After a very [very] long ride from Midway on the "L," I'm currently living it up in Evanston, Illinois, representing GYPA at the second annual International Youth Volunteerism Summit (IYVS) held at Northwestern University. We're leading three workshops:
"Building bridges between grassroots activism and high-level international decision-making"
"Maximizing Short Term International Learning Experiences"
I will post more info and stories from the summit in the coming days, so stay tuned for some in-depth analysis of what we learned here.
Until then, here's a tiny tidbit from the odd news feed. Earlier this afternoon I received an email from "Bat Demon," notifying me of a strange phenomenon that's been plaguing East Africa as of late. It appears that superstition and witchcraft are alive and well, especially in the rural parts of the region, where this bat demon has been sexually assaulting villagers. Locals claim it originated in Zanzibar, where reports of its existence have been common for many years. Check out this BBC news story for more details. The bat demon story reminds me of jinn, a genie-like spirit that makes frequent appearances throughout the Muslim world, including areas of Somalia and Uganda. The existence of these spirits seems to run parallel with the presence of brutal conflict and a lack of education in a particular area. Tradition supports this line of thought, as jinn are supposedly repulsed by the mental "noise" created by education. Hence they tend to torment rural, illiterate women. The Economist wrote up an interesting piece on the topic in their holiday edition this past year.
Back here in Evanston, I'm still thinking of bats. I can't help but wonder if this mischevious bat demon is actually "Icebat" the Uglydoll plush toy Carrie purchased at the local Evanston comic book store, where we spent upwards of a whole dorky hour yesterday trying to choose which Uglydolls to bring home with us. The winners? Icebat, two Moxys and a Chuckanucka. They really are ugly.
The wind is howling in off Lake Michigan, reminding us of how frigid it is outside. Luckily with the massive amount of noise in my head, I don't have to worry about jinn paying me a visit tonight. As for Icebat, he's on the nightstand and he's creeping me out.