I love Kedougou.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
I love Kedougou.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Being away from my family for the holiday has phased me a few times, but spending it with people that can relate and cooking deliciously fatty food all day makes a world of a difference.
Im somewhat of a traitor to my region of Kolda (dont let them hear that thought), I have ventured out for yet another holiday to visit my distant neighbors in Kedougou. I've been spending this time lounging in hammocks and sharing marshmallows (sent from the States) by the fireside with a handful of volunteers, all dusty from their persistent Kedougou dirt.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Help the young women of Senegal! We are having a Peace Corps Marathon in the picturesque city of Tambacounda (Tambacounda Marathon)to raise money and awareness about the importance of keeping the rising leaders of Senegal and West Africa in school, especially the young and inspiring Senegalese female students (because as Beyonce put it in her catchy song, Girls Run the World). What we truly need from you is your support and even the support of your company. It has been made easy to donate, just follow the link and click "donate" with the comment memo section reading "Marathon for Education." Dont forget that this is Tax Deductable!For donations:
Our goal is to raise lots of mula for girls' scholarships, leadership camps and youth groups. No amount is too little or too big!
*Click on donate and write 'Marathon for Education' in the comment section.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
1.) With support, I would love to work on pre-elementary education because children here do not get the chance to do basic things like define motor skills by coloring or learn the importance of handwashing before snack time. As a result, they go to school without ever holding a pen, writing their name, oh, and speaking french, the language of schoolhouses.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
If only I knew how many pounds, or rather kilos, of food I consumed during Thanksgiving in the Tamba house with about 20 other volunteers. Luckily we had a few older volunteers with mothers that sent over a few very precious ingredients for the day including Marshmellows and cider drink mix, which was out of this world. Because the turkeys were a little pricy and the processing of the frozen birds is unknown, we got 5 chickens instead. Five. We baked two and beer can grilled the rest. We benefitted from the delicious taste and protein, but bypassed the tryptophan! Mind you, we managed this entire familiar, comforting feast on mostly substituted ingredients and a lot of work in one small kitchen with a gas oven (that I needed help lighting).
Summary: Thanksgiving was a success.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Summary: It took me 5.5 hours to go 140 Km (googlemaps suggests less than 2) and I will now enjoy the company of my friends :)
I FOUND MY VILLAGE ON GOOGLEMAPS. My hut is located at the yellow star.
Saare MetaThanksgiving news to come soon!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
After only a 5 days, I have come to terms with the fact that I am always going to be dirty. Literally. I cannot walk from my outside slab of cement, that that my grandparents would refer to as "the throne," to my back door without redusting my momentarily clean feetsies with dirt. To emphasize this, my allergies would like to add that the inside of my newly built hut must have internal dust storms because I cannot sweep it enough. I hope the dust doesn't attack my electronics too quickly.
Yes, Im in Africa. Perhaps I should have realized I was going to be living in a field. I cannot say how many times the current volunteers have complimented us newbies on how CLEAN we were up to this point. Don’t worry, Im not going to give in this quickly. Im just going to have to adjust my tactics… Im not sure how this aspect is going to later help me in life. If nothing else, this is added to the general appreciation column.
Village food has been surprisingly amazing. First off, we have cows from which I drink fresh milk occasionally. From milk, by a process that I may not want to know, they also make kosam, which I have eaten for breakfast with lechery or bread. It tastes something like grapenuts in sour, thin yogurt (despite that awful description, its quite tasty). This should have been my first thought: Im not eating rice at every meal now!
Im struggling with the local concept of time and how flaccid it is. I don’t know how to schedule my time between studying Pulaar, hanging out with my new village family, my sane-Jessica time, figuring out what I REALLY want to do here and even some much needed exercise.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
9 hours and an entire pack of cookies later, we got to our hotel in Velingara (a 2 hour bike ride from my village). The only thing that didnt make it was my poor, neglected Nalgene that was sitting under my seat. I dont know why I ever thought it would live for 2 years.
Move-in date: November 10, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
We are the PC Ag Stage, officially sworn in on the 4th of November 2011. The last 9 weeks have reached across the entire spectrum of emotions, from unbelievably shocking to surprisingly delightful. We are now sanctioned volunteers and will be pushing those boundaries much farther, which might be in the definition of being a volunteer.
After celebrating Tabaski, this mighty fine looking crew of 54 people will be parting ways for villages or a handful ofcities. Im incredibly excited to jump into this next stage of service, which, for me, will start on the 10th in the village of Saare Meta (close to Kounkane if you’re curious).
NEW ADDRESS: Coming Soon!!
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Much appreciated: drink mix, trail mix, candy, sanitizers/soaps
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
1.Do you have a husband (i cant find the question mark on this keyboard!) Well then marry me and take me to America. This comes up on the daily.
Wow, I can get a complete set just like that.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Finally the blind folds have been removed and our site assignments have been revealed. Literally. I'm going to Kolda! I'll be in the village of Saare Meta.
How exciting. My electricity-free thatch roof hut without running water is going to be... Life altering. or so I expect.
I'm the first volunteer in this village, which is nerve-racking, but also leaves endless project opportunities. Speaking of projects, I think my first means of business has to include installing another well. I have to walk across several compounds and into the med area to fetch water right now. Water, the single most important commodity in my life, is required for the obvious drinking, bucket bathing, and let's not forget watering my baby plants. My strength and sanity will be tested continuously.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Its not all bad by far. I had a rather entertaining evening making attaya, which is hot, over-sugared tea that is poured into shot size glasses from 16 inches above to form a foam topping (it looks like childrens work when they make it). I spilled a lot of tea, but it was all taken with good humor. The best part may have been translating random words and having small conversations between English, French, and my local Pulaar. They love to ask if I'm married or if I will give them American wives. Again, all taken in good humor.
I stayed up past my bedtime, but to make it worse, I stayed up drinking tiny cups of cafine. My stuffy cement room was less welcoming than usual. I've almost grown accustom to sleeping in my own sweat, one of my many accomplishments (like typing on this Frençh kèyboàrd). Once I fell asleep, I woke up because of the rain that I'm often praying for. It literally sounded like cats and dogs were hitting my TIN roof. But I cant complain about rain, right?
... A couple of hours later I couldn't put on my "appropriate to be seen in" clothes fast enough. I had to make a dash to the bathroom/hole-in-the-floor-room. I'm happy to say that I'm not yet an official volunteer. I do expect that less glamorous part of the experience, just later rather than sooner.
---the power just went out---
Friday, September 16, 2011
Ill be embarassing myself in Pulaar for 2 more weeks in Mbour, then Ill be tested to see if Im actually learning anything. The language is tough. It comes together slowly, but surely (especially with this extreme learning method).
My family seems to like me. I start my day around 7 with babies crying and women sweeping. My Neene always insists on getting my kettle or bucket for bathing. I found out the hard way that you do NOT talk to anyone before washing in the morning... its bad luck. I have a bean sandwich every morning. mmm. Apparently the stereotype is that Americans love beans! Language class has been pretty great. I feel like Im progressing too slowly sometimes, but I am definately putting the time in.
We have started a garden behind the local school! It now contains jaxatu/bitter tomato, eggplant, peppers, and scallions.
Real life: I feel overwhelmed emotionally and sensorily on a daily basis. I also get to laugh at my 101 language/culture faux pas. The food is good (although im going to need supplements) and the people are hospitable.
Wish list: protein powder, aaaany kind of snacks, sanitizer, nice pens...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
My family seems to like me. I try to sit with them and occasionally hold a broken conversation. Basically I'm perfecting my awkwardness. On night one it must have taken my Neene and Babba 30 minutes to tell me that my NEW Senegalese name is Mariyama. Oh. I get a new name. Thanks for the heads up! It's 100% live and learn around here.
I was also the butt of the joke when I brought my laundry out to my Neene when she apparently asked for my CANDLE so I could wash. Not my clothing.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
*"lick all of the rice off of your hands after you eat"
*Squat toilets are good for your prostate, bladder & uterus
*Dont say that your going to eat babies or children... the Senegalese think that we do.
*The Left hand is the "poop hand" and it is entirely inappropriate to use it when eating, shaking hands, passing or receiving things... it is just entirely taboo.
*Its possible to sleep through 90* sticky nights without AC
*The Senegalese enjoy a variety of juices, all of which leave me with a sour face
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
We had a surprisingly laidback orientation at the capitol, to which I have never been before. Between our group ice breaker activities, shots! (no, no, I mean the needle), and stuffing ourselves full of the last fatty American food for a while, we were actually able to relax and walk around D.C. The botanical gardens were the perfect that sight before departure.
What I've learned about Senegal:
1. Its the most muggy country Ive ever been in (rainy season)
2. People will do/sell anything for money
3. They know the way around the kitchen! mmm.
4. I would die if I tried to drive here.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Here is my training address:
PCT Jessica Cochran
Corps de la Paix
MagicJack Phone Number:
This is a local Texas number that you can reach me at OR leave a pleasant voice-mail for me to find! The trick is that I will have to have a steady internet connection to place calls, so we will soon see how reliable it is!
" 011 (221) 77 360 5903 "
and find me on Skype!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I've been googling images of short/pixie hair for the last six months, but finally got the nerve up to try it myself now that my departure date is less than a month away! Africa!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Here are a few ideas:
Monday, July 18, 2011
I have also been a very important ebay/amazon customer during the last month. I have invested in the following:
USB Cable for Camera
12 Cell Battery for my lappy
Nalgene Stainless Bottle
Backup Battery Charger for iPhone4
USB Cable Power Adapter
Gerber Mini Pliers Tool
I'm still having a dilemma with solar chargers. 1.) will I actually use it? 2.) will it work adequately? 3.) ugh, I dont know about this.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I also made my last dental rounds to see about getting my monstrous wisdom teeth out before embarking to Africa. It sounds like a solid plan to me.
Friday, June 24, 2011
I'll be leaving the "South" to go back to Texas in a month to visit my family, so I've sent out my going away invitations (that I proudly made in photoshop!). I've asked everyone to bring a photo gift that I can carry with me to Senegal to decorate my hut!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
[X]Tank tops, 12
[X]Short sleeve tees (all cotton or cotton poly blend)
[X]A few lightweight blouses
[ ]A polo for “business casual”
[X]Zip-up fleece (for the “cold” season)
[X]Rain coat (I ordered a Columbia off ebay)
[X]multi-wear dress/skirts (these are supposed to be easy to get in country)
[X]Lightweight pants, 6 (cargo and linen)
[ ]Jeans (for the “cold” season)
[X]PJ pants & shorts
[X]Undergarmets (bring a LOT and cycle through a few at a time)
[ ]Bathing suit
[X]Chaco sandals (discounted!)
[ ]Closed shoe
[X]SunglasseS (I tend to scratch them)
[ ]Towel & washcloth (for training months)
[ ]2 in 1 Pantene shampoo and conditioner
[ ]Johnson & Johnson baby soap (for my baby skin)
[ ]Facewash & packaged face wipes (I’m trying to find one that I will like now)
[X]Razor and a supply of refills
[X]2 sticks of deodorant (they last a long time)
[ ]Several soft toothbrushes & 3 tubes of toothpaste
[ ]Tons of hairbands & bobbypins
[X]Fingernail clippers & file
[ ]Bug repellent
[X]Very basic cosmetics
[X]Scissors (for hair!)
[ ]Large and small Ziplock Bags
[ ]Junk food
[ ]drink mixes (packets & fake Nestea!)
[ ]Luna bars, mmm.
[ ]Food seasoning (creole!)
[X]Digital camera, charger, & memory cardS
Unlocked cell phone & charger? (purchase a cheap local phone )
Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries
[ ]USB flash drive/external hard drive
[X]Ipod & Itouch (with cases)
[X]solar charger ugh. (Ill be in the boondocks of Africa)
[ ]Plug adapter
[X]Sleep sheet (a sheet sleeping bag)
[ ]Compact battery-powered alarm clock
[X]Handy watch :)
[ ]Plastic document/file folder
[X]Pencils & pens
[X]Journals & notebooks (Moleskine)
[ ]Stationary & envelopes
[ ]Duct tape
[X]Photos of family and friends (Ill ask them to bring one at my going away party)
Monday, June 20, 2011
August 28, 2011
I aspire to discover just as much from the local community as I teach during my Peace Corps service. I hope to be a mediator between available technology and the local community in order to better their lives, no matter how insignificant the changes may seem.
B: I intend to use my personal attributes to motivate my host partners in order to meet their specific needs. I want to practice team work, leadership, and resolve conflicts along the way.
C: I think that the key to adapting to another culture is by complete immersion.
Communication will be my most important strategy to open the doors to new and different ideas, which I will readily absorb and try to understand without being offended or defensive. I am curious and open-minded to my surrounding world, which is my personal approach. I believe that when my desire to learn meets with interactions, I will be able to sink into the environment and culture.
D: At pre-service training, I hope to gain thorough knowledge covering safety tips and instructions first and foremost. Once my final region of service and accompanying local language is revealed, I hope to either polish my French or quickly undertake the additional language. I trust that the agroforestry job duties, techniques, local contacts, and job related goals will all be shared so I can best carry out my future project. In addition, I hope that the abilities and needs have been assessed for the designated area. I want to learn about local traditions and expectations prior to entering the community to decrease the amount of surprises.
E: I expect that this eye-opening experience will teach me a new appreciation for things that I take advantage of on a daily basis in America including my opportune status. I believe that I will find a deep selflessness and it will continue through my future work. As a result of learning the local morals and religious values, I believe that I could further myself into my own faith. I would like to live more wholesomely and believe that it could become a stronger part of my character traits. I’ve had a mind set for dental school throughout my college career, but believe that my volunteer experience with the Peace Corps could change either my career path or expand my outreach goals. On a lighter note, I think that shifting gears from my demanding schedule to an African community could relax my mind and allow me to focus on more than just the fast pace.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Yes, it was still confusing.
Congratulations to me.
I was invited to serve in Senegal for Agroforestry in August, 2011