November 26, 2010

next year's challenge: mwezi wa maskini

I've been mulling it over the past few weeks, and I think I'm going to give this a try. For one month, I will attempt to live on $2 per day. I won't be able to do it until March, though. I'm coming back to the States for Christmas and New Years (won't be back at site until mid-January), and we fill out our annual living allowance survey in February. March is the earliest I'll be able to do it.

Why do it? Because you'd be surprised how easy it is to distance yourself from poverty, even when you're technically steeped in it yourself. Compared to my community, I live in a huge, secure house, I've managed to keep myself on a fairly balanced diet (at least since I started cooking last month), and even with my humble earnings, I find myself not wanting for anything. To be honest, I've grown a bit tired of being comfortable. Of knowing how my next meal is going to come, knowing that I can afford it, and knowing what's in my pocket can easily take care of my needs.

So, when the end of February rolls around, I will take a trip east to deposit a healthy chunk of my living allowance into my "savings" account, leaving a measly 93,000 =/ to keep me alive for a month.

The Month of the Destitute.

I encourage others to join me if they wish, even you all in the States! You don't have to actually live on $2.50 a day; try living on a healthy subset of what you're currently living on. If you want to use me as a guideline, I'll be living on approximately 40% of my current salary. That might change in 4 month's time, of course. I plan to use the current value of the US dollar to make the conversion into my local currency. As long as its value doesn't spike in the coming quarter, things will remain relatively the same.

Who's game?

November 15, 2010

reclaiming joy

For Amy's momDespite not receiving any of my own shadowers from the new intake of education volunteers, I took it upon myself to host all of the shadows that came out to the Singida region at the end of last week. So, on Friday afternoon, 7 people de-boarded in my town and took their places in my house. I have a fairly large house by Peace Corps standards, but 7 extra people will almost always require some amount of adjustment.

While they were here, I was lucky enough to introduce them to some of my best friends; one being the guy who runs the pork shop near my house (Wilbroad), and the other being my friend in town who owns one of the local bus lines (Slim). We had a huge pork dinner with Wilbroad on Friday night, and then walked into town to have lunch with Slim on Saturday. We also had the opportunity to climb up on the rocks every evening to watch the sunset, something I hadn't done in nearly a month.
Family photo
One of the things I truly appreciate about spending time with newbies and visitors is that they make it easy to fall in love all over again with the place you call home. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to help you reclaim that gratitude you felt at the beginning of your service.

November 9, 2010

gearing up and winding down

My first year of teaching has unofficially come to a close. The Form IVs finished their NECTAs back in mid-October and the Form IIs have now started their national exams. Over the next few weeks, perhaps I'll reflect. Right now, I'm getting ready to host 8 visitors on Friday. While I didn't receive any shadowers personally (for reasons unknown to me), I invited everyone in the Singida region to my site for a huge party. I think we're celebrating 3 birthdays, Halloween, Election Day...maybe we'll throw pre-Thanksgiving into the mix.

The other big headline is my trip back to America for Christmas and New Years. I'm waiting to get the extra vacation days approved by the office, otherwise I have my flight picked out and ready to book. It's a strange feeling pondering all the things that have happened since I left home, the anticipation of being overwhelmed by my own culture (my own family, even), and predicting the lack of gracefulness that will be on full display throughout my visit. But more than anything I think this trip will confirm deep in my being that I've managed to unboring my life, and I think there will be an unspeakable joy found within that realization.

T-minus 41 days...