Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm down like the economy

One of my assignments while I'm here--clean up the beaches.

Cows on the beach. I prefer them on a bun--but this'll do.

I joined in a little later. Wasn't pretty.

The only reason why I haven't ET'ed. Just kidding, Mom.

Sarah and I at Villa Beach in St. Vincent.

Sunset in St. Vincent. So perfect.

"Kanye West is a jackass"-Barack Obama
(I paraphrased for emphasis)

Monday, September 28, 2009

I will play my games beneath the spin light

I am officially a month into my service here in St. Vincent--or Vincy. My lifestyle has dramatically changed in some ways and remained completely stagnant in others; however if you had asked me to predict the outcome of either, I would have been way off. My reliance on pop culture is waining, whereas my interest in politics is continuing to increase. I have learned to fully depend on people for certain things, such as a ride into town or food on the table, but have become self sufficient in other areas, such as braiding my hair (if you've ever lived with me..you know what a big deal this is.) Finding time to myself has become a constant, yet important, struggle; whereas I am finding it easier and easier to develop fascinating and forever evolving relationships. I have learned how to bite my tongue at differences but speak louder when boundaries are crossed. I've learned that just glancing at the ocean or a worn out note from an old friend can change the outcome of a day. And I've learned that there's something to be said about taking it slow--whether it be a relationship, a friendship, a job or just an unfamiliar situation.

I have been playing volleyball pretty regularly with some of the locals. They play shoeless on some of the hardest concrete I have ever stepped on. The experience has far exceeded the daily workout I anticipated. One of the other volunteers gave me a book about a volunteer in Africa and he explained my situation so brilliantly that I had never looked at it this way until I read it right off the pages. You come into the Peace Corps with the intention of learning how to live off of minimum wage, how to modestly conduct yourself for the next two years--only focusing on what you don't have. When, in actuality, the antithesis comes up and slaps you in the face when you're least expecting it. I never realized the men I played next to each night had no other choice--I thought they were just opting out of shoes. When I asked one of them why they didn't wear shoes, he looked at the ground, ashamed, and said 'I don't have any, miss.' In my mind, I couldn't fathom someone not having tennis shoes. And then it hit me. This isn't just about learning how to live without things--it's also about realizing just how much I do have. I might play volleyball on an uneven concrete court with only three balls for the next two years, but I will go home. I will go home to air conditioned gyms with brand new balls and perfect lighting. I will go home to a country where the majority of people have a job and a health care plan. I will go home to diversity and a melting pot of religions, ethnicity and backgrounds. But they will still be playing on that concrete court without any shoes.

Better to die standing, than to live on your knees--Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whoop Whoop, chicken chicken. Whoop Whoop chicken head.

It has been over a week since I have started training in St. Vincent--two weeks since I started the Peace Corps. Everything is going relatively well..nothing too horrifying has happened yet. I have to travel pretty far for Internet access, which is why my contact with anyone in the states has been scarce.

My host family experience so far has been amazing. My host mom is the principal at a local school and an excellent cook. My favorites so far have been the fresh banana bread and cod fish (separately..of course). Most of what she cooks is extremely fresh and locally grown. I've heard she also makes delicious cakes--I'm looking forward to devouring those. I have also formed a good relationship with her niece. She is 17 and goes to one of the community colleges on the island. The first night in my homestay while sitting down to eat dinner with the rest of the family, I asked her what type of music she liked. When she responded 'Lil' Wayne' I immediately shouted 'SCHWING', while shooting my hand in the air for a high five. Everyone just stared at me, but she started laughing. We've been friends ever since.

I went to my worksite last week and have been in contact with the principal since then. I will be mainly focusing on remedial reading, but they also want me to start some after school sports teams, which I am so pumped about. However, there are many resource challenges that come with the project. They have a VERY limited supply of sporting equipment and hardly no areas to compete. And until I can figure out a way to combat these complications, I will just have to make due.

I have enjoyed my time with the other Peace Corps volunteers. This weekend I was able to visit 3 different beaches with various volunteers. I was also able to see the house I will be living in for the duration of my 2 years. It is absolutely beautiful! I cannot wait to have visitors :)

Church on Sunday went well. It is an integrated part of society and it was a good experience to see how they conduct their worship services. For some reason Sunday made me the most homesick. Once Church was over, all I wanted to do was eat one of my Dad's elaborate Sunday breakfasts and watch golf. Although neither was possible, it was still good to be able to relax at my homestay.

Yesterday a man came up to me and asked me if misquitoes had bitten my face. I guess I need to get some acne medication.

On that note, I'm going to head back to my village. I'll let you know how the acne thing works out.