Archive for April 2011

Only 6 More Months?!

April 3, 2011

Wow. It’s official. I have 6 more months to go before my service ends and SO much still to do. However, that’s a good thing! If you know me, you know I work better under pressure. I like a little deadline panic to jumpstart me into focus mode.

Here’s a summary of both ideas and solid projects that lie ahead in the next 6 months:

  • Develop the recreational area- build bleachers, install lights, landscape, repaint court/club house/IT center, paint murals
  • Teach the youth entrepreneurship class
  • Help coordinate the national business plan competition
  • Buy materials for the IT (info tech) center using a SPA grant. This will include things like copier/printer/scanner/desks/chairs
  • Help plan a summer camp for children at the Cigar Family school
  • Continue making floor cleaner with my women’s group
  • Bring 2 or 3 women from my community to a women’s retreat (a brand spankin’ new project brought to you by two stellar business volunteers: Bob and Kaitlyn)
  • Bring boys or girls from my community to a boys or girls retreat

On top of this, I’m planning an annual hitch-hiking competition among all volunteers which is an UNofficial Peace Corps activity, I’m hosting at least 2 more US visitors, AND I’m studying for and taking the GRE on June 3rd. Ahhhh, snap!

Life feels comfortable. I’m adjusted. I speak Spanish. I have close friends in my site and within Peace Corps. I love my dog and spending time with my best friend Chulo. I love taking care of my house and my garden (I made it with just a kitchen knife! See Facebook for pictures.) The work is the same, the people are the same, the problems are the same, but my service is a whole lot better now that I speak the language and don’t feel alone. I live here. I have a life here.

February and March were busy months at the Cigar Family school. We had members from the Cigar Family Foundation come down and visit. They took a tour of the tobacco farm and then the school, followed by a nice dinner. I was invited by the Newman family, met lots of interesting people, and walked away with a couple fine cigars that are extremely hard to come by.

8th graders from Berkeley Preparatory School from Tampa, Fl came down on their annual trip to the CF school. I helped interpret for a woman who gave students eye exams, and we passed out donated eye glasses to students who needed them. The Berkeley kids also came out to my site to plant trees and help move rocks where we are going to build bleachers once my grant money gets filled. Donate?

Berkeley also donated 2 new basketballs and nets for our court. Thank you! I’d like to give a quick shout out to my girl Jennifer Lindsay- Thanks for the chat, I totally support you. Keep up the good fight: yay diversity!

So, I sort of came up with another idea for a mini-project, but that involves someone at home who would be interested in making it happen. After the Berkeley kids came and after a nice chat with my host mom yesterday, I realized that there is a definite need for reading glasses in my community. My host dad uses reading glasses, but they are too strong for my host mom and she doesn’t have money to buy her own pair. She also said that her brother thought for a long time that he couldn’t read but discovered he could once he put on a pair of reading glasses. Now, I know that you can get a pair in the States for way cheap (like seriously ONE dollar,) whereas eye glasses are more expensive here and people have less money. That made me think about the fact that my parents have lots of reading glasses laying around the house because they often lose their pair, buy more, then find their old pair. (It’s true Mom, admit one for the team. <3) Surely this happens to many people. Soooo, I think it would be great if someone (or many someones) took on their own reading glasses donation drive and collected some pairs then sent them down. I can do eye tests and pass them out, just collect ’em and send ’em on down! Could be one pair, could be a hundred. The need is great, but every little bit counts. Let me know if you are interested.

As you might recall from previous blogs, I had a photographer named Richard Sitler (Peace Corps Jamaica) come down last August and take pictures of my every day life. After visiting volunteers all over the world, his “Making Peace With the World” book is now for sale, and I’m in it! You can purchase it here:

Well, I must be going. I stayed up late last night with a group of friends up in Ben’s site in the mountain. We enjoyed a bonfire with all the things that make a bonfire great: hotdogs, snacks, beer, guitars, drum, and fun people. The night was clear, the stars were bright, we were surrounded by a bamboo forest with the mountain backdrop. Preciosa. Time to finish work online, go home and water my garden, then take a nap.

Have a great day! And don’t forget to donate! 🙂