Monday, July 12, 2010

Current Context/ Political Drama this week

So anyway, less background more current. That last post was sort of an attempt to explain why things have been so crazy in the weeks since I've gotten here. As of late, the UN has put some pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka to submit to an investigation of war crimes for the events of the final months of the war. The United States sent a panel to interview and question people. Samantha Power, the leading genocide expert in the United States was here. This was a huge deal (SIPA people understand) but her visit got little to no mention in the press, which is mostly government owned and controlled. At the same time the North province has been cut off for foreigners. I can only gain access with special permission from the ministry of defence. There is no likelihood of that, and I'd normally flaunt the rules and charm my way past, but in this case, if you get caught you're probably jailed forever. There will be no visits to the northern province for me this summer!

The European Union also put pressure on the government via a trade deal. The trade deal, known as the GSP came with a list of agreements. This time the agreements had everything to do with war victims and lists of dead combatants. Let's just say that this 17 point list was not well received, in fact it was rejected by the government.

The government sees itself as victors in a war on terror and their ends justify whatever means they used. Rajapaksa, the president says that he wants to protect the dignity of the war heroes. That pretty much means the government will not tolerate any sort of inquiry or questioning from anyone. Yes, it makes them look like they have a huge amount of things to hide. I know. But SL sees it as an attack on their sovereignty. A comparison to the United States is usually made, where the US would never submit to an inquiry in the international criminal court for any accusations for events in Iraq, Gauntanamo or Afghanistan. I understand and agree with the reality of that sentiment, but it doesn't make the situation any better.

So this brings us to last week. Last week was particularly dramatic as the UN continued to push for a panel. In this time, one parliament member suggested that Sri Lankan citizens storm the UN to show their contempt for the panel. Over the weekend the minister backtracked and said that it was not to be taken as a threat. Well, people prepared themselves and "besieged" the UN office, blocking all the workers in it. They set up a stage in front of the office. Police officers looked on, all but condoning this crowd burning a Ban Ki Moon in effigy with posters that said "Ban Ki Pimp, US Puppet, Ruiner of the UN." Harsh words, also many parliament members were protesting. The UN had to shut down operations for several days. In that time Wimal Weerawansa, the minster of Housing, and a very popular parliament member announced he would fast unto death to get the United Nations to drop the panel.
So imagine a man dramatically laying on a bed, refusing food and water for two days, in the street outside the UN compound with tons of cameras and press around. Total farce. The government promised no harm would be done to UN employees but made no efforts to try to stop or break up the protests. This went on for 5 days straight. The hunger strike lasted about 2 days.

Disclaimer- these crowds were nonviolent, and I was banned from seeing the protests by my office.

So there it stands, the political drama of the week.

Short Updates, Current Political Situation

Ok so I've been really horrible in updating the blog, I know I know. I'll admit. Politically things happen so fast here that its really hard to keep up with all the developments without confusing yourself! Honestly. Sri Lanka is having a very interesting summer for politics.

Constitutional reforms, political protests, US Panels, UN panels, IEDs, it's a lot! I'll try to break things down as best I can.

May 19 2010 commemorated the anniversary of the end of the 30 year long Civil War. You talk to some people and they'll describe it as a war for independence but anyone remotely attached to the government calls it the end of the war on terror and claims that “terrorism no longer exists in Sri Lanka.” There is much dispute about what actually happened around the end of the way in May 2009. It is known that at that point the government was doing what it could to try to crush the LTTE. At the same time the LTTE decided to use a human shield, catching many civilians between the two sides. As their occupied area got smaller and smaller, you can imagine what happened. On May 19 the leader of the LTTE was killed in battle and the war was declared over.

Again, as I've mentioned before, this is just a gist of the situation and not an in-depth analysis. It's tough, because I understand how relieved people are that the war is over. Most of the fighting took place in the north and east but much of the retaliation was deliberate attacks on important places in Colombo and cultural sites around the country.

What kind of effect does 30 years of civil war have on a population? Imagine boarding a city bus every day afraid that someone on it is strapped with explosives. There was a point at which there was at least one bus bombing a month in Colombo. You're terrified and at the same time mostly desensitized to the violence around you because it doesn't always hit home due to its random nature. It becomes seen more as an inconvenience when traffic has to be re-routed because of a bomb blast. Every Sri Lankan has lost a family member or friend during the course of the conflict. To be able to live in a place of steady, yet random violence, you have to become desensitized. The war became a part of life. The government was able to take great liberties with rule of law and infringing upon people because the conflict could always be used as an excuse for any sort of action. There are still checkpoints all over the city, you can and will be stopped at any point by police officers looking to see your ID or passport. In my case, I carry my passport everywhere so the sidetracking is minimal. If you're stopped without your passport or state ID you could be jailed.

Its affected different parts of the country differently, and in all ways shaped the way members of government work, act and campaign. Rhetoric here is absolutely amazing. At no point in the country's history was there a military draft or forced conscription of adult males. Every member of the military is a volunteer. In doing to majority politicians had to walk a curious line to ensure recruits.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wait so what the hell is it that you're doing this summer? I'm interning as a part of my Applied Peacebuilding course. I've been assigned to a local NGO to assist in their research. The research topic is a collaboration of both mine and the organization's interests.

Yeah, but you're not someone I'd consider a theatre buff. That's true! I've got a healthy case of enthusiasm for theatre but for me what's important to my research is looking for locally-sourced and culturally sustainable efforts towards maintaining peace and working on issues of violence. Yeah, its a mouthful, but I like local approaches to problem-solving. Forum and applied theatre is just that. That and these theatre forms have history – through out the war they were never censored or interfered with by the government or the major political parties or the LTTE. And both sides of the conflict have a history of theatre performances and groups thus making it a pretty good fit for integration of peace initiatives.

So what does this entail? Heavy background research and then detailed interviews with playwrights, actors, producers and critics. I'm looking to focus on theatre methods and themes relating to reconciliation. Sri Lanka's 30 year civil war was officially ended by the government May 2009. That doesn't mean the issues that caused it were resolved. It means that the greater responsibility will be placed on the citizens as crucial steps are taken to reunify the island.
So I've been working 9 to 5 doing background research and hope to start interviews next week. I've been able to view online a very good example of Devised Theatre based off experiences in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp, that was an incredibly moving piece of very high quality.

Email me if you want a link to what this sort of theatre represents.

I've posted photos on facebook, will post more as my travels continue.

Day 1 - First Impressions

Day 1
The plane flies over India, flitting onwards towards Colombo, as it prepares to land I have my face about 2 inches from the window, trying to take everything in that I can in those final two minutes. I see scores of palm trees, red roofed houses and small brown rivers. The ocean looks amazing. When we finally land the first thing I see is very jarring. Helicopters painted with a jagged green and brown camouflage stripes are parked right next to the landing strip. Makeshift bunkers with slots for guns also dot the runway. It was an instant reminder that this is a country recently at war.

I grab my bags and get off to wait for the taxi to pick me up. I'm breathing deeply like I've just stepped onto the moon, trying to get lungfuls of the damp Sri Lankan air. The heat isn't bad but the humidity hits like you like a punch and causes you to sweat profusely. I sort of stagger around, trying to take it all in, the typical airport horde is there, clambering for family members, bags, etc.

Then my ride screeches up. I hurl my bags into the back of a green mini van and I instantly remember what I've forgotten since I've started my research on Sri Lanka. Driving is BRITISH style here. Riiiiiight. I jump in shotgun with the driver so I can remind myself throughout the drive to look right then left to avoid being mowed down by a bus or a three wheeler. Shortly into the trip the driver pulls out a glass bottle of liquor and starts drinking from it. I stare at him in disbelief as well he's on the job, the job is driving and its maybe 9:30 am. “Hey buddy isn't it a little bit early for that?” My words dont register. We pass giant buddhist temples, lovely homemade lanterns and color-blocked flags everywhere. Apparently I've just missed Vesak, the celebration of Buddha's birthday, which is a shame because from the aftermath it looked like a hell of a party.
As we make our way through town clouds roll in on the horizon and then open up, drenching the whole place. At this point I connect the two words - MONSOON and SEASON and realize I didn't even pack an umbrella. How's that for prepared?

I dashed out of the rain into my host family's house, an older woman welcomes me and I sit down, only to face a pair of 7 foot tall pair of elephant tusks curving over one of the most beautiful dark carved wood couches I have ever seen. I couldn't help but stare. I hadn't seen elephant tusks outside of a musuem. We went over some basics and then she showed me to my room, and handed me a chilled glass liquor bottle exactly like my driver had, full of cold water. It ends up everyone here keeps glass bottles...

Sri Lanka Background

Sri Lanka Facts & History

I realize I'm again heading off to a place most people don't know of at all so I figured I'd attach some backround on Sri Lanka and its history.

BIG HUGE FAT DISCLAIMER: this is amateurish research performed by me and doesn't even begin to really address most of what has happened since 1983. Also its biased. So nobody get any thoughts in their head that I'm an authority on this. Because I'm clearly not.

Name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Population: 20 million

GDP: 40.6 Billion USD

Ethnic Makeup: Sinhalese 74% Tamil 12%

Religions: Buddhism, Hindu, Muslim, Christian

This background is ripped directly from my final project proposal, but I think it sorta gives an idea of what's going on.

Sri Lanka is a tear drop shaped island with 20 million inhabitants. Sinhalese make up 74% of the population and are concentrated in the densely populated southwest. Sri Lankan Tamils, citizens whose South Indian ancestors have lived on the island for centuries, total about 12%, live throughout the country, and predominate in the Northern Province.1 The main religions are Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Sri Lanka gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are a separatist group born out of the Tamil community’s reaction to the Sinhalese nationalist movement of the 1970s. During that time Tamil political groups were actively protesting against the Sinhalese-run government's policies that were exclusionary towards non-Sinhalese Sri Lankans. This political movement continued to grow, militant groups were formed and separatists began to advocate for an independent Tamil State (Tamil Eelam). Groups became more active as their protests were increasingly violently repressed by the government. It is in this context that the LTTE formed and started to fight for a Tamil homeland independent from the south of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan army fought back to regain control of the North during the 1970s, but at that time they were weak, unorganized and poorly equipped to handle guerrilla warfare tactics or
terrorism. It would take several years for the army to modernize and be able to respond to such threats. The violent conflict that many have witnessed was mostly triggered by the slaying in 1983, by the LTTE, of thirteen government soldiers in an ambush, which sparked widespread riots. In their aftermath, 125,000 Tamils living in the South left for the Tamil Northern province.2 Many Sinhalese left their homes in the North permanently. The riots also spurred a mass migration of Tamils out of Sri Lanka, causing the North and South to become extremely polarized and the two ethnic groups to become increasingly exclusionary. Both the LTTE and Government Army have been accused of mass human rights violations against all involved in the conflict. There is not enough space to go into detail here, but accusations of attacks on civilians, violent, forced migrations and recruitment of child soldiers are well documented in the media.
The First Peace Accord between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army was facilitated by India and signed in 1987.  As a result, Sri Lanka allowed 100,000 Indian troops to monitor the ceasefire on both sides. After three months of ceasefire the LTTE declared war on the Indian Peacekeeping force.  Many cease fires have been signed between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government and none have yielded a sustainable peace. Since 1989 until present, coinciding with Sri Lankan regime change, there have been peace initiatives with positive responses from the LTTE. Many peace agreements and ceasefires have been signed and then broken in the conflict's 26 year history. Each new government in Sri Lanka has attempted a peace negotiation with the LTTE. A number of political leaders who were involved in the political engagement with the LTTE directly or indirectly-Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi of India, President Premasada and Ministers Gamini Dissanayake and Ranjan Wijertne of Sri Lanka, A. Amirthalingam and Neelan Tiruchelvam of the Tamil United Liberation Front- have all been assassinated by the LTTE for reasons that are linked to negotiation failures.3  The government continued to negotiate with a separatist movement that in the past has used ceasefires to reorganize and arm itself and continue fighting. This also seems confusing when confronted with the fact that negotiation carries such an extreme personal risk to its facilitators on both sides of the Sri Lankan conflict.
Sri Lanka entered the global economy in the late 1970s.  It became a market economy and received World Bank and IMF loans to facilitate development. This had a lot of influence on governmental action throughout the conflict. If peace is to be considered a precondition for prosperity, then development aid may be an incentive for recipient countries affected by conflict to cooperate with donor agencies. In highlighting the link between conflict and peace, development objectives become increasingly tied to security agendas.3 The Sri Lankan government continued to negotiate with the LTTE due to international pressure, which sometimes were preconditions to financial assistance. Meanwhile, the LTTE was able to mobilize support from the Diaspora and the international community when confronted with attacks from the government. This powerful minority was able to lobby and make donor countries take a tougher stance on Sri Lanka when it came to conditions of aid as well as bilateral trade. The Sri Lankan government continued to cooperate in negotiations with the LTTE knowing that it would receive additional aid, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. It was impossible to determine whether aid was distributed to the north or east of Sri Lanka.

Current Context:
The situation changed drastically in May 2009. The leader of the LTTE Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed in battle, the group surrendered and the government declared a “peace.” The government retook control of the north and east. As is probably obvious, this government declaration doesn’t not resolve the conflict or address any of the issues that caused it. Most recently the context has changed through the presidential and parliamentary election process. On January 26, Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected for a second term. He has since placed his main presidential opponent and former employee Sarath Fonseka in jail for an attempted coup, almost immediately after winning. Riots followed after this as election results were disputed, much of the support for Fonseka came from Tamil dominated north and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. Voter participation in the former conflict zones was also particularly low compared with the rest of the country. Parliamentary elections took place on April 8, with Rajapaksa's party winning 144 of the 225 seats.4 The ruling party is just short of the two thirds vote it would need to amend the constitution. Voter turnout was considered very low, which leaves a lot of open questions. Sri Lanka is in an especially unique position of being able to lay the groundwork for constructive change as this nation tries to mend broken relationships and avoid the path back towards civil war. The conflict dynamic has added a certain level of politicization to Sri Lankan elections in the past. Polling stations became sites of intimidation and violence as LTTE members tried to force citizens to boycott elections in the past. The government has been accused of using state materials to promote their party’s campaign within IDP settlements with allowance for competitors.
The conflict also has left a legacy of mass migrations. Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans have been forced to leave their homes on several occasions. Certain groups were only allowed 24 hours before they were removed. There have been several waves of displacement since 1983 at the start of the conflict. The United Nations is an active player in the resettlement process that has been occurring since May 2009. They estimate that 93,000 internally displaced people await resettlement in the north and east.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Next Up Sri Lanka

Latest blog post:

Hi all its been approximately one year since I last posted on Underneath the Charging Sky.
Since then I got accepted to Columbia University's International Affairs School – SIPA and started classes in the fall. These last nine months have certainly been a challenge, albeit it a welcome one. I've met amazing people and have been pushed to my personal limit when it came to economics, papers and groupwork. The class I liked the most was Applied Peacebuilding- at SIPA there are certain classes in such high demand that you actually have to apply for entrance into the class and try to justify your being there. The professor chooses the applicants for the class. Due to some stroke of luck I was actually accepted, and the first several weeks of the class was spent picking a local partner abroad that needed an intern for summer work. The real lure for my interest in this class was the post-conflict development aspects. The professors arranged Terms of Reference for each organization available. As students we had an embarrassment of riches when it came to picking projects – places like Lebanon, East Timor, Kenya & Jordan, just to name a few. The partnering organizations also varied, from United Nations Offices to grassroots organizations.

Upon choosing a project I got in touch with my counterpart and we contacted each other weekly to plan out what the project would be. I chose the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Sri Lanka.
Wait – Sri Lanka? I thought you were Africa Girl! This is true, I had a big internal struggle in deciding where I would be this summer and I decided Sri Lanka would be best. I felt I could learn the most from the Sri Lanka conflict and apply it to my career in the future. And let's be honest, working in Sri Lanka has no negative bearing on my plans for the future. I've spent a lot of time studying and researching the conflict as an undergraduate was well as a part of my graduate work.
So here I am again. Sitting in the Dubai airport waiting for my connecting flight to Colombo. This airport actually has a live lobster tank in it.
I'm very excited and am having trouble imagining what Sri Lanka will look and feel like. I have many pictures in my head but none do justice. I've researched the academic side where everything is cut and dry, the development indicator side where everything just corresponds to numbers, and lastly the tourism side, where everything looks like a mawkish postcard sunset and there is no mention of the atrocities that occurred in the past. I can't reconcile these images. I just have to go live there and see for myself. I promise to keep you all posted on the sights sounds & experiences of Sri Lanka this summer via my blog.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Slacktard Email: Aka, what I have been up to for the last several months.

For some reason, both times I have returned back to Mauritania from America, I find my life as a volunteer turned upside down.

December: I spent the month at home for the holidays. It was time well spent and I got to see alot of people. I didn’t plan on going home but Christmas at home was great for me, considering the circumstances.

January: I returned back to site just as Israel starting bombing Palestine. I was honestly shocked to see how many Mauritanians took to the streets to protest against Israel. Nouakchott and Aioun were hotbeds of protest. I was driven through tear gas ridden protests upon leaving the capital to head to Aioun. The protests went on for several weeks. At times it was impossible to leave the house to go to the market. Students voiced their outrage by throwing rocks at the high school in an attempt to destroy it. Neighbors looked after us (to keep us from being injured in a protest) but it was extremely difficult to carry on as normal as the Arabic news channels blamed the US (by extension) for the deaths in Palestine. I really did not think that Mauritanians had the capacity to be this belligerant, ever. This is a complete turn around compared to how people behaved after the coup. The government succeeded in throwing out the Israeli Ambassador. I have another, angrier blog post about this, but I decided not to post it.
Mid January I recieved the news that a close family member had died, the day of his funeral my house was broken into.

By the end of January things were normal as they could be in Aioun, and I started up work again with the Aioun CFPP. The director assigned me 18 hours of class in 4 hour blocks, without a tutor. I was to teach computer theory to students who only knew Arabic. It started off as a struggle, and I realized that there really isn’t any point to stress myself out and bash my head against the wall trying to get people to learn in the wrong language when the CFPP has perfectly capable professors who are fluent in Arabic. I begged the director for a translator, he laughed at me and told me to “force” my students to learn French. I told him that was impossible and told me to contact him when he found an appropriate translator. He never called.

At this same time I encountered an amazing woman through my sitemate. Khadjia Mint Kardidi runs an NGO in Aioun and gives trainings to women. She is very successful but low on cash for trainings. She is a case example of something we in Peace Corps call a Community Power Broker. She’s smart, talented, and well respected, when she talks, people hang on her every word. When she plans a meeting, people actually attend. Best of all, she was on board with Peace Corps goals and wanted to work with us. In the end of January, my sitemate Susie gave a training on canning vegetables, Khadija led the training, and I led the business component, trying to get the women to figure out the cost of materials and how to set prices. The training was successful, and we did follow up several weeks after the training, the women knew the method for canning vegetables by heart. It was very impressive, considering they didn’t even write the steps down (Mauritania is not a literary society, books do not exist except the Koran). It’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do, and I had the directions written down in English!

After that first training, Khadija mentioned interest in training the Cooperatives in Aioun. She wanted to educate women on the basics of running a cooperative and responsibilities required of the executive members. I wanted to stress the importance of critical thinking and decision making before starting new business ventures. Our plans meshed well together and we decided to hold a 3 day long training. We invited the president and secretary general from 10 women’s cooperatives based in Aioun in February. The training was a success.

In early February I took a trip to the south of Mauritania the hard way. I met up with my friend Edna in Kiffa and we took a 15 hour long offroading trip to get to Selibaby. I actually had bruises on my head and shoulder from bouncing around in the cab of a toyota hilux. It gave me a ton of respect for the volunteers of that region, they offroad like that whenever they have to leave site! Selibaby was a great town, a 360 degree change from Aioun. People were friendly and spoke French. I was able to give a neem soap training to the Girl’s Mentoring Center and it went incredibly well. The students were so polite and well spoken! It was amazing how shaky my french was considering I’m used to peppering it with Hassaniya so people actually understand me in Aioun.
After Selibaby I headed down to Dakar to attend my second WAIST. WAIST this year was amazing. The Mauritanian pirates won the social league division, our country director was there and my american style homestay was amazing. Over 100 Mauritanian PCVs attended. Dakar, as per usual, was amazing, and crazy and bustling, and I got the sushi plate I look forward to every year. In the market near my hotel, they were selling tee shirts that say (in french) “If you piss me off, I’m going back to Senegal.” The sentiment made me laugh, because it is probably the reigning attitude of PCVs towards their communities on bad days. I didn’t buy a shirt that said that because I couldnt get a decent price.

I returned to Aioun after WAIST and held another business training with Khadija. This time we trained 20 cooperatives. It went well and it became clear that the cooperatives have a serious lack of artisinal skills that was limiting them from achieving their full potential. I planned to have a tie dye training when I found out that the funding I have been using dried up. There was a special Gender and Development fund that I was using to pay for the supplies for the conference (mainly lunch each day and transport money for the participants). We planned on holding the next training immediately but couldn’t.

March 8 was International Women’s day. I met multiple times with the Director of the Condition Femenine (Government post that deals with women’s issues) to try to make the festival a big deal. Last year, both Aioun and Nema had really huge parties to celebrate Women’s day. It was a good time to exhibit the work of artisinal cooperatives, as well as skits and performances by womens’ groups and girls’ clubs, not to mention local food vendors. I spoke with the director, and explained my plan of renting a large tent (and paying for it with Peace Corps $$) and having music and food, she seemed not enthusiastic. She then commenced in blowing me off, and I figured they had some sort of plan. Well, Womens’ Day arrived, I put on a veil and headed to the place where they were holding the ceremonies. The scene was a total mess, the cooperatives were stuck in the back of the meeting hall, trapped and no one could see their wares, the front of the room was choked with VIPs and the rest of the people attending were stuck outside in the sun for hours. There was no food or drink for sale and people were loud and pushy. All the dignitaries were hours late (you cannot start anything formal in this country unless you get a speech from the mayor, hakem, and wali) all of them were men. The CF director kept trying to drag me around to show off the white girl in the veil (definitely a downside to keeping in line with local customs). At this point I was dizzy and tired from sitting in the sun and wouldn’t have anymore of it, I left before all the bigwigs made their speeches.This might be my perspective as an embittered 2nd year volunteer, but what’s the point of having a womens’ day if you treat it like a total joke? Why even bother if you have to stand around waiting for men to show up and justify even having a day such as this? I took this a little personally, and am still frustrated that they turned me down even though I showed up with a plan for the day and money! I guess there are reasons why this woman is ignored by most of her colleagues. Its frustrating that they have money for skills trainings for women but it just gets wasted on whatever frivolties the CF Director wants.

The end of March was marked by our Close of Service Conference. It was a 3 day long conference that focused on handholding and trying to process our last 2 years in country. There was also a lot of career advice as well as pressure to apply for government jobs. It was also the last time I would see alot of our class of 60+ people who came over with me in 2007. I’m no longer afraid of entering into the job market, even though the economy remains a mess. It was also great to see old friends and hear about what their plans for the future are, many are going on to grad school, also there’s a large chunk of people heading on to Peace Corps China. It was a plan I myself considered.

So herein lies the big question, what are my plans for after August 6? I applied to 5 graduate schools in December, I got rejected by all but one. I am on the waitlist for Columbia University and plan to stick it out. I actually got rejected by my Alma Mater (AU grads who read this, the next time they call you for $$, tell them to go to hell for me!). I blame alot of this on the crappy economy. Needless to say, this was probably one of the toughest times being in Mauritania, all the waiting and rejection has made me miserable. There is nothing in Aioun to keep my mind of the crushing amount of defeat and rejection I feel besides old beat up paperbacks in our library. No food, no beer, no entertainment. Just heat and misery to get you through the day.

So at this point, I return home to insanely high student loan payments and no job, woo! I plan on moving to DC (sorry New Yorkers, I tried but NY doesn’t really have a develpment industry like DC does) probably by mid August-early September. At that point I will be applying for the spring term at a couple of grad schools in the area, and working my butt off.

So yeah, I haven’t posted in a very long time, but I just kept putting it off because I had nothing really positive or exciting to post about. So I just decided to clump it all together in a big fat whiney blog post, all negative-style. Sorry about that, but this isn’t a blog about how I moved to Africa and started censoring my reaction to things.

My official Close Of Service date is August 6, 2009. I will be bringing my dog, Nancy Sinatra with me. Take some pleasure in that.