"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


oh. my.

In the course of my dissertation research in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the last couple of years, I have endured a lot in the name of political science. I have been detained at a border, attacked by an unruly mob, experienced my first earthquake, breathed the methane gas of a smoking volcano, gotten altitude sickness, involuntarily danced with smelly eastern European mineral pilots, and ridden in overcrowded minibuses with mediocre brakes on incredibly bumpy and hilly roads. I have deflected hundreds of marriage proposals, been bitten by bugs I don't have names for, eaten unidentifiable meats, had my bags searched by angry customs officials, been eyed by soldiers and accused of being a CIA agent, and flown on planes that aren't allowed to operate in Europe.

That's not to complain. It's just to point out that I have been through a lot for this task.

I have not, however, been chased by a pack of wolves. Please say a prayer for my friend Samuel, a new Peace Corps Volunteer. He's stationed in a remote area and is facing the inevitable challenges of life in a difficult place with humor and grace. Hang in there!


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