Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lessons

Before I go off on my weekly whatsit, let me advertise someone else’s exciting adventure. Four Webster friends are walking across the US as part of a senior overview project. Check out their story at www.stinkyfeetpictures.com.

Last Friday, my French class – a total of three students – started Ewe lessons. Ewe, one of many local languages, is what everyone in Agou Nyogbo speaks when they’re not accommodating the yovos. My host father told me Germans often find Ewe comparable to German and transition easily.

I speak German. I feel like I’m learning Chinese-Klingon. I have yet to move beyond, “My name is Linda. What is your name? How are you? How are your children? Morning. Teacher. Student. Mid-day. Evening. Driver. Nurse. Doctor. Come eat. Come wash.”

No matter what phrases I learn and practice, I rarely understand what my family and neighbors say to me when they greet me or send me off. “Yoh” is a common response and precedent to an actual response, so I usually just say, “Yoh?” and hope that it’s right.

The Ewe lessons may end if my post is up north. While people speak Ewe throughout the country, our village may use another one of the 40 languages (Peace Corps teaches nine of those). On Thursday, our program director gave us the 14 post descriptions. It was the most exciting event of the week, besides jiujitsu.

On Wednesday, we had the afternoon off for “private studies”. My private studies meant my first jiujitsu lesson with three other trainees and four Togolese guys. Jiujitsu, which means “gentle” is a martial art that our coach, a self-described “peanut”, has studied for 12 years. Before joining Peace Corps, she taught in Brazil. She’s teaching us very basic self-defense.

While the girls practiced moves on each other, she would help the Togolese guys. They let her demonstrate maneuvers on them, an she can flip a dude like a pancake. I think after a few more lessons, I will at least be able to incapacitate an attacker long enough to run away. Hopefully that will never occur and I can just continue enjoying the lessons, which involve lots of rolling around in the grass.

As for post, about six or seven sites sound promising to me. After some reflection, I realize I’m open to going anywhere. Electricity, running water, cell phone reception – I didn’t really come here for all that. It would be great to have regular access (once a week) to internet and phone, and that’s possible from all the sites. So I guess I’ll survive even if I get sent to Tado, the most feared site on the list. We find out next where we’ll be. Besides our Fourth of July picnic, that will probably the event of the week.

Send letters, please. I promise to reply to anyone who writes. Also, if you send anything besides letters, try to fit it into a padded envelope. I hear that makes the journey smoother, faster and less expensive.

The address, again, is:
PCT Linda Golden
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 3194
Lome, Togo
West Africa

I'm waiting...

3 comments:

Gabertooth said...

Jujitsu?!?!

Awesome.

Gustavo Bonato said...

Electricity, running water, cell phone reception – I didn’t really come here for all that.

You earned many more respect points for that. I cannot understand people who decide to go to Africa to do something like Peace Corps and demands comfort and easy life. That's clearly NOT your case. Proud of you!

Alan Landis said...

That's great! I know the frustration you feel with language.
But you will be fine. When you hear it every day. It will come very quickly. I leave Monday for three weeks in Russia. I will be going to an orphanage to work.