Looking Backwards and Moving Forward (and a Visit to a Vodun Art Exhibit)

“Sans titre (tête) “ 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas. Jeremy Demester. Zinsou Foundation, Ouidah, Benin.

“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” This Filipino idiom, usually attributed to José Rizal, shares a universal truth: in order to know where your destination is, you have to understand where you’ve come from. For centuries, many cultures around the world have embraced this way of life. When I lived… Continue reading Looking Backwards and Moving Forward (and a Visit to a Vodun Art Exhibit)

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Categorized as Benin

“Why Do We Cry?”/ A Reflection on Matemwe Beach in Zanzibar

Why do we cry? I stand where the waves make love With the shore. The motion of OceanStretches my bones and kisses the  Curvature of my spine, each vertebraArched in agony and love, beneath theAncient night and the whispersOf stars and the towering moon.  Tell me, why are you? A sequence ofatoms in motion, of proteins in Lines… Continue reading “Why Do We Cry?”/ A Reflection on Matemwe Beach in Zanzibar

Why I Left West Africa: A Prologue

Mont-Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire

I’m not happy here in West Africa.  In 2016, I spent a summer as an independent researcher in Guinea. It was my first time traveling alone to another continent, and it turned out to be everything I didn’t expect. It was jarring. It was psychologically and physically challenging. At least for me, it was (if… Continue reading Why I Left West Africa: A Prologue

Kpalimé / Mountain / Spirit

Listen… I have become unstuck in time. It was, in fact, a dark and stormy night in the forests of southern Togo, just after M. and I checked into our lodge. As I lay in bed, my mind fell in and out of sleep, not quite approaching rest and not quite relapsing into reality. The… Continue reading Kpalimé / Mountain / Spirit

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Categorized as Togo

Doing the Distance DELTA: My Yearlong Journey to Power-Up my Teaching Practice

I haven’t had much time to write here recently, and part of that is due to the Distance DELTA. Just this past month, I’ve gone to the moon and back with teacher development. I video-recorded three of my lessons for feedback from a teacher trainer; submitted detailed lesson plans including aims, objectives, and assessments; wrote… Continue reading Doing the Distance DELTA: My Yearlong Journey to Power-Up my Teaching Practice

Linguacultural Lessons from the Jula of Odienné: Exploring Côte d’Ivoire’s Northwest

Lesson #1: I jatigi ye jɔn ye? Who is your host? There were two major reasons I traveled to the north, and neither of them involved getting stranded in a dirt field.  As I looked down at my map, I realized I had miscalculated. Odienné’s tiny airport was about an hour’s walk to the city… Continue reading Linguacultural Lessons from the Jula of Odienné: Exploring Côte d’Ivoire’s Northwest

How to Learn Nouchi like an Ivorian

“Le bon wé pour caler son djê” (the right way to get your money)

On dit quoi? At first glance, Côte d’Ivoire’s colorful argot can be difficult to decipher. Some call it a dialect, some call it a creole, while others may consider it a completely different language. No matter which way you see it, you’ll certainly hear it spoken in Abidjan and many other parts of the country.… Continue reading How to Learn Nouchi like an Ivorian

That One Time I Got Arrested in West Africa (and my first experiences of culture shock)

I. Silence Speaks Louder than Words It is 2AM and I am sitting barefoot in a white plastic chair. Behind me, two men, armed with shotguns, tower in silence. An old man sits across from me. He stares at my face, then at the items on the table, and then he stares back at me… Continue reading That One Time I Got Arrested in West Africa (and my first experiences of culture shock)