To never have to start a sentence with "I wish I would have..."


The contents and opinions of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Peace Corps or the U.S. government.

Monday, June 27, 2011

50 Books

I just finished reading my 50th book in country (the ones with stars are my favorites):

*Educating Esme (Esme Raji Codell)
The 10th Circle (Jodi Picoult)
The Alchemist (Paulo Coelino)
A Wrinkle in Time (L'Engle)
Last Summer of You and Me (Ann Brasheares)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Mark Haddan)
*The Glass Castle (Jeanette Walls)
House of Sand and Fog (Andre DuBus III)
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
Three Junes (Julia Glass)
*Running with Scissors (Augusten Burroughs)
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood (Rebecca Wells)
*The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
The Pact (Jodi Picoult)
*The Giver (Lois Lowry)
Boy Meets Girl (Meg Cabot)
Queen of Babble in the Big City (Meg Cabot)
The Beach House (Jan Green)
Three Cups of Tea (Greg Mortenson)
Cesar's Way (Cesar Milan)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
*Mister Pip (Lloyd Jones)
*Naked (David Sedaris)
The Fall (Albert Camus)
Picture Perfect (Jodi Picoult)
*Same Kind of Different as Me (Ron Hall and Denver Moore)
Bloodsucking Fiends (Christopher Moore)
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitsgerald)
*The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
Disgrace (J.M. Coetzee)
*Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)
For One More Day (mitch Albom)
The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
In the Time of the Butterflies (Julia Alvarez)
The Indian in the Cupboard (Lynne Reid Banks)
The Post-Birthday World (Lionel Shriver)
The Hour I First Believed (Wally Lamb)
Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
The Devil in the White City (Erik Larson)
*A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
Conversations with my Dog (Zig Ziglar)
*The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)
*Little Bee (Chris Cleave)
*5 Quarters of the Orange (Joanne Harris)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larson)
B is for Beer (Tom Robbins)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

41 PCVs + 36 cans of paint + Ugandan students + 8 walls = best and most productive weekend ever

I've delayed. I know. But the story (and more importantly, the pictures!) is finally here. As of 2 weeks ago I finished up my huge mural painting project. The idea was to get people talking about how to avoid the spread HIV/AIDS. My students drew pictures depicting situations that can potentially lead to spreading HIV, such as sharing needles and having multiple sexual partners. Aside from the planning and organizing, I really can't take that much credit for it. My students did the majority of the prep work and, with the help of some truly amazing Peace Corps volunteers, we finished up the painting in one day. The pictures are posted on facebook, from the beginning of the project to the (almost) end. We still have to put a few messages in local language up, but we're getting there.

The entire weekend was a huge success. I was anticipating a few bumps along the way, but honestly it couldn't have run more smoothly. I hosted about 28 PCVs at my house and when everyone arrived Friday night we ate 4 kilos of rice (and who knows how many grilled veggies) out of a huge pot, family style.

Saturday was painting day! Each of the 8 painting sites had 2-3 PCVs and several students from the college. By the time I finished running around making sure people had paintbrushes, mixing containers, paint thinner, etc., most of the work was finished! I can't even begin to express my gratitude to the group of PCVs who came down to help out. Even more amazing was how proud my students were of their work. They were the artists and had a lot of say in how they wanted their pictures colored. It was one of the best days I've had at site.

As a thank you to having everyone come down and help, we roasted 2 goats and a chicken on Sunday. We also had a football match, PCVs vs. Rakai PTC students. Sunday was pretty much a day to relax and hang out. We had another family style meal while we were waiting for the meat to cook, this time an appetizer of guacamole. I think at least 20 avocados went into the mix!

Thanks for everyone's support throughout this project. Feedback is welcome!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Laziness takes on a whole new meaning

This past week has been my busiest since I’ve been in country. I’ve been waking up at 6 to try and squeeze in a work out before spending the better half of the day at the college (on average from 8-6 every day). My students have been phenomenal. We managed to paint, grid, and draw all 8 pictures on the mural sites in 3 days. I thought drawing the pictures would take us all weekend and part of Monday to finish…my students finished on Thursday! When I told them to break for lunch, they told me they were going to finish before eating. I was shocked; I’ve never gotten that sort of response from anyone here! In my experience, they try and find any excuse they can to get out of working. It really made me realize how pumped my students are about this project. Joan, one of the second year girls in my girls club, came up to me and said how proud she was to be involved in the project and how it was going to do amazing things for the community by spreading educational messages. This whole week I have been busting with pride. I can’t stop smiling! This magnificent high I’ve been riding is still around, and I ‘m freaking loving it. To feel this good about work for this long is a foreign concept for me, but I really hope it continues to last. My community is coming alive and I can’t wait to see how they interact with the 35+ Peace Corps volunteers that are coming down my way next weekend to help us paint.

Now for the downside…getting all the work done on Thursday meant I really didn’t have much to do over the weekend. I decided I’d take Friday off and have a “me day.” Bad idea. Laziness here is like this terrible black hole. It sucks you in without warning and before you know it you’ve watched 8 episodes of Freaks and Geeks, had 5 cups of hot chocolate, and devoured an entire 2.5 serving pasta meal. Did I just confess to that? Oops. But it’s true. And after the awesome productive week I had I felt so disgusted with myself after Friday. And guilty. I felt like such a waste of a human being and I really didn’t like it. I didn’t leave my house and I don’t even think I changed out of my pajamas all day. I guess days like that are good every once in a while, but they’re also dangerous. It’s terrifyingly easy to slip into that mindset of “just one more episode…” and the next thing you know it’s 8:00 at night and you haven’t done a single productive thing all day.

I’m definitely going to make up for it this week, though. Before Friday I have to slash my yard, clear the walk ways, clean the latrine, empty out and clean the neighboring house, clean my house, arrange to have 20 mattresses delivered, teach 7 lessons at the college, pay for and pick up the 2 goats we’ll be roasting at the celebration on Sunday, make sure the football pitch is ready for the tournament, sensitize my kids about proper behavior around visitors (ie, not begging for money or calling them mazungu), and have a meal ready for the 24 people staying at my house by the time they all get here Friday evening. Just another week in Uganda!

Wish me luck! Completed mural pictures to come soon!

Love y’all,