Greetings from Ouagadougou

Prior to my departure from Chicago, it became almost a contest among my friends and family as to who could come up with either the closest way of spelling Ouagadougou correctly or inventing an entirely new way of spelling it while keeping the same pronunciation.

Regardless, I am happy to report that I arrived a week ago in 'Ouaga' (Wah-gah). Similar to Chuck's experience in Chad, the heat is fairly stunning. Gone are the fast-paced steps that defined my stride from my apartment to Fletcher in Medford every day. Instead, one must relax and not over-exert oneself in the heat. Less than two hours of exploring the center of town last Saturday called for a two-hour nap later that evening.

For more information on Ouagadougou and Burkina Faso itself, I recommend a recent WaPo travel article, "Ouagadougou's Unruffled Rhythms."

This summer I will be interning at Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in Burkina Faso focusing on diversified agriculture and gender projects. MCC's mandate is to reduce poverty through economic growth, and the MCC compact in Burkina Faso is five-years, focusing on four major projects: irrigation, land reform, agriculture and girls' education.

Given that the compact is almost $491 million, there is quite a steep learning curve on the many activities taking place throughout the country, particularly in diversified agriculture. I am learning as quickly as possible the more technical terms in French for agriculture that I never needed before in daily conversations. In addition, as is the case often in development, learning the acronyms for projects is a bit like alphabet soup. Only in French, acronyms are usually backwards. I hope by the end of the summer I will be fluent in a certain type of development vocabulary, which will no doubt prove extremely useful in the future. I am working with an incredible team here, both American and Burkinabé, and I'm excited to see how the work unfolds.

I plan to post photos soon (the Internet here can be quite slow at times), hopefully from the field!

- Julia