Tratry ny fetim-pirenena! Happy Independence Day!

June 26 signifies the independence of Madagascar from France. This year marks 56 years of independence and like always there was a huge party to celebrate the occasion. (You can read a detailed description of last years Independence Day in Vondrozo here or in Mantasoa two years ago here.) Like last year, everyday of the week proceeding independence day was marked by individual parties and performances of dancing and singing on the podium at the Commune. The morning of Independence Day itself was unfortunately marred by a down pour of rain, but that did not stop the celebrations. After the flag was raised and the national anthem sung the new Chef District (similar to

Secret Language

            In Madagascar the two official languages are Malagasy and French.  While both are known by almost everyone, French is rarely used (or possibly not well known) by those that live in the countryside.  English on the other hand is known by very few.  That is where I come in, to teach English, but even in the classes that I teach the comprehension level is fairly low. 
That gives English speakers the ability to talk to each other without worry about if others can understand us.  Volunteers take full advantage of this but it sometimes backfires when we least expect it.  It is great until the time when some Malagasy person around us turns and starts also speaking English to us.  We are not the only ones that do this though.  It is almost inevitable that whenever those around us do not know who we are (sometimes even if they do know us) they will begin to talk about us in Malagasy, not knowing that we also speak Malagasy and can understand what they are saying.  

Two Years Have Come and Gone

             Two years have come and gone while I have been here in Madagascar.  My Stagemates and I have finally finished our TEFL requirements and have become the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to graduate from the program and receive our certificates.  This two year mark was also, like all of the volunteers before us, was marked by attended our Close of Service Conference in Mantasoa.  Here was detailed the next steps for our last two months of service and the years to come. 
My conference, along with a handful of other volunteers, was slightly different than that of the others.  About a month ago I had applied for a one year extension with Peace Corps Madagascar as the Volunteer Leader for the north of the country.  I had just had my interview with the senior staff about my extension the day prior to going to the conference and there I waited for their response.  The sessions we all attended were the same; resume building, interview skills, job hunting, ext.  The

A Different School Culture

            Madagascar has a different school culture, like many other things, than the U.S.  Having spent the year before coming to Madagascar teaching high school history, not to mention having spent most of my life in an American school, I thought I was prepared for a teachers life in Madagascar.  Looking at the school culture now, two years later, it seems easy and chill but that was far from the case when I first arrived.  For about the first six months it was confusing; infuriating at times.  I learned over my first year the “schedule” when things would happen or not happen and now I have adjusted and just roll with it. 
            The school schedule has to be the one thing that gave me the most trouble in the beginning.  There are many holidays in the Malagasy school calendar but what is not there, at least in my school

Walk Down Memory Lane

             As I walk down the streets of Farafangana I am reminded of my first time arriving in this town.  I sometimes see the dark empty streets of the Farafangana as they were when I was first came through here during my installation.  So much has changed during these last two years. 
            When I first arrived two years ago it was my first time in the Sud Est.  I had just sworn in as a new Peace Corps Volunteer and spent the last two days traveling with three other volunteers in a Peace Corps car from Antananarivo to Farafangana, our banking town and what would act as the staging point for our installations.  As we had made our way down we stopped at all of the volunteers

Serving Alone

            Within the first month of arriving and starting my training here in Madagascar I received the name of the site where I would be living and serving for the next two years;  Vondrozo, a small town in the Sud Est of Madagascar.  I knew very little about the place at the time except for a ruff idea of its location on the map.  Not too far from everything, it seemed, and I had some friends that were going to be living in my banking town just 70 km (42 miles) away; not to shabby. 
The first thing I learned about the site, and what was repeated to me every time the town was brought up, was how bad the road was.  Tena ratsy be ny lalana (Really very bad road)” was every Malagasy person’s response to “I’m going to be in Vondrozo.”  But I mountain biked in the States, I

Out and About

            Those of you that follow me on Facebook have probably noticed that I have been posting pictures of Madagascar with the hashtag #OutandAbout. This has been part of a photo challenge that has a different theme each month with ten different photos prompts aligned with it.  During the ‘Out and About’ challenge I tried to show images from around Madagascar so that viewers could see the differences of this great country.  Madagascar has many different terrains, tribes, dialects, housing, ext but it is still one country, one island, one people. 
            This challenge has had me show many different terrains from all over Madagascar taken
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