Saturday, December 31, 2011

Waterfall Holiday

Christmas is Kedougou was a great idea that manifested into nothing less than an unforgettable trip. On my way out of vil, I met 4 volunteers from different regions and a traveller from Colorado to share the cozy ride from Tamba to Gou. Going to the garage is always an event, so we started out strong at 7 am by buying out the sept place (7 passenger car). The garagemen twiddled their thumbs, our driver didn't come for another hour, and they still had the nerve to ask for more money for our baggage. After much banter, we were on route and did not pay a cfa more.
The 232 Km road is under construction, which begins to explain the creatively masked volunteers, but to fully understand, you have to see the clouds of dust that are kicked up and consequently caked onto our once (somewhat) clean clothing. Kedougou is beautiful and has a much more curvaceous landscape than Kolda (my region), but with that also comes this orange Georgia-like clay.

Christmas was merry, warm, and involved a volunteer style gift exchange. Several gifts (like Frank's bike seat cover hat and small shorts) were rather comical, as depicted. My first gift of girly bin bins (tummy necklace) and a skirt wrap were stolen, naturally. I became a gift thief in return and made off with 4 pair of toe socks that I can concider pairing with my chacos, Christmas lights that I donated because I dont have electricity, and a spongebob shirt that surprisd me with creepy glow in the dark eyes. We had live music from the very best Gou volunteers and plenty of shared treats.

The day after Christmas may have been a relax (or perhaps recover day), but we still planned a 20 Pizza dinner feast (which may have surpassed Christmas dinner). We made an impressive assembly line through dough and veggies to our outdoor oven pit. My nana would have fell out if she saw the kitchen aftermath.

More funfilled activities followed during our holiday week. We biked southwest of the city for about 2 hours to Dindefelo, which offers a little hike to waterfalls! We stopped several times along the way to ask locals if we were headed in the right direction. Although we made it, we still didn't follow the fun bush path that we wanted. Dindefelo is an odd city that has a surprising amount of tourism and as a result, a load of grumpy locals. We stayed with the patron man of the town. Within his compound sat at least 50 locals, surrounding a small tv. This man runs town. He offered us a hut, dinner, broken Engish conversation, and breakfast the next morning. Because I was so tired from biking and hiking, bed was the only thing entertaining my mind.
The next day we were somewhat recharged and able to visit the 2 nearby villages that house new volunteers. Its always refreshing to see other sites, what they have going on, and to talk to a different set of people (or at least try). Old men that sit under shade trees seem to be the best teachers. They have all the time in the world to sort through my nonsense. We kicked off with our bikes just before dark for a beautiful sunsetting ride that ended under the moon, just after fighting our way up what I complained to be a series of ten-minute hills.
I love Kedougou.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Kedougou

Summer seems to have drawn out over my nearly 4 month stay in Senegal, but it is now December. Although it may not feel like it for several unfamiliar reasons, its Christmas time!
Being away from my family for the holiday has phased me a few times, but spending it with people that can relate and cooking deliciously fatty food all day makes a world of a difference.
--Merry Christmas--
Im somewhat of a traitor to my region of Kolda (dont let them hear that thought), I have ventured out for yet another holiday to visit my distant neighbors in Kedougou. I've been spending this time lounging in hammocks and sharing marshmallows (sent from the States) by the fireside with a handful of volunteers, all dusty from their persistent Kedougou dirt.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Marathon for Education
Help the young women of Senegal! We are having a Peace Corps Marathon in the picturesque city of Tambacounda (Tambacounda Marathon)to raise money and awareness about the importance of keeping the rising leaders of Senegal and West Africa in school, especially the young and inspiring Senegalese female students (because as Beyonce put it in her catchy song, Girls Run the World). What we truly need from you is your support and even the support of your company. It has been made easy to donate, just follow the link and click "donate" with the comment memo section reading "Marathon for Education." Dont forget that this is Tax Deductable!
Our goal is to raise lots of mula for girls' scholarships, leadership camps and youth groups. No amount is too little or too big!
For donations:
*Click on donate and write 'Marathon for Education' in the comment section.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kolda Regional House

Im at the Kolda Regional House, which surprisingly took only 2 hours by car (115 km). We came together for regional meetings to discuss current projects and future interests. I still need to find out what my village is truly interested in so they will work on it without depending on me. There are a plethora of projects that I would love to stick my thumb into, but people often make the mistake of talking the community into projects that later fail because they they only showed interest to make the volunteer happy.
1.) With support, I would love to work on pre-elementary education because children here do not get the chance to do basic things like define motor skills by coloring or learn the importance of handwashing before snack time. As a result, they go to school without ever holding a pen, writing their name, oh, and speaking french, the language of schoolhouses.
2.) I am also interested in the collaboration of a fruit orchard with bee keeping. There are more than enough mango trees around, but cashew and citrus expansion could be a focus.
3.) Speaking of Mangoes, I will soon have the opportunity to learn about solar fruit driers. If my village (or a surrounding vil) could package mangoes, they could even have the chance to market them. Lets take this one step at a time.
4.) Agroforestry is my title, so trees are my game. Along with drying the fruit, I want to learn about grafting for improved varieties of fruit.
5.) The obvious: I will be trying to teach better gardening techniques, implement the use of compost, and discuss nutrition and health practices.
After the meetings, we decided to spent our night together at the kitchen table with arts and crafts. (crayons, scissors, stickers!) Yes, it may have been a little resemblant of a fifth grade group project the night before the due date, but it was heart-warming nevertheless. We colored 40 nametags and posted them by our beloved hometowns.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


If only I knew how many pounds, or rather kilos, of food I consumed during Thanksgiving in the Tamba house with about 20 other volunteers. Luckily we had a few older volunteers with mothers that sent over a few very precious ingredients for the day including Marshmellows and cider drink mix, which was out of this world. Because the turkeys were a little pricy and the processing of the frozen birds is unknown, we got 5 chickens instead. Five. We baked two and beer can grilled the rest. We benefitted from the delicious taste and protein, but bypassed the tryptophan! Mind you, we managed this entire familiar, comforting feast on mostly substituted ingredients and a lot of work in one small kitchen with a gas oven (that I needed help lighting).
Summary: Thanksgiving was a success.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Travelling Alone (bum bum bum)

Two days before Thanksgiving, I biked down the dirt path out of my village as the sun was rising next to me. I dont know why I havent done this sooner (maybe because its 630am). I had to head into town to store my lifesaving bike, find breakfast, and flag down a car to go to the next big road town before making my big move into Tamba for the holiday.
The entire process went much smoother than expected. Ive been building up this big scary image of the "garage" and the people lurking around the janky cars. It is a miracle that any of the vehicles are functioning. The characteristics of a typical Senegalese car is as follows: multi-cracked windshield, bent or broken bumpers and mirrors, wire-rigged handles, the worst possible emissions test, and lets not get into the general aesthetics.
On the first bus, we crammed more people in than we ever got close to in college (and that says alot). It took an hour to drive to get to the Velingara garage because we stopped ever 5 minutes to pick people up on the side of the Route National. What are bus stops?
During my hour wait to fill a 7 passenger car at the garage, only one man sat and chatted until he was bored of me. By the end of the conversation, I was "married" to a strapping toubob American lad in Keougou, the next region over. I still had to bluntly refuse to give him my phone number after using 5 different get-the-hint lines.
The last sprinkle on top of this trip was the nice bungee cord that secured the broken passenger door.
Summary: It took me 5.5 hours to go 140 Km (googlemaps suggests less than 2) and I will now enjoy the company of my friends :)
I FOUND MY VILLAGE ON GOOGLEMAPS. My hut is located at the yellow star.
Saare Meta
Thanksgiving news to come soon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Vil Thoughts

After only a 5 days, I have come to terms with the fact that I am always going to be dirty. Literally. I cannot walk from my outside slab of cement, that that my grandparents would refer to as "the throne," to my back door without redusting my momentarily clean feetsies with dirt. To emphasize this, my allergies would like to add that the inside of my newly built hut must have internal dust storms because I cannot sweep it enough. I hope the dust doesn't attack my electronics too quickly.

Yes, Im in Africa. Perhaps I should have realized I was going to be living in a field. I cannot say how many times the current volunteers have complimented us newbies on how CLEAN we were up to this point. Don’t worry, Im not going to give in this quickly. Im just going to have to adjust my tactics… Im not sure how this aspect is going to later help me in life. If nothing else, this is added to the general appreciation column.
Village food has been surprisingly amazing. First off, we have cows from which I drink fresh milk occasionally. From milk, by a process that I may not want to know, they also make kosam, which I have eaten for breakfast with lechery or bread. It tastes something like grapenuts in sour, thin yogurt (despite that awful description, its quite tasty). This should have been my first thought: Im not eating rice at every meal now!

Im struggling with the local concept of time and how flaccid it is. I don’t know how to schedule my time between studying Pulaar, hanging out with my new village family, my sane-Jessica time, figuring out what I REALLY want to do here and even some much needed exercise.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goodbye PC Training Center

Training is actually completed and its time to load up everything that we've collected in our summer camp like training center rooms and scatter across the country. We planned on departing in the wee hours of the morning, but of course left 3 hours late. The Peace Corps is oh so organized. The seventeen of us going to Tamba and Kolda were lucky enough to spend several hours together crammed into only one PC bus. As you can see, we had so much luggage that it overflowed off of the top of the bus and into our isle, under our feet, and even in the small space reserved for opening the door. With that being said, we had to be creative with getting in and out. Being the tree climbing Ag people, we resorted to climbing through the windows.
9 hours and an entire pack of cookies later, we got to our hotel in Velingara (a 2 hour bike ride from my village). The only thing that didnt make it was my poor, neglected Nalgene that was sitting under my seat. I dont know why I ever thought it would live for 2 years.
Move-in date: November 10, 2011

New & Preferred Address!

Jessica Cochran
Corps de la Paix Americain
B.P. 157
Senegal, West Africa

This is a semi-close by town that is easier to access than my regional capitol, Kolda. Ill be keeping an eye on it, so dont be shy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Swear In

We are the PC Ag Stage, officially sworn in on the 4th of November 2011. The last 9 weeks have reached across the entire spectrum of emotions, from unbelievably shocking to surprisingly delightful. We are now sanctioned volunteers and will be pushing those boundaries much farther, which might be in the definition of being a volunteer.

After celebrating Tabaski, this mighty fine looking crew of 54 people will be parting ways for villages or a handful ofcities. Im incredibly excited to jump into this next stage of service, which, for me, will start on the 10th in the village of Saare Meta (close to Kounkane if you’re curious).
NEW ADDRESS: Coming Soon!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Before we knew what we were getting ourselves into...

Then we amused ourselves in every way imaginable to make it through training, which may in this instance be better explained by the wonderful people involved.

We learned that our jam-packed PC medkit is a necessity in the most interesting circumstances.

Holidays are hard from home, but a round, green substitute pulled us through Halloween. Yes, we carved watermelons and yes, the Pacman has been crowned allmighty melon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Its Christmas is November!

I have finally made it back to the beloved training center in Thies for my last week as a trainee. After a 5 long weeks of anticipation, my packageS arrived in my arms (they were in Africa after a short 10 days). Thank you nana for 10 pounds of peanut butter and other necessities (including Papa's poptarts). Thank you Janna and Laura for your precious letters, amazing going away party photos, and unmentionable items. They are called care packages for a reason and I truly appreciate you for sending them. The last two months have been tough to say the least, as you can see by my few short and sometimes cheap remarks, but these little taped up thoughts are really uplifting. Basically, I love you to the moon. And I will probably gain the 5 pounds that I lost back as a direct result of the American goodness.
Much appreciated: drink mix, trail mix, candy, sanitizers/soaps

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Leg of Training

They said that the first day of the first week would be the most trying training days. I dont know how so many people agreed to this idea, but I have realized just the opposite. Im counting down the days until hut movein on November 10th! Although I make a fool of myself in perhaps a time released manner throughout the day, I am learning to speak Pulaar to some degree and melting into this corny joke-telling, greet-happy culture.
I dont mean to alarm anyone at home, but I have passed another small milestone that less fortunate volunteers found much earlier. After reminding chants of Toubob, rocks were thrown by little African schoolboy arms over the cement walls of our garden. No, It doesnt get more intense than that. Noone was was hit or retaliated too greatly. There are two things I seem to dislike more with every passing day. 1. Dirty, Sticky handed annoying children. 2. Rice or all food served to me in general.

Our group of ~50 went to Dakar for paperwork and more important things like putting our pictures on the face of Senegal and indulging in president attributed ice cream.

Friday, October 21, 2011

6 weeks in

We walk by this wall everyday on the way to our garden.
I feel like pumba.

and this is my beloved gardening crew at our CBT Site in Mbour
Kids make forts everywhere.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Keeping in Touch

I have heaping piles of new info to share with my small interest group outside of Africa and not enough time to spell it all out. I have received a few magicjack voice messages (254 742 6044) from home that add a little sparkle into my day because there is just something warming about fond and familiar voices.
The heat and sand have not killed me or my electronics yet, but in due time Im sure we will both falter. I havenùt been very reliable with my updates, but I honestly want to focus on the crazy things that Ive gotten myself into here.
Daily Jokes:
1.Do you have a
husband (i cant find the question mark on this keyboard!) Well then marry me and take me to America. This comes up on the daily.
2. Take my babies to America.
Wow, I can get a complete set just like that.
3. I dont have money. Youre American, you must be rich...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

More training

I just got back from my volunteer visit in my newly assigned region, Kolda. I have to say that they stratigically put this trip at the halfway mark of training not only to tease us with a beaufitul and lush village, but also remind us of how little Pulaar we can speak in the real world.

Im officially stoked about rolling out into the sticks on my bike and getting my hands dirty (and not from the filthy children). I was right to stress about having one well servicing a community of 470 that is inconveiniently located on the other side of the village. Sounds like project numero uno.
Im running out of cyber time, Much love!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Site announcement

Finally the blind folds have been removed and our site assignments have been revealed. Literally. I'm going to Kolda! I'll be in the village of Saare Meta.
How exciting. My electricity-free thatch roof hut without running water is going to be... Life altering. or so I expect.
I'm the first volunteer in this village, which is nerve-racking, but also leaves endless project opportunities. Speaking of projects, I think my first means of business has to include installing another well. I have to walk across several compounds and into the med area to fetch water right now. Water, the single most important commodity in my life, is required for the obvious drinking, bucket bathing, and let's not forget watering my baby plants. My strength and sanity will be tested continuously.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brutally Honest

It will never get old for me or anyone else to comment 101 times about how hot Senegal is. Uncomfortably hot. Even the wind is a problem when its blowing the sand, which is all that is around.
Its not all bad by far. I had a rather entertaining evening making attaya, which is hot, over-sugared tea that is poured into shot size glasses from 16 inches above to form a foam topping (it looks like childrens work when they make it). I spilled a lot of tea, but it was all taken with good humor. The best part may have been translating random words and having small conversations between English, French, and my local Pulaar. They love to ask if I'm married or if I will give them American wives. Again, all taken in good humor.
I stayed up past my bedtime, but to make it worse, I stayed up drinking tiny cups of cafine. My stuffy cement room was less welcoming than usual. I've almost grown accustom to sleeping in my own sweat, one of my many accomplishments (like typing on this Frençh kèyboàrd). Once I fell asleep, I woke up because of the rain that I'm often praying for. It literally sounded like cats and dogs were hitting my TIN roof. But I cant complain about rain, right?
... A couple of hours later I couldn't put on my "appropriate to be seen in" clothes fast enough. I had to make a dash to the bathroom/hole-in-the-floor-room. I'm happy to say that I'm not yet an official volunteer. I do expect that less glamorous part of the experience, just later rather than sooner.
---the power just went out---

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cyber Cafe Update

Im back to my village in Mbour and we found a cyber cafe!! Although Im pretty happy to be able to email and communicate with home, this French keyboard is complicating my life right now. Fact: Africa is more humid than South Carolina. This feeling may be intinsified by the fact that AC does not exist.
Ill be embarassing myself in Pulaar for 2 more weeks in Mbour, then Ill be tested to see if Im actually learning anything. The language is tough. It comes together slowly, but surely (especially with this extreme learning method).
My family seems to like me. I start my day around 7 with babies crying and women sweeping. My Neene always insists on getting my kettle or bucket for bathing. I found out the hard way that you do NOT talk to anyone before washing in the morning... its bad luck. I have a bean sandwich every morning. mmm. Apparently the stereotype is that Americans love beans! Language class has been pretty great. I feel like Im progressing too slowly sometimes, but I am definately putting the time in.
We have started a garden behind the local school! It now contains jaxatu/bitter tomato, eggplant, peppers, and scallions.
Real life: I feel overwhelmed emotionally and sensorily on a daily basis. I also get to laugh at my 101 language/culture faux pas. The food is good (although im going to need supplements) and the people are hospitable.
Wish list: protein powder, aaaany kind of snacks, sanitizer, nice pens...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Off the Grid: Mboor

For the last week I've been in the "town" of Mboor near a few other PC trainees. I am first off happy with all of the people I get to be around, especially my Pulaar classmates, Ben & Jordan. Language has been tough, but we have literally been immersed in it for only 6 days! Yes, it has taken that long to be able to go through the extensive greetings.
My family seems to like me. I try to sit with them and occasionally hold a broken conversation. Basically I'm perfecting my awkwardness. On night one it must have taken my Neene and Babba 30 minutes to tell me that my NEW Senegalese name is Mariyama. Oh. I get a new name. Thanks for the heads up! It's 100% live and learn around here.
I was also the butt of the joke when I brought my laundry out to my Neene when she apparently asked for my CANDLE so I could wash. Not my clothing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Things I've Learned

* How to really wash laundry
*"lick all of the rice off of your hands after you eat"
*Squat toilets are good for your prostate, bladder & uterus
*Dont say that your going to eat babies or children... the Senegalese think that we do.
*The Left hand is the "poop hand" and it is entirely inappropriate to use it when eating, shaking hands, passing or receiving things... it is just entirely taboo.

*Its possible to sleep through 90* sticky nights without AC
*The Senegalese enjoy a variety of juices, all of which leave me with a sour face

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Official PC Trainee

After a threatening east-coast huricane, I was shipped off to the tourist friendly capitol, D.C. I was immediately at ease and comforted when I met all of the other volunteers. There is almost this unexplainable commonality in the air and finally... there are 54 other people that have been freaking out, questioning as well as answering concerned questions from family, and meandering between the excitement of a journey in a completely new environment and the equal fear of this new place, Senegal.

We had a surprisingly laidback orientation at the capitol, to which I have never been before. Between our group ice breaker activities, shots! (no, no, I mean the needle), and stuffing ourselves full of the last fatty American food for a while, we were actually able to relax and walk around D.C. The botanical gardens were the perfect that sight before departure.

3 hours in the airport + 8 hours on the plane + 2 hours driving to the Thies Training center = a long and confusing day for my body. I for the first time ever took 2 naps in the same DAY.

What I've learned about Senegal:
1. Its the most muggy country Ive ever been in (rainy season)
2. People will do/sell anything for money
3. They know the way around the kitchen! mmm.
4. I would die if I tried to drive here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Contact Information:

Here is my training address:
PCT Jessica Cochran
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 299
Thies, Senegal
West Africa

MagicJack Phone Number:
(254) 742-6044
This is a local Texas number that you can reach me at OR leave a pleasant voice-mail for me to find! The trick is that I will have to have a steady internet connection to place calls, so we will soon see how reliable it is!

Senegalese Number:
" 011 (221) 77 360 5903 "

E-mail Address:

and find me on Skype!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Locks of LOVE

I did it!! I may have lost a few pounds in a few minutes!! After investing years and slaving over two-a-day maintanance calls at the mercy of my brush, shampoo, and showerhead, I decided to donating more than a foot of my hard-grown hair.
I've been googling images of short/pixie hair for the last six months, but finally got the nerve up to try it myself now that my departure date is less than a month away! Africa!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Donate & prospective haircuts

I have a full head of hair that reaches down to my bellybutton. I think now would be an opportune time to donate a good foot of it, to allow a few wigs to a few lucky people if I do say so myself. It might also be the only time that I get enough nerve up to go through with it!
Here are a few ideas:

1. 2.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Facebook Group: Peace Corps Senegal 2011!

I recently joined a Facebook group for volunteers that are focused in agriculture, departing for Senegal in August! I'm happy to have communication with the group members, but I think Ill have plenty of time to get cozy with them during training. ^-^
I have also been a very important ebay/amazon customer during the last month. I have invested in the following:
USB Cable for Camera
12 Cell Battery for my lappy
Columbia Jacket
Cotton TravelSheet
Nalgene Stainless Bottle
Backup Battery Charger for iPhone4
USB Cable Power Adapter
Moleskine notebook
Gerber Mini Pliers Tool
I'm still having a dilemma with solar chargers. 1.) will I actually use it? 2.) will it work adequately? 3.) ugh, I dont know about this.

When all of these items and countless more walmart purchases have to be crammed into 2 suitcases with piles of outdoorsy clothes, Im really going to be in a pickle. An update to follow!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I love finding exciting little packages in that little shiny box with a key. Obviously I received my CHACOS today, which I already adore. They are truly the first shoes that provide adequate arch support. I can hardly wait to use them in the field!
I also made my last dental rounds to see about getting my monstrous wisdom teeth out before embarking to Africa. It sounds like a solid plan to me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Farewell Party!

I'll be leaving the "South" to go back to Texas in a month to visit my family, so I've sent out my going away invitations (that I proudly made in photoshop!). I've asked everyone to bring a photo gift that I can carry with me to Senegal to decorate my hut!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My packing TO DO list

[Obvious] CLOTHING
[X]Tank tops, 12
[X]Short sleeve tees (all cotton or cotton poly blend)
[X]A few lightweight blouses
[ ]A polo for “business casual”
[X]Zip-up fleece (for the “cold” season)
[X]Rain coat (I ordered a Columbia off ebay)
[X]multi-wear dress/skirts (these are supposed to be easy to get in country)
[X]Lightweight pants, 6 (cargo and linen)
[ ]Jeans (for the “cold” season)
[X]PJ pants & shorts
[X]Undergarmets (bring a LOT and cycle through a few at a time)
[ ]Bathing suit
[X]Chaco sandals (discounted!)
[ ]Closed shoe
[X]SunglasseS (I tend to scratch them)
[ ]Towel & washcloth (for training months)
[ ]2 in 1 Pantene shampoo and conditioner
[ ]Johnson & Johnson baby soap (for my baby skin)
[ ]Facewash & packaged face wipes (I’m trying to find one that I will like now)
[X]Razor and a supply of refills
[X]2 sticks of deodorant (they last a long time)
[ ]Several soft toothbrushes & 3 tubes of toothpaste
[ ]Tons of hairbands & bobbypins
[X]Small Mirror
[X]Fingernail clippers & file
[ ]Bug repellent
[X]Very basic cosmetics
[X]Scissors (for hair!)
[X]Hand sanitizer

[X]Nalgene waterbottle
[ ]Large and small Ziplock Bags
[ ]Junk food
[ ]drink mixes (packets & fake Nestea!)
[ ]Luna bars, mmm.
[ ]Food seasoning (creole!)

[X]Digital camera, charger, & memory cardS
Unlocked cell phone & charger? (purchase a cheap local phone )
Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries
[ ]USB flash drive/external hard drive
[ ]Laptop
[X]Ipod & Itouch (with cases)
[X]Extra headphones
[X]solar charger ugh. (Ill be in the boondocks of Africa)
[X]Blank CD/DVDs
[ ]Plug adapter
[X]Gerber multi-tool
[X]Sleep sheet (a sheet sleeping bag)
[ ]Compact battery-powered alarm clock
[X]Handy watch :)
[ ]Plastic document/file folder
[X]Pencils & pens
[X]Journals & notebooks (Moleskine)
[ ]Stationary & envelopes
[ ]Duct tape
[X]head lamp
[X]sewing kit
[X]Photos of family and friends (Ill ask them to bring one at my going away party)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Aspiration Statement

Jessica Cochran
August 28, 2011
A: During my Peace Corps service in Senegal, I plan to use my knowledge gained as a biology major as well as through my research on invasive plant species. I will also employ my personal innovative skills, including my natural creativity, problem solving,and management. My skills gained thus far will be utilized, along with more that I anticipate to learn in training, to employ agroforestry techniques.
I aspire to discover just as much from the local community as I teach during my Peace Corps service. I hope to be a mediator between available technology and the local community in order to better their lives, no matter how insignificant the changes may seem.

B: I intend to use my personal attributes to motivate my host partners in order to meet their specific needs. I want to practice team work, leadership, and resolve conflicts along the way.

C: I think that the key to adapting to another culture is by complete immersion.
Communication will be my most important strategy to open the doors to new and different ideas, which I will readily absorb and try to understand without being offended or defensive. I am curious and open-minded to my surrounding world, which is my personal approach. I believe that when my desire to learn meets with interactions, I will be able to sink into the environment and culture.
D: At pre-service training, I hope to gain thorough knowledge covering safety tips and instructions first and foremost. Once my final region of service and accompanying local language is revealed, I hope to either polish my French or quickly undertake the additional language. I trust that the agroforestry job duties, techniques, local contacts, and job related goals will all be shared so I can best carry out my future project. In addition, I hope that the abilities and needs have been assessed for the designated area. I want to learn about local traditions and expectations prior to entering the community to decrease the amount of surprises.

E: I expect that this eye-opening experience will teach me a new appreciation for things that I take advantage of on a daily basis in America including my opportune status. I believe that I will find a deep selflessness and it will continue through my future work. As a result of learning the local morals and religious values, I believe that I could further myself into my own faith. I would like to live more wholesomely and believe that it could become a stronger part of my character traits. I’ve had a mind set for dental school throughout my college career, but believe that my volunteer experience with the Peace Corps could change either my career path or expand my outreach goals. On a lighter note, I think that shifting gears from my demanding schedule to an African community could relax my mind and allow me to focus on more than just the fast pace.

:) thanks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

PC Paperwork

I've been working through the thick PC invitation booklet and have finally completed the time sensitive material. --happy hands--

1. I mailed my passport & visa by the four specific instruction pages provided.
Yes, it was still confusing.

2. I sent my host country, SENEGAL!! , updated and relevant material, which made me question my qualifications momentarily.

3. I have a stack left to finish.

Peace Corps Invitation

I finally received my much anticipated invitation package (from an angry UPS driver with a pitching arm) at the beginning of June. I was in a complete state of awe as the only thing between my foreign assignment and my solicitous eyes was a sticky seal. . .

And there it was!
Congratulations to me.

I was invited to serve in Senegal for Agroforestry in August, 2011