I’m now the proud owner of Anna Karenina in Russian. #peacecorps #moldova #tolstoy
Malnutrition screening in Cameroon
If you can watch this video from a Peace Corps Volunteer and her community in Indonesia without smiling, you are stronger than us!
Bosnia-Herzegovina - 2000
During GLOW Camp 2013, Armenian young women, counselors and Volunteers joined their hearts and minds. Volunteers partnered with Stepanvan Youth Center to provide an intensive camp for 40 girls ages 13-16. They participated in trainings, exercises and discussions on leadership, self-esteem, gender equality, trafficking, domestic violence, peer education and social networking. After camp, everyone will “take it back” to their local communities via regional seminars and local peer education. Junior counselors and selected campers will join with the Volunteers and partner organization to tell their GLOW story to Armenian businesses with interest in social responsibility. They will encourage corporate participation in future camps and continuing peer education throughout Armenia as a way to ensure a sustainable future for this project. Through partnership, community and participation – Girls Will Lead Our World. Their smiles tell the whole story.
- Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Deborah Hall
Well this weekend I had another déjà vu moment in the campo, when my life felt exactly like an episode of The Simple Life. Another day, another 5:00 am wake up call. This time, my host dad and brother took me to learn how to herd and milk cows. Now, on my resume under special skills I can put expert at killing chickens and milking cows. Basically, post Peace Corps I am going to be ready to start my career as a farm hand, maybe assistant farm hand. I was, as usual, in for a few surprises on this little outing. First I discovered that milking cows is not as easy as it looks on tv. It took me three times, and three different cows, to finally get it. I also assumed that the family had one maybe two cows and that this little outing would last no more than a half hour and then I could go back to bed. Wrong. 15 cows and two and a half hours later we were done. I really should never assume anything here, since I am always wrong. My favorite part of these early morning outings is getting the chance to watch the sun rise over the rolling hills of San Nicolas- something you miss out on when you wake up at 8:30am. I don’t know if this scenery will ever get old. It is also really nice to spend time bonding with my host family outside of the house. They always get a kick out of teaching me how to do something new, and it is nice to interact with my host dad out side of the ADESCO/ Peace Corps realm. Everyday I am starting to feel more at home here and more so apart of the family. It truly is the people that make a place, and I feel fortunate to have such welcoming and warm people to work and live with for the next two years.
Reading in Malawi
For my entire career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency I have focused on storm water management needs, ostensibly for municipalities and local communities: how to harvest rainwater and how to use technology to protect water resources. But instead of working on this smaller scale, I found myself working primarily on a national scale.
Finally, I decided it was time for a big change that focused on small communities.
As I pursued opportunities at EPA to work more directly with local communities, I found I loved that type of work whenever I got a chance to do it. I learned of the Peace Corps Response program and its projects on water resources management and engineering a couple summers ago. The EPA and Peace Corps had an agreement that supported EPA employees working as Peace Corps Response Volunteers so I applied for a rainwater harvesting engineering position in Puebla Mexico. It was exactly what I was looking for and the length of the project was similar to temporary reassignments at EPA. Plus, I could bring my Response Volunteer ground implementation experiences back to EPA.
Armed with laptops, pillows and coffee, University of California Berkeley students gathered on a mid-November weekend for one reason: to hack for the Peace Corps. Working through the night, seven teams battled for $2000 in prize money and, after twenty long hours of work, presented their innovations to a panel of judges. But that weekend, winning wasn’t everything.
This year, Peace Corps sponsored UC Berkeley’s School of Information’s annual hackathon. “Normally at hackathons, people are mostly excited about their own ideas and own pet projects. The enthusiasm people showed for the Peace Corps was very special,” said Seema Puthyapurayil, a veteran hackathon attendee and one of the organizers.
One afternoon, I walked into a restaurant near my school to grab some lunch by myself, but instead, I got invited to eat with three police officers!
Total strangers, but in 15 minutes I knew everyone’s background story (where they worked before Leku, how many siblings they have, which towns they are originally from, etc.) and favorite foods. Not surprisingly, most of them said siga (meat – Ethiopians LOVE meat) and bursame, a Sidama Zone dish, made from the roots of the false banana tree.
They also found out where I am from, what I’m doing here in Ethiopia, which compound I live in - turns out one of them knows who my landlord is, and why I cannot have more than 2 cups of coffee a day. (Sleep would be extremely difficult to achieve, and for me saying ‘I love sleep’ is a huge understatement. Inkilf almat’am!)
This is after we ate a meat+soup dish called k’ilk’il and injera. And of course, we must finish lunch with a cup (or 2) of buna.
I don’t record these things on here enough, but almost every day something unexpected happens, and usually it turns out to be a pleasant twist. You meet someone at a buna bet who becomes your new good friend, or you get invited to eat at a teacher’s home because you saw her while walking on a different route than normal, etc. These moments and people truly humble you, and make you remember to take each day as it comes. Be present, wherever you are.