Friday, April 5, 2013

Chapter 27

This doesn't even come close to summing it all up, I have finally accepted the reality that nothing I do or say can ever really summarize this experience. Ever. But I couldn't go out without one final blog post, so here is a video...

Thank you for following my blog and this experience. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sammy, my pet lizard(S)

One of the biggest accomplishments of my service has definitely been training the lizards to stay out of my room. It took about a week for me to get accustommed to having random things crawl, jump and scamper across the walls, floors and windows but once I did...they actually became more like companions. A sign of life in my apartment other than just myself. Anyway, I was cool with cohabiting with them everywhere except my bedroom. I just felt a boundary needed to be set. Every once in awhile a newbie made its way back to my room but otherwise, I will say we developed a mutual understanding.

I can't say that I will miss these little guys, but it's been real.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Shelf

Final count, 31 books. Not too shabby, averaged about a book a month for 2 years. The funny thing is I feel like I have read soooo much during this time, which really just reflects how little I was actually reading for leisure before my service. I intend to keep it up...

  1. The Healing Power of Psalms
  2. Living in the Light (2nd time)
  3. Me Talk Pretty One Day
  4. Happiness is an Inside Job
  5. The Mind of the Soul - Gary Zukav and Linda Francis
  6. Sputnik Sweetheart
  7. Skinny Bitch (2nd time)
  8. Wherever You go There you Are- John Kabat-Zinn
  9. Ishmael
  10. The way of the Peaceful Warrior
  11. If the Buddha Dated
  12. Child of my Heart
  13. The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire
  14. The History of Love
  15. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes- Maya Angelou
  16. The five love languages
  17. I know why the Caged Bird sings- Maya Angelou
  18. The Four Agreements (3rd time) - Don Miguel Ruiz
  19. Poet of the Caribbean (musings of a global peacemaker)- Mama Lizzie
  20. Making room for the Caribbean Family in the Church- Lionel Richards
  21. Shadows of the Sacred- Frances Vaughan
  22. Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now- Maya Angelou
  23. The Giver- Lois Lowry
  24. Finding Inner Courage- Mark Nepo
  25. Naked- David Sedaris
  26. **Women Who Run With the Wolves***- Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. (A MUST read for women when their time comes. This book READ me!!!)
  27. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- Rebecca Skloot
  28. The Woman who Owned the Shadows - Paula Gunn Allen
  29. Were Mommas Tears in Vain- Richard Byron Cox
  30. A Woman's Worth- Marianne Williamson
  31. The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas (personal accomplishment, longest fiction piece I have read to date, yeaaaa)

Peace Is...

Collective reflections on peace from Pieces of Peace 2012

Peace Is:
A world of togetherness where unity, cooperation and communication are one.
To be, to feel connected, by love, for love, with love. Not divided by race, needs or greed but only by distance by the seas between us yet we stay connected as one harmoniously. R.L.
Peace es Paz
Take the time to appreciate the moment in your life there you will find peace- Sean
First be truthful to thyself then peace unto the I
Because we are inherently selfish, peace represents our evolution from this state into the realization that we are all connected. In this realization, we are more conscious of our fellow man and his well being.
Peace is a place within a space in your mind, heart and soul. Peace is found in being still, knowing how small yet infinite it is to be divine. Peace is Bliss.
Serenity in the midst of chaos
Peace is Unity
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace – jimi Hendrix
Peace is the absence of selfishness. Existing beyond the borders of our differences in harmony, in love.
Being ok , with self, finding comfort within, letting it be absorbed by everyone around spreading positive vibes and becoming one with self and the goodness in the environment.
Peace , love happiness and compassion . Is there a better place in the world, to start making the world a better place, than right here in SVG?
We need peace without equal rights and justice there will be no peace.
Peace is the recognition of the inherent worth of every living thing
Harmony with life, people and earth
Beyond the walls of our mind, beyond the physical structures that bind, peace is the eternal force that keep a society together, binding, strengthening man, woman and child.
Wisdom, knowledge, understanding
Unity, Harmony and love to bring about togetherness for all of man kind
Love beyond reason, freedom and joy
A still heart and open exchange among people
Togetherness, a bond, unity, and unbreakable cohesiveness among all walks of life. And effortless, uncontaminated, love. Simple and serene. This is peace.
Please. Encourage. All.Children.Everywhere
If we start with the children, teaching them about peace. I think the world would eventually be better. Peace means to me inner contentment. Love, kindness and faith.
Peace is the live in love. Peace is understanding. Peace is togetherness.
Create Peace within yourself to create peace in the world

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Trouble in Paradise...

I actually started this post a few months ago and have been debating on whether or not to post it. But what the heck, this is my blog  so here it is...

Why it bothers me anytime someone casually says "So how is paradise?" I know you loving Paradise? How you going to leave Paradise? I'd much rather be in Paradise than here!"... Is that so? Disclaimer, this is not directed towards any one person. It is honestly a response to months and months of tongue biting whenever this word has been thrown my way. Please note, this is only MY opinion from my personal experiences. There are other volunteers as well as Vincentians that do consider this Paradise, I speak for myself only .

 I guess we need a working definition of  the term Paradise : Paradise is a religious term for a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the supposed miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and idleness. Paradise is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, in contrast to Hell (Wikipedia)

or how about par·a·dise (
3. A place of ideal beauty or loveliness.
4. A state of delight  

Prior to my service here I had no idea that Peace Corps served in the Eastern Caribbean. I was aware that island life was not all sunshine and pleasantries behind the scenes but I did not know the extent to which many of the smaller islands still struggle.

This excerpt was in my Peace Corps invitation packet :  "The Caribbean is often referred to as paradise and is a tourist destination for many. This may lead you to wonder why the Peace Corps has a program here. Looking beyond the lens of a tourist you will see that the islands of Eastern Caribbean are working in earnest to diversify their economies, develop necessary infrastructure and attend to pressing educational, health and social needs. "

The film Life and Debt by Stephanie Black also highlights some of these issues.  It examines the economic and social situation in Jamaica, and specifically the impact thereon of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank's globalization policies. Its starting point is the essay A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. (Wikipedia)

Now don't get me wrong, there are many positives about island life in the Eastern Caribbean... rich in culture (music, food, language, art...), chill pace, powerful and resilient history, immense lush geographical beauty and amazing people full of life, laughter and potential. But to just throw a blanket over the other things and call it paradise because of  what  enchants  your eye...that is what gets to me.

It goes both ways, many of the islands sell  "Paradise" to others and profit off this image to a certain degree.

This post is NOT to take away from the inherent beauty of this land or the radiant lovingness that exudes from some of its people. Or from some of the very successful people doing big things here that choose to stay or from those just living life with no desire or want for anything other than their homeland. This place is a gem in many ways, Yes. I just feel we should be mindful of slapping pretty little labels such as "Paradise" over an entire region  in effort to avoid silencing the very real cries and very important issues that exist underneath what is appealing to the eye. Placing all the focus on the beautiful land while not acknowledging the conditions of the people seems counter intuitive to me.

I am sure my response also has something to do with the nature of my life here, being a volunteer, as if I am chilling on the beach everyday sipping pina coladas taking naps in hammocks. That is not the case. But I do see how I might have contributed to reinforcing that generalization, most of the pictures I take are of beautiful views stamped with a big ole cheesy grin. I get it. I guess I just choose not to post the pictures of the less desirable moments and sights for various reasons.

...again this is just my opinion which is merely a perception from my compact yet concentrated experience as a volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean. This post just skims this topic, I have had a few lengthy discussions  over the last few months related to this topic which have all resulted in some great points being raised on both sides.

 I am  open to hearing what others have to say on this so please feel free to share, especially if you your coming from a different perspective.

If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.- Matthew Fox

Friday, February 15, 2013

If your only tool is a hammer...

“Three brick layers were asked what they were doing.

The 1st said: I am laying bricks.

The 2nd replied: I am building a wall.

 The 3rd said: I am constructing a Temple.”- Anonymous 

 Going through stacks of training materials that have been collecting dust over the last few months,  I was compelled to look through a few as I sorted  my “keep or trash” piles.

As I was reading the manual “Roles of the Volunteer in Development” some things stuck out, in my last few post I have mentioned “projects”. Reading this manual reminded me of some very basic tenets which easily become jumbled in final reports and resume updating.

“Development is a process, not a project. People cannot be developed; they can only develop themselves” - Julius Nyerere

In the scope of Peace Corps, the term development is used in the sense of the human capacity building framework (working with people and communities). This definition is a process that promotes the dignity of people and their capacity to improve their own lives.  Helping people learn to identify what they would like to see changed, by using their own strengths and learn skills to achieve what they believe is most important.

Sustainable, meaning a community is able to continue on it s own without outside support, a process where people learn to build on their own strengths and take charge of their own lives.

My call to explore the world of international development has been a catalyst for obtaining a greater understanding and expanded knowledge base of the world of community development on many levels. Although I had previous dwellings in the area of community development through my work as a mental health therapist and case manager, my roles in those communities were quite different than that of a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Words cannot fully capture what has occurred within, around and through me in the past 27-months, however I can say that I am affirmed in the notion to return back to the states with even more dedication and motivation to continue my work in the area of service, my desire has only increased during this experience.

~Sometimes there is just as much to gain from the return as in the departure~

“If your only tool is a hammer, pretty soon all the world appears to be a nail”- Mark Twain

Friday, February 8, 2013

It is more than just a make-over, it is a transformation...

I feel like I can turn in my two weeks notice...hehe jk, well kinda *wink*  This was the last major project on my "list". It feels REALLY good to see it come to such a successful completion...well it is completion in my book but just the beginning for  the students and teachers  making strides towards increased literacy rates at CEGS.

The Literacy Center is the first space of this kind developed at the school with the intentions of 100% dedication to assisting students experiencing difficulties in the area of literacy. The Head Teacher and Literacy Coordinator have committed to working with students one-on-on and small groups to address various challenges these students face.With their training, dedication, and passion I trust this center will be utilized to its fullest potential benefiting every student that enters this child friendly enviorment.

Anybody can make-over a room, but it is what you DO with the space that really matters...