09 December 2007

gobez or go home.

We're in the home stretch (and not a moment too soon!)- Thursday morning at the butt crack of dawn we load up the bus for the last time and head to Addis for the swearing in ceremony at the Embassy.  The PC Director is coming, as are a host of local and international media, so look for us in the news!  Technical training is over, as is language training.  Our final language exams are tomorrow, so in 24 hours I'll be done with Afan Oromo and free to go back to Amharic, the language I originally wanted to learn and the one spoken in my town.  I know I sound bitter, but with so little of our lives within our control, figuring out what language is spoken in a town seems like a relatively simple way to make one aspect of training less painful. 

We finally made our attempt to play football after Saturday's goodbye lunch with our host families, but instead Nod, Levi, and I ended up in an hour-long game of catch waiting for other firenji to not show up.  Quitters.  The local stadium kids were enthralled by the funny-shaped ball and our constant use of our hands.  We tried to show them how to throw and/or catch a football, but you would have had better luck teaching a company of ballerinas.  Speaking as a former ballerina, I'm glad Dad also taught me how to throw a football as a child so I didn't have to embarrass myself. 

I've been reading a lot in the past few weeks and feel compelled to offer my reviews.  Robert Kaplan's Surrender or Starve is an excellent look at the intersection between famine, politics, and international aid in the Horn of Africa.  It's a bit dated, but like most things involving this part of the world, history tends to repeat itself.  Living in a nation that doesn't value the First Amendment as much as I do, I won't express my reactions in detail, but read it and let me know who you're cheering for in the region's current mounting situation.  

I finally read Guns, Germs, and Steel, and while it hasn't changed my life, it's definitely thought provoking.  Dry as all hell and a bit dense at times, but meticulously researched.  As I sat on the couch reading it and my family stared in wonder every day for a week, I understand the argument.  Coming from a society with the agricultural package suited to the development of sedentary agriculture, I have both the time and inclination to read for pleasure, while my host family can't even begin to wrap their heads around the concept that I am, in fact, relaxing with a six-hundred page treatise on the history of the world.  Although Diamond's fundamental point is convincing, I still have too much faith in the individual to believe that we don't matter.  Maybe we don't matter that much, but I believe one well-placed person can make an impact. 

For some lighter (?) reading, I just finished Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, about the 24-year-old from the DC suburbs who hitchhiked to Alaska, went out into the woods, and was found dead of starvation four months later.  I think it's a movie back in the free world?  A few of us have read it here and we all found some striking parallels between his life and our own.  I suppose there's only a fine line between finding yourself in rural Africa or the Alaskan wilderness.  Everything is just a matter of degree, after all. 

Also read, but less provoking: The Hobbit, Ape and Essence (in fact, excellent, although I now realize I'd read it before), and two Agatha Christie mysteries.  Also, Salinger's Franny and Zooey.  In progress: Naked Lunch (stressful) and The Human Stain.  I'm about to run out of books.  Please send more!

On the topic of reading, I had an evening that illustrated why I hesitate to call myself a feminist.  I was reading Ms. magazine for the first time (Thanks Ruby!), and while I found some interesting articles, particularly one about women in Gaza under Hamas, there's an underlying combative tone that rubs me the wrong way.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for equality, but I like men.  In fact, I love them and don't believe blaming them gets us anywhere.  After Ms., I picked up Cosmo for some mindless advice and hot bachelors, realizing that the staff of Ms. would probably not approve while the Cosmo editors would applaud my liberated tastes.  Hence, my beliefs in a nutshell.

Thanks Rhonda for the Christmas package!  There's a letter in the mail for you!

Ruby, now that I've read The Hotline, I'm wondering where it's been all my life.  Thank you so much!

Word on the street is Tim Tebow was the Heisman front runner - anyone care to offer a quick update on the outcome?  Ditto some Presidential primary polling data - Iowa and New Hampshire are coming up mighty quick!

Mail note:  For those not yet aware (both my readers and the friends and parents of other volunteers who've stumbled across this blog), the US Postal Service offers a nifty international service in the form of flat-rate envelopes and boxes.  Envelopes are $11 for up to four pounds, and boxes are $36 for as much as you can fill them with.  Seriously, you can send bricks if you want (although I'm sure most of us would prefer chocolate).  Seeing the postage on the boxes that have arrived here thus far, most everyone would be saving a bundle with flat rate boxes.  Just a helpful hint!

New Address:
Jessica Ducey
PO Box 986
Assela, Ethiopia

Wishlist:
-Margaret Atwood's new book of poetry.  I don't know the name, but it'll be the one with a 2007 publishing date.  I think it's been out long enough to be in paperback, but if not, I can wait.
-Books!
-The usual edible requests

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jess,
Tebow won the Heisman. The following is the Iowa polling data in today's paper:

Dems:
Obama 35%, Clinton 29 %, Edwards 18%, Richardson 9%

Rep:
Huckabee 39%, Romney 17%, Thompson 10%, Giuliani 9%, Paul 8%, McCain 6%

Christine

gilb@bcitech.com said...

Hey Jess,
I was just reading your blog and it sounds like you have not changed a bit. Reading about 50 times faster then me. Sounds like your training was, well Training. I am sure it will be good to get to work on what you really want to do. I understand from your dad that peanut butter is what you are craving. I will see what I can do. Anything else besides books?
Gil