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 Message Boards » » So I Guess I'm Going to Africa for Two Years Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 ... 27, Prev Next  
HockeyRoman
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It sounds like you miss the rains.

You are quite inspiring with what you are doing and I wish you the best!

4/25/2012 7:58:38 PM

Joie
begonias is my boo
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Omg that is so awesome!

Congrats!!!

4/25/2012 9:02:23 PM

BigMan157
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4/25/2012 9:07:45 PM

elkaybie
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Here's that blog post I mentioned earlier http://waidsworld.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/the-real-peace-corps/

4/25/2012 9:13:20 PM

1985
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Ahahah GrumpyGOP is doing peacecorp in africa and I am moving to the GOP heartland in TX. Its a crazy mixed up world.


Congrats! Do some good, or at least feel good about what you're doing. Take some pics.

4/25/2012 9:46:09 PM

moron
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Congrats, you've always been one of my most favorite TWW posters.

I friended you on Facebook btw, you better accept...

4/25/2012 9:50:48 PM

ssclark
Black and Proud
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moreso malaria... but yes

4/25/2012 9:53:00 PM

GrumpyGOP
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So back in 1972, my dad was in Ghana. Malaria was an issue. He was given malaria prophylaxis. While taking it, he did not contract malaria. Then he and a bunch of other volunteers stopped taking it, because there were rumors of side effects. Namely, that the drugs would eliminate your ability to tan and messed with your short-term memory.

In dad's words, "The tanning thing was definitely true. We all stayed pale the entire time, and I'm not naturally pale here, let alone in Africa. The memory thing...I don't know. I was smoking so much pot it's hard to tell."

But he did get malaria. Twice. On an unrelated note, he got food poisoning twice. His thoughts on this subject:

"When I had malaria, I thought I was going to die. When I had food poisoning, I hoped I was going to die, and soon."

In short: I'm gonna take my goddamn malaria pills as often as they recommend, I don't care if I become an albino with the memory retention of that guy from "Memento."

And since someone will ask, I gather that the Peace Corps lax standards on drug use have tightened up dramatically in the past forty years.

4/25/2012 10:46:22 PM

Shadowrunner
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My wife studied abroad in Ghana for four months back in 2001. Pretty much everyone who was there was taking anti-malarials, and pretty much everyone still got malaria, her included. Take that for whatever it's worth.

4/26/2012 12:00:34 AM

stixman
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I have three friends on their fourth month in Ghana right now...all of them are on anti-malarials, none of them have malaria yet. Take that for whatever it's worth.

4/26/2012 12:23:04 AM

Prawn Star
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If you see Kony down there, you kill him for me. You kill him til he's dead.

4/26/2012 1:16:46 AM

armorfrsleep
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Quote :
"And since someone will ask, I gather that the Peace Corps lax standards on drug use have tightened up dramatically in the past forty years."


I bet it has way more to do with the feasibility of drug testing in the 70s as opposed to now rather than any sort of change in policy.

4/26/2012 1:43:05 AM

Samwise16
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Awesome!! Good luck

4/26/2012 1:52:52 AM

raiden
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well Grumpy, do some good and stop shit like this:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2134696/Scene-unimaginable-horror-helicopter-borne-poachers-massacre-22-elephants.html?ICO=most_read_module

4/26/2012 8:25:32 AM

BigMan157
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so i just watched the movie Volunteers

this looks like it'll be easy

you might have to blow up a bridge though

4/26/2012 8:32:35 AM

justinh524
Sprots Talk Mod
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Have fun getting ebola/aids.

4/26/2012 8:36:46 AM

adultswim
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Congrats dude. That's some cool stuff.

I started a Peace Corps application last year but put it on freeze...still considering it.

4/26/2012 9:36:56 AM

BigMan157
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4/26/2012 9:40:29 AM

jdennis86
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you're to old for kony so all you have to worry about is aids

4/26/2012 9:59:29 AM

LaserSoup
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How many cannibals will you feed?
http://www.oneplusyou.com/q/v/cannibal_lunch

4/26/2012 10:38:31 AM

Tarun
almost
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Goodluck buddy! my mom worked with unicef in Malawi for a year (2010)...i wish i could go visit while she was there. I wanted to go to the soccer worldcup but it was too expensive

4/26/2012 11:24:03 AM

GREEN JAY
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Quote :
" it's the small ones that worry me. Mosquitoes and tsetse flies in particular, then working down in size to amoebas. viruses"


ftfy



at least you'll be safe from mad cow disease!


tu dois commencer à apprendre français immèdiatement, sinon tu seras perdu en Afrique francophone

4/26/2012 11:32:07 AM

pdrankin
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Congrats! Sounds like an awesome opportunity. Africa is a pretty amazing place. If they allow you time for travel, you should try and get to Mozambique.

4/26/2012 1:22:50 PM

GrumpyGOP
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^^I picked up some French instruction stuff on my way home from work.

Having a strong background in Spanish, the interesting thing is that I can figure out what you wrote without any trouble whatsoever. The words -- as written -- are very similar.

However, having started listening to tapes, it all sounds like gibberish. More specifically, it sounds like a profoundly drunk person trying to speak Italian.

^There will be some time for travel -- you accrue two vacation days a month, and can generally use them any time except for your first three or last three months of actual volunteering (which excludes the first three months I'll be over there, training). What you don't accrue a lot of is "Money for flying to damn Mozambique," unfortunately.

4/26/2012 5:11:37 PM

MisterGreen
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i've heard of volunteers banking their days and using them all at once to come home for christmas, etc

4/26/2012 5:19:36 PM

Beethoven
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I think it'd be pretty hard to schedule a trip home for Christmas and miss out on things like Victoria Falls etc. But then again, I'm sure I'd get pretty daggone homesick if I didn't come back for Christmas.

4/26/2012 5:20:59 PM

GREEN JAY
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if you've ever taken antidepressants or other psych meds you should discuss that thoroughly with your doctor before you get a prescription for anti-malarial pills. the most commonly prescribed (and cheapest) can make you feel really, really bad.

4/26/2012 5:26:03 PM

GrumpyGOP
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It should not come as a surprise that the Peace Corps medical clearance process is exhaustive. Anything I've ever taken, they know about in detail, as do their doctors.

4/26/2012 5:29:46 PM

GREEN JAY
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knowing != caring or reading your file carefully before prescribing you two years worth of medicine. Just something to think about before letting other people make health decisions for you

4/26/2012 5:34:04 PM

BigMan157
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Quote :
"More specifically, it sounds like a profoundly drunk person trying to speak Italian."


Congratulations, you now know the root history of the French language

[Edited on April 26, 2012 at 6:04 PM. Reason : WEE WEE]

4/26/2012 6:03:42 PM

wolfpackgrrr
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Quote :
"I think it'd be pretty hard to schedule a trip home for Christmas and miss out on things like Victoria Falls etc. But then again, I'm sure I'd get pretty daggone homesick if I didn't come back for Christmas.
"


Eh you'd be surprised. Once you're resolved with the fact you're not going home for Christmas and instead are going to see awesome shit you don't really get homesick

4/27/2012 8:42:16 AM

GrumpyGOP
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Mom called me at 7:30 this morning. I picked up groggily (even though I was on my way to work).

"Hello?"
"What about monkeypox?"
"Huh? What about it?"
"They were talking about it on the news this morning. It's in west Africa. Had you thought at all about the monkeypox?"
"Honestly? No. Nor do I intend to."
"I just wanted you to know. About the monkeypox."
"Thanks mom. I'll add it to the list."

Dad informed me that she would not shut up about monkeypox all day. When I asked her why she was skipping over the far more likely and terrifying diseases -- malaria, sleeping sickness -- she said, "Don't worry, I'm gonna do one threat a day for the next two months."

And it is two months. If I've done my research correctly, the plane leaves June 27.

4/27/2012 10:43:19 PM

GrumpyGOP
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It's official: Got the invitation paperwork today. Going to Benin to be a natural resources advisor until the end of August, 2014.

5/2/2012 1:13:54 PM

BigMan157
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you'll be spending the mayan apocalypse in africa

5/2/2012 1:15:22 PM

GrumpyGOP
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In the course of researching Benin, I have run across some interesting tidbits:

They're way into voodoo, which is awesome.

They're also way into vigilante justice and societies to mete out the same, which is even more awesome.

I'm basically moving to a place populated by voodoo Batman.

Not to ruin the trends in the thread, but here are things I won't have to worry about in Benin:

Kony (far, far away)

Being machete-murdered (by all accounts it's a stable country with a low violence rate, and the coups are in an understated classical style: the #2 man surrounds the #1 man's house with troops, the #1 man surrenders and the #2 man becomes #1. Rinse and repeat)

AIDS (at least by African standards. The ~2% infection rate is pretty low as these things go, plus I wasn't planning on banging the locals or bathing in blood or anything)

Large mammals. They are very thin on the ground outside of nature preserves.

Terrorism. About 15% of the population is Muslim (because, of course, terrorist=Muslim), but there haven't been any of those shenanigans. Neighboring Nigeria may be happy blowing itself to bits but Benin remains calm.

Things I do have to worry about:

Malaria
Dysentery
A host of other endemic diseases I don't feel like listing
Je ne parle-pas francaise
Petty thievery (although as per the "vigilante justice" reference above, thieves are routinely tracked down by mobs, always beaten mercilessly, and frequently killed. So...there's that)

5/13/2012 1:14:27 AM

moron
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What is a national resources advisor?

5/13/2012 1:16:34 AM

GrumpyGOP
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Heh. It's still kind of vague -- probably won't have it pinned down until after they decide where to put me after training -- but the common goals are:

1) Helping reduce firewood usage. A huge percentage of energy production comes from just burning trees, which is acquired by cutting down local forests. Since "cutting shit down just to burn it" isn't the most efficient use of forest resources, we're supposed to help popularize alternative cooking methods as well as more efficient wood stoves.

2) Setting up and running environmental clubs in schools to develop a recognition that the natural world provides more than just fuel (for example, it might provide tourist dollars or, with sustainable practices, wealth from timber production)

3) Planting trees.

4) Introducing and popularizing new dietary staples.

5) Whatever else the PC and Beninese government agency I'm attached to wants me to do.

5/13/2012 1:38:37 AM

A Tanzarian
drip drip boom
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What sort of alternative cooking methods will you encourage (if you know yet)?

5/13/2012 1:54:12 AM

Snewf
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I really like alcohol stoves

5/13/2012 1:56:02 AM

moron
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I couldn't get my own cousins from a 3rd world country to realize they shouldn't mix herbicides with their hands, and they shouldn't mix them at 5x the recommended rate, and then eat the crops without washing them. also, that they shouldn't throw plastics away in the rivers/ on the ground, or they should wash their hands after handling manure or fertilizer and eating, etc.

I couldn't imagine what effort it would take to impress these values on a totally different culture. I actually wished I could show them a Martha stewart magazine or a better homes and gardens magazine to help explain how things COULD be. It also would have helped to be able to show how wood frame constructed buildings (not sure if this is a problem in benin) required less wood than wood panel buildings and were just as sturdy and generally more energy efficient.

5/13/2012 2:08:02 AM

Big4Country
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5/13/2012 2:57:30 PM

roddy
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I wonder how many trees you will plant in two years? You will probably just pick up where the last person left off.

5/13/2012 3:44:31 PM

Str8BacardiL
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There is no GOP in africa.

They are very conservative though, do not waste government money on large projects like roads and utilities.

5/13/2012 3:48:18 PM

GrumpyGOP
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Quote :
"What sort of alternative cooking methods will you encourage (if you know yet)?"


I don't know yet, although I've heard references to stoves that use wood but are just more efficient about it. Things like alcohol stoves and solar cookers are great, but the idea is to come up with sustainable things that they can keep doing by themselves after I'm gone, without outside help. (Of course, this doesn't always happen). This is one of the things I'm eager to hear about in training, and in the meantime keep me anxious -- I'd hate to get over there and have nothing to offer but "You should burn less wood."

Quote :
"I couldn't get my own cousins from a 3rd world country to realize they shouldn't mix herbicides with their hands, and they shouldn't mix them at 5x the recommended rate, and then eat the crops without washing them. also, that they shouldn't throw plastics away in the rivers/ on the ground, or they should wash their hands after handling manure or fertilizer and eating, etc."


I keep my expectations realistic, possibly even pessimistic -- a fact which probably impressed my interviewer last year. I don't expect to go over and revolutionize how things are done in my village. I'll be satisfied with convincing a few people to make helpful changes.

The thing about Martha Stewart magazines to set an example is sort of in line with my thinking, and that of the Peace Corps. You've definitely got to practice what you preach where possible. Whatever cooking system I'm supposed to encourage, I'll use (even if I have access to a superior method on my own). If only to show how I can get everything done and use less fuel. God knows I'm not much of a gardener, but this is something they're supposedly going to teach us, and I'll garden the shit out of whatever plot of land I get to show that I can get the same yield with less herbicide, for example.

Quote :
"I wonder how many trees you will plant in two years? You will probably just pick up where the last person left off."


Possibly. It's not a guarantee that I'll be in a place that has had a volunteer before. As to how many I'll plant, I guess it's up to whatever my assigned priorities are. If they tell me goal number one is "plant trees," I'll plant trees all fucking day. No big deal, not like I'll have a lot of other things to do.

Quote :
"There is no GOP in africa."


I quit the Republican Party on April 24, when I went in to do early voting. Got the invite the next day.

---

If anyone has any advice about camepak products or solar chargers, I'd appreciate your input.

5/14/2012 12:32:05 AM

theDuke866
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I knew a dude who slept on the rack right next to mine in Marine OCS...he ended up doing OCS, then not accepting his commission because he decided to join the Peace Corps, not the Marine Corps. He, like many of us, wanted to make the world a better place, and was torn between doing so by helping good people or killing bad ones. He elected to do the former.
_______

Malaria pills aren't too bad. I took them in Afghanistan, and again in Peru. I had the kind where you take them daily, rather than the kind that you take weekly or whatever. I've heard the weekly dose kind can give you trippy dreams and nightmares. The daily dose ones we/I had were fine, but they would give you a hell of a stomachache if you didn't take them with some food. Some types of malaria medication also require you to take a course of a different drug for about a week once you're back home and out of a malaria-afflicted area, I think just to kill any dormant, straggler malaria bugs that the daily dose stuff didn't fully kill.

As far as staying pale, the stuff we had supposedly increased your photosensitivity. I personally never noticed any effect regarding tanning or burning.



_____________

That above picture of Dorothy and ToTo is fucking awesome, hahaha.

5/14/2012 1:19:12 AM

GrumpyGOP
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My experience is vaguely similar to that of your OCS friend. I dipped my toe in the military water in ROTC at State and it quickly became apparent that it wasn't for me, though I kept at it for a couple of years before quitting. I don't have any qualms with shooting bad guys, but the stuff they used to motivate people just didn't do it for me. Perhaps if the other people in my group were still encouraged to beat me with soap-in-a-sock for my poor performance it would have gone differently, but as things were repeating "high speed, low drag" and the like couldn't get me to ignore the low speed pleasures of college life in favor of doing the stuff I needed to, like getting up at the crack of dawn and running in circles for an hour.

I also realized that my goals and skillsets lay elsewhere. I ultimately wanted to work in psychological operations to get people to surrender instead of fight. Eventually it dawned on me that I could go into diplomacy and try to convince people not to fight in the first place. Like I now say ever Memorial and Veteran's Day, "I hope I get to do my job so you don't have to do yours."

---

I'm not too worried about the antimalarials. Never had to take them when I was in Peru, but I had them just in case and knew about potential side effects (as well as the fact that you should see a doctor about any remotely malarial symptoms you get within a year of coming home).

5/14/2012 1:56:14 AM

GrumpyGOP
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To replace all of the threats I ignored in the earlier post, here is a new one:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1678996.stm

Quote :
"The authorities in Benin have ordered security forces to curb violence in the commercial capital, Cotonou, following the deaths of five people by vigilantes
There have been reports of at least 10 such attacks since Saturday.

Four of those who died were burned, another man was hacked to death.

Correspondents say that mobs have attacked indivduals accused of using magic to steal men's penises.

The belief that men's private parts can mysteriously disappear through a handshake or an incantation is commonplace in Benin where superstition and illiteracy are rife.

Stripped naked

The BBC's Karim Okanla in Cotonou says these attacks begin by someone screaming that that they have been robbed of their penis.



An angry mob would then descend on any passer-by deemed to look suspicious, strip them naked and then douse them in petrol before setting them alight.

No one in the crowd would stop to question their actions or ask whether the accused might possess magical powers, he says.

Our correspondent adds that there have been some lucky escapes for people.

An angry mob almost necklaced a photojournalist who happened to be passing by whilst a crowd was hunting for a suspect.

Another example, he says, was when a high school principal narrowly escaped death, after a mob objected to him sheltering a man they had been chasing in his school.

One report said three of the people torched were foreigners."

5/16/2012 11:15:01 PM

GrumpyGOP
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I get that the thread is dead but fuck it, I'm going to Africa. In exactly two weeks, actually. Time is compressing like a motherfucker.

6/11/2012 1:18:01 AM

TreeTwista10
Forgetful Jones
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bring us back some blood diamonds please, they're dirt cheap over there, i know a guy who can cut them so dont worry about that

6/11/2012 1:22:32 AM

GrumpyGOP
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Benin is pretty poor on the diamond front, and Africa is not the size of a goddamn shopping mall.

6/11/2012 1:23:04 AM

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