The Injustice of Birth: Thoughts on an Urban Site

I’m finally in my new assignment, in my new home: a room in a unit in a compound behind the offices for the Direction Regionale de l’Education Nationale or DREN. Think of him as the state superintendent for public schools. I’ll be working closely with the English librarians here as well as the nearby Centre…

A Third Year? Are You Nuts? (The Last Few Months in Re-Cap)

I took a few months off of blogging. When I left my village at the end of August, I moved to the capital city to take a job working with local HQ on Pre-Service Training for the newest cohort of volunteers, and that kept me pretty busy, so I let my blogging habit go. However,…

Goal Setting and Why I Love It

Goal setting has saved me for the last two years of the least structured job I’ve ever had. Outside of official, Peace Corps organized training events, life in a village can be exactly that: life. Your “job” is everything that falls under the “life” category, which means that learning to cook the perfect agnamaogo aro vanio is just…

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…

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,…