In Death There is Life

 This post is part of Blogging Abroad's 2017 New Years Blog Challenge, week three: Cultural Differences.


“As members of society, most of us see only what we expect to see, and what we expect to see is what we are conditioned to see when we have learned the definitions and classifications of our culture.” ~The Forest of Symbols


            Cultural differences can make it hard to find similarities between oneself and other people from around the world.  To the unaccustomed eye these cultural differences can seem strange, odd, or just wrong.  We are quick to judge cultural differences without truly understanding the meaning behind them. This is not exactly a fault of our own.  Each person grows up learning a certain set of values and beliefs and when these are challenged by something that seems new and different it is natural to brush them aside as unusual without acknowledging the fact that to others they are entirely normal.  We do this often times without even seeing the similarities.  

I Live in a Developing Country and So Do You


This post is part of Blogging Abroad's 2017 New Years Blog Challenge, week two: The Danger of a Single Story.

Antananarivo 'Hollywood' sign, Palace, and soccer field in the capital

 My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.” ~Chimamanda Adiche


            When people hear that I serve for the Peace Corps in Madagascar they are often times astonished.  Astonished that I am ‘brave’ enough to live and serve in Africa.  They say things like

Tried Changing the World, but Changed Myself


 This post is part of Blogging Abroad's 2017 New Years Blog Challenge, week one: Global Citizenship.

Sunset over my high school in Vondrozo, Madagascar
“A clever man tries to change the world. A wise man changes himself and helps it spread to the world.”


            I have always seen myself as someone outside the box.  I find myself at home wherever I am; many times finding myself more at home away from home.  It’s just the way I am.  I have always found cultures and other ways of life fascinating (which is the main reason I studied Cultural Anthropology at university) and it has been a passion of mine to study and immerse my life in them for as long as I can remember. 
           

Malagasy Music Video



My best friend and counterpart at my old site in Vondrozo, Madagascar, recently released his first music video.  The music is traditional Malagasy music played by him on a valiha (a traditional Malagasy instrument).  It has been a dream of his to become a musician for as long as I have known him.  This is the first of many music videos to come.  Enjoy the video!



 

A Malagasy Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving dinner table. Photo credit: Terra Ojeda

Thanksgiving brings to mind images of giving thanks to what we have, a family reunion, eating entirely too much food, and football.  It is an American holiday steeped in family traditions and recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.  Away from home and family, volunteers try to piece these traditions together with other volunteers in their regions.  This year I celebrated Thanksgiving with volunteers in my new home in the north.

Parties

            I have just celebrated my third birthday in Madagascar, and though this one was spent amongst other volunteers it reminded me of celebrations in the past.  Like everywhere, celebrations are big here in Madagascar, but they are not celebrated entirely the same.  Take birthdays for example.  Had I had this last birthday with my Malagasy friends in Vondrozo it would be expected that I buy all the drinks and snacks for the party, where in the United States you would expect that, though you may provide a lot for the party, those in attendance would also provide things (namely drinks). 

Peace Corps is a Liberal Arts Degree in Action




I'm honored to have been recently interviewed by my university (University of Texas at Arlington) about my Peace Corps experience and how my liberal arts degree from UTA helped me during my service.

 

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