I am back again to tell you all about my 2 weeks training the new volunteers back at the training center in Mantasoa. Although looking at the “views” on my blog since the beginning, looks like I am writing for a very select audience now haha.
So anyway, I was a little nervous training the new volunteers because they are all under the new agriculture framework; there are no more community economic development volunteers like me, they were folded in with environment. So the trainees spent the first 5 weeks pretty much only talking about improved farming techniques and small animal husbandry. They Dan and I come in to teach bookkeeping, recordkeeping, costing and pricing, and assigning an agri-business feasibility project. All of which was pretty much in the classroom, when prior they had been spending a lot of time outside. I know that I would have been snoozing by the end of the week.
But to their credit (and I guess to mine and Dan’s) they were still pretty engaged by the end of the week, asking great questions. All of the sessions seemed to go pretty well, even though we were flying by the seat of our pants some of the time. I have said it before and I will say it again, communication is not Peace Corps’ strong suit. But we survived and I think the trainees learned a lot. The best was the project, where they got to apply business concepts how they would in the field, literally. They each had to talk to a host family and find out about their income generating activities and give advice based on questions they asked in Malagasy. Overall I think it was a success, even after PC cut one of the sessions.
But enough about the actual training, on to the fun stuff! The real reason I wanted to be a trainer haha :P just kidding. So the first week I was training with Dan, a fellow CED volunteer, and Corey, Tisa, and Raf, all health volunteers, which was the sector of the other half of the trainees. Each sector has 18 this round. So even though we had to spend a lot of time preparing sessions and evaluating how sessions went, we still had time to play hilarious games revolving around Jurassic Park (which resulted in a “how many dinosaurs can you name?” poster board, as well as a “did you know…” board), introduce the new vols to “cards against humanity,” a hilarious politically incorrect version of apples to apples, and write mahay-kus (haikus) about training and beyond to share at the talent show put on by the trainees. Complete and total hit.
World Malaria Day also fell during my training weeks, and Raf, the Malaria Coordinator, helped the trainees put on a great festival for Mantasoa Village. This included a mosquito piñata, which was absolutely terrifying to watch with the several hundred kids in attendance. Corey, Tisa, and I also gave the trainees their stage name—Bougie Stage. This comes from the word bourgeoisie, because this stage was getting fancy. They had a milk frother for tea and coffee, drank wine, which I didn’t even know Mantasoa had, and (though not their fault really) were the first stage with access wi-fi. They were pretty pleased with their new name, and have really taken it to heart.
The second week, I trained with Meghan (health) and Dan (environment). That week saw the introduction of an epic blanket fort created by the trainees for movie watching and Nintendo simulator playing, a great capture the flag game, the very stressful language test for trainees, preparation for final presentations, expired jell-o found in the games cupboard (still tasted good), a giant bowl of popcorn to celebrate the end of the test, a bonfire and s’mores, presidents and assholes card game, and a few decent dance parties.
Overall, I had a great time really getting to know the new volunteers. If I hadn’t been a trainer, I might never have met some of the ones who live far away. Now I have “zandry” (younger siblings) who can be great friends for the next year and beyond. Excited to really welcome the 5 new highlands regioners at the next VAC in June!