Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Site Visit, IST

18 March – Seguenega, 11:00pm

Well, here I am at IST. My site visit went pretty well – Dr. Claude and Michelle showed up a bit later than expected and everyone had left already after baby weighings since it was the day of the marche. So we talked to Boreima (the treasurer of the CoGes, the group that handles all the $ of the CSPS), and visited the major and the mayor after doing the checklist of safety and integration things. While it was kind of like she was there to help, it was also a bit like taking an exam or being evaluated, to the point that I'm pretty sure she had a much more positive view of my situation than the reality. But they brought me a delicious salad and cold water for lunch, and drove me to Seguenega, so I can't complain much.

This language thing is hard. Our LCF, John-Pierre, is super nice and helpful, if a little too eager to speak English, but it's hard being with Alicia. She's amazing, I love her, but her level of Moore is so incredibly beyond mine that she jokes with the people we're talking to and then they look at me and ask if I understand or if I just don't talk. No, sadly, I don't understand, that's why I'm not saying anything, because my Moore is still just at the point of greeting people. I can almost say that I work at the CSPS, but I can't tell you why or what I do there. I don't understand your questions, I don't understand your jokes – trust me, I wish I did, but I don't. And it's frustrating because I know we need to practice and be in the community and such, but frankly it's just like what I do all day every day – I sit and listen to people speak Moore. Now two of the people are white like me, but I don't understand what they're saying either. And while it's nice that they can translate and tell me what a word means, 5 seconds later I've forgotten it, or written it down but still won't be able to remember it without looking. The formal classes are better because I can write stuff down, but doesn't take into account all of the little differences that come up in conversations. So if I could just tape the conversations and get someone to translate it on paper word for word that would be perfect. But the classroom lessons are rather boring and make me long to at least be interacting with people, even though it's incredibly painful. I know that some people never learn their local language, but I really want to – it's killing me that I just cannot seem to shove Moore into my head. I have to learn in an organized manner – I can teach myself French out of a well organized book – so this random list of words and verbs and greetings is just like drowning in paperwork. I keep telling myself it will get better, and I know it will with time and practice, but for the moment language remains a source of frustration.

We watched Friends tonight. I haven't watched an American TV show in 5 months. I miss America-land. And Robyn. And crew. And food, so much. And understanding people and situations and feeling in control of my life. I really think that's what it comes down to – I can't take the complete loss of control that living in this completely new culture entails. It'll happen, I know, but it's hard right now.

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