Thursday, December 18, 2008

“Losing it” by Tammi; 18 Dec 2008

One thing that I used to pride myself on was a fairly decent ability to multi-task. Occasionally I might even have a temporary moment of brilliance juggling several different tasks at once like a well-oiled machine. Then I moved to Ghana.

Last week we attended an all-volunteer conference. It was a great opportunity to talk to fellow volunteers, share ideas, successes and hardships. In one conversation I had, I mentioned to a more seasoned colleague that I seem to have lost my ability to multi-task. In fact, I find it difficult to concentrate on even one thing! She came back with what I hope is a very valid point. “Are you sure you have lost it”, she asked? “Chances are good that you ARE multi-tasking, even when you do not realize it”. She went on to point out that things that were previously “routine” may require a great deal of cognitive attention now. Those issues of culture, language, environment, etc. affect our everyday decision making abilities. And even though they are slipping to the background as I make the adjustment to my volunteer life here, they are still factors.

I am hoping she is right. Especially since I have a trip to plan, have hundreds of student grades to mark, have a house to clean…

Tammi and Chris with their dates to the unofficial Peace Corps Prom
Theme “Ghana Fabulous!”

Saturday, December 13, 2008

“Bug in My Shirt ?” by Tammi 13 Dec 2008

It’s something that really needs to be discussed, but I am in NO MOOD to broach the topic of the education system in Ghana. Instead I will present a different distraction for the day…

A moment of attentiveness in my temporary Form I ICT class

I realize that it’s now cold and wintery for most of you who are reading this. But you know that feeling you sometimes get when you are outside on a hot August day doing some gardening or are out for a brisk walk? I’m talking about that faint but obvious tickle in your shirt or on the back of your neck-one that makes you wonder “Is that really a bead of sweat dripping down my chest or could it be some multi-legged creature traveling to places where it has not been invited”? Here in Ghana I get this sensation repeatedly day in and day out. And I have found that the answer to that question is most often “yes”. Yes, it is a trail of sweat. And, yes, that is a bug--squish!

Some cool bugs that were thankfully NOT found in my shirt!

When it is not sweat &/or a bug, my own hair seems to be the culprit. Several weeks after moving here, my hair started driving me crazy. It was everywhere! It accumulated at an alarming rate in the shower drain, the sofa, the floor, etc. I felt as if my late, Great Pyrenees was teasing me from the doggy heaven beyond. He was saying, “See. It’s no fun to shed so profusely that you can create multiple small, fuzzy, creatures from what you have left behind”. But also like the coat on my beloved dog, it seemed that the amount of hair on my head did not dwindle. I have noticed some seasonal shedding back in the States but this was ridiculous. If my body was trying to cool itself down by alleviating some coverage, it was not working. You just can’t beat the African heat.

Look closely for the bug in the second phtoto. He is very, very clever.

At this point the shedding hair has slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it was a seasonal weather thing, a stress thing (volunteers endure a lot of stress, but I don’t think my stress level is coinciding with my shed rate), if my hair is growing at a much faster rate in this climate, or if the most likely candidate was my shampoo. After a trip where I splurged on some American brand shampoo made for white person hair types, the situation seems to be under control. But even with a full head of hair that sensation continues. So I’m making a little game of it. Instead of playing “Rocks, Paper, Scissors”, my game will be “Bugs, Hair or Sweat Drips”. And I’m sure I will guess it right at least 1/3 of the time!