almost 5 months already?

17 11 2010

Hi everyone! I’m so sorry it has taken so long to post. I’ve been really occupied lately and when I have had access to real internet there have either been too many people around or I had to run too many errands. Anyway what’s going on with me?!

First I have made some improvements as far as dioula learning is concerned. I found two great books in Bobo for learning dioula. One is actually an introductory course written in French by some local company that does a pretty good job of explaining grammar and simple sentence structure things I had been missing before. The second is a book of fables for children like fairy tales and stuff used to teach children some important morals. So I read the fables and try to translate them into English. When I don’t understand something I just sit down with one of my friends in village and chat about it. It has been a great bonding experience because surprisingly a lot of my friends here can’t actually read well in their own language. So they ask me to read aloud to them and then they can explain what it means to me in french. They find it really impressive that I can read in dioula, even if I can’t understand it lol. They also seem really impressed that I’m interested enough to want to sit and read a book in dioula. They seem even a bit flattered that the local toubabu would take the time to do that. Also my current tutor and I have moved on to a different book and we are working on more translation type stuff which I like. It allows me to pose more grammatical questions, not that he can always explain what I want to know. I can’t tell you all how frustrating it gets sometimes. I want to know why this word is here, why those two words together mean that, what does this structure mean etc. But a lot of times in dioula you just can’t translate literally, it honestly doesn’t work. For example there was a sentence that I directly translated into “a person didn’t take from another person” but in the context of the story it meant we are all the same and that we aren’t separated. I just don’t see how I will ever be able to make that leap between literal translation and understanding what the person actually wanted to get across. Why can’t they just say we are all the same? Doesn’t that expression actually exist in dioula? And how will I ever understand that in spoken word? It is one thing to digest that in a written context, but when just listening to someone speak? Oh boy haha. I will just have to hope that with enough practice it will come.

In other news…can you all believe that I have been here 5 months already? I can’t. Everything felt like it was going by so slow but then October was over in what seemed like a heartbeat. Let me name a few things that I am now used to in Africa.
1. I am used to riding my bike through crowds of women carrying everything from fruit to tables on their heads while dodging cows, donkeys, sheep, goats, and pigs all within 100 meters.
2. I have gotten used to having flies land on me constantly. Sometimes I don’t think to swat at them until I realize they have been sitting on my arm for about twenty seconds.
3. I will eat food that I have spilled on my floor without thinking twice. No one wastes popcorn/goldfish/oreos in Burkina!
4. I have gotten used to zero personal space. On buses or just sitting with friends you pretty much should expect to have people on your lap or hanging on you. It is really strange how comfortable men are here with physical touch. I will be sitting with my two guy friends and they will have their feet in the other guys lap and he will be holding his friend’s feet. Or when my friend is sitting and chatting with me he will just rest his hand on my leg or arm and hold it there. Or my friends will walk with me while holding my hand. Its amazing the general intimacy that exists between same sexes here and then to contrast that with the utter lack of public affection between opposite sexes.
5. I’ve gotten used to people either picking their nose or blowing snot rockets right in front of me during conversation like its nothing.
6. I have gotten used to eating weird chewy bits of meat often with bone in it. In the states you wouldn’t see me eat too close to the bone on a piece of chicken. Here you will see me gnawing every scrap of meat off a drumstick… it is actually super attractive.
7. I have gotten used to eating and drinking out of plastic bags. For example all drinks come in little plastic sachets. So you bite the corner of the little plastic bag and suck out either the water or bissap or mugujii (my favorite local drink!). Also if you want some street food like beans or rice or fried potatoes you either have to have your own plate or you’re gonna be walking a way with your rice and beans in a plastic bag.

In terms of work related activities there have been some developments as well! For one I have started an English club with the highschool in my village. Its been really great so far and the students really seem motivated and interested in speaking English with each other.

I also had my first Gender and Development committee meeting. That was great. I got to see how the grant application process works and what kind of work people are doing now in their villages with gender development. I’m going to be working a lot as the liasion between the peace corps office and the individuals getting funding. Yay for a pretty excel spread sheet! Its like I’m back in consulting again!

in terms of upcoming events there is going to be a crazy month in December. First we have a gardening campaign some volunteers will be doing with needy individuals in Bobo. That will be a three day event including some initial training for us volunteers so we understand gardening in Africa better. Then there is national volunteer day which takes place actually over two days on the 4 and the 5. We are going to go around to local health clinics and help clean and organize in hopes to help facilitate better practices. There will also be an event to meet all volunteers from different organizations in Bobo. That will be really cool I think. Volunteers from France and Japan and Canada oh my! Then I will spend the next couple of days learning how to march in Burkina’s 50th Independence day parade. The Burkinabe are obsessed with repetition so we need to practice for two or three days before the actual parade haha. Regardless I think it is awesome I will have the chance to walk in a national parade here in Burkina. Plus we all will be getting matching pagne shirts made! Woo!

Then after those twelve days of glory I will get a short stint back in site and then I have to head off to our language in service training. This will be a week long training in our local language or French if people still need help with that. I’m excited to get to ask some burning questions I’m having and get some better direction on what I can focus on to take my dioula to the next level! That will be from the 15 through the 21st. Then bam! Christmas will be right around the corner. I’m still deciding if I will do Christmas in my village or I might go visit my friend’s site, Oradara, because its a bigger city and its more catholic so it might have a bigger Christmas spirit.

Phew it is exhausting just typing that all out! (especially since its on my blackberry haha).

Ok well I think I need to end this blog here because my thumbs are starting to cramp. But I just can’t believe where I am these days. I’m living in a fifth world country as some people would say. I’m speaking four languages, some much better than others, I’m living completely by myself in a completely foreign culture, I have successfully integrated into a new community and have even made some friends. I even managed to find some friends here who like my sass and who throw it right back at me (in french no less, gosh my short lived French teacher in New York would be so proud.) I spend my nights eating and reading by a solar powered lantern. I sleep outdoors with the music of roosters, donkeys, and other animals that go bump in the night. Instead of a ceiling I fall asleep looking deep into the countless stars and planets that I swear weren’t as numerous back in the states. I wake up to the call to prayer and to the bustling sounds of all the women sweeping and washing and cooking for the new day. I’m just living a much simpler, much more people oriented life and I am certainly learning to love it.

Until next time I love you all and stay safe!

Ala ka sanwèrè yira an na. That’s a dioula benediction that everyone says during the fete of tabaski (which was yesterday) that means may show is another year.


Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry (read – please forgive typos!)




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