Tag Archives: Dialogue Love

Things That I Love About Benin

Here is a list of things I love about Benin–both the program I’m on and the country.  I hate to give you all such a skewed idea of my life over here, and I also don’t want to focus too much on the NU specifics, but I’m a creature crafted for analysis, so that’s usually where my brain wanders.  In the interest of fairness, levity and a more well-rounded picture, here are some things I love.

  • Everyone is so friendly. Even moreso than in the American south, everyone we meet says “bon soir!” and is excited to see us.  Children wave and flash the peace sign, and women in the market are patient with our burgeoning Parisian French.
  • The Beninois students. We did a three day exchange with students form Universite d’Abomey,
  • Vodoun and the Cuba connection. I haven’t learned a ton more about vodoun here that i didn’t already learn in Cuba, but I love seeing how it is woven in to their clture, and talking to the university students about it.  Also, I miss Cuba and my Cuba aseres terribly, so its nice o have a little reminder of home
  • French! I love languages, and speaking French makes me happy.  I like helping other people with it, and getting a better understanding of the people I meet because of my language skills.  It’s also great to see what the francophone world outside of Paris looks like.
  • The weather.  I know it’s hot and sticky and furstrating, but it’s great to be back in a warm, comfy climate.  This coming New England winter may be harder for me than the ever were before…
  • The way of life. I love dirt and messiness and wearing the same gross clothes everyday, with worn-in french braids
  • The group. We spend a lot of time telling each other how smart, kind and adorable we all are, which is just refreshing and enjoyable
  • Our leaders. It’s nice to spend a little time being warm, fuzzy and non-competetive.  For those unaware, this trip is a Human Services excursion, whcih is not my major, but is a related field.  I am one of the few political science people here, but there are many international affairs majors as well as psych, journalism, art, sociology and a few others.  I miss the fiery polisci discussions, and I tease the Human Services kids about drum circles, peace signs and the high number of piercings and tattoos on this trip, but it is acutally kinda nice.  We haven’t met Prof. Luongho yet, but Rebecca is a lawyer in human rights law (!) and Lori has a great cross between sarcasm and being a mom.
  • Julie! Our TA, Julie Miller, is great.  We’ve been doing sunset rooftop yoga led by her, and I really think yoga should never be done anywhere BUT a rooftop in Africa at sunset.  She’s a great help both socially and academically, and I think we’ll all miss her when she goes to UC Berkeley for grad school in the fall.
  • The geography.  Palm trees, red earth, lizards running around everywhere, and adorable goats that act like puppies.  This place is great.  Did I mention we went to the beach?  And Obama Beach at that.  More to come!
  • The Songhai Center. More about this later, but it’s up there with the Grameen Bank and bacon on the list of things that rock my socks.

Ethics

One argument against online journalism as a legitimate means of reporting is the idea of ethics, from fact-checking to use of sources.  While many of the best blogs are essentially annotated with links, even (or rather, especially) heavy hitters like p-trunk have trouble with the intersection of their blog and their personal life.

If you are someone who posts often, and who is widely read, you will eventually have to tell the people in your life about the blog.  How does one do that, and how long should they wait?  In the meantime, what is off limits to write about?

When I first started this blog I left out all names, although anyone close to me could tell who I was talking about.  after a year or so I started getting complaints from close friends about never being in the blog, so I started putting names in.  I also found it cumbersome to refer to all 25 of the Egypt Dialoguers anonymously all the time, especially for something a benign as, “so Sarah, Alex, Janine and I went to lunch and…” especially since those sentences usually end with, “…they all said brilliant things that inspired the following post.”

If you write, has this been your experience?  Do people want shout-outs?

Where is the line when you write, almost daily, about the people in your life?  Who is off limits?  Which conversations are “off the record’?

What do you think?  Should I have strict rules for writing about other people?  What sort of advance notice can people reasonably expect if I’m going to write about them?

Regardless of whether you’re a journalism student, a fellow blogger, or just a thoughtful reader, I would love to get your thoughts on this topic.  I’ll be posting my amorphous personal philosophy on the subject later.

Cattle Call

Sometime in the next few weeks I will be posting an FAQ post.  I’ve already received a lot of questions in person, but if there’s anything you would like to know about Cuba, Egypt, France, the Dialogue program, travel in general or being a student at Northeastern, now is the time to ask!

I’ve already done a decent amount of research, but if I don’t know the answer I’ll do my best to find out or point you in the right direction.  If there’s anything I won’t be able to answer yet, I’ll save it for when I’m in-country, which brings me to my next point…

If there’s anything you’d like me to find out about or take pictures of while I’m in Cuba, let me know.  Most Americans will never have the opportunity to go, so this is your chance to get the answers to any question you could possibly have about Cuba. 

I know you’re reading, and I know you’re curious because I keep getting texts and emails about my trip, so leave it in the comments section!  I promise I won’t bite 🙂

We Are Family

Everyone is sad to go, for a variety of reasons.  Cairo is like home, and no one wants to go back to the real world, outside of our bubble.  But one of the biggest causes of sadness is that we have all gotten so close so quickly.  Massages, relentless teasing and snuggling en masse have become a regular part of our group culture.  We all have little nicknames (some more loving and adorable than others…) and almost all the roommates love each other. 

I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m not greated by 25 Great Americans every morning at breakfast.  I will miss Brendan’s goofy laugh, Sarah’s practical advice and Nana’s insanity.  There will be no more “anonymous” lovenotes from Meaghan, fake sermons by Khalid or constant freestyling from Ray.  I didn’t come here intending to find all these people who would become so important to me.  In fact, I didn’t think about the social aspect at all.  But I’m glad our ragtag bunch was the group I was lucky enough to join, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

So to my Dialogue family, (which includes a creepy, plastic anatomically correct new addition):  thank you, I love you, I’ll miss you.  I hope to see everyone at our welcome back hafla, and I’m so glad we’ve already started planning reunions.  You’re all welcome to stay with me at NU or in Reading any time, and I can’t wait to see how our friendships transition stateside. 

Dennis Sullivan gave us some good advice: don’t think that you may never come back.  Just enjoy it and think about when you’ll be back.  For me, I think it has to be soon.  I’m as in love with Cairo as I am with travel.  Now I just need to find a way to make Northeastern pay for it all.