Tuesday, January 30, 2007

et une decision

First off, anytime I write in French (or any other language) I won't be writing accents. A) I have no idea how to do it on anything else than microsoft word, and B) I'm lazy - I offer any linguaphile reading this my humblest apologies. Now on to Africa. When we think of the continent, we probably think of safaris, wild animals, Swahili, and beautiful surroundings. On that note, I had the chance to choose Kenya as my new destination following the Guinea mishap. My other choice was Burkina Faso, an extremely poor and landlocked country sitting on the Sahel, a place where the night rarely brings temperatures below 90 degrees. It's important to put this in its proper context: my mind still echoes thoughts of Guinea, the beautiful coastal country filled with rainforests and waterfalls. Of course I would choose Kenya, right? Nope, I picked Burkina Faso for a few different reasons.

1) French is spoken in Burkina, as well as over 50 local languages (English is one of the languages spoken in Kenya).

2) My job description in Burkina, Girls Empowerment and Education, is a much better fit than the one offered in Kenya. The program is a relatively new one in Burkina, and I feel I'll have a better chance of doing the most good.

3) In the long run, the job is what matters most. After talking with Robin and Erin (someone I've never met but was assigned to Guinea with me), I understood this. How many days a week am I going to go on safari and take pictures of wild animals? Maybe one or two at best. How many days a week will I be going to work? Five or more. A good job is what matters most.
Every day I'm getting more and more excited about Burkina. Should I have given up on the Peace Corps and followed some other plan (like getting to grad school a little earlier)? Not really, Peace Corps is my plan, something I've wanted to do for years. I guess I could just make travel a priority throughout my life and forgo the PC, but I don't want to travel. I want to be a part of a place and expand and define my meaning of the word "home".
At any rate, I'll be around until June 4th. My sister just got a job today in San Antonio (congratulations!), and it'll be awesome helping her move in and bothering her with lots of phonecalls while she's in a professional environment. We're all sad to see Maggie leave at such a young age, but it really is too good of a job to finish middle school for. Just kidding, of course Katie's the one leaving.
If you want to find any information about Burkina Faso, just type its name into Google and you'll find all kinds of pictures and websites. Something I can tell you here is that Burkina ranks 174 out of 177 countries in the latest HDI (an index measuring life expectancy, standard of living, education, etc). Sadly, the average age expectancy is around 47 years. Sobering.
Good luck to everyone during the spring semester; I wish you the best.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

These days

I was working on the top of a roof with my dad when my phone rang. After a couple of days of waiting in limbo to hear if I even had a new assignment, it was finally the PC, wanting to talk about (2) new options. After going over them for just a few minutes on the phone our conversation ended, and now another decision needs to be made. I won't go over the details, but with either choice I'll still be in Pflugerville/Austin for the next 4 months. At least I have options again; two days of standing still is more difficult than months of waiting. So it's back to unpacking, making a room that I think is both mine and my sister's feel like a decent bedroom, and getting a job. The last few months haven't been a complete waste though. In fact, most of it has been pretty great. Here are a few pictures since Christmas...

Ronald Weasley LaPoint - our new roommate

The Davii and Phil setting up their tent amongst the woods in Bastrop State Park

A group picture before the Tired Stallions get lost in the woods.

Myself, sunburned and laughing

And finally...

Another picture of Ron

I'll finish up making my decision about the Peace Corps and accept one of the invitations tomorrow. Just a hint though: I'm pretty sure the name of the place I'll be going rhymes with Burkina Blaso. Other than that, the weather has been beautiful this weekend, and makes a nice accompaniment to some Beach Boys. Now if I could find something emollient for my sunburn...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Phone call today from Washington P.C.
The program is cancelled because of the strike.
There's a chance I could get reassigned within the next month or two to another country, I'll know more tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone for your support the last few months,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Patience and Baudolino

Hey everyone, it's been a lot of sitting and waiting the last few weeks. In Guinea the situation is still back and forth; one day there is a lot of violence (yesterday was the worst so far, with reports of over twenty dead), and the next is filled with nothing save myself scouring the internet for news articles that aren't there. And because of the mad rush the week before I thought I was leaving, there now isn't anything exigent for me to do, which is a bit maddening.
Still though, a few things have saved me and should be mentioned:

The Davii - I don't know the plural for Davis, so I'll just call them the Davii for now. They're always awesome, but lately they've been really great. They let me sleep on their floor, play their Wii, and they keep me company while I'm bored. Thanks Davii.

1000 piece puzzle - The Lapoints and Wendye Mire put together the most difficult puzzle I've ever seen, and it took less than a week. I put the last piece in this morning, and other than the four missing pieces, it's all done.

Partial Internet Restoration - We finally got our internet fixed - the neighbors in the cul-de-sac, especially someone named MOOSE, must be grateful that their full speed is back. And since my Dad has the internet back in his office, I was in there checking my email and found a CD I've wanted on my iPod for months (and no dad it's one of mine). Speaking of finding something.....

Baudolino and Hemingway - I was going to a coffee shop last night to read and stopped by Half Price books to try to find a book I've been unable to find. As I pulled in, I noticed a KFC gift card underneath my coffee shop gift card. I honestly have no idea who gave me a KFC gift card (I don't really eat there), but at the same time I found it I saw a KFC in the same parking lot as the bookstore. Inside the bookstore I found Baudolino AND an old Hemingway book that I've wanted for a while, both cheap. As I was walking out, this guy asked me for spare change. I didn't have any, but I did have the recently found KFC card. I didn't want to give it up outright since I wanted a biscuit, so we walked over to the KFC and got our food. I'm actually not the most alacritous when it comes to talking to people I don't know, but in certain situations it all comes together.

I guess that's all for right now. As far as the postponement goes, it would be a shame for anyone to get too upset about the individual delay, seeing that a majority of the country's people are denied a majority of the country's resources. We all deserve a better life. My heart is with a people I do not yet (and may not) know, and I hope things will work out without any more violence. I'll update everyone with another email when I get the final date (so far it looks like I'm leaving on Feb 3rdish).

Best wishes,