vendredi 18 juillet 2008

Peace Corps Part II

It's funny how I feel like I've been here before. I'm in the Memphis Airport NWA terminal on a LONG trip to Africa. This last June (2007) I sat in a very similar terminal waiting for one of many flights drinking my Starbucks Latte and saying to myself "This . . . is your last . . . vanilla latte . . ." When in reality I'll probably have about three more latte's but every one could be the last good one. Maybe they'll burn the coffee or put too much vanilla in the coffee etc. After this it's back to insatnt coffee . . . (bereaved sigh). I'm even listneing to my iPod like i was last time. And listening to a song that I was obsessed with when I left the first time: John Mayer's "Stop This Train."

13 months ago I was completely freaked out and feeling naive and out of my mind. Who moves to Africa? Especially someone who considers themselves a major home-body. Nothing like 2 weeks in your parents house will help cure you of that latter sentiment. But I do miss Little Rock very much when I'm gone. It's so cute. I am sitting in this terminal and thinking . . . I have a second chance. It feels so much like I'm just doing it over again. Let me see if I can explain a bit. I have already been there over a year and feel like I've seen all there is to see and now all i have before me is the opportunity to do it again but maybe better this time. The learning curve has dropped off and along with it most of the novelty of living in Africa. Things that were once cute are now annoying ("Nasara!! Nasara!!"). Things that were once insane are now commonplace (Ladies biking while talking on cell phones with 20lbs of stuff on their heads and a baby on their back). I already feel like I'm doing it all over again (13 months of being a teacher gone and 13 to go) and the added scenery - airports and their endless terminals of "lasts"- last coffee, last burger, last good beer, last country full of cute well-dressed men etc - leaves me feeling like I have been given a second chance to do things with my service that i wanted to get done but hadn't yet.

So Peace Corps round II here we go! Allons-y!! This time around I have some SERIOUS advantages. I speak French and Mooré. I know how to live in Africa. I have a pumice stone. I packed a bag full of the things that really matter: tuna, chicken, folgers individual coffee bags, books, and clothes made of cotton. This year will be much easier. There are two things I really want to work on and get going in my community:

First: Moringa!! Moringa is a tree that grows in Burkina (it's native to India) and is rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, and proteins. It actually is richer in vitamin C than oranges as well as richer in calcium than milk. Needless to say, in a village abounding in malnutrition this is a miracle tree. The thing is to make its growth sustainable and to educate the people about its use. Really, the most sustainable way I can see of spreading it around is to grow the trees for my immediate neighbors and educate them in a really informal way. The only stipulation being that they grow seedlings and give trees away to family and friends. My fingers are crossed but I've been in Africa long enough to know not to get my hopes up.

The second project I want to do is Women's Health. This will hopefully meet two important goals: the first being to empower girls to take care of their own mental and physical health and secondly to teach them about basic health. I have already mentioned this particular project in past blogs but I hope it goes well. These girls are just not in charge of or educated about their own bodies and it makes me sad. My hope is to bring in locals (the midwife, the doctor, etc) to educated the girls.

So, yes - I am glad to be going back. So many of you have been asking if I am sad to be getting back to Burkina after being on vacation, i mean, being in America. I have built a life there, I have a nice little niche that took time to create. So my hopes this time around are to really do some things that could benefit my community. So much of my last year in Burkina was devoted to learning how to simply not die and not freak out constantly. This is why PC is two years long - it has to be in order to be effective and sustainable. Lesson learned. So now I can get back to business.

Thanks to all you faithful blog readers out there!!! I really appreciate y'all's enthusiasm and comments. It was good to see you all and to be a part of Mobert's and Jarkie's nuptials. Congratulations.

Yes, I'll have the Crunchy Rolls

Greetings from the Detroit Airport. Man . . . I love America. I am on the internet while drinking a Blue Moon . . . and its cold!! So awesome. Maybe I'll have sushi for dinner . . . or mexican? I don't know!!! Anything is possible!!! Goodbye land of cold beverages! Land of free education!! Land of English speakers!! Before I moved to Africa, I liked America - you know, we have our share of political . . . how should i say it . . . embarrassments and idiocies. Is that a word? I'm not sure but Im American; therefore it is now. That's how America works. You are born there and are privy to its free education (until 12th grade and after that you basically have to sell your soul to government loans or to your parents) and then all you have to do is work hard - and you'll be rewarded (of course this doesn't include people on minimum wage). But in Africa you can work hard all your life and its like treading water.

This is my answer to a question that was posed my direction repeatedly over my visit to the Glorious Land Of The United States of Cold Libations and Tasty Food of America. The question being: Doesn't being over there just make you really appreciate what you have here." Yes. Dear God. Yes. Everyday, I see something that makes me soooo glad that I had the luck and fortune to have been born in America. My life is insanely easier just by virtue of being born in this wonderful place.