Monday, July 5, 2010

Intro post

So this is my first blog. It is bound to be a work in progress so bare with me everyone. I guess to back up a bit introductions are in order. My name is Brian Bartle and I am a recent graduate from James Madison College at Michigan State University. I majored in International Relations with a Specialization in Western European Studies. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to take on many adventures from studying abroad in Europe to volunteer work in Honduras and New Orleans and interning for an amazing organization in South Africa. This blog will be about my next adventure as a Peace Corps volunteer working in Senegal.

I have recently been official accepted for a position working in sustainable agriculture in Senegal. My official title is a sustainable agriculture extension agent working with the Senegalese Department of Agriculture implementing their policies on the community level in rural villages. Yet I’ve been warned that you really never know what you are exactly doing till you get there. Anyway I am heading out for a pre-departure orientation on August 9th. Then I’ll be heading to Thies, Senegal for about two and a half months for an orientation/training program. This will mostly consist of work related training along with an intensive language program to get me caught up to speed with my French (which is definitely behind) and also learning Wolof I believe. I get sent to my host family in October and where I also get started and introduced with my work.

Yet I think I may be getting ahead of myself. I still have a mongoose to worry about. The mongoose story is a bit of an inside joke in regards to some friends taking a safari in South Africa. While at Kruger National Park their guide had a pet mongoose that I guess was very affectionate. Long story short I became obsessed with this thought of how awesome a pet mongoose would be. They are actually illegal to own in the United States due to being an extremely harmful invasive species. In Porto Rico they caused an estimated seven reptile and amphibian extinctions after being introduced there. Yet in a native environment they are exceptional pets that work equally efficient as pest control-especially with snakes like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. This was by no means my primary reason for joining the Peace Corps to go to Africa but once I found out I would be placed in Africa I set it as a primary goal of mine-if for nothing else to keep the snakes out of my bed.

Anyway, on to my quest for a pet mongoose. In all honestly this has probably been regulated down to my number 2 or 3 priority behind learning the language and job skills so I know exactly what I’m suppose to be doing at my job in Senegal. But closely following those two priorities is finding a pet mongoose. Luckily Senegal has six native species of mongoose. Initial research has led me to favor the Marsh, Egyptian and Banded mongooses. Leaning toward either the Marsh or Banded mongoose at the moment. Yet concern arises with both breeds with the description like that of the Marsh mongoose of being a “voracious carnivore …and extremely territorial” while also “considered tame and very clean if raised from a young age.” I’m not sure how “voracious carnivore” and “tame” coincide with one another but I guess if other people have tamed the mongoose it must be worth a try.

Thus the quest continues……

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