Sunday, June 7, 2009

World Wise School connections

One of the greatest joys of my Peace Corps service in Mali comes from sharing my life and experiences with those I love most through letters, emails and blog posts - and also with those I don't know well at all! Since I installed in my village in September and the American school year coincedentally began I've been keeping a correspondence with two schools back in Virginia: North Landing Elementary School in Virginia Beach and Stone Bridge HIgh School in Ashburn.
Mrs. Shellnutt at NLES and her 3rd grade class studied ancient Mali in January and we skyped with one another where I talked about modern Mali and the students asked about what elements from ancient Mali are still around such as the salt trade, the ancient library in Timbuktu and if there are camels and elephants in Mali (there are up North!). Her class also collected school supplies and treats to share with the kids at the school in Zana (thank you so much, the kids love them!). They sent great letters and sweet valentine's and birthday cards. Thank you for bringing me so many smiles NLES 3rd graders!
Ms. Doughtery at SBHS had her 9th grade class write me letters asking questions about Mali and my life here and it was refreshing to hear what questions were on their mind and neat to see them reflect on their lives in comparison to young adults their age in Mali.
One of my best friends, Marija, flew in from America last night where my friend Khadi and I picked her up. and is here safe and sound. Khadi is a banker in Bamako and knows some folks at the airport so Marija was whisked through the visa line (big time saver) and escorted out with her bags (she's the best packer, a small duffel bag and a carry on bag; I would have brought waaaay too much). We made it safe to San today after an initial bus break down and are ready to embark on the adventures Mali and Zana have to offer. Wedding festivities in village, hiking in Dogon country, shopping for souvenirs in Sevare, dinner on the Bani river, meeting Malick Sidibe in Bamako and maybe even a camel sighting if we're lucky. On the bus today a man asked where we were going and I explained that my best friend was here to visit me from America. "All the way from America??" he asked. "That's right," I said, "over 14 hours in an airplane!" "She's good, she is very, very good," he said. I'm going to have to agree on that one.

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