23 September 2011

Funnyquote Friday

In response to a local in-party dispute regarding the duties of the Deputy Prime Minister / Minister of National Security, our esteemed current DPM the honorable Mr. Sam Condor gave a public address that I had the pleasure of listening to part of on the bus. At one point, however, serious discourse on political fair treatment and the responsibilities of political office took a turn for the comical when he uttered this intro:

"... as Benjamin Franklin, former US President,
famously said, ..."

I couldn't help but chuckle at that, but I fear I was the only one on the bus that did.

With Tropical Storm Ophelia looming on the horizon, nobody knows if our weekend is going to be shot yet.  Although NOAA has the projection cone bending further and further north as the week goes on, so we may be in the clear.  Even so, my weekend trip to Nevis with my girlfriend will have to be postponed.  But there is some vacationing in the works even so: the tickets for my trip back to the States for my brother's wedding have been purchased.  So I am officially set to be in and around Atlanta from between the days of October 31 and November 11.  Or Halloween and Veteran's Day, for those of a variant nomenclature.

Things keep rolling here.  I might just have some updates regarding the work on the Math Activities booklet in a few weeks.  I'll certainly have some updates on the Library Reorganization Project sooner than that.  On the other side of the coin, give me a shout sometime –  Skype or otherwise.

21 September 2011

Help Send New Books to an EC School Library!

Friends and Readers,

I ask you to consider making a small donation towards funding a library expansion at the Dr. William Connor Primary School, one of my goals as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  100% of your donation goes towards purchasing new books that will be shipped, free of charge, to this burgeoning school in the heart of Basseterre.  Furthermore, each dollar donated by you is matched 1 to 1 by the charity organization responsible for this singular opportunity, Hands Across The Sea.  Below you will find a link to the HATS website, and to the left is a link to the specific project that we are initiating.  The deadline for donations is November, so please give soon!

Something Old, Something New

As my term of service stands roughly at one full year, and I recently submitted my third trimesterly progress report to the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C., I felt like this would be a good time to take a small glimpse into that report.  Of the many angles we are asked to look at our service over the previous four months, the most difficult for me to answer is the section labelled "Success Story."  You may come to your own conclusions why that it, but I fear it has mostly to do with my tendency towards apprehensive pessimism.  I do not remember perceived successes as sharply as failures, and this bias often clouds my objective assessment of the effectiveness of my work here.  With that said, here is the story I chose to be this semester's "success story:"
With the school year winding down, I knew I had a little more free time to devote to new secondary projects during the summer.  So I scheduled a couple of meetings in the interest of kicking off a pair of new projects: one with Fr. Christopher Archibald, Associate Rector at the St. George's Anglican Church, in the interest of starting up a youth group to combat AIDS spread and school drop-out rates, and a second with the Ministry of Education's Curriculum Development Unit in the interest of promoting the Math Activities pamphlet and distributing it to the schools on the islands.
Five minutes early to the meeting with Fr. Archibald, I considered the directions he gave me to the church office, and yet I was unable to pinpoint which building was the office.  I spent the next half hour trodding up and down the residential street, stopping occasionally to inquire at houses and ask if they knew the whereabouts of the office.  Finally, as I came upon it, Fr. Archibald met me outside as he was leaving to go on an emergency call he had just received.  We quickly scheduled for next week, pushing my two meetings to the same week.
Attending the CDU meeting which a contact had set up for me, it became clear as time neared that the contact was going to be unable to make the meeting.  Furthermore, the CDU representatives were under the impression that I was prepared to make a multimedia presentation; I had simply brought a single hard-copy of the Math Activities booklet.  Thinking fast, however, I obtained a virtual copy of the document from a previous e-mail I had sent, and borrowed one of the CDU's student-use laptops to make an off-the-cuff hour-long presentation of the material.  The CDU director was pleased, and I will shortly get back in touch with him to finalize the project.
Later that week, I trudged through the beginnings of Tropical Storm Irene to meet with Fr. Archibald, and this time I was forced to wait at his office, as he forgot our agreed time and drove from home to meet me.  In time, however, it became clear that my suggestion for a youth boy's program was something of interest to him and the church, and indeed until just a few years back, the church had been sponsoring a program very similar in nature.  So with many of the foundational aspects already in place, I offered the willingness to pick up a share of the legwork it would take to bring the program back, and this was met with enthusiasm.  I was very grateful, therefore, after much time and anxiety borne of ambiguity, that my ideas for new projects were met with such positive results.
I may not have mentioned yet that I was asked by the new principal of Dr. William Connor Primary to collect some new books in the interest of expanding and revitalizing the defunct school library.  I was referred to a charity organization called Hands Across The Sea, a book purchasing and donating organization whose goal is to promote child literacy in the Eastern Caribbean.  They've already helped several of my compatriots on other islands around the EC, donating upwards of US$25,000 worth of books annually.  Upon contacting them and learning that their book drive delivery is usually mid-October, and that they are in full swing to begin delivering shipments to the 80 schools and libraries they serve, they were still graciously willing to accommodate DWC Primary's request.  This is my first procurement/fundraising project, and it's starting on a strong foot!  Please check out their website, which shares some of their success stories, both in letter and video forms, as well as my own request for aid on their wishlist page.  I am asking for $300 to help HATS purchase new books from Scholastic®, a total which will then be matched by HATS and the sum quantity sent to DWC Primary.  In order to be in compliance, however, we need to have raised the money by November.  So I appreciate any speedy help in achieving this goal.

And I'm pleased to introduce a new blog header for the occasion.  Those are Ting brand bottle caps in the middle.  Enjoy!

16 September 2011

Funnyquote Friday

My girlfriend recently started her fourth semester at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, and with the transition to new subjects and professors came students moving into the newly-vacant apartments around her.  One in particular, her new neighbor living immediately downstairs, owns a couple of dogs and a cockatoo.  Lolly has an abundance of experience with birds, as she owns a few herself and also worked in a pet shop while at university in New York.  So she loves playing with this new addition to the apartment, making him coo and whistle, bounce on his legs and flap his wings.  When we were getting ready to leave, and her neighbor stepped out to take the dogs on a brief walk, the cockatoo from inside the apartment said:

"*Whistle* I'm coming back! Coming back!"

It's that time of year again: the long holiday weekend celebrating both National Heroes' Day and the Federation's 28th year of independence.  National Heroes' Day is similar to our President's Day in February, except in this case, they honor the men and women on whom have been bestowed the honorary of Official National Hero.  The big difference, however, is that there has only been one person declared an official national hero: Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw, the first premiere of the colony of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, who was instrumental in bringing about independence from the Crown in the '50s and '60s.  He did not live to see independence in 1973, but is memorialized as one of the greatest Kittitians in history.  There have been recent pushes to add other names to that list (notably voiced by People's Action Movement, the political party in opposition to the sitting government, the Labour Party, of whom Bradshaw was an adherent).  Upon declaring ruling independence from the U.K. in '73, but retaining their place in the Commonwealth of Former British Nations, (there are 53 countries in all, including India and Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand, Guinea, the Seychelles, Belize, most of the OECS, and Canada to name a few) and keeping the Queen as their Head of State, a few years' passing saw the secession of the Federation's smallest and most distant member, Anguilla, when it restored its official U.K. territory status.  Since then it has been the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and now it's Nevis's prerogative to speak of disenfranchisement and favoritism.  But, all that will probably be overlooked for the of the coming long weekend, anyway.

12 September 2011

Well, That Was Weird

An entire weekend gone, (*snap*) just sitting at home and waiting for Tropical Storm Maria to pass.  We volunteers were, naturally, held at "Standfast" level of emergency alert all day Saturday, the day that it was originally scheduled to pass.  When everything had mostly cleared late that day, we were given the "All Clear" announcement.  Curiously, this did not correspond at all with the severity of the storm, which had indeed diverted North at this point, but nonetheless had a minor tail of stormy weather that was headed our way on Sunday.  But even then, expecting some degree of thunderstorms, wind, and rain during the day, it did not arrive until late Sunday night and into Monday morning.  The offshoot of all of this is that I got little to no exercise both days, and somewhat restless sleep both nights.  It's odd to think that, while hurricanes have been known to throw schedules completely off the rails, even the mere threat of them can sometimes be just as vexing.  Not to mention disappointing: I was looking forward to facing another storm on my own, and maybe even capturing some of the ferocity for a highlight movie.  But that proved to be impossible this go-around.  Maybe next time?

Last week, and now by default this week, was to be set aside for looking back, a week in review in a sense.  But I have not got around to completing my third trimesterly Volunteer Report Form yet, so I don't know what I would write about yet.  I guess it won't hurt to delay the festivities one more week.  I want to do it right more than I want to do it on time!

I mentioned that my hair has gotten longer; even this has some unusual consequences for me.  For example, I have neither dust bunnies nor cats in my residence, yet a cursory sweep around the apartment uncovers occasionally substantial hairballs.  Furthermore, keeping the mane under control in this climate is proving to be difficult.  What with the constant heat and humidity, the frizziness of my locks tends to skyrocket, creating this shift away from what I am used to it looking like in the states to what it begins to resemble here if I am not careful.  My friends like to tease me about my clear vanity over something as trivial as my hair that day, and I just take it.  But to me it's the difference between "this person looks smart, sexy and professional" and "there's absolutely no way I can take this person seriously."

I'm trying to update my résumé currently, in preparation for job hunting all of next year.  It may be no surprise to anyone that I find it mildly challenging to put into brief terms exactly what I do here.  At the moment my descriptions of things I've accomplished feel like the bare bones of my job description; I suppose the goal for the next year is to add some marrow, tendons, muscle and flesh to those bones.  It's a daunting prospect, but it's not impossible.  Indeed, I look forward to finding out what projects hold for the long run.

09 September 2011

Funnyquote Friday

It's that time of year again... the Funnyquote Fridays in Review!  And that means more funny, often inane, but occasionally insightful, translations from Bad Translator.  Here are the last 24 weeks of funnyquotes and their respective 56th translation:

 25 February 2011: "Well, your six months of vacation are over."
... becomes, "So, you can download important messages."

04 March 2011: "The pessimist says, 'The glass is half empty.' The optimist says, 'The glass is half full.' The Peace Corps Volunteer says, 'Who poured the bath for me?' "
... becomes, "The volunteer group for the bathroom said, 'This is the glass half empty; he said he was optimistic.' "

11 March 2011: "Just because the Peace Corps has three goals, doesn't mean you have to start with the first one."
... becomes, "In fact, the Peace Corps has three goals in its first match."

18 March 2011: "You so slow, I'm gonna lap you in the 100 meters."
... becomes, "In my case, 100 meters is very difficult."

25 March 2011: "Would you like to be the Country Director's water carrier?"
... becomes, "How are the locals?"

01 April 2011: "I'm tired of pretending I'm not a total, bitching rock star from Mars."
... becomes, "I'm a rock star to my dismay, Kaye, and very tired of the government."

08 April 2011: "I'm sure Mr. Nelson would rather go home, eat tortilla soup and watch TV."
... becomes, "I think it features Nelson, Tom, and I on TV cooking shows."

15 April 2011: "Morning, Peter.  Cabbage, Ma'am."
... becomes, "Hello, Colonel Peter woman."

22 April 2011: "It's Kurt... like Kurt Douglas."
... becomes, "Kurt Douglas out, especially sun."

29 April 2011: "I don't want fried chicken.  Right now I'm so hungry I could go for all of Noah's Ark deep-fried."
... becomes, "I designed a good appetite: I do not like fried chicken."

06 May 2011: "Simma Dung."
... becomes, "Reduction."

13 May 2011: "Please feel free to contact me with questions.  (As an Alaskan, I am an expert in frostbite and hypothermia, so if you ever get those, you’ll be in good hands!)"
... becomes, "Communication problems: I was frozen in Alaska, the land of experts!"

20 May 2011: "Love the car, Adrian. Love the car!"
... becomes, "Oooh I love the car and my wife!"

03 June 2011: "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go."
... becomes, "This is what you want to do."

10 June 2011: "My theory is that the buses here actually hover an inch above the ground."
... becomes, "My theory is the bottom line."

24 June 2011: "I don't phone 911."
... becomes, "Article 911."

01 July 2011: "We have a special term for them in St. Kitts: we call them 'I' specialists."
... becomes, "San Francisco Information and I, Chris, is closed."

08 July 2011: "Too good to be true."
... becomes, "Maybe."

15 July 2011: "On behalf of the A/C Repair class, I would like to thank you... for doing your job."
... becomes, "Social process: that is the name of the class."

22 July 2011: "Don't take too much advice from other PCVs."
... becomes, "There are many other volunteers to rule the world."

5 August 2011: "So they figured, [after you,] how could they do better?"
... becomes, "You're very popular."

19 August 2011: "...And a very happy birthday to Ms. Janet Caines. She was born on the same day as Fidel Castro."
... becomes, "Congratulations to Mrs. Jeanette Holiday. Fidel Castro was born."

26 August 2011: *gasp* "That's almost thirty minutes!"
... becomes, "Thirty minutes is enough!"

02 September 2011: "Ram's: Where shopping is a pleasure."
... becomes, "Farm attraction."

... and that's it!  Thanks for sticking around for this review edition of the Funnyquote, and for another 25 weeks of the blog!

02 September 2011

Funnyquote Friday

Seen on a grocery bag:

Ram's: Where shopping is a pleasure.

Now where have I heard that before?

Well, it's the Friday before school starts here, and so there is a dull, sickly feeling in the back of every 12-year-old mind, each one trying to squeeze out the last joys of sleeping in.  In my mind, the subtle pressure of submitting and printing the Math Activities booklet before school started is nearly dissipated.  But I'm still putting in the hours on it, in the hopes of seeing it used in schools this year.  I was able to cajole a fellow volunteer into helping grammar-check the document, so it is nearing completion slowly but surely.

Today marks the 1-year anniversary for my being on-island.  So discounting the 5 days I was in the States for my friend's wedding, I have been serving and training in St. Kitts and Nevis for an entire year now, with about 14 months remaining in my term of service.  I'll be writing up my 3rd Trimester service reports to PC St. Lucia very soon, so when I do, I'll do some reflection and cover some of the details here.  Next week: Review time again! Oh boy!