General Update:

I have finished my first three months at site where my main objective was to learn the needs of Banzon and my primary assignment. Following my period of study (Etude), I went to general In-Service Training and then language In-Service Training with an Information Communication and Technology committee meeting sandwiched in-between. After being out of site for nearly a month, I returned to spend Christmas and New Years in Banzon.

On the whole, Christmas wasn’t all that different. Yes, it wasn’t cold and I was roughly five thousand miles away from my friends and family in the US, but the other essentials were covered. I went to a catholic midnight mass service that was done in both French and Jula. Mass took nearly four hours, and contained the standard readings in two languages with very nonstandard music. Christmas morning, I opened the presents my parents had sent me that included a miniature Christmas tree and my normal stocking of new underwear. The rest of the day was filled with eating and lounging with my new friends of family of Banzon. Christmas evening was probably the most fun, when I went out to the local bar for dancing.

New Years Eve was just another day, more or less. I did have a big dinner with the family and was stopped from starting my garden because it was a holiday and I shouldn’t work. I fell asleep around 11PM, which in itself was a feat because I normally go to bed around 8PM given that there is no sunlight or electricity. The real fun for New Years happened on the first of the year. There was lots of drinking and food. I had introduced the game UNO the day before and it was a big hit. After playing UNO for several hours, we moved to another new game for Burkinabe, ‘pin the tail on the donkey.’ It feels more fitting here, given all the donkeys regularly seen during the day. Everyone seemed hesitant at first, regarding me as crazy since I thought pinning a paper tail on a paper donkey would be fun. After a few turns, people couldn’t wait to go again and were trying to figure out a system for getting the tail just right while blindfolded. If I can find the paint, I might make a permanent donkey mural for future game play.

Since all the holiday fun finished, I have been trying to reestablish a routine. The karate club is underway and doing well. The English club is set to start this Saturday. I have my own personal garden that I have been working on and I hope to have the fence finished soon. My first veggies will be lettuce and kale. I don’t have enough time to get other vegetables started before the hot season lays waste to everything. For the rice center, I will be doing mainly computer work for the first few months. The women have a backlog of data that they need entered (starting in 2010). I will be helping them to enter the data and teaching them how to work excel. I plan on designing set forms for each of their different records as well as a file storage system. I will be helping at the health center, but initially I will be just floating around since my Jula isn’t strong enough to openly converse with the woman.

My life is easily summed up as a battle to remain productive and studying languages. Happy 2013, I look forward to seeing what comes of it.