13 September 2006

A Few Oddities...

So, what do you pack if you're moving to Africa for over 2 years? Well, aside from the obvious (*cough* sunblock *cough*), there's a few little things that I'm bringing that aren't on the normal lists:

1. An actual lantern. It was a gift from the University of Pittsburgh during a welcoming ceremony. Who knew it would come in handy?

2. Eagles teddy bear. Because soccer just isn't the same. *sigh*

3. My U2 hoodie. Now, the temperature may never drop into the seventies while I'm there, but it's the same as a security blanket to me. All about comfort. Only Maeg and Shelly would understand the joy of gay men dancing.

4. Christmas music. I adore Christmas, and Christmas music is one of my favorite things about the season. So, I'm bringing it along.

5. Wildwood camera-telescope keychains. They remind me of old friends and great times, and I'll bet they don't have anything like them in Togo.

6. My Live 8 pass. It's something small to hang up in my house to serve as a reminder of how decent people can be, even in Philly in 90 degree weather with little shade. "Free hugs!"

I'm sure I'll wind up stuffing a few other things in my bag at the last second, but these ones are all ready to go.

31 August 2006

It's not a 2-year paid vacation.

For those of you curious about what I'll be doing, this is a brief overview that comes directly from the Peace Corps' website.

"Togo's numerous pressing development challenges have increased in recent years due to political and economic instability. A significant percentage of Togo's rural population lives in extreme poverty. Less than 30 percent of the female population has the opportunity for education or training that can equip them to participate in the development of their communities. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases continue to increase at an alarming rate, with HIV infection estimated to be at nine percent of the adult population. Deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation are worsening as the country's growing population places increased demands on its natural resource base. The Peace Corps works to promote self-sufficiency in the areas of business and micro-enterprise development, environment, health, and education."

My specific program:
"A new Girls' Education and Empowerment Project was launched in 2000. Volunteers work closely with village development committees, schools, and parents to devise and implement solutions to promote improved access to, and quality of, education for girls. In addition, Volunteers help teachers revise lesson plans, adopt more hands-on and inclusive teaching techniques, and encourage female students to continue their studies."

Some facts about Togo:

Population Average: 5,000,000 (roughly the same as the state of Minnesota)

Languages spoken: Bassar, Cotocolis, Ewe, French, Gourma, Ife (Ana), Kabiye, Komkonba, Moba, Tchamba, Tchokossi, Tem (There are more than 60 different ethnic groups in Togo!)

Togo is 4 hours ahead of Philadelphia. Right now. It changes to 5 hours when we turn our clocks back.

You could fit the entire nation of Togo inside Pennsylvania. Twice.

22 August 2006

The heart has reasons which reason cannot understand.-Blaise Pascal

If you ask me why I decided on the Peace Corps before law school, before grad school, before having any real idea of where I'm going with my life and what I want to be when I grow up, here's why: I don't know and Just because. That's all I've got. I wish I could tell you more, but the fact of the matter is I don't know, and just because. Ask me again on December 31, 2008, and maybe I'll have a better answer for you. Most likely not, though. I'll probably look at you funny and ask you why you would ask me why I did something that's already done. That's just how I roll.

Countdown: 27 days until Staging

Song of the Moment: "Lola"-The Kinks