Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Year of the Beard

The year of the beard

Ok, ok, so I have had a beard continuously for years. However, I have not trimmed my beard in a year to the day (September 29, 2010-September 29, 2011), and thus it was certainly a year of an ever-thickening beard. Here are some of places and things this beard has been and done...

Battery Park, September 29, 2011, last night living in New York City and the
last day I trimmed the beard, as I had an interview for my current position
the next day

November 14, 2010 Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago
studying African birds

I tried trimming it in college with scissors and after one time, I bought an electric trimmer. I intended to trim my beard with little scissors that I brought to Rwanda. I did not bring my trimmer as I thought electricity may only be available irregularly, and I did not have that much space to bring extraneous things. In fact, the only electric items Michele and I brought were our netbook computer and camera battery charger.

December 9, 2010, as the sun sets, flying south over the Sudan
to arrive later in Rwanda

January 9, 2011 at Lake Muhazi, Rwanda, on Michele's first camping trip.
She woke me up in the middle of the night, just convinced there were
crocodiles surrounding our tent. Wouldn't that have been
an awesome picture? (this one taken by Amy Price)

February 11, 2011 at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, combing the top
of our hill for birds. I have seen about 130 bird species on this one hill.

The response locally to my beard is suggesting that I look like Jesus. I got it at first at Agahozo, but I still get it any time I am outside the village, even in the local marketplace. People call out at me "Jesus, Jesus!" One man even told Michele that he loved me and prayed to me. In Uganda, I got called Jesus mostly but was also called a notorious villain (OBL). It was interesting to be called one of the most revered bearded men and then one of the most hated. Beard is in the eye of the beholder?

March 21, 2011, keeping bees at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village

When people ask why I don't shave, I tell them the beard protects my face from sun and from bugs. I am not kidding. In fact, in June, I was followed by a few bees back from the hives. As I was taking off my suit, a bee started dive bombing at my face, but it got caught in my beard and I did not get stung. Beard 1, bees 0.

April 29, 2011, standing on top of a kopje (hill), overlooking the Serengeti
in Tanzania

May 26, 2011, at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, with carpentry students.
We built 11 shelves, 5 benches, and a projector stand that first term.
(photo by a student)

June 25, 2011, planting a native acacia tree with Agahozo-Shalom's
head landscaper, for Environment Day in Rwanda (photo by a student)

The beard does not get itchy. The itchy stage of a beard, at least for me, is in the first few weeks after shaving. I haven't known that feeling in a long time. I do trim my mustache because it can get oppressively thick (and hinder the eating of food).

July 2, 2011, tracking chimpanzees in Nyungwe
Forest in Rwanda

August 13, 2011 in Uganda at Murchison Falls on the Nile river

September 18, 2011, Lake Gisenyi, Rwanda. It is a rare occasion to meet
someone in Rwanda with a beard.

I expected the beard to get longer and longer. This is only partially true. As with all hair, some of it falls out and other strands break. While some of the beard is very long, the overall beard got quite dense. I would actually compare it to a rain forest. There are the longest, oldest hairs that stick out (emergent layer). There are the vast majority of hairs that are long but blend into a large canopy of beard. There is the under story where hairs are growing back to replace ones lost and that are not really observable. And then there is the forest floor, my skin and the baby hairs, which have not seen the light of day in some time. Fortunately, this forest on my face has no animals, but I wouldn't be opposed to housing some little birds, a la Peter Griffin. 

September 27, 2011, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda. Once a week
for the past year I coached an introductory basketball program for
first year boys (9th grade). I focus on teaching them to master fundamentals
like shooting, passing, and dribbling. There is no "fearing the beard" on
this court; within a couple months, my students school me handily. 

Thanks for reading! BEard well!


  1. LOVE this post, Jared! It had me laughing out loud here at work!