Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"the african way"

the CD passed by PST [pre-service training] today. he wrote me back in regard to the letter i sent him. interesting points. wants specifics. spoke a lot about HIV/AIDS in his "monthly mailing" and his talk with PCTs [peace corps trainees] and trainers.

i wondered how much sunk in today with the trainers. specifically with regard to one comment about jettisoning the parts of the "African way" that make HIV/AIDS such a problem. for me that translates into things like staying quiet about domestic violence, infidelity, sexism, etc.

i was talking to one of the PC trainers about all this on the ride back from Santa to Babadjou. about how we shouldn't be quiet or "indirect" about what happened happened [domestic violence at one of the trainee host-family homes] in Babadjou.

i know there are things like social norms, customs and community perception BUT all these need to take a back-seat. WHY? if those things keep us from tackling the vital issues (those stated above: HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, infidelity, sexism, etc.) head on, then they're just in the way.

yet part of me cannot deny the power of culture and, even more so, the hurdle of cross-cultural communication. often, "things just don't work that way" and if you try to force them (be it condoms or more direct communication) people and entire communities close up. it's counter-productive.

so where does that leave us? somewhere in the middle, no doubt. somewhere between beating around the bush and forcing it down people's throats. an art, if you will... subtle, flexible, courageous and compassionate. like giving your mother a condom and telling her to protect herself. ya Ilaah... [O Lord]

dreaming of the north

last night i dreamt of the North. that i joined the Sahel Agroforestry stage up there. i spoke to both the agro APCD and the CD about getting it all worked out. not my [education] APCD, though. i was gonna let him down easy.

the whole thing started when the agro APCD got 5 PCTs less than he expected. so i volunteered, of course... what a martyr! courtney and julie [both argo PCVs who've spent time in west africa], as well. i ended up being posted in Maroua [the Far North], in the city proper. as an agroforester!

anyway... i fell a little short of dreaming of the sun and sand. of the athan [call to prayer] floating on the desert wind. of hot tea and floor mats. of boubous and mud huts with grass roofs. Lord!... 2 years and i'm still dreaming of another place.

Monday, June 29, 2009

cycle of adjustment

  1. Intro & "Disclaimer"
  2. Goals & Objectives
  3. Processing (anecdotes, experiences, stories)
  4. the Cycle of Adjustment...
  5. Coping Strategies
  6. Q & A
...had this [training] session at Ma Flo's in Santa, like last year. much the same format. presented the cycle, quotes, personal anecdotes, etc. it went well. PCTs [peace corps trainees] vented, asked questions, listened. nice. glad we did it.

i listened to fellow PCVs talk about going home and got lost in my head. thinking, with what i have to admit was some regret and doubt, "why didn't i go home?" all is well, though... i'll get back there soon enough, insha'Allah.

i just want to say that i miss home. i miss family. that's OK to think/say, no? i hope so.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

your pain...

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding."

chez sandy

in Nkongsamba. @ Chez Sandy. cool town. i like it a lot. mini-big-city, "le petit douala." there's an "american store," all kinds of food/produce in the "marche centrale," paved roods, busy streets even at night, and it's big. i like it. good for Sandy!

as for me, i need to get back to Wum... and, as Maggie says, settle down and let some moss grow.

we ate pizza at Bob's yesterday. Alice is here, too... been with Alice and Sandy since Friday. we were in Bamenda at Tucker's place. Sarah F. and Traci there, too. Sandra and i stayed up LATE last night talking... about relationships. Sandy listens well.