20 May 2010

"If you can't find emotions, settle for motion." Anderson Cooper

Random SL Particulars

  • 50 percent of the population is under the age of 15.
  • The current chief justice is Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh, who is the first woman in Sierra Leonean history to hold the job, yeah for the SL ladies!!!
  • SL is one of the top ten diamond producing countries in the world. Bedazzle….
  • There are at least 16 government recognized ethnic groups.
  • Climate is tropical with a rainy season from May to November then the dry reason from December to April. The Harmattan is the cool dry winds that blow in off the Sahara Desert
    Only 5% of Sierra Leone’s original forest remains
  • SL borders Liberia, Guinea and the Altantic, slightly smaller than South Carolina.
  • Padi Kusheh-O, means “Friend Hello” in Krio, Kaboh-o is Welcome

SL Trailblazing

In January 1962, 37 education volunteers blazed a new Peace Corps trail into the West African country of Sierra Leone. They were the first in a country who was just learning to walk on it’s own after only nine months without the British and supported by ten month old infant organization.

“There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tires to do something worthwhile, when it’s new and different” (Alfred Sloan)

These ‘pioneers’ were launched into SL’s education system; shaping young minds throughout the country at various levels and quickly expanded into agricultural, community development and health sectors. They flourished from 1962 until the early 1990s, when they tragically hit some unexpected road blocks.

Sierra Leoneans by nature are trailblazers. Under the Brits watch, the country was unified and worked to create it’s unique but universal identity with the development of the Krio language which merged various Sierra Leone languages and adopting English has its official language. Famously known as the “Athens of West Africa”, the British utilized Sierra Leone as it’s hub for other Western African colonies and SL lead the way in medicine, law and education. Reference from my Peace Corps Welcome Book.

After decades of colonization by the British, SLs took to the ground running all on their own on April 27, 1961 and embraced many sociological and political changes. But not all change was for the better. Sierra Leone began to struggle in the early 1990s from political unrest, complications with managing their diamond exports, a decline in economic growth and governmental corruption.

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into the and above the clouds" (Edward Abbey).

The war has been over since 2002 and Sierra Leoneans are recovering with a growing economy, making strides in regulating its mining industry and slowly being a player in the tourism industry with hopes to attract the global community to visit its lush resources.

Once again, Peace Corps is starting a new chapter and my group of 40 is blazing a new trail for Peace Corps Sierra Leone. PC SL in the 21st century is heading back to its roots, back to an educational focus and back to helping a country learn how to walk again after being crippled for a decade. A new set of Pioneers.

07 May 2010

“For Africa to me, is more than a glamorous fact. It is historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.” -Maya Angelou

Peace Corps SL

With less than a month away from staging a.k.a my departure, it’s hard to believe or even fathom that I find myself at this place. It’s been a long road since submitting my Peace Corps application in December 2008. The interview, the nomination, the medical clearance and the invitation have been the culmination of this particular moment. I am on the threshold of becoming a real Peace Corps Volunteer. Holy Crap!

I have updated my blog to reflect its new purpose: sending all of my followers ‘dispatches’ from the small Western African country of Sierra Leone. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions, whether about Peace Corps, Sierra Leone, my blog, or anything you come up with.