Sunday, August 22, 2010

interested in learning more?

I began a new blog to represent my time adjusting to life back in America and to share my experiences post-peace corps...check it out-------->

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coming soon...

So, after some folks stated they enjoyed my writing(or atleast hearing my stories) and with some nudging from one friend in particular, i've decided to start a blog on my adventures in DC. Stay tuned, there will be more of me and my experiences post-PC .

I miss Malawi!


Friday, July 9, 2010

And i'm out...

This post was written 10 days before I left Malawi. I arrived stateside on June 29th, 2010.

"As I wrap up these next 10 days, I can't help but contemplate each moment when it happens. I think more deeply about how funny life can be at times, how in a year i'll be looking at the same moon but from a different perspective, how those that have brought me comfort and laughter will be thousands of miles away, and how I think too much about the moment and trying to appreciate it that i'm not actually in the moment and living it." Blog entry September 16, 2008

It has taken me sometime to figure out what I should say in this last email as a volunteer and still i'm not really sure how to capture this moment in words. I can't say that I'm exactly thrilled about leaving my Malawi...Africa... but I know that this next step, grad school, is the right step for allowing me to come back. I have 10 or so days left here and i'm trying my best to just be here. Physically i'm here, but mentally i'm all over the place. I'm thinking about the fact I have about 30 days in between the time I leave Malawi, arrive home and the time I need to move to DC. I'm thinking about finding a job, one that will allow me the flexibility of being back in Africa next summer for practical experience in my field and so I can spend time with my friends here. I realized that teaching will most likely be the route I take, although, being in front of students in a classroom everyday I have learned is not the right fit for me (I love education but i'm more of a planner/coordinator as opposed to a frontman).Either way, I need a job and well, trying to apply for jobs from here is not the easiest. As I have told my mother I will deal with all those America issues when i'm actually there.

I haven't emailed any updates in awhile and I apologize if you have been patiently waiting for one. I wanted to save all my juicy stories for one last email, and of course to keep you waiting to build up excitement for it. I figured I will take some time to share with you what I have been up to these past couple of months before sharing some other non-work related thoughts.

Kasitu CDSS
I spent term two at my school teaching. With the passing of the head it only made sense that I took English back over until we could figure out a feasible plan forward. I worked hand in hand with two of my fellow teachers who agreed to take on English after I left in coming up with lesson notes for the remainder of the school year. I caught my form four up on the literature they would need to know for their exams that begin in July. I reorganized the library so that its easier for students to navigate through the books and easier to keep it clean and orderly. I help orient our new madam who arrived at the beginning of May which included an overnight in my home with her and her one month son(which was interesting in itself at the beginning). The goodbyes were sad and a bit overwhelming. I love my community and felt like part of a larger family despite some of the issues that were present.

Site Development
I am the 3rd volunteer at my site and unless deemed necessary another volunteer will not be replacing me at the school. But i've enjoyed living in Kasitu and figured someone else would as well, so I assisted my health center in coming up with a job description and finding suitable housing for a volunteer. The volunteer will find no shortage of public health related things to do in my village and its right on the lake which is another advantage. Plus, my MA(medical assistant or doctor) and his wife the nurse are wonderful and have the cutest baby Faith. My HSAs(Health Surveillance Assistants) are dedicated to their work and I believe that all these folks will contribute to a great work environment for a volunteer. I pray that it works out because they worked hard in coming up with everything to accommodate a volunteer.

Sisters in Senga
Sisters in Senga was amazing! It was nice to see all the girls I have met at previous camps and to hear about what they are up to now. The girls loved being at the lake and it felt great being able to provide the girls with an experience they will always remember. The road getting there was a bit rough, but in the end it was all worth it. Thank you to you for your support(both emotionally and financially) the girls thank you too! It was a great way to cap off my Peace Corps experience and just reaffirmed the type of work I want to do. The morning as the girls were leaving my girl Charity came up to me with a huge smile and simply said "thanks i'll never forget what you have done for me", hearing that has helped confirm that I truly have made a difference...even if it was just for one person, because that one person makes all the work truly worth it. I broke down into tears but has to quickly get myself together to send the girls off. Truly, it was a magical, unforgettable, experience.

My thoughts...
During my time here, I have tried to do my best in keeping up communication with you all on my experience and my transformation. If you need a reminder you can always go to my blog and re-read what I have written. I'm speechless at the moment because i'm not sure where to start in sharing my thoughts. I'm in love. In more ways then one, with myself, with this country, with the people, with my work, and the list goes on. I thought this was just a passing feeling that came about because i'm living abroad but i'm pretty sure that being here, not necessarily Malawi, is the right fit for me. The sense of community and family that is present here is something that I have yet to experience elsewhere, even though i'm open to exploring other areas i'm pretty sure Africa just might be the place for me. There's something beautiful about life here despite some of the obstacles that can be found. My community and friends have been a great support for me and just as it was hard for me to say goodbye when leaving the states, its the same now. I'm well aware that no one will quite understand my experience here and probably won't care to hear much about it when i'm stateside and that's ok. I know I have changed, I know that things I may have found interesting before may not be so interesting now. I'm changed and i'm sure you will notice and if you don't like the changes that's okay, life goes on.

yes it does...i'm moving forward one step at a time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sisters in Senga-My last camp as a Peace Corps Volunteer!

Charity was a form 4 student at Kasitu Community Day Secondary School. Her family comes from the district north of Nkhotakota, Nkhata Bay, and she is Tonga by tribe. She was shy and timid, although she worked hard in class, she was not the one to speak up and ask questions.One day Charity's Peace Corps Volunteer-Courtney Wright- asked her if she would be interested in applying to attend Camp GLOW 2009. After a brief discussion of what the camp entails, Charity filled out the application and waited. When she was selected to attend, she was quite excited. She had never travelled past the two districts she has lived in and would have the opportunity to meet girls from all over Malawi. Charity attended Camp GLOW 2009 in early August and came back to Kasitu to share her experience. One thing that Courtney did not expect was the transformation that would happen from this week long girls empowerment camp. Charity came back to Kasitu GLOWING!! The way her face lit up when she described the camp and all that she learned showed Courtney that these camps truly do work. Charity shared with the other girls what it means to be assertive, what it means to have goals, and that they too can accomplish anything if they are willing to work hard. It is because of Charity that Courtney decided to organize Women2Women.

Where is Charity now? Charity has written form 4 exams and although she did not pass, she has not given up her goal of becoming a nurse. The business skills she has learned at Women2Women and some capital given by Courtney has allowed for her to start a mandazi(donut) business in her community, from the profits earned she will assist her family while saving to go back to school in term 2 to learn and begin preparing for the form 4 exams next year.

Charity is by far one of my favorite people here and it is because of her that I know with the right opportunity and resources can change the life of someone, it is because of her that I know the work i'm doing is having an impact and that there are several other "Charitys" in Malawi and the world just waiting for the opportunity to present themselves.
What's the next step for girls like Charity here in Malawi?

Sisters in Senga!

35 girls from across Malawi are coming together to participate in SiSters in Senga, a 5 day workshop focused on girls empowerment, incorporating community development and skills training. We will invite girls that have previously attended a camp, program, or workshop facilitated by Peace Corps Volunteers in the year (Camp GLOW, Women2Women, and Camp Sky). These trainings have incorporated life skills lessons and SiSters in Senga will allow the pre-trained girls to participate in a more hands-on learning experience.

There will be great focus on interpersonal relationships and community responsibility; with the theme being “Service to others as service to self.” With the plethora of donor organizations in Malawi and the ramifications from massive aid that is pumped in to the country, it is easy to lose sight of the possibilities of individual action that often leads to collective mobilization and ultimately change. They will be reminded that no one can develop their country for them; only they have that power as women who are the thread that run through every inch of the nation’s fabric. The girls will conduct hands on projects such as making jam, peanut butter, jewelry, energy efficient stoves with locally available resources, and beekeeping for income generating purposes. They will ultimately participate in a service project to the local community where the camp will be held.

In order for us to implement this program we need assistance. SiSters in Senga will cost around $12,000USD, inclusive of room, board, transport, materials, and speaker fees. We will be able to raise some funds or supplies locally, but need additional assistance from our friends back home. Our goal is to raise $5,000USD by the end of March through stateside donations. We have arranged with First United Methodist Church of Evanston to collect and streamline donations on our behalf. All donations sent through the church will be tax deductible. We appreciate all of your support in this endeavor and throughout our Peace Corps experience. SiSters in Senga will be a success with your assistance.

To make a donation:Send a check to Rev. Jane Cheema at First United Methodist Church, 516 Church street, Evanston, IL 60201.The checks should be made out to First Untied Methodist Church with Peace Corps Camp in the memo line. A tax letter will be sent to those that have donated so please make sure to write a return address legibly.

As always I thank you for your continuous support.

To Give is to Receive...

I wrote this out by hand and it took about 7 drafts for me to put together something that may remotely make sense. It seems more and more these days my thoughts just run together as I try to wrap my mind about being here (I know you think 16 months in I would have a better idea, but things change daily), wrap my mind around where I'm going in life in general (this is a bit tricky seeing as things are unpredictable but having some general idea of where I'm heading is nice) and wrapping my mind around just how I got here to begin with. The more I reflect, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I grow. The more I grow, the more I move forward. Speaking of moving forward, I guess I should move forward with the purpose of this.

To give is to receive (part 1)

I’m around 8 years old. My mom and I are at 7-11 and I have a few dollars to indulge my sweet tooth. I make my purchase and head for the car. As I’m walking to the car I’m asked by a man standing outside the door if I had some spare change. I glance at him, then hand him my remaining dollar and continue to the car. I get to the car where my mother is waiting for me. She hands me a dollar because she saw that I had given my last dollar to man who asked. My mother was teaching me a lesson that day that I would not grasp until several years later.
Growing up, I would like to believe I was a helpful child. The values instilled in me, watching my mother give herself freely to the needs of her community, would in its due time hopefully rub off on me. At the time I considered myself a tomboy. I was all about the sports-football, basketball, soccer, figure skating, and gymnastics, with my busy schedule that had time for other people? I was not particularly passionate about community service, I would help out with things like Trashbusters, Safetytown, tutoring and the like but I could never commit fully because I did not quite see the point.
(Fast forward to the summer prior to my junior year of high school).
I had been invited by a good friend to attend a mission trip to the Appalachian Mountains to help repair homes. Through her church youth group we raised the money to be participants for the Appalachian Service Project. I can say that this trip changed my life. Walking into that I didn’t recognize the true purpose of giving, walking away something was ignited in me. Something clicked and I knew that, this work, for people, with people, is exactly what I should be doing. I still remember the family of 3 we served. I can still see this mother with her two beautiful children doing the best she could given the circumstances she was born into. Going into this experience I thought about what we would be giving them, a warmer home for the winter, a fresh coat of paint, and memories of a bunch of inexperienced teenagers rehabbing a room in their home. Coming out of that experience I realized that it was much bigger then what had been given, that I too was given something in return. I was given a lesson in compassion, community, and love. At that point I knew it was no longer about me, my “me” turned into “my community” because I have learned that while we serve others, we serve ourselves.
It’s a secret to some but for many of you, you already know that my aspiration since I was 4 was to become a doctor. First, it was a pediatrician because I love working with children, then later primarily focus on neonatology because I felt the children I would care for would need my care the most. Boy, how things change. As I was working on my graduate school application, I had the daunting task of writing a personal statement of whom I was and why this particular program is the right fit for me. Trying to figure out just how I got here, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi took some time because everything growing up seemed to point me in the opposite direction. I can say that there are 3 things that have had a strong bearing on where I am now; my mother, my high school English teacher Mr. Newman, and The Appalachia Service Project. My mother showed me what true giving is and how to give wholeheartedly without expecting anything in return. Mr. Newman showed me how a teacher can touch the lives of their students by caring not just about the assignment but the individual, and The Appalachia Service Project, being my first real act of service to others I did not know, helping me shape my perspective of the world and my role in it. Countless others have had influence on me and the path I am taking, and countless others are still influencing the decisions I make.
Finding my passion, something that can be frustrating at time, is the most fulfilling thing for me. The feeling that I get by knowing I'm assisting someone reach the level of privilege I was born into is indescribable. Now as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I think back to my first real experience of service, the giving of my time and resources to that family in Appalachia, the lesson that giving is receiving, you can not serve others without serving yourself, has carried over to my work here.

)art II...

Here I am. In Malawi. Precisely at this moment I'm laying on the floor of our Administrative Officers' house, indulging myself in the high speed Internet. Talk about going from one extreme to the other. Just a few days ago, I was laying on my bed, wondering how it can possibly get hot despite the sun setting,and figuring out ways to entertain myself until I'm tired enough to go to bed. When I come to the city, or even when I leave my village and go to the nearby trading center, I'm always asked how I could possibly leave America and all that I have there, to come here and live with out electricity and running water. How do I not go crazy living in a village despite spending 23 years living in urban areas? Easy, I just readjust my expectations and I understand now, more so than before, the difference between a need and want. Yeah, at times it sucks not being able to switch on a light, but after 16 months I'm still alive and intact, all my daily needs are met-I have water(I'm 150m from the lake and I'm 150m from a borehole, water is not in short supply), there's electricity by the road so my phone gets charged when needed. I cook with paraffin or firewood(the fuel shortage caused the price of paraffin to go up and its kind of scarce still), and the sun provides my solar charger with the energy needed to charge my MP3 player so I can still enjoy my music. Life is simple, but it works. All my basic needs are met and if they weren't I would have access to places and resources where they can be met. Either way resources are there and I'm surviving. Its hard to explain to someone just why I would escape my life of luxuries in the states to come and live in "poverty", its hard to explain that even though the benefits are not financial, I do gain a better understanding of myself and the world I live in, which I find to be priceless. So, readjusting expectations, easy? Not really, it brings about a lot of inner dialogue and self-realizations that may not always be the easiest thing to digest. What I have to say may come off as confusing, angry, lacking general understanding, or none of the above. My privilege as put me in a place that has allowed for me to stand above a majority of the world and I didn't do a damn thing to earn it except be a product of two people residing in America. I was born into a world of privilege that my socioeconomic status really has no bearing on, my caramel colored skin has no bearing on, and my gender has no bearing on. Even though all three of these things can cause an initial barrier to certain opportunities and experiences, it has not restricted me from obtaining a free education throughout secondary school and it has allowed me to walk away from university only responsible for 15% of the cost. My privilege has allowed for me to swoop down to a developing country and contribute what I believe is needed(but of course inclusive of what my community needs). My privilege gives me access to resources that not everyone has and because of this realization I find it difficult for me to sit back and listen to people complain about the harsh realities of America. Yeah, jobs are scarce, people are losing their homes, things in general are just fucked up, but being here, seeing just how fucked up things really can be puts a lot of things into perspective. In America, there are social systems in place to keep children from being malnourished, in America, in most places, water runs from the tap, and resources are there. Being here, I have to figure out just how to bring resources to my community that will benefit then in the most sustainable manner. I don't have tons of money, so what other resources can I bring? When I think about the greatest resource I have, I think about my access to education. To me, education is the best gift to give someone. With that knowledge doors open, options become available and things slowly but surely improve. I spend close to 50% of my living allowance on my community.My living allowance is around 56,000MK or 366USD every two months. Now, if you think I'm handing out kwacha like some rapper in a music video, that is not the case. 11,000MK goes toward school fees for students who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend school. I purchase school supplies, such as pens and composition books, to ensure that my students are able to take notes(I'm not a fan of excuses). 5000 to 10000MK on project related expenses(seeds, modules for studying) and around 5,000MK on unexpected emergencies(medicine, transport, etc.). People(not everyone, I know some of you may believe I'm taken advantage of, not the case. People who ask are friends who know that I know they're not looking for a free ride and are in general need of assistance.) feel comfortable asking me because I believe in giving the excess I have, I tend to have excess kwacha because my needs, and not my wants, are met. I have a budget of $3 a day because that's all I need. I share my resources because I have resources to share. My community in turn shares whatever resources they have. I don't buy rice or flour, I'm given plenty, and have enough to last me the remainder of my time here. I'm given eggs from the neighbors' flock, or bananas, or greens, firewood, or charcoal,or whatever they have to share. So although, I spend 1/2 my living allowance on my community, my needs are still being met. I prefer spending 20MK on a bar a soap for one of my girls because I know what can happen or what they will have to do to get that soap otherwise(think..). I guess what I'm getting at is the lesson we all learn from an early age, but tend to forget. A lesson I feel that given the state America is in now, would prove beneficial. The lesson of sharing. I don't give anything, I share. When I have excess and the excess I have you need, then why shouldn't I share? When you have excess and i'm in need, why not share what you have with me? This to me, I believe, is the true idea or picture, of what community is. I believe that if we functioned more as a community in America, then the blow of a failing economy would not be as harsh. I can continue on and on about the importance of sharing and being a part of a community, but i'm not. I think you should experience it for yourself and see how you feel about it. I know this may not make much sense and may be all over,i'm ok with that. Anyway, i'm tired of typing and i'm tired of thinking, so i'm going to give it a break. Please know that I'm happy and grateful to have all of you a part of my community( and I hope you will consider sharing your excess with me when I come back broke...haha just kidding...but not really) This is just some food for thought, at least in my mind, and I have no problem sharing my thoughts with anyone willing to listen to them.

Part III...
I peered out my front window to see an unusual sight. There’s a large truck loaded up with all the belongings of the family of my headmaster. I hurry and change into a skirt, put on my flip flops, and rush over to see if what I was really seeing was true. I watched as Mrs.Katanga held Rose while Zione and Memory climbed up into the cab of the truck. Mrs. Katanga and the others had not noticed me standing there., For months now I was aware that my headmaster Mr.Katanga would be moving, he had been reposted. He was supposed to move in November but up until now it had not happened. I was in denial and secretly thought they would continue delaying his reposting until I left. Before now I didn’t think about what it would be like when the Katangas were gone. You never quite know just how much a person has had an impact on you. I walked quietly up to the truck, blending in with the small crowd that has formed to say good bye to this family, my family. As Mrs. Katanga began climbing up to the cab with her granddaughter Rose, I said just above a whisper “yendani bwino,” immediately Mrs.Katanga turns around with one of her huge smiles, she hands Rose over to the driver and climbs back down. As she held both of my hands she tells me that I must visit soon, their American daughter will always be welcomed in their home. I told her I will and standing there with the small crowd as she climbed back in, waved goodbye. My student Chisomo, nephew to Mr.Katanga, saw me standing there as they were driving away and with a smile shouted “Hasta Luego,Madam!”(Yes, I taught my students some Spanish, just the greetings). As I was walking back to my house, it took a lot for me not to begin crying, but as soon as the door was opened the tears came. It’s hard to describe or to say just what I’m feeling and I feel about this particular family. My family, my biggest supporters, are now 100k south as opposed to 50m northeast. From the moment I was brought to Kasitu by Mr.Katanga, his family has welcomed me as one of their own. Having them here has made it easier dealing with the fact that my own family is thousands of miles away. Anytime I was homesick I could always go there, someone would always be there. I think of all the memories of trips to Dwangwa, the lake, playing cards, coloring, watching football, listening to the radio, eating, these memories we have shared and can only hope that we will be able to share some more memories in the future. I’m grateful for the generosity and love this family has shown me over the year and I will miss having them near me tremendously. It just isn’t the same Kasitu without them.

As I sat in my home with tears running down my cheeks I realized that I never told the Katangas how much I appreciate having them around, how much I appreciate their kindness, openness, and how I will forever be indebted to them for the hand they extended graciously and generously to a stranger. Its not to late to let them know, but until I do, I’m going to do my best to let others know just how much I appreciate having them as a part of my life. It’s almost Valentines Day and love is in the air, so I just want to let you all know that I appreciate and love you all. Thank you for providing me with the support that I need to make it this far in my service and in life. To give is to receive and although I give of myself, my time, to people a half a world away from home, I receive love and blessing from there. I appreciate all that you give so I can continue to do work I’m passionate about.

Unitl next time...
Yewu Ukongwa!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lessons learned and "The Plan"

*Lessons Learned*

1. Patience...really is a virtue.I don't know how many times my patience has been practiced, how many times I had to remind myself that if I just wait a little bit longer it will all work out. It seems like this is a re-occurring theme in my Peace Corps experience, starting from the 2 years it took me to get to Malawi. I have to have patience with my neighbor kids who show up at my door at 6am asking for candy knowing if they came back at noon I would be more than happy to share. I have to have patience when it comes to travelling back to site, it takes 9-12 hours to get there on less than desirable transport sometimes. I have to practice patience when it comes to my future. Grant it, tomorrow is not guaranteed, everything happens for a reason and happens when its suppose to happen. Forcing something to be will just make it be the way you don't want it. I'm definitely the type of person that curiosity gets the best of and that curiosity can lead to moments where my patience is lacking, but I know that when I'm patient I always get what I want. (See consider the source when dealing with people and patience)

2. will come back to you...There have been moments of sadness, irritation, anger, confusion but when those moments happen I always try to find something to smile about and when I do it seems that smile makes it way back to me in some form of kindness that has changed whatever negative to a positive.

3. Always consider the source and never forget that we are all DIFFERENT...Sometimes people say things or do things that may make a person reconsider how they feel about themselves. When this happens it tends to be from a person who is not in their right mind or doesn't know you. I have gotten better by not letting the comments of people who don't really know me change how I see myself. People come from all over, and the more I move through this life and move all over, I'm reminded that people come from all different walks of life, have different experiences and just how my experiences have shaped my perspective of the world and the people in it, theirs have as well. My eyes are attached to neurons that are attached to my brain, therefore I understand the world how I see it.No one else can share in my perspective of the world, so I can either waste time wondering why or except that we are all different and keep it moving.

4. A friend maybe waiting behind the face of a stranger...I have been blessed throughout my time to find a good group of friends that provide me with the love and support needed to do what I do. These same friends come from all different places and have lifestyles totally different from my own. Some of these friends have been in my life since I was a small child, some have been picked up along the way. If I didn't allow myself to be open enough to let new people in then I would have missed out on some pretty awesome people and some awesome friendships. I've had a plethora of jobs that have taken me through different groups of people, these different groups of people have allowed me to relate to most people I come across because I probably have a friend just like them :) Don't get stuck thinking you have to only be friends with people like you or in your age group. I have 5 year old friends and 50 year old friends who all help me understand this world, bring me laughter and happiness, support and love. Doesn't get any better than that.

5. Know when to say hello and when to say goodbye...I believe that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Many have heard my reasoning behind this but its true. As we are constantly changing, we should not expect that our friends won't change as well. As we take on a new interests we are going to find people that share in those interests. Just because what we use to have is no longer, it does not mean we are not friends. In my book once a friend always a friend, we just may be friends in different places and that's ok.

6. No sense in crying over something that can't be changed...Some decisions and things are set in stone, if you have no power to change it, leave it alone.

7. Always go with your gut feeling...If something don't feel right, don't do it. You have instinct for a reason.

8. Don't be afraid to go after what you want...and wait patiently for it to come.If I want something I'm going to go after it until I get it or until all possible ways for getting it are exhausted. Call me spoiled or stubborn or whatever else, but if its something that I know will bring me happiness then I don't mind working hard for it and or waiting some to get it.

9. Don't take the backseat in your life...Do what you want to make your life yours.I've adopted the attitude that you can either come along for the ride of get out. If you decide to stay then put a seat belt on and hold on!

10. Treat others as you want to be treated...Just about every job I had in h.s and college was behind a counter. i have served buffalo wings, smoothies, towels, bagels and sandwiches, these jobs have all taught me to be humble and to see all as my equal regardless of what side of the counter I was on. It use to piss me off when I was at Vanderbilt and working at Panera and customers would come in assuming that because I was on the other side of the counter I had to be somewhat less intelligent then them. It made me realize that you never know exactly who is on the other side of the counter(figuratively and literally) and shouldn't make assumptions about anyone or their abilities. Let them prove otherwise, but until they do treat them as you want them to treat you. I may be in a developing country but my Malawian counterparts are just as capable as I am, maybe even more so given this is their home turf. I refuse to speak "special English" or dumb down my language. It may require more of an explanation for some to understand, but I am a teacher aren't I? Who am I to deny any person the ability to learn something new, if that be the case then I should have been denied as well. We all have our own capabilities, they may be different but they are still equal.

*The Plan*

Now that we are into the new year, I guess its time to share with you all the plans I have for the remainder of my service and after...

Given the fact that i'm not going to be teaching this year, I will have some time on my hands and hopefully I'll have enough to do to keep me from getting restless. I will be taking on the role of Teacher Development Facilitator working with 2 schools-Kasitu CDSS(my current school) and Dwambazi CDSS( a school about 10k north of Kasitu). I will work with the teachers from both schools on record keeping, planning, team teaching, organization etc.. I took a survey from my teachers prior to now for me to put together the curriculum and schedule I will use based on their needs. Although my community is slightly disappointed that I will not be teaching english given the results, they are happy that I will be helping the teachers sharpen their skills so they can continue to teach well past my leaving. Prior to my trip to Lilongwe I met with my District Education Manager just to get the ball rolling on our working relationship for the upcoming year. Since I was a teacher and not doing teacher development things, I did not utilize my district education office as much due to lack of time but I plan on making my face a known one..haha. I will continue working with my Primary Education Advisor in Kasitu on ways to collaborate so we can get better results in the future both on the primary and secondary level in addition to making stronger connections with the schools. Currently, there are 12 primary schools that feed into 2 secondary schools, so its important that all are on the same page. She is super motivated and progressive and we make an awesome team. Its also awesome because she was one of the mentors at Women2Women and has kept things going in my absence. Eunice and I, both Kasitu transplants, call her our mother because she's the first one we go to when we need something and she provides the most sound, logical advice, and encouragement when needed. Plus, she's funny and has no problem calling people out.

Moving along...

Gender Development
My friend D'lynn and I have decided to go out with a bang, not literally, but we both loved being involved in Camp GLOW(Girls Leading our World-D'lynn's endeavor) and Women2Women(my endeavor) that we decided to do a joint endeavor-SiSters in Senga. We are planning our last girls empowerment camp on the central lakeshore for sometime in early March. We will take girls that have previously attended a PC volunteer sponsored event(Camp Sky, Camp GLOW, Women2Women etc) and build on the information previously learned. Those camps were introductory courses to what we plan on covering at this camp. We would like to incorporate more skills training, more speakers, more depth in the information covered previously and more fun. Plus, we will be on the lake so that's fun in itself. After I return from midservice training, D'lynn and I will begin the planning. Since it will have to be done during a term break, the first week in March would be ideal but then again it doesn't leave us with a lot of time.

I have also most recently been approached by my PLWHA(People Living with HIV/AIDS) group about some assistance in meeting their needs. I will work with the Agriculture Extension workers in my area(Pangani and Chipoti) on creating kitchen gardens for nutrition and herbals gardens for vitamin supplements to the kitchen garden(they have this drink they call it power juice-made from garlic, aloe vera, and bark from a particular tree(not sure which one but it's found locally) ) along with coming up with some income generating activities.

Between these three and continuing to work with the girls/women in my community(we already held a community meeting with girls and their parents from the secondary school to discuss the low pass rate and what should be done to change that and to make education more of a priority, we have met with community leaders to discuss how the community can support girls education) and Kasitu AIDS Organization, I will begin wrapping up my work here and preparing for the next part of my journey. Which is.....

So after some time to think, feel out my interests, and figure out what I could possibly spend the rest of my life doing I have decided on a program that suits me. It has been a long road coming and seeing as I don't believe in throwing money away I couldn't just jump into a masters program, i'm glad that I have some clarity on what I want to do next and now that my application is 75% complete(just polishing up my personal statement) it feels good. Once they accept me(can't entertain negative thoughts) I will have about a month between my leaving Malawi and my move but we will just wait until that time comes to deal with it.With that being said...I will be coming home in .....................STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT......hahahahahahahahahaha.

of course I will keep you all informed of the ups, downs, good, bad, and the ugly. Until then, enjoy this new year and all that it has in store for you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Oh the places i'm going!

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

by far my favorite...going places this year and quite excited about it! Happy 2010 to all :)