Some Interesting photos with Benin RPCV- Elizabeth Eckel

Pres. Yayi , Elizabeth Eckel and ??

Marilee McClintock (a former Benin CD) with Pres. Yayi and PC Africa Regional Director, Henry McCoy.

About the visit with the president: Incoming president Dr. Boni Yayi came to visit Washington, DC in December ’06 right after his inauguration. The Peace Corps was a priority on his list of people and places he came to greet. I had the chance to hear him speak with deputy PC director Jodi Olson, and was given the special honor of speaking with him briefly on his way out of the building. When I had heard him speak, I was not only completely impressed by his humbleness, but extremely nervous speechless because I had never met a president before. When he came out of the directors office to leave, All I could mutter was Ecabo! O wa daa daa. (Welcome, how are you, in Tchabe, his local language). The president stopped in his tracks and could not mutter a word.  All he could do was laugh. And his whole entourage laughed with him. Then he passed by and left the building.  

(left to right) Krista Rigalo (PC Desk Officer for Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar), me in the front bottom (Elizabeth Eckel), Krista’s husband “Fidel,” and Julie Appelhagan (Desk Assistant for the same countries as Krista).

About the visit with Angelique and Djimon: I was invited to a reception in support of the Farm Bill which would reduce farm subsidies to US farmers, therefore increasing cotton prices for African farmers. Both of them spoke about it, Angelique animating the crowd before literally dashing off from the podium to her evening concert, and Djimon going as far as to call the problem “Blood Cotton.” Before they spoke I had the chance to take photos with them with my fellow PC colleagues, and although most of the people were drooling over Djimon’s height and beauty and gaulking at petite Angelique, I quietly reflected on the fact that despite the fame they still seemed just like the Beninese people I had lived with in Benin, smiling, courteous, down to earth. As I took photos of them next to my colleagues, I shouted “Wagasi,” you know, “frommage,” or “cheese!” Djimon, through the blare of flashes and shaking hands, looked at me and said, “what?” I repeated myself, he smiled and plunged his attention back into the swarm of admirers. 



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