Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I roam around...

How old is old enough?
Almost every day I get asked how old I am. Apparently it matters a lot to people here. I am far too old to be single and not actively looking. I am too old to not have multiple children by now. Talking to a group of women in my village they were all shocked when I said I was twenty-three. They then all told me their ages. With toddlers and babies on their backs, looking to be late thirties or early forties, they told me they were twenty-four and twenty-six. They then spread the word to their friends of how OLD I am. Hopefully I can avoid matchmakers in the village. I recently had it confirmed that female PCVs cannot reasonably expect to be just friends with any men our own age. It is interpreted as a boyfriend and we modify our behavior accordingly so that we aren’t alone with anyone in our houses. I miss having normal friendships, thankfully I know have a lot of friends under the age of twelve…=P

Catcalls
At dinner the other evening with Erin, we had a group of men (drinking/drunk) whistle at us. Unsurprised, we went to into the restaurant and sat on the patio. As we ate the men started to say “MEOW” at us rather loudly. Instead of whistling or hissing, they were performing their new form of a catcall at us. (This is all made even stranger by the fact that that the noise cats make here is called “mew”, not “meow”, and instead of “kitty kitty” they say, “mimi”, neither of which is “meow”.)Before we could say anything to them they stumbled away into the darkness.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree…
I haven’t had one for two years now. Spent Christmas in Fianaratsoa talking to a few of you on Skype and catching up. I was so happy to see my family on Christmas as my parents borrowed a web cam from the neighbors (many thanks to Phil and Sharon!). It was great to get to talk to everyone, it made my holiday very happy. I hope to be at internet in a few months that is good enough to do that again.

New Years!
Traveled up north to Mahajanga for New Years Eve celebrations. Ate arguably the best pizza on Madagascar at Marco’s and gelato. Also had fish kabobs on the boardwalk which we turned into fish tacos, we brought our own limes and everything. Drank a few beers and strolled the boardwalk with several hundred Malagasy people and went dancing to ring in the new year.

Mid-Service Conference
With one year left in our service, my stage met up to talk about projects, NGOs, and our plans for the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps. The second year of service supposedly goes by faster and you end up with more work so here goes nothing. I applied for funding for my Moringa project, primarily for seed to buy it and should find out next month whether I’ll be receiving it or not. I also got to meet with many NGO representatives and see quite a few of my friends.
In the time between then and finishing my medical exams, I went to a few get togethers and met RPCVs, embassy staff and marines. It was a lot of fun, not that I’m not ready to go back to my hut. I dislike living out of a bag and not being able to cook, but if I have to, being in good company and eating delicious food is a fine substitute.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I have a theory...

And here it is:
Everyone knows education is important for mental development and can be the biggest influence on improving a society. For the most part, these ideas seem basic, though somewhat foreign as concepts. What seems to go unnoticed in the developed world is the role that education plays on social development, the importance of which becomes apparent when most members of a community haven’t finished elementary school.
My theory goes somewhere along the lines of…social skills stop progressing at whatever grade people stop attending school. The presentation of the effects of this in adults are: mimicry (aka a half an hour of a group of adults mimicking one sentence such as, don’t touch me), poking or other touching that is not age appropriate, following other people around and talking about them in their presence (normally in front of the person in the same language they have been using). If you have these things happen to you, think “wow, its like the person is in 3rd grade,” then realize that they stopped school in 3rd grade, life begins to make sense. This theory applies just as well for more educated people as well. The older students, educated adults, and people who live around educated people are exposed to different social behavior and act in a different manner that most Americans would see as age appropriate. There’s something just weird about seeing fifty year old men mocking a volunteer then asking for money/beer. If that’s a sign of esteem, I’m still not comfortable with it.

Podcasts
I have just discovered the sanity-saving aspects of podcasts. After days of not speaking in English or hearing any English other than a random Celine Dion or Akon song, podcasts are AMAZING! From the more intellectual university talks to more practical “Stuff You Should Know” to comedy, I now have gotten hours of potentially life saving media. Celebrating ensues...=D

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I turn my camera on

and post new pictures.

www.alisonthieme.shutterfly.com