Guinea Stuff

Blogging gets more difficult at the time in your life when you really need to. I have so many new experiences but I want to experience them rather than take down notes, then I can’t do anything when i’m tired (one of my huge flaws). Anyway, I want to write down things that I’ve noticed and things I’ve heard that are interesting to me here in Guinea I guess.
1) there are a lot of things that are incredibly similar to the states and a lot of things incredibly different. This is probably an obvious statement but it seems to be something that needs to be said. Here the kids and the people have huge holes in tears in everything from their underwear to their pants, to their shirts ( the underwear that my 9 year old host sister wears is pretty much just an elastic band with a small piece of fabric that definitely doesn’t cover anything).
2) Washing and germs are deemed important but the concept of germ theory isn’t there. This is 90% Islamic nation with mosques on every corner and the call to prayer always ringing. During their prayer, which they do 5 times a day, they wash parts of their body (i.e. face, hands, nape of neck, etc). They also always brush their teeth before each meal and wash their face and hands.
With that being said, they don’t use soap to wash their hands or toothpaste to brush their teeth, but they do use it when bathing, washing dishes, washing clothes, etc. .I believe I heard it is because they say that the soap makes the food taste weird, which leads me to my next point
3) EATING WITH YOUR HANDS FROM ONE LARGE BOWL THAT EVERYONE SHARES IS AMAZING! You really feel one with the food and with everyone else. Essentially instead of sitting at a table ad everyone having their own plate, there is one large bowl in the middle and everyone just picks up the food (usually some type of rice with sauce) with their hands and go for it. The food that is directly in front of you is yours, don’t stretch your hand all the way out and try to grab that piece of food that is on the other side of the bowl, that’s a cardinal offense.
4) Tv’s make people act exactly how you think they would (sitting around rarely saying anything). The electricity here is hydroelectric, which is great because it is the rainy season now and rains very hard for various lengths in time like 1-2 times a day. So the power comes on for maybe 3 or 4 hours at any random given point in the day (could be 3-7 in the morning or 3-7 at night there is no rhyme or reason or guarantee that the power will come on). So usually you just keep the lights in the on position and when we see the lights on we know that the electricity is on and everyone shouts in joy!
5) Susu is the biggest ethnic group here, they are stereotypical loud and full of energy all of the time (Naruto fan’s should think of the Uzumaki clan here). The Polars are stereotypically quiet and reserved (think Sasuke and the Uchiha). Now the anime watchers will also get the connection that 1) there are many other ethnic groups, but are not as prominent and 2) there is a split in power and the roles that you usually see them in. Poles are usually the Guineans you know outside of Guinea (any Diallo or Kadiatou), they also are characteristically seen as owning shops. The Susu are characteristically the market people and the ones with stands. I’m sure i’ll have a lot more to write about on this as more comes to me and I have a lot more time, but this is just a note on the two


The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with the First Step

What a great start to my service in Guinea! I missed my flight to Philadelphia for staging, the last flight of the night, now I’m sitting on the airplane on a flight that was supposed to take off at 7:25 am (it’s 7:40am now). They cannot find the pilot and have not given us any information otherwise that we will be leaving soon, they even turned the engines off.
With all of these snafus you’d believe that I am discouraged to go. Not at all. I don’t believe that this simply boils down to the simple fact that I don’t believe in omens, I still get a little wary about irrational things all of the time. I think that it is because I am a lot more prepared for things to go south, while still knowing that everything will be alright and that getting upset rarely helps anything (WOW! Is this maturity??!!! I don’t think that I’m ready for that). Anyways, it is what it is and I might as well just accept it.
the darkest nights produce the brightest stars
At least when I get to my other trainees, I will not be traveling alone anymore. It’d be nice to travel and talk to someone isn’t a single-serving friend (Flight Club references f*ck Yeah!). I’ve started traveling more since I first studied abroad and left for France. Actually… it might’ve started with going to the Grand Canyon for the thanksgiving break of ’12. Travel and hardships makes people bond and form friendships even if it is only for a short while that they spent the time together. I’ve imagined that travel with my significant other will continue to add glue to keep us together with such hardships.. That or break us up. You know… whichever.

Making changes

My invitation for the Peace Corps finally came in and I already had most of the information that came with it so it was exciting, but it was an email from the placement specialist that came with it that really caught my attention. She wanted to touch on two things that stood out from my interview and she wanted to comment and give me more information on.

They were from the questions at the end of the interview that I had asked. When asked about modifying my appearance this was more or less my answer “ I have two tattoos that are easily hidden. I also have piercings (gauges) in my ears. It’s a part of me therefore, I don’t like to change it. I feel as though we are to share our culture with the people of our site as well. I would be hesitant to change those, but if it’s that important I would have to do it. If I go in for an interview or someplace where it’s not casual, than I have to change my appearance. I have no problem with it. If there is something that I need to change, than I would do it.”

Who I am comes out in my appearance and I am very hesitant to ever change it because I feel like it is changing who i am and saying that who i am is not good enough.



Maybe my unwillingness to change myself does have a lot to do with me being torn down and rebuilding myself. That somehow if I change for another person then I am saying that who Donald is not good enough. Reflecting on this manner of thinking now makes me see it as childish or immature, and it probably is. Being more flexible with your identity means that you are comfortable with it. Being on the extremes of either side (constantly changing your identity to whoever you’re around or being hard-headed and unwilling to change) might be signs of the need to completely accept yourself.