Merry Christmas, Happy Harmattan

Every year, on the first weekend of December, something magical happens in Kabala (and no, I’m not talking about the agricultural show because that did not happen this year >:[ ). You go to sleep your usual warm temperature and then you wake up in the middle of the night freezing and you have to find socks and pants and multiple lappas to cocoon yourself in. Both times that I have experienced it Harmattan has shown up all of the sudden like that and both times it has been so welcome.

Lets let Wikipedia explain some of the magic:

So for the next 2 months or so I will be cold. It’s a beautiful change of pace from sweating. You can walk around outside in the sun at anytime of day without worrying about becoming severely dehydrated, you get to huddle by the fire in the morning with your neighbors, you get to go to school with a cup of tea and have every single person say “I want some tea, give me your tea” and think it’s the wittiest comment ever, and you get to experiment with cold weather African fashion. It’s the only time of year I ever wear pants and everyone thinks I’m bluffing.

Harmattan isn’t all bliss though. I never realized before just how cold 55 degrees Fahrenheit is but when you have no way of heating your house that’s a very cold temperature to try to sleep in. That cocoon I mentioned earlier slowly grows as the temperature drops more and more. During the coldest days of Harmattan last year I was wearing two pairs of sock and two pairs of pants to bed with a sweatshirt and my windbreaker jacket and two lappas on top. And Troublesome usually ends up sleeping on top of me trying to stay warm too.

Other than being cold things are going pretty well in Sierra Leone. The election ended peacefully (at least for the most part) and without a run off (tell papa god tenki). A lot of people in America have been asking me if I thought the election was free and fair (they don’t really use those words but I think that’s what they’re getting at) and I have to say that from my point of view I was impressed. A lot of other volunteers who I’ve talked to have had very different opinions but from the bio-metric registration to the sensitization campaigns to the disqualifying of polling stations with too many votes cast and inappropriately handled ballot boxes, I think Salone did admirably in making this election as official as possible. I wish it had been a little less disruptive, not only did my school not function for almost 3 weeks but many or our teachers missed a lot of school to work for the National Electoral Commission, but I’m glad everything went smoothly. Here’s The Economist’s take:

On the school front, I did manage to cover some material in between the end of the election and the end of first term and my SS1 (think high school freshman) finally arrived! SS1 was my favorite last year because they’re the youngest so they’re not jaded and mean like SS2 and SS3. I finally got electricity connected to the computer lab from the NGO next door so hopefully we can start doing bigger computer classes next term. The library has been hoppin’ lately. I was a judge for our student government’s debate competition. I did an entire lesson on American Christmas complete with Justin Bieber’s Christmas album playing in the background. Lots of things.

And socially, I taught Effie how to play peek-a-boo and she loves it! Alhaji and his mom came to visit. There was a football game in my honor. I had a big feast with all of my neighbors for which I cooked both African and American food and everyone didn’t like any of the American food except Maxwell was all about the mashed potatoes so I’m putting that on my Volunteer Report Form as successfully sharing American culture. Again, lots of things.

Iwrote most of this blog while home in America for Christmas and if I’m being honest, it was kind of a traumatic experience. It was really fun seeing friends and family but it turns out it’s really hard to go back and forth between Salone and America. When I’m in Salone it’s hard to believe that America is a real place and not just a beautiful dream and it’s the same when I’m in America, it feels like Salone and my life couldn’t possibly be real. I think when I came home over the summer I could just think of America as a theme park or some other wonderful but not real place that I was just visiting for two weeks, but this time I was thinking a lot about life post-peace corps (since that’s only 6 months away now) and it was stressing me out. Imagine how you would feel if you knew soon you’d be moving to Disney World. No but seriously, America is amazing and exciting because of all these opportunities, different jobs and different places to live, success as a realistic outcome, etc. but after two years of not worrying about having a job you like (your just glad when you’re not the only person who shows up at the office) and knowing that success is the most unlikely outcome, it’s a little intimidating thinking about going back to a world where I’m going to care about things again. The good news is? with so little internet I probably won’t be able to worry about any of this again until I’m actually back in America, so for now I’ll focus on the beach, and climbing that big hill in Kabala for New Years, and maybe (but probably not) accomplishing some things in my last two terms of teaching.

Thank you to everyone who hosted me or ate with me or drank with me or helped me take out my corn rows while I was home, especially thanks to @VickyChao for doing all of those things with me and especially thanks to my parents who were the ones that flew me home and paid for most of my eating. I hope everyone had happy holidays and I hope 2013 starts out good but saves the best for once I’m back in America with all of you!


December 31, 2012 at 2:32 am Leave a comment

The Importance of Being Ernest

Let me let the BBC explain:

So as you can see, Ernest is important. While the rest of you were wondering how Obama managed to forget to prepare for a presidential debate and just how rich Mitt Romney actually is, Sierra Leone has been wondering are they going to have to break out the tear gas and rubber bullets in my community (spoiler alert: if you live in Kambia or Kono district they already have) and is there any chance that someone will outright win with 55% of the vote so we can get back to school (spoiler alert: no). I mean, actually, maybe someone will win outright, the tricky thing about the election process in Sierra Leone is that because I live in a solidly APC part of the country I have no real concept of how the country as a whole is feeling and there are no Gallup polls to help me.

What I do know about the election process in Sierra Leone is that it is a little bit scary and not just because things could get violent. I’m almost equally scared of what will happen if things get jubilant. Let me explain with a story: a few weeks ago President Koroma came up to Kabala to do some campaigning and people around town were excited so to celebrate, the okada (motorcycle taxi) drivers got drunk and high and went speeding around the town without looking, sometimes without their hands on the handlebars, sometimes doing handstands and other acrobatics and this is all during a major rally so the streets are full of people. It really makes you reflect on crowd control tactics. The good news is Peace Corps gave Marc enough food that we can survive any outcome (happy or angry) by hiding in his house eating rice and beans.

Now that the big day is almost finally here I am excited mostly just to get the thing over with. It’s been interesting getting to experience an election in another country but it’s also been disruptive to school and the projects I’m trying to focus on my second year. Unfortunately, it could take over a week to get the results back and then with a runoff this whole election process might go on a month past election day. In which case, if it interferes with my trip home for Christmas I will throw a white girl fit (that’s the somewhat offensive, but it’s offensive to ourselves so it’s okay, term Chelsea and I use for when we hit our breaking point and start getting angry about stuff that no one has any control over like how long it’s taking your taxi to fill up or the rain).

In other news, my birthday celebration was a success, I went to the beach and enjoyed with my fellow Peace Corps volunteers. I have a semi functioning girls’ group going that I at least am learning a lot from if not the girls. I’ve started attending mosque and really enjoy it. For starters it’s a lot shorter than church so it’s much less of a commitment and for seconders the women get to sit in their own room in the back, which at first I was like “oh no, you did not just send me into the back room where I can’t even hear the imam” but then realized is like the absolute most relaxing time because there are no men around ogling you it’s just ladies and babies and relaxing and praying. But more than anything I like going to mosque because it makes everyone so happy. All of my neighbors are Muslims and many of my favorite people in town are too and I have never seen smiles so big as when they hear I’ve been to mosque.

In conclusion, one country one people, action pass intention, and here’s a picture of a giant spider eating a giant cockroach in my latrine:Image

November 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm 3 comments

Back to School in Salone

Everybody knows about back to school season, even here in Salone people get that it’s a time to buy new pens and notebooks and bluffing shoes, but there are some special traditions here that as a PCV I’m obligated by my $200 a month salary to share with Americans .
The biggest difference between back to school season here and back to school season in America is that back to school season here doesn’t actually start until school starts. First of all you need to understand that the first day is never the day they originally try for. This year the first first day of school was set for September 3rd, an almost humorously early date. They quickly abandoned that and changed it to September 10th, not in Kabala, no sir. I’m told there was a radio announcement but I never heard it all I know is somehow we’d come to agree that September 17th was a way better idea than September 10th. So when September 17th rolled around, I, some of the other teachers, and a few of our SS2 students showed up and felt like suckers. While we were sitting at school shaking our heads about how unserious everyone else is about school, everyone else was out and about, enjoying their vacation, learning how to avoid cholera, and thinking that maybe at some point that week they’d buy some new notebooks. I’d run in to my students in town and they’d say things like “I can’t go to school yet because I don’t have my uniform” then I’d say something like “look at the 14 tailor shops that we can see just from where we’re standing that are all overflowing with uniforms” or “it’s the same uniform as last year, what happened to the uniform you wore last year?” then they’d laugh and say “oh Miss Elizabeth”. Classic cultural misunderstanding I guess.
Now that we’re in our third week most of the students have finally started coming and whether they like it or not we’re starting new material, in the sense that the mole is going to haunt them for the rest of their chemistry careers so they need to stop whining and figure out what volume 10grams of CO will occupy at 20 degrees Celsius and 1.5 atmospheres.
So that’s basically what I’ve been up to for the last month, waiting for students to show up, teaching the few that did how to color organ systems, and then for the last week and a half learning what a sinus infection feels like (and smells like now that I’m on antibiotics and am getting my sense of smell back, if you’re curious it’s death, it smells like something is dead inside my sinuses).
I’ve also read Love in the Time of Cholera (appropriate because we were having a cholera epidemic, and we’re still struggling through an epidemic of kind of stupid cholera sensitization, I’d rather the NGO’s spend the money making it rain bars of soap in town instead of endless fliers telling us to use soap. What soap? Where? I don’t see any soap in this latrine I stopped in when I was suddenly stricken with cholera diarrhea) and finished watching season 1 of Game of Thrones. I became pretty good friends with my buddy Almamy at the charging station I use when I was there almost every day charging my DVD player because I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen, which I still can’t believe happened! That show is crazy.
Before I go, there is one more thing I need to tell you all about. Recently, in a package, I received some dark chocolate peanut butter and it was the best thing that I have ever eaten in Africa. Tomorrow is my birthday, I really like dark chocolate peanut butter, my address is Elizabeth Purvis, c/o Peace Corps, PO Box 905, Freetown, Sierra Leone. That’s all I’m going to say. But if you need something to cushion the dark chocolate peanut butter with let me recommend Starbursts and magazines.
Miss everyone! Here’s a link to my current favorite Salone song:

October 4, 2012 at 10:25 am Leave a comment

I’m not going to not admit that the draft of this is saved on my computer as blogitlikeitshot

One day, long ago, I think it was maybe in July of 2011, I had a dream of writing one blog post a month to keep you all updated on life in Sierra Leone. I also had a dream of the blog posts accurately capturing life in Sierra Leone and being interesting to read. Unfortunately, not all dreams are meant to come true, I learned that in a short story by Anne Lamott, not sure it was the message she was going for, I think it was more like what you think your dreams are and what God has planned for you are sometimes different but that’s okay and you should relax about it. Anyway, what I’m getting at is, it was very sassily brought to my attention on Friday that I haven’t updated this thang in a while and I refuse to let Rachel Murray win every competition so I’m getting back in the blog game. (Side note: you should read Rachel’s blog. I personally can’t read it because I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of upping her stats, but I hear good things.

A lot has happened since I last wrote. I can’t remember what I said exactly but I was in Freetown at the time being sad so the first big thing that happened since then was that I went back to site and felt less sad about my situation. Then one week after giving our midterm exams we gave our final exam and all of a sudden I was done with my first year of teaching. We recently had our Mid-Service Conference in Freetown and during one of the sessions we all wrote our biggest success and our biggest challenge from the previous year so I’ll share mine here to sort of sum up the year of teaching so we can move on to talking about the fun things I did during my summer vacation.

Biggest challenge: I cheated and did two. The first one was being a woman in Sierra Leone. I no easy-o. And I’m well educated and independent and have endless opportunities, so I can only imagine how hard it must be for the many wonderful amazing women with few if any opportunities in a culture that undervalues them. The other one was learning to compromise. Obviously I think I’ve learned to compromise before at different points in my life but here it’s different. It’s compromising on things I used to think I shouldn’t. Like that television and solar panel deal that got taken out of the library and put in the principal’s office. I had been looking at the problem as having only one solution, the solar power and TV be used only in the library only for educational purposes. I thought that was the only thing to do since that’s why we were generously given those things but I also know how to read for pleasure and don’t depend on my cell phone for a huge amount of my daily entertainment like most Sierra Leoneans do. So naturally they weren’t too keen on a plan that didn’t allow them to use that solar power for some of the things we all enjoy, like have a charged cell phone to watch music videos on or watching TV. It’s funny because I hate not having electricity just as much as the next Sierra Leonean but I was so focused on what I felt was right I didn’t take that into consideration. I’m going to try to meet in the middle more this year. Like maybe we don’t save all the profits from sport this year to help fund next year’s sport but maybe just half or a quarter or a few thousand leones please papa god. Small victories.

And my success was my students. I don’t know if I’ve gushed about them enough on this blog or bitched about them enough either because some of them are terrible. But this is a success so I will focus on the good ones. I’ve noticed a lot of changes in the students who have taken a liking to me. It is amazing every time I see them starting to understand concepts in class but it’s a million times more amazing when I see them figuring things out for themselves in the library or on the internet, even if the information they’re looking for is about Harry Potter. And when they come to my house with questions about their notes which I know means they must have taken the time to review their notes. One of my mottos in my classroom is I can only teach you, you have to do the learning and I usually throw it out during a rant about how no one appears to have reviewed their notes so it’s always nice when someone comes to me with a specific question based on their notes rather than just saying I don’t understand. I have some really smart and curious students and I feel like giving them the opportunity to practice finding information and taking the initiative to learn on their own might be the greatest things I ever do in my life.

Now on to the fun stuff. After school got out all of the Peace Corps Volunteers in Salone were able to come together to celebrate the wedding of Cody and Ivy. Cody and Ivy are two volunteers from my group who met here, fell in love, and now are married! It was a beautiful wedding and so much fun to see everyone together, especially the first group volunteers who were all getting ready to close their service and head home.

Speaking of heading home… I went to America!!!!! And I realized that Boston has a smell, or at least the airport does. I knew I was home as soon as I got a whiff of it stepping off the plane. It was really wonderful to be home and see friends and family and the Red Sox and to get my hair cut and nails done and feel clean and pretty and, of course, eat monstrous amounts of food. I think most nights I had at least 2 dinners. It was also just really comforting to see that it was all still there, sometimes when I’m here America just seems like this weird dream and I can’t really remember what it’s like and what I’m making up in my hungry delusional mind so seeing it for real was definitely comforting and I think put me in a good mindset for my last year. America is there, waiting, full of food and wonder, but I only have one more year to enjoy the spicy, oily, msg-filled food and wonder of Salone and that’s what I intend to do, enjoy ever spicy bite of wonder.

I got started enjoying pretty much as soon as I got back. After a quick stop in Kabala to see the Troubinator and my neighbors and make sure my house was still standing, I headed down to Bo for Wardens training. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this yet but I’m the deputy warden for our district, which means if there’s an emergency I’m responsible for helping Marc keep us all safe. It’s a pretty big deal. But what was really great about warden’s training was that it coincided with the swearing-in of our new group of volunteers, Salone 3! When you join the Peace Corps you have to spend 1 to 3 months as a trainee, which means spending all day ever day sitting in technical, medical, safety and security, and language classes and being even poorer than a volunteer. It’s not an easy time at all and so when the trainees finally finish and get sworn in as real live volunteers it’s a cause for big celebration. There was a lot of dancing, I wore my new fancy lappa dress, Jesse lost all of his clothes, it was a great night.

Of course the only way to follow-up a swearing-in party is to take 13 and a half hours of transport up to the quaint little town of Kamakwie and go hippo hunting. You might think that camping would be the last thing that I would want to go do considering I poop in a hole 100% of the time here but even as a full time cook over charcoaler I still find the small cabins next to a river with monkeys overhead and a campfire at night appealing. And that basically sums up the trip; we stayed in cabins, went canoeing on a hippo filled river, hung out with monkeys, and played Cranium by the light of our campfire. The only thing missing were s’mores and my camera, which I’d forgotten in Kabala.

So now we are on the eve of my last first day of school as a teacher in Salone (maybe, a lot of people are saying we won’t open til the 17th but I’m gonna stop by in the morning just in case). I’m excited to get back to work with my students since over the summer the only project I kept up were the computer classes. I have some new ideas I want to try out this year and obviously compromising and small victories and being positive and all the things I got from Mid-Service before I burned out and started thinking about my ideal meal instead of listening so hopefully it will be productive and exciting and enjoyable. I will do my best to keep you all posted.

September 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm 2 comments

Wait, you mean I’m not even half way done yet?

Nothing like a break down to celebrate the one year mark! Except I’m not being funny. I really did celebrate my one year anniversary by coming to Freetown and crying a lot about how hard my life is. I think it was mostly motivated by being homesick for the Celtics, and if they play tomorrow like they played last night everything should be resolved come Sunday, but it also had a little to do with the fact that this job is hard and I got a super gross skin infection and I really really miss cereal.

I’ve started making a lot of lists in my journal, because without a structure I always just end up writing about boys and it’s embarrassing having basically the same diary as a 13 year old girl, and one of them was a list of things that are awesome about my job as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’m not going to rewrite the list because I left my journal in Kabala, where fingers crossed Bockarie and Alusine have found it and are reading it and getting good ideas for their own compositions, but one thing I remember writing down as a good thing about my job is how if I weren’t here doing it no one else would be and it’s nice knowing that even on my bad days I’m usually probably doing a better job than the alternative of the students not learning science. And that is an awesome thing but it’s also not super awesome because the alternative is nothing so I could do nothing and no one would really feel like they were getting cheated. I don’t know if this is making sense but what I’m trying to complain about is how I actually have no idea if I’m doing a good job, I can only be pretty confident I’m not doing as terrible a job as I could be. And when you’re hungry and kind of over this whole living in a country where men don’t respect you because you’re a woman thing only being able to be sure you’re just not doing really terribly is sometimes not enough.

But then Jared and Josh rolled into town on Sunday and started telling me how pretty I am and how I’m really good at everything I do so now I’m feeling better and made some bomb handouts for my bomb computer class. I started a computer class and naively didn’t lesson plan how to click the mouse but still it’s the most fun thing I’ve done so far with my service, even past the library, and I think I’ve made it pretty clear on this blog how obsessed I am with the library.

Some other fun things that happened so that people know I didn’t spend all of the last month crying:

My students found a dead bat in the library one day and I was afraid of it (because it’s a giant dead bat!) and then the rest of the day the bat just kept popping up, like in the back of my class, on my veranda. They thought it was hilarious and it was, except that it wouldn’t have really been that funny except that I really was so afraid.

Aminata was in town (no idea who she is but she stayed at my best friend Effie’s house) and she gave me the fancies braids I’ve ever seen on a white girl. It was super painful but I was trying to set an example for Effie that she doesn’t need to cry everytime she gets planted so I wasn’t able to cry which was kind of too bad because I wanted to.

Pineapples and pumpkins are in the market.

I successfully taught at least myself how to do IUPAC nomenclature.

I made pancakes this morning, and by I, I mean, Josh, and by pancakes I mean he put cinnamon and salt in them. What is that? But they still managaed to taste pretty good.


Not 100% confident this is my best blog effort but I’ve been sad and Too Fast Too Furious is literally blasting out of the computer next to me, which is distracting.

June 8, 2012 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Mama Salone!

So I wrote this last Friday and tried to post it but the internet in Kabala was not having any of WordPress’s fancy pages with lots of buttons and things that pop up when your mouse goes on top of them, kind of like the way it wants nothing to do with Facebook’s new “timeline”, I think it’s nostalgic for simpler times when websites were easier to load. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is just pretend this blog is a time machine taking you all the way back to April 27, 2012, a day that I will always remember as the day before I almost met Emerson but watched The Body Guard instead:


It’s been brought to my attention that at least some people do occasionally read this blog (Hi Virginia! I hope you are enjoying the flipflops.) so I thought what better way to celebrate Sierra Leone independence day than to write an update, it’s been a while.

Let’s start with what’s happening right now since I don’t remember where I left off. Today is Salone’s bday. 51 years ago today Britain told Salone good luck and peaced out (I don’t actually think that’s exactly how it happened but I’m trying to be brief) so today we celebrate by having Emerson come to Kabala and for 10,000 Leones you can feel safe waiting til 4 in the morning for him to come on stage because according to the radio he’s bringing an army battalion, the armed branch of the police, and the regular police. Somehow all that security makes me feel less safe. Why do we need an army battalion? I’m pretty sure I will not be attending because 10,000 Leones is a lot of money to pay to get thiefed and potentially trampled. Instead I might try to make some potato salad and do a little cultural exchange, like this is what we eat on our independence day now can I have some of that granat soup you’re cooking.

The other most exciting thing going on in my life right now is that I have two new roommates! While my family was visiting a thief man broke into my house (silver lining: my dad got the cultural experience of meeting a medicine man when we went to curse the thief) and it was one of the top 5 scariest things that have ever happened to me so now 2 of my neighbors are staying with me. They’re secondary school students, so think high school students, and it’s intimidating. I want them to like me so I keep giving them peanut butter and letting them watch films on my DVD player and asking them to help me with my puzzles. Surprisingly the activity that’s gone over best so far has been coloring in my Barbie coloring book. But really they’re amazingly good boys and I’m very grateful that they’ve gone through a good amount of puberty so they look pretty strong and like they could scare away a thief and that they are willing to humor their crazy neighbor when she asks questions like “do thiefs like to come out more or less when it’s raining?”

School is going pretty horribly. That might be an exaggeration but second term was definitely challenging and third terms gotten off to a similar start. My principal has basically quit without quitting. He’s still the principal and he still gets paid but he’s running for parliament so he is never in school and it is shocking how much less functional my school has become since he stopped showing up. Fair enough that last term we were short on teachers since many of our community teachers left to work for the National Electoral Commission biometrically registering voters, but even the teachers who were there very rarely actually taught (except for Mr. Kanu, who is the best). Then when they did go to class and the students were unruly they were in no way open to the possibility of the explanation that it’s because they’re left alone in their forms with no teacher all day. Everyone just says they’re bad kids, which is a really popular excuse for the shortcomings of my school. For example, our SS3 students are sitting their West African Senior Secondary Certificate Exams right now, which is like a terminal exam in all 7 or 8 subjects they’ve studied in senior secondary school and is the exam they need to pass to go to university. Last year no one passed and it was a big deal so about a month before the exam everyone decided we should try. Teachers started working more with the SS3’s, like actually going to their classes, but they were all grumbling “eh, these students, they think they can learn it all in a few weeks” and that’s not untrue but we also need to say “eh, these teachers, they think they can teach it all in a few weeks” because for the last three years no one’s been teaching them regularly.

Anyways, that’s enough complaining. Not everything about second term was bad. Sport was amazingly fun. It was equal parts impressive and discouraging seeing that my school could come together and accomplish something if they wanted to (if only they wanted a science lab as much as they wanted a sport) but mostly it was just really fun to see my students enjoying themselves. Also, I felt like my teaching really improved second term. I was able to do a lot more “alternative teaching techniques” like games, competitions, homework assignments, group work, trips to the library, even field trips. One of my favorites was teaching SS2 Simon Says to practice the skeletal system, “Simon Says touch your ulna”. Now they put Simon Says before everything, “Simon Says shut up” “Simon Says give me your calculator”.

The library also got up and running in term 2 and despite a small set back when the administration stole the TV and satellite dish that the UN donated to the school it’s been pretty successful. It’s nice being able to give students something to do when they don’t have a teacher in their form. Plus, it’s a lot of fun watching them read about crazy stuff like spies and their reproductive organs. They’re always asking me “Miss Elizabeth, is this true?” and it makes me feel like they are learning from books which is the whole point.

So overall, things could be worse. As long as I just focus on teaching my students and don’t worry about the fact that we’re never gonna put together a science lab and that the library is going to fall into neglect as soon as I’m gone, then I don’t get too depressed about the fact that no matter how smart or how motivated my students are they have to pay for an education that is nowhere close to the quality of what I got for free without being especially smart or motivated.

That was emo. I also spent a lot of my school break having fun on the beach and they have Pringles in Kabala now!

May 4, 2012 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

oh hey blog, it’s been a while

No big deal but I might be writing this while sitting on my back veranda in Kabala wondering where troublesome is and hoping he’s not eating poop. Among the many things that have happened since i last wrote a blog one exciting one is that i got a usb modem thing that lets me use internet in my house. I probs would have preferred running water but you gotta take what you can get sometimes.

So Christmas and New Year’s were good. Banana Island was beautiful and then I went back to Freetown where we had a christmas eve party at the ambassador’s house and a christmas day party at the hostel. Both included amazing food and one included pornography and a gift exchange. Then for New Year’s I climbed a mountain and it was one of the harder things I’ve ever tried to climb but the Sierra Leoneans did it with crates of Fanta and popcorn machines on their heads cause if there’s not popcorn at the top then there’s really no reason to climb a mountain. It’s also key to bring your best bluffing outfit and change once you get to the top so you can look fly and not sweaty and covered in dust like i did.

I’m still not totally clear on when school started again. When I got back from IST they told my January 9th but then on January 3rd I ran into my principal and he was like “oh, elizabeth, we started school today. i didn’t see you” and I was like “huh?”. Apparently the ministry office here in Kabala changed their mind about what day to start around 8pm on January 2nd and figured if they made a radio announcement everyone would find out in time. But I did not so I went to school for the first time January 4th and no one was there. It was all very confusing. I did eventually start teaching though. 

And now I’m tired so let me just summarize the rest:

I’m completely obsessed with my students. They are the coolest.

My library is looking fine and SS1 science and I like to go their every Friday to read about biology.

My attempts at finding anyone who wants to work on the lab with me completely and totally failed, I’m hoping for more success after sport cause that’s sort of taking over everyone’s life right now.

I joined the sports committee. Our sport is next weekend so you’ll hear more about that in my next blog.

Kabala opened a new bar up on one of the hills that is beautiful and has table soccer.

Sierra Leone is having an election this year too and they’re doing some crazy biometric registration thing that everyone keeps telling me is on their to do list but i have not talk to anyone who’s actually done it yet.

There was a riot in Kabala! which is the most exciting part of a really messed up serious of events that I’m not gonna blog about.

I got to watch the Super Bowl in Freetown and on that same trip I lost my shoes at the beach so I had to replace them with the Chinese flip flops that are all the rage here and now I’m never going back to any kind of shoe that isn’t a flipflop made in China. They are ridiculously comfortable and only cost one dollar.

It’s really really cold still. Like I’m afraid to go outside in the morning cause it’s so cold. It’s almost 11 and i’m still wearing my 80’s windbreaker I bought in the market with Chelsea when we were feeling sad one day. My principal blames it on global warming, and not in a joking like haha the world’s not warming way but in the global warming causes all kinds of extreme weather way.

Lots more has happened but troubs just got back and wants a belly rub and i’m planning to go to town and get my nails done and do some valentine’s day shopping (why do americans not give each other certificates of love?) so it will have to wait for another time.

I miss everyone! Send me emails since I can check them regularly now!

February 11, 2012 at 10:55 am 1 comment

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About Me

Peace Corps Sierra Leone June 1, 2011- August 2013. Making the world a more peaceful place one science class at a time.



The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps.


Elizabeth Purvis
c/o Peace Corps
P.O. 905
Sierra Leone