Thursday, March 31, 2011

Personal Space, Or A Lack There Of..

I stopped on the street to get something out of my bookbag.  Apparently, I had forgotten to zip my dress all the way, but no worries, there was a random stranger passing by who took it upon herself to zip it without my consent.  She thought I didnt speak English, so I guess thats why she didnt bother to say anything?  Once she was done, she just continued on her way.  There are many interesting things to point out in this situation.  For instance, this would NEVER happen back home.  People back home wouldnt even tell you, let alone take the initiative to help you out by zipping it up.  2. Normally I would freak out if some one invaded my bubble.  I mean to some extent I did freak out, but Im starting to get used to having no personal space at all.  Bye bye bubble :-(. 3. Its quite common that people touch, get in your face close to talk, or invite themselves into your bubble on a normal basis.  Its just the way it goes here. 4.  I guess thats what Peace Corps is all about, challenging yourself and learning new things.  I am certainly challenging my bubble, and most definitely learning new things about myself and others.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Help Me Help Others Help Themselves

As you may or may not know, I will be assisting in establishing a library at the school in my community, Emmanuel High School Mespo.  

How can you help, you ask? 

So glad you asked! There are many ways you can help.

1. You can donate money (which is tax deductible) to Hands Across the Sea**.
2. You can collect and donate gently used books to Hands Across the Sea**.
3. You can spread the word so that more people will be aware and get involved!

But more importantly, you can specify that the money and/or books are for my project and ensure that the money and/or books are going to my community directly.

**Hands Across the Sea is a non profit organization dedicated to raising literacy levels and assisting schools in the Eastern Caribbean. For more information, go to:
To donate specifically to my project and EHSM, please email or and specify my name and Emmanuel High School to ensure donations are going directly to my cause!

I will be working with EHSM staff to compile a book list to distribute so if you choose to donate books you will have a direction of what types of books would be appropriate. 

Help me increase literacy levels in SVG!

If you have any questions about how you can get involved and increase literacy levels in SVG or anything else pertaining to Hands Across the Sea, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Flood of Rain and Thoughts

At first I used to get really frustrated waiting hours for the bus, after a long day of training.  But now, I have come to expect it and even enjoy waiting.  It is at the bus stop and on the bus ride home that I do most of my thinking and reflecting on the day’s events, what I learned, how I am adapting, what is my purpose for being here, what I have accomplished and so forth, among many other topics. It was yesterday, that I had the epiphany that my outlooks on people, which most definitely reflect my upbringing in New York, and subsequently living in Philadelphia for five and a half years, should be adapted slightly. While waiting for the bus in Philadelphia, everyone stands very far apart keeping to themselves and hardly ever talking to another person. Never in America will you have deep philosophical conversations with strangers at a bus stop, as I did yesterday.  Deep philosophical conversations about your beliefs in god and the universe, creation and how things came to be, the concept of time, and your views about life (is it a blessing, a gift, a chore, etc.), thoughts about children and parenting, the meaning of love, and marriage, outlooks on humanity and respect for others, and so on.  These are the topics that I discussed with a total stranger while waiting for the bus. I never thought I would have to confront my thoughts on these topics and have to share them with a total stranger.  Yes I have thought about some of these topics, probably not fully, but it was yesterday that it really got me thinking.
How do I feel about these topics?  What do I think about life? What do I want to do? What is my stance on love, religion, and humanity? Do I even want to have kids? Do I value marriage as for a lifetime, is love unconditional? How do I go about balancing my personal beliefs with the perceived collective beliefs of my culture and the way that things are seemingly going in the world?
In college, I took a course entitled Science and Religion.  My motivation for taking this course was two fold.  I needed an elective that was not in the College of Engineering, and I could not possibly take anything that was not in some way science related, and I have a deep appreciation for Einstein who often wrote about his views of religion through the lens of science. Since reading a number of books on the topic, I have become very interested in the balancing the known with the unknown.  How does one who is scientific, rational, logical view religion and god?  Einstein dealt with this topic a great deal as well as others whom I have read detailing the specifics about God’s role in mathematics.  It was yesterday that these ideas came back to me.  I never did resolve my own views, and here I was being confronted about this very topic.  A topic, which I thought, was so esoteric and off the radar that only I would think of such things on a semi-normal basis.  Its quite possible that the stranger was approaching the subject from a totally different perspective or angle, and I interpreted it through my scientific-background perspective.  I guess it is time to get back to these questions and reflect on my views about the world and life. 
It is also appropriate and ironic that during the last few weeks I have been reading a book focused around a spiritual awakening of a mother and daughter.  Each is on a quest for greater meaning and their true calling in life. I spent lunch and part of the after noon reading this novel which culminated in a reawakening of these same and similar thoughts in me. On the same day, similar themes have surfaced in the novel as did in my conversation with the stranger.  What a weird coincidence! Or was it?

I Got Caught Up... the moment, so I never posted anything about my final packing experience. I guess I got caught up with leaving and posting about my new life and all the new experiences I was having and completely forgot to tell about my final frantic hours of packing. Well, I was up until the wee hours of the night before departure day finalizing my packing list. Yet, somehow (really, if it werent for Chris, I would not have been able to pack at all) I managed to fit mostly everything I wanted to bring with me in my 80lbs allotment. I did have to forfeit a bottle of body wash, and several pairs of shoes.  I was even 4 lbs below the limit, but better safe than having to pay tons of baggage fees!
In all, after all was said and done I managed to fit:
  1. Queen set of sheets
  2. 3 pair dress pants
  3. 2 blazers
  4. 6 dresses
  5. 3 pair athletic shorts
  6. 4 drexel tshirts
  7. 4 cardigans
  8. 12 blouses
  9. 2 pair shorts
  10. 2 bathing suits
  11. 7 skirts
  12. 6 shirts
  13. 4 pair shoes (hiking boot/sneakers, sandals, keen sandals, dress shoes)
  14. 1 sweatshirt
  15. 1 pair khakis
  16. 1 pair hiking pants
  17. 6 undershirts
  18. 5 quick drying towels
  19. 3 slips
  20. 3 books
  21. 2 journals
  22. 2 scrapbooks
  23. a clothes iron
  24. 3 flashlights
  25. duct tape
  26. 2 tubes of superglue
  27. tons of zip lock baggies
  28. multi tool and hunting knife
  29. twine
  30. safety pins
  31. scissors
  32. zip ties
  33. tons of batteries
  34. 5 drexel carabiners, 4 heavy duty carabiners
  35. 2 decks of playing cards
  36. toys for kids
  37. markers/pens/pencils
  38. toiletries
  39. 4 bottles of benedryl
  40. 4 epipens!
  41. sewing kit
  42. dictionary/thesaurus
  43. 2 pairs of glasses
  44. 2 pairs of sunglasses
  45. calculator!
  46. 3 notebook/folders
  47. tons (but not enough) handwipes
  48. 5 toothbrushes
  49. electronics
  50. rain jacket!
Chris holding all my stuff, because I couldnt and him ignoring me!
 My mom made me hold this sign at the airport!
 Mommy me and Daddy (Dad doesnt look too happy:-( )
 Waiting, Waiting, Waiting. Thanks alot Snow/PC!
 Im very angry in this pic, IDK if you can tell.
 Christopher and I at the airport (missing my straight hair!).

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Four Main Food Groups

Margarine and/or Oil

In SVG, in my experience so far, I have noticed that at least one of the four ingredients mentioned above is the main ingredient in every dish.  It is for this reason, that I have dubbed them, the "Four Main Food Groups". These ingredients are added in copious amounts, usually to taste.

For instance:
Margarine and/or oil is used to coat the bottom of a pan so whatever it is that is being prepared does not stick; Oil is used to fry nearly everything that I eat-meat (i do not eat this, but meat is often fried), fish, vegetables (eggplant), fruit (banana fritters, which are kind of like fried pancakes?), you name it, its fried in oil. Margarine is also used as a base for soups/stews.
Salt is used in everything.  But not just a little salt to taste.  Its like a quarter cup of salt at each step of preparing the food.
Sugar is used to cook meat as a sauce, it is used in the "juice" which is basically koolaid.  However, the "juice" mix doesnt actually call for any sugar, its similar to crystal light in that it is artificially sweetened, yet everyone adds about 2 cups of sugar to it anyways!
Mayonnaise is used for salads, on sandwiches, to make spreads, and anything else you can think of.

Needless to say, my body is not accustomed to these main food groups, especially the fried food.  I guess this will come with time?