Friday, May 30, 2008

For You Fact & Number People

Some people have asked me specific questions and honestly, my brain can not hold all of this information (It reminds me of history class, not exactly my favorite subject). So, here is some information I've compiled. If you have more nitty-gritty questions about Madagascar as a country or the Peace Corps, remember Google is your friend or you can ask me and I'll ask Him for you because Google and I are super close.

Population: 17,308,000
Capital Antananarivo: 1,678,000
Area: 226,658 square miles (A little smaller than the state of Texas)
Language: French, Malagasy
Religion: Indigenous beliefs, Christian, Muslim
Currency: Malagasy franc (1 US Dollar = 9,150.46 Malagasy Franc)
Life Expectancy: 55
GDP per Capita: U.S. $800
Literacy Percent: 69
(National Geographic)

Peace Madagascar
The first 10 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Madagascar in September 1993 to initiate the teacher training project, which eventually became the English education project. In August 1994, the environmental project kicked off with the arrival of 13 trainees. The health project began in September 1995. Since reopening in 2002, the Peace Corps has been providing approximately 75 new Volunteers per year in this country. Since the beginning, the program has had a close working relationship with the government of Madagascar.

Peace Corps/Madagascar focuses on three main areas of vital need: health, education, and natural resources management.

The last presidential elections, which occurred in December 2001, resulted in tremendous controversy. People took to the streets in protest of what was perceived as vote count fraud and, after months of sometimes violent conflict, overthrew the existing government and installed a new president. The conflict had far-reaching economic effects, with the capital, Antananarivo, cut off from the provinces and the fuel supply dwindling to nothing. In April 2002, as things reached a boiling point, the U.S. Department of State required all Americans residing in the country in an official capacity, including Peace Corps Volunteers, to leave Madagascar. The Department of State declared the country safe again in July 2002, allowing for the arrival in February 2003 of the first group of Peace Corps trainees since the program was suspended.
(PC Welcome Book)

Peace Corps
The Peace Corps' mission has three simple goals:
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The minimum requirements for Peace Corps are:
* 18 years of age or older
* U.S. citizenship
* A four-year college degree, or solid work experience in an area such as agriculture, business management, or a skilled trade. A community college degree paired with specific skills or work experience may also qualify you.

Having a college degree by the time you're ready to leave for the Peace Corps will help your chances of acceptance. For applicants without a college degree, there are opportunities to work in several program areas, provided you have the appropriate work experience or knowledge of a skilled trade.

Quiz Time: Test yourselves on the following questions, courtesy of the PBS website. Answers appear at the bottom.

What percentage of plants and animals exist nowhere else but Madagascar?
A. 90%
B. 85%
C. 75%
D. 80%

How many different types of lemurs were on Madagascar before humans arrived?
A. 65
B. 40
C. 50
D. 70

How many types of lemurs still exist?
A. 25
B. 32
C. 45
D. 50

How long is the world's smallest chameleon, the Brookesia Minima?
A. 2 inches
B. 3 inches
C. 1/2 inch
D. 1 inch

How many species of chameleons exist on Madagascar?
A. 50
B. 35
C. 60
D. 40

The Verreaux's Sifaka lemur never drinks water. How does it supply its body with the necessary water for life?
A. Moisture from early morning dew
B. From the vegetation it eats
C. Insects
D. Its body recycles water

How much of Madagascar's natural habitat remains intact?
A. 1/10
B. 1 / 4
C. 1 / 2
D. 3 /4

Legal Stuff: Thank you to the Peace Corps website, the PC Welcome Book, National Geographic, PBS and of course my all-knowing friend, Google, for the information provided in this entry. I do not claim any of this information as my own.

Answers: D, C, B, D, A, B, A

Monday, May 5, 2008

(some of) the parts of my story...

Forgive me for the lack of excitement in my blog design...thank goodness for templates. As if it didn't take me long enough to think of a title for my blog, I then had to quickly make this look like something decent. Back to the story line...

The Character: Kinsey: female; age 23 years, 3 months, 24 days...; Hope College graduate; future Peace Corps volunteer

The Setting: Currently, Bear Lake, MI but soon I'll be in Madagascar!

The Plot: Beginning: I'm preparing for my journey to the Big Red Island, creating this blog, wondering what to pack, visiting my friends and family, eating lots of Girls Scout Cookies so I remember how good they taste while I'm gone.

Middle: Eventually, I'll be a Peace Corps Volunteer (Right now, I'm an Invitee...soon I'll be a Trainee...then I'll be sworn in as a Volunteer). I will teach English and work alongside the Malagasy people with the help of the Peace Corps.

End: If you know the ending, don't spoil it for the rest of us.

More later; it's getting late.

"Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused."