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The Mega Post June 26, 2006

Posted by Nima in Uncategorized.
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Well greetings folks- I know I've been neglecting this space for a while and I've been getting some slack from my legion of adoring fans (unemployed people who don't understand soccer) so I figure the only way to get everyone up to date is to bring you the "greatest hits" of the time so far.

So sit back, relax, lower your standards and enjoy.

                                                                                                                  

The entire Malian and Canadian troupe at a welcome party hosted by the City of Nicolet. Bloc MP Louis Plamondon far left, Nicolet Mayor Alain Drouin back row centre, Handsome Devil smack middle.

Well greetings folks- I know I've been neglecting this space for a while and I've been getting some slack from my legion of adoring fans (unemployed people who don't understand soccer) so I figure the only way to get everyone up to date is to bring you the "greatest hits" of the time so far. So sit back, relax, lower your standards and enjoy.

So after our orientation camp in La Visitation, we moved on the opening reception in the City Hall of Nicolet, where we would formally begin the program living with our counter-parts and host families. Nicolet is a lovely little town of about 8,000 which was among the first regions settled by the French in the 17th century. It's about a half hour drive from Trois-Rivière – Which around here is known as The Big City, but still has the cheapest urban housing costs in the country. While Nicolet is our meeting ground, all of our host families and work projects are located in villages which surround Nicolet. Life in Nicolet is heavily dependent on agriculture employing over 35% of the region; hence, many of the community projects are connected to family farming operations.

                

Fortunately my inexperience with animals (yes, we'll stick with that word) allowed me to land a unique community development project helping a retired single woman named Mary Joceline Gauthier (but we call her MaryJo) launch a community resource centre in her centenarian house in the village of Pierreville, about 30 km from Nicolet. There's plenty of renovation work to be done to the house, along with paper work in setting up the non-profit organization (maybe I should've listened more to Professor Milne?), but we'll also be "community free agents" of sorts, helping out wherever there is a need.

The welcome party was a strangely stressful time as we awaited the arrival of our families for the next 3 months- we paced around, ate cheese curds and drank Chardonnay from a 4 litre box to pass the time. Slowly the families arrived and I could tell from the beginning that me and Ahmadou would be in good hands: MaryJo greeted every participant with a giant hug and kiss and was beaming with smiles and laughter the entire ceremony. The ceremony involved being welcomed by Bloc Québecois MP Louis Plamondon, who shared interesting stories about his experiences in several countries in Francophone Africa and was quite charismatic and articulate. I never imagined separatists could be so cool.

Since then we've been getting to know MaryJo, Pierreville and the group a lot better. MaryJo, originally from the Gaspésie, is a fascinating woman who has suffered a great deal of hardships in her life; her ex-husband was an alcoholic, all her children have suffered from substance abuse, and her son died of an overdose 3 years ago.

But these experiences seem to have only strengthened her faith, admittedly in God, but also in humanity. Our quaint historic house does have quite a large Jesus presence in terms of décor, but religion never feels imposing in our conversations. Five years ago MaryJo decided to go on a series of pilgrimages in Europe, walking all over France and Spain. For several years she hitchhiked and walked around the world, which she says was the first time she ever felt happy in her life. She's heavily involved in community activities and has a number of projects of her own she wants us to help her kick start.

Pierreville is a village which thanks to municipal amalgamation, is the centre of the "Greater Pierreville Area" (all combined around 2,000 people). It's a lovely little place which faces the St. Francois River, has a few stores (a ice cream parlour, supermarket, chicken restaurants and a bowling alley!). Me and Ahmadou have been wondering around quite a bit, getting to know people and getting asked very random questions which we try and respond to as fully and politely as we can.

In other news, I graduated last week! The precise hour that I would have been "convocating", I actually was volunteering at a senior citizen party where we sang songs like "Les Pont de Paris" and "J'avais vingt ans", ate grilled cheese sandwiches and a absolutely superb Tarte au Sucre and of course, played some bingo. It was a wonderful day and a great chance to meet even more locals including the former Mayor of Pierreville and members of the Thibault family, the clan which has ruled the regional fire truck industry for years (the Westin's of Pierreville). And me and Ahmadou won about $9 at Bingo! Who needs a degree anyway?

This past Friday was St. Jean Baptiste, Québec's "Fete national" which is by far the biggest annual party celebration in the province (Canada Day? Not so much) We all went over to one host families house to celebrate and enjoyed a little dinner time theatre performed by local kids, and even had some maple syrup on snow which had been preserved in a freezer from the winter! And then that night me and Ahmadou slept in a little chapel which the family has on its property. Quite trippy (I couldn't sleep for the first few hours).

And I'm going to be a star! (at least in St. Francois) One family is making a movie on the history of the region and they've asked me to play an Iroquois warrior! I've already been fitted for my loincloth.

And now you're up to date.

Take care,

Nima

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Comments»

1. Daniel - June 26, 2006

Nima,

Amazing. These little moments are so priceless. I don’t get it, though – you’re so at peace with being typecast! You should ask them why the dark-skinned-but-not-black guy has to play the Iroquois warrior. Why can’t you be a French settler?

Or both?

2. Adrienne - June 26, 2006

Dear Nima,

Thank you for your posts, they are a delight to read.

I’m glad you’re spreading your warmth and laughter to all those you meet.

And maple syrup on snow? You’re a lucky lad.

hugs, Adrienne

3. jess - June 27, 2006

in the very first picture, which guy is ahmadou?
and you look so happy in that pic. i love it.

4. V-square - June 30, 2006

Pum Pum…

dude,keep the posts coming..

5. Shmeck - July 2, 2006

Nim,
you gotta come home, the whole point system has fallen apart without you. and i too am lost in the world of soccer without you. yesterday was Canada day but driving downtown I only saw portugese flags?!? Whats up with that? Au revoir.

6. Laura - July 6, 2006

Nima!!! Hi. I must say, this sounds like an absolutely incredible experience. Insider is fun, but missing a certain something…can’t put my finger on it…no one to call me a smartass? lack of people playing quake in the office? I got it..its the tall(ish), dark and handsome EiC.

Miss you and your quips.

7. Coop - July 7, 2006

Nima!!!

I am extremely pissed that i didnt get to see you before you left! It seems like such a cool experience and you describe everything so well!

Keep updating bro.. i can’t wait for the next post

8. Snarf - July 10, 2006

Nim – sounds damn sweet!


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