I was very eager to publish a guide book on the Republic of Benin after having lived there for three years as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer. I co-authored the book with a fellow Volunteer, and between us, we shared everything we know about the country. Benin is vibrant, greatly diverse in languages and cultures. Although I had studied French and Biology in college as an undergraduate, it wasn't until I was well into my sojourn in Benin that I had learned many practical application of my education, such as speaking French fluently and working in a tree nursery. I also learned some of the native language, called Mina.
I recently finished teaching my third semester of beginning-level French at my alma mater, where I also assisted in the biology laboratories. I will be a beginning student of Arabic from June to August, and then in an African Studies master's program in the fall. I intend to apply the studies for further work in Benin and throughout West Africa. I am most interested in the sacred forests and botanical gardens which the native healers and religious leaders use in traditional medicine. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I coordinated a reforestation project in sacred forests. The sacred forests are used in vodoun worship, and are slender remains of what was once a vast forest. The forests have suffered and shrunk due mostly to pressure and demands from human population. I was impressed by the leaders' knowledge of the the plants and their many uses to soothe gastrointestinal illnesses, headaches, stop bleeding, and many other ailments.
My plans as an author are ambitious, yet so far not well formed. I write regularly and eagerly, though, and tentatively assemble a book based on blogs I wrote while living abroad. We'll see how that goes...
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