Turning Old in Madagascar


            Today I turned 31 in Madagascar.  This is my second birthday here in country and although I did not turn over a new decade in my life, like I did with the last one, it was no less well spent.  There was no party or large group of friends gathering to celebrate as there was last year, but there was a gathering of a few close friends.  Having been in Antananarivo for the National VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee) meeting and hearing of the upcoming World Cup Qualifying game, that Friday, between Madagascar and Senegal, I decided to stick around and treat myself to an early birthday present and attend the game.  

VAC Nosy Varika



            It is that time of the year again; time for another VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee). This was my second VAC to plan and was, out of the two, the hardest.  Since our VAC meeting had never been in the northern part of our region I decided to have the VAC in Nosy Varika, a small island in the Pangalanes Canal 100 km north of Mananjary.  What made it the hardest for me to plan was that it is in the north of the Sud Est, 370 km from my site, and there being no one still in country having ever been there.  The limited conversations over e-mail, Facebook, and phone calls that I was able to make gave me but little information on what to expect.  Planning for a more ‘chill’ VAC than normal; I reserved the hotel, a ferry to get us there, food for our first night, and had everyone meet in Mananjary the day before leaving to make sure that we would make the ferry. 

New School Year



            October 5th signifies the official beginning, although not the real start, of the new school year here in Madagascar and the beginning of my last year of teaching (maybe) here as well.  I have gone into this new year looking forward to the year ahead.  The new year brings in a new set of students and a fresh start; a new beginning.  Not that the first year had a bad start; it was just a bit rocky.  I went into it with little idea of the school culture into which I was entering, the scheduling (or the lack of abiding by it), or real experience in a Malagasy classroom.  Any one of these alone would create a learning curve for any teacher, but all of them together are a far greater challenge.  It is not like Peace Corps did not try to prepare us for all of these because they did; at least to some extent.  They told us about the school culture during training, but, like all of you following my blog can most likely attest to, there is only so much one can extrapolate from the words and stories of another without seeing it

MSC

            MSC (Mid-Service Conference) marks the halfway point of my service here in Madagascar.  It is more of a training than a conference but it is one of three times that all of the volunteers from my stage come together.  It is a great opportunity for all of us to catch up on what is new in everyone’s life and to learn what has been happening at their sites.  Not to mention that it is a time for us to enjoy the PCTC (Peace Corps Training Center) and all of the amazing foods that we get to eat.  It is also during this time that we get our mid-service physical and teeth cleaning. 

Nosy Be


            Nosy Be, literally meaning ‘big island,’ is an island off the northwest coast of Madagascar known for it nice beaches, touristy feel, and the great number of tourist (mostly French) that frequent there.  Having heard descriptions of Nosy Be given by other Volunteers, I did not entirely want to go and had all but checked it off the list of places I was going to visit.  Though things being as they are, I had to cancel my own travel plans, due to time constraints, and decided to join a group of friends that were going to Nosy Be on their way back to Tana.  In the end, the trip was very nice and I really

The 'Mbola Gang'

Meet the 'Mbola Gang!'  These are my neighborhood kids that hangout in and around my house almost everyday.
Mbola

Market Day Vondrozo

When you forget it is market day in town and you walk into this.

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