Greetings! I’m Alice and I love deserts…

16 Sep

…it’s true. I’m not quite sure what it is, but life just keeps taking me back to hot, arid, sandy regions that can test anyone’s stamina, patience and gumption. Yet despite the ceaseless sweating, the sand in between your toes, ears, digital camera case and lunch, I have gained an affinity for these locales. Where else can cold water taste so good? Where else can a small breeze be more welcoming? And where else can you feel extremely accomplished after making the smallest progress in the work you’re doing?

I first became acquainted with deserts in Sahara (well, the Sahel actually…) during my service as a Community and Youth Education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Niger.  I worked mostly with the local representation of the Ministry of Education doing extra curricular projects with the primary schools in my village of Tibiri.  As can be imagined, work was challenging as I was consistently bouncing back and fourth between French and trying to find my footing in Hausa, the local language.  Learning appropriate social mannerisms, bureaucratic structures, and the absence of deadlines meant work happened at a slow pace. But oh, the feeling when something went right! (Or when someone brought a huge piece of ice to the office for us to add to the drinking water!)

My move to NYC to begin graduate school seemed like a logical next step, as I felt I needed to be a bit more informed about the work I was doing amateur-style in Niger. After a year in the International Education program, I can say at the least that it’s been quite a ride. There’s enough reading to make your head spin, and most of it just leaves me dizzy with excitement (minus the heavy theory…Durkheim will ground anyone). I’ve found a re-ignited interest in refugee education — of which you can be sure to hear more about later– and I’m excited to really sink my teeth in this semester. But what really has been a highlight in the past year were two  return trips to the desert (one in January back to Niger, and two months in Rajasthan, India this summer) where my work can be connected a bit with what I’m learning. More importantly, I was able to enjoy a couple more bouts of sweat, sand, stamina.

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One Response to “Greetings! I’m Alice and I love deserts…”

  1. johnphilson September 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Every time I read this I really want to believe that it says “desserts”.

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