While the first half of training melted away slowly, the second half flew by faster than I could blink. We embarked on our first adventure through Madagascar on our technical trip. Tech trip was a turning point for me. Thrown into a van we were just a bunch of strangers. We travelled to the dead center of Madagascar, where a monument stood on a picturesque piece of land that was surrounded 3/4 of the way around with water. We visited geysers and some of us received healing clay hand massages.
Tech trip was not all fun and games though; we spent the majority of our time observing English classes. The first three days we travelled around towns a couple hours outside of Antananarivo (or just Tana). We observed Peace Corps volunteers teach their English classes at their sites and toured around their communities. We watched Malagasy teachers teach English to better understand their unique teaching style and we interacted with shy Malagasy students.
For our final three days of Tech Trip we observed classes in Tana. I am not entirely sure I like Tana. Granted, I have not spent enough time there, nor have I seen much of what it has to offer so the jury is still out. After hours in the car together, exploring new towns and cities, all of us grew close. It was a wonderful time. At the end of the week, we pilled out of the Peace Corps van one last time, this time as dear friends.
The month of August was spent living, learning, eating and breathing at the training center right outside of Montesoa. It felt like summer camp- or what I imagine summer camp would be like, as I never went. We spent our mornings learning the dialects of the region we were being sent to (Spoiler alert- I was learning Betsimisaraka North for my new home of Antalaha) or teaching at practicum.
What is practicum, you ask? Peace corps gathered a group Montesoa’s children ranging from middle school to high school and set up classrooms so we could practice teaching all grade levels. We were observed by current Peace Corps volunteers who acted as trainers. It lasted about three weeks and was extremely helpful and made me feel much better about my role as an English teacher.
The last few weeks were extremely emotional as a strong bond was formed between the volunteers. It started to feel real when I had to send half of my belongings to site two weeks in advance. We spent about a week learning a Malagasy song and traditional Malagasy dances to perform at our Swearing-in ceremony. We swore in as Peace Corps volunteers on August 28th and began our journey the following day when we left the training center.