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…

Reading Standing Up

This morning I read Green Eggs and Ham to a group of my sixth graders while standing in an empty classroom. They sat on the floor or leaned against the wall. There were no desks. To be clear, we usually have desks. At the beginning of every “typical” school day, I walk in and my…

Wooden Needles

Give me a needle. “I don’t have one.” Ok, then give me a knife. My ten year old host brother eyes me suspiciously. “You really don’t have a needle?” Wait a minute. I go inside the house. I did have one at some point, but it seems to have disappeared under piles of rubble, clothes…

Climbing the Hills of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar’s San Francisco

We roll in late Saturday evening. Looking out the window, I see lights bobbing through dark windows in houses, dancing along the hills. I rub my eyes, still groggy from the ten hour drive from Antananarivo. Am I in San Francisco? In the dark of the night, winding through city hills, I think I could be. Fianarantsoa…

Head, shoulders, knees and TOES!

I love my students. Bright eyed, curious, with smiles that fill up half their faces, my students are the best thing about my life here. They’re constantly asking me questions, wanting to know about America, wanting to know about me and my life and my habits. They ask some really great questions. Which is better,…

Arabaina! Tratra ny Taona

Happy New Year! We party hard in the Avaratra. New Year’s Day is the biggest day of the year. People started asking me what my New Year’s Day plans were in October. Kind of like when my Aunt Annie asks for Christmas lists before Halloween 🙂 I spent my first New Year’s in Madagascar with…

The World Map Project

The idea is “do something to make the world more beautiful.” My childhood manifesto still beats in my heart. I tend to take myself way too seriously, but sometimes life really is this incredible. We painted a world map on the outside wall of the 6eme classroom. It’s the wall that is most visible from…