Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I haven't blogged in a while...too much going on and not enough time to process and put into words...hope to return soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

my ugly American side rears its head

Since I've come to Tanzania my boss has periodically thrown the phrases 'Don't be so American' or 'You're too American' at me. After the latest 'Don't be so American' that I got today, I decided to make the following list of instances when my boss has pointed out my ugly American side.

1. When I first approached her about selling my photos to HQ: "Don't be such a American, capitalist pig!" She then realized I was selling personal photos not photos taken under my contract. Though she didn't retract her statement. hehehe

2. The most common instance of "Don't be so American" is when I complain how slow things are moving.

3. "Efficiency is American. This is Africa. If you want American efficiency in African, go work at the American fort (the embassy and USAID, yes it really does look like a fort)" When I go off on my 'this bloody country and everyone working in this organization is so inefficient' tantrum.

4. "You work too much. Remember you're not in America" Cause we are work-alcoholics.

5. When I'm always on time to meetings or when I start to fret when I'm late "Relax, this is not America. Things do not start on time."

I remembered another one this morning (Tuesday)

6. Whenever my colleague, who has decided to move into my office, goes on and on about all the work she has to do, I one, either ignore her cries of pain or two, I tell her maybe she should start working on one of those many things. So when my boss came up to our office for a chat, my 'woe is me' colleague complained to her that I don't say anything when she goes on and on. I looked at her and said "what do you want me to say." Then my boss tells me "Don't be so mean like those Americans. We don't want to hear the truth, what we already know. We want to hear you say 'oh pole' (roughly translated as poor you)" Nope not me, I don't sugar coat lady and that's not necessarily American, that's just me. : )

Got another one yesterday
7. My boss trying to pass between two chairs during a meeting: "I can't fit. I'm too fat." Me (laughing) Boss: "I knew you would laugh. You're a cruel American." hahaha

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Will the real UN please stand up?

An anonymous UN employee

"We are not missionaries! This is political, personal and driven by greed."

I further learned during this 3 hr meeting the European backstabbing efforts to drive out American aid in Tanzania. Boxing match, Americans in one corner, Europeans in the other...ready, set, FIGHT! Whose cheering them on? Certainly not the poorest of the poor who suffer the greatest from these geo-political battles because in the end the poor watch the money that is supposed to improve their livliehoods line the pockets of the fighters and this is not chump change folks...money is pushed by the thousands, millions . *sigh* this is the business of development at its highest and most corrupt level...absolutely disappointing, but sadly not surprising.

Lastly, got into a nasty argument with a colleague over why I'm pushing for community participation and approval of the solar project. I want focus group discussions and I want them to own the project. Then I busted out with "This is why so many UN projects fail!" Then she didn't say anything and I probably will get my head chopped off now. At least Prof. Howard would be proud...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Barefoot Solar Engineers in Tanzania

I met Bunker, director of Barefoot, my mentor, and sort of acts like a caring grandpa, 2 weeks ago in Dar. He was here meeting with a local University, which is now a UNIFEM partner (thanks to me, toot tooting my horn) and they have selected 4 more women to be trained in solar electrification in India. If you know me then you know how much I love Barefoot and believe in the Barefoot approach. So of course I jumped at the opporutnity to get UNIFEM involved with the already trained Barefoot solar engineers who returned in March 2009. These women are featured on the front page (!!!) of todays The Guardian newpaper. Bunker also wrote an editorial, which I can't find the link to online, but as a summary money wasted in multi-lateral and bi-lateral institutions could be better spent, such as bringing light to Africa's rural poor thus, increasing household income, combating climate change, improving women's health, elevating women's status in society, and an overall improvement in the quality of life of those who suffer because of the mistakes of the rich. I could go on and on, but the article sums up the idea of the project. We are now working to get the Meatu women connected with an extremely impovershed area to train more women.
I knew Bunker was writing this article because he told me to keep an eye out for it. Then this morning we had a chat, which really made me laugh. I've left out what he's referring to because thats too personal for the blog world, but...
me: got the paper...its on the front page. will save you a copy

B: There is something inside as well on the Opinion Page...so the Editor said I have found a (blank) for you. (more blank)

me: what (blank) is this?

B: Patience.

me: i have no patience

B: Then go for a meditation course

me: funny

Monday, January 4, 2010

"I don't want to play frogger with my life!"
I find myself saying this everyday to and from work when trying to cross the busy streets. I see some people cross in and out of traffic like that little frog in the old school arcade game and then I say the above to myself and wait for the walk sign. Often people stare at me and I feel they are laughing at me on the inside...oh well at least I'm still in one piece!

Friday, January 1, 2010

ooo me likey

Will someone buy me this dress, please with a cherry on top : ) hehehe...love the mix of patterns.