Friday, November 30, 2007

Finally! Candidates on the ICC

There may be readers out there who, like me, care very much what their Presidential candidates are saying on the International Criminal Court. My friend from Chicago and I wrote to Obama a very long time ago asking about his position, but we never heard back (and were a bit peeved about it, considering that he's her US Senator). We finally decided to do the research ourself and turned up this gem from the (UNA-USA sponsored) American NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC). It's a fact sheet giving candidate's actual answers to ICC-related questions.

I have to say, I'm not excited about Obama's responses, which basically give some cautious optimism, before noting that the Court is still young and "it is premature to commit the US to any course of action at this time." He also expresses concerns for American service personnel. Frankly, I think that if our servicemen and women can't behave themselves (and remember, in this case, not behaving means committing war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity), they should be just as subject to anyone else to the Court's jurisdiction. Of course, the reality is that they would almost undoubtedly be court-marshaled and tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice in US military courts. This would eliminate the Court's jurisdiction because the US would have shown itself both willing and able to deal with these crimes. Ahem.

Where was I? Ahhh, Hilary. Her answer: Bush's unsigning has been really bad for us, the ICC has really behaved itself admirably since its establishment and "I will as President evaluate the record of the Court, and reassess how we can best engage with this institution and hold the worst abusers of human rights to account." I like this answer better. She doesn't say that she'll sign right up again, but makes it pretty clear that she'd like to be a partner for the ICC, in its investigations, and avoid being an obstructionist force on the Security Council. I don't think the Senate would ratify the Rome Statute in a million years, so I think this is as good a compromise as we're likely to see.

And, finally, Bill Richardson, just because he made me happy. I think this pretty much says it all: "The US should join the ICC as a full-fledged member. We have nothing to fear." Again, not in a million years, but wouldn't that be nice? Happy Joyce. :-)

All in all, I might use my worthless primary vote (NO ONE will care what happens by the time the Indiana primary rolls around in May) to show support for Richardson and maybe help him get the VP nod. On the other hand, I've been often torn between Obama & Clinton and this is the sort of thing that could tip the table. I'll be honest, it's a lot harder to be inspired by Obama when, unlike most US voters, all your news about the race comes in print format. Populism doesn't work as well when it isn't being delivered in speeches and definitely doesn't work when reported dryly by the Economist. On the other hand, am I a one issue voter? Sigh! I need to find out more about their opinions on the UN.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things I think I will not get used to....

1) People being rude. Two days ago, a group of primary school kids yelled at me, in English: "Your vagina is beautiful!" While that's hysterical, it's also just tiring.

2) Screaming. The adults that I've lived with scream at their kids all the time in tones that I only associate with something being really, really wrong, even though it might just be to check on them or to ask for a cup of tea. It really bothers me.

3) Gasto-intestinal distress. Yes, I'm sick again. At least today there's no fever, it's cooler and I can do more than collapse on my bed again after every trip to the latrine.

Yesterday, I officially "quit" my job, as in I went in to the office to tell them what PC and I had decided. The Director of the Department was very kind about the whole thing. My supervisor gave me the limpest handshake I've ever recieved.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Update on the site situation

Alright, Peace Corps came to visit, we talked and they've released me from working at the municipality. I am absolutely over the moon about this. Even better (as if it could get much better), I've been given permission to go looking for my own new site. I told my APCD (program director person) about a meeting that I had set up for January with an NGO that runs provincial and a national Model UN and I'm hoping to meet with them before then, now (have permission to go to Pretoria and everything). I've sent e-mails to everyone I can think of who might have contacts in South Africa and am open to suggestions! Although I love this family and I will continue to stay in contact and visit them, my APCD also gave me permission to move and I am really, really hoping to be a city girl again sometime in the next few months. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas & the immediate future

First, um, and I feel really tacky doing this, but I thought I might make some Christmas/Solstace/Winter Festive Season suggestions for, er, presents.

Because, I'd really, really like some kind of specific things to share with my host family. Primarily, I'd like: children's picture books and magazines or books with lots and lots of photos. I feel a little bad giving them copies of the Economist, see, to "read" along with me. The kids here are 7 & 8 and none of them can read yet, but I'd like some age appropriate stuff that we can practice on or that they/we can at least look at together. And the littlest one (he's 2), love trucks. Granny & Gogo would probably love anything that's from the US, maybe decorative sorts of items (they're both in their 70s and gogo can't walk). Thanks!

Um, and because I'm a little selfish (and bored), I love entertainment: books, magazines, DVDs, that sort of thing. I do get the Economist and the Christian Science Monitor and would still LOVE trashy gossip stuff (People), as would the girls in my village.

As for the work situation, I'm on a stoppage right now (supervisor approved), until my organization authorizes payment for my transport. Peace Corps is coming out to talk on Tuesday about the entire work situation. I'm looking forward to our discussion and hope that it'll help alleviate some of the stuff that I've been dealing with since arriving at site. More on that later.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Anyone who's ever been or known a Peace Corps volunteer (and gotten an honest assessment out of them) or who has a decent sense of imagination, probably knows or has heard that life as a volunteer can involve a LOT of ups and downs. You might not hear about the downs, especially in a public forum like this, but I'm trying to write about the things that have gone well. Whether it's an event or something I've done or a relationship I've made, these are the things that make me think that I could be effective and survive for two years. These are the good days. Read what you want into the fact that blog posts have been pretty sporadic.

Anyway, today was a good day. I helped the local home based care organization recreate a really, really complicated reporting form. They worked closely with the last volunteer in my village and I was super impressed that, after I made all the tables that were needed, the staff member took back the computer to enter all of the labels and the data. It was very "thanks for your help and I can totally do the rest of this!" I sat with her to help dictate the data and with tweaking the tables (and taught her how to put shading in some of the boxes), but it was really gratifying to see someone here be so very independent. Their old volunteer really taught sustainability. Sometimes it's nice not to be needed. :-)

My second engagement of the day was to attend the ward committee meeting for the villages that surround mine. It was so exciting to be in an environment that I actually know something about. Thanks to my time with the Lib Dems, I feel like I do understand how local government can and should engage with its constituents. I feel like I have something to offer if I work with these ward committees, which is a big change from my usual job. Plus, they asked for my help! Which, for me, is huge. Anyway, the ward councillor is a cool guy and he actually reminds me of my friends (who are about the same age as him) who are councillors back in the UK.

Ok, that's about it. I'll keep you posted on how it goes with the ward committee. Now, I've just got to convince my supervisor that I'll get a lot more done if I'm deployed to them, rather than being forced to sit in the office.

Now, I've got to attend to my dinner (I've eaten more Ramen in a month and a half of Peace Corps than I did in four years of college) and figure out how to ignore mentally disturbed drunk guy from next door, who has a habit of showing up at all hours of the day and night and loves to talk "to gogo," no matter how often he's told to go away (and stay away). Ugh.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A food question

Um, this is a little weird, but just about ever since my day of horrific food poisoning two weeks ago, I've been reluctant to eat. Thinking about food makes my stomach go queasy, as does thinking about the actual taste. And I'm not really hungry, which is in HUGE contrast to training, when I could never eat enough. I even have a bar of chocolate that I have absolutely no desire to eat, which is WRONG!

Any ideas what's going on or what I can do to fix it?

Also, because I'm interested: what do you find most interesting about me? I'm doing a poll. :-)