New Job

            As the title says, my two years of regular service with the Peace Corps has come to an end and I have extended my service for a third year in a new job.  I am still a volunteer with the Peace Corps and am still living in Madagascar, but I no longer live in Vondrozo nor teach English.  My new job has me living in Diego Suarez (usually just referred to as Diego, for short, or by the Malagasy name, Antsiranana), a much larger city in the northern tip of Madagascar.  I live above the Peace

8 Quirks I Took to America

            During my two years in Madagascar I picked up many things that are culturally normal either in Malagasy or Volunteer culture that are a little weird when done in the United States.  These things though became my norm and were hard to shake, so when I returned home on leave my friends, family, and just innocent bystanders got to witness some of the quirks I had acquired.  Here are the top eight:

4 Things I Found Weird in America

            I lived in the United States for most of my life.  And many of the things that are common place there are not common place in other parts of the world.  I had become used to those things being part of life, but during my time in Madagascar I lived without many of those things and in turn that became my new normal.  I didn’t need/have them and when I returned to America the came as a bit of a shock to me and found them a little weird.  Here are the top four weird things for me when I returned to America:

Coming Home

            I recently retuned to the United States for a month of home leave before starting my new job with the Peace Corps Madagascar.  After all of the stress of leaving my site for the last time and getting all of my stuff to Tana I was looking forward to going home, seeing friends and family, and just relaxing for a bit.  And the food; of course the food.  That was the majority of what I was looking forward to.  Sorry family and friends, but lets be honest, food is what makes up a Peace Corps Volunteers’ dreams.  If you see a volunteer starring into space, most likely there is a hamburger or some other delicious food in their minds eye.  

Leaving My Home

            After two years of service in Madagascar I am going home to the States, Texas to be exact, for the first time since I left 27 months ago.  I have extended my service with the Peace Corps for another year and as such they are sending me home for a month of home leave.  It is still bitter sweet to say the least.  My extension will be in Diego, the far north of the island, and so my service in Vondrozo and my beloved region has come to an end.  

Slam Dunks - A Basketball Court

            A volunteer in my region is currently fundraising to create a better basketball court to promote healthier life decisions.  See below for a write up on her project.

The children and youth in my community here in Madagascar have very limited access to recreational activities during vacation, after school and/or work. Because they don't have recreational activities to keep them occupied, our youth is more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as: drinking, smoking and unsafe sexual relationships and our kids have no place to be physically active.
According to the World Health Organization, the current cigarette smoking prevalence among the Malagasy youth is 19.3% and tobacco prevalence is 22.8% while the alcohol consumption reported by the Malagasy Institute of Public Health is about 59% among teens during the last 12 months. Additionally, the chances of suffering from a sexually transmitted disease are exponentially amplified due to the lack of access to sexual education.
Our local youth and kids are not only exposed to risky behaviors but also they are completely unaware of the health effects they can face in short and long term. But we can promote some change and provide a safe recreational place for the local youth and children by building an amazing basketball court. My project "Slam Dunks" hopes to give teenagers and children not only a place to be physically active, an opportunity to have a hobby to keep them away from engaging in risky behaviors but also to educate them about all these unhealthy behaviors that can potentially jeopardize their future.
The Slam Dunks project has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of kids and teenagers not only from my local community but also from the surrounded areas by promoting basketball tournaments as well as by developing strong youth leaders than can become a role model to others.

My Teaching Has Come to an End

            Last month marked the end of my two years as a teacher here in Madagascar; at least here at the Lycee Vondrozo.  I have taught 574 students, eight classes (yea that’s a lot of students per class), in the two years that I have taught here.  It has been an experience that I will never forget.  It was rewarding in so many ways, but it was far from easy; many of the best experiences in life seldom are.  Although I most likely will never teach again here in Vondrozo I know that my teaching career is doubtlessly far from over and the experience gained and the many things that I have learned here will
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