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Amidst the pulse of voodoo drums, the gift of a dinner rat, chants of machete wielding students, and choking heat inside a mosquito net, Monique Maria Schmidt gives us this searingly honest account of two years of real life as a young Peace Corps Volunteer.
She lives alone, the only white teacher, struggling to find her place in a French-speaking West African village. Students test her. Gendarmes leer. Big Mama gives advice. Daily life is redefined in the search for scarce food, inshutting out the beatings of neighborhood children, indevising routines to stay sane.
To combat cultural isolation and illness, Schmidt draws on the resourcefulness of her rural Mennonite childhood. She seeks comfort in a romanticized relationship with the wrong man, and most stunningly, finds raucous humor in a bewildering world.
Posted April 16, 2011
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