Tuesday, December 8, 2009

November 7-10th

We are visiting a volunteer in her village for “demystification” - a Peace Corps process in which we all go out to stay with “real” volunteers in their villages for several days to get a taste of what their lives are like, for all of our mystification to be solved. While the terminology is rather silly, the concept is nice, and I'm enjoying a break from our training town. We are staying with Nichole - her village is really nice, the people we have met have been so welcoming, just the whole practice of greeting in this country is a welcoming process.

It definitely feels very different here from the training town...much more remote and quiet, no electricity and LOTS of stars. We went to the fields with this ancient woman named Hankuri (which means patience) who is one of the most expressive people I have ever seen. When she greets you, she holds onto your hand for so long. We walked with her to a place where some non-profit once came and planted eucalyptus trees, which use so much water that they dried up all of the surrounding wells. There was a plant there that looked just like milkweed, except that it was taller than me!

In the heat of the day we sit in the shade. Then we go out visiting. We walked to the area where people go to pound millet. They don't pound it in their homes because of the chaff that it stirs up, and because of a belief that evil spirits stay in the place where the millet is pounded at night (something like that...). Where they pound is out on the edge of the village, on the top of a plateau, with a view going on for miles into the distance. All of the women out there working seemed so relaxed and beautiful and happy.

I guess what I love most about this time of day in the evening is when it's finally cooling down, the air becomes light again, and energy comes back. In the middle of the afternoon the thermometer read 120 degrees. I had a hard time believing it.

We walked to the school and I was so impressed by the teachers. They seemed so engaged in their work, and one especially was so enthusiastically talking to the kids sitting in a building made from woven millet stalks, with little seats and books. Only five girls in the whole group of younger students, and Nichole said that she thought perhaps only a third of the children in her village went to school at all. Being a teacher is so important.

Being here inspires me to focus hard on the Hausa learning so I can be as ready as possible for my village and working on projects. Partly I'm excited at the possibilities and partly I'm thinking to myself “how in the world would I even know where to start?”

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