I will be serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, a teeny-tiny country that borders Nigeria and Togo in West Africa. There are 100 volunteers in the country. On July 1, 2008 I leave for Philadelphia for three days of orientation and vaccinations! There are 65 of us new volunteers leaving together. On July 3, we fly all night to Paris, finally landing in Cotonou, Benin at 7 pm on July 4 (what a crazy 4th of July! Think of me...). We then have three months of training and in French (the official language) and Fon (the native language), teaching, visiting hospitals and different parts of the country, etc. I'm also going to be living with a host family during that time in Cotonou.
If I get through training (1/10 does not but who's counting?), I will be officially sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer. Then I stationed to an area of the country, which I do not know right now.
My primary duty as a volunteer is a "Teacher of English as a Foreign Language" (TEFL). I'll have classrooms of Beninese kids from 7th grade-12th grade, and I'll be teaching them in French. Benin has traditionally followed the French system of schooling, but is looking to move towards a more Americanized version of education.
Volunteers are also encouraged to undertake a secondary project. Secondary projects contribute to the development of a volunteer's community. They include projects in HIV/AIDS prevention, Environmental or Health projects, business development or the Gender and Development project. I've heard of volunteers setting up soccer leagues for the kids or a program to monthly weigh babies so mothers can see development. I'm most excited about getting involved in the Gender and Development program, activities include distributing scholarships to needy girls, organizing "Take Your Daughter to Work" days and leading girls' clubs at school.