Friday, December 10, 2010

A Whole New World

Currently back in Tubaniso for IST (In-Service Training). From now on, I'll have more regular internet access because my world was essentially flipped upside down about 4 weeks ago. I received a call roughly 4.5 weeks ago telling me that the American Government had lowered the limit of operations for Peace Corps staff. This meant that they believed Nioro du Sahel to be too far North and that they would have to change my site, which was an incredible shock to me. I had spent 2 months trying as hard as possible to integrate into my site and was really getting to know the community when I got this call. Basically, they believe that Al Qaeda is too active in Mauritania and since I was a half hour drive from the border, they decided to move me for security issues. This happened at a time when I was finally getting work done and feeling like a part of the community. I was mentally prepared to stay there for 2 years, and all that changed in the matter of minutes. They let me stay until Tabaski or Seliba (literally big party as opposed to selifitini which is little party which occurs after Ramadan) in Bambara. I had gotten to know some of the Sherif's family really well and insisted that I stay because there were a lot of foreigners coming into town to celebrate and I really wanted to see how it happened in a conservative Muslim town. So I got to celebrate with my host family. The way they celebrate this holiday is by killing a goat, cooking the meat in various ways and feasting for the next 3 days. Everybody makes jokes about how they are going to eat meat until they have diahrrea, which is funny until it actually happens to you. Now I am in the Segou region, near the city of San. I also have to learn Bomu, the language of the Bobo people who are primarily farmers. I have changed my name again, it is now Motien Diarra, which means "the man who does not lie"/"the man who only tells the truth", which I figured would help me earn trust in the community. Most people that I met wanted me to take on the last name Diassana, which is the last name of the people who founded Tominian (my new site), and the name of the currently dugutigi. It also means leader, but I already get a lot of people calling me leader or important person, and so I really don't want to perpetuate that thought and so I kept Diarra. Also, Diassana is a very Bobo name, and currently, I can't speak Bomu, so by keeping Diarra I'm trying to demonstrate that I am not fully Bobo and that I can speak Bambara... kind of.
So in reality there is an obscene amount of information I want to post, so I'll post little bits at a time.
Now, if you want to mail things to me, please mail them to:

Mario Romero
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 75
San, Mali

I am now significantly closer to other volunteers and it is absolutely true when they say that every Peace Corps volunteer has a different experience. Already, in the 2 weeks I was at my new site, I have had an entirely different experience and developed a new perspective on Mali as a whole.

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