Peace Corps Technical Training

What exactly do Peace Corps Volunteers get trained on?  How are they qualified to serve in these communities?  What if they don’t have a whole lot of experience in their field?  What if this is a completely different ecosystem than what they are used to?  All very valid questions.  More importantly is the volunteer’s question: how the heck do I do all the things that need to be done here?  Luckily, after 50 years, Peace Corps Senegal has refined their training into the MEGAFORMATION that it is now!  If you are curious, here is the schedule for SusAg (Sustainable Agriculture – my sector).  Meanwhile, there were three other parallel trainings happening for the Uag (Urban Ag), AgFo (Agroforestry) and CED (Community Economic Development) Volunteers at the same time.  Sometimes our sessions overlapped and we shared many of the same trainings, which was extremely helpful as we all will end up working together on most of our projects, depending on where in Senegal we are.  This training was to be part 2 of 2 for our technical and cultural training here in Senegal.  Our training complete, we are now all headed back to our villages with too many ideas and the feeling that 2 years is not going to be enough time!  

This schedule is just purely for your interest.  It actually helped me to type it up as a refresher on some of the earlier courses, how seeming weeks away!  Also, this could be quite helpful in creating a resume later in life.. ‘cough cough’, haha.  There were a few more days after the second week but I stopped it there.  It was an amazing training led by Peace Corps Volunteer Leaders – PC Volunteers who have completed their 2 years and have chosen to extend for 6 months or even up to 3 years after their service in order to continue to train those of us incoming volunteers with the knowledge we need to lead a successful service here in Senegal.  They are some amazing people, and we are all so impressed by their knowledge and competence after just two years in some of these extremely technical fields.  Some sessions were led by or in conjunction with Senegalese nationals working for the Peace Corps who have worked in agriculture or relevant fields here for decades and are a wealth of knowledge for us all.  

 

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 February 17

Volunteers return from all the fun they had in Dakar at the softball tournament

SusAg Project Framework and Status of Food Security in Senegal

 Monitoring and Reporting tools

 Field Crop and Seed Extension Program

 Advanced Gardening

 Tree Nursery Establishment

 

 

 Core Expectations and Project Design

 Field Crops Growth and Development

 Field Crop Seed Production and Selection

 Vegetative Propagation

 Tree Seed Pre-treatment and Tree Nursery Seeding

 

 

 Site presentations!  Slideshow about your village

 Behavior Change Theory

 Field Crop Seed Storage and Germination Testing

 Vegetable Seed Selection

 Tree Nursery Maintenance and Troubleshooting

 

 

 

 Nutrition and the Food Security Initiative

 Field Crop Yield Calculations

 Vegetable Seed Saving and Storage

 Outplanting Protection and Maintenance

 

 

 

 

 System of Rice Intensification

 

 Reducing Barriers to Change

 

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 Advanced Pest Identification

FREE DAY

Tree ID Walk

 Agricultural Calendars in Senegal

 FIELD TRIP

 Applied Behavior Change Strategy Development

 Grant Writing and Completion Report

 Integrated Pest Management

 I took a 3 hour nap this day

 Medical Session (schistosomiasis – we probably all have it if we have had contact with fresh water in Senegal)

 Agrobusiness Production and Planning

 Water Harvesting and Erosion Control Permaculture Trip

 Project Logistics and Management

 Grant Writing and Completion Report: Practical

 Chemical Pest Management and Safety

 And watched 2 movies

 Safety and Security Reminders

 Agricultural Record Keeping for Illiterate Farmers

 

 Training Logistics and On-Demand Trainings

 

 Soil Fertility Management

 

 Agroforestry Technologies

 Pruning Fruit and Forestry Species

 

 Permaculture Guilds

 

 Chemical Fertilizer Best Practices

 

 Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration

 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

 

 Effective Garden and Field Crop Demos

 

 

At the completion of the training, we had an interview with the Peace Corps staff (our bosses) to report on our project plan for the first year of our service.  My project plan includes:

Creating a live fence out of trees for the Women’s Garden in Mbolo Aly Sidy in order to stop wind erosion, keep cattle out, and to provide dappled shade as well as fixing nitrogen into the soil

Providing a fruit or shade tree for every compound in my village (there are 99)

Extending field crop seeds to local farmers in my village and those surrounding 

Creating field crop demonstrations in the Master Farm I will be working in in the neighboring village, Thilambol

Secondary projects include:

Dental Health tourney across multiple villages to educate on the importance of brushing teeth for health

Health benefits of moringa trees

Hosting a radio show once a month!

And… I got elected CoChair of the PC Peer Support Network, which means I am essentially on-call 24/7 in case any PC Volunteer needs support or help, I can help them get the resources they need or just be an ear to listen.  We have some of the craziest issues sometimes that really the only person who can truly understand the issues are each other.  This is a crazy country and culture that we live in, and I am amazed every day at man’s adaptability. 

 

 

 

Care Packages – I LOVE THEM ALL!!  I cannot thank you all for being so generous and thoughtful.  I feel so loved and appreciated!  If you are looking for ideas or direction for care packages for me or anyone else in Peace Corps, here are some fun ideas, but PLEASE don’t ever feel obligated to send anything.  I have a wonderful living situation with delicious food, really I am so blessed with my situation:

CAUTION: We are beyond the cold season where it is safe to send chocolate in care packages and have entered the hot season.  M&Ms tend to fare ok through the hot season, but most others will not arrive looking the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on what it is!  (Thin mints will taste just the same) But make sure everything is double-bagged and super secure!  

Good pens and mechanical pencils!  (They just don’t make ’em like they do in America)

SEEDS! Those little packets that you can find in gardening sections. Veggies, flowers, fruit, anything!! (Preferably draught-tolerant)

Shampoos and lotion minis from hotels!  It’s so SO wonderful to smell familiar scents

Peanut Butter (in a country who’s main export is peanuts, you’d think they would be better at peanut butter but theirs leaves a lot to be desired)

Baking mixes!!!  There is nothing like going to a regional house to relax and baking pumpkin bread from Trader Joe’s or a chocolate cake to share with everyone at a meeting!  Nothing compares.  

Time/Cosmo/Newsweek (really anything in English) keep them coming!  They have been so great to feel in the loop with the world, whether factual or fashion. These get shared between many volunteers and are loved by all!  

Drink mixes (little packets of crystal light or powdered ice tea) will keep volunteers drinking the copious amounts of water necessary through the hot season.. 

Dried fruit is always wonderful

Photos are always fun

Little things (like stickers or jr ranger badges THANK YOU Rory and Steve Zachary) that I can give out to kids.  I can’t easily give one thing to one person, so things I can share are wonderful!

Note cards and envelopes

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