Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sully's PACA, and my new best

Hello, everyone. With luck this will be a short post, but probably fairly scatterbrained, because I am exhausted.


You know, I've noticed that being constantly exposed to the equivocation of repeating "If God wills it" after even the most strict appointments or inevitable occurrences (waking up in the morning, the sun coming up--no, really), that I find it hard to assert things anymore without equivocating. Since I'm not religious about anything but taking my antimalarial prophylaxis (Hi, Chris. Hi, Dr. Ararat. No, I'm not kidding.), I end up referencing luck a lot more than I normally do.

Since I end up having a lot of luck most of the time, it doesn't really bother me, but I remember getting really annoyed at the blogs I read always dropping "inchallah" all over the place. I don't mean "I'm lucky" in the 'I have a wonderful family' sense, but more in the 'I'm 20 minutes late and the last bus of the day just so happens to also be 20 minutes late'. Glad we got that cleared up.

We interrupt this routine program for a special announcement: speaking of reading lots of blogs, hi Nathallie! I know you're out there, hope you had a fun time here, and enjoyed meeting you. Send me a letter!

And now back to our regular programming. The last two days, I've been helping with Sully's PACA--that's Participatory Analysis for Community Action to you--meeting. Yesterday was amazing because I got to help facilitate part of the meeting with the women of his village. Specifically, it was really great because as I wrote things on the board, they would correct my spelling. Think about that for a minute--women who probably have not been to school more than a few years of their lives and certainly not for literacy in their native language were correcting my spelling. Not big errors, either, but just small ones. Granted, there's no standardized spellings here, but given that the women here are pretty nonconfrontational towards authority figures in many cases, that's really wonderful. At first I was annoyed, but then I realized what a wonderful thing it is, and remembered to apply my sense of humor to the situation.

Today I got to run a session nearly by myself, with the women again (I was the only female PCV there, so I guess it worked out well having the only Pulaar-speaking female Outsider work with the women), voting on things like "Would we rather, as a village, have latrines or electricity?" The priorities were surprising to me--people in the states would probably give up electricity before they'd get rid of their toilets...but not the case, here. And they'd rather have a good road than electricity, okay, but they'd rather have electricity than new wells or a water pump? Whole different frame of reference, folks, and I feel privileged to have gotten a peep of it from their point of view.

It was a really rewarding experience, but in total I've spent 8 of the last 36 hours on what's actually a good road but still engenders high levels of carsickness. Sully, the PCV whose PACA it was, was also the one whom I visited during PST. He's turning into something of an older brother figure for me--I'd like to be like him when I grow up. Superstar Ag volunteer, speaks beautiful Pulaar, all-around really kind person...Hi, Sully. Yes, I know y'all are reading this.

Oh, and I almost forgot, my new best time coming in from village to the Gambia river--67 minutes. If you remember, my previous best was 83 minutes, and previous volunteers have, I believed, clocked about 120 minutes.

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