not your daddy’s peace corps

computer, radio, internet, peace corps, senegal, west africa

The Peace Corps conjures up images of a lone American, posted in a remote and rural village. No running water. No electricity. Going years without speaking English. Completely cut off from the outside world. While this romantic notion of Peace Corps may have existed in the 70s and 80s, is far from the reality of today’s Peace Corps. Here in Senegal, even the most rural volunteers come into their regional capitals or road towns once every couple months or so to use the internet, pick up mail, recharge electronics, and watch television (albeit in French). The spread of technology to… read this post

invitation – 1 year later

Invitation_0001

I still can’t believe it has been a year since I opened that envelope. This was definitely one of the happiest moments of my life. So far this experience has been everything that I wanted and more. Thank you to everyone that has made this possible. Thanks to Mom and John who let me live in their basement for 6 months, and put up with all my Peace Corps/post-college induced angst. And for all my care packages and weekly phone calls. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without your generosity. Thanks to my Sissy. Your calls/emails/texts brighten my… read this post

the rains

rain, senegal, peacce corps, weeat africa, weather, storm

You can smell the rain first. The scent of greenery and dampness fills your nostrils on every inhale. Erratic and cool gusts of wind guarantee the inevitability of a coming storm. The winds push the dark heavy moisture filled clouds over the mountains of the Fuuta Jallon into Kedougou. Thunder rumbles in the distance. The sound is identical to the noise of the giant camion engines that transport delights like avocados, bananas and pineapples over the mountains of Guinea–except this rumble brings with it an entirely different type of pleasure. Then darkness. The countdown begins. Woman rush to gather laundry… read this post

rokia no suusi

centipede, insect, africa, peace corps, senegal, west africa

Rokia (that’s me!) is brave. It‘s official, my life here in Senegal has come full circle. With a strange reversal of roles, I was reminded of how far I have come, and how much has changed during my short time here… Yesterday afternoon I was hanging out in the compound with my family when my oldest sister, Hãr, runs out of the douche (shower area)–half naked and screaming. I jump to my feet and ask her what was wrong. She replied “gilngii!” “gilngii inder douche”. I was confused. I was pretty sure a gilngii was a centipede. But I was… read this post

doing good

gambia river, senegal, sunset, peace corps, africa

If you haven’t already, read the introduction to this article here. I didn’t join the Peace Corps because I thought I was going to save the world. I joined because I thought my service would have a positive effect on myself and my community. The hardest lesson I’ve learned so far is that you can’t help people who won’t help themselves–and we (the western world) certainly have tried. NGOs and governmental aid agencies funnel money into projects that more than anything else, breed laziness and indifference. Villages with money to spare continue drinking dirty water–not because they don’t know how… read this post