Friday, November 16, 2007

Tryin' not to slip

So, it's been a little while and I've heard a couple requests for another posting, just goes to show popularity is a hard thing to lose even when you're on the other side of the world, kind of. hahah jk!!! No really though, I only get a chance to use the internet when I am in Bamako, so it's kind of hard to keep everyone posted on what's going on when access to the internet is so rare. And, usually I just write a big email to family and friends so if you would like to get on that listserve just send me your email to

Ok, so whats been going on with me? Well, right now I am in Bamako and staying at the Peace Corps Medical Office because it started with a throat infection. Adding to that, I developed a staff infection, some fever, and found out today that I have giardia which is a diarrheal illness caused by parasites. So, here in Mali it is very common for volunteers and I've been assured that it really isn't a big deal so I'm not really worried about that. So I've been a little sick, I guess adjusting to my new site and new food and what not.

We are in the "cold season" right now which means when night falls, the temperature gets to about 72 degrees. It's great considering the days are always so hot. It's funny though, because Malians can not deal with this kind of weather. So, one morning I'm walking to a little boutique near my house, and as I'm walking a teenage boy walks past me wearing a tshirt, a sweater over it, and a jacket with mittens, and the temperature was seriously no less than 78 degrees. During the night, they are always wearing jackets and sweatshirts, it's really funny.

As for me, I'm still studying French, which I'm required to do for my initial first 3 months of installation at my new site, and then after those 3 months are over which will be middle of January, I go back to the Peace Corps Headquarters in Tubaniso for a 3 week training period on our technical sector, mine being Small Enterprise Development, and when we have finished those 3 weeks, we go back to site and start working with our organizations. I will be working with CAEB, an NGO. They concentrate on micro-finance with women's groups but they all do much more stuff like water sanitation, education, health, HIV/AIDS awareness, and Agriculture. My homologue, counterpart, who is the head of the NGO in Kolokani, my site, wants me to work with the main caisse that borrows and lends money. A caisse is basically like an unofficial bank where people can deposit, lend, and borrow money. It is done to finance small projects and other things such as that. So, as of right now, that is the plan for me to be working with them. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing so in a few weeks I will make my way over to that Caisse and meet everyone and introduce myself and kind of analyze and assess the situation and enviornment and see what I can do to maybe make things more efficient and try to bring in some new fresh ideas.

As for secondary projects, I really want to work in the High School teaching English, so I will start that in a couple months too. My tutor right now is actually the English teacher from the High School, so we have already discussed me working there a couple times of week so I think that would be a really good opportunity for me.

So I don't think I really have that much more, sorry for the long overdue post but I will try my best to keep everyone updated. Thank you for your support and take care.

Oh yea I'm super skinny now, too. I lost like 15 lbs so if anyone feels obliged to send protein, jerkey, and other things, dont hesitate! ha thank


Here are a couple links to pictures from Halloween and my house in Kolokani, enjoy.

Westin Crosby, PCV
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 16
Kolokani, Mali
West Africa

Cell phone

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pas de Problem

So, I finished homestay about a week ago. It was really actually sad to leave. I had grown really close to everyone in my family. I told them that I would be back to visit often, though. When the bus came to take us back to the Headquarters, I hugged all my brothers and sisters and my mom, and she started crying. It was pretty emotional because I had spent the last 9 weeks with these people, learning, speaking, eating, laughing, and just beginning to know them and understand them. They were an awesome family and I was very blessed to have had an opportunity to spend my first couple of months in Mali with such a giving and hospitable family. I am only about 2 hours away from them in my new site, so seeing them will not be a problem, so I am very happy about that.

Swear In was on Friday and we went to the US Embassy in Mali and all 76 of us swore in as volunteers. It was a really cool ceremony and a relief to finally swear in. My 9 weeks of intense language training finally paid off. After the swear in, we went to the US ambassador's house and ate amazing food and had a few drinks. Then that night, we all got hotel rooms in Bamako at a pretty nice hotel and went out for our swear in party to the Pirate's club. It was an amazing time and really funny because we got to see the other side of some of the Language Profs, that we hadn't already seen. Everyone had their fair share of drinks and good times. We also received our "name" for our staging group. Each new group of volunteers receives a staging name. Since our staging group is so diverse, they named us the Breakfast Club. I was happy with it because I was overhearing that our name was going to be lame because we were going to get categorized by the Molly Ringwald's of our group. But they did a good job in giving us a name that correctly categorized all the different clicks of our staging group. We also have our Judd Nelson's - the group that likes to party and have a good time and who doesnt really give a shit. We have the guys in our staging group that dont really like to go out and the keep to themselves, the Brian Johnson's. So, just a pretty different group, which is not a bad thing. So yea that's our name.

Now, I am leaving tomorrow morning at 630 to go to Kolokani to start my service. I will be there for the next 2 years. For the first couple of months, I will continue to focus on language. I have a 4 bedroom house with a living room and a bathroom but no electricity, which is cool because I plan on just buying a solar panel and a car battery. My house is completely empty, no bed, mattress, chairs, table, NOTHING! The Peace Corps was gracious enough, though, to provide me with a little more than 200 bucks to furnish my entire house, Thanks! So, I will be living pretty bear for a while and slowly accumulating furniture in what not while im at site, whenever I get more money.

So, that's about all I got right now. I get 3 vouchers a month to go to Bamako because I bank there. So that means I will be there quite a bit which is awesome because Bamako is really the only taste of fun in Mali. Bars/night clubs/restaurants etc... Anyways, I will also be able to use internet when I am there too so I will continue to do my best to keep you updated.

Take care and be safe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I've been in Mali for a little over a month and half now, and it is going really good. This last week, I traveled to Kolokani which is the site that I will be in for the next 2 years after my training is over. I have about 2 more weeks of French training and after, I will have my language test and then swear in as a volunteer. I'm anxiously awaiting that day so I can finally be on my own and out from under the thumb of the PC. I am only about 140 k outside of Bamako, the capital of Mali. That is a very good thing becasue it will be the meeting place for a lot of the volunteers so that we can all get together and get some American food and a couple drinks. As for my site, it is a relatively big site with a population of 10,000, but there is no electricity in the whole town except for Mayor's office and some of the administrative buildings. My house is an old NGO house and it is huge. I have 4 bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom with a shower, toilet, and a sink all with running water, so that's pretty solid. This means that I can have lots of visitors anytime, whether it be other PC volunteers or friends and family from home. When I was there, one of the guys who works for NGO that I will be working for showed me around the town. He's a younger guy, like 25 or something, and he insisted on being around me all day everyday. In malian culture, men hold hands because it's just a sign of true friendship so men have been doing this since they were young kids. So here I am, a tubabo (white perso) walking through the city of Kolokani speaking my broken french to other Malians holding hands with some young Malian man...needless to say, it was pretty weird so I just found ways to avoid it.

Now, I am back in Tubaniso, the PC headquarters in Mali, and we are going back to our homestays in a couple of days, and finishing up our training. I am ready to get some projects started in my site and get my house situated. There is a high school in Kolokani that I am very interested in working at, so I am planning on talking to the administration when I get back and to teach an English class a couple hours a day throughout the semester and see how that works out.

I really dont have that much because the PC is still owning my life, so I am very ready to be on my own and work and travel where I want. Take care and I'll get back on here whenever I get another chance

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Kickin' it at my new home

Where to start....

I really don't feel like writing right now because It seems like I've been doing that non stop since I got back to Tubaniso. We are back here at the headquarters for some more training. To me, it seems kind of pointless to have to come back here throughout our language training but its just something that we have to do. Anyways, I have been at my homestay for the past 2 weeks and it has been very good. My host family is great, my language facilitators are awesome, and the other 3 people in my class are really cool people. The food is not bad, usually rice and some sort of meat sauce or noodles with some sauce on them. Nothing to complain about compared to what a lot of the other volunteers are eating. If i never have to eat tao (sp.?) or intestines, I will be just fine. So usually a typical day for me goes like this. I wake up around 7am every morning, my sister, Adijatou, gets my water for me from the well for my bucket bath. I bathe, eat breakfast which consists of a loaf of bread and peanut butter and a glass of tea. After, I place my Peace Corps issued helmet on and ride my bike about half a mile to my LCF's house where we have our language class. Language class is from 8:30 to 12:30 and then I go back home and eat lunch with my brothers and my uncle. I've mastered eating from a communal bowl. The first couple of days I was really struggling seeing that I could not keep rice off of my clothes with my new technique of eating with my hand. Anyways, after lunch, I go back to school for 2 more hours of French and then an hour of cultural training. From little kids chanting Tubabo - white person - to elders staring at the strange white guy riding his bike to the kids my age who are super curious about me and just America in general, it usually takes me about an hour to get home because I end up having to talk to every person that I cross. When I get home, I usually just chill with my brother, Issa, who's 17 and some of his friends. I eat dinner then look over french until about 1130 or 12 and i go to bed and do the same thing again.

Ok that was super long, and kind of lame but I just thought yall might be interested in hearing about a typical day. Needless to say, in between those daily activites, there are many strange and unordinary things that happen that I will get into on another day. Im watching Boondock Saints right now with the other stageres and it's kind of sad because its reminding me of chilling at the "U" with my roomies wacthing this movie. Boondock Saints, what a classic movie. I miss everyone and send my love and my best. I think after I get done with this blog, Im going to leave becasue the movie just started and I really am sad, sucks...

I have an internet cafe, if thats what you want to call it, about a mile from my home in Droit 2 so Im going to try and get there once a week. Next time, I will have some interesting stories...for now I just thought I'd give you the basic details. I love you all and miss you all and hope to stay in touch and hear back ocassionaly.

PS. My Malian name is Illisou Toure

take care


Monday, July 23, 2007

PST in Tubaniso


Nobody around me has showered in 3 days, flies have been swarming around my head for hours now, and the guy next to me no longer smells anymore because my own stench has taken over…Not really but I did do my first bucket hand wash today to the clothes that I had been wearing for the last 3 days. Mali is an awesome place and the Malians are super nice and very patient. I am in Tubaniso which is a city North of Bamako, the capital. Tubaniso is where the Peace Corps headquarters are in Mali. It’s about 5:40pm right now, so back in Texas it’s about 12:40. I’ve been able to call the states and talk to my parents and my sisters using my macbook, which has worked out for me very well. If anyone is familiar with skype, download it and I can call to your skype name on the computer for free and it works perfectly. Anyways, I will be leaving this site on Wed. morning to move in with my host family in a village for the next 9 weeks where we will start our community based training. It is intensive language training with a Language Coordinator and about 3 other volunteers. I am learning Bambara (the predominant language spoken by 80% of Malians) right now and that is what my host family will speak, but during the language training I will be learning French because after the pre service training (the 9 week stay with the host family), I will be on my own most likely in an apartment in the city working in an office with French speaking Malians. Well, everyone take care and keep me updated and I will be trying my best to do the same thing.

K’an ben

Sunday, June 10, 2007

invitation to the peace corps!

Well...Monday of last week marked the day that I received my invite to the Peace Corps. I will be serving in Mali as a SED (Small Enterprise Development) Management Advisor leaving for my orientation on July 17 - 19 most likely somewhere in the northeast part of the U.S. Pre-service training will be from July 20 - Sept 21, and then I will begin my actual service until Sept. 2009....Ahhhhh! Seems like such a long time, but I am really excited/nervous/anxious about it and I am just ready to learn and ingest as much as possible!

Anyways, I figured I would start this blog because it will probably be the easiest and most efficient way to communicate and let everyone know about my experiences in Mali!