Sunday, November 13, 2011

Feeling like an African Woman

Heeeeeeeeeeeeyyy guys what up??
For this week's post, I thought I'd talk about a Medley of things, becuase I don't really have one SOLID topic to go on about. So, the first thing (and freshest on my mind) is:
So yesterday, my mom decided to take out her braids, which meant I spent a good portion of my day sitting behind her, and running my fingers through her hair, picking out those teensy weensy oh so numerous days, and while we did that, we were gossiping and talking about all sorts of things, and I couldn't help but to feel like a traditional/stereo-typical african woman. It was a postive experience, btw. I definately approve.
Another incident (event really) that had me feeling like a real African was when I got hungry yesterday, so I took some money, walked to the small shop in my neighbor hood (turn left when you get out of the house, and left again at the bigger road, walk about 2 blocks and presto! there it is!) anyhoo, so there i was at the boutique with some money and a hungry tummy, and I succesfully managed to buy a small loaf of bread, and 2 bags of milk (MILK!!! in BAGS!!!! could life get any better??) by speaking a mixture of French and Bambara. It was pretty awsome, to say the least, knowing that if I were lost in the streets, I'd still be able to feed myself out here :)
actually, you know what? Today's topic is FEELING LIKE AN AFRICAN WOMAN.
anyhoo back to the braids. So, while I was picking out my mom's braids, I was considering getting some myself. It would be a really cool thing to try (not to mention a different look, and a new experience!) but I'm really scared of the "after look" (that is the FrizzBomb that people call hair) I like my hair very non frizzy, and picked out braids...welp that doesn't equal nonfrizzy at all. So I'm hesitating on the braids...
A lot of teens get weaves too (like every week, they're sporting a new 'do) I probably wont go for the fake hair, but if I could find somebody here who straightens hair (non chemically too, gosh no, my hair!!!) that would make me feel semi-I AM AN AFRICAN WOMAN. Haha.
What I can't believe, is how much time has gone by. I've been here for over 2 months, which means I have about 2 months, and I'm back home again. I'm at the halfway point, and yet I feel that I've only now just begun to wrap my mind around african traditions, african concepts, african languages, everything african. And I'm thinking wow, I can't wait to go home and see y'all again, and see my friends and my family, but at the same time, I know that two more months isn't nearly enough, and I want MORE time. Oh, the confusion.
Welp, I guess that its for now, sorry no pictures this time, nor a good blog post. Maybe I'll try harder next time (ANDREA! YOU LAZY GOAT)
Love to each and every one of you :)
OH BEST WEEKEND EVER. I talked to my sister, and my "big brother" and my best friend. Could I honestly ask for more? (Actually, yes I could, but I prefer to appreciate than complain)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Walking home from school

Hey guys!
So last Sunday (2 days ago) was Fete de Tabaski, which is basically the Muslim New Year. I got new clothes made (again! yay!) out of bazin this time, which is kinda like a plasticy fabric. Its red and yellow and SUUUPER pretty. We actually didn't do much, or at least I didn't. Apperently my dad killed a goat while I was asleep. Too bad nobody told me to wake up early :( I've decided that it would be easier if I had a Flickr account for all my pictures cuz I have a good number of them and not everbody is my facebook friend (sorry) Saturday, I had my first Bambara class, and we learned the alphabet, and phrases to say for the New Year:
Sambe sambe
Si tigiyala
Ba tigiyala
Fa tigiyala
Che tigiyala
Its basically a greeting, and then you list every family member you can possibly think of and wishing them a good health for the year, and to see them the next year. The response is Amiina. The grand fete (big party) was on Sunday and yesterday, Monday, we didn't have school :D
Speaking of school, I thought it would paint an interesting picture describe the things I hear and see on the way home from school:
  • I see naked children taking a bath in a small tub in the middle of the road
  • I see little boys playing with sticks and car tires (using the stick to roll the tire down the road)
  • I see toddlers running after baby lambs and scaring the poor thing. I also hear the children screaming and laughing, as well as the baby lamb bleating its little heart out
  • I see (and smell) small piles of trash burning (on purpous, I think)
  • I see hens and chicks pecking for food between the non-burning piles of trash
  • I see roosters fighting for dominance (and I hear them crowing, too)
  • I see little children running around and I hear them run up to me to say good evening, because I am clearly not African
  • I see a big road filled with zooming cars that intimidates me every time I need to cross (I've gotten better at crossing, and there is a stop light thank god)
  • I see (and smell, oh gosh the smell) people throwing out waste in the middle of the road (never EVER walk through a puddle, you never know if its clean water or not...)
  • I see cars and motorcycles having a hard time driving, becuase the road is so very rocky and uneven
  • I see goats tied up to trees or in pens
  • I see men sitting outside of their houses, looking kinda bored
  • I see woman walking with big trays on their heads, carrying a mountain of products, be it fruit, shoes, anything and everything is carried on top of their heads.

Welp! Thats it for today :) I'll write more soon <3
Andrea Vielma

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The wedding, my week, and everything else in between

My Henna!!! Its all faded now :( But these are pictures from when it was still very fresh :)

So the wedding was pretty cool. I got up early in the morning, cuz the bride and groom would be signing the book at 9 am. My mom had a new outifit made for that (it was yellow with purple details) and I wore my yellow dress. We drove around going first to the house (I think everybody had gathered there to drive to the signing together) then to some other place, back to the house, then we went to a different house (there were two weddings going on) then to a restaurant place where the brides and grooms danced. Afterwards, we went home to eat lunch, and change into our second outfits. After that we went back to my aunt's house, ate again (SUCH GOOD FOOD) My mom's little sister gave me a lesson on eating food with your hand. It was embarassing, and amusing >.< Its surprising how different our lives are. She's 16, a year younger than me, and she's already married, and has a little baby boy (He was 3 months old, and an adorable little fat thing).She was an expert at eating with her hands and taught me the proper "technique". She pushed at me to eat alot, so that I would get big, and marry soon. (She was also convinced that I needed to get married here.) Overall, she terribly sweet, even if she thought I was funny for wanting to get married in 10 years (or more, but I though it would be best if I didn't mention that) So anyways, after eating again, we went outside to the street, where people were playing music under a tarp, singing, or sitting and gossiping in chairs. At some point, people starting singing about the guests. The singers basically praised the family and person that they were singing about, and people would come up and do 1 (or both) of 2 things: they either raised their hand as if to say, Hey! They're singing about you! You're amazing Woohoo! and/or they gave the person money. Nene was the second person to be sung about, but she got the most money. I have the most popular mommy haha :) After a few minutes of singing, the music would speed up and everybody would get up and dance. Then, they would move on to another person. The dancing of the wedding reminded me of the Conga line, because basically, people line up and kinda start dancing in place until the person in front starts moving. She (it was all women, men were on the other side of the street talking) then danced up to the last person in line (everybody behind following her, of course) until a circle was made. And then people danced around or in the circle. The dancing didn't last too long, there was a lot of it, but the amount of dancing compared to singing and money-giving was tiiiny. We went home late in the evening (but before 6 still) and that was the wedding. There was a lot of driving going on it was crazy!!!

My dad came home last saturday (exactly a week ago) and its been great to have him back :D On Thursday, I went to an orphanage with the other Yes Abroaders, and we planted trees. I was expecting an orphanage like the one we visited in Kenya aka a large house building run by some very nice rich people and a lot of small kids running around. It was nothing like that at all. Instead, we walked into a small village like area, with a lot of small houses. In each house there lives a "Mom" and an "Aunt" (She basically helps the mom take care of the kids, and if the mom has to leave, takes over her role. Each family can have up to 10 kids. There were 150 kids total (more boys than girls, but only by a slim margin) and about 15 families. The smallest was just a baby, and the oldest are about 16. They have a school in the village, and a small playground, as well as a sports field. The man who runs the village is called "Dad" to all the kids. These are kids who have been abandonded or who's parents can't raise them for financial reasons. They're basically adopted by the families, and when they are older, they find their bioligical parents. The director says that when each kid turns 5, their history is told, because one must be able to accept their past to have a future. Anyhoo, after the tour, we planted trees out by the school (the holes were already dug, we kind just placed the trees in the hole, filled up the hole, and watered the trees. It was a pretty cool experience though. We met some Malian students who had studied in the US for a year, they were all darlings.
Thats it for now, I'll be sure to post something next week!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wedding Tomorrow Wedding Tomorrow!!!

AKNDNANDIADNA'DHEINAI3 K\474E[PA78EJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm super duper uber hella mella mad excited cuz tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow there's gonna be a wedding and its gonna be biiiiig and its gonna take all dayyy and I have pretty Malian clothing and the clothe matches my mom's outfit but our models are different and my hands have Henna and OMG its sooo pretty. The henna here is different though. I'm used to Middle Eastern henna, which is this green pastey substance that when it dries, flakes off and leaves the skin stained with a reddish/brown color. The henna here, is black, for one, like a gel, and gets washed off when it dries. There is also a ver red henna which was even more like gel. That went on my hands. My mom got a different sort of henna though. While I had a guy using drawing designs on my hands with henna, my mom had a woman who was applying tape to her feet, palms and finger tips, in geometrical patterns. Then, she applied henna to these areas, but this henna was green, and like clay. The lady used her fingers to mold the henna to my moms feet, palm and fingertips, then covered them with plastic bags to let them dry. Later (like hours later) the henna got scraped off with a large knife, and the tape got taken off. So most of the foot had red henna, and where the tape was, there was unstained skin. Another powder was then applied to the foot (mixed with water, its grey, and kinda looks like ashes) and when this was later taken off (plastic bags for another 2 hours) the henna then looks black. Its really interesting, cuz the henna goes over the fingernails too, and then its like nail polish. I don't have henna on my nails though, just the top of my hands going down to each of the finger until it reaches the nail and then going up my wrist stopping halfway up my elbow. Anyhoo, thats the henna. As I said, I got traditional Malian clothing, and the clothe matches my mom. We both went in and got measured (Found that my body is kinda hourglass shaped ;] )  My mom and I got different models of clothing though, she has a looser and long shirt, with sleaves whereas mine is tighter, shorter, has no sleeves, and it has a collar-like thing going around the neck. My mom also got her hair done, and is gonna get a lot of makeup done too. Tomorrow, I'm waking up at 7, because the signing is happening at 9. Here, people sign a book, to officiate the marriage. Anyhoo, thats that. As you can tell, I'm super duper excited, cuz I feel like a real Malian now, which is pretty cool, if ya ask me. I'm going to bring my camera and flipcam to take pictures and record videos. It will be really cool to have souvenirs of that.
Anyhoo, school gets better and better, and I understand a lot more. Its getting easier to take notes too, thank goodness. I'm making more friends, and my old friendships are getting stronger. I'm starting to build a harem of boys...A dream come true! Haha, outside the school, there are ladies who sell drinks and food, so during break or after school, I can get something to eat or drink, which is nice. There have been a couple of schedule changes for me. Spanish, on Tuesdays, has been moved from 15 hours-1700 to 1300-1500 which means I have to eat lunch at school, but then I get out early and I'm done for the day. Also, starting next November, I will be having tests every other Wednesday afternoon switching off from Math to Phsyics/Chemistry. I get off early on Thursday, but again, soon I will have the option to come back to school to participate in sporty activities (or cultural activities, apperently) or just watch. Monday and Friday continue to be full day, normal schedule. I'm starting to miss my school. I never realized how...liberating it was to be able to think outside the box. Here, teachers expect you to learn material the way the present it to you. They not only tell you WHAT to do, they tell you HOW to do it. I have since decided that I hate Hate HATE being told how to do things. Which sucks for me. But it has me appreciating American education all that much more. I can't wait to take my education into my own hands again. Welp, I gotta get off the computer, cuz my brother is standing behind me, rocking the chair, threatening to spill me off of it if I don't give it to him NOW I miss everybody until next weekend!!
Au revoir <3

Sunday, October 16, 2011

L'ecole (School D:)

Oh my goodness gracious, school here is Very different from the school system in America. The first major differences are: I have only 3 classes a day and the average class lasts 2 hours. Class time is spend writing down just about everything the teachers says, making him/her the only speaker and students never say a thing. The only questions asked are "can you repeat what you said?/ how do you spell that?" I have chosen to study Science Exact at the 12th grade, meaning that more emphasis is placed on Math and Science-8 hours of math every week and 6 hours of science. These are the only classes that get repeated. Every other class is once a week. So, this is how my schedule goes:

Wake up at 5:45, and get ready for school
Wake up at 5:45, and get ready for school
Wake up at 5:45, and get ready for school
Wake up at 5:45, and get ready for school
Wake up at 5:45, and get ready for school
Assembly, for lack of a better word: basically, the flag is raised and the national anthem is sung. Then, Math class.
3 hours of Biology first thing Tuesday morning. Honestly, this makes me want to hop on the next plane flying back to America with a second glance or thought.
2 hours of Physics or Chemistry, usually Physics. Although once it was chemistry.
2 hours of Math. Not much else to say.
Physics/Chemistry for two hours. What else can I say?
Ah hour of Philosophy***, followed by a 15 minute break
Still more Biology D: and then a 15 minute break (!!)
Bible studies, if I’m correct (Biblio Etude in French) Basically an hour of free time (SO MUCH FREE TIME <3) and then there’s another 15 minute break
An hour of drawing or music! Music class, by the way, does NOT consist of making music. It’s taking notes on the scales. (sob) Again,  another 15 minute break
Now, here, I’m supposed to have an hour off, but I think the teacher and other students decided to have an hour of math here, and get off an hour earlier for lunch. 15 minute break.
2 more hours of Philosophy (3 hours in total)
2 hours of Physics or Chemistry, whichever one the teacher feels like teaching, as far as I’m concerned.
2 hours of Math. And then I go home for lunch, yummm.
1 hour of informatique, basically a class on computers. Then I get to go home an hour early! (I walk)
Second hour of math class, and then I go home an hour early. I usually walk home.
Lunch break! Usually, my mom picks me up and drives me home, but sometimes I walk. I spend this time eating, watching TV, and completing my homework
Lunch break! Usually, my mom picks me up and drives me home, but sometimes I walk. I spend this time eating, watching TV, and completing my homework
Lunch break! Usually, my mom picks me up and drives me home, but sometimes I walk. I spend this time eating, watching TV, and completing my homework
Lunch break, continued. Again, either driven or I walk home, to eat, watch TV, and do homework.
Lunch break, continued. I eat, watch TV, and do homework.
History/Geography (switches every week)***
Spanish class! Although, the teacher has yet to show up to class (which means that after an hour of no show, we go home…early! Because of this, I walk home)
Devoirs, which is basically a 2 hour period for tests. Since school just started, it’s basically 2 hours of free time, which means NO CLASSES :D
Basically free time, although in my schedule this block is titled “Sporty and Cultural Activities” In other words, NO CLASSES
English class. Basically 2 hours of boredom although I do pay attention, take notes, and participate. But its still, 2 hours of boredom.
Finally, school is done for the day. I go home and basically rest, eat, do homework, and go to bed at 9 or 10 (or in between!)
Finally, school is done for the day. I go home and basically rest, eat, do homework, and go to bed at 9 or 10 (or in between!)
At some point, I’ll probably go home at this time, but for now, I’ve been home for 2 hours.
Been home for 2 hours, and I continue staying home heehee J
Finally, school is done for the day. I go home and basically rest, eat, do homework, and go to bed at 9 or 10 (or in between!)

*From 10:30 to 10:45 I have a 15 minute break called recreation, but there weren't enough cells to put this as its own slot.
** This is called Inter-Classe or In Between Classses. Basically Eating Time. Recreation is also eating time.
***Philosophy and History/Geo make me wanna hurl, becuase the teachers basically launches into a lecture with little room from breath and don't write what they say. So my notes are very messy, and don't make any sense at all :P

Notes taken:
No textbooks are used, at all. Teacher told a kid to cut his hair. Students clean the chalk board when it needs to be cleaned (about 3 times per lesson) as well as the classroom (I sweep the floor every monday and friday). Stand up when the teacher walks into the room (students stay in the same classroom all day, and teachers move around) School logo either means Educating about Life and Love or Educating Life and Love. Most of my teachers are male. On Monday-Wednesdays, I wear a blue uniform consisting of a shirt and skirt, although after lunch, I have the option to change into a white t-shirt with a red collar. Thursdays and Fridays, I wear a brown dress. Both have the same patterned cloth.

Saturday and Sunday I try to wake up at nine, and I spend my days relaxing. (Watch tv, socialize with my mom's friends/family, soak up the sunshine homework)

p.s Completely un-school related but next Sunday, there is ANOTHER wedding (been to three so far) and I got a traditional Malian costume made. ITS SUPER PRETTY I CAN'T WAIT TO WEAR IT!!! Pictures will be up on facebook!!!!

A bien tot!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This will be my school starting October 3rd, Lycee Sacre Coeur :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Picture Perfect Africa

So yesterday, the 22nd of September, was Independence Day here in Mali, but I found that my family did nothing to celebrate it. Later that day when I talked to Meena, I found out that people here don't really celebrate Independence Day (but apperently, New Year is big!) I really enjoy sharing and comparing stories with her, becuase I learn a lot, such as Independence day versus New Year. The highlight of my day, though, was the rain. In Seattle, I'm always complaining about the rain being "wimpy" becuase even though it rains all day, its a light sprinkle that only serves to make you sad. But here in Mali, when it rains, Oh Boy, IT RAINS. I literally ran outside, and got soaked through in a minute, maybe less, and stayed out there for a good 30 minutes jumping and just dancing in the rain. It was heaven :)
Today was very sunny, and at 3 o'clock, I went up to the second floor of my house (which is currently being constructed, as well as the third floor) sat down on the ledge and just wrote about what I saw. I wanted to try to create a picture of my view for you guys, so welp, here it is. I titled it Picture Perfect Africa.

I’m floating. I’m floating above everybody’s heads supported by smooth gray stone looking out into the horizon and all I see are dirty houses yellow houses pink houses green green trees rustling in the wind Anicle Isuf grey white blue clouds in the horizon wet laundry hanging out to dry on the rooftops a woven chair walks past me goes out the yard is sat on I hear the call to prayer faint, the rustle of leaves, a motorcycle two three four, birds calling a dog barked, people talking spitting what are they saying? the sound of metal hitting metal BOOM! a door is closed. Flies on me but I don’t care I’m used to it they don’t bother me anymore gentle breeze carresing my skin a blessing in this beautiful heat. Women walk past my door baskets on their head I am the invisible observer I see but remain unseen a lizard wanders into the sun freeze do not move and scuttles off men gather outside my door chat among themselves a mud bird bobs past a tree. I am inclosed in my garden I dare not step outside and disrupt the peace. Leaves of all shapes and sizes large small skinny round I smell the dirt dirt that gets everywhere and makes all things red red dirt red dust red age. Here I am pale-face nothing like that smooth black beauty motorcycle words so many unknown words beautiful but confusing more women walking past I stick my tongue out can I taste the air? I guess not I smell gasoline petroleum another motorcycle grumbles past me but I taste the rice I ate for lunch the beef pieces in the sauce that goes over the rice. Redish-brownish suace like the dirt, but slightly slimey. More motocycles a bike now, tin hitting tin tink tink one two one two over and over again a radio is turned on too far away to make out the words its rather cool today and I wonder if it is going to rain. It smells like rain but that could be a lingering memory from yesterday voices rise over all the sounds mouth babbling out syllables syllables I try to repeat but fail to copy what does it mean what does it mean? My door swings open creak and close creak creak but my private world is inpenentrable only I can enter and leave its gates my leg swings in the open air am I worried about falling? No. Is he worried about getting in a motorcycle accident? No. My Nene’s car is not under the roof perhaps she is out shopping or visiting friends. Bouba is out I don’t see Asetu or Isuf a yello car just drove past beep a horn I smell food cooking but not in my house solid column behind my back and I’m still floating amonst gray stone and red metal a house being constructed motorcycle number 528 rides past men boys children riding and driving this one is a boy with a blue backpack green leaves yellow leaves going slightly orange brown leaves Isuf walks in carrying music in his hands strings are sturmmed a voice is singing birds chirping but a creaking door ruins it all or does it add to the harmony? A man talks a friend is looking for Bouba hey I know him I raise my hand Hi but its too late he’s left and doesn’t see me. Perhaps its time to come down leave my garden walk around Hello Africa, how are you?