21 September 2011

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!

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