My trip to Benin, Q&A
- Hi Loukman and everyone,
Thank you for your kind comments. I have enjoyed being the FOB webmaster. I'm glad to see you have an interest in our group and your input will be very welcome.
I returned from a two week trip in Benin yesterday. I had a fantastic time and I highly reccommend that all Benin RPCV's go back. It is very rewarding to go back and see how many people still remember you. It also gives you a chance to re-evalute your expericence when you will invariably be at a different stage in life. I took my wife who I met after the Peace Corps. Benin is an important part of my life and I feel after having shared it with her, I feel she knows me better now.
I'm glad to see that over the last month there has been a lot of interesting questions and answers being exchanged betweeen invitees and RPCV's. PC used to have two training groups come per year but now there will be only one large on in August. I think there will be 40 or so people. I hope that after they leave we can keep a high level of interest and activity in our group. I'll write an article for the next Deadbeat describing my feelings about returning to Benin as well as my observations on how Benin and PC Benin has changed- hopefully in collaboration with Holly since she was there the same time as me.
I would like to remind everyone to use the Q&A forum on the friends-of-benin. org website. I emphasize this because it is a good vehicle to archive answers and responses that can be used by future PC invitees. I used to have a notification sent to me when someone posted a question or response. I receive an e-mail notification as soon as a message is posted to the forum. I will forward this message to the Friends of Benin list as soon as I can so anyone on the list can post a response if they desire. I primarially have responded in the past but after seeing that many people enjoy answering these questions, I think it would be great to have a broader input. Feel free to add your opinons to previously posted responses. When I was in Benin many volunteers told me that the forum very useful.
When I was there I had a copy of the following letter put in every volunteers's mailbox so hopefully we will increase communication between PCV's and RPCV's.
Dear PCV's ,
My name is Chris Starace. I'm a RPCV (SED Allada 95-97), and I am visiting Benin for the first time since I left seven years ago. I am here from 7/16/-7/30 so I hope to talk to many of you while I'm here. I have communicated with some of you already through my Fon is Fun website: www.geocities.com/fon_is_fun. It is a website that I created to teach people Fon, answer PCV questions about PC Benin before they leave, and share my experiences as a PCV. I have enjoyed very much creating this website and communicating with PC and others about Benin.
I am also the webmaster of the Friends of Benin website www.friends-of-benin.org and I'd like to tell you the about the Friends of Benin group (FOB). Basically the goal of our group is to be a means for Benin RPCV's to keep in touch with each other, to keep our experiences alive and to support current volunteers.
These are our goals:
1) Improve and maintain communications between FOB members, through electronic mail and other Internet services, as well as through printed newsletters and mailings.
2) Organize meetings, reunions and other events to bring members together.
3) Keep the Peace Corps/Benin experience alive for returned volunteers and staff.
4) Sustain our commitment to international service and understanding through the exchange of information and materials.
5) Support the Peace Corps' third goal - to bring the world back home, by encouraging members to share their experiences with their own communities.
6) Support of the Peace Corps mission in Benin, including the financial support of specific projects.
7) Support recently returned volunteers as well as volunteers who are about to leave for Benin.
8) Distribute news and information about the Republic of Benin.
We have a good base of members and we just had several new members join the board to help strengthen the organization. We would like to see FOB continue to grow. We would like to increase communication and collaboration between PCV's and RPCV's. We would love to get updates on what is going on in Benin to publish in our Deadbeat newsletter. Any information will be interesting to us as we have almost no current information on Benin and things are certainly changing since we were volunteers.
We would also like to support you. We can offer plenty of advice and moral support having been in your shoes. We would also be able to make a small contribution from time to time to volunteer related projects. We can provide you updates of our activities for inclusion in your PCV newsletter. Lastly we would like to encourage you to join FOB when you COS which will be sooner than you think! Please keep us in mind. You can e-mail me at cstarace@... or snail mail Chris Starace 42 Linden Ave. Ossining, NY 10562.
Chris Starace on behalf of FOB
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 14:05:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: loukman Aboudou <abyalo72@...>
Subject: Re: more questions
Hello everybody,i really don't know how to start this letter,but the first thing i could say is that friendsofbenin is a wonderful website with beautiful people.Hello to Chris who is doing an unestimable job,by keeping everybody in the same spirit.I'm a beninois from cotonou in benin.Born and raise there all my life.I have such of good knowledge of my country and sometimes i feel is a waist to stay here in the dark and not be able to provide the help and information that many people need.I move to new york in 1998,and since i live here.Benin is a peaceful and beautiful country,as a citizen of this country,i want to thank each of you,for the love you have for Benin.As much as my schedule will allow me,i will be open to answer any questions you have regarding my country.By the way my name is Loukmane,you could write me at abyalo72@... you.
A website dedicated to sharing my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa. Learn to speak Fon. The site also contains my stories, pictures, Benin related books, music, links, recipes, discussions and more.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]