Dear Future Peace Corps Volunteer

This post is part of Blogging Abroad's 2017 New Years Blog Challenge, week four: Change and Hope.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~ William Shakespeare


Dear Future Peace Corps Volunteer,
Peace Corps is truly a grassroots organization.  We work on sustainable developmental projects to help better the lives of those in our community.  We serve in towns and villages, learn the local language, live in local housing, and in almost every way of life live like those around us.  Our communities' way of life and their culture becomes our own and this place so far away from what we were used to becomes home.  

Stage 45 Peace Corps Madagascar

A Country Disconnected




            What happens if a country becomes cut off from the internet?  It’s hard to think of that even being a possibility in this day and age, but it can happen.  Just a thing happened here in Madagascar just a few weeks ago. 
            Madagascar has three service providers that provide telephone and internet service to its population.  Just a few weeks ago Telma’s, the largest of the three providers, undersea line was cut and the provider’s entire internet service went down.  This would not be such a big deal with there being other providers, but Telma is used by a large majority of the people and businesses here in Madagascar.  This meant that places like the Bank of Africa, the Embassy, and most of the local internet cafes all went down.  A whole country seemingly came to a crashing halt.  It was reported that Telma had to run a new undersea line from South Africa and that the process would probably take approximately 15 days.  This put Telma in a frenzy to find a solution for its most prominent clients.  Fortunately, they were able to broker a deal with Orange, the country’s second largest provider, to siphon some of their bandwidth.  This allowed the Bank to come back online and more prominent offices to do limited work. 
            This all happened about a week after the internet went down but I was unaware of it till a few days afterwards.  Where I live, and in my regional office, we were down for the entirety of the time the internet was down.  Since our entire workload is based through the internet we were cut off from it all.  This is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.  It wasn’t that long ago that everything was done on paper or in person/phone call.  But it was something we all took for granted.  A world without internet is a little liberating and I enjoyed the freedom that it brought, but it sure makes things so much harder. 

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.
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14