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This is my blog. I always mean to post but I'm usually pretty bad at keeping up.But I will do my best. I hope to keep up with my peepz (yeah, i said it) as much as possible but sometimes that's not possible. Drop me a line! And more importantly, COME VISIT! I will meet you here or anywhere nearby :)

Hey guys...just settling into Bangla after my first week in Chittagong. Lots of meetings and orientation things going on. We spoke to the head of our program at AUW (Asian University for Women) and he's very enthusiastic about us being here. There are 11 WorldTeach volunteers in all and the university is thankful for it.

WT and the University provided us housing. Not perfect electricity but hey...surely cleaner and safer accomdations than most Bangladeshi homes. We have guards outside that regulate who can come and go through our apartment gates. They are so strict, sometimes even the water guys (bring drinking water to all apts, because more fortunate/public-health minded residents don't drink tap water). In the past there were arsenic contaminations in sink water and hopefully that is not the case/not so much of a problem anymore. The problem is that Bangladesh is a developing country and most countries like this have water contamination as dangerous chemicals and bacteria leech into broken or open pipes. I accidentally forgot to wash my cup with clean water the other day and there was a tiny swimming wormy thing in it. Hope I didn't drink one. Not sick yet. Many of the street kids collect buckets of water from a spigot that is directly above the sludge streams in the street. We are lucky in Kulshi apts.

It's neat getting use to the traditional Bangladeshi shalwar kameez. Much more comfortable than what I wear back home. Soft, light material for the heat. It was around 90F today and "felt like" 115F. Soooo hot. Surprisingly the shalwar kameez and headscarf seem to keep you cooler. It protects you from the sun and is much nicer fabric than some things I own. Instead of buying super cheap outfits, we went to Aarong clothing store. They only buy free trade clothes, rather than from garment factories. I read that H&M, JCPenny and some others have a lot of sweatshops in Bangladesh. People make less than $1/day in these shops. The University students get 50 takas (a little less than $1/day) for doing the Uni work study program. That might put it into perspective. You definitely need more than $1/day to support a healthy family here. Far more than that. I'm glad that we had the opportunity to go to Aarong.

We live in the second largest city. Daka is the first. Chittagong is noisy. Rickshaws and CNG's (Compressed Natural Gas) "baby cars" everywhere. There are no rules of the road. It's pretty interesting to see a Lexus followed by a man pulling a rickshaw next to a man driving a zamboni-looking car with a metal cage on the back to hold passengers. These men are so thin!!! All muscle! Traffic is pretty bad but surprisingly, I haven't seen any accidents yet. Crossing the street can take 10 minutes to finally run between traffic. This city is non-stop.

There aren't any piles of garbage, per se, but garbage covers the streets. The water and garbage disposal system left over from imperialization are something to make a point about, too. People throw their trash in a stream that is about 1 foot lower than the street. Th streams line both the right and left side of the street. The streams contain sludge (human excrement) and garbage. People on the street (majority of people) take their water from spigots right above the streams! Water in their drinking buckets and the stream mix.

We're going out to dinner with the head of the University tonight. Alcohol is not sold in this conservative Muslim country. So all the Westerners are pretty excited. We're going to an exclusive club (think an American country club). The University has a pass so teachers (like us) get to go too. Sometimes seeing clean food and being able to drink clean water is quite refreshing. I'm definitely starting to appreciate these things more.

:) Talk to you soon,


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