Well, I’m back in the U.S., which means back to the old grad-student-grind. (There is, however, the new excitement of teaching French 1 for the first time here in Beautiful Berkeley, where I have hardly seen a cloud since my return.) I’ve had a few things to finish up for my Kiva fellowship in Senegal, though, since my last week in the field was spent… in the field. We ran around trying to pack as many interviews as we could into the last few days; but, as if to mock our efforts at productivity, fate...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Africa
On August 24th I left Dar es Salaam for a 3-week trip to central Tanzania to train BRAC branches on Kiva in three other regions. Here’s a glimpse into the first 11 days of my 21 days on the road:
Seven hours on the bus from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma has kicked off with a traveling saleswoman making her pitch for soaps, toothpastes, and aloe vera at full volume to the entire bus for at least 30 minutes. Perhaps I would mind her hard-sell less if I were able to understand more than 1 out of every 12 words (I do learn,...Continue Reading >>
Fresh off the plane, I arrived in Dar es Salaam eager to begin work with Tujijenge Tanzania as a Kiva Fellow. First task: find accommodation for the year. Without Craigslist Tanzania, the whole process promised to be daunting.
It was. Here are some of the reasons:
Go to a real estate agent, he charges you $20 for a tour of available properties. But after showing you a gaggle of multiple bedroom apartments after you ask for a single room you get the sense he’s just showing you anything and everything to get his...Continue Reading >>
Since arriving in Nigeria, I’ve mostly been hot. When I’m not hot, I’m comfortable. Cold is a word that I reserve for specifying how I would like my bottled water. When I became chilled and goose bumps started popping on Wednesday night, I knew something was wrong.
Within one hour, my forehead was burning up. I returned home from my friend’s house and went straight for my sweatshirt and thermometer. One hundred and two point four degrees. I popped some drugs, collected an arsenal of bottled water and went to bed, telling my Bengali housemate, Rafiq, that tonight I would not be...Continue Reading >>
Squeezing people into taxis is par for the course in Cameroon. As cabs approach, you shout your destination to the driver and if you get the nod you hop in. If there are already three in the back, no matter, there’s room for one more. If there are two in the front, again, no problem: a third person can fit in – roughly positioned astraddle the gear stick (US English: stick shift).
Leaving Bamenda to make the journey to the small town of Belo, I felt a certain smugness at having bagged the front...Continue Reading >>
When I first began working in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill, my initial impression was horror that the country was being run by a bunch of 20-somethings. At 23, I was solidly within the median age range and even felt old when I saw peers walking around with short skirts, finding myself thinking “how inappropriate!” It didn’t take me long to become accustomed to the age range of Hill staffers and soon it even made sense to me that they’d all be so young. The hours were grueling, the work was exhausting, and without energy, enthusiasm, and a youth-like belief in...Continue Reading >>
I am a WASP – white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. My parents rarely yelled, spankings were rare and more painful for my mother than me and requests were granted only when accompanied by the obligatory “please” and followed by “thank you.” On Sundays my family sat in well-ordered pews quietly listening to sermons, bowing our heads in silent prayers and rising (as directed) to sing hymns from notations in a book. At school my friends and I were scolded for being late in an effort to train us all in the expectations of the culturally dominant WASPs who value time commitments and punctuality....Continue Reading >>
I never thought I would move to Tanzania to learn about Bengali culture, but then again I never thought I’d eat octopus for dinner so sometimes one must adjust expectations. How have I happened to find myself sitting in an office shared by one Bengali woman, one Tanzanian woman, and me? Such is life at BRAC Tanzania’s country office.
BRAC Tanzania is one of the international legs of the Bengali NGO BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee). Started in 1972, BRAC has grown...Continue Reading >>
This past week Opportunity International-Wedco was able to finally report its loan repayments on Kiva and to its lenders (after pausing during the post-election crisis). Now I can jump into coordinating visits to do journal updates. Special thanks to the sick excel skills of my MPM, Ben Elberger.
I wanted to share a quick funny story from my travels. Many of the fellows have mentioned the various forms of transportation that we get to take around our locations. In Kenya, matatu, tuk-tuk, and boda-boda’s are the transportation staples. Last week I was heading home after leaving...Continue Reading >>
There are a number of things here in Nigeria that are just different enough to bring laughter and puzzlement to my days…
“Oyibo” – Wherever I go, people call out “Oyibo.” Naturally, I initially thought this meant “hello” or served as some sort of greeting. I suppose it is a greeting of sorts, but literally means “white person.” It isn’t an insult, just a way to get my attention and a wave. Generally oyibos remain in Lagos, the business capital, or Port Harcourt, where the oil flows. I’ve seen two other oyibos in my first month here in Benin City – not many. I’m certainly an...Continue Reading >>