Saturday, March 29, 2008

I know that I promised an entry on Weds, but it is really hard to find the time/motivation to write these things out on a French keyboard, so, I am going to keep this short. We finished our last exams Friday, and leave tomorrow morning for our Grande Excursion. We will be traveling to Segou, Mopti, Dogon Country and Djenne. I am super excited, esp. about Dogon! After we return on April 9 we start our individual research time. I have decided to explore how feminist and political messages are spread through the media, so I will be working with a local radio station, Radio Guintan, who claims to be "The Voice of Women" in Mali. Time is flying by now, just during the past week I have gone to a traditional wedding, dancing with Rastafarians at a club, hiking in the mountains, hunting for peanut butter in the huge outdoor market and to a traditional artisan market. I promise that I will write more after the excursion!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Doing some laundry with my host dad (not really, it was posed)
Me and the ugly baby in Sanankoroba

Claire and I with our tiny host father from the village stay in Sanankoroba
My room!!
My house!!

Me and my youngest sister Mami (age 2)

Me and ms host sister Fatou (age 5)

My awesome hosts brothers Ousmane (age 7) and Papa (age 11)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

We just returned from our village stay yesterday, it was truly an amazing experience, and means that I have just passed the 1/3 mark for my program (10 weeks to go). We were all paired with one other American student (except for our lone boy, who had to rough it alone) and placed with families that seemed more like compounds or small armies. I was with a girl named Claire (or Awa Diarro). We had a wonderful time, and the week really flew by. Lists seem to work best for me, so, here is a list of the best things about the village stay:

Our main host, who Claire and I affectionately nicknamed "our little father," because he was TINY. (We have a picture of the three of us together, we postively dwarf him).

Getting to try Bogolan (mud dye) and Batik (wax dye). My Boulangerie t-shirt is not amazing, but the Batik is pretty cool, I made a giant blue wall hanging with elephants for my dad.

Our day helping the village women work. We got to wash cloths, bathe babies and pound millet (I was apparently very lacking at this last thing, whenever I would start all of the women would start to exclaim "oh no, Jamila is too tired, someone else take over," even though I really wasn't tired, I'm just not strong.

The crazy woman who thought that the funniest thing ever was to try to get Claire and I to nurse her baby, which consisted of poking us in the boobs for awhile, and then laughing hysterically for 15 minutes (this is after she offered to give it to us to take back to the US. We refused, if were going to kidnap a baby, it will at least be cuter).

The dance that the village women organized for us. Aka laugh at how little rythme American girls have). And, as the least capable dancer of 18 girls whose attempts where already laughable, I was quite a hoot.

Realizing how happy I was to return to my Bamako family, whom I have been with for nearly a month aleady. It was especially nice when my host mom told me that my little siblings asked when I was getting back everday, little Fatou, the five year old, apparently felt very strongly that the needed to "go get Jamila." They even waited to celebrate my oldest brother's eleventh birthday until Saturday, so that I could be there. This meant the I got to see the preparations from a live bird through a killing (my brothers thought it was hilarious to chase me with bloody feathers and claws), through the thorough frying of everything.

Now I am getting back into the swing of life in Bamako, though we only have three more weeks of classes, followed byour two week grand excursion and then ending with 5 weeks of research. Unfortunately, I am a little sick at the moment, and am being forced into a clinic visit tomorrow to check for Malaria. The worst part (other than projectile vomiting all over my family's house), is that I missed my Sunday run with Papa, my newly eleven year old brother, an event that always makes me miss Jesse alot (though it's nice that I can keep up with Papa). Anyway, I will try to write at least once more before the Grand Excursion in April, and sorry for any spelling mistakes, I blame the French keyboard/ my potential Malaria.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Best Things about Mali so far:

Ice cream when it is over 100 degrees outside

My brothers' obsession with Celine Dion (nothing is funnier than watching a group of 7-11 year old boys belt out "My Heart Will Go On," or hearing them try to explain why her lyrics speak to them).

The fact that in response to the traditionnal Bambara greeting I ni Wula (you and the day) women respond Nse (my power) while men answer Nba (my mom).

The fact that I am asked by at least ten guys everyday if they can come "cosie" with me (which means to chat).

My new obsession with the soap opera De Coeur Au Peche (a Brazillian show dubbed over in French which I watch with the maid, who only speaks Bambara).

The speed at which Malians are able to greet each other (despite the fact that it is necessary to ask after the health of everyone in each others' family, down to the second cousin of their third wive's daughter's former neighbor).

How everyone here, upon discovering that I'm American rather than French (as soon as I open my mouth), likes to inform me that they "speak English small-small."

How somehow everyone within a three mile radius of my house knows my name, and likes to scream it, at the top of their lungs about 100 times whenever I walk by, but then gets flustered when I look at them.

How, on the rare occassion that I see another white person, my immediate reaction is "what is that Toubabou (Bambara for French/white person) doing here?"

Realizing that my Bambara teacher's motto "no worry, no hurry" applies to pretty much every aspect of my life.

Discussing Barack Obama and "Madame Clinton" with my host dad.

How all the neighborhood kids know when I go to my stop to wait for my ride to school, and enjoy nothing better than to shout "bonne soir" ("good night," despite the fact that it's 7am) at me for up to 30 minutes.

The concept of "circulinear time" (aka how if I am supposed to meet a Malian at 8, they'll show up at 10, with 4 of their friends, and we won't get to our destination until 1, because they'll know 4 people along the way, and they really need to buy some soap.