Saturday, July 25, 2009

Funky Town

Won’t you take me to funky town? I wonder if that’s what other people sing when they feel in a funk. Or does funky down imply a town where everyone is truly crazy? Which is it? Either way… I’m in a funk today. I woke up at 6:55 this morning to a text message and pounding upstairs. Ok take those things away, and the sun was shining through my bedroom windows, the birds were singing outside and I wasn’t sweating but instead very comfortable-makes you want to barf doesn’t it? This week has been a little crazy; came back from visiting my host family over the weekend after waiting for the bus to fill up for 45 minutes and riding on a defective boat that took an hour instead of 30 minutes, went to the hospital to visit a friend (not a PCV but a local friend) and secretly thank God I’ve only been in nice hospitals, visited with a fellow PCV and talked about the universe, boys, religion, Colorado, and jobs, spent some time at the Peace Corps office, realized I needed to sweep my house badly because of the ants, visited with a family in my village, spent more time at the Peace Corps office, ran out of credit in my phone, tried to avoid my landlords, made small talk with my neighbors next door, washed my laundry and hung it out to dry, swept part of my house, cursed the ants who came back anyway, listened to Jim Gaffigan, relaxed in my hammock, cooked, went on a hunt for food at lunch time and found all snackettes were out of food at 1:45 because “lunchtime is over”, looked in my box at the office and found a beautiful scarf from a GUY 19 friend who’s leaving on Saturday, caught the last boat over the river just in time, and realized that those GUY 19 friends are people I may never see again.

I guess part of my funk is living up to the GUY 19 PCVs. These people who are leaving are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. When a PCV leaves at the end of their 2 years, they have to write what’s called a D.O.S., or a Description of Service. It’s really a glorified resume with a couple paragraphs about government shlop mixed in. Well one of these GUY 19 PCVs has probably one of the most impressive DOS ever. As I talked to him in the office yesterday I slowly realized how much he’s done and how little I’ve done. Reading through his DOS was depressing and encouraging all at the same time. This guy started his own NGO (non-government/non-profit organization) for pete’s sake. He also tutored, obtained computers for the NGO, got funding for a building for the NGO, never took a day of vacation, and did a myriad of other things. If I had to write my DOS now, it’d look something like this:
- Took free Hindi classes with a family at the junction
- Learned the names of all the teachers at my school
- Helped with Food for the Poor through a BINGO Fundraiser and Saturday morning Share-Outs
- Survived Dengue and still wanted to be a PCV
- Learned how to make 3 different kinds of roti
- Learned some phrases of Creolese
- Mastered the busing system of Georgetown
- Read 6 books
- Lost 30 lbs
- Got free furniture in a matter of 2 months

Ok…so it’s only been 5 months, 2 of which were training. I know there’ve been other things I’ve done and will continue to do, but man it’s hard to live up to these amazing GUY 19ers. I guess I could use the motivation from seeing or hearing about the projects, but I’ve been told that not everyone creates their own NGO, that not everyone learns another language successfully, that some people just worked at the health center or school and did things there, some people created a small group of women or men, that basically everyone is different and everyone’s work is different as well. It’s hard being in this limbo period, not knowing what tomorrow will bring or what my projects will be like or if I’ll be successful at all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just an Update...

Good morning! It’s 8:45 here in Guyana. I’m sitting in my newly hung up hammock in my living room. I shouldn’t say sitting, I should say lounging and occasionally swinging. I’m listening to a myriad of music: some from a KBCO album (thanks to Amy, Casey, Lesley, and Greg), some from Dave (PCV), and some from Guyana (bootlegged, I mean, copied, music). I’m in a great mood. It’s been a while since I’ve written on the blog, mostly because I haven’t had much computer time, but also because I haven’t been in a space to write. Maybe I should have been writing to better help me out of my stress and so on, but until now, I have just been trying to distract myself.

Let’s see… I’m no longer homeless. I’ve been living in what is called a bottom house for two months. It’s slowly been filling with furniture (for a good month and a half it had only a bed and a clothes horse/rack, stove and a fan). Now I have a table, a hammock, a second-hand shelf and fridge, my mosquito netting up, a rope strung to hang my clothes on, a second fan, curtains, and some things ready to put up on the walls. Things are coming around. Do I feel comfortable in my house yet? Not at all… but I’m trying.

The job. Well…it’s a combination of frustrations, confusions, joys, and social hour. For the first two months at site (I’ve been at site for three now), I went to school about half the time. Mostly because I was homeless for a month and kept moving and had to go into a million meetings, but also because there really wasn’t anything I was doing. My counterpart and I had agreed that the first two months (consequently the LAST two months of school) were going to be an orientation of sorts for me. Now, I can, with a 100% guarantee, tell you the names and the classrooms of all the teachers at the school, totaling 17, not including me and the headmistress (principal). During this last month out of school, Peace Corps had a week-long conference with our group and our counterparts in which my counterparts and I agreed to work on their library to get it in working condition and cleaned out/organized. We also came up with a great literacy program to try for the Christmas term (fall). So you might ask, well, Lindsay, what’s the problem? Well, as ambitious as we were in that conference, here it is almost August and we have yet to start on the library aside from design anything for the literacy program. I’ll be coming up with the test, but that takes about 2 hours to type up and print off. Being in a third world country, things take a long time to get done. I guess my frustration lies with this and with the frustration of working in the education system here, among other things. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving being in the Peace Corps and have had to really separate Peace Corps from the Peace Corps Experience (fellow PCVs you know what I’m talking about) so it’s really all you make it, but it’s just taking time to get into my own. Patience…patience…sigh.

Relationships: I’d have to say on the whole my relationships with other PCVs, Guyanese and Barry have pretty much stayed the same, with a few minor adjustments. 1) People came to PDM (Project Design & Management Conference) changed. This was to be expected, but to the degree at which some of them have changed is shocking to me. Some are very jaded by things that have happened in the 5 months we’ve been here, some have become partiers or slight alcoholics, some are very obviously depressed (totally understandable seeing as how I’m going through a bit of that too), some are floating on cloud 9, and some are still trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing here-I take that back…we’re all still doing that. 2) The relationships that people have cultivated with other Guyanese are also surprising. Some are still trying to figure out what these people we work with, ride with, shop with, live with, etc are saying or how they are behaving. I’d like to say I can understand the Guyanese a lot more since being here, but there are still days I’m blown away with misunderstandings and miscommunications. I’m pretty sure that’ll happen the whole time I’m here, no matter what. 3) Then there are the romantic relationships…some have blossomed, some have wilted and some have burned in flames, both for the good and bad. I would also venture to say that most all romantic relationships have resulted in an evaluation of communication skills, of safety measures, and of self. I say these things from experience and from what my fellow PCVs are going through as well. This is not to say that the romantic relationships are going badly, but they really force a person to define what they want, to stand up for what they want, and to constantly think in the other person’s shoes. Because of the cross-cultural differences, there have been some miscommunications and misunderstandings and almost all assumptions have been completely wrong. Truthfully, it’s been a lot of work and it takes away from things that people are here to do. However, if you can figure out how to balance your work and your relationships and how to stay true to yourself, you’ll be golden. Such is my quest. Haha.

On a side note and because I don’t want to end this blog all depressing and such, I recently filled out a fun questionnaire of sorts and I encourage you to do the same. Be honest with yourself and also be creative. Then give it to someone you really want to know more about, or send it to me and I’ll fill it out for your reading enjoyment.
1) Life is…
2) Tomorrow…
3) When I wake up in the morning…
4) I have a low tolerance for…
5) If I had a million dollars…
6) People would say I’m…
7) I love…
8) I don’t understand…
9) I lost…
10) Maybe I should…

Pictures of my house and school to come soon!

To the King of Pop

Unknowingly, I walked into a room Thursday evening and was accosted by a cacophony of harsh news. Michael Jackson-DEAD! Could it be? Was it merely a joke meant to scare two unsuspecting GUY21 Volunteers into not leaving their things in the lounge for too long? No… I sat in shock at the news. The following day, as I walked around Georgetown, I passed each store on Regent Street, Brickdam, Ave of Republic, etc., and out came waves of Michael Jackson. Let me interject myself by saying this: never in my life have I gone to another country and felt so connected with a group of people as I have here. That being said, the Guyanese are some of the most hard-core Michael Jackson fans I have ever met. That makes me feel connected on an even bigger level. Maybe I’m really Guyanese at heart? The mourning has continued this weekend. Going to visit another volunteer, Michael’s ghost followed me along the journey. Passing cars, the stores whipping by on the roadside, Michael lurks in each fleeting moment. Today, I waived my white flag of defeat and decided to join paying homage to the King of Pop. I bought a couple CDs of his greatest hits and as I looked at the covers of these “bootlegged” CDs, I realized that the Guyanese have made Mr. Jackson a part of their eternal culture in their own way. To better convey what I mean, I have included the Guyanese titles of His Majesty’s CDs… enjoy from the Caribbean!

Thriller Album:
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ = “Me Wan Start Some-ting”
Baby Be Mine = “Ah Babes, Be Me Own”
The Girl Is Mine = “Dah Gyal Is Me Own”
Thriller = “Triller”
Beat It = “Choke He Up”
Billie Jean = “Dah Mad Gyal Billie Jean”
Human Nature = “Uman Nature, Mon”
Pretty Young Thing = “Dah Young Gyal Pretty Bad, Bai”
The Lady In My Life = “Me Mistress in Me Own Life, Mon”

Michael Jackson: History – Past, Present, and Future; Book 1
Billie Jean = “Dah Mad Gyal Billie Jean”
The Way You Make Me Feel = “Me Like Wha You Do Meh, Bai”
Black or White = “Black Bai or Whitie Gyal”
Rock With You = “Me Wine Wit Ya Mon”
She’s Out Of My Life = “Oh Radica, Why You Leave and Go?”
Bad = “Bad Serious, Bai”
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You = “Me No Wan Stop Lovin’ Ya Gyal”
Man In The Mirror = “Dah Bai in de Mirror”
Thriller = “Triller”
Beat It = “Choke He Up”
The Girl Is Mine = “Dah Gyal Is Me Own”
Remember The Time = “Dis One Time, Remember Bai?”
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough = “Nah Stop, Bai, Ya Get Nuff Nuff”
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ = “Me Wan Start Some-ting”
Heal The World = “One Love, Mon”