Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Off I go. Where I fall is where I land.

For my sister:

I know you’ve been to Africa before, but this time will be different. You’re staying for three months. This isn’t a vacation and you will not be a tourist. Things will change, you will change.

But don’t be scared of the changes. Your core will still be there in the end.

The American ideals and values you have been instilled with will be challenged daily. Lose some of them. They’re shit anyways.

Don’t be afraid to cry. Just don’t cry in front of any of the locals. No matter how much you explain to them, they will never understand.

Don’t worry if you lose your faith. It will come back again.

Try to see the beauty in everything. It may be impossible, but trying is the most important part.

Nurture your relationships with your fellow missionaries. They will be the only ones who understand what you went through.

You will see and experience things that no one back home can understand. Don’t fault them for this.

Wear bug spray.

Work as much as you can with children. They are the most impressionable and your impact on them is far greater than you think.

Don’t compromise who you are just to fit in. Ever.

Find a beach when there‘s a full moon.

Video tape everything.

Don’t drink the local rum..every day. It’s homemade and ridiculously strong.

Take diarrhea medicine as soon as your stomach starts to feel even a little weird.
If there‘s one thing Americans need, it is a broader sense of right and wrong. Just because they do something different, doesn’t make them wrong. Keep this in mind when you’re trying to convert witch doctors :)

Take a piece of home with you. Whether it be a picture, a stuffed animal or a song. You’ll want to feel home from time to time.
Your weight will fluctuate from week to week. Don't stress about it, because it will be the least of your worries.

Hug people a lot this last week you’re home. You have no idea how much you will miss getting a real hug from people that love you.

Take a journal.

And always, always remember how much you are loved and missed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I try my best, and you do. And all you want is something you can move to.

Because of recent donations, we were able to add two more programs in the areas of Sandy Bay and North Union. Your donations are greatly appreciated and put to good use :)
If you are interested in donating, you can email me or send checks to:
Neely Thomson
US Peace Corps
Cyrus Street
New Montrose
St. Vincent, WI
'We need more people speaking out. This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers. It's overrun with sheep and conformists.' --Bill Maher

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

They call me Mr. Boombastic

It's the rainy season. Never before has rain meant so much. It means I will get free tomatoes from my neighbors. It means cockroaches will be forever present in my kitchen. It means lettuce will be cheaper. It means I won't have to go to school some days. But, most importantly it means that my garden will start to grow.

Thanks to some very nice friends of my mom, I was able to plant broccoli, cabbage, marigolds, tomatoes and cilantro in my yard...all with the help of a local of course. I mean, come on, me instinctively knowing how to plant a garden, not gonna happen. But it's day 4 and nothing has died yet. Nothing has actually grown either, but that's a glass half empty way to look at it.

This morning it started to pour during break time, so I had a couple minutes to myself before students would rush into my classroom. And I got to thinking about all the various and controversial teaching methods I use. Most, of which, would disappoint anyone with a teaching degree and probably most without one.

How I became in charge of the whole remedial reading department at my primary school is beyond me. My classroom management skills are sub par and my knowledge of teaching strategies is even worse.

Case in point: I spit gum at a student once because she wouldn't stop talking.

I also give my students a 10 second countdown to return from using the restroom. This strategy prevents any hand washing or toilet paper use. But, hey, I get on with my lesson. This is probably the reason I get a virus every other Tuesday.

When a kid starts to complain about homework or my strict 10 second rule, I start fake crying. The crying gets louder until the kid stops complaining.

If someone tattles, I mock them.

We have dance offs and hand slapping competitions. Farting contests and animal noise impressions. And I have yet to end a class without playing hangman, where, of course, I always win.

And every once in a while I'll catch myself in the middle of one of these and wonder what the American Board of Education would have to say about this. And then I realize that thankfully they will never have to know.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you and miss you everyday.

Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.--Boondock Saints