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?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nine be Sokona!

Welp, I know I tend to write once a week, but today was such an interesting day, I felt like writing a blog about it. So that you know, I am somewhat copying 2 journal entries, a letter, and writing a stream of thought. As for the title of today's post, you will learn what that means in due time (be patient, its one of today's topics)

This morning (Loosely copied from a letter to my amazing friend. Speaking of letters, if you want me to write you one, let me know, give me your address, and I will write you a letter as soon as possible!)
Today I visited my school with my Nene. She says its within walking distance, which sounds like an amazing idea, but also a horrible idea. We spoke with the director, and I am now properly enrolled at Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart!) I'm also going to wear two uniforms: On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I will wear a bright sky-blue dress (I'm wearing a dress, becuase apperantly, I'm not capable of using a wrap skirt :P) and on Thursdays and Friday, I'm going to wear a light chocolate-brown dress. I will recieve my uniforms school schedule next week, but so far, I know that I will study Math for 8 hours every week, Physics/Chemistry for 6 hours, and I will take Spanish (Cuz the kids doing German will be too advanced) as well as Drawing classes and ...MUSIC CLASSES (YEAH BOII!!) I'm pumped for my music classes :D

This afternoon, pretty early (Copied from a journal entry)
This afternoon was the first time Mali made me sick (I've been here for 2 weeks). It was horrible. My stomach hurt like hell and I swear I know what contractions feel like now and even though I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, I couldn't go. My skin, especially my arms, felt like it was on fire, but was cool to the touch. And the strangest thing was that even though I was sweating buckets, it wasn't salty at all. I know because some of that sweat ran into my mouth and it had a very Very watery taste. I felt terribly weak the whole time, but I finally got some Pepto Bismol and Ibuprofen in my system. Now, I feel as healthy as a horse! (This is a side note, I have just decided that I'm going to marry Ibuprofen <3)

Late in the afternoon/Early in the Evening (Copied from a journal entry)
So, as the title says, this evening, Nene and I recieed a surprise visitor, a little gray rat. Nene saw him first, and then we both saw him again. Thats when Nene gave off a series of yells. Don't get me wrong, journal, I was freaking out, too. I didn't want the rat to bit my feet, and eat my toes. Nene was more scared though, as she was being vocal, and I wasn't. So I offered to go find Isuf since he wasn't answering Nene's calls. Thats when I learned the phrase "Nine be Sokona!" (There's a) Rat in the House! In the end, we didn't find the rat, but we did turn the living room upside down. (Its clean now).

Tonight (Stream of thought)
So I'm sitting here, staring at my bag of water (becuase bags are so much cooler than bottles) my ibuprofen and pepto bismol, just waiting for my stomach to start hurting, cuz Asetu made salad for dinner, and nene only took a little bit and told me the rest was mine and me being the greedy girl that I am, I went and ate everything she didn't eat. This included lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, boiled eggs, lime, olive oil, and onions. And I'm staring at my medication becuase im convinced that this afternoon's episode was becase I ate something off yesterday and today is the first day I eat any vegetables here in Mali and my friends have said that eating fruits and veggies in africa made them kinda sick so i'm worried about my poor tummy right now (actually, i've eating fried plantain here, as well as fried potatoes and fried sweet potatoes and FRIED PLANTAIN IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE i say this from experience becuase i've eaten them a hundred of times before at home although my mom prefers boiling it because its healthier but here in africa everything is fried AND OHMYGOD fried plantaine is heaven. Again I speak from experience not from just one taste anyhoo the point is, i've eaten veggies before, just not raw, but now, getting back on track) I'm sitting here, staring at my water, pills, and pepto bismol and I swear (wallahi guys) if i even think i need to use the toilet i'm running to the bathroom like my ass is on fire, downing that pepto bismol like my entire life depends on that pink liquid, taking my ibuprofen like there's no tomorrow, and drinking my bag of water like a begger stuck in the desert. So far though, my stomach has not complained. I even ate half a cob of burn corn (it was rather good actually) and I still feel fine. Hooray for no pain :D

Anyhoo, thats it for today, until the next time! A bien tot!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One week gone, A whole lot more to go!

Last Sunday (a.k.a 2 days ago) marked the first week I've been living with my family. In that time, I have gotten close to my mom and brother. Although my dad is in Paris, I've talked to him over the phone everyday. I have also figured out (somewhat) Malian fashion. Women tend to wear their traditional clothing in the house and out (in Kenya, people wore more American business clothing) while the younger generation (under 30ish) wear more American clothing, especially males. (I do see little girls, and teenage girls wearing African clothes). I have noticed that men can go both ways, wearing American clothes, or Malian. (My dad wears traditional, but on the street, you see both). On the 15th, my Nene and I, we did some family visiting, and we saw one of the cousins that got married. She was hidden by white fabric strung between 3 walls (so that it looked like a box). My Nene told me that the wife stays hidden for a week, then you have the marriage day. She was still wearing all white (at the party, she wore all white, with a white hijab instead of a viel, and the only parts of her body that showed were her fingers and lower elbows, not counting the lace sleeves. Today, she told me that this same cousin is moving to Morroco (lucky her!) The next night (the 16th) we had a blackout, but I did learn a lot of bambara words. My favorite so far is Firifiri, it means butterfly :D I'm starting to get closer to Asetu and Isuf, the cook and househelper. They teach me a lot of bambara, and its cool to follow them around, especially Asetu. I have noticed that most food is fried in A LOT of oil, and they will fry 3 different "things" in the same pot of oil. Talk about not wasting food :P Yesterday, Nene woke me up early, because it was the day to wash our clothes. Asetu does the washing, but we wash our own delicate items. You know, the underwear and bras (if you're a girl). While Asetu was doing the laundry, Nene had me help her cook, and gave me a large shell of rice and told me to go through it and pick out all the black and grey rocks. I think I did a good job, becuase she looked very pleased when I was done. Today, we went to visit my Nene's friend, and then we took a walk in her neighborhood. We visited her aunt, and saw her grandma (My great-grandma!). Tomorrow, we are going to talk to my school (I will be studying at Le Sacre Coeur it means Sacred Heart) about my uniform (I'm actually really excited about this, cuz it will make getting dressed a whole lot easier, and I won't wear my clothes out so much yay!). School doesn't start until the 3rd of October, and to tell the truth, I'm really nervous, because I won't know anybody, and everybody will be speaking in Bambara or French (which are not my dominant languages haha) but I'm also really excited, because I can't wait to make lots of friends, as well as finally have something to DO even if its homework. (I'm also looking forward to the hanging out, lets not forget that!) Until next week,
Andrea Pamela <3

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Life in Mali

IS AMAZING :D Just thought y'all would want to know. I've been in Mali for 5 days now (this is my 6th day in Mali, and my 5th FULL day in Mali) and I thought today would be the perfect day to begin my series of blogs on Andrea's Life in Mali. So. Flying to Mali was somewhat tiring. I had to be at the airport at 4 (got there at 4:30) cuz the plane to Houston left at 6 (AM) Arrived around 1 and left to Washington DC around 5. We had a layover (and here, Hope and I met up with the rest of the group: there are 5 of us, and one chaperone, all girls) and we left again at 11. We arrived in FRANCE (ooh lala!) at 9 am, and then left for Mali again at 4pm, to finally arrive at 8pm. First thing I noticed when I got off the plane: IT WAS HOT AND STICKY. But my hair hasn't acted up or anything, so I don't mind. Our luggage had gotten stuck in Paris (which was a really cool airport by the way, although big and confusing. The Charles de Gaule airport, btw) But we got them back the next day, thank GOD. I also noticed that Mali is very different from Kenya (I actually thought it would be kinda the same. BOY WAS I WRONG) For one, the weather. Kenya tended to be a bit colder, and much drier. Mali is the opposite. Two, the roads. Here in Mali, the wheel is on the left side of the car, and people drive on the right side of the road (Like America!) but in Kenya, people drive like the British (which took awhile to get used to) People also pay attention to traffic lights, and there generally isn't a lot of "crazy driving" although the motorbikes do remind me of matatus (but they are no where as extreme) Thirdly, if thats a word, Mali is not filled with advertisements like Kenya is. Kenya LITERALLY had at least one billboard every half mile (or something like that) Mali had more ads than America, yes, but definately less than Kenya. I have decided that Mali is more like stereotypical Africa than Kenya.
On the 9th of september, we had a class like day, were we learned about Mali (in a very general sense) The five of us were each given a topic or two to learn about and then present. My topics were basic economy and linguistic affiliation. I learned that Mali is the 2nd largest producer of cotton in Africa, and that 80% of Malians speak Bambara, although only 38% of Malians learn it as a mother tongue. We also talked about issues in Mali (Racism),  Symbolism, Foods, Architecture, and Arts.
The third day, we went out and had a very busy and VERY tiring day. First, we went out to Point de Vu (View Point, in French, I believe) and got some amazing pictures of the city. It took a lot of walking and climbing though. But excersise is good, right? After that, we went to the National Meuseum to do some more walking (we did eat, and see the meuseum, although photos weren't allowed) and we tried to enter the governmental part of the city, but they didn't let us (Thank goodness, I tired, and I admit, cranky) We spent the day with a nice man named Aziz. He was okay, but he tried several times to convince us that we were of age to find a fiance, and that we needed to get married soon. We very politley told him No the first time, although by the 837th time, we weren't so polite, I must admit.
11.09.2011: We Meet Out Host Families. What. A. DAY. Whew! My host father (I call him Babin it means Dad in Poul) picked me up and the very first thing we did was go to two weddings. Not one, but two. OMG it was an experience. I learned that weddings are held at both the bride and grooms house (biiiig party, right?) and the men and women eat seperately. Also, women henna their hands and feet with elaborate geometrical designs, and they put a lot of make up on their eyes, going as far as to color their eyebrows (some not all) and extending them (again, some and not all) I met my host mom at the wedding (I call her Nene) and we ate together (They gave me a spoon, but everybody ate with their hands, rolling the food into a ball and licking it up with their tongue, its rather effective) Finally, we went home and I unpacked. I met Jack, one of the male cousins, and didn't meet my host brother, Boubacar (or Bouba, but I prefer to call him Bouby) until later that night. Went out to the field to play soccer, but instead I got questioned by some young man who wanted to know EVERYTHING about me. I freaked out, and went back home. Later that night, my host bro took me for a promenade around the neighborhood, and made fun of me because "everything" scared me. Well, better be safe than sorry, especially in a foreign country away from home, ya ya?
2 days ago: Woke up hella late (12 pm) and did nothing all day, other than sit and watch tv or sit and play n my iPod or sit and eat. That was a lot of sitting. At night, we skyped the sister, and had a very long conversation...or at least my Nene did. Why does she remind me of my mom again? Oh yeah, I got to call my mom that night too :) And the boys and me stayed up till really late watching more movies. Bouby continues to clap for me everytime I eat a lot aka all the time. SIGH.
Yesterday: Hung out with the boys again, went for a walk, and basically had a lot of fun. I took a lot of pictures of the guys, and of the guys and me. I also took pictures of my house to never forget it. I have my own room, with a bed, a wardrobe, and a small vanity table. The shower in the bathroom is really cool, its a small standing shower with the long, detachable shower head. Yesterday night, we took the 12 year old cousin home, and ended up visiting 5 other relative's houses. We literally spent 15-25 minutes at a house, making small talk, chatting about the weather (or something, I don't really know, they were speaking in Bambara) and then we would leave and visit another aunt or uncle. Speaking about Bambara, my learning has begun. I know the words cle (sun) anisogoma (good morning) anisu (good evening) and inche (thank you!) My hope is to be able to speak a little bit of Bambara by the time I come home.
I'm really proud of myself, because today, I actually got up in the morning (10am) and ate breakfast. Yay me, right? Nene wants me to go out today, so we'll see what happens. She says if I go out, I'll learn Bambara faster. I could also follow the house helpers around too, I guess (We have a cook, female, and a male house helper/ I don't know what to call him) And thats all for today, I'll do my best to update this blog often!

Kambe (BYE in Bambara)
-Andrea (Is having an Amazing Adventure Abroad in Africa)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm A Horrible Blogger, But Its Not Really My Fault

Sooo as my title points out, I SUCK. Lets face it I haven't written a new post, Kenya came and went and what? Nothing, thats what. So this here post is gonna cover A LOT becuase I need to talk about my Mali orientation, my entire month in Kenya, and the first 4ish days of Mali. Yeah, thats right, I'm in Mali. But it wasn't my fault that I didn't blog about Kenya, becuase I TRIED and I COULDN'T (For some reason, blogspot was blacklisted, probably to keep the university students from not researching/studying) Anyhoo, Mali Orientation: Welp, I learned that most of the stuff I had researched was wrong. Fail, me. We also focused on how Muslims are viewed in America versus how they view themselves. We went to a mosque, wore hijabs/scarves over our hair, and had a ball. Some kids left that day (it was in JUNE) but we didn't. Thats about it. We didn't have a lot of free time, cuz we had a lot of learning to do. I remember at the end, all 50 of us Yes Abroaders got together, and then we had to go.

Kenya: KENYA WAS SUPER AMAZING OMG I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK. So the technical stuff first. We first went to Mombasa for a couple of days to basically be tourists. The rest of our stay we spent at the United States International University in Nairobi. Two weekends, we stayed with our host families (Friday to Sunday). We were there on a social media project, working with Kenyan youth to address several different social issues, and raise awareness on possible solutions. We were there during Kenya's winter, although some days did get very hot. We were also there during a very bad drought (it was even proclaimed a national disaster!) Um um um not so technical stuff: While we were in Mombasa, we stayed at a hotel with monkeys (very touristy, not realistic at all) went on a safari (that was actually in Voi, but whatever), visited Fort Jesus (first it was a fort for the Portuguese, then the Arabs, then it was a prison. Now its a national monument), and visited a center of village replicas. A couple of kids got married there, we saw some traditional dancing, and bought stuff at a small market (my blue anklet? I got it there :D) Nairobi was colder than Mombasa, but it had its hot days as well. Most of the time we were stuck on campus, but there were a couple of times when we got to go out and shop. The Kenyan kids are amazing, friendly, funny, brilliant, and super smiley. I liked them, and I miss them a lot now. Even though we only spent about 3 weeks together, we still got very close. My topic was Unemployment, and we used Flickr. Our team (me, ny, ny, Kenyan chick) WON!!!! Yay :) Well, to tell the truth, we tied for first, but still, we WON!!!! (yay) In Nairobi, we saw more traditional dancing, visited Parliment (that was cool. Boring, but cool), did another safari, went shopping, and possible more (I can't really remember) Me, being me, I didn't journal much while I was there, nor did I bring a camera (STUPID STUPID STUPID) Actually, I don't suck, I really REALLY suck. Anyhoos at my host family, I discovered something really important. Information gets screwed up really easily. I thought I was going to have a 17 year old brother, and a 18 year old sister. Instead, I had a 9 month old baby brother and a 2 1/2 year old baby sister. I was confused, to say the least. But we still had a lot of fun, playing with the kids, eating out, going to church, getting colored on, etc, etc. Well, the color on the dress, that wasn't as fun. But it wasn't a big problem either. My family had a house maid, and she did the cooking, the cleaning, and looked after the kids. Apperenlty, its common in Kenya. Finally, we had Swahili classes, and I learned how to introduce myself, as well as simple greetings, and survival phrases.
Jambo! = Hi!
Asante = Thank you
Karibu = (You're) Welcome
Chai = Tea
Chakula = Food
There. A very mini lesson in Kiswahili for you :) I do believe that I am going to make another blogpost for Mali, becuase a) i've got a lot to say, it being fresh in my mind and b) i don't like have 3 topics in one post. not even 2, but i did write about 2 topics and that makes me upset. ooph.

(bye in Swahili)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Africa Says, by Carl Phillips

Hi guys!
Today in poetry class, we read a poem about preconceptions in Africa, and I thought it would apply to my trip really well so I wanted to copy it down here:

Before you arrive, forget
the landscape the novels are filled with,
the dull retro-colonial glamour
of the British Sudan, Tunis's babble,
the Fat Man, Fez, the avenue taht is Khartoum.
Forget the three words you know of this continent: bakara, baksheesh,
assassin, words like chipped knives thurst
into an isolation of sand and night.
These will only get you so far.

In the dream of the first night,
Africa may seem just another body to
sleep with, a place where you can lay
you own broken equipment to rest.
You have leisure to wander at her being
a woman, at your being disappointed
with this. You come around to asking
what became of her other four fingers,
how she operates on six alone.
you wipe the sweat from
your chest with her withered hand, raised
and two-fingered; observe, as she sleeps,
how that hand casts the perfect
jackal on a wall whose color
is the same as that of the country

itself, a dark, unpalatable thing who
uses a bulbed twig to paint her lids
in three parallel zones taht meet and
kiss one another. She smells of henna or
attar, or rises steeped in musk that in other
women does not stray from between the legs.
She says she has no desire to return
with you. Don't be surprised if
she takes nothing you offer, and moves
on bare feet away from you, or if
you wake feelign close to something,
the gauze damp and loose on your face.

And should you choose to leave, know better
than to give this city a farewell sweep of
the eye. To the pich-helmeted mosques, the slim
and purposeless boulevardiers, the running
sores at the breasts of the women who beg
for stalled trains, you were never here.
For this reason, you may decide to stay put,
thinking you have left nothing finished.
You may have an urge
to make each move coung.
You may have learned nothing at all.

Heh, this poem resonated with me. Sounds like I'm gonna have a wonderful time in Africa, yah? Anyhoo, I received a small description of what the highschool track(s) for senior year is like, and I can't decide which one I want to do! EEK!!! I still have some time, though, so it should all be good.
*AHEM* Going into 11th or 12th grades:
For students who will be placed in the 11th or 12th grades in Mali, there are four courses of study to choose from:
Human Sciences: main subjects are Philosophy, History and Geography, minor subjects are English, Math, Physics and Chemistry.
Bio Sciences: main subjects are Biology (duh) Physics and Chemistry, minor subjects are French, English, History and Geography, and Philosphy (I think I would take some of these minor subjects not all)
Exact Sciences: major subjects are Math, Physics, and Chemistry, minor subjects are English, French, History, and Geography
Language and Literature: major subjects are Literature (suprise surprise) French Grammar, and English, minor subjects are Math, Physics, History and Geography, and Philosophy.

Apperently, major subjects get more hours per week, as well as higher credit. Also most 12th graders will be studying for the Bacculaureate which probably means less chilling, but I guess its a good thing because I will have college apps to complete :/

As for my subjects of interest, I want to take Math, Physics, and Philosophy (possibly french grammar, because I could use the help). But there is no such track with all those subjects as major subjects :( I guess I will just have to compromise *Sigh*

Anyhoo, I am getting tired, so I will go to bed now
Bonne Nuit!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

WaDC (May) Pics!!!

Photo creds to Khyree!!!

 At the aiport; this is the Seattle half of the family!!!!
 The entire family united! <3 Thursday night at TGIF (IT WAS NOT FRIDAY!!!!!)Met the ambassador of Kenya (Shwagin' Wagon)
This was our last day (Sunday, a.k.a today) Wonderful group, terribly wonderful :)

And these photos were taken by Keven from Global Kids :D

Mad Excited For Dis Hella Filthy Kenya Trip (I Love New York, too)

So this weekend, I was in the Capital of the US of A, preparing for my KENYA trip <3 I met 10 New Yorkers, and got mad close to my Seattle group. And I have to say, I'm in love with every single last person going to Kenya. They're all really friendly, sweet, funny, and just plain amazing. 27 days in Kenya? Please, its going to be a party :D
For those of you who are interested (and for those of you who aren't :P), my schedule in DC was crazy, but very fun too :) We left for DC on Wednesday at 11:30 pm and arrived at our hotel around 11:00am on Thursday (forgive me if I'm wrong) A couple of hours later, we met our New York counterpart (yay) and had dinner at TGIF (it was Thursday NOT friday, which kinda upset me, but oh well) Went to bed mad late, and woke up on Friday for a hectic day. FIRST, we met up with the Foreign Affairs Committee, specifically, the subcommittee on Africa (I know you know you're jealous) THEN, we met up with the Kenya Ambassador for the United States and the United States Ambassador for Kenya. They were really down to earth and terribly friendly. We ran late, so we skipped lunch at World Bank, although we met several employees there. Finally, we met with some staff from the Department of State. We had pizza for dinner, and a mad pool party. (SOOOO MUCH FUN I LOVE ME SOME NEW YORKERS)
On Saturday, we had a bunch of technology Training seccions, and we learned about creating advertisements, being culturaly competent, globalization, and more mind blowing topics :/ We ate dinner at the union station, and celebrated Ikram's prom because she missed her prom to come learn with us (SNAPS TO THAT) ooph thats about it, sunday we recapped a bit, and then we traveled home <3
This blog's shout out goes to 3 people: Khyree Smith (my big bro, even though he's younger than me >:[ ) Dre Ware, my oh so lovely twinnie <3 and Tyler Ware, who got stuck being my cousin (but deep down inside he loves me :] ) Unfortunately, I left my camera at home, which means I didn't take any pics D: but I think Nicollette took a bunch, so if its okay with her, I'll post them up as soon as she posts them up, I will too (and I will give her MAD photo creds :l] )
AIYOOOO (fellow betans, is that how you spell it?) a.k.a BYEEEEEEEEEE <3

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I love Natalie Zyfers, because she is Yummy...AND SO IS KENYA!!!

Hi guys :)
I thought I'd spice things up by concentrating on Kenya today, because I got new pictures about the college we'd be staying at :D

Isn't the campus so pretty? We'll be staying in their dorms for the entire months, although we'll be doing homestays for two weekends! In Kenya, I will help college students create ads that promote being good citizens, as well as learn Swahili (Hakuna Matata <3) and go on Safaris!  As you guys can see, this week's shout out goes to miss Natalie Zyfers, because she requested one. So she gets gold stars too, because she made me feel special :D (HINT HINT GUYS I TAKE REQUESTS hehe) I think that next week, I shall upload pictures of Bamako!
P.S Natalie? Can we run through the halls belting songs again?? I miss doing that with you :3