April 19, 2006

Bang On!

Things've been busy lately. The new academic year started about two weeks ago and classes are now getting up to speed at all my new schools: two middle schools, one elementary, and one small school out in the hills that combines both in one complex. I haven't formed any really solid impressions yet as most of my experience thus far has been the obligatory じこうしょうかい (self-introduction) lesson. Let me tell you, any interest you thought you could wring out of your life tends to look decidedly less so after the seventh or eighth iteration. Also, my answer of "none" to the inevitable "What sports do you play?" question continues to kill me with the middle school boys. My friend Joe suggests just lying, but based on my performance on the field today when I joined some of the seventh grade boys at soccer during recess, I doubt I'd be fooling anyone.

Of course, I'm waving good-bye just about as soon as I say hello, because I leave for Bangladesh this Saturday with a group of about a dozen other Saga JETs for a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip. Volunteering of this kind isn't common practice in Japan — see the previous note about civic participation — but as part of our efforts to raise funds a couple of us got in the local paper, which means pretty much everyone here knows about us going and for the most part is very impressed that we are. Not so impressed that they volunteer to donate some money towards our trip, but, y'know, it's the thought that counts.

This will be my first visit to a country outside the developed world, my first visit to South Asia, and my first Habitat build outside the United States. It will also be the first Habitat trip I've gone on in about four years where I wasn't taking a leading role. I'm not really sure what to expect, but I think it'll be an interesting experience. Our first week will be devoted to building, and will include a home-stay and visit to a local school; then we have several days to travel on our own. I'll probably be taking a river tour through the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans. Wikipedia promises man-eating tigers, although apparently the group that visited Bangladesh last year didn't run into any. I've got my malaria meds and shaved my head down to the shortest it's been since about two years old — not, uh, entirely on purpose, but oh well — and all the other travel necessities pretty well squared away, so all that's left is to debate with myself whether to invest in this baby before I depart or to stick with my trusty, albeit poorly-endowed-in-the-zoom-lens-department Canon G6. Either way I should return with plenty of pictures, stories, and hopefully no intestinal parasites.

1 comment:

becky said...

thats really exciting, colin. visiting a developing country is really... eye opening. i hope you have a great experience. stay healthy! drink only bottled water!