Link

The Cooperative Rural Sports and Development Project has Posted!

A Project Committee and I have been working together for several months to plan and gain approval for a grant that would fund an extensive sports project in my village!

Here is a description of the project from the website:

The Cooperative Rural Sports and Development Project addresses several basic needs of this small Tanzanian community. Lacking any established sports facilities in the surrounding area and with few options for recreation for any age or gender group, drugs, alcohol and risky sexual behaviors become the favored pastimes, especially for village youth. Women and girls especially lack legitimate forms of recreation and are at higher risk of contracting HIV because of established gender roles and empowerment issues. This project has as its main goal to bring together several motivated groups in the village to plan and implement a large-scale project to combat these local problems. The village youth, soccer team, elders, local women’s group, girls handball team, government officials, and elementary school students and teachers are teaming up to establish, build, and maintain a soccer field, basketball court, and volleyball court to form and outfit sports clubs for soccer, volleyball, and basketball, and to protect the environment by landscaping the area with trees raised by the environmental club at the primary school and creating a system for rainwater runoff. By forming a project committee that brings together representatives from these various groups of rural society, local experts and future leaders alike, the community is further benefitted by the experience and knowledge that planning and implementing a project of this scale will bring. The community will also benefit economically by hosting sports matches and attracting commerce from the surrounding area. The total budget needed to fund this project is $7,651.25 (Tsh 12,242,000), with a community contribution of $2625 (Tsh 4,200,000) which includes all non-skilled labor, locally sourced materials (sand, gravel, brick) and discounts for skilled labor which accounts for 34.31% of total project costs. The project will be completed by November 2013, allowing four months to complete all project components.

We are looking for donations to fund this project and get it started as soon as possible. Click the link for more details and to donate via the Peace Corps’ secure website. Tell your friends!

https://donate.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=13-621-011

Project Committee and the Village Soccer Team Women's Traditional Choir and Dance Group Project Committee Members and Village Government Women's Netball in Action Setting Up Temporary Netball Goals

8/19/13

Been sitting around staring at or avoiding staring at my incomplete personal statement for grad school so much I’ve decided to write something else to try and warm up. What better place to start than my neglected journal? Also. My handwriting is despicable. I yearn for calligraphic, flowing script to come from my pen, but all I get is mostly-cursive rats’-nests of pseudo-letters somehow connected to one another though seeming to come from several different hands. I often imagine the confusion on the face of some future handwriting analyst who for some reason cares to go through these logs of disconnected, bi-polar spaghetti bowls of letter and lines, lines and letters, thoughts and musings.

I really want to write a book, a real, honest, clear and clarifying account of something, but I don’t know what. I don’t think writing a memoir of my PC service would do – I’m skeptical of my ability to write about this place, my life here, because it all still feels to unfamiliar to put a truthful account that reaches to the depths of all things minute but important on a page. I cannot Aldo Leopold this place. I do not know it well enough. Maybe later in life after much simmering in my head I’ll be able to put honest words to page. For now, it’s just snapshots, not fully thought through, not ripe, a cake raw in the middle (which is often the best kind of cake).

Raw cake batter is good too. I made up some vegan chocolate cake batter last night for the sole purpose of eating it raw. Just prior to the sugar crash I managed to shove some mashed pumpkin w/ garlic and butter in my face and click on How I Met Your Mother. If I were a character in that show, I would be Ted. Totally.

Finished reading a book called Tinkers last night by Paul Harding. Beautiful language pulled me through page after page of winter, sorrow and real-ness. An essay by Jonathan Franzen further awakened me to the fact that I have been avoiding real-ness to preserve peace, sanity and calm (read: monotony, banality). The despair of seemingly having nothing real in my life, the intense loneliness, is of my own doing in order to insulate myself from the pain and real love and happiness and anger that are the essential ingredients of a full, vibrant, worth-it life. What the hell am I doing? I only have one life, I could die at any moment, but I will definitely die this century.

UGH. But I AM living life to the fullest, I’m just stuck right now in TZ. Once I can break free again it will all be different. Right? Or will it? All this is so frustrating. I can’t seem to figure out how to just be. There is always something missing, and it lies so heavy on my lonely heart that I think it will sink and sink and sink until it eventually falls out my vagina. Then what good will I be to anyone.

This might sound kind of depressing, but I’m actually in a good healthy spot right now. Trying to write, getting grad school apps together, excited (excited!) for the future, searching for the perfect soundtrack for writing about myself (Wu Tang Clan? No. Neil Young? Sort of. Nick Drake? Better. Daft Punk? Strangely yes but not today. Miguel? Oh def not. Django Reinhardt? Sick of it. Ok ok, The Ronettes. No wait, the B52s, then Grimes), which really is a pretty narcissistic thing to do, and which Ayn Rand thinks is ok, but Jonathan Franzen says is the end of being yourself and having true feelings. I have so much trouble writing these things. I just want people to meet me and talk one-on-one about design and wine and kayaking etc. But I have to package myself up in 1000 eloquent, sincere, illustrative words that sum up my life and goals and skills and desires. Piece of cake.

Eating salty, toasted pumpkin seeds, watching Cordon Bleu birds under my papaya tree. Apparently if you pee on papaya trees, the fruit is sweeter. I’ll let you know.

COS conference is next week. Time is passing, whirring, whirling around me. Focus – grad school. Then, post PC travel. Dream trip goes as follows:

Singapore – Kuala Lumpur/Penang – Bangkok – Angkor Wat – Phnom Penh – Saigon – Hanoi – Nanning – Beijing – Ulan Bator – Irkutsk – Moscow – Poland? – Germany? – Switzerland? – France? – Amsterdam? – London? – Cornwall? – Dublin? – Home, wherever that may be.

Pending budget.

6/28/13

I look at the future and see endless possibility, so much time, so much potential. I’m drowning in a sea of positivity – Where did all this come from? I’m certainly glad to see it; I’ve always felt that this person with this outlook was hiding somewhere inside, waiting to be released from the negative pressures of anxiety and low self-confidence. Perhaps this is what it feels like to be an emotionally mature adult? Does this mean I’m a woman now? Past the identity crises of youth? I think it is. I have arrived. This is me in all my glory. So, remember all those self-loathing, struggling, endless depressing monologues from earlier in my PC service? It was not all for naught. All of the struggles, misery, misfortune were meant to build me up to this place. Wholeness. Self. Content. Ready for more challenges and adventure. Specifically, ready for grad school!

I haven’t been able to get as much school research done as I would have liked, but my list of possible schools in narrowing. I’m more concerned about my portfolio, making sure it is representative of me, my work, my goals, and competitive w/ other applicants, all while being in this bubble. An RPCV in Dar has most generously offered to help me print hard-copy portfolios at her office to send to schools, taking a lot of weight off my shoulders.

At this point I’d love to just stay put in my village for a month and make some headway on my projects, but the government insists that I make a long expensive trip to Dodoma to get a damn flu shot. Honestly, I’d rather just get the flu, but it’s MANDATORY. Yeah, great timing PC, when I’ve just got back from work-related leave and need to be in my village to get things moving for this sports project. At least it gives me a change to see Yue one last time before he takes off for America, school and life. This is a strange time in the PCTZ calendar year when newbies are arriving, and old friends are saying goodbye. I’m so close to the end I can feel the sidewalk under my feet. I can feel crisp autumn air and taste hot apple cider. I can feel the arms of my sister, my mom, my aunts and cousins wrapped around me. I can feel the snow under my skis, my nose runny and cold in the frosty air. I’m so close. So, so close.

I am so EXCITED for my LIFE!

6/27/13

Back again. It seems I’ve been so busy lately, but without feeling the stress at all. Sometime near the beginning of May, a switch turned in my brain. Things became easy. Work just got done without thinking about it, obsessing over it, or being anxious about anything. Interacting with my community falls into the category of comfortable no prob routines. Interacting with PCVs is no longer stressful or emotionally draining. I’ve fluttered down nicely into a stable, comfortable, happy niche. I have nothing but hope and excitement for the future, and the present is no longer dragging me down into the deepest depths of despair and longing. I’ve actually spent a lot of time wondering what exactly clicked, what happened to change the course of my thoughts and attitudes. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m glad it happened. For the first time since getting to country, I feel like myself, but myself at full potential. My best self. Rejoice!

Due to this new absence of anxiety and insecurities, and the arrival of boat-loads of confidence, self-esteem and can-do-ity, I have been uber-productive, attacking grad school research with fervor, reading and researching, writing grants and getting projects moving, being better about writing and staying in contact with my near and dears, being the supportive, caring friend I know I can be, and coming home feeling great, not exhausted, refreshed, not drained. Expect many more updates from me from here on out. I’m on fire.

There is a small problem with newfound awesome me – since I’m not letting anything get me down, I’ve become less sensitive to and less responsive to neediness – mostly in the form of the endless requests for help and assistance and the guilt trips given me on an hourly basis from my villagers. I can’t be everything to everyone. I’m only one person. I will no longer feel bad about doing my best but only falling short of everyone’s expectations. I will now only feel good about what I have done, am doing, and can do. So there.

6/14/13

I apologize for my extended absence. I really have no excuse but can say I intentionally have not written in a while. I felt I was relying on my journal and conversations with friends to put together the discombobulated thoughts, emotions, impressions. But really what I needed was to detach from all those “support” systems, and deal with my environment without overthinking it. Soaking it in. Letting it BE. The talking it out, the endless analyzing, was making me feel nothing short of insane. Circular thinking, wondering why and how come and what am I, what am I doing? It’s all for naught.

2/3/13

A morning with the Kinks, bread that some animal, probably a cat, got into last night, coffee, tiny lizards checking me out because I’m sitting so still reading that they’re not sure if I’m alive or dangerous, and a giant spider bite on my ass. Why do they always bite me there?

Have insomnia lately, my mind just won’t rest. I drink chamomile, I count sheep, I meditate, concentrate on my breathing, then it’s 2am. So I sleep in and the cycle feeds itself. I often find myself fantasizing about that moment I meet my prince charming and our happy life after that. He takes on many forms of guys I know or hardly know because I have no one in particular in mind… The future is so wide open. These musings run through my mind concurrently, busily, twisting around each other and denying my sleep until the wee hours of the morning.

How does one stop obsessing about such things? I bet you’re all tired of reading about it too. Sorry :( I just have way too much time to dwell on my alone-ness, and no one to distract me,

I’m designing the t-shirts for the girls conference. Haven’t designed anything in so long… hope they come out ok!

Picked up a dress this week, just a couple alterations and it’s perfect, even for America. Oh America… I can’t wait to start something new! I’m terrified I won’t get into grad school, what will I do then? But I’m starting early w/ research, applications, recommendations, honing my interviewing skills, resume, etc. Something will come along, I’ll end up somewhere doing something. I can’t wait to wear whatever I want, and for coldness, and showers, and ovens, and washing machines, and sidewalks, and boots, and sandwiches, and short dresses, and tights, and hairdryers, and coffeeshops, and SCHOOL. I’m really excited to get involved in an academic setting again. I think more and more every day how I want to stay in academia, as a researcher or professor or something… Something that will give me freedom to keep learning, exchanging ideas, travel, good schedule, good salary, oh the future! So exciting! 10 more months…

2/2/13

Baked bread for myself yesterday – rosemary and plain white. I also baked a mango upside down cake earlier this week. Kat and Steph G. hiked down from Kat’s vill to visit for the afternoon and we wolfed the whole thing down. Then I made a heavily seasoned pot of tomato soup for lunch and bought chapatti to eat it with. It was a rainy, muggy, muddy day so soup was perfect. They planned to stay the afternoon and return that night, but they ended up staying the night. I gave Kat a super short haircut, and it’s super cute but she thinks she looks like a boy, not helped by Tanzanians who tell her so on a regular basis :( it will grow out, but I still think it’s funky.

Big fat lizard just peered in my door at me. <3

Work is still slow, but I’m still “on it”. Finally I feel like my old confidence is coming back. Researching grad programs is keeping me busy and future-focused. When I look at the calendar I realize how fast this year will go by. 10 more months. Linnea comes end of March. Girls conference is Feb (finally got grant approved!), and grant committee meeting. Malaria training in April. This basketball court thing I want to get moving and finish. COS conference in September. Joe and the EcoExplorers class come in June. Still want to go to Mwanza, Kigoma, Mafia, Matema… like I said, it will fly by.

Meeting today at ward head to choose girls for conference, also to talk about malaria training. Finding new work partners lately, the community change agent volunteer for malaria education, I once thought she was kinda annoying but she’s really dedicated and I’m excited to work with her on these projects. She knows who to talk to about what and is helping me find $ for the malaria training.