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Burt Sexual
Jan 26, 2006

I'm the SIX to your NEIN


Switchblade Switcharoo

swbm posted:

near fluent in 2 months wow op very impressive and true

This is a pretty lovely thing to first post about, Star Wars beta max.

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Akratic Method
Mar 9, 2013

It's going to pay off eventually--I'm sure of it.

Any day now.

swbm posted:

near fluent in 2 months wow op very impressive and true

This is not that implausible to me, given that a) he said he already had some classes, so basic grammar and pronunciation are already familiar, and b) it's immersion: you get good at a language way faster when all of your interactions are in the language and every second you spend being social or at your job is practice at the language. Hell, I'm goony and introverted, had no job forcing me to talk to locals, and I still made huge strides in a language much more different from English in a two-month study abroad summer.

Also, let's be real, the word "near" is assuredly doing some work there.

Fart Car '97
Jul 23, 2003

o fuk traffic

Hey! I served in Peace Corps Mali from 2010-2012, in San, about a "5 hour" drive straight west of Yako. We were Peace Corps neighbors



punk rebel ecks posted:

I actually want to visit both Ghana and Burkina Faso. Are they good places to visit in terms of sightseeing and a Hunter Thompson-esque adventure?

For reference I recently got back from Kenya and Uganda and had fun.

I don't want to hijack OP's thread but man Ghana seriously is one of the best West African countries to visit if you are an English speaker. Relatively well developed, the travel infrastructure is cheap & comfortable, the people are as awesome as any West African country and it has some really cool stuff to do & see no matter where you go. The food is real drat good too and to this day I dream about watching a street food vendor pull a kebab off the fire and dust it in hot-smoked pepper powder until it had a crust of it like fried chicken.

Fart Car '97 fucked around with this message at 21:36 on May 19, 2020

swbm
May 4, 2020

by LITERALLY AN ADMIN


Burt Sexual posted:

This is a pretty lovely thing to first post about, Star Wars beta max.

Sorry its just that being an mentally unbalanced over sharer who lives in west Africa was *my* posting gimmick

(USER WAS PUT ON PROBATION FOR THIS POST)

(USER WAS PERMABANNED FOR THIS POST)

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Hammerite posted:

This post is Poe's Law as gently caress.

OP did you catch my question about the outcomes you saw for individuals?


I feel like a lot of the questions asked and answered so far have related to the personal experiences you had, which is not to say that they haven't been very interesting, but I would be interested to know more about how rewarding (or not) you found the work itself and how that relates to individuals you feel you helped (or didn't).

I'll try to address a couple other questions in this reply as well, but it will be centered around the work.

Peace Corps work can be very difficult. My sector, GEE, often lacked specific programmatic goals. I think this lack of a specific job and schedule can be very disheartening for some volunteers. It was absolutely rewarding once I got into the meat of my service, but the first nine months I certainly found myself looking around asking "what am I doing here?". During the first year I was able to plug in with some previously existing projects, such as a large tree planting initiative. I attempted to set up an after school "Study Hours" for girls but it was sort of a failure. Basically, I was very early in my service and still a sort of spectacle to local children. I wanted to create a safe, distraction free environment for girls, but my mere presence alone would draw attention from students. I'd have 30 girls trying to study and go through daily lessons in the classroom and then 100 heads peering in through the windows. Boys and girls being boys and girls, I found myself hosting a youth social hour. Dori was a very difficult site. Culturally and ethnically, there are a lot more Peuhl (Fulani) there. They value stoicism and can be a bit closed off socially. While I made Peuhl friends, it was sometimes hard for me to get momentum behind projects. Then, just under a year into my service I was pulled back to Ouaga and my site was closed to volunteers for security reasons. As far as I know the USAF was flying some drones over the desert, and didn't want any "unofficial" Americans like myself being mistaken for military or intelligence.

It took me about two months to get reassigned, and I did much of the site development myself. There was another volunteer at Yako who was a friend of mine. In Dori, I was the only volunteer for 40Km. The closest being in Bani, of which I've posted some photos.
One of the most rewarding projects I worked on was the computer club in Yako. I arrived ready to hit the ground running after 2 months away from site. The idea around the computer club was to expose promising students to technology before they enter secondary school. Twice weekly we would meet and work on an assignment I had created. Typically the assignment was to research something on Encarta (no internet connection), and then type a short paragraph about it on a word processor. After the assignment was completed they would be allowed to play games (usually Zuma). I tried to focus the research topics on important female historical figures, and kept the lesson loose so we had time for discussion. There was an atmosphere of relaxation and discovery that was in direct contrast to the regimented French-African classroom. I got to know the girls very well during this time. Some started calling me "Tonton", which means Uncle in French, but is a looser term of endearment in African French. They were extremely hard working. Many of them would go home and do housework or prepare meals after computer club, then be awake at 430am to fetch water with their mothers, aunties, and sisters. I'm still proud of all of them.

A friend of mine, who took over as the volunteer at Yako got in touch with me towards the end of his own service; and told me that 9 out of 10 of the girls in computer club went on to secondary school. One didn't because she was married. She would've been about 16.

The project was funded in part by a soap-making business set up by the local AME (Association des meres des eleves), or mothers of students organization, and myself. We made and bottled liquid soap of differing scents that women could sell for profit at market along with their normal wares or vegetables from their gardens. We did some basic book keeping lessons as well to keep the project sustainable and elected chair-people (local women) to run the organization. They kept some cash on hand from the proceeds in case any repairs were needed, and any extra money would be used to augment the nutrition of the school's canteen. Schools will provide a mid day meal, but it is funded by the capabilities of the local parents group. In Dori, some guys actually stole rice from the school canteen at one point and the Minstry of Education had to step in and provide more food.

Soap making with women's groups was SO MUCH FUN. The culture in West African is incredibly cooperative and neighborly. These were some of the times I felt least like an outsider. I would quickly become the center of attention around groups of African men, especially younger ones. With women, I feel many of them were just grateful to be away from housework and among their neighbors for a a couple hours. They were far less likely to ask prodding questions, and could sort of "let their hair down" and have fun working on a project together. I did occasionally get asked if I was married, which would usually get a lot of laughter from everyone.

One day, in a village about 10k away from Yako, I was approached by a short elderly man holding a white hen. He was the village chief and wanted to offer his gratitude for the soap-making demonstration I had done in his village. He offered the hen as a token of gratitude. So, I rode back with the drat thing (still alive) swinging from my handlebars and we had chicken for dinner.

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Fart Car '97 posted:

Hey! I served in Peace Corps Mali from 2010-2012, in San, about a "5 hour" drive straight west of Yako. We were Peace Corps neighbors




MY MAN! That's amazing. Did you ever make it down to Bobo-Dioulasso? There was a PC Transit House there that was known for some pretty epic dance parties.

Fart Car '97
Jul 23, 2003

o fuk traffic

The_Continental posted:

MY MAN! That's amazing. Did you ever make it down to Bobo-Dioulasso? There was a PC Transit House there that was known for some pretty epic dance parties.

Technically I crossed the border once while out hunting with my neighbors, but I never officially visited Burkina

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


To quickly put language thing to rest: I had four hours of daily language training from a professional six days a week, on top of complete immersion. We would have technical training in French for another four hours outside of language specific training. After the first 2 weeks local staff will refuse to speak English to you. I also had decent high school French, had visited France, and did a refresher course back in the states before arriving in country. It was incredibly hard work. I've seen volunteers actually start crying because of mental exhaustion.

On top of that, once you reach a certain proficiency in French and you're feeling comfortable: BAM! They start you on local language. Now you're learning a West African language, but the lesson is being taught in a language you just learned.

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Fart Car '97 posted:

Technically I crossed the border once while out hunting with my neighbors, but I never officially visited Burkina

That might qualify for most PC rules broken at one time. I imagine you were on a moto, with a firearm, crossing an international border, possibly drunk, and not wearing a helmet?

Fart Car '97
Jul 23, 2003

o fuk traffic

The_Continental posted:

That might qualify for most PC rules broken at one time. I imagine you were on a moto, with a firearm, crossing an international border, possibly drunk, and not wearing a helmet?

Yes to all but drunk. Despite living in an area where drinking was commonplace & accepted due to heavy christian/animist presence (Mali is 98% Muslim), I didn't drink at site out of respect for my host family who were Muslim. But it was at like 2-3 AM.

sticksy
May 26, 2004
keeping austin weird





Nap Ghost

When you got back to the States, what kind of jobs did you interview for and end up doing ; were they completely unrelated to what youíd do there or education? You still involved in some fashion with similar stuff now?

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Crusty Nutsack posted:

Do a lot of people stay in touch with their host families once they move on? Are there like, really cool host families that are the best ones and everyone knows it? I don't really know why I'm so interested in the host family thing lol

What kind of schedule were you guys on? Did you have "work hours" like a regular job, or was it looser by nature? How much free time did you get, and what did you like to do for fun?

Shortly before I departed for Burkina Faso, I was on a couple of Peace Corps forums trying to make sense of everything. I had made some throwaway comment about a local sports team, and mentioned I was heading to Burkina. Very soon after, I was contacted by a man, Mike, who told me he had served in Burkina Faso in the 70s and lived in the same area as me. He had a favor to ask of me. I was looking for any insight on service and agreed to meet for breakfast. I was expecting something casual and relaxed. It was not.

Mike shows up with several binders, a box of photos, and himself. He was in his 50s and wore a mustache. He was a Lawyer and looked the part. He spoke with his arms at a 90 degree angle as if hes sizing up some giant watermelon, like in a fighters stance. He was VERY excited about Burkina Faso. Its very difficult for me to express the purity of this man's energy. Over the course of breakfast Mike goes in to a sort of stream of consciousness about his service in the 70s, and how he's still close friends with his host brother Simione, and his wife Noelie. He had photos, project plans, photos of wells, pictures of fabric. He had a ton of material on his ongoing work in Burkina. He had a digital camera that he wanted me to deliver to them in Ouagadougou. A small voice in the back of my head wondered why he didn't mail it, but it was clear to me that he wanted it done personally.

Mike had not only stayed in touch with his host brothers family, but had flown them to the states on a few occasions. He had created a cultural exchange program called "The Weaving Sisters of Namentenga", a group that created high quality, hand woven African fabrics in his former host village. There is a sister weaving studio in Cranbrook schools, a prestigious private school in Michigan. Basically allowing women from a small African village to bring their fabric to market. I met Mike in Burkina about 18 months in to my service and we collaborated on a well digging project near his former host village.

Mike had stayed incredibly involved with his host family, and was an absolute magnet for getting people excited about working together. He was the kind of person who you couldn't give less than 100% around. He didn't need to motivate others because he had enough conviction and enthusiasm to fill a football stadium. It emanated from him. His entire existence seemed to be about building connections between people and creating meaningful work. I can recall him saying to me before I left breakfast with him that morning: "Hey man, this is going to be just tremendous!". He meant it, and it was.

He died unexpectedly in 2016. Heres the obit. When I read it I found out all the other stuff charitable work he was involved in:

http://legalnews.com/detroit/1432505 (LOL The arms in a fighters position)


edit: I'm sorry and I'll address the rest of your question, the first part just made me want to tell you about my friend Mike.

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Do it ironically posted:

OP what are your thoughts on voluntourism and white saviour complex? Not trying to troll genuinely curious, do you think you got more out of this experience than the people you were trying to help, do you think overall the programs you did actually provided benefit in the long run?

I addressed some of these issues back when I responded to the goon who told me I was a neo-imperialist, but I'll expand a bit.

My biggest issue with voluntourism is that it tends to lag behind in terms of programming goals. The programs are designed around the experience of the participant and not necessarily around the lasting impact of the programming. There is a lot of work in West Africa that needs to be done that really doesn't feel cool or good. For example, female genital mutilation or excision is an incredibly divisive issue that needs addressing. Should it be addressed by foreigners? that's debatable. These folks tend to end up doing jobs that people in the host country could do a better job of themselves. A 19 year old kid from Indianapolis on "gap year" who wants to "help build a school" actually has very little to offer compared to a 27 year old 6'1 220lb African bricklayer with 4% body fat.

Often times the problems being solved aren't problems to begin with, aren't properly researched, and are unsustainable. Solar may seem like a great idea in a place like Africa, so lets install solar panels at this school so people don't have to pump water! Turns out the dust makes the panels ineffective, and pumping water was the only social outlet women in the village had before you put in the pump. You've now installed a costly piece of broken technology and potentially changed important social structures. Complex problems require cultural and technical experts and not 30 kids from a church group.

I think that the work I did with GEE had positive impact, and that at least a few girls lives were enriched. I think its impossible to measure who got more out of the experience. I certainly benefited greatly from my time there.

Fart Car '97
Jul 23, 2003

o fuk traffic

The_Continental posted:



Often times the problems being solved aren't problems to begin with, aren't properly researched, and are unsustainable. Solar may seem like a great idea in a place like Africa, so lets install solar panels at this school so people don't have to pump water! Turns out the dust makes the panels ineffective, and pumping water was the only social outlet women in the village had before you put in the pump. You've now installed a costly piece of broken technology and potentially changed important social structures.

gently caress this reminds me one of my favorite days of all my service. There was a broken solar pump in our village that had been built by Germans and long abandoned. It was behind a locked fence. After just staring at it for years my host dad just stood up one day, rounded up a few guys, some bolt cutters, saws, and other tools and we just cut the lock on the fence and tore the thing apart and distributed the panels among the village.

Crusty Nutsack
Apr 21, 2005

SUCK LASER, COPPERS

WHY BE A FATCAT WHEN YOU CAN BE A SMOKERAT?

COOL ZONE HERO, ASK ME ABOUT MY LIVESTREAMS



The_Continental posted:

edit: I'm sorry and I'll address the rest of your question, the first part just made me want to tell you about my friend Mike.

thanks for telling me about your friend mike it sounds like he was a really cool person and you were lucky to have known him.

why do you think he wanted the camera delivered personally?

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Mike wanted me to meet his former host family and to understand the breadth of what the connection meant to him. For him it was a lot more than just delivering a camera or running an errand, it was about creating connections across generations of volunteers.

The Clowner
Apr 20, 2019

I see past the sham that is society, and I'm into some incredibly fucked up shit.

swbm posted:

Sorry its just that being an mentally unbalanced over sharer who lives in west Africa was *my* posting gimmick

(USER WAS PUT ON PROBATION FOR THIS POST)

(USER WAS PERMABANNED FOR THIS POST)

Lmao

The Clowner
Apr 20, 2019

I see past the sham that is society, and I'm into some incredibly fucked up shit.

The_Continental posted:

On top of that, once you reach a certain proficiency in French and you're feeling comfortable: BAM! They start you on local language. Now you're learning a West African language, but the lesson is being taught in a language you just learned.

That owns

Spoggerific
May 28, 2009


How was crime where you were stationed? Did you or anyone you know end up becoming a victim of some kind of theft or whatever?

You also mentioned being moved a couple times due to political instability. Was there ever a point where you thought you weren't safe?

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Spoggerific posted:

How was crime where you were stationed? Did you or anyone you know end up becoming a victim of some kind of theft or whatever?

You also mentioned being moved a couple times due to political instability. Was there ever a point where you thought you weren't safe?

Given the communal nature of a lot of towns, crime was pretty low. There are of course assholes everywhere. A guy I know was on a bus and the road was blocked by bandits. They fired some shots in the air and the had everyone get off the bus, lay down, and they robbed people. The police arrived and did nothing to de-escalate the situation, and a shoot-out ensued.

That same volunteer was working privately for an NGO after he completed service and was mugged very near his house. He had been drinking quite heavily and was probably a pretty easy mark. They put him in a choke hold and he gave up his wallet. This was in Ouaga.


Horrible poo poo:
There was a volunteer murdered in Benin who reported on a teacher and Peace Corps employee who was raping high school aged students. A gang came in to her house and cut her throat. Peace Corps didn't really have protections in place for whistleblowers and has come forward and apologized to the family/ admitted that they really loving blew it.

The first time I moved wasn't because of any particular event, but rather the state department making the area off limits, likely due to military operations. There had been an increase in terrorist related activity in Mali and Islamist groups apparently acting violently towards westerners. There was a group of French backpackers kidnapped near Timbuktu iirc.

The second time I had to leave site was because of some military riots. I don't recall feeling unsafe despite waking up to the sound of AKs being fired near my house. I got in touch with our security officer and he gave us instructions to evacuate the area. We caught a bush taxi to a nearby village, where another volunteer was posted. We ended up staying at a catholic school/ monastery for about 2 weeks while everything calmed down. It was really more stressful than anything. I had put in a lot of work to get some momentum going and then everything kind of fell through a second time.

Outrail
Jan 4, 2009

www.sapphicrobotica.com


^^ that's pretty grim. What happened to the rapist/killers?

What other meat was on offer aside from chickens? Was Bush meat a thing in that area? Did you eat any nonstandard animals? Any nonstandard plants? What's the weirdest food they had?

Were there any cultural values/behaviors that was a little too far out there for you as a westerner? Are there any western habits that they saw as totally bonkers?

Did anyone try to set you up with their daughter? You touched on this already but without being gross did local woman see you/other western workers as a catch or novelty conquest?

What did you/locals do for fun?

Also more stories of cultural failure if you have them.

Original_Z
Jun 14, 2005
Z so good

I assume that new volunteers just get sent to replace the old ones, are the projects usually the same or do they get new ones?

Also, since everyone in the town knows the volunteer will only be there for 2 years, do you think it would discourage them from making a close friendship since the person will definitely leave eventually?

Did you ever get to a point where you didn't think you were going to make it?

Fart Car '97
Jul 23, 2003

o fuk traffic

Outrail posted:

You touched on this already but without being gross did local woman see you/other western workers as a catch or novelty conquest?

A 'Catch' in the sense that anyone growing up impoverished in a developing country would consider marrying a Westerner with means a 'catch', sure. "Novelty Conquest" would have been almost non-existent from a Male volunteer's standpoint. The idea of a woman initiating an encounter & sleeping with a male volunteer for fun would have been really uncommon, especially at a more remote site. Premarital sex isn't uncommon at all (in fact, many West Africans have just as many premarital partners as Americans, they just sleep with them in a much smaller timeframe), but it's also not discussed publicly. It's in secret and if it's bragged about, it's to close friends only, and the onus is almost entirely on the guy.

In West African countries it's much, much more common for female volunteers to date male nationals, and the male national is almost always going to be one that's well educated, of means, and from an urban center. You can develop incredibly strong relationships with folks at your village, but there culture & knowledge gap there is much, much larger there than it is with the nationals who grew up well educated in a bigger city. Plus, the Female volunteer isn't expected to provide for her partner nor is any expectation of marriage put on her. That stuff is all on the guy. The guy in a relationship pays for everything, takes care of everything, and is expected to arrange the marriage. Even moreso if the guy is a westerner, which puts male PCVs in a weird place in terms of dating locals.

Fart Car '97 fucked around with this message at 14:58 on May 20, 2020

20 Blunts
Jan 21, 2017



The_Continental posted:

I addressed some of these issues back when I responded to the goon who told me I was a neo-imperialist, but I'll expand a bit.

My biggest issue with voluntourism is that it tends to lag behind in terms of programming goals. The programs are designed around the experience of the participant and not necessarily around the lasting impact of the programming. There is a lot of work in West Africa that needs to be done that really doesn't feel cool or good. For example, female genital mutilation or excision is an incredibly divisive issue that needs addressing. Should it be addressed by foreigners? that's debatable. These folks tend to end up doing jobs that people in the host country could do a better job of themselves. A 19 year old kid from Indianapolis on "gap year" who wants to "help build a school" actually has very little to offer compared to a 27 year old 6'1 220lb African bricklayer with 4% body fat.

Often times the problems being solved aren't problems to begin with, aren't properly researched, and are unsustainable. Solar may seem like a great idea in a place like Africa, so lets install solar panels at this school so people don't have to pump water! Turns out the dust makes the panels ineffective, and pumping water was the only social outlet women in the village had before you put in the pump. You've now installed a costly piece of broken technology and potentially changed important social structures. Complex problems require cultural and technical experts and not 30 kids from a church group.

I think that the work I did with GEE had positive impact, and that at least a few girls lives were enriched. I think its impossible to measure who got more out of the experience. I certainly benefited greatly from my time there.

When the goals are lacking, the idea is to fall back on the cultural exchange, right? Even if you aren't crushing projects left and right daily, it's that old truth that sometimes just "being there" among people can go a long way. Maybe not as a lofty of achievement, but its still something.

Your chicken story sounds like the highest praise for a volunteer.

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Fart Car '97 posted:

In West African countries it's much, much more common for female volunteers to date male nationals, and the male national is almost always going to be one that's well educated, of means, and from an urban center. You can develop incredibly strong relationships with folks at your village, but there culture & knowledge gap there is much, much larger there than it is with the nationals who grew up well educated in a bigger city. Plus, the Female volunteer isn't expected to provide for her partner nor is any expectation of marriage put on her. That stuff is all on the guy. The guy in a relationship pays for everything, takes care of everything, and is expected to arrange the marriage. Even moreso if the guy is a westerner, which puts male PCVs in a weird place in terms of dating locals.

Yeah delving into this a bit deeper. When people of think of "sex tourists" they normally envision some chubby white neckbeard in Thailand. I found that in W. Africa there were lots of middle aged French, Belgian, German, and Dutch women who had hired strapping young local "guides". These guys would take them on moto rides to the desert and make camp, and ultimately be paid for sexual services.

Fart Car '97
Jul 23, 2003

o fuk traffic

The_Continental posted:

Yeah delving into this a bit deeper. When people of think of "sex tourists" they normally envision some chubby white neckbeard in Thailand. I found that in W. Africa there were lots of middle aged French, Belgian, German, and Dutch women who had hired strapping young local "guides". These guys would take them on moto rides to the desert and make camp, and ultimately be paid for sexual services.

The typical horrible western white sex tourist is very much alive and well in The Gambia

frogge
Apr 7, 2006




I once dated a gal who was in the Peace Corps. I think she was out in Kenya. It's been like a decade since I was with her so kinda fuzzy on that.

Tons of stories about returning home to find poisonous snakes/spiders in her hut and having to get someone to remove them, then by the end of her time there she did it herself. The Continental, you got any stories like that?

God Hole
Mar 2, 2016


i was youth development volunteer in eastern europe (Ukraine) up until this past March. we evacuated because of covid 3 years to the DAY after i arrived. a lot of my work also focused on women's education and empowerment. i'd say in Ukraine i had more consistent access to water, electricity, plumbing and public transport, however, and in my sociopathic performative empathy tinder pics i am perceived as being the same color as most of my students.

a lot of the things The Continental is describing could absolutely be said about the experience working in education in a rural environment in eastern europe. everything about Peace Corps culture/training is pretty universally applicable as well. especially training + host family poo poo.

I've actually really loved reading his answers because frankly cultural integration, professional integration, language learning, and just daily life in a foreign country are all incredibly loving hard and a lot of volunteers can't wrap their heads around all of it and end up bouncing off of their service HARD. the volunteers who talk like The Continental, showcasing a firm understanding of those dynamics and how to process and respond to them, are usually the ones doing really cool things at site, having meaningful experiences, creating lasting relationships, etc.

the best piece of advice i got came from the peace corps ask/tell thread on these forums years ago before i ever left: "first and foremost, peace corps is a cultural exchange. anything that happens on top of that is icing on the cake"

like continental said, the ones who came to save the world usually went home in tears. the ones who came to take shots of moonshine with a bunch of villagers and chase chickens around? those volunteers went places

peanut
Sep 9, 2007




Popping in to recommend Habitat for Humanity for a very short volunteer experience with clear goals, lots of support, no religious goals, and project locations across the world. (Something for the rest of us who can't/won't commit to full-time work.)

OP, please tell us more about life with less/unstable electricity.

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


frogge posted:

I once dated a gal who was in the Peace Corps. I think she was out in Kenya. It's been like a decade since I was with her so kinda fuzzy on that.

Tons of stories about returning home to find poisonous snakes/spiders in her hut and having to get someone to remove them, then by the end of her time there she did it herself. The Continental, you got any stories like that?

I woke up one night with searing pain in my hand. I was sleeping on a sort of woven cot under a mosquito net. I scrambled out from under it and grabbed a cleaver from my nearby food prep area. I turned around expecting something dramatic, but it was a small brown desert scorpion about the size of a milk bottle cap. I swung the cleaver down and chopped it in half. Then things got weird, the pain turned into a numbness and sort of worked its way up my arm and I got a headache. I started to get pretty tired. I took a couple of ibuprofen and sat down and sipped water. There weren't any deadly scorpions in the area, so the biggest danger is going in to shock from the pain. I think the tiredness was just the reaction from the huge adrenaline blast I woke up to.


God Hole posted:

i was youth development volunteer in eastern europe (Ukraine) up until this past March. we evacuated because of covid 3 years to the DAY after i arrived. a lot of my work also focused on women's education and empowerment. i'd say in Ukraine i had more consistent access to water, electricity, plumbing and public transport, however, and in my sociopathic performative empathy tinder pics i am perceived as being the same color as most of my students.

a lot of the things The Continental is describing could absolutely be said about the experience working in education in a rural environment in eastern europe. everything about Peace Corps culture/training is pretty universally applicable as well. especially training + host family poo poo.

I've actually really loved reading his answers because frankly cultural integration, professional integration, language learning, and just daily life in a foreign country are all incredibly loving hard and a lot of volunteers can't wrap their heads around all of it and end up bouncing off of their service HARD. the volunteers who talk like The Continental, showcasing a firm understanding of those dynamics and how to process and respond to them, are usually the ones doing really cool things at site, having meaningful experiences, creating lasting relationships, etc.

the best piece of advice i got came from the peace corps ask/tell thread on these forums years ago before i ever left: "first and foremost, peace corps is a cultural exchange. anything that happens on top of that is icing on the cake"

like continental said, the ones who came to save the world usually went home in tears. the ones who came to take shots of moonshine with a bunch of villagers and chase chickens around? those volunteers went places

Thanks for this! It at least sounds like you were able to have a good long service, albeit one with an abrupt end.


peanut posted:

Popping in to recommend Habitat for Humanity for a very short volunteer experience with clear goals, lots of support, no religious goals, and project locations across the world. (Something for the rest of us who can't/won't commit to full-time work.)

OP, please tell us more about life with less/unstable electricity.

I guess you just adjust to life without it, and when its on, its an added bonus. Also, village life starts very early, so by the time the sun is set you are typically ready for bed. Having electric lights on at night tends to attract bugs as well. I had an electric fan that absolutely saved my life during hot season when it was on.

If I absolutely needed to charge my phone I could go to a cellphone charging kiosk and pay some guy a few cents to charge it with a car battery. I could also access electricity at the school where I worked. At the end of the day you just learn to not rely on it. I had a headlamp that I used pretty extensively my first few months at site. I stopped using it because I didn't want to look like a tactical nerd.

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Original_Z posted:

I assume that new volunteers just get sent to replace the old ones, are the projects usually the same or do they get new ones?

Also, since everyone in the town knows the volunteer will only be there for 2 years, do you think it would discourage them from making a close friendship since the person will definitely leave eventually?

Did you ever get to a point where you didn't think you were going to make it?

Peace Corps develops sites based on a 3 volunteer cycle. You have a volunteer open the site, a second volunteer develop on that groundwork, and then a third volunteer hand off the projects to locals and close the site. This is how things are meant to work, so the typical life cycle of a site will be 6-7 years.

I don't think people really approach relationships as a zero sum game. I never experienced that mentality. Most people were really curious and just wanted to know more about me, the US, and John Cena. The inherent sense of inclusivity, community, and hospitality in West Africa precludes any feelings that "this person is only here for a short period of time". In fact, the transience of volunteers works in the opposite direction. Host families and neighbors tend to want to give the very best of what they have, and spend as much time as possible.

My host family's domicile consisted of 3 or 4 mud huts, and a larger concrete brick building. I was given this larger building, with a full elevated bed. My host family tended to sleep outside on the ground. I found out that the house was actually my host father's house, and reserved for important guests. It was the equivalent of giving up the master bedroom in your home and sleeping in the kitchen. I was very moved by their insistent hospitality, but really just wanted to be treated as anyone else. My host sister insisted on taking my laundry, which to me felt really weird. We reached a compromise and she let me wash my underwear and socks, although she did make fun of me while I did it. I sucked at hand washing clothes then.

Joey Steel
Jul 24, 2019

Big Dictatorship-of-the-proletariat Energy


No questions to ask, but goddamn does this rule.

Senator Sprinkles
Aug 16, 2008



What was the weather like? How did it change during your time there? (Seasons, rainy/dry seasons, etc) Was it very difficult to adapt to in your first few months there? Iím a big sweaty fat pampered dude and Iím afraid I would wuss out from the heat

Also could you give us more anecdotes about run-ins with local wildlife?

(Thank you for the work you did and the cultural exchange/education you were a part of, and for making this thread!)

Burt Sexual
Jan 26, 2006

I'm the SIX to your NEIN


Switchblade Switcharoo

Joey Steel posted:

No questions to ask, but goddamn does this rule.
please vote

Burt Sexual fucked around with this message at 06:39 on May 22, 2020

Fat Albert in a can
Aug 20, 2006


These stupid forest elves have NO appreciation for how hard I work on my hair.


The_Continental posted:

The weirdest thing about Malaria was the overwhelming feeling of existential dread that set in before I had any physical symptoms.

This is a great thread! TIL about the thing I quoted above. You never know when information like that might be useful

I did some googling and found https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918116/

quote:

Many such patients were diagnosed with malaria only some time later at the onset of fever, or when their symptoms progressed to coma. These reports described a common prodrome of hallucinations, anxiety, crying, violence, agitation, and a dreamy and confusional state [13].

The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


Senator Sprinkles posted:

What was the weather like? How did it change during your time there? (Seasons, rainy/dry seasons, etc) Was it very difficult to adapt to in your first few months there? Iím a big sweaty fat pampered dude and Iím afraid I would wuss out from the heat

Also could you give us more anecdotes about run-ins with local wildlife?

(Thank you for the work you did and the cultural exchange/education you were a part of, and for making this thread!)

Weather was hot all year round. June/July/Aug is typically when you would get rain, but up in the North there wasn't much of it. further south near Banfora and Bobo-Dioulassou the rains could get really epic. Someone should write a song about it.

Where I was stationed it was extremely arid, with The Harmattan wind blowing starting in November. I'd compare it to someone holding a blow dryer in your face while they throw sand at you. The wind crosses the Sahara and picks up heat and dust and creates a haze over everything. Some days it even helps to cool things down because you aren't getting direct sun. It does carry a lot of particulate matter though, and can get you sick.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmattan

I knew some pretty heavy guys and they struggled, but most of them lost a lot of weight. Women tended to gain or maintain their weight. I think its something to do with the starchy diet, but I'm no nutritionist and don't want to go down the route. Oddly enough you get used to the heat, and as long as you prioritize hydration and don't over exert yourself you'll do fine. I think the people who struggled the most with the heat were the triathlete types who expected to maintain some sort of training regimen despite the wildly different climate and nutrition. Also married couples who slept touching would be like "Dont loving touch me its too drat hot"

My buddy was a bigger dude and did fine, we had a complex relationship:



please excuse the fedora, I'm still a goon after all.

As far as local wildlife there wasn't anything too interesting. Lots of camels, goats, donkeys, chickens, etc. One morning I was having a cup of instant coffee and stepped into my courtyard to see a donkey just hanging his massive cock in the sand right outside my door. I should "WHAT THE gently caress!" and he just slowly trotted off, dragging is big ol' donkey penis in the sand.

I tried to keep a modest garden but it proved very difficult, as neighbors goats would often come in and just eat everything. They are truly a force of nature. One time I had a friend, who was a goat herder ask to borrow 5000CFA (~$9USD). It was fairly early in our friendship and I was a little worried, but he told me that his goats had gotten into a farmers fields and eaten crops. As such, they had been placed in a sort of "goat jail" and he needed the money to bail them out, so he could sell one and then pay me back. He did and I was grateful I could help him out.

Another time I heard some horrible shrieking from outside, and found that my neighbor was castrating his pigs. He was using a razorblade and some ash that he stuffed into the wound. The pig was not pleased. One of the neighbor girls, probably aged 6 or 7 was watching and dancing. I guess it helps the pigs grow bigger and be less aggressive.

The_Continental fucked around with this message at 07:21 on May 22, 2020

Randarkman
Jul 18, 2011



The_Continental posted:

please excuse the fedora, I'm still a goon after all.

I mean if you're actually in a country that's really hot with intense sun (especially one nearer the equator where you've got proportionally more UV light) actually wearing a brimmed hat when outside isn't such a bad idea, especially if you've got light skin. Don't necessarily know if fedoras are all that suited though(some sort of wicker hat would probably be good).
That and loose clothing. I don't know what your specific experiences are with suitable clothing, but that's what I learned that from going to the Middle East, especially in desert areas (in Jordan in particular), not for anything as involed or long-term as this mind you, just a longish trip some years back. Linen shirts are just the best for this, and keffiyehs. Even black or other dark clothing is actually pretty good when you're dealing with intense sun and strong heat, as long as they're loose fitting, because while they'll absorb heat from the sunlight very fast, most of that will go to heating up the cloth and not your body (again under the loose-fitting requirement) and black clothing is more efficient at radiating away your body heat, so you'll actually be able to cool down quicker in the shade (though if you had the time and opportunity and really needed to then stripping down would of course be more efficent again for this).

N. Senada
May 17, 2011


I wanted to do youth outreach in North Africa and wound up doing literacy work in Jamaica.

Most of my time wound up developing a local youth center even though I was assigned to a school. Served with my spouse so I feel like I had an easier time than a lot of PCVs. Then again, I got told about several couples who either left early or straight up divorced.

Miss my kids still, biggest reason I wanna go back

N. Senada
May 17, 2011


The applicationís s lot easier now than it was for OP. You have a lot more influence now where you wind up.

Hope the the country revived the program after the covid poo poo is under control.

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The_Continental
Jan 13, 2019

My god, Winston, is that infernal sun still giving my buttocks that entirely too cool smirk?!


N. Senada posted:

I wanted to do youth outreach in North Africa and wound up doing literacy work in Jamaica.

Most of my time wound up developing a local youth center even though I was assigned to a school. Served with my spouse so I feel like I had an easier time than a lot of PCVs. Then again, I got told about several couples who either left early or straight up divorced.

Miss my kids still, biggest reason I wanna go back

It seems like a crazy thing to do if your marriage is on the skids. Its guaranteed to be stressful the way I see it. What sort of difficulties did you face as a volunteer in a place like Jamaica? I imagine it would be tough considering the amount of tourism there, it just adds another layer of complexity with your relationship to the people and program.

N. Senada posted:

The application’s s lot easier now than it was for OP. You have a lot more influence now where you wind up.

Hope the the country revived the program after the covid poo poo is under control.


Unfortunately, Burkina had closed Peace Corps operations well before COVID hit. I wouldn't really call the place a "hotbed of radical islam" or anything but there were a couple bombings a few years apart and NGO workers and western expats were absolutely being targeted. I have heard that the application process has changed. At the end of the day, I felt Peace Corps was a dated organization in a lot of ways although I still agree with the core goals. I feel like I finished my service right as there was a big sea change in the way volunteers work.

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