Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Life That is Peace Corps

The four month point is rapidly approaching, and I have read way too many books. I never really considered myself a "reader", but alas, it has become a spectacular way to pass the time here in Barisal, Bangladesh. In fact, I have also started to write down quotes that I enjoy from these books. That is how busy I have been. My FIRST class oficially starts on January 4, 2006....and until then, I am interviewing 18-35 year old males (hopefully some girls too!) for my class and posting the list. Yes, you are correct...this will take about 2 hours max. Looks like some serious journal writing, reading, and of course, cyber cafe action!
I am trying to improve my Bangla language skills, but it is a slow process. I have picked up a few words here and there, but i cannot carry on a convo to save my life. The problem is....most of the kiddos I am dealing with speak English and want to keep speaking English. Eeps.
I love this country like I love Prince William, but the slow-as-snot lifestyle just aint coo with this girl. Oh, and nobody really believes I am an English teacher. They say I look 15.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Barisal and Really Lengthy Weddings

Yes, I have been at "site" for almost two weeks now, and although I do not have much to show for it, I have met some crazy people/seen some crazy sights. Let's just start with my arrival and instantly being thrown into what turned out to be..a 7-day Muslim Wedding Extravaganza. From the delivering of the goat/enormous fish to the Bou(bride) and her family in the village to the spreading of the holud(yellow paste) on the groom's head, this one will definitely go down in the history books. Although I was "dragged" around by a family that did indeed resemble a school of fish(they were SO nice though), I met some incredible neighbors(Nadia and Shorab)and ended up passing the time with a 23 yr old Deshi who is currently studying in Australia and yes, has the accent. Aside from his gentle soul and his ability to spit out phrases like "no worries" and "have another go?", this Hasif has been added to my list of memorable characters. On the job-front: Dana has done nothing. Aside from use the internet facilities and take tea with the co-workers, not much is happening. I have learned to be patient with the extremely slow pace in which things occur here in the Desh, and am KNOWING that everything will fall into place at the right time. But fun times are coming: Kuakata for Thanksgiving(possibly), Chittagong and Cox's with the host fam in December, and The Sundarbans(yes, there are Bengal Tigers) with the co-workers sometime next year. Oh, and the host family is great! Arna and Dip are working their way into my heart, while patience with the parents has led to some awesome chats/moments. Overall, Bangladesh is a dream.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

And....We Are Official

October 30, 2005.
I wake up to the lovely sound of my PeaceCorps cell phone at about 7am and find my dad on the other line. Good start to a pretty great day. After a 10am tour of the PeaceCorps office and getting completely lost in the big city, it was time. Time to attempt to put on a SARI. With the help of some awesome Bangladeshi women, my hotel roomie Rose and I were ready in our beautiful SARIs...and I couldn't walk. But alas, we boarded the bus and headed towards the United States Embassy for the official Swearing-In Ceremony. The ceremony was perfect. Short and to the point. After speeches by the Director of USAID, the United States Ambassador, and our Country Director, we were taking the PC Oath and feeling.....exactly the same. I am sure it will sink in very soon..the whole TWO years thing...and boy, am I ready.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Language Proficiency Interview

Bombed it. I studied for hours last night and have improved 100% since the practice exam...i know i have. Yet, it boggles my mind that I could walk in...and freeze. I think I am looking at some major tutoring at site, and I feel I am the only one. Chatting with other trainess at the local cyber-cafe, it seems like everyone feels pretty darn good about their performance. Good for them:) So, we received the official Swear-In Invitations from the US Embassy, and I will admit I shed a tear. Embassy. Nice. So now that language class is shesh and my bangla is "officially" bad, I have so much free time on my hands. I have found myself reading every single profile of every single person on, and yes, racking up a 40tk bill with the cyber-cafe nut-cases. Although 40tk is less than a US $, it is A LOT here in the Desh. Off to a lunch of rice and probably fish-bones.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Barisal, Taposh Kumar Basu, and CoffeeCha

Barisal. Endless coconut trees, incredible shopping opportunties, a rockin' new host family, and yes, a bike. Not only is everything perfect about my new home, but I get to buy a bike!!! Peace Corps reimburses!!! So, upon arrival in Barisal for a brief 3-day visit, I was greeted by a Bangladeshi woman that speaks a little too rapidly for my developing Bangla skills and a maid-servant with pigtails. They showed me around the "palace" and then to my room. So, my new digs...about twice the size of my room in Foresthill. Interesting. Oh, and the neighborhood is named after my host family. And the food is out-of-this-world. And i have the CUTEST little host-sis. And my brother's name is Dip. And my life is perfect. After settling in and dancing around my huge room, I was off to my DYD(like a school)to meet my supervisor(who does speak english!) and see what kind of people I will call my "colleagues" for the next dui bochhors. (Side-note: My supervisor's name is Taposh Kumar Basu or DD Sir...but when I am alone in my huge room, I call him "Toppy") My counterpart is the computer instructor and he introduced me to the place by serving me a steaming hot cup of coffee mixed with tea. Khub moja or very tasty for the Bangla-impaired. I get a bike! And back to the classroom is giant, they are providing me with a whiteboard(ha! most people get chalk!), and yes, the Refrigeration and Electronics teacher is a tiny woman named Polly. Ah, Bangladesh. Though she is a 3rd world desh, my site-mates and I, upon arriving back in Dirty Dhaka, had a nice rootbeer float at the typical BD restaurant, A&W. Pizza Hut is next door. So, there you have it. I am loving every second in this place and sometimes I have to pinch myself just to remind me that I am not at the Palm Theatre in San Luis. Life is good, the cousin is engaged, and yes, Ross Crabill still writes a darn good letter.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

So, what happens if your supervisor doesn't speak a word of English?

TOmoRRow is the big day. The SupervisorS Conference in the big city of Dirty Dhaka. It is time to meet the dreaded Deputy Director that I will be working with for the next 24 months. This is not just a boss, this is a community-integration mechanism. PLEASE speak ENGLISH, Please speak ENGlish. Being as I cannot even buy a roll of much-needed toilet paper(yes, I know I should integrate better into the culture)in Bangla, I don't feel I am ready to discuss my "work-plan" in the Bengali language. But here goes nothing. Following up the big day in Dhaka, I am off to Barisal for a quick 3-day meet and greet with the new host-fam and a little touring of my new home(for the next 2...4...months). I am stoked, but also nervous as all heck. I still cannot believe I am here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

If we can dance in Burkas, does this mean we are ready for two full years of service?

Pre-service training is almost over and I feel that the majority of us here in Gazipur are ready. We have all realized that our Bangla is not improving, that we are indeed wearing the same three outfits day after day, and that yes, this food is bland. However, one thing that is for sure here in the Desh is that the Peace Corps trainees are pretty awesome. From a truck driver to an Alaskan construction worker, we have it all. Now, as we prepare to head out to our sites for 2 years, the anticipation grows and the days get longer...and longer. And with Ramadan currently in full-swing, those afternoon ice cream cravings are a bit harder to take care of. I am headed to Barisal, one of the BD's division capital cities. Surrounded by rivers, we are pretty much guaranteed some flooding, but this also means transportation by boat (which excites me!). Myself and two others will take on this Southern city after the Muslim holiday of Eid. November 6th. I will be rocking the Department of Youth Development with "whatever i feel like teaching....from sex-ed to line-dancing" classes...while Lauren and Brent (my chill site-mates) will take on the less-than-superior Bangladeshi school system as full-time english teachers. Overall, I am excited most about the ice-cream store in Barisal....and the fact that my new host-fam speaks superior english.