Rice Cakes

I have a coffee shop in my village. The decor is rustic–hipster chic. It’s full of wooden stools and green plants and it serves the best rice cakes in the world. Yes, in the whole world. It’s a fact. The recipe is a secret passed down from generation to generation. It’s run by a local grandmother. Only,…

Traveling with Family

Click on the individual image to enlarge. Before coming to Peace Corps, Madagascar was never high on anyone in my family’s travel lists. In fact, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar at all. I knew Madagascar had baobabs and lemurs; that was all. When I got my acceptance letter, my father, who had done some traveling…

Two Years in One Poem

You leave everything you’ve ever known behind. Full of possibility And hope.   You arrive thinking, believing, that you can improve knowledge affect behavior enact change.   Sometimes your projects succeed; But more often than not, they fail.   Sometimes, they never even lift off the ground.   You grow frustrated, angry, and tired. Maybe,…

Speechless: It’s a Wrap

I’m still working on how to put the mixture of grateful, overwhelmed, emotional, heartbroken, happy, satisfied and unfulfilled that I feel inside into proper words. For now, let me leave you with pictures, along with one very valuable life lesson: It can take weeks, even months, to organize an event through an official agency. But…

Six Months Left (and how I’m trying like hell to avoid cynicism)

At the two year mark… …I gave up on “working” at all–—well, I should say the weather gave it up for me. Three months out of the year–from December to March–we barely work at all. The rain breaks through in deluge after deluge, turning an otherwise fine days into a string of gray, wet messes….

New Year’s in February

I’ve written about New Year’s before…aside from Independence Day, it’s the biggest day of the year. Life can be hard here. No power. Fetching water every day. Working in the fields. Sweating. So that’s why parties mean so much. They’re a break from the every day. And they are so.much.fun. I’ll leave you here with…

Song of the Traveler

Music is my first language; it’s how I understand and relate to the world. When I listen to music, I feel things I can’t describe in words. The sounds, the blending of notes, encapsulates and pulls at emotion better than any language. Each place that’s influenced me, each important event, is marked in my mind…

The Hardest Part

One evening, when I was seventeen, I wrote a list of life goals on a piece of paper and hanged it to my dad. “These are all the things I want to do before I die,” I told him. The list included things like “hike Mount Everest. Skydive. Finish a triathalon.” Now that I’m a…

Strong Like A Woman

Last month, I brought five young Malagasy ladies to Antananarivo for the National GLOW Camp. GLOW is a Peace Corps initiative standing for Girls Leading Our World. The week long girls’ empowerment training was coordinated by a group of third-year PCVs and represented 8 regions and 4 dialects within Madagascar. This poem is inspired by…