Greetings from Wageningen,
Amanda and I had a pretty good time in Amsterdam this weekend, but I'll write about some boring stuff first. Today I had a meeting with a professor about my thesis and it's a little bit clearer now than it was. It was intended to be a 15 minute meeting to quickly discuss some ideas and turned into an hour and half discussion. I think that what I will do is study the changing agricultural practices in quinoa production and attempt to develop a methodology to describe why they are occuring. I will also use some agicultural factors to determine if the new practices are sustainable (eg. soil erosion, agricultural biodiversity). The current methodologies used are market and community. They argue that either the market determines what rational (athough, what is considered rational will differ greatly between cultures) people do or that the community determines what they do; these have both proved wrong in development work. My goal will be to find middleground between the two theories for a more accurate methodology. The idea is that farmers are guided by a variety of stimuli rather than exclusively market or exclusively community. My thesis would hopefully guide development workers and researchers on how to encourage sustainable practices while considering local community as well as market factors. If I do this it will be under a different supervisor and a different chair group.
Otherwise, my classes are going well. In one class we are writing a research proposal for a study on pesticide poisoning in Guatemala. It will be a difficult course but will be great experience for writing my own proposal in January. In my other class we are doing a similar excercise. We each propose a topic next Thursday then divide into groups to write a research proposal for a topic. It will be a difficult period but will be a good lesson in proposal writing. Now finally on to Amsterdam.
Saturday we began with the Ann Frank house where she and her family hid from the Germans during WW II. It is an incredibly small space and it was difficult to see, especially to see where the father had marked off how much his daugthers had grown through their time there. Next we went to the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands. It has artefacts from the Dutch Golden Age and paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. We then took a short walk to the Van Gogh museum after searching in vain for Amanda's fries with mayonaise (she read about them in a guide book). The Van Gogh has a lot of his works as well as artists he influenced and who influenced him; it also tells his life story. Afterwards we walked around town for quite awhile. We saw the national monument, the old and new churches, and a lot of picturesque houses. We also stopped by the tulip museum where we learned that the tulip was domesticated in Tibet and cost a small fortune during the Dutch Golden Age. We did eventually find Amanda's fries and they were delicious. Then we just walked around some more; it's such a small town that we saw most of the old part of it. We came back to Wageningen around 10 and got ready for the next day.
Sunday we began with the Tropen Museum. It's filled with artefacts from Africa, Latin America, and Asia. They had a nice exhibit on Palestinians after the 5 day war in Isreal. We hear a pretty one-sided story about the Isreal-Palestein conflict in the US, but many Palestinians were senselessly massacred during the war and have since been forcefully removed from their land. Of course they also probably committed atrocities. They also had an exhibition on voodoo that thourougly freaked Amanda out. We then went to the Dutch Resistance museum. It told the story of German occupation in Holland. The Dutch resisted through worker strikes, aiding the Alies with information, and a few violent measures. Some of the Dutch cooperated with the Germans and some remained neutral, by the end of the war tens of thousands of Dutch jews were sent to the death camps in Germany. The Germans initially tried to blend in with society because of their shared Germanic roots, but eventually abandoned that attempt. Our last stop, after a second round of fries with mayonaise and a Belgian waffle, was the canal ride. We toured a lot of the city and even went out into the harbour. We ended the day with a stop at the pancake house and a third round of fries with mayonaise. On the ride home we tried to catch a little sleep but our stomaches didn't feel great (maybe we just needed some fries).
Amanda left early this morning and arrived safely in Sarlat around 19:00. She has tomorrow off and then starts school on Wednesday. I'll be doing some homework tonight then staying up tomorrow to watch the election coverage. Coverage will start around midnight so I hope the results come in quickly because I have class at 8:30 on Wednesday.
We've uploaded photos to Picasaweb.