Sunday, July 6, 2014

Short and Sweet

This is going to be short,
I added sweet as that is how the expression goes promises on that front. The last two weeks have been pretty decent weeks overall, punctuated with some tough times.

Work continues to be interesting, I definitely feel more able to do some basic parts of the job but am now at a point where I need to start being more entrepreneurial in the work that I take on, to demonstrate that I have the ability to seek out and do work myself rather than simply follow tasks. I have a few topics that I am interested in, particularly in the field of deforestation and environment in general. Hopefully I'll get some time this week to learn more about those areas here in Burkina Faso.  I have also enjoyed getting to the point where basics are understood as it has allowed me to ask more questions about substance, career and depth and less about necessity, deadlines and font-size.  I am thankful for patient co-workers and supervisors as I continue to learn a lot and also thankful for the ability to at least learn lessons fairly quickly.

Last weekend (29th), was a jam-packed weekend of social events. On Friday evening, a bluegrass band from Tennessee (although 2 of them are actually from just outside Raleigh) called the Barefoot Movement that the Embassy brought over for 2 weeks played at the French Cultural Center. They are an excellent group and I would definitely encourage you all to listen to them online and buy their cds if you enjoy this style. They all had great energy and the bassist I thought was particularly energetic when playing. After that, I took 2 folks with me and met up with my 3 European friends who I often hang out with and we just went out and had drinks and relaxed.  Saturday was definitely socially-charged with a 6-8 goodbye dinner party for one of my coworkers and then 8-4ish evening at my friend's house where they had a bunch of people over. That night was amazing as it was a collection of Burkinabe, French, Swiss, Brit, Japanese and even a few Americans and we talked lotcal politics (of course seomthing I'd find fascinating), cultural norms and the role of men and women in the household, work environment etc. So incredibly fascinating to have such a diverse dialogue with people from all over the world, from various religons or lack thereof and from different economic backgrounds. This weekend (4th, 5th and 6th) has also been pleasant. Of course, when you work in an embassy, July 4th is a big deal so there was a huge evening organized with hundreds of guests attending. I got to help a bit with the evening by standing by our tent that discussed the Embassy's "Self-Help program" where we give some grants to 15-20 organizations across the country each year. Each organization is usually a women's group or handicapped, widows etc. they are meant to help support income-generating activities although they are not always direct income-generating. For example, in some cases we will pay for a well as that will free up hours upon hours of time (mostly for women) to do other things.  It was cool to be part of the committee this year and it was fun to try to explain what the purpose of the program is to lots of our guests. A much more popular part that my office (although not barely me at all) was involved in was the Expo which featured various american-run companies or companies that sell American goods. I thought the organizers did a great job, for my Fletcher friends, Lala and Galloway's Clair de la Lune group was there and I think that they got some good (and deserved publicity).

I will end this now but before I do I want to take a minute to thank the many, many people who have written me, called me etc. since Tuesday.  Many people know this, but while biking on Tuesday, I was hit by a vehicle and sent flying quite far. For the sake of posterity, I will not go into details but I am incredibly grateful to have not broken anything, for my head to have come out with no serious damage and that no one else was hurt in any way. Despite some pain and some ugliness, I am expected to be completely fine and look normal (or as normal as I ever have!) in a few weeks.  I am so incredibly grateful for the helmet, for the many people-from emergency responders to doctors to nurses to embassy staff and to friends for all they have done to help me and then check on me.  While it is not an event I wish to repeat, I can confirm that time really does slow down in that situation and that bike helmets are 100% life-saving tools, despite how ridiculous one looks when wearing them.  Thanks again to all, I am excited to start back at work for whole days again and am looking forward to feeling 100% again at some point...

Peace and love to all!  Sorry for no photos, my camera card has decided to stop functioning and... I'm too tired to bother seeing if I can fix it or I'll have to format the sd card...

Thanks for being forgiving and reading just text... and listen to barefoot movement! :-)

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