May 25, 2009

Summer is here and its been one year!

School is over and summer vacation is here, woo hoo! I survived the school year. One question: teachers, how do you do it??!! The experience of teaching was fun, exciting and fulfulling but also so challenging and tough! Many times I would leave the classroom angry and frustrated. But while there were some students I wanted to strangle at times, others continued to amaze me. I had a student, 13-year old Awa, who frequently comes over to hang out at my house. On a Saturday she found out her mother, who went to the local health clinic with a sore throat, had died. Her death, although completely unexpected, seemed so casual and normal to people.No one understood or questioned why she died but it was just accepted, "her destiny" they said. There was an English test that Monday and I told Awa not to come to class and not to worry about the test. Awa not only came to school that Monday but took my test. I was shocked. But here, death is truly just a fact of everyday life.

the (numerous) students of my 6eme 1 class

Frustrated with my utter lack of ability to speak Moore, I've started taking Moore lessons from one of my friends in village. Slowly but surely I'm improving. Moore is fine grammatically, verbs and tenses are fairly easy to comprehend. My problem is vocab. For one, in English and French to make a noun plural you typically just add "s" but in Moore it will be a completely different word. Also, one word can have multiple meanings, all depending on HOW you say it and where you put the stress. For example, the word "saaga" can mean either rain or diarrea. No matter how many times it's repeated to me I just cant hear the difference, let alone speak it. So when I greet people and talk about how nice it is to finally have some rain...I just hope Im saying it right!

On May 27th I celebrated by 24th birthday! The day of my actual birthday was pretty calm, I hung out with my village friends, listened to music and I even baked a cake which, despite my non existant cooking skills, actually turned out pretty good! My b day surprises occured on the eve and day AFTER my birthday. On the evening of the 26th I was prepping for bed when Sita calls for me to come out, he has an early birthday surprise for me. When I come out I see him holding up...a dead goat (what else!) Aparently he and his friend were walking back from playing soccer when they witnessed a crocodile attack and kill the adult goat. They both quickly grabbed it before the crocodile had a chance to eat it. That night I watched them skin, gut and cut away the dead goat right outside my house. It amazed yet repulsed me at the same time. Watching them work reminded me of dissecting frogs in high school Biology....except this was obviously 100 times bigger and better!

The day after my birthday I was heading to the marche when Sita approaches me...riding on the back of a camel with a Twareg man. Sita had run into the owner at the marchee and asked to come to my house. The man was so nice and let me climb and ride the camel and take plenty of photos, it was soooo fun! So I had wonderful birthday surprises in village :)

I also finally got to see the famous Mamyo in Pobe. Mamyo is a fertility statue thats been an important part of the anamist culture in vilalge. In the late 1990s the status was stolen and sold to a German collector. After relizing this, the statue was finally returned years later. A German NGO helped create a museum for the village to keep the Mamyo safe, as well as other artifacts of the Korumfe culture. However, the villagers dont trust that the statue will be safe so it is kept hidden within the village compounds.

In June I will have been in Burkina for one year!! Time is flying by, I cant beleive how fast. I now truly feel comfortable and happy in Pobe. Nearly everyone knows me in village. Instead of hearing 'Nassarra' yelled out they actually use my real name (and some even use my village name). During the summer months I will be busy cultivating in a small field given to me, running several girls camps with the help of other volunteers and also working as a facilitator for the new group of volunteers arriving in June.

Lastly, I am working on a project to get a library in Pobe! Its a great project that the villagers are so excited about and are helping me with. Please look at the link for more information how how to help and donate!