Tuesday, July 29, 2008

first post from madagascar!

let me start off saying that it's quite difficult for me to get used to typing again. it's been a while since i've used a computer regularly. I MISS YOU ALL! where to start? i'm sitting at the MEVA, the PC transit house in tana, waiting to go for Site Visit tomorrow. crazy! i can't believe how quickly and slowly training is going. i few every extreme of emotions almost every day.

site visit is where i visit the site i will be living and teaching at for the next two years. i don't know what to think. thankfully, i'm going with my counterpart. a counterpart is a person from my site who kindly came to take me there. usually, the counterparts are english teachers in the towns we will live. i wanted one of two things in my counterpart: for 'it' to be a female or to speak english. i got neither. lame, but not surprising. so HE doesn't speak english and during the first meal together at the training center, i found out two things: 1) he teaches physics at the CEG (middle school) 2) his name is francios. that's it. and not because my malagasy is that terrible, but because he is overly shy. yes, i, a very shy person, and saying that he was shy. i made an attempt; he did not. you know that unspoken rule in the U.S. when two people have a conversation, one person brings up a topic or asks a question, and then it's the other person's turn? yeah well, it doesn't exist here. lame again. anyway, i've sinced found out that he is the director of the CEG and some other stuff that i can't really remember. oh, it will take 6 hours and two taxi brousses to get to my site from the capital. i'll let you know if this really is true. and it all really DEPENDS (a word i'm growing to hate here) on how the roads are.

we just spent two days in mantasoa at the PC training center (years ago, PC trainees used to train and live there for the 10-12 weeks instead of living with host families...it's not as effective to learn the language/culture). it's gorgeous there! reminds me of michigan. pine trees, lakes, i went canoeing! amazing. and i will most likely be posting pictures in a week when i come back from site visit. maybe saturday or sunday at the earliest. i'm going to try anyway. until then, go to derekmadagascar.blogspot.com. derek took the time to post some pictures. i can't because people are waiting, so you either get a post where i write or pictures. sacrifices people. get used to it. i am.

what else? so much to say, so much i've experienced, but when i sit down to a keyboard, i really have to concentrate on what buttons to put my fingers on because this is such a foreign feeling for my fingers now.

happy anniversary (in a few days) mom and dad! happy birthday grandma wethers. happy anniversary grandma and grandpa shaull! i love you all. and happy ______! to everyone if i didn't mention you and i should have. i love and miss you all. know that i think about you all (and indoor plumbing) every day. thank you for the letters and emails, thoughts and prayers. i appreciate everything. until next time...I LOVE YOU and enjoy the summer weather for me!



Sunday, July 13, 2008

"If you have no talent, are ugly and want movie star status, come to Madagascar" -Kinsey

Since the initial phone call, we have talked to Kinsey twice and received an email and one ‘snail mail’ letter from her. Here is what she told us:

The host family:
Kinsey lives in a three level house with her host family which consists of the mother, father, grandmother, 19 year old son and 17, 16 & 15 year old daughters. She said the family is very nice but can be overwhelming at times. Her host family also has a dog and several cats, but she does not pet them because they do not have vaccinations (unlike her). The family is amazed at how Kinsey can shuffle a deck of cards and now loves to play the card game ‘war’ that she taught them.

The house:
Their house, or trano, has electricity, a refrigerator, television and computer although they do not have running water. The kitchen and storage area are located on the third level of the house and Kinsey stays in what would be considered the ‘master bedroom’ on the second level. Her host parents gave up their bedroom for her and sleep in the dining room behind a sheet they hung for privacy.

Training is from 8am-5pm Monday through Friday with a lunch break from 12-2pm. The training center is a ten minute walk from her host family’s house and during the lunch break she walks home to eat with them. On Saturdays the volunteers have a half day of training.

Last week the volunteers started teaching the Malagasy students who volunteer to come into school on their winter break. So far Kinsey has taught two of the seven lessons she needs to teach. During some lessons the volunteers ‘team teach’ while other times she teaches the hour and a half lesson by herself. Because she does not know much Malagasy and the students don’t know English, she uses skits and pictures to help the students understand.

According to Kinsey, the market stinks terribly and is quite dirty. Farmers will kill a cow, quarter it and carry it on their heads to the market. At the market, the farmer will set the meat on the table and when customers present money, the farmer will cut off a chunk of the meat and hand it over to the paying customer.

Teaching Placement:
Once the three month training period is over (around the end of August), Kinsey will be teaching in A------ (Kinsey just infomred me that I cannot put the name of the town on this blog. If you want to know her exact location, email me at mallery.wethers@gmail.com and I will send it to you) which is a smaller town south of Moramonga. The town is southeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital city, and is a farming community that produces rice, bananas and yucca plants.

There is already another Peace Corps volunteer in Anosibe an’Ala, which is uncommon that two volunteers would be placed in the same city. The other volunteer is an environmental volunteer and has been in the city since the beginning of 2008.

Until we hear more,

Mallery Wethers
Kinsey’s favorite sister

P.S.- Write a ‘snail mail’ letter to Kinsey, she would love to hear from you! Right now she does not have access to the internet, so she won’t be able to respond to emails right away.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Long Awaited Phone Call

Happy 4th of July!

Yesterday, as I was on the phone with my mom telling her I was planning to fly over to Madagascar soon to check on my sister, her cell phone rang and Kinsey was on the other line. The phone call didn't last long, but she told my mom that she was doing o.k. and asked us to call her today (July 4) at 6am our time (1pm her time). We tried calling for about an hour but our phone calls didn't go through. Then at about 9am she called us again and we were able to talk to her for a few minutes. Here is what we learned...

1.) She is doing well & loves and misses us all! (She did sound really good, and we were all thankful to hear her voice.)

2.) She is already getting tired of eating rice...but because of the holiday the Peace Corps brought in Turkey (which they don't have over there) along with hamburgers, pizza and ice cream for the volunteers. She was very excited about the good food.

3.) It is almost always damp there and the temperature has been in the 50's and low 60's. She misses summer!

4.) While she is not fluent in Malagasy yet, she is catching on and had just taken a language test earlier in the morning.

5.) She has received a few letters from the U.S. and told us her letters would take longer to get back over here to us. Keep checking your mailbox!

6.) All the PC volunteers are headed into a larger city tomorrow where she hopes she will have internet access. Hopefully the next post will be from her!

Until we hear more,

Mallery Wethers
Kinsey's Favorite Sister