Thursday, January 30, 2014

Global Technology Assignment 2: Post-Trip Perceptions

This post will discuss how my pre-trip perceptions have changed after my two week trip to India. 

1) Bollywood. I am glad I watched a few Bollywood films before my trip because it helped manage my expectations about what I would be dealing with while in India. Movies can be vastly different from reality but Slumdog Millionaire prepared me for driving through the slums and Outsourced gave me some perspective while visiting companies in India. The companies we visited were far more advanced than the startup in Outsourced.  Several of the companies I saw had better campuses than any company I have visited in the US. They had made significant investments in their landscape and architecture. One campus has birdhouses in every tree with signs posted for birdwatching. Another campus had a beautiful infinity pool with a swim up bar for tasty refreshments. I was surprised by how much these companies invested in their people and how many of them were making huge strides in efficiency and sustainability. It is sad to think that most companies in the US will probably never get to the level of investment in their campus and community that we saw in India due to shareholders who are more concerned with profit margins than their people. 

2) Indian Parties. I touched on different festivals in my previous blog and stated that I thought Indians knew how to throw a good party. I was right! The hotel we were staying in in Jaipur had a wedding on our first night there. The decorations were incredibly beautiful and very intricate. The bride and groom arrived on decorated elephants with camels along side of them. The party had live music with several traditional Indian dancers. There was an open bar and the food spread was endless. The father of the groom allowed us to come inside and be apart of the celebration. His son was Indian and his new daughter in law was Italian so there was a mix of people there. It was very much an Indian wedding though with the dancing and style of clothes. It was a great experience and I'm honored that I was able to be apart of it.  

3) Indian Women's Rights. I had written about several events that had happened to young girls in India over the last few years. Safety for women is not guaranteed at night and they are typically blamed for being raped. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the safety measures that several of the companies had in place to keep their female employees safe. Most of the companies had a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment. Women could report incidents discretely and people were let go without reservation when found guilty.  I also had the opportunity to meet with a few female students at an Indian business school.  Some had discussed safety concerns about leaving the school at night and the safety structure of their dorms. I also learned that people are becoming more aware of the gender inequalities in India and women are working hard to be seen as equals. 

4) Technology in India. All of the companies we visited while abroad were technology based and built from the ground up. There are several reasons why India is doing so well in IT. They have a competitive advantage with the amount of skilled workers. With such a large labor force, businesses are getting thousands of applications from well qualified candidates. The IT world is very competitive in India with each company trying to be the biggest and the best at what they do. India's IT world will continue to grow as data mining and IT solutions become more needed. India has another advantage with the 11.5 hour time difference. Part of their business model is finishing up work that is left after the normal US work day. Its an inexpensive way for US companies to get caught up on paper work and data entry. 

5) India's economy. I had read several Economist articles about the destruction of the Indian economy before going on this trip. While poverty is rampant in India, it would have been difficult to know that any kind of financial crisis was happening when visiting the IT companies. One of the main founders of a company we visited said that rupee dropping in value was actually helping his business. They may have been getting less money for their services but the amount of new business at the lower rate made up for the difference threefold. Almost all of the companies we visited were doing some kind of new construction to improve their campus and as well as plans for expansion. There did not seem to be any worry about the continued growth in the IT world. One professor that I had talked to at the business school touched on the change of the government and the possible ramifications on new businesses. He also warned about the impact of the lack of infrastructure investments. Otherwise, I would have never known anything negative was happening in the economy

A few pictures from the Indian wedding: 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5 Reflections while in India

1) A be Kelan, यह एक ही है, It is the Same

I arrived in Delhi and immediately missed Mali. So many things are the same; the shops, the smoky haze of outside fires, the moto taxis, the feral dogs. I breathe in the smoky air and picture my host mom fanning hot coals preparing for dinner. I see a puppy scrounging for food and slightly feel Legend's nose nudging my thigh reminding me that he is first in line for leftovers. I hear the hotel attendant say they have no change and instead of becoming frustrated, I laugh to myself, remembering my favorite merchants in the Dioro market giving me looks for trying to hand them any bill instead of coins. 

However, this trip was much different from any of my travels in Africa. I'm with a group of students and our teacher is our advocate for fair treatment and ensures our stay is as cushy as possible. We arrive at the airport and see two people standing with a Marquette sign. We are escorted to a nice bus with a flower wreath welcome, bottled water, and my new favorite Indian snack, Masala Munch. The bus is passed by several mottos weaving in and out of traffic and there are moto taxis everywhere. It's a huge change being above the chaos instead of in the middle of it. We arrive at the hotel and our room is stunning. Beautiful Indian decorations with a huge shower and a delicious meal waiting for us. 

This experience sounds very normal to most but I'm used to landing in an unfamiliar place, negotiating a ride on one of those moto taxis and arriving at a hostel where the comfort level is guaranteed to be subpar. Don't mistake that for complaining. It was a very exciting way to travel and I appreciated it for all that I learned. I was still able to learn a lot while in India with Marquette, it was just very different. Everything was planned out for me but the convenience and safety of that was well worth it.

We didn't get to see much of Delhi until the last leg of our trip.  I learned a lot about the various Hindu gods at the Akshardam Temple and felt a hint of tranquility when looking from afar at the beautiful Lotus Temple.

                            The Lotus Temple~
 ~The Akshardam Temple

*These are not my pics because I couldn't get these kinds of shots and wanted to show you exactly how amazing these two are*

2) A Man's Best Friend or Competition? 

It was very hard for me to see dogs being treated badly. I had a hard time in Mali and had an even harder time in India now that I have a loving dog at home. I saw an adorable black puppy get stepped on by a local and witnessed a kid throw a stick at dog getting too close to him. It is very easy for me to cast harsh judgment. What kind of person could treat such a loving animal so terribly?! It is easy for me to condone this awful behavior because I have enough money to feed myself and my dog with no worries. I choose to let Jax sit on my lap, snuggle, and reward him treats for good behavior. He is not threatening me or the health of my family. It is not a "him or me" situation. The little boy throwing the stick was more than likely protecting his small meal or his little brothers. There is no emotional connection to the dog but an intense one to the food the boy needs to get through the day.  I'm not saying this treatment is right but forcing myself to see it through a local's perspective made witnessing it a little more bearable.

3) Jaipur

As I mentioned above, I was surprised by how many things were similar to my experience in West Africa. The Jaipur market was full of a lot of the same things in Mali. The blankets, pots, nescafe, and powdered milk were all the SAME and thats just to name a few. The style of the outdoor food markets and a lot of the food was the same. I saw several people drinking tea out of the small pots as a social activity just like in Mali. The architecture is what reminded me of where I was. Jaipur is known as the pink city because it was mostly built with pink and red sandstone. The picture below is Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds. It was designed to resemble the crown of Krishna, the Hindu God. You can see there are several windows with the lattice style. This was so the royal ladies could see the outside world while still observing the tradition of purdah, keeping their faces covered.

4) Taj Mahal-The Palace of Love

I knew what the Taj Mahal was before visiting, but had never heard the story of why it was built. Our guide for the day did a great job of romancing us with the lovely story. The Taj was built by Prince Khurram, Shah Jahan, after the death of his third wife, Arjumand Banu Begum. It was normal for men to have several wives but he was completely in love with her. It is said that he was in love at first site and referred to her as Mumtaz Mahal, the jewel of the palace. She lost her life at age 40 while delivering their fourteenth child. Shah Jahan was devastated and spent the rest of his life and a ton of cash building the Taj Mahal for Arjumand to be buried in. They are buried there together but their actual tombs cannot be seen as they are three levels directly below the one that I and the rest of the world are able to see. The Taj Mahal really was breathtaking. I got goosebumps as I touched the perfectly white marble. The stone carvings and jewels designed as flowers made the Taj Mahal the most beautiful building I have ever seen.  I've been Egypt and have seen Giza, another World Wonder, and was impressed but the Taj Mahal stole my heart truly making it the Palace of Love for me.

5) How Auspicious-The Tale of the Baby Elephant

Auspicious-showing or suggesting that success is likely. Hindi is the official language of India but over 250 million people also speak English. While traveling in India, I heard the word auspicious easily over 100 times. I had never heard the word used before but could tell what it meant in context. A lot of great stories were told about several of the Maharajas and their auspicious adventures. It was auspicious for me to see an elephant while in India. We had been told that we were going to ride an elephant while traveling and I was thrilled! I had wanted to ride an elephant while in Africa, top on my bucket list, but never got the chance.  I had been on several safaris and have been close enough to know how long their eyelashes are but never got to touch one. A visit to the Amber Fort was my chance to cross this off my list. As we were pulling up to the Fort, the bus driver stopped so we could take pictures from a distance. We got off the bus just as a baby elephant was walking by! She was adorable and about 5 years old. The gentleman walking her was more than happy to make a few rupees as we stopped and took pictures. It was amazing to pet her ears and giggle as she put her trunk on the tops of my feet. Surely they were a little smelly after a long morning of walking... Actually riding the adult elephant up to the fort paled in comparison to meeting this little calf. I learned a lot while on this trip but one of my favorites parts was meeting her.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Global Technology Assignment 1: Pre-trip Perceptions

I have to be honest, I know very little about India. I have seen a few movies and documentaries, heard stories from friends who have visited the country, and gotten a few insights about the culture from friends who are from various regions in India.  This assignment is designed to reflect on my current perceptions of India, its people, its social and cultural environment, and its business world. I will do my best to accurately reflect what I have learned but predict that these perceptions will change after this class.

One of the most iconic aspects of the Indian culture and the one that I have been the most exposed to is Bollywood. I have seen several Bollywood movies that provide a little insight into the Indian culture. Slumdog Millionaire is a popular british movie that was co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan, a famous India film and casting director. This movie shows the hardships of people growing up in the slums and showcases the unrest between Muslim and Hindu religions in India. Another Bollywood movie that I have seen is Outsourced. This shows the implications of the outsourcing phenomena and how it affects both stateside and international stakeholders. Both of these movies have a dance scene that is typical in most Bollywood films and feature music known as filmi, based on a hindi word meaning 'of films'. These dances can be traditional or in the cases of the movies I mentioned, take on a more western pop dance approach mixed with traditional styles.

Another perception I have about the Indian culture and its people is that they know how to throw a party. I am vaguely familiar with three festivals; Holi, Diwalli, and the Pushkar Camel Fair. Holi is known as the Festival of Colors. It's a Hindu holiday that celebrates the start of a new season, Spring. The activities start with a bonfire where stories are shared and is followed by a day of throwing colors at each other that represent the abundance of colors in Spring. It is disappointing to me that not many people know about Holi, even though color runs are becoming more popular. Milwaukee has had several 5k Color Runs with no mention of how they originated. Diwalli is known as the festival of lights. It is a five-day Hindu festival that uses small lights to signify that good triumphs over evil. The house is cleaned to welcome good spirits and firecrackers are lit to drive away bad spirits. The Pushkar Camel Fair is a very popular event that attracts thousands of people from all over the world. This festival is based on the cleansing of sins in the holy waters of Pushkar's lake and selling livestock. It has become a major tourist attraction with camels being dressed up, shaved and entered into beauty contests.

India seems to have a male dominant culture.  Last year, the rape case of a 23 year old medical student made global news. It is perceived that sexual harassment is prevalent in India and that women often feel scared to be alone. The 23 year old woman was criticized for being out with a male friend so late at night, 11pm. They had just seen the movie "Life of Pi" and were on their way home. The rest is too hard to write about but the moral of the story is that the woman should not have been out so late. In doing more research about this case I learned that rape is often blamed on the victim and criticized for using cell phones and going out at night. A congress party leader, Botsa Satyanarayana, was quoted solidifying this assumption, "Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark." The woman's case sparked civil unrest bringing sexual harassment to the forefront of social issues in India. This year a new law was enacted protecting women from sexual harassment in their place of work. A huge step forward with a long way to go. 

A perception I have about business in India is that it thrives with technology based companies. I remember reading in the Economist that Bangalore was is known as the Silicon Valley of India. They technology focus started in the late 1960 in Mumbai with the Tata group and became very popular. IT outsourcing to India is prevalent with double digit growth over the last decade with predictions of the same for the next decade. 

My final perception is that India's economy is in a downward spiral. The rupee's value has dropped considerably and India has been deemed one of the five most fragile economies in the world. They fell victim to quick foreign investors and when the rumors started about India's fragility, most of the investors pulled out, leaving the economy weak. In September, India raised its interest rate to look more favorable and it mildly worked, slightly raising the value of the rupee from its all-time low in late August. The upcoming elections are also a factor. India is the world's largest economy and the global market is skeptical of its future. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Next Stop: India!!

Yikes!! It's been awhile since I've been on here!

Let's get caught up. I got back from the Peace Corps last June and have been attending Marquette University since last August. I'm in the MBA program and working as a marketing and management graduate assistant helping four full-time professors with teaching, grading, and organizing. I've really enjoyed my classes so far but am very excited about my Global Technology course. It's the reason I am back to blogging. I will be traveling to India in January for the class and I'm using my blog to share the experience with you. I will be posting several assignments on here so thought I'd share some of the basics with you so you can follow along.

The class has three main objectives:

  1. Understand the economic and political factors driving growth of global business in technology management. 
  2. Learn about the positive and detrimental influences of global technology business on legal systems, family, and culture of societies.  
  3. Engage in deep cultural immersion to further develop abilities to work with diverse cultures. 
There are several writing assignments for the course that I'll be publishing on here.  First, I write about my pre-trip perceptions of India relating to its people, social and cultural environment, and its business world. Next, I'll post reflections about my experiences during the trip. I'll conclude my postings with post-trip reflections referencing the ideas I had about India before I was there and how much they have changed through taking this course.

Hope you enjoy following along!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Putting a Face on the Coup d'Etat

Her name is Jellican.

She is 27 and lives in a rural village in Mali. She is the second wife of three and her husband has a new 15 year old girlfriend, that he will soon marry to complete his family with four wives. Jellican has three of her own children, but lives with and looks after all 12 of her husband's children. She has her own room, but sleeps occasionally with her children when the mosquitoes get bad. She doesn't really love her husband and really dislikes his new girlfriend but there is nothing she can do. The times he does favor her she must willingly share her bed. She is not allowed to use birth control, but goes and gets a shot from the local clinic every three months anyways.  Last week when she walked the 8k to get it they had run out; the people who regularly bring in the medicine for her village never came. She now fears her husband because she knows her body cannot handle another pregnancy- she barely survived the last one.

She works hard everyday in her small garden, growing tomatoes and onions to sell at the market. Her husband doesn't work. His days are filled with drinking rounds of tea, playing cards, and visiting his new girlfriend. Jellican needs her garden's income to buy ingredients to make sauce for toh, the only type of meal her family can afford. This is especially difficult this year due to the lack of rain last season. Her brother's field yielded a third of what it did the year before. Millet went from $10 a bag to $50. She knows soon her family will go down to eating once a day. Her children are already underweight and have big swollen bellies. The community health worker taught her how to make a healthy porridge, but she cannot afford buy all the ingredients, nor are they always available at market.

She had hope in her heart that things were changing for the better. Her and her friends were planning on starting a large women's garden. An outside organization was going to pay for a fence to keep the goats out and they were also going to build a well in the garden so they wouldn't have to walk 2k to retrieve water everyday. The people who were helping were very nice and she looked forward to their weekly visits. They shared lots of useful gardening advice, it was in French, but luckily one of the women in her group could understand and relay the information. This group of kind, knowledgeable strangers were also working with the community clinic; they were the ones who taught the community health workers how to make that porridge.

One day on the radio Jellican heard that a coup d'etat had happened in the capital city. She would not have known otherwise because life in village had remained the same. She did notice though when the people who were suppose to bring money to start work on the fence never came. She was devastated. Her husband was supposed to be one of the people working on the well. He probably would have used most of that money on his new girlfriend, but she was hoping for at least one bag of millet. Now the big garden is postponed, they only have a half a bag of millet left, and hot season is fast approaching, and with no new well, her small garden will wither down to little or nothing.

Who is going to be affected the most by this current rebellion???  Women like Jellican and her children who will no longer receive foreign aid.

The reason the people from the outside organization never came to Jellican's village with the project money is due to the current situation in Bamako. The World Bank and The African Development Bank suspended all aid in response to the coup d'etat. The U.S., Canada, and China are following suit.  All foreign aid workers have been moved out of the country or instructed to stay in their homes until peace has been restored.

Thousands of Malian villagers will never see combat, but they WILL feel it. They will feel it in their stomachs as they go hungry. They will feel it in their hearts as their loved ones die from preventable diseases. I feel infuriated. The villages of Mali do not deserve this. This is not their battle

Please keep Jellican and the millions like her in your thoughts and prayers. Pray that democracy will be restored and that aid workers will soon be able to continue to their work.  People like Jellican deserve the chance at a better life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Year in Review Part 2

My Mali Short Stories

The Mouse
I had just gotten to site and barely knew anyone. My landlord, Ina, was nice but still trying to figure out her strange new neighbor. I was sitting alone in my hut wondering what I had gotten myself into when a mouse ran into my house (This space between my front door and my hut's cement floor has allowed entry for several unwanted visitors) I saw it run into the second room behind the suitcase beauty table I had made for myself using the box from my stove and my largest suitcase. I was in quite the predicament because I was not the skilled assassin that I am now and had just washed all my undies and they were hanging from the handle of my door to the opposite corner of the room.  I knew I needed help so I called for her. INA!!! INA!!!! When she came in all she could see was me pointing to all my skimpy lace underwear. I explained in my broken bambara that something was hiding in the corner. She wearily came with me ducking under the 'clothes line' to look and when she saw it was a mouse laughed and called for her sister (not because she needed back up but I'm pretty sure it was so her sis could to get a look at all the weird things hanging in the new tubab's house). Ina told me to grab the box that was topped with all my cosmetics so nothing would spill while her sister threw her sandal at the mouse. As soon as this happened the mouse ran across my foot, I screamed and jumped a foot in the air while maintaining complete control of the box of cosmetics. The mouse ran out of my house and once I regained composure we all looked at each other and started laughing uncontrollably. I couldn't stop because of the ridiculousness of the situation; me standing in a mud hut in Africa with a box full of cosmetics and a room decorated with lingerie exhausted from screaming bloody murder because mouse grazed my foot while two Malian women stared at me with complete WTF faces. They couldn't stop for all those reasons too but also because this experience solidified that I was the craziest, weirdest person they had ever met. They still tease me about it today. We'll be sitting around doing whatever and I'll hear Ina start "INA....INA....AHHHHHH!!!!!!" and we'll all get a good laugh.

Dogon and Turning 27
My friend and I went on a three day hike through Dogon Country for my 27th birthday. I slept under the stars and woke up to one of the beautiful views I've ever seen. I roasted hot dogs and made smores on the edge of a cliff for my birthday dinner. We passed through several small villages and got to meet a lot of very friendly villagers. The hike was hot, very challenging and on the third day, my actual birthday, we were rained on and had to find shelter for a few hours. This rain was a blessing in disguise though because a few minutes after the rain cleared we discovered a three tier waterfall. I had to crawl through a centipede infested cave but it was worth it. That shower was a perfect birthday present. It was crazy not seeing a waterfall throughout our entire hike then on my birthday thanks to the rain seeing 5! Best. Birthday. Ever.

And I Cried 
I had just gotten back from IST and celebrating the fourth of July in Monitalli. I had been gone from my house for almost a month with the training and the much needed vacation. I was excited to get home and see my host family, play with my dog Legend, and cook a nice meal for myself with the delicious food my mother had sent me. When I opened the door to my hut I was horrified to find over 100 termite nests. They had eaten through several of my things including valuable pictures of my friends and family. I was overwhelmed and needed some water and when I went to my water filter I discovered it had been infiltrated with a million little ants. I almost threw up. I quickly went to the well to clean out the filter when I noticed the bucket of well water was full of worms. It was official. I was under attact by every insect in Mali. I was dealing with the situation as best as I could. I started to take everything out of my house to start the cleaning process. I grabbed the box with all my pots and pans and when I set it down the top came off and inside was a decomposing mouse. I looked inside, saw the mouse and started laughing. My laughing turned into crying and then the crying turned into sobbing so hard I could barely breathe.  I was lucky to have my friend Laura with me. Without I her I may have never stopped. I know it seems silly but I was really upset. I worked hard at making my hut my home and all that hard work had literally been eaten all up. It took about a week for everything to get cleaned up and for it to feel like my house again. My tears turned into vengeance and thousands of insects were murdered that day.


Malaria and Me
Long story short, Malaria kicked my ass. It was the sickest I have ever been and I hope to never have another experience like it.  I was training for my first half marathon and I was experiencing some hindering side effects from the prophylaxis I was taking. My feet were going numb right around mile 3 and my heart rate was out of control. I figured a break of three weeks would be enough to get rid of the side effects and not put me in any danger. I was wrong. A week before I was supposed to leave for Ghana I came down with a fever, horrible body aches, and an upset stomach.  I had experienced similar symptoms before so I assumed it was a viral infection and I didn’t want to tell the doctors that I hadn’t been taking mefloquine. By Wednesday I was so dehydrated I couldn’t swallow and organ failure was quickly approaching. When the doctors finally got my blood work back it showed that I had over 100,000 parasites in my system. I was immediately admitted to the hospital and was put on an IV. The next few days are kind of a blur. I remember waking up in a pool of sweat because the air conditioner broke right around the same time as my fever. I remember doctors coming in and me pleading with them to stop the injections in my hand because the pain was unbearable. I remember several Peace Corps visitors stopping to say hi. I remember calling my mom and wishing she was there. I remember a friend breaking in past visiting hours fearing for my life and kind of stealing my bed. I remember Robyn finally saying that I could still go to Ghana but only if I didn’t race and didn’t drink any alcohol.  I left the hospital thankful for all the love and support I had gotten but mostly thankful for the great doctor that brought me back in time to still make it to Ghana. It was hard being there and not being able to run but I felt really lucky that I was still able to support my friends.  

My Christmas Surprise 
I told my mom that I was traveling to Dogon again with a few friends and that my phone reception would be spotty so we had to have our skype Christmas on December 15th. I told her I wanted everyone there so we could hang ornaments on the tree together and maybe sing a few carols. I also told her my best friend Ashley would be stopping by to say hi since she was already going to be in town for another event. It was 7:15 and Mom was freaking out because she couldn't reach me. Ash knocked on the door and Mom welcomed her in while swearing at skype for not working. When there was a second knock on the door her exact words were "who the hell is it now?" clearly frustrated about not being able to reach her daughter in Africa. I'll never forget the look on her face when she opened the door...I'm tearing up just writing about it...she looked liked she saw a ghost. A blank expression. She reached out and touched my had gotten so long since she last saw me. She couldn't answer when everyone was asking who it was, all she could was cry. My sister was the second one to run over and hug me and my grandma kept shouting "Is she real!?" It was a magical Christmas, one we will talk about for the rest of our lives. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Year In Review Part 1

It’s my one year anniversary in Mali!! It’s amazing to look back at the last twelve months and think of all the things I’ve done and how much my life has changed. Here are a few differences:
  •          Instead of showering I now take bucket baths. This consists of a bucket of well water that I’ve retrieved myself and a large cup that I use to pour the water over myself. I’ve gotten really efficient with water use.  Now during cold season I boil extra water for making my morning tea and use it to warm up the bucket water. This is my “hot shower”
  •          I used to wash my hair daily but because of what was noted above I can now go as long as a week before washing it. Braids are great for hiding unclear hair.
  •          I can eat almost anything now if I’m hungry enough. I’ve gotten really good at picking out the meat around fish bones and sheep heads. I think I once ate a fish eyeball..I try not to think of that too much.
  •          I get urinated on by babies and laugh. In the states I hated to be dirty but here it’s a way of life. Add adding a little something extra to my already sweat stained dirt covered clothes is the least of my worries.
  •          I can drink warm water. In the states I hated to drink water and would only drink it out of a bottle. Now I get excited for pump water and drink it warm out of semi clean glasses. I will never take ice for granted again.
  •          I drink full calorie soda. I hate regular coke in the states and here it’s a cold treat for myself on very hot stressful days.
  •          I can coexist with spiders. I used to be the screamer who could barley muster up the courage to kill a spider. Now I great them in the morning and thank them eating all the other pesky bugs.*Note* The big hairy spiders are not my friends. I kill them as soon as I see them, they still freak me out.
  •          I watch quite a bit of TV now. I’m a huge fan of Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Glee, Castle, South Park. Don’t judge…I sit in a two room hut with nothing to do most nights.
  •          I ran my first half marathon. Training is fun because between 5-6pm I run along the Niger River with my dog Legend. This is one of my favorite times of day. The sun is a beautiful mix of red, orange, and yellow with an amazing reflection in the water. 
  •          I sleep outside every night. My bedroom is a bughut tent on my cement porch. Thanks to my friend Courtney I now have a *ceiling* fan with a light. Best present ever!!
  •          Hitchhiking is now the best way to get around and is a lot safer. Riding in a stranger’s car is a quicker, more comfortable, and safer way to travel. Don’t worry its usually in a very safe NGO vehicle.

Ways I’ve stayed the same:
  •         I still get ready every morning. Makeup is a treat to myself and it adds some normalcy to my life. I also still love clothes. One of my best friends in village is a tailor and we have a lot of fun together. He teaches me to sew while we listen to American Rap music. It’s a win win.
  •         I’m still really social. I love holidays because we all get together have a few drinks and catch up. This may or may not include lots of dancing. I've met a lot great people in and outside of Peace Corps while living in Mali. It’s fun to be American, get dressed up, and go out every once and awhile.