Incoherency (Thursday, 2010 September 16)

September 16, 2010

Some days I am struck by the grand cosmic incoherency that is my life. Or I guess life in general here.

One thing that tends to accentuate this is speaking French to Germans, which seems to happen with surprising frequency.

I thought I’d refresh all the blogs the other Volunteers here keep. Most of them haven’t been updated since swearing-in. Not surprising; I’m sure everyone is super busy with their new schools. Notable exceptions include Lindsay [sp?] and Julia. Lindsay deserves special note here because when I first met her I thought "God, what a tool", or more precisely, "God, she is ‘of a type’", but that lady can write.

We got 5 new computers Monday, and they’ve been sitting in the principal’s office so that we could have a formal reception ceremony today. That ate up my two-hour free block between classes today, but they fed me. I meant to set up apt-offline today on the Ubuntu machines (two Lubuntu, one Xubuntu; I’m sticking with Lubuntu for the future), but my daylight hours just flew by. I’m hoping now to wake up early and get everything hammered out before my first class at 8, but I think we can guess how that’s going to go.

After the ceremony, the computers kind of sat out on the porch of the administration building for a while, since I had class. Then, after I started carrying them into the lab, the (what’s the official title?) bursar told me that he needed to take down the serial numbers and write them down in a notebook or something. Fuck, you couldn’t have done that earlier? So now the computers are safely in the lab but not set up because of bureaucratic nonsense.

None of this bothers me as much as it used to. There’s no hurry, after all. I have two whole years.

The ceremony itself was kind of interesting. There were three major political forces represented: the State, represented by the Sous-Prefet; the people, represented by the Mayor; and the Elites. That’s just what they called them: the Elites. They were represented by two, uh, Elites, one of whom was the president of the Elites’ Association. The spent a certain amount of time discussing the problems the principal highlighted for the school (one, no point of potable water on school grounds; two, a lack of math textbooks, particularly in 3e; three, an open campus, meaning students can "sneak in" during class without being considered "late"), and who could solve them and how. For example, the Elites were going to work on the potable water problem, since apparently the Chef of the village ("Sa Majesté", "His Majesty") had already bought a certain amount of pipe which was going to be used to fix something-or-other. Apparently this place was "mostly built by the elites", according to the Sous-Prefet — "when I first got here, I was surprised at how much had been built by the elites. For example, all the buildings in this school."

When I visited this place for my site visit a few months ago, I was struck by the quality of life that the volunteer here enjoyed. She hired neighborhood kids to come clean the floors. She didn’t have clearly-articulated duties, so she was basically free to do whatever she wanted. Her house was nice. She lived alone. Now I’m beginning to see a certain amount of the same thing. I only "have" to be at school three days a week, when I have classes; it’s true that other days I have to write lessons and do teacher-y things, but I can do that at home on my laptop. All my food is more-or-less fresh and more-or-less organic. It’s true that I spend a certain amount of time entertaining the neighborhood kids, but they’ll get tired of me eventually (or I’ll throw them out). The only thing that I really miss is running water.. Of course, in the back of my mind I know that there are good days and bad days, but I don’t really know what the difference is. Too much time being on display?

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