Turns out they are still on trek visiting other schools up-country, but I
was able to get some good info about the club and some pamphlets and
brochures about the SATs.  Hopefully I can get CCC at my school going
quickly when I get back to site.

Two weeks ago, I also had the opportunity to participate in the HIV/AIDS
Bike Trek Training weekend in Soma.  It was a 2 day training event where
several Peace Corps and local Gambians from various villages discussed
HIV/AIDS and how to educate Grade 8 and 9 students about the virus and
disease.  The Bike Trek is scheduled for November 5-9th, spanning the Lower
River Region (LRR) and Central River Region (CRR).  PCVs and local Gambians
will be biking to schools in these regions to discuss and educate students
about HIV/AIDS.  I was the only volunteer in my PC cohort (aka the new
group of volunteers) that got to participate in the training.  I think it’s
because I pestered the organizers a lot about joining, or maybe I was just
the most vocal in my group.  Either way, because I’m a newbie, I can’t do
the entire 5 days of bike trek; the compromise: I do 1 day of teaching.
Since I live near the village where the graduation ceremony will be taking
place, I think I’ll attend that day too.

OK, that’s it for now.  I can’t wait to get back to site to see my host
family again and to see the new baby girl in my compound.  I’m excited.  I
wonder what her name will be.  Children are not given names until the
Naming Ceremony, which happens 7 days after the birth of the child.  Which
also means… big party in my compound coming very soon!  Till next time…
Haa yeeso!

One thought on “Stitches, CCC, and HIV/AIDS Bike Trek Training…

  1. Great reading your update Ryan! Hope your face heals up quickly. 😉 Watch where you’re going from now on. 😛

    Seriously though, sounds like you’ve got some exciting projects coming up! Can’t wait to hear more about them!

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