Peace Corps The Gambia Education Cohort 2014 Swear-in Speech
The following is a profile on my host mother and Gambian namesake who cared for me during my two months of Peace Corps training. She not only welcomed me to her home, but folded me into her family — worrying and fussing over me as if I really was her daughter. She is quite the character and an inspiration for my service.
When everything is foreign, it’s easy to forget what you know and just go with it because “that’s the way it is here.” Perhaps the only place that seems semi-normal is my language classroom, where I am learning Jola. I say “semi-normal” because the classroom is the porch outside my teacher’s house.
Sweat leaked down my cheeks and off my nose although I stood in nothing but my underwear. It was eight days after arriving in country — only the fourth with this family — and my Gambian sisters were stripping me bare below the corrugate iron roof that absorbs the African heat.
I am learning the language and culture throughout the next 10 weeks through classes and integration with my host family. I live in a Jola compound in Soma, which is a big town about 1/3 inland, south of the river. Although many live in squalor, my family seems to be well off. The compound has 10 two-room houses, many of which are beautifully furnished.