25 November 2011

culturally adjusting

IMG_7814orange roads, green trees, blue skies – these are the colors of your new life.

mali01at first you might go through some culture shock – such as waking up to a ram being slaughtered right outside your bedroom.

mali14you might also think the place is dirty.

mali22but you also think its beautiful.

mali19you’re adjusting – one bucket bath at a time.

mali03the nights are spent tucked in to avoid mosquitos, lizards, roaches, scorpions, spiders, or anything else that might want to crawl into bed with you.

IMG_7945these first few months are being spent in a village so you can become culturally adjusted.

mali16mornings begin with breakfast being heated over hot coals and sunlight sifting through dusty air.

mali17learning bambara is the priority at the moment. all day, every day.

mali15elearning about seeds.

mali18collecting them. drying them. saving them. activating them.

mali15of course then planting them.

mali14ahopefully, watching them grow.

mali13while also watching yourself and your fellow volunteers grow.

IMG_7933just like seeds – you’re currently living in a malian village to acclimate you to mali and learn the language and culture before being transplanted to your permanent site where you will be for the next two years.

mali24the goal is not to be culturally integrated. to do so would be to abandon your values as well as yourself in order to fit in with your new culture.

mali10hto be adjusted means to be aware of the differences between your own culture and of your host culture and to find the balance between them.

mali20every day, you see something new, and every day, you ponder more and more about your own values while living in another.

mali12the days are as rhythmic as the pounding of corn and millet.

mali11the pounding continues with the dancing of feet and arms.

mali02your new life can also be summarized by six items.

insect repellent – avoiding malaria

bucket – so you can go to the pump and get drinking water.

bleach – to kill off anything bad in your water

solar lamp – so you can study at night

headlamp – so you can walk at night

toilet paper – because you aren’t ready to wipe the malian way

essential items to help you adjust.

mali04one item you’ve loved in every place you’ve ever visited or lived: the bicycle.

IMG_7846what other method lets you explore with the wind in your face and your mind free to roam?

IMG_7875eight hours of bambara a day. that leaves just a small precious amount of daylight to be savored before the night settles in.

mali21it could be spent playing uka.

creek01but what you really love to do is yala yala.

the bambara word for walk around.

mali15awith your fellow trainees, this is what you do. a direction is picked, a path is followed, and the legs find a nice place to rest.

creek02you can be found sitting at the bank of a small creek.

IMG_7852or enjoying the shade underneath the mango trees.

mali09or exploring the rice/millet/corn fields.

mali05wherever you end up, the discussions are always on.

mali05cyou’re thankful to have good company.

mali23you’re slightly worried about the isolation you’ll go through later, but for now you don’t waste a moment exchanging thoughts.

mali09ahere, just a one minute walk from your temporary new home, you can do what you love most.

mali06the tilebin. the sun falling.

mali07the only thing you need.

mali08the only thing you want.

mali10its what calms you and prepares you for the next day.

donni donni. little by little. petit a petit.

2 comments:

donna said...

i keep checking back.....to see if you appear.....Wow i am blown away......you are bending and flexing in ways most people can't truly even imagine.....i am fascinated by your walk....and by your strength....and sheer courage.....

Mélanie said...

Des souvenirs pour moi, le début d'une belle aventure pour toi je l'espère... vivement que nous partagions cela ensemble ! et toujours de si jolies photos, des mots justes, des reportages qui nous emmènent avec toi par la pensée... Merci jolie Cathy ! Kiss xxx
Mélanie depuis la grise et verte Normandie