Tuesday, February 17, 2009


A few quick observations from my first time back in America after almost two years:

1. America is freezing, freezing cold.
2. The food is amazing. I ate broccoli, cooked various ways, every day for a week. (Also I ate a lot of other stuff, none of which was rice or peanuts!)
3. Hot showers are very, very nice.
4. Technology has progressed so much in the last two years. And I want it all.
5. Malls are nice. There are lots of pretty things, and you can look at them, even try things on, without people getting in your face trying to sell them to you. But things are expensive. I missed being able to bargain on prices with the salespeople.
6. American refrigerators have so much food in them I almost went into shock.
7. Traveling in America is amazing. You get a whole seat to yourself, and there are seatbelts, and the vehicles have shocks, and there are a minimal number of potholes in the roads.
8. Where are the talibe begger children to eat my leftovers?
9. Why aren't strangers on the street or in the metro talking to me, asking me personal questions like whether I have a husband? I miss them.

So after two weeks in America I was ready to come back to Senegal, but now I miss all the nice things that are there. (And of course it was nice seeing my family and friends!)

I got a job!

I'm afraid it's been approximately forever, or exactly one month, since I last managed to post. Apologies to all the millions anxiously awaiting my pearls of wisdom.

Anyway, I have had a good reason for not posting. Which is, that I've been incredibly busy and also didn't want to say too much about what was going on until I knew how it was going to turn out. But now it's done, so I will tell:

Way back last June-ish I applied for a dream job: Crisis, Stabilization, and Governance Officer in the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development, which is like grown-up Peace Corps) foreign service. But months went by and I never heard anything, so I kinda gave up on it. Then just before Christmas I received an email saying that they wanted me to come to Washington, D.C. for an interview. Very exciting! There was lots of paperwork that had to be done beforehand, so I had to give up my planned Christmas vacation to Mali and instead go to Dakar. Not going to Mali was a big disappointment, but definitely worth it for the possibility of an amazing job. Plus, who knows, maybe I'll have another chance to go to Mali someday.

So I got all my paperwork done in Dakar over Christmas, then went back to my village for a short time to do the girls' leadership camp that Hawa Ba and I had been planning for a long time. Then it was back up to Thies and Dakar, and then flying to America for my interview. I had two days to get my hair cut, get some interview clothes, and in general to make myself civilized and presentable for the interview. Then there was the interview, which lasted two days, during which I struggled to remember how to speak proper English using words over two syllables long.

I didn't think the interview went that great, but at least it got me back to America for the first time in two years. Afterwards I flew to Tennessee to see my family, which was very nice, and then after a week of eating non-stop and complaining about the cold American weather it was time to come back to Senegal and anxiously wait to find out if I got the job.

Which I finally heard about on Friday: someone called me on my cell phone and said "Congratulations...crackle crackle...continuing...crackle crackle... pre-employment process." Took me a little while to decode, but I finally realized: I got the job!!! It's contingent on getting security and medical clearances, so not quite in the bag yet, but hopefully it won't take too long for all of that to get worked out.

In the meantime, I've got until March 15 to finish up Peace Corps...