Friday, March 23, 2012

mali

It seems like trouble always makes its way to the places I care dearly for. Last year there was, of course, the Arab Spring, which sprouted from my very own country and continues to shake the Middle East. Now, a military coup has overthrown the Malian president. I taught in Mali the summer before my last year of college, in a small village called Kati. I met Henrik there. I also met some wonderful people, who did so much more than "just" teach alongside me. They are my friends. We talked about so many things; we still talk, exchanging updates about new living situations (me and Henrik) and marriages and babies (Hawa). I'm worried for all of my friends there. I'm worried for my students and for their futures. I hate how volatile things are, and how interconnected. If the Tuaregs hadn't gotten more advanced weaponry from the Libyans, maybe soldiers wouldn't have overthrown President Toure. I'm hoping to hear back soon to know how everyone's doing.

I feel it's only fitting to post some pictures from my time there. While I am worried (really, really worried), I also don't want to perpetuate this idea of the constantly fighting "Africa." I've had so many people assume that "Africa" (as if it were one country of super similar folks) is always war-torn, is always unhappy. "Africa" is not all war-torn, though there are wars that flare up in some African countries, to be sure. My experience has been with two African nations: Tunisia and Mali. They have recently been in the news for revolutions and uprisings, but there's a lot of good there. Mali is the most welcoming place I've ever been to, with some of the happiest people I've ever met. I did not spend my time there frightened. I instead taught fourth graders the days of the week, learned to dance from the ninth grade girls, and had hard conversations about school for women, female circumcision, and the problematic side of development. I do not claim to be an expert on Mali, nor do I claim to have the full experience; as a light-skinned foreigner, there are things I will never understand or experience there. But, I do stand by what I've said about the danger of painting all African nations as broken and conflict-riddled. As Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie said, "There is danger in a single story."

 Presidents Barack Obama and Amadou Toumani Toure, at our school


 one of the best nights of my life; everyone came together for a big party in the street

 princess deja, a diva if I've ever met one

my favorite student ever, Ousmane!

my fourth grade class

 Henrik and Segou, his co-teacher
 my favorite ladies, Hawa and Moussodjie

 my co-teachers! the dream team! Aliou and Issac :)

 yobi, my ever patient instructor who gave me his sandals when my feet got bloody walking in Dogon country
my ninth graders

the ladies

 getting ready to dance! :D

the best

1 comment :

  1. I hope everyone you know is doing ok and that you hear back from them shortly. That is so scary.

    It looks and sounds like you had an incredible time teaching there. The photos are all so sweet :]

    ReplyDelete

Comments make my day⎯really! I love reading what you have to say. Hope to hear from you. :)

Best,
Leila

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