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Old 11-21-2005, 01:29 PM   #16
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sula, what a beautiful picture. Did you ever know that you're my hero?
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Old 11-21-2005, 03:08 PM   #17
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When do we get Bambara lessons? More pics, and coffee meetings for all!
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:55 AM   #18
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Great website, sula

I'm worried about your reverse culture shock, too. Hope you don't get too frustrated. Take care.

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Old 11-22-2005, 12:11 PM   #19
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Thanks for sharing your experiences. I can tell it's enriched your life in many ways. God bless you in the next chapter of your life.
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Old 11-22-2005, 04:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by sulawesigirl4


When can we have coffee?
Anytime you’re ready and willing to get yourself to the DC/North Virginia area.
My family's in VA and I sometimes fly into BWI when I visit them so I look forward to it.
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Old 11-23-2005, 06:46 AM   #21
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What aspect of society from Africa would you like to see adopted here in the US (or Western countries)?

As I think I’ve mentioned in other threads, one of the things that is really striking about the culture here (at least in Mali) is the sense of community and of obligation. By that I mean there is a certain standard of mutual respect and support. You greet people, whether they are friends, coworkers or complete strangers. If you are eating you offer others your food. If you see a woman struggling trying to balance two toddlers on her lap in the public transport you hold one of them on your lap. You pay the bus fare for an old woman. You offer the leftover water you just bought to the kid sitting across from you because it’s better that someone use it than that it be thrown away and wasted.

There is a certain sense that we are all responsible for the state of the whole. This can of course be taken to extremes, especially when some people use it as an excuse to be lazy, but overall it provides a safety net for many people who would otherwise be marginalized and on the streets. There are still street people to be sure, but far less than you might expect given the abject poverty of the country.

It has been in Africa that I have seen that adage "It takes a village to raise a child" put to good effect in real life. I don't think it's only about taking care of the children but taking care of the society in general, that it takes all of us working together to support one another and that it's a responsibility we all share.

I remember you had posted about your parents accepting your boyfriend b/c of religious differences. Do they know about him now and if so, how did that conversation go/what do they think of the idea of it?

Well, it’s been a bumpy road, but they have been better about it than I thought. They were upset and shocked and whatnot with the initial news but since they were able to come out here and visit, they have, I think, accepted it to some extent. It’s been hard because it’s not only a question of his religion being different than theirs, but I don’t think that they realized how much I disagree with their interpretation of Christianity. I had to clarify with them on many key theological issues with which we sharply disagree and I think that too was a shock to them. It makes me sad to know that they don’t quite believe that I can hold my more “liberal” beliefs and still be a good Christian. They come from an older school and tend to see things in conservative ways. So while they really do like my boyfriend as a person – they got along very well with him on their visit – it still hurts me that they feel they have something to prove to me. By that I mean I get the feeling that they feel that they have to “withhold their blessing” or something to that extent. That if they just tell me that they’re happy to see me happy they’re selling out. That makes me sad because I would hope that one’s parents could put aside differences of religion and just love me for who I am regardless. Having my dad tell me that if my boyfriend and I ever did decide to get married, my parents would attend the wedding but my dad would not be able to “give me away” felt a bit like a slap in the face. (What he doesn’t realize is that if I did ever have a wedding my feminist tendencies wouldn’t allow me to continue such an outdated and patriarchal tradition anyways ) Ah well.

Did you ever know that you're my hero?
Wow, when did I earn that distinction?

When do we get Bambara lessons?
Sisan sisan! (Right now!) I b’a fe ka mun fo? (What would you like to say?)
Allah k’a tilé here d’anw ma. (May peace increase throughout the day)

Speaking of Bambara, I took my final language test to see what level I can claim and was happily surprised to get grade of Advanced Low. Considering that I actually speak French 85% of the time, I was really happy with that score. Now for the French test next week.

More pics
Here's one of me with my village family. In itself a pretty good example of a typical African family. Back row from left to right: Kadjatu (wife of Issa, brother of Madou), Nansa (wife of Madou) and her youngest child, Madou (head of the family), Fanta (mother of Madou and Issa), some cousin whom I don’t know but who is living with the family for the time being, and myself. In the front row are five children belonging to Madou and Nansa, two of Issa and Kadjatu, and the two oldest girls are the daughters of their oldest brother who died.
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Old 11-24-2005, 05:00 PM   #22
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Looking forward to having you back stateside.

I am not tooo far from the DC/N. VA area too!
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Old 11-25-2005, 03:50 PM   #23
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Sula - Are there any customs practiced in Mali that you will take back to the States with you? Special days of the year, special foods, a secret handshake?
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Old 11-25-2005, 03:56 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bluer White
a secret handshake?
I wanna know the Malian secret handshake!
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Old 11-28-2005, 12:25 PM   #25
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Quote:
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Sula - Are there any customs practiced in Mali that you will take back to the States with you? Special days of the year, special foods, a secret handshake?
Well, if it's a SECRET, I couldn't tell you could I?

One thing I'm sure I'll continue to do in the States at least at first is to make the little non-verbal noises that one adds into conversations here without thinking. There is a clicking noise one makes to tell the other person who is talking that you agree. There is a chirping sorta noise you make when someone proposes a price that is too high or when you disagree with something. etc.
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Old 11-28-2005, 12:50 PM   #26
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Any tips for anyone that aspires to join the corp when he gets out of University?
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Old 11-30-2005, 07:16 AM   #27
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Quote:
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Any tips for anyone that aspires to join the corp when he gets out of University?
Well, in my experience they'll take just about anyone with a college degree. lol. But to make your application stronger, it is good to be involved in voluntary work and community development. Also, learning a second language is always good. If you have French already, for example, you may be a good candidate for Francophone Africa. Spanish is from what I understand a must for Latin America (I hear these posts are very competitive as a lot of applicants have Spanish).

For your own personal preparation, I would recommend you look up the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer network in your area. There are loads of RPCVs around and usually they get together once in a while and reminisce, etc. In my experience, they are always totally happy to talk to a prospective volunteer and answer any questions he/she may have. Good luck in the future and feel free to PM me with any questions.
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Old 12-01-2005, 06:46 AM   #28
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Random things I learned in Africa:
  • Don't bother wearing a watch.
  • Talk to strangers, strike up a conversation with the person beside you...come on now, don't be shy!
  • Fried plantains on bread are part of "this complete breakfast."
  • Nescafe instant coffee plus sweetened condensed milk is Africa's answer to Starbucks. Our cafe au lait is sweeter than yours!!!!
  • Always start your interactions with people by asking them about their health and wellbeing, how the day is going and always end by greeting their family and giving them a blessing.
  • "Soon" and "right now" are really very relative.
  • Everyone is or can be my mother, father, sister, brother, cousin.
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Old 12-05-2005, 11:26 AM   #29
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How did your French language test turn out?
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Old 12-06-2005, 09:58 AM   #30
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Hi Sula,
how are you? How is your day going?
did you get my mail or do I have to send it again?
Blessings to you, your boyfriend and your family,
st
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