Ms. Reeves 7th Grade Classes,
A Salamaleekum! Hono Mbad Don! (How are you all) Mbaar Jam Tan Woni Ton! (Hope all is at peace there). My name is John Leos and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in the Education Sector of Peace Corps The Gambia. A little bit about myself, I was born in Dallas, TX. I am 24 years old. I went to school at Oklahoma State Univsersity, where I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, and I've been working in arts education for the past five years. Now I am working as a Primary Teacher Trainer in The Gambia!
I'm sure you all know all about The Gambia and it's Smiling Coast right?.....Well neither did I until I learned about my posting last December! The Gambia is the smallest country in West Africa, and it's surrounded on all borders by the country Senegal. Formally a British slave trade colony, The Gambia follows the river Gambia from the Atlantic Coast inland. The Gambia is home to a variety of ethnic groups and tribes, and many languages are spoken here, including Mandinka, Jola, Wolof, Serer, Serehule, Manjago, Pulaar (the language I am studying!) and English! Here, I live in a village populated by the Fulah tribe called Yallal Tankonjala. It's located in the North Bank Region of the country and is about 9 km west from the larger town of Farafennni. Because American names are difficult to pronounce for Gambians, here I am known by the Fulah name Gallo Bah (Gallo means man who owns many cows).
I arrived in The Gambia on June 1st, and after 2 months of language, culture, and technical training, I swore in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer on August 12th. I am still learning about this country every day, and I look forward to exploring this fascinating culture with you throughout the year!
I look forward to hearing from you all! Hi Gongal! (Until next time!)
-John "Gallo" Leos
Where I’m From
I am from a pot of fresh attaya.
I am from a hand plow and 4 meters of Senegalese fabric.
I am from mud and corregate
a bantaba under a mango tree.
I am from
a tall field of millet crop
whose much too tall and plentiful to count.
I am from
a razor that shaved my first hair and my only school book
and from Bahand and Jallow.
I am from
a Ramadan fastand a Tobaski feast
and from a naming ceremony.
I am from the giving of kola nuts.
I am from ASalamaleekum.
I am from Musa Bahand Fatoumata Bah,
from Domada and Fularre,
from the moment when my grandfather shot a hyena in the bush,
and the time my brother got the burn on his head.
I am from my first pair of real shoes.
I am from these moments and memories.
I am from the river The Gambia and I am from a pot of fresh attaya.
By - John “Gallo” Leos