Thursday, January 12, 2006

My inaugural post!

Welcome! The purpose of this blog is really to make my life easier, so that I don't have to send annoying mass emails (annoying for you to receive them, and annoying for me to collect all the addresses to send them), and my friends can check up on what I'm up to whenever they can steal a free moment from their busy lives.

I invite all my friends to post responses if they feel so moved...It lets me know that I'm not writing just for the benefit of my parents, and besides, how else will I keep up with Washington gossip?


For those who don't know where I will be, I'm headed to Rwanda for seven months. I'm scheduled to get back in late July. I'll be working with the United Nations refugee organization (UNHCR). While I was supposed to work in the Kigali main office and compile information on the socio-political situation to send back to Geneva, my job changed yesterday...it looks like I'll be sent up to the north, to Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, to strengthen their returnee program there. They want me to help to reintegrate refugees that are still returning, 11 years after the genocide. I'll be interviewing them and monitoring their progress. I should be up north for at least a month.


So....as a result, I'm not sure how dependable my internet will be. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a dodgy internet cafe, or the field office will have a connection. We'll see.


I am to leave on January 18, and I have a billion things I have to do before then. I have my malaria medication in hand (doxycycline, not lariam, so I'll be sun-sensitive, but I won't be loopy), and have received every conceivable vaccination. Now I'm starting to pack. If anyone has any suggestions, they're totally welcome. My suitcase is dominated by t-shirts and cotton pants. (If you see rubber Wellies in the next couple of days, please let me know!! It seems like all the cheap stores (Target, K-Mart, Wal-Mart) only carry rubber booties for kids.)


I'm pretty nervous, though I know I'll be just fine. Besides, my first month in Rwanda will be spent in a town that's on the beach!


Here's a map of Rwanda:



(P.S. And if I don't post for a while, just know that this blog is an exercise in reformation....I'm trying to be a lot better about keeping in touch with people, but I have the feeling I might slip a little. If you know me, you know how hard it is to get me to return a call! I'll try to keep up with it, though...)

(P.P.S. Yes, I got the idea for the title of this blog from Michael Sulmeyer.)

6 Comments:

Anonymous Mike E said...

Ok, Morgan. I am worried about your feet. Maybe this will give you some brands to ask about at Wal-Mart or someplace else:

http://shopping.yahoo.com/s:Boots:4601-Gender=Women%27s:14605-Style=Rain%20Boots;_ylt=AiXbw3.CYoTKBGdgliHfgD0WoK8F;_ylu=X3oDMTBmNzVhaTljBF9zAwRzZWMDd2VzdG5hdg--?y=g

I bought my favorite pair of waders (really just extra long knee boots) at WalMart a while back and stand by them. Just stuff the top so damp dones'nt get in. but I expect you know that.

Right. I'm going to be rereading Our Favorite Book. While you are 20 km further out into space than me at the equator.

1/13/2006 11:28 AM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

I don't know anything about Wellies. But my mother just gave me her old ones that she found at Restoration Hardware. They're apparently "size 6," but as I feel like I'm wearing boats on my feet, I suspect that's a male size. They're tall enough that water probably won't get in.

Where are you right now? South Africa? I'm thinking about visiting Sinead there.

1/13/2006 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Orky Horky said...

Hi Morky Corky! I'm sure you can tell who this is, unless you taught someone else your "orky" language too. I'm cautious about using my real name on the Internet now since it's so unique (everything about me online is completely gone now, I hope, I've deleted everything!), so I hope Orky Horky will do ... Have fun in Africa!! That's so exciting! A fellow high school classmate of ours is actually in Senegal now! I'd love to go to Africa one day too ... Reading blogs can be addictive, so I'm glad you started one so that I can be all caught up with you! :) Take care!

1/15/2006 2:00 AM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

Actually, Orky, I was just talking about our secret code the other day :)

What are you up to these days, anyway???

1/15/2006 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Morgan!
hello,I am a rwandan citizen(male) living/studying in Europe/Poland,and I found this web,and it's quite interesting reading about your experience there,your job,and I want to tell you that you are doing a great job in helping those who are in need.I guess you are naturally good-hearted and thank you for you are trying to do something to help my people,or the needy generally.me too I wish to help the needy when I finish to study.But I want also to tell you that about how you're describing the country,people there...the culture,you are on many subjects right(like how men there spend much time drinking,waste the family salary in alcoholism,...it's ugly but right and I wish it ends)but I don't agree well with you how you talk about ethnicity there,that hutu are(dark skinned tutsi like that,...)to tell u the truth,we the majority of rwandan people don't want to hear,use,see that,about ethnicity...it's not true,even if we had tragic events...but in reality neither tutsi nor hutu,twa...don't exist,the problem was created by the colonizers who used 'DIVIDE&RULE" system in order to dominate,it's very sad and ugly,before colonization,in the past tutsi,hutu story were social class,tutsi were rich class, hutu middle class,and twa were poor ones,and the europeans made those divisions to dominate,...they were having power,weapons...they killed many people in africa,everywhere and divided them,but we want to forget that sad past and we're all rwandans and we don't want to hear such things(tusi,hutu) anymore...we want to unite and work together to build the country,so I always react when I read on bbc,cnn. or from foreigners or some rwandans use those terms,...I'm allergic to them.
About your experience how people seeing you say"muzungu",it's sad too,I hate it, because here in Poland,always I hear people saying "look,a nigga,and often I got insulted:monkey go to eat banana in afrika and others" and sometimes we can have people who want to attack us,beat,sometimes we fight to save our asses,I've been threatened twice with knives by some skinnies...it's ugly but a big experience in my life, but I'm here for studying,I have to get my education and I have to hold on,life goes on.
About you,having only male friends,I have the same situation here,many of my friends ale female,they're nice,friendly and if I have a problem in class or need some information in the street,I prefer to ask girls,women than men,men are the ones who often insult us,and are jealous,they think their women want us,and we want to take their women...but also there many nice people here,I made some male friends too,and like you I'm often with foreign naionals...from afrika,asia,western europe,so we form a kind of solidarity against xenophobian Poles.
Ok that was my story,are you still in Rwanda?I wish you good luck and happiness,you are doing a great job! if you want to write back to me,my email"ndegidenis@yahoo.fr"

4/22/2006 8:18 AM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

anonymous, thank you so much for your post.

As for the comments on the ethnic divide here, I sympathize with the idea that Rwandans want to move on--I know many who do. But I think that despite this wish, there is still tension--I've seen it time and time again--which, I believe, shows that a problem still exists. The government is doing a pretty good job of moving forward...But I think that there is still resentment.

It's true that the Belgians really screwed things up here, leaving the country even more divided than before. Yet the terms "Hutu" and "Tutsi" were not created by the Belgians--as you know, "Tutsi" means "Owner of cattle," which is historically synonymous with wealth. The Mwami, unless I'm mistaken, was almost always a Tutsi, etc. The Belgians institutionalized the divide, thereby making it worse. Hutus who had cattle became Tutsis, and the original ethnic separations took on new meaning.

The problems of the past still influence the present. I've found, to my chagrin, that most of my friends are Tutsis, but it's not by choice. It's because most of the people that are in town, that run the businesses I frequent, that I work with, are Tutsis. They're relatively privileged jobs. But during the week, I go out into the field, and visit people in their grass huts or brick houses, and they are almost uniformly Hutu, making about $2 a week by cultivating neighboring land.

I hope it changes, and I think that Rwanda's moving forward. But at the same time, I think that the tensions shouldn't be ignored...we have to admit to them so that we can do something to allay them.

Cheers! Thanks for reading! Love your thoughts. (I'm also very sorry to hear about your experience in Poland. That's extremely aggravating and, I'm sorry to say, racism exists everywhere. It's truly terrible.)

-Morgan

5/02/2006 3:51 AM  

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