Sunday, May 1, 2011

Twenty Questions (#11-15)

You're still interested?

11. What's your favorite part of Sierra Leone?

I enjoy a morning of reading on my porch, taking a bucket bath, teaching my students, drinking palm wine with Foday, eating a good dinner, lighting a candle and talking with my friends until they go home. I've had countless variations on this theme, and it keeps me here.

12. How much interaction do you get with the other volunteers?

Jimmy lives only 7 miles away, so I see him the most. Jessie is in Makeni, 22 miles away, and I usually see her when I am in Makeni to visit the bank or buy supplies. The rest of the volunteers I see rarely. For the Peace Corps Open House, there were 25ish of the 34 together at the Peace Corps Compound (which as you might imagine can be great and annoying all at once) but I hadn't seen some of these volunteers in months. Travel, as I mentioned earlier, is expensive and I try not to do it too much. Some volunteers have traveled much more than I have.

13. What is their passion and reason for going abroad?

This varies greatly. We have some truly idealistic volunteers who have had some of their hopes dampened a little bit by reality. We have cynical volunteers that take it day-by-day (me). We have volunteers that are only in the Peace Corps for selfish reasons. However, every volunteer, despite their reasons, is still here. There are 34 of us out of the original 39, and staying here for selfish reasons would be agony, because you cannot hide from Sierra Leone; you are constantly immersed in it. I've wanted to join the Peace Corps since I was in about 7th grade, then cooled from it when I learned how long the commitment was. The interest resurfaced in college and here I am.

14. Do you still want to teach?

Yes. I feel that teaching in a classroom with now windows, complete ceiling, proper desks, scarce chalk, erasers made out of foam, bats and rats running around above me, corporal punishment, ridiculous heat, students in uniforms full of dreams and hormones has adequately prepared me for future teaching. We'll see. (laughs)

15. How do you see the USA now?

Good question. It is very interesting to see America from a far-off viewpoint. I hear about it on the BBC and when I get to internet, but it's almost like an illusion. Sometimes it's hard to remember that life continues on just as it did while I was there. The USA is loved by Sierra Leoneans. Many have asked me how they can get there. How they can hide from the INS. Where the cheap and easy jobs are. The Peace Corps is highly respected here, and the relationship is usually great. However, America loses points for it's appearance as a war-monger. The name "George W. Bush" will get you an angry tirade and disgust. The name "Barack Obama" will bring smiles and hope. Deserved? You decide. The conflict now ongoing in Libya has led to some heated arguments at my school, where these same Obama supporters were now upset, "Does America LOVE war, or WHAT?!" and I have to shrug and say that I don't know enough about the situation to comment. Such is life.

I love and miss you all. I think I forgot to write this on the last one.


  1. I'm moving to Sierra Leone next month as a Peace Corps teacher. I would love to bring my macbook with me. I realize that it may be stolen if I bring it to Sierra Leone but would you say that its a probability?

  2. It's possible but if you are responsible, you'll be fine.