Monday, June 25, 2012

What do you do in the mean time....

Well I have gotten a good jump on what I need to do. Mostly I get checklists and work though them. To give you idea my working list is below.

  • Read dossier sent by Peace Corps on Senegal & needed information
  • Accepted my Peace Corps invitation
  • Sent resume & papers to my Senegalese contact
  • Filed for Senegal visa and peace-keeping passport (along with the 18 passport photos needed)
  • Started immunizations for yellow fever, typhoid, Hep A&B, rabies and meningitis. (oh and I got a sample of malaria medication to "try"-yeah it's that good)
  • Purchased 2nd pair of glasses and acquired 6 months worth of medications (1st 3 months are training)
  • Made power of attorney, will, and other fun legal things
  • Making a packing list of things I have and other things I need (this is almost done!)
  • Updating friends and family on my travels, way of contact, etc
  • Updated blog, wondering what to do about twitter while I'm gone, along with Facebook
  • Collecting photographs to take with me (4" x 6")

And things I need to do and working on continuously
  • Studying french (official language in Senegal, I have had 2 years of it but need to work on it)
  • Researching Senegal in general, but more the land, crops that grow there and the different regions
  • Reading everything I can about various subjects-see reading list here
  • Seeing as many people as I can before I leave as I really do not want a going away party.
  • Sell a few things, namely my bicycle (Gary Fisher-Trek dual sport) and printer before I leave (let me know if you or someone you know is interested)
  • Port my cell phone number to google voice (pretty neat actually)
  •  Figuring out what to do with my motorcycles while I'm gone (most likely store them)

What I have been...

Reading: (anything in the last 5-7 years about the region, it seems very little has been wrote)
I will also be keeping a Reading/Resource list here on the header and will update it regularly. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!!

  • Love, Life and elephants: an African love story by Daphne Jerkins Sheldrick - Very interesting account of growing up in a very exploitative family in Kenya at the early 19th century.
  • Monique and the mango rains: two year with a midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway-
  • Senegal by Elizabeth Berg- lovely little book with a ton of simple to understand information, looks like a kids book but packs a punch
  • Tales of a female nomad: living at large in the world-50-somethign divorcee who on a whim goes to Mexico for 2 months, then after finalizing the divorce goes back to traveling full time. As a children's book writer she has a great eye and insight to the cultures she travels through.
  • The boy who harnessed the wind by William Kambwamba:  Teenage boy from Malawi that makes a windmill with bike parts and garbage to bring electricity to otherwise very barren existence.
  • Kin to the Wind by Moro Bohn: Traveling on the cheap, non-existent budget. 
What Happens When You Live Abroad
Glimpse: Stories from Abroad and the Matador Network
Rita Golden Gelman's blog

Blogs from other Peace Corps Volunteers
Youssou N'Dour: I bring what I love-
Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma

Ted Talks (on Netflix or
  •  From Poverty to Progress

French language and specifically french African culture
Packing lists and how to pack (I am bringing 2 bags-Kelty pack bag & Chrome messenger-total of 106 liters and a camelbak)
Water Quality & filtering
Nomads, ex-pats, and the like

Any other suggestions??

Monday, June 18, 2012

100 Days Until I leave

which doesn't sound like very long when you put it like that!!!

Things I look forward in doing in the next 100 days:
  • Seeing friends/family/everyone before I leave (most of my friends are travelers and so I feel very lucky to see as many as I will before I leave)
  • Creating a packing list/purchasing a few items and making a wishlist for a few items if I can afford them.
  • Reading (A LOT) and working on french on a daily basis
  • Organizing what I can and checking off things like mad.
  • Trying to take it all in, because it's the journey not the destination, right????

What am I missing? (I am constantly asking myself this!?)

Frequently Asked Questions

You may or may not be curious about my trip. I am always interested in people's reactions when I tell them about spending 27 months in Senegal and even more interested when I happen upon a returned Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV) or someone who has lived abroad for years. Below are some commonly asked questions I thought I would share.

2 years is LONG time, are you really going to be gone for that long?
2 years is a long time if you are counting every day as it goes by and do not like where you are. Where I will be might be the most comfortable place, but what is comfortable? Also how long does it take to put multiple projects into action with minimal resources?

What will you do there? 
Whatever I am asked to do. My title as Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agent sums it up pretty well, but if I am asked to do AIDS prevention/education work, I will. The best thing to have while going through this experience is an open mind.

Aren't you scared/you are brave/are you crazy?
I think this is just funny but also understandable. People are scared of what they do not understand and  "Courage is the resistance of fear not the absence of fear" -Mark Twain I might be crazy, but this experience fulfills many life-list goals I have wanted to do. Live abroad for a few years, learn a language fluently, and travel. Life can be scary, it is also what you make of it.

Why are you going there when you could volunteer here and help people here? (I have not had this question yet, but other RPCVs have told me this is common)
Some people are capable of certain things and others are able of other things. I have a strong preference to work/travel abroad while I am young and most likely when I am older (less wanting to be on a plane for 10+ hours) I will do volunteer work in the U.S. as I already do in various ways.

How long is the flight?
From Washington, D.C. where I will be staged to Dakar, Senegal is about 13 hours. And it's only 5 hours (GMT)  later there than Central Standard Time.

Have any other questions for me??? I'm excited for this trip and for others to see this part of the world with me.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What Will Matter?

for each of us eventually
whether we’re ready or not
someday it will come to an end
there will be no more sunrises
no minutes, hours or days
all the things you collected
whether treasured or forgotten
will pass to someone else
your wealth, fame and temporal power
will shrivel to irrelevance
it will not matter what you owned, or owed
your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies
will finally disappear
so too your hopes,
ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire
the wins and losses that once seemed so important
will fade away
it won’t matter where you came from
or on what side of the tracks you lived at the end
it won’t matter if you’re beautiful or brilliant
even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant
so what will matter?
how will the value of your days be measured?
what will matter is not what you bought, but what you built.
not what you got, but what you gave
what will matter is
not your success, but your significance
what will matter is
not what you learned, but what you taught
what will matter is every act of
courage or
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example
what will matter is not your competence
but your character
what will matter is not how many people you knew
but how many will feel a lasting lost when you’re gone
what will matter is not your memories
but the memories that live in those who loved you
a life lived that matters is not of circumstance
but of CHOICE
- The Beautiful Truth

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You are probably wondering....

Some information about my service:
  • My 1st 3 months there I will be in Thi├Ęs, Senegal and doing technical, language, cross-cultural, health and safety training before being moving to my placement within the country for the next 2 years of service.
  • While there I will be working with my Senegalese partners to help establish gardens, improve soil conditions, integrate techniques and crops if possible. (I also hope to doing bee work as my secondary project)
  • I will most likely be living in a dirt hut with a tin or metal roof, with no running water and electricity (I will purchase a solar charger there to power my electronics)
  • The local climate is tropical with well-defined dry and humid seasons. The dry season (December to April) with annual rainfall of about 24 in occurs between June and October when maximum temperatures average 86.0 °F and minimums 75.6 °F (this varies as you move inland)
  • French speaking with a few other dialects and is dominantly Muslim religion.
Cool things:
  • I can have visitors so you are ALL welcome to come visit!!!!!! (up to 2 weeks, round trip tickets are about $1500 but you can live on $10 a day) I would love to see you in Senegal!
  • If you can't visit you are more than welcome to send me a note, letter, email, or a package. My information is at the Contact Info page
  • I will learn lots of things of wonderful things (and I'm sure some not so wonderful things), meet some really cool people and some wonderful places.
  • I will be keeping a blog, even though postings might be once a month. But I hope to have pictures of all my crazy travels if nothing else.
  • I get a peacekeeping passport during service (which I think is green and an interesting tidbit)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Senegal for September...okay?!!

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive a letter saying I will be traveling to Senegal, West Africa for the PeaceCorps.

A lot has happened in since then and I need to start documenting a few things. For one my current timeline:

18 May: Received invitation letter to Senegal, West Africa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LOTS TO DO IN BETWEEN (paperwork, passports, visas, packing lists, SHOTS!, read up on Senegal and West Africa, practice french)

26 September: Travel to staging area (unknown as of yet-might be in Washington, D.C.) and spend  a few days getting briefed on a few things, get peacekeeping passport before I fly out and get to know my fellow PeaceCorps Volunteers (PCVs)

December: At this time I hope to be sworn and pass my 3-month training period within the country and will be placed at my home site for the rest of my 24 months of service.

December 2014: End of my service and yet to know what I am planning on doing next. (lots of ideas though)

I hope to keep this updated as I go through this process before I ship out. Plenty to do and research and I am very excited!!!1