Tag Archives: Peace Corps

Peace Corps Benin: Been there, done that, got the tissu

Well well well… it’s been a long time but I’m back again. Hmmm Hmmmmm let me think… what’s new since we last talked…

Oh! I finished my Peace Corps service! Surpriseeeee!! That’s right everyone your favorite Biia has successful completed her 27 months in Benin and boy do I feel things… I feel:

Accomplishment: I completed my service. I did my job. I gained a lot.

Disbelief: Am I actually done? I think? Maybe?

Content: I’m satisfied with my service.

Excited: Huhooooo!! ~(^o^)~ ready for some new and shiny future

Weird: like I’ve lived here so long… am I actually leaving? Is that okay?

This experience can only be described as… everything that I needed it to be. I gave a bit and I gained a lot. I say only a bit because even though I worked hard and put so much of myself into this experience the amount I gained seems so much more than I gave, in my opinion.

Like yeah I taught lotsa kids.

Sidenote: in a few years if you meet some kids from Benin and ask what time is it and they say time to get a watch instead of the actual time… THAT’S ME!! Those are Madame Biia’s students! You’re welcome!! Don’t worry on the second or third time you ask they WILL give you the time.

Yeah I helped lead various leadership programs

Yeah I did health workshops

Yeah I promoted cultural exchange between the US and Benin

Yeah I did some gender equity work.

But let’s see what I gained shall we?

I learned French like I tested out as Advanced-low and started novice-high/intermediate-low. That’s right everyone I can say omelette du fromage! Be jealous!

I got free housing

I got free Healthcare

I got to experience new land, new cultures, and new food.

I made friends

I got to see my highs and lows abroad

I learned so much more about myself

I got stronger (mentally not physically) lol

I got new outfits

I got a new confidence for traveling (including solo traveling)

I traveled to Benin, Togo, Ghana, Sao Tome, and CΓ΄te D’ivoire (Ivory Coast)

I got even more confidence confidence.

I got cuter

I got TEFL CERTIFIED and appreciated as a volunteer

Guys… I’m the winner here… BIIA FOR THE WIIINNNNNN

So what’s next for Biia aka the gift from the stars…

Well I noticed a few unposted things from my time as a volunteer, so I’m going to post that. I would also like to post some reflections on my peace corps experience, some stuff about my travels, and my future plans and what I’m doing currently.

So yeah… goodbye or as they say in french goodbye en franΓ§ais πŸ˜‰

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Blast of Benin #13

I am here to share a new skill that I have developed. One of the many cool things about joining the Peace Corps is that you get to experience and learn many new things. That alone is an incentive to join. So if you are looking for a sign for whether or not you should join the Peace Corps there it is lol but really talk to me first so I can make sure you know what you are getting into so you don’t make a mistake and I would want this to be a great experience for you not a mistake for you πŸ™‚

back to my new skill!!!!!!

ladiesssss and gentlemeennnn…

I, the Marvellous gift from the stars, Uri-Biia Hesi-Ra Si-Asar

take note of that name because she is going places

has MASTERED the art of…

SILENT SCREAMING!!!

yes yes it’s true! I can do it! and if you work hard enough you may too be able to do it one day.

This skill manifested itself one day while I was in my outdoor kitchen. Cooking… yes cooking… keep your eye out for my Chef Biia posts! And a spider ran alongside the wall I was cooking by and almost touched me.

Boy did I silently scream! I have also done this the time a huge lizard fell (crawl into but) FELL into my room. This skill is an important skill that only the most skillful could truly utilize the skillfulness of this skill.

Also it comes in handy if you get scared easily and you don’t want people to always think you are dying and to pretend to your neighbors that you are intregrating well into the new environment.

Positive Side effects of the SILENT SCREAM:

  • No one hears you screaming
  • You can scream as much as you want without being labelled a scaredy cat
  • Neighbors won’t come barging into your house because they think your life is in danger
  • You feel brave afterwards because you didn’t actually scream

Negative Side effects of the SILENT SCREAM:

  • Your heart will still drop in your chest and beat that crazy
  • you are still afraid but the outside world doesn’t know
  • You strain your throat a little bit
  • If there is actual danger no one will know so please assess the situation before silently screaming
  • You actually do make a teeny tiny noise while scream so if you forget that other people are around you you may embarass your self. (not speaking from experience, a friend who wished to stay anonymous told me so)

Coloring Party!!! 5eme

To celebrate completing learning situation one and 3 quizzes during the first semester we had a coloring party. I photocopied a picture from my coloring book that I brought with me to Benin and they almost lost their minds. Also thank you Si-Asar family for the coloring pencils, this definitely would not have been possible without them. I was definitely not going to use my personal 24 pack 😝😝😝😝 JAMAIS! (never!) I also tried to play American music on my phone but it didn’t work too well. Apparently playing music off your phone in a class of 41 excited students is very different than playing it in an empty cement house with only one person in it lol

Teaching Diary: January 2018

  • On my birthday (January 10th) all of the schools in Benin decided to take the day off in CELEBRATION!…coincidently fete de voudon is on that day as well
  • Lotsa kids started to become possessed thanks to witchcraft and sorcery… it was wild
  • There was two prayers that happened to combat this issue, also lotsa salt was thrown everywhere. Also at one point a pastor was at the school because so many kids had fallen out.
  • One day 15 kids were possessed
  • My 6eme A had their coloring party. They colored flowers.
  • I finally got to talk and meet my scholarship girls.
  • There was another strike
  • That being said I was the only teacher showing up to school those days
  • During that time done kids took advantage of the strike and didn’t come to school and it was amazing! I had normal like 25 kid sized classes πŸ™‚ i… I miss it…
  • Had my second wellness day
  • I finally met my scholarship girls
  • Also i finally got them their school books they wanted
  • I made some BOMB spaghetti
  • I found out my cat is actually a boy not a girl. It was wild.
  • I made tapioca for the first time
  • I had a coloring party with my 6eme D
  • I got a new student in my 6 eme A class… he joined 2 weeks before the semester was suppose to end
  • In class, while waiting for more students to show up because of the strike, I taught them how to play Tic Tac Toe… I demolished all of them…I am the champion

Blast of Benin #9

So at school the was a two week period where students were being possessed left and right. It was not fun. It got to the point where more than 15 kids were possessed in one day. There was even a couple in my class and a few times class was canceled because of it (which sucked because it was in between the two strikes that took place so the teachers lost valuable teaching time.

For the first student in my class to be possessed there was sudden yelling and twisting around and a girl started yelling in Bariba. At the same time she was crying and her arms were twisting into very uncomfortable positions. In Bariba she was yelling about how she wanted to possess and would kill another student in class. Now this other student who was standing started stiffening up and had a death grip on a desk. Then her head started bobbing and jerking around. And she started making a low guttural with each bob. Luckily for me, my first possession took place in my Co-teaching class so I didn’t really have to do anything. The Vice-Principal and accountant came told the other students to carry the 2 girls out and put them in the teacher’s break room.

In my solo teaching class, the girl got possessed right before my class started. When I arrived the priest had sent everybody home and was trying to exercise her. She was walking on her knees yelling in what I can describe as only a high pitch dolphin short burst scream. I stayed until she was exorcised. That means the priest said a bunch of prayers while also throwing salt on her. Afterwards she came out of her trance she had to wash up before she could go home.

Let me yell you… it was a lot to soak up.

Possessions ranged from students collapsing and yelling in different languages to students having seizures and acting all crazy. It got to the point that there was 2 school prayers (each 5 hours long) held and a priest spent a day at school helping students and throwing salt in front of classes. Only girls got possessed which is strange because both boys and girls can get possessed

I asked the vice principal if this was normal and he said every year 1 or 2 students get possessed but never to this many at once. Allegedly a couple of villages in an hour range had 1 possession as well. A teacher told me that something was wrong with the school grounds but no one knew what. Possessions are not because of voodoo. Possessions happen because there is a witch/sorceress and decides to possession someone to try to force them to do her biddings which is usually to kill someone. Just about all the possession at school had a student saying she was going to I’ll another student or teacher

My host mom asked me how I felt and what would I do if a student tried to kill me. I told her that it felt a little bizarre to me and I don’t care who is trying to kill me but everybody will get punched in the face. They could be a student, a teacher, an elder or a baby I’ll punch everybody. If I die I’m taking the other person with me. My response caused my mom to cry from laughing so hard. She then told me I didn’t have to worry about it because sorcery didn’t effect strangers. That made me feel a little better but I would still feel creepy at night sometimes. (Side note: apparently you should try to stop the child and get help for them instead of punching them in the face… look you guys I’ve seen too many movies and read too many books to do this. You just got to end it right away idc idc idc idc)

ALSO one last thing… when I asked the teachers why this was happening the answer was “It’s Africa”. They found it amusing that I was not satisfied with that answer and how I didn’t think it was an actual reason.

Possible Reason why this might have happened sourced from the mind of Biia:

  • Sorcery
  • Students not wanting class
  • It being an elaborate school prank where every year a student gets possessed but since there’s a stranger here this year they decided to go all out
  • Some type of environmental trigger like lead paint, tainted soil, too much dust, trash strewn all around
  • Some scary insect Bourne sickness
  • It’s Africa lol just kidding