PST: A typical Saturday in Mantasoa...

Typically, on Saturday mornings I have PST Language & Cultural training and todaywas no exception...however, today was my last day with my first Language, Cultural trainer “Master Stephano” (what I call him). It was an absolutely pleasure working with Stephano and he was the perfect person to inspire me to work hard on intergrading myself into the Malagasy culture. I am very grateful to for him because he put up with my sense of humor, was super patient and believed in me. I hope that I continue to make him and ALL my language teachers proud as I continue this rigorous journey of becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. FYI Saturdays are also my workout days BUT I was super tired because yesterday was site announcements which was both very exciting and emotionally draining for me...(I will post about site announcement at a later date)

 

Below I have posted a schedule of what a typical Saturday looks like for me during Peace Corps Pre Service Training in Mantasoa, Madagascar. Quite a change from the night owl social butterfly life. Mastoa (Enjoy)! 

Saturday’s Schedule: 

6:00am-7:00am: Woke Up, Brushed My Teeth & Warm Bucket Shower: 

7:00am-8:00am: Breakfast with Neny & Dada (Rice, Steak, Mofu, Banana & Matcha Latte)  + Helped Neny with dishes.

8:00am-12:00pm:Language lesson with Master Stepano (LCF) Today we covered telling time in Malagasy which included days of the week, months in a year, and schedule of events within 24 hours (day & night)

12:00pm-1:00pm:Lunch with Neny & Dada (Rice, White Beans, Salad, Avocado, Rampango (rice tea) and Tangerines for dessert) + Helped Neny with dishes. 

1:00pm-1:30pm: Had a 30 minute break to clean my room and reorganize myself. 

1:30pm-2:30pm: “Manasa Lamaba” (Washed my clothes by hand ofcourse LOL)

2:30pm-3:30pm:Had an hour break so I took time to continue reading “A long walk to freedom” by Nelson Mandela

3:30pm-4:30pm: Went with Neny to the market to buy meats and veggies for dinner...

4:30pm-6:30pm:Made dinner with Neny and prepped the food we will be having for breakfast tomorrow. 

6:30pm-7:00pm: Worked on PST Homework and “To Do” List...

7:00pm-8:00pm:Dinner with Neny & Dada: Steak Tips & Kale stir fry, brown rice, and cucumber, carrot & cilantro salad + helped Neny with dishes. 

8:00pm-9:00pm: A very hot bucket bath on a extremely cold night (I am dying here) and brushed my teeth and got ready for bed! 

9:00pm-11:00pm: Watched Kiss the Girls with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. 

11:00pm: Went to Bed :)! 

Celebrating 57 years of Malagasy Independence!

On Monday June 26th, 2017, one could hear the booming sound of loud music playing all over the streets of Montosua as the people of Madagascar celebrated 57 year of fighting and becoming an independent nation from France. Many villages, towns and cities around the country began their festivities a week in advance by hosting several concerts, fairs, cultural events, drinking and by cooking up special Malagasy dishes such as “Mofu Anana” (which is my personal favorite). In Antananarivo (Tana), the celebration is HUGE and the largest stadium in the city is reserved for several days of concerts featuring many Malagasy celebrities. This celebration culminates with a special March observed on June 26th in which the Malagasy military/special forces and important government official march in solidarity celebrating Madagascar 57 years of independence. Here in Mantasua, our celebration was not quite as long, large or fancy as the one on Tana...BUT the people here are still very prideful of their independence and hosted a celebration that lasted about 3 days and also included loud music, several parties and a small independence day fair that included a small fireworks show. As Peace Corps volunteer we were invited to be a part of their official raising of the flag ceremony which included a march in their small soccer field alongside important Montosua town officials and many of the schools in town. It was an absolutely fun experience for us and a huge honor to have been invited to be a part of such a meaningful and regarded event. 

For me, my Malagasy independence day festivities were pretty low key and mellow... I mostly celebrated Independence Day with Neny and Dada in their Traono (home). In honor of independence day My Malagasy Neny prepared a very delicious, 3 course, farm to table lunch; which started off with a homemade sardine pizza, followed by Rice (vary), pan grilled chicken with its broth, with a cucumber/carrots salad. Thelunch ended with akondro (banana’s) for dessert. After that AMAZING lunch I went and checked out the Mantasua Independence Day fair which included: Live music, singing competitions, dance competitions, 2 merry go rounds, and several vendors selling Malagasy street foods and clothing. Although I have currently ONLY been in Madagascar for a little over 2 weeks I must say I feel very honored to have the once in a lifetime opportunity to work alongside a group of such kind, caring, loyal and resilient group of people. I am really looking forward to what the next 27 months in Madagascar have in store for me.

Fireworks display in Mantasua

Fireworks display in Mantasua

Malagasy School Children Celebrating 57 years of Independence 

Malagasy School Children Celebrating 57 years of Independence 

People of Mantasua raising the Malagasy flag in celebration of 57 years of independence. 

People of Mantasua raising the Malagasy flag in celebration of 57 years of independence. 

Neny Doline's Sardine Pizza. Yummy :)! 

Neny Doline's Sardine Pizza. Yummy :)! 

Malagasy Flag 

Malagasy Flag 

My First Week of Peace Corps Pre-Service Training

After spending a full week in Peace Corps Madagascar’s Pre Service Training (PST) I am extremely happy to have made the decision to leave everything I know and love in the U.S. to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar. Although it has only been one week I can already feel myself becoming a more confident, empathetic and resilient human being. I undoubtedly believe that being a part of this organization will challenge me to think on my feet, to be creative, to adapt to many challenging situations and to become more culturally aware. I also believe that embarking on this Peace Corps assignment will help me to continue to further develop as an educator, entrepreneur and creative mind. To tell you about my first week so far I have been engaged in several workshops and clinics ranging from water sanitation & food security, medical immunizations, safety & security in Madagascar, Malagasy language training and several ted talk styles lectures on resiliency, Malaria and achieving Peace Corps Madagascar’s mission . 

Although these clinics and workshops have been amazing, the actual highlight of my week has been moving into my homestay with my new Malagasy family: Neny Doline & Dada Michel and their three grandchildren Mira, Impuini, and Numena. Neny and Dada are now retired school teachers whom own a farm house by a lake in Montosua. The farm house include LOTS of chickens, cows, pigs, dogs, cats and they grow a ton of veggies, fruits and crops including the Malagasy staple dish “vary” (rice). Although the nights here in Montosua are very cold (its winter here), Dada and Neny have made me feel very welcomed and at home here. The view of the lake from la kozia (the kitchen) in the mornings is absolutely spectacular. Neny is always making sure I am well fed with her super delicious three course meals which all include some form of vary (rice).  Mira (my Malagsy sister) taught me how to wash my clothes by hand which I gladly appreciated and Dada has been helping me get better at speaking Malagasy. 

Overall, the lifestyle I am currently living here in Madagascar is very different from the lifestyle I was living back home in Boston. I feel like in many ways things have slowed down for me here and in many ways I have lost track of time and I am learning to just live day by day...Having extra time to put thought into what I am doing without any distractions of western world social media is quite refreshing. It is also incredibly liberating to have the time to daze off into the beautiful fauna of nature and have my spirit be calmed by the beautiful lake next to Neny and Dada’s place. I am not 100% sure what triumphs and challenges await me for the next 27 months but deep in my heart I know that I will come out of this experience a more aware, resilient and stronger human being.

View of the lake and Farm from Neny's Kitchen. 

View of the lake and Farm from Neny's Kitchen. 

View from Neny & Dada's back porch. 

View from Neny & Dada's back porch. 

Neny and Dada are remaking the house for the chickens and their farm animals. 

Neny and Dada are remaking the house for the chickens and their farm animals. 

Why I decided to join the Peace Corps...

From a very young age I have always enjoyed meeting people from different parts of the world. I enjoy meeting people whom come from different cultural backgrounds. For me, it is very exciting to learn about the different histories, stories and experiences of the people with whom I share this world with. It came as a surprise to many that I was willing to leave a job I absolutely adored to go live in a “developing” country that will not have the amenities I have grown accustomed to. To be honest making this decision was very difficult for me because Iabsolutely adored my job as the choral music director at Charlestown High School (CHS) and I especially felt a strong bond with all of my students at (CHS).  In addition, telling my mom that I would be leaving Boston for at least 27 months to embark on adventure OVER 8,000 miles away from home was no easy task...Since I was in high school I have always felt a calling to use my skill sets and talent to assist the most needy communities both in the United States and around the world. That being said I could no longer ignore this calling and I simply had to jump into the unknown and brace myself for the adventure that is awaiting for me here in the beautiful and mysterious country of Madagascar. My hope is that little by little I can help the overall state of the country I am serving by engaging in educational/cultural development work with Peace Corps Madagascar.  I am committed to serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer for AT LEAST 27 month. Hopefully by the end of my service I will grow to become more culturally aware therefore, bringing forth cross-cultural understanding, empathy, peace and unity which are all elements that I can use to continue to enhance my community back home in Boston and maybe someday the world???

Peace Corps Stage 51: Me with the 30 volunteers undergoing Peace Corps Pre Service Training (PST) for the next couple of months. 

Peace Corps Stage 51: Me with the 30 volunteers undergoing Peace Corps Pre Service Training (PST) for the next couple of months. 

Peace Corps Training Center in Montosua, Madagascar. 

Peace Corps Training Center in Montosua, Madagascar. 

Peace Corps Training Camp in Montosua, Madagascar. 

Peace Corps Training Camp in Montosua, Madagascar. 

A rainbow after our first day of training at the Jean Laborde Learning Center in Montosua, Madagascar. 

A rainbow after our first day of training at the Jean Laborde Learning Center in Montosua, Madagascar.