Peace Corps Part deux: Moroccan Nights

Mandatory Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or people, the Mauritanian government or people, or the Peace Corps.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Encore

I have just received really big news. My brother, his friend James and I had been working on an application with an organization called one laptop per child. The organization has developed an innovative computer that is designed for children in developing countries. The organization was looking for people to bring these computers to communities across Africa to teach people basic computer skills. We applied to be those people and we were selected to distribute the computers in Tdjikja. You can see the details of the program at this link:

http://laptop.org/en/participate/get-involved/OLPCorps.shtml

The other day a friend told me an anecdote about the initial colonization of Mauritania that I think is worth sharing. My friend told me this story because while I was teaching one of his sons English another one of his sons who hasn’t yet started English kept saying “yes,” “yes,” “yes,” over and over again. When the French first reached Mauritania they obviously were faced with a language barrier. The French didn’t speak Hassiniya and the Moors did not speak French. One day a moor learned the word “encore” which means again but didn’t learn the meaning. For some reason or another Frenchman started hitting this man. He then kept saying the word “encore (again)” in an effort to get them to stop. The Frenchman was more than happy to comply with his request and kept hitting him again and again.

One of my favorite qualities about Mauritanians is that they are always eager to help someone out whenever they can even if it a strange request from an American. Last week I did a tree nursery project with one of my elementary schools. I wanted to use goat manure as fertilizer for the project. I walked into a random house near the school that had a few goats and asked them if I could take some goat manure for the school project. Note that finding a house with goats in Tdjikja is a little like finding a house with a TV in my hometown of New York City. It’s almost a 100% chance, although in America they probably wouldn’t give me their TV, even if I asked really nicely. These people not only gave me the manure but also insisted that I stay for tea and we even started a small tree nursery as their house.

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