Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Year of Island Life

The Peace Corps turned 50 this week, and today is our one-year-since-arriving-in-country anniversary. Sounds like cause for celebration, no? Congratulations to all RPCVs the world over—and especially to my dad, who volunteered in Korea during the 1960s. JFK and Sargent Shriver had the means and the vision, but it was you folks that made Peace Corps real, and it’s an honor to continue the tradition of service that you began.

The next few weeks promise to be interesting. I’m working at the Tana meva right now, helping to prepare things for the new group’s PST. Today I’m also writing blog posts, searching the capital for moringa seeds, and browsing the PC office’s stash of English-teaching materials. Tomorrow PC is throwing a farewell party for Boda, the outgoing health program director (who I spent much quality time with while stranded in Farafangana last month), and Saturday the Embassy is hosting some sort of celebration. Sunday, I’m tentatively planning to head south with a PC car going to Fianar. I’ll spend about a week there and in surrounding towns working on various projects with other PCVs. Then, it’s up to Mantasoa to work at PST for a week or so. Once my commitments there are finished, I’ll make my way back home to the Sud Est, hold a series of English classes with the WWF agents in Farafangana, help Melissa and Raffy celebrate their birthdays, and finally (road conditions allowing) return to Vondrozo. Never a dull moment.

A couple of random things:

Firstly, 20/20 recently aired an “exposé” looking at Peace Corps’ handling of cases involving murder, rape, and sexual assault. The investigation focused primarily on the case of Kate Puzey, a PCV in Benin who was murdered in 2009 (you can find the segment online). I’ll skip a lengthy commentary and instead just say that Peace Corps Benin made a series of terrible mistakes, and the situation ended in heartbreaking tragedy. However, the 20/20 piece is—I think—too quick to transpose that country program’s problems onto Peace Corps as a whole, and too eager to cast the agency as villain in a sensationalized storyline.

Secondly, while I’m in Tana and Fianar, I’ll have access to decent interwebs. Google is currently promoting its gchat phone service (which allows you to dial any number through your account) by granting free calls from Madagascar to the United States and Canada throughout 2011. I’ve used it to call home a few times now, and it works pretty awesomely (provided the interwebs cooperate). If you’re up for a phone call, shoot me a message/email/text and I’ll try to reach you sometime over the next few weeks.

Thirdly, Notre Dame men’s basketball is ranked #7 in the nation and faces UConn in their final regular season game on Saturday. GO IRISH. BEAT HUSKIES, and then bring on the Big Dance.

Lastly, I’m cooking up shoyu chicken for dinner and recently acquired an ukulele (another volunteer who'd lived in Hawai'i ET'd and left it behind), so island food and music are on the docket for tonight. What better way to celebrate a year of island life?

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