The content of this blog does not reflect the positions of the Peace Corps and is solely the responsibility of the author.

In Which I Take Photos of the Cute Things Next Door

The neighbors have a kitten!  A tiny little thing that, when I saw it, was busy jumping around in a downed tree branch.  It was kind of adorable.  

And the neighbor's child: much less adorable, but when silly white girls are waving cameras around, children tend to pose. 

I was actually outside with my camera to take pictures of the storm clouds in the sunset, with the palm trees and mountains and all, but kitties, they are cute.

In Which I am at Least as Well Qualified to Dispense Advice on Children as that Pompous Ass Rousseau

I am not overly fond of children.  I find them, on the whole, nasty, brutish, and short.  I don't ever want them.  Naturally, I therefore have opinions on how other people should raise them, and I also think people are doing it wrong.

So: children in Tanzania.  They're slave labor.  In schools, any teacher can and often will order a child to drop whatever they are doing to perform manual labor or run errands.  All cleaning and a good bit of maintenance work is done by the students, who will not be provided with food or water, and one just has to hope they are provided with enough money to buy it for themselves.  This continues into the training  that students receive at teacher training colleges.  Students are not trusted to any degree ever, are regarded as cheaters looking for an opportunity, and must submit to humiliating school-wide inspections to ensure that they have all required textbooks and for the female students to be lectured on their hairstyles.*  This is in stark contrast to quite a few US universities I'm familiar with, in which students receive lectures on honor, sign some honor pledge, and have done with the baby-sitting.  I think this is a much better way of doing things because it teaches people that they are adults and should be responsible.  If people make mistakes being adults and responsible, well, institutions of higher education do a reasonable job of providing a reasonably safe environment to make mistakes in.

There will, of course, always be the outliers who never learn and probably are evil, lying cheating scoundrels, but this is not a reason to infantilize a majority of people.

The major reason I bring this up as a problem is because I worry about the teachers in training at the teacher training colleges.  They are very soon going to be full-fledged teachers with pretty much complete power over their students, and while this never seems very healthy emotionally for anyone, there is a peculiarly worrisome and demonstrable (though granted, only through anecdata) tendency for teachers' unlimited power to result in excessive corporal discipline verging on or becoming torture, and sexual harassment for the students.   This is probably due, at least in part, to abuse being the only model of teacherhood some students ever see, and while I have great faith in people being able to rise above bad circumstances through sheer force of will, I also sympathize with those who don't because it's really hard.  And I wish that students were treated like embryonic adults rather than like slaves.

*All through primary and secondary school, girls must have their hair either cropped very short or in simple plaits, but at teacher colleges, the women can, and do, have any hair they want.  African hairbraiding can do some seriously amazing things, and I love looking at the hairstyles of some of the female students here, but apparently the fancier hair violates cultural expectations of gender roles.  What is with cultural obsessions over hair?  How the monks were going to shave their heads was a major thing between England and Ireland back in the day, and in the Bible, you have the long-haired Nazarenes on one hand, and Paul declaring on the other that long hair-men are unnatural or something.   Some Muslims and some Christians both decree that strange men should not have a complete view of women's hair, and I just don't get it.  It's hair.  We've all got it.

Emotional Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake


Not bad for fake butter and that weird long life milk stuff (that's at least better than powdered milk) and so-so hot chocolate drink mix.  The peanut butter, however, was awesome, as it came in a box from that magical land in which peanut butter is sweet and has all sorts of strange compounds added to keep the oil from separating out.  Only fancy, there are places in the world with different types of peanut butter!

The magical marvelous sufuria oven.

Stories of Magic: Alabama Edition

A volunteer told me that in her home state of Alabama, people say that the devil is beating his wife when the sun shines during rainstorms.