Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Visit by the Big Whigs

September 19

The National Peace Corps Director is flying into Burkina bringing an entourage of 4 from Washington D.C.

I got a call from Peace Corps Burkina. He's coming to your village. Organize something.

I've been in country only 6 months, 2 of those basically on vacation. The village is empty. My farming community has gone to the fields. How the hell was I going to organize anything? Guinea taught me the difficulty of organizing anything. No one ever shows up for meetings or maybe I never waited long enough. The philosophy of time is totally opposite of our American idea that time is money.

Here time is leisure, is visits with friends, is waiting for the rain to stop, a lack of watches, time told by the sun. Time is waiting for people to show up. Time is patience.

The Burkina philosophy is Ca va allez. Things will work out.

You will only worry yourself sick if you are a control freak.

As the day approaches things are slowly coming together.

My house is coming together, a leaking window fixed. My straw covered porch is finally back up after falling down for 3rd time a month ago.

A 11 h meeting was postponed till 15 h so that the girls could do their laundry. I think they are ready to sing. The organizational meeting took a lot of patience from me. It wasn't crisp and clean. It was a caos of girls who were happy to be together socializing. Everything was in Moore until I tried to force decisions about what songs they wanted to sing. Leadership was lacking. I didn't want to be the leader. I can't speak Moore. Even though they speak French they are more comfortable in their mother tongue. Eventually after what seemed like hours of giggling and endless chatter, I hope we have something organized.

Speeches have been written, but one of the girls pulled out for a trip with her church. Surprisingly another speaker quickly replaced her.

A skit in English on girls' education has slowly come together even with the rains that cancel practices and the inevitable buisness that pulls people away from scheduled practices.

What I've learned during this frenzy of planning is that I've got friends who know how to work in the leisure time scale of Burkina who are willing to make the event happen, who know how to gather people who will participate, even if it means walking kilometers to everyone's house to spread meeting times. It is my friends who are really making this even happen.

It isn't about being on time, or being efficient, or productive in a short amount of time. It is about having fun even if it takes more time to get a final product.

I'm planning an event where nothing is definite. Anything and everything changes. It's kind of exciting not knowing what is going to happen but believing Ca va allez that it'll all work out in the end.

September 21

The visit to my village was an enormous success! Students showed up. Songs were sung. Speeches were given and my high energy speech about Peace Corps and its work in the village was received with high praise. I am just super glad that it is over.

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