Finger Snaps in Peoria
By Jonathan Pearson on Thursday, August 19th, 2010
When Burkina Faso native Ibrahim Ouedraogo walked into the Panera Bread in Peoria Illinois on Wednesday, he didn’t expect this.
Having arrived in the United States this past July with his wife, RPCV Nancy Esarey-Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso 06-08), Ibrahim was probably expecting to meet and enjoy the company of returned Peace Corps volunteers from the local area. The nearly twenty RPCVs who turned out to learn more about plans for the upcoming 50th anniversary did not disappoint.
But also in attendance was someone Ibrahim didn’t expect to meet – Komla Penty, a Ghana native who is married to Ghana RPCV and former NPCA Board member Stephanie Arnold. They’ve lived in the U.S. for the past eleven years and currently reside 50 miles west along Interstate 74 in Galesburg.
Stephanie said meeting up with other west Africans is a regular occurrence wherever they go. “We find them all the time.” Komla agreed, noting that in the U.S. “you will find many who benefitted from the Peace Corps.”
Ibrahim expressed “great happiness” in meeting his west African neighbor. Nancy explained the historic bonds between Burkina and Ghana as the two men exchanged contact information. For one thing, she noted that Ghana and Burkina share the same finger “snap greeting” as a form of salutation. She smiled and added “I already noticed them using the snap greeting five times since they met.”
This was Ibrahim’s first substantial connection to his home region since coming to the U.S. While it surely won’t be his last, it will likely remain memorable.
Follow this link for a complete itinerary of NPCA Advocacy Coordinator Jonathan Pearson’s eight-state, twenty city tour to connect with members of the Peace Corps community and share their stories.