On a mountain top in Panama by Peace Corps on Flickr.
Elements of the story are pulled from a number of my experiences in Madagascar as a Peace Corps Volunteer and from my own childhood. I want to give children in Madagascar the opportunity to engage with a character that they find courageous, spirited and curious as she learns about malaria.
Peace Corps Volunteers Raegan and Patrick Spencer are educating schoolchildren in Madagascar about the causes and dangers of malaria and disease prevention through storytelling. The couple wrote, illustrated and published The Story of Soa and the Moka, a 40-page children’s book, along with an accompanying classroom curriculum that will be distributed throughout communities across Madagascar.
Tune in on February 6th to get a unique glimpse in to the home of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia!
My teaching was a bit more interactive than the traditional Turkish teachers’. I’d ask students to act out what vocabulary they were learning. Here was a day’s lesson on prepositions. Most of my orta okul (middle school) students were from villages where hearing and speaking another language was as foreign to them as seeing a television (which was not even available in Turkey in 1965).
- Peace Corps Education Volunteer Margaret Miyake
During our pre-service training, I somehow got the idea that my teaching experience would involve eager female students who craved friendship and meaningful connections.
When I was placed at a small vocational school for construction and engineering, my little bubble popped. My students were almost exclusively male, and really they couldn’t give two flying farts about English. Hanging out with their strange, gawky foreign teacher wasn’t really high on their list of priorities.
The one exception to this was the English majors—a group of 25 bright and quirky students taught by my husband. They became my surrogate students last year. There would be days when I felt like a complete failure, unable to connect with my students. I would pour all my energy into my lessons, only to receive dull responses from boys who’d been up all night in internet bars playing League of Legends. It was Jeff’s English majors who came to my parties, who attended our English corner. It was these kids who made me feel like I wasn’t the problem.
In May, the class will graduate. Many are moving on to other cities—Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, where they will translate or do HR work for construction companies. Many students have gotten positions in Africa, since Chinese companies are doing loads of construction work in places like Algeria and Tanzania.
Soon, their close group will scatter…but right now is a magical time when they are all filled with opportunity and dreams. Life is a gigantic possibility, and no limits have been set.
Last night we had a goodbye dinner for the class, since they will spend next semester interning at various locations away from campus. The students cooked up a storm, hammed it up for the camera and went crazy when I brought out my nail polish collection.
Youth is such a gorgeous, infectious thing. This beautiful group of girls have been an amazing part of my time in China, and I will always remember them.
Inspired by the acclaimed film Girl Rising, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kathmandu, Nepal worked with youth and a women’s group in her Baglung community to create a mural to commemorate International Volunteer Day.
The main part of the mural roughly translates to “Let us make our Baglung beautiful, let us be Volunteers.”
(Thanks to Intern Nikki for the translation!)
I woke up this morning at the normal time to which I allow myself to sleep when I don’t have to teach in the morning, around 8 a.m.
By this time, all the students are already at school, which means, for a few moments, my neighborhood is relatively quiet.
This morning, though, as I was in my kitchen heating up water for tea, I heard people outside my neighbor’s house. She’s a nice lady and makes her living usually by being a tailor. In the past few months, she’s also started selling the local moonshine out of her house. For 100 CFA, men come by, take a shot of sodabe and then ride off on their motorcycles, rarely staying more than 5 minutes. One of my favorite nighttime activities is to sit on my front porch and watch how many of the men who stop by I recognize, either as colleagues or the father of one of my students.
When I came back from vacation three days ago, a small hut with benches and tables had been erected outside her house, I guessed in an effort to expand her business, at least expand it out of her living room. And business has expanded, the area outside my front door becoming less like a front porch and more like the street outside a bar, but besides moto horns and loud voices, there haven’t been any real complaints.
And so, this morning, as I sipped my Harney & Son’s Tower of London tea, I silently toasted the men taking shots of sodabe next door at 8:30 in the morning.
Today my ANAMED Club (Action for Natural Medicine) was interviewed by a radio journalist!
The organization NASFAM (which is something about helping Small Farmers of Malawi) has a branch in our village that has been supporting our club. With their donation of seeds and tubes we’ve planted about 4,000(!) tree seedlings for our school and community. The seedlings pictured are moringa which is an amazingly nutritional plant. So the reporter came and spoke to all the students about what we’re doing and why, and next Saturday we have a 30 min program on radio 1! It was all in Chichewa (hence my strained face trying to scramble up some words) but I could tell my students did an amazing job and I’m so proud of the work this club has done.