Every week, I read dozens of pieces by dozens of different authors — each with their own style, voice, and expertise, and each with varying experience in writing. A little while ago, I did some fascinating research for an article about how to volunteer responsibly abroad. At least, I would be very flattered if you followed me enough to notice a thing like that. After returning to the U. Daydreaming about travel is almost as fun as traveling for real. Seriously, there have been scientific studies on the topic.
Is it safe to travel solo in Tokyo? What should you know before traveling alone in Tokyo? Read on Beat Nomad. Month three of a round the world journey In November of this year, Liz and I landed in Hanoi to embark on our third month of travel, and we were tired. Last Tuesday, I was stepping off a flight from Tokyo and being welcomed back into America by the oh-so-cheery Dallas airport.
Dallas was a weird first sample of America after two and a half years abroad.
- Madagascar – It's a Mad(agascar) World.
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- Volunteer Teaching in Madagascar | Projects Abroad;
The scenery during our walk and the reserve itself felt like the first taste of what I imagined Madagascar would be like when I got my site placement. Here are some lemur pics for your entertainment:. The rest of the weekend ended up being very chill. Meanwhile classes are continuing to go well.
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I held my first office hours last Thursday, which went about as I expected. For the first half hour students sort of wandered in and out, some of them with vocabulary questions, some of them just to giggle and point at the vazaha. Eventually a group of about 20 students gathered around the desk where I was sitting and started interviewing me in a mixture of English and Malagasy.
Literally, interviewing: one girl brought a small tape recorder and was holding it in front of me as I told them where I was from, about my family, and why I was volunteering in Madagascar. I then started showing them some music from the States, and was surprised that none of them had heard of singers such as Adele.
If this week is any indication of how the rest of the year is going to go, I am one lucky camper. My first day of class was Tuesday, and I had about 50 students. Despite a 10 minute interruption for a school-wide UNICEF announcement on hand-washing practices, I was able to get through most of my lesson plan with them. Though my pacing varied for each section I taught I made sure each class did an exercise that they had to hand in at the end of the class asking them to introduce themselves and tell me why they are studying English.
Not a single student had ever heard of The Beatles before, but two people were able to guess that we were learning about greetings. Aside from teaching, I had a few more exciting cultural adventures this week, some more fun than others. All I had to do was go to my neighbor and ask her to take it out with a sterilized pin I brought over.
Locals are the best people to get rid of them since they know how to do it without bursting the egg sack. Hello, my name is Emily and Iike long walks on the beach and talking about disgusting foot parasites. A more positive thing that happened this week was finally getting my bike fixed! They immediately took it from me and not only fixed the cable but filled up the tires with air.
Our plan is primarily to relax, and to hike the mountain close to my house.
Tomorrow is a new public holiday for Madagascar I believe to celebrate when they first became a Republic so all the schools and public businesses in the country will be closed. And, you know, terrified.
Thankfully this week had a lot of high points to balance out some of the rougher days. On Monday night a couple of representatives from the US Embassy who were here to do pre-election observations invited all of the volunteers in the area to dinner. It was a great opportunity to pick their brains on the political situation in the country and to hear about their previous travels and work experience. The real highlight of the week though was a last minute visit from two other volunteers, Kristin and Natalie. It was exactly what I needed to feel rejuvenated for the week ahead. I also went to another meeting for the English Center on Saturday.
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Not only was I surprised to be attending a meeting on a weekend afternoon, but I was truly impressed by the organization and vision of the new Executive Board. They discussed the rights and responsibilities of members of the center, discussed course fees and objectives, and even instituted an anti-discrimination policy. All of them are motivated to make English learning more accessible in the area and their excitement is infectious.
To top things off, I had my first small victory in integration today. One thing I was worried about was not having anything to do before classes start. One girl in particular has taken it upon herself to introduce me to a bunch of her friends and show me the vendors she goes to in the market. Another volunteer was working here for the summer, and I spent her last day with her at a hotel with an infinity pool?!
I finished the last step of my installation on Friday, when I went through a whirlwind of introductions with my training manager Robert. According to local custom new volunteers are supposed to meet all of the important people in their respective sites. I ended up meeting my Proviseur Principal , her Adjoint Vice Principal , the adjoint to the head of the local school system, the police chief, the district and neighborhood heads of the gendarmes a more local police group , and the adjoint to the district head of the town.
All that in two hours. Now I just need to be patient, and get ready to start teaching! This is what Fasikarana does to your sanity. The mouse lemur! Swimming in the hot springs. At the largest waterfall in Ranomafana. View from Pic Boby. On the train! Life goes on. Enjoying coconuts on the beach. Lakana in paradise.
click here All smiles post-lesson! Catch of the day. Obviously we all know this. But sometimes, you just need to have that vent session with a fellow volunteer who just, gets it. Just wait, it will. The dedication and perseverance I have seen the locals in my community as well as within the Peace Corps Staff is outstanding. Through think and thin, almost everyone I have worked with, within the Peace Corps walls to talking with other members of society as been quite admirable.
Shoutout to the staff for doing the job of 5 people, at least, but due to circumstances above my volunteer pay-grade, they are on work overload working day and night to make sure all of our volunteer needs, requirements, and concerns are met. Your dedication has and will never go unnoticed. But I am. I am a foreigner. With that, this vazaha was able to teach about America, and show my friends a different side of the world, open a new light, and gain insight. This vazaha, was able to learn about a new and different culture and meet new and different people. Easier said than done, of course.
But without being challenged, and being forced outside my comfort zone, I would not have grown as well in my community than if I had stayed within the comfort of my uncomfortable toilet of a house.
There are deals in shopping second hand. The best clothes I own have been fripped, bought second hand on the side of the streets at the markets.
Goodwill has nothing on the streets of Fort Dauphin, let me tell you. Drink that beer. Swim in that shisto-free water. Flip that hair. English should be fun. Learning should be fun. I started having the most fun when I started teaching them songs from the best ginger around, Ed Sheeran. Even better was when my students would sing and remember the songs I taught.
They had learned something.
So did I. Everyone has them. You have it. I learned my coping mechanisms, healthy and not, but it helped me deal with the rollercoaster of events that took place in my life over service. I was lucky to find a way to deal and build up a resiliency to things that came my way. I had to. As a person who sucks in all the feelings and rarely cries in public, closing service was an emotional time.
We had all uprooted our lives for 2 years and changed through personal and emotional growth.