|Jeff promotes cultural exchange by showing how American men feed baby goats|
As a third-year Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali with USAID/PHARE I serve as a 'Communications and Outreach Specialist.' I write success stories to send to USAID to contribute to PHARE's end-of-the-year report (2 per quarter) and take pictures of trainings and events. I also help out around the office with a little bit of this and a little bit of that whenever and wherever my hands are needed. As with many things it isn't the big moments or the job descriptions that are exciting but rather the little things that accumulate to make our work-at-large happen.
One of the recent 'little thats' on my work plate was serving as a translator and assistant to Jeff Nesmith who is a DC-based videographer (among other things - learn more here) contracted by EDC to produce a film on their work around the world. After 15 layovers (!) and filming in the Phillipines and Rwanda, Jeff finally arrived on our Malian doorstep to film some of the awesome work PHARE (and another project, PAJE Nièta) is achieving to improve the instruction of reading and writing in Mali's primary schools.
|A boy reads a phone number for his dad|
|Village bard (at right) serenades Jeff and his camera (and seeks 5 minutes of fame!)|
|Visiting PAJE-Nièta's project outside of Yanfolila|
|Flash! Jeff snaps a shot of the lovely ladies who made all our meals during our sejour in Yanfolila|
|the ladies selling fried goods in Yanfolila loved Youssouf Diakité|
Then Mahmadou grunted "An be kelen!" and pulled his cement packaging back to the center console while chewing on a particularly tough piece of meat and re-directing his attention to the road. I did translate that little gem for Jeff - we are the same! - and suggested he take a bite of the offered meat to assuage Mahmadou's generous heart. Jeff then found the meat really was quite tasty and continued to munch on it until he and Mahmadou successfully finished the snack. Mahmadou smiled at Jeff, Jeff mimed that he really liked the meat and I chuckled to myself in the back seat. This interaction is symbolic of one of the things I love most about having lived in Mali a few years now. No, not eating oily meat wrapped in cement-traced butcher paper or bumping along in the back of white Land-Rovers all over the country while laughing to myself (though both are nice) but rather sharing my new home and culture with visitors and witnessing their reactions to Mali. The good and the beautiful - the bad and the ugly. Because when it comes down to it I can't pinpoint one reason I live in Mali - there are a lot. And it's not one 'thing' that keeps me but rather a whole lot of individual experiences and people - I'm glad you could be a part of it Jeff - we look forward to having you back!
|More bottle time|
|Jeff, you may have stayed here in the Phillipines but really - weren't you more comfortable at the Pied à Terre in Yanfolila?|