Friday, March 21, 2008

Final Comments

It's strange but I haven't blogged anything on this site for close to a year and I still get comments on it. Strange....
Anyways let me leave a few last comments for anyone that might be coming by to get information about the Peace Corp and Malawi specifically or any other random thoughts you may want out of this RPCV (returned peace corps volunteer)

Best place that I've seen on the web to get a good overview information about the PC and Malawi is on the Peace Corps wiki ( They have pretty good general information however I must warn you, alot of the information on Malawi, based on the quick cursory glance i gave it, is out of date. I can't remember much specifically but one thing is that 1 dollar is closer to about 150 kwacha nowadays.

To bring or not to bring that is the question.....
If you plan on wearing sandals all the time don't bring socks! I brought a bunch of pairs but literally I wore socks maybe 3 times the entire time I was in Malawi. I only needed it when I used hiking boots which mostly was rare. I always wore my chacos or padapadas (sandals). Head lamp is crucial for the night time chimbudzi (pit latrine) visits. You will eventually learn to travel with a small backpack. In my opinion you could live with a jacket, two shirts, shorts, and 1 pair of pants when you travel. Anything beyond that is luxury. I traveled to Mozambique with just that and was generally comfortable. I don't understand why people need to carry huge backpacks with them when they travel. I would recommend bringing like a small handheld music/PDA player. It'll make you feel better and it's easy to carry. I had a simple PDA to keep track of what was going on. Just pray you don't lose it or get it stolen. New undies after the first year feel nice. Have someone send you a care package later. Beyond that the general recommendation is don't bring alot. I definitely brought more than I needed. But from what I've seen even if you feel like your bringing alot, at the end of your service you'll be a different person in some sense and what you think is a little then is definitely going to be different from what you think now.

Random things about Malawi
People are friendly for the most part but those who are "too" friendly in the cities be wary of. But when you do greet people, greet them fully, it can be impolite to give a half gesture of greeting. I'm not sure if that make sense but take it as you will. Hitchhiking is the preferred mode of transport for most volunteers. But be sensitive to see if the person wants money. Some do some don't. Don't mess it up for others by not giving something if they expect it. Hitching is a little harder up north...fewer cars. Lots of accidents happens on the roads also so try to be careful when travelling. One time I got out of a minibus and literally 10 seconds later a kids getting out of the same minibus got hit by a car. Pretty tragic but happens quite often. When on public transport be ready to be packed in like sardines and share a seat with a chicken or goat under you. This is no place for whiners who need "leg space". If your in the far northern region of Malawi check out a dance called stuff to watch. It's a dance to celebrate the end of the harvest.

General final thoughts
I miss being in the Peace Corps and Malawi. Life would I say it...simpler. It didn't take legal documents and oversophistication of doing the most common things in life. You just talked to someone and just got it done. The community is your support. It makes me wonder, why do we have so many issues in this country with just feeling safe in your home. Then I live in a country of strangers. Everyone is always moving and changing. We don't really know who lives next to us. We can't help someone when they yell help because everyone is detached from everyone else. I guess thats one thing I wish was here....a sense of community.....where is it?

Anyways that is all. Leave a comment if you like...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Back to site

I'm heading back to site after traveling around a bit.  Ended up hiking mulanje mountain and then travelling a ridiculously long distance into to dive at Manta Reef seeing Manta rays, dolphins, 100's of fishes, and snorkeling with whale sharks.

Fun stuff now back to work.........

Monday, April 09, 2007

Still Alive....

Well after so many months of hibernation and silence I'm typing up another entry.  Sorry it took so long but I guess there isn't that much to share but also the fact that I have to travel a good 5 hours just to get anywhere near a computer with internet.  Let alone one that hasn't been ravaged by the likes of so many viruses. 

So....whats been going on you may ask?

Just doing my thing in the village still teaching math, english, and physical science to my now Form 2 and 4 students.  (That would be what we call 10 and 12th grade for those of you that don't speak british)  This is the forms where they will be taking the exam after pretty much this upcoming term.  Being a second year volunteer you kind of get into the groove of things.  Finding food, cooking, teaching, getting water, using the pit latrine, hitchhiking, fightin off scorpions/snake/bats/crazy ants, etc. become a normal part of life.  There aren't too many more novel things in this experience.  The way the culture works, hows to live and work with the people around you, become a natural part of how you go about your life.  I would say just in my perceptions the experience can be quite different from doing this for one year or two years.  When I hit my one year point last october I was definitely going through an extremely negative period where it was simply intolerable for my to work with many Malawians.  Apparently most people who have to work and live in another culture/country find the same type of experiences after that amount of time.  For me it was simply reaching a point where the little things that used to amuse me no longer did but became a hinderance to simply getting whatever I was working on done.  Part of you shuts down to simply reflect back and think can these differences be brought together and overcome.  Some people can and some can't just depends on if the individual feels they have to compromise who they are as a person to simply meet a goal.  Part of being a second year is that many days it simply feels like your just watching time go by also.  I suppose thats how I would express my "feelings". 

It makes you wonder how much of the way you think and believe about how the world works change being in a situation like this.  You asks questions like: what does it mean to be human?  why are there disparities?  huh?  where did the money go?  am i making a difference (and if so is it positive)?  who's the real cause of the problem?  eggs or soya pieces?  why doesn't anyone check what NGO's and organizations are ACTUALLY doing? 

The library project I was trying to help my community and school work on has been approved and the community is gung ho about finishing soon.  For my sake I hope they do so.......but we didn't get approved for furniture but my fiances parent said they wanted to donate for that so awesome blessing in that. 

Was trying to work with an AIDS orphan support group but can't seem to figure out when and where they have meetings....can be quite frustrating.  Mainly its because they don't come or change at the last minute...oh well

They grow lots of rice in my area because of two irrigation schemes (hara and wovwe).  It's amazing how much rice comes out of these areas. Every day I'll see an overloaded lorry full of rice (currently a variety called Title 10, kinda tastes crappy).  Other varieties you can find here are pusa, fire, and kilombero (super fire....emmm emmm good)  Watching the guys lift the bags onto the lorries is amazing because these bags weigh over 200 kilos and they throw it up there with their shoulders.  This country doesn't exactly have fork lifts.

Ummmmmm anything else to say...

Oh yeah, i'm about to climb mount mulanje and dive in Mozambique...I hope I don't die

Saturday, January 20, 2007

CampSky Website

If anyone wants to see pictures from the summer school project we did here, go to this website

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I'm at an interesting point in my life......

I've reached the midpoint of my peace corp service and so many thoughts of what I want to do before I leave is bubbling up in my mind.....possible approval of a full library project for the school, completion of a smaller temporary library, accessing national library service/donor organizations for books, developing income generating projects related to a orphan support group, teaching my students ultimate frisbee (need a frisbee though, anyone want to donate a frisbee?  pretty please.....), and of course teaching.  Can it be done?  Only God knows for sure, pray for me.  I'm serious.........

I'm approaching my 30's, engaged, and I want little kwang's (a few little eun's will be cool too)
Future mantra to my wife:  Push 'em out shove 'em out way out!
But to do all that I would need to find a job, help plan a wedding, find a place to live......oh the stress of it all
Love you honey 

So what to do?  Should I leave earlier, I can't expect my beyonce to do it alone.  Let alone I need to time to readjust and obtain my pseudo american brain back before I can survive in that society.  *Yes I did feel like a tourist, alien, freaked out african when I came to visit*  Like I said before, in many ways it feels like you never left but in so many other ways its just not the same anymore......

Sidenote: I wonder if she knows what she's getting into

But commitments have been made here, can't simply give my 2 weeks notice, we're not that easily replaceable.  Volunteers only come in every two years (for each sector).  One of the reasons for peace corp is to provide human resources where people are needed or simply don't want to go....

Its interesting, Did you know most nurses who are Malawian and who had been trained here work in the U.K.?  People go where the money is......don't forget this is a country devastated by HIV/AIDS and have approximately 100 doctors for a population of close to 12 million.  <--------- That was pretty random but I don't think I have a particular purpose  for this entry.

So what am I trying to say?  I feel selfish
why?  dunno

does anything i do or say make any sense?   probably not, i wonder myself how I got here

Oh yeah...anticipation
Hmm....I think I simply enjoy change, anticipating change
We'll see where this story goes

To be continued........

Friday, January 05, 2007

I'm Back......

Back in the land of not so plenty....still got a while to go

Miss you guys but in alot of ways I'm glad to be back

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My visit home

I'm been in the states for a few weeks now and been experiencing the wonders of life in the land of plenty.  I suppose in so many ways many things are pretty much the same......the sights, the smells, the routines.  Theres always that part of me thats thinking in the back of my mind that none of whats going on is new to me.  I'm driving (which I hadn't done in over a year) and I'm thinking..."don't freak out, this isn't anything new".  Of course my other brain is thinking....."whoa, this feels weird".  Then the rational middle of my brain is thinking......"this is america, in america they drive on the right side of the road, also in america people do not ride in the back of pickup trucks, ahhh america the land of no roundabouts".

I've also been enjoying the joys of eating food you can actually feel the grease attacking your veins and heart..Yum....
This is also the land of big things:
big houses, big cars, big pants, big bellies, even big vegetables......

Its scary when you realize that you have two thought processes going through your mind when you buy that nice juicy hamburger and fries
Brain 1:   mmmm mmmm mmmmmm.....bring it on
Brain 2:  you paid what for that *!@!#!  Dude, thats like how much you spent in a month in the village.  Are you nuts!

Is it possible to have multiple personalities?  I'm looking back on the first half of my Peace Corp experience so far and am glad for the experiences I've had.  I'm still having trouble putting everything into words of how I feel so far and what my expectations are for my remaining time.  I'm officially a 2nd year volunteer now, whoo hoo.   Hopefully I can get a few more projects off the ground and help the community initiate them.  We'll see if they bear any fruit.  All I can do is pray and try.  The greatest thing I suppose I'm greatful for are the amazing people I've met and gotten to know.  That in and of itself I suppose is the greatest gift so far of this experience.  There are no such thing as perfect people but something is inspiring of meeting and working with people who have the heart and desire to make a difference.......If human beings are created in the image of God, this I believe is when its best reflected...

Flying back on Jan. 2nd!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

peacea corpo

I've realized that I've been taking mefloquine for more than a year now.....I'm beginning to wonder if my brain chemistrys been messed with in some way.  Is mefloquine a psychotropic drug?  You'll let me know if I act a little weird or speak in funny languages right? 

I was surfing through other peoples xanga sites looking at group pictures and an interesting thought came to my mind:

"Where are the black people?" 

Suppose I've gotten used to seeing black Africans everywhere I go...interesting.

I'm part of a group of volunteers who are peer supporters and during the recent training we were talking about how many of the volunteers feel frustration for always feeling like they are singled out and people stare at them or point at them.  But then its funny because when we see a random white person coming into the village we do the same thing, "we're like who's that, whats she doing here,  oh my gosh she's showing her thighs!"

Saturday, October 21, 2006

One Year Gone By

It's amazing to think that a year has passed since I first flew into this country.  It honestly doesn't feel like its been that long since I first stepped off the plane.  I remember when I first heard that I was coming to Malawi how I had absolutely no idea where this country was.  And now I find out Madonna the "pop icon" came here to adopt a child from an orphanage and its all over the news and now everybody whos watched tv or listened to the radio knows about this place...
Its interesting thinking about the things that people pay attention to. 
They say that the one year mark is a time when there exist particular mental struggles in dealing with, living in, and understanding another culture.  I think I'm definitely going through the normal doubts and struggles at this point.  I think I experienced a classic case of depression in that I laid down on my futon and didn't want to move for about an hour....kinda scary now that I think about it.  I suppose I question how much good I'm really doing being here and teaching....  A profession by which I haven't recieve any true formal training in, but then again we've been asked to help in a country where there simply aren't enough people with the minimum qualifications to the meet the needs for teachers.  I guess I find it ironic in that people complain that there are "too many" people whereever they are, but not enough people with the ability or the desire to do the jobs that need to be done.  Theres that parable about the harvest is plenty and the workers are few related to spreading the gospel....i think it may be simply applicable to everything that people do.  I guess I've notice even though that there may be large cultural difference between groups of people but the underlying drive and actions of people are pretty much the same.....people are people....however you may want to understand that statement.
Its about that time of the year where its getting really hot.  In the district that I'm in the elevation is lower than most other parts of the country except the lower shire region (which one Malawian described to me literally as hell on earth).  Basically right now I sleep naked because my underwear sticks to me from the sweat because of the heat.  But then all that means is that my sheets stick to me instead....  Oh well what can you do.  It really isn't all that bad though because you simple get used to it.  I suppose back in the states we constantly move in and out of climate controlled environments so the differential between the two temperature extremes make it seem that much worse when in all reality "it ain't that bad yo". 
They have a great traditional dance that they have in the northern region of Malawi and southern parts of Tanzania from what I understand called Mwalipenga.  It's probably the best cultural experience in what I've seen in this country for me.  It's basically a group of dancers that come out and dance in unison to a beat driven by a drummer in concert with a group of guys blowing into some hollowed out shell (which I still haven't figured out where they find).  They'll dance either with spears or those shells themselves and people surround these groups which go in and out of the circle to battle as they might say in the u.s.  I'll have to get some footage of it when they start dancing again this time next year. 
I'm getting ready for summer school....I'm in charge of organizing several different aspects of it and being bursar as mentioned before....Just wondering did anyone donate??  I guess pscychologically its nice to know that people from where I'm from support things I work on even if its with just a few dollars...If not just another reason to feel sad I suppose.
I'll be visiting home very soon during Christmas time... It'll nice to see some folks and most definitely my family. 

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Want to help with a Peace Corp Project?

Hello everyone who's looking at this beautiful piece of typed prose this very moment.  This little blurb below describes a project that I'm a part of (I'm the bursar, "the dude handling the money and paying for stuff")  Please donate if you can and help with the project.
This project was started by education PCV's here in Malawi several years ago and my group has decided to continue it.

In an effort to encourage and further the education of students attending Community Day Secondary Schools, Peace Corps education volunteers host an annual summer school for two weeks during the Nov.-Dec. summer holiday. Through this school, students are offered the opportunity to attend classes that complement and expand on the subjects the students are taught during the traditional school year as well as participate in fieldtrips to local businesses and national parks in the surrounding area.

Nicknamed CAMPSKY (Career and MSCE Preparation for Successful and Knowledgeable Youth), Summer School 2006 will host 60 of the brightest students from the schools in which we (Peace Corps Volunteers) teach. Through CAMP SKY we hope to give these students the opportunity to study in a more challenging and diverse atmosphere than what is normally offered at the Community Day Secondary Schools that they attend. We plan an intense set of core classes to help prepare the students for their government MSCE exams, taken at the end of their senior year and which determine the course that they follow after graduation. Also offered are a range of electives that will allow the kids to explore their musical, journalistic, star-gazing, and catapult-building creativity. We may even use the catapults to launch a chicken or two, after properly calculating the trajectory of an average chicken, of course.

CAMPSKY is an independent creation of Peace Corps Volunteers and their communities and, as such, is funded by friends and family. Donations from home are important in making CAMP SKY possible, no matter what size. A donation of $100 pays for food, lodging, and transport for one student for the entire duration of CAMP SKY. Every donation is immensely helpful (and tax deductible). 

Donations are collected through Friends of Malawi, and can be made by check or online.  Be sure to clearly designate your donation for our Summer School.  The website below has specific instructions and a link to donate online.  To donate, click on the button next to PCV Summer School Project.

If you prefer to donate by mail, please write FOM Summer School in the memo line of the check.  Mailing instructions can be found on the website above. 

We appreciate very much anything that you are able to share with our school program and thank you in advance for your support. Look forward to a web page to be posted in December sharing pictures and stories so that you can see what a wonderful thing you've helped to make possible.

All our thanks – Zikomo kwambiri!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Just thinking out loud

Well the second term is finally over. My students are sort of learning something.  I think......but based on the assessments that I gave them I don't think they really understand anything that I've taught them in the last 3 months or so.......
Frustrating!!!!.............................It's even worse when they ask me if they can borrow a book to read over the break and I'm like.....eeeee  I don't have any you can borrow.  If one of them borrows a book them the rest of them will just on me like leeches asking for a book.  If I even think that the book will be returned but theres no guarantees either. 
Oh....if there are any trainees headed this way anytime soon: do not! i repeat do not throw away your cell phones at the airport!!! (this is what some of the people from the new environment group did!!! yikes!!)  This may be one of the poorest countries in the world but they still have cell phone service.  I mean I have service in my village and its literally in the middle of nowhere.  You just need to have a GSM enabled phone thats been unlocked.  But even the unlocking part can be done here for probably u.s. equivalent 10 bucks so you probably don't want to do that in the states either.   The good part is that people from the states can call me without me being charged for anything (but it costs like a dollar a minute for me to call the states)
Eun's visiting me   yea!! 
Airplane ticket: alot of money!
Safari: alot of money!
Zanzibar: alot of money!
Seeing my site and hitching around Malawi: free!
Seeing your most precious lady friend after 9 months 21 days 9 hours 23 seconds and 16.2 milliseconds and counting....:  Priceless

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More random pics for your eyeballs

Pics from Ashley in my group.  Enjoy!
This one is pictures of Malawians (e.g. World Food Program maize distribution, market in Jenda, random people):

Sunday, June 18, 2006

9 months down 18 to go...

I think for this post I'm going just ramble on about things that
visitors to this site might be interested in knowing. One thing they
tell you that you should always remember when your writing anything is
to know who your audience is (atleast who your intended audience is.)

Sooooo..... It appears that people who come to this site are people
who are about to come to Malawi, people who are interested in Peace
Corp in general, and hopefully a few people who still remember me from
back home. Just a general disclaimer: anything here is a
representation of my opinions and not those of peace corp or the U.S.
government. Just protecting my mathako (thats buttocks for you not
chitumbuka speakers, pronounced ma taco, taco bell)

General information about Malawi:
This country is called the "Warm Heart of Africa". The people are for
the most part friendly and are willing to help you with most things.
Some call this country "Africa for beginners" because of the
relatively mild climate and the presence of so many english speakers
(relative to other places you could be). My site is in the northern
region of Malawi where most of the people speak chitumbuka (which
means language of the tumbukas, example: chizungu which means language
of the white man "english"). However, just like any other part of
Africa there are all kinds of tribes concentrated in various regions
so they have their own language for each of these tribes. Here in the
northern region you'll find people who speak chitumbuka, chitonga,
chinghonde, chindali, etc. etc.... The official languages of the
country however are Chichewa (spoken in the south) and English. Just
some interesting tidbits of the language that you might find amusing
(the context of which you speak has alot to do with it).....

chimbuzi = pit latrine or big goat
Nikufumila ku america = i am from america <but> Nikufumila = I have diarrhea
chinonono = difficult <but> chizonono = ghonorea
*theres more but i'll let inspiration bring it out later

Staple food in this country is something they call "nsima" basically
its a thick porridge like substance that they make out of maize flower
or cassava flour. It tastes ok (in that it doesn't really taste like
anything) but I personally prefer rice that is plentiful (at least in
my region) Heck I'm even starting to learn the different types of
rice that they plant throughout the year. They have alot of
irrigation schemes set up in the region that I live so the diverted
water is used to grow rice and even at times maize. Oh also
everything that you eat is a dende or ndiwo (relish). For many people
psychologically, if you haven't eaten nsima you haven't eaten. So
basically if you eat a entire slaughtered cow but no nsima, you
technically haven't eaten yet.

If you look at Malawi on a map you'll notice that Malawi is a
relatively "skinny country". In the southern region parts of the
country are surrounded on both sides by mozabique. Its funny because
part of the M1 (motorway 1), near a village called Lizulu, runs along
the border between the two country. On one side of the road your in
Mozambique and on the other side your in Malawi. The other countries
surrounding Malawi are Zimbabwe on the far south, Tanzania to the
north, Zambia to the west, and the ever famous Lake Malawi to the
east. You can definitely find more detailed information elsewhere.
Basically when I heard I was placed in Malawi I was thinking where the
heck is that??? I know how you feel.

My general perceptions of Peace Corp so far...
The whole concept behind peace corp (in my opinion) is to attempt to
educate in multiple ways {both intended and unintended} and to bring
human resources to those who need it. Peace corp definitely has a
more grass roots approach to how they go about their basic mission of
providing skilled (somewhat, questionable at times) people and an
understanding of cultures both to us and to them. This is why they
focus so much in making sure that we atleast get a fundamental
handling of the local language and culture. I suppose the hardest
part of the whole experience is basically understanding how cultural
differences can have such an affect in even how you and your community
approach solving problems that you see. Makes both you and them
frustrated let alone simply the problems of the lack of resources. Of
course for us education volunteers they have a nice little accronym
they used called TALULAR (teaching and learning using locally
available resources). But even that can only be stretched so far.
They big thing they always talk about is sustainability. If the
solutions that we present to our communities cannot be maintain
without our presence its not going to do them much good in the long
run. We see so many examples of NGO's throwing either very modern or
very sophisticated solutions towards problems they see but ends up not
lasting very long simply because it doesn't fit with the skills sets
and knowledge of the local community. Peace Corp gives alot of
freedoms towards the individual volunteers although they have pleny of
specific expectations. Alot of what happens even at site is mostly
self reported, that being said you could literally sit on &*% the
whole two years without too many people knowing. It's one of those
jobs that has the greatest potential for both great change and total
uselessness. It's really totally up to the individual volunteers.
Education sector is somewhat easier to follow into since there is more
of a structure of actually teaching at local schools. Depending on
the site for health and environment it can take a while for people to
get settled into actually projects. I've heard people taking the
first year simply to get settled before actual projects begin to take
hold. Theres nothing wrong with that simply the way it is. But at
the same time what do I know I've only been here for 9 months......As
with all opinions take it with a grain of salt.

Comments about the peace corps official packing list......
It's a load of crap! They need to seriously update that thing. Simply put...
Bring jeans, any electronics you want (although I'd recommend sticking
with low voltage devices like ipods and such), contacts, a few pieces
of clothing that is opposite to what you think its like over there.
"Right now it is freezing in Mzuzu" Don't bring any medications
besides the initial prescription meds. Peace corp will drug you up
all you want. It's nice to have some basic camping supplies like a
tent and sleeping bag also for when you travel. Beyond that its
really up to you......

And last but not least Steph from my group has finally posted some
pictures so peruse and enjoy at your leisure. I'll post pictures one
of these days..........scouts honor

Shutterfly Album

If you want the password just ask me or Eun

Friday, April 07, 2006

1 Term Down 5 to Go

The first academic term is finally over. The perception of time is the thing that is strange each day sometimes seem to take forever to finish and get through but then at the same time I look back and think where the heck did 3 months go!! Oh my gosh........
I'll be heading down to lilongwe tomorrow to start what they call IST (in service training). Basically its a meeting of all the volunteers in our group where we discuss any issues or things the big boys in either the country office or PC Washington thinks we need to know to be more effective volunteers for the remaining time that we've been here. The one thing that definitely makes you aware that your being funded by government dollars is the paperwork they always expect you to fill out for every little thing. It's crazy how much of the little details they want to know. They want statistics on exactly how many boys, girls, men, woman your work is helping. You have got to be kidding.......

One thing that PCV's are given are TREK mountain bikes for "official travel" in and around our sites. Lets just say I've put my bike to "good" use.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH what the heck is wrong with gmail.......

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Whats been going ON!

Well I've been teaching for about 2 weeks now.  The struggles of being a peace corp volunteer can vary from person to person and depending on the site.  I would say the great thing about my site is that I wake to an amazing view of the Nyika plateau every morning.  It makes you want to sing Hallelujah watching the clouds roll of the hills and when it rains the chance of seeing not one but multiple rainbows is amazing.  Aside from the heat, I've gotten pretty used to my site and living life here (as much as an azungu can in 3-4 months).  The hardest struggles I would say are with frustrations of seeing things occur that you have very little control over and waves of loneliness that can feel like its crippling.  The thing is that many times I have to consciously make an effort everyday to believe I'm making a difference here.  Were so used to having things occur instantly for us back in the states that when things slow down as you have to in order to do anything here its somewhat of a shock.  I don't know, just thinking too much.
This thats are "interesting" here as a teacher at a CDSS.  Some of the students have to walk 2-3 hours to get to school and then another 2-3 hours to get back.  Would you come to school?  They do...  Teaching math without books is ok, I can give notes.  But dang yo.....teaching english without books, these students have nothing to read.  We PCV's get newsweeks so I've been giving those out as reading material.  Pray for me is all I can say.....
Anyways whenever I can get some more descent internet time I'll write a more detailed and prosetastic rendition of life in Africa.
Anyone thats interested in seeing pictures of training and such, one of the peeps in my group has posted some photos....Go here------>
Take care and write me people, I get lonely :-(
Advice to people thinking of becoming peace corp volunteers.
1) Bring Jeans, you'll thank me
2) Bring contacts, you'll thank me (don't forget the solution like I did)
3) If you buy a solar charger buy the one from Brunton not Isun (trust me I'm an engineer)
4) Send yourself a box of books before you leave then let me borrow them
Till next time....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Almost a Volunteer....

Well guess what folks...just a few more days and training will be over.  We the people of the 2005 education peace corp volunteers for Malawi will be swearing in on thursday of this week.  Then we'll be getting ready to be shipped off to our respective sites.  It's amazing but it feels like we've been in Malawi forever.  The way that time seems to slow down is amazing.  But it seems like for pretty much everyone were just simply ready to get the heck out of training and get on with it.  It's crazy but our 2 years haven't even officially started yet.  Of the original 17 trainees that started we lost one about a week ago.  We were very sad that she had to go, but she like anyone else had their reasons. 
Looks like for the school that I'll be teaching at they want me to teach enlish along with math so we'll have to see how that goes.  Its definitely a struggle when your trying to teach with almost no resources available.  At the site i'm going to be at they literally have only one book for each of the subjects that we are expected to teach (let alone that they don't even have syllabuses).  We need a miracle here....But anyways the teaching and learning must commence somehow.  Thats it for now......If anyone sends mail put Kwang Han, PCV   oooohhh yeahhhhhh...
Till next time.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Still Kickin....

Well I'm still kickin.  About to do site visit pretty soon.  Quick run down on whats been going on since time is limited.  I'm gonna be in the northern region of Malawi close to Lake Malawi and the Nyika plateau.  I learned a language called chitumbuka.  Hopefully i'll get better at it.......
I'll post pictures when I get a chance. 
For those that want to write address your letters like this:
Kwang Han, PCT
Peace Corps Malawi
P.O. Box 208 Lilongwe
Southern Africa
Thats it for now.......................

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Were in south africa right now and we'll be heading into Malawi tomorrow and then.......electronic communication silence for 3 months! Ahhhh......

Thursday, September 29, 2005

First day of staging....

I had some drama getting here to Philly today but I made it just in time before registration ended....whew...
People here are cool and I'm getting really excited about what lies ahead.  Another day and 1/2 and I'll be on the other side of world!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I'm up at 1a.m.'s past 1am and i'm still awake. This is not a good sign because I have to get up around 6:30am for my flight.

I guess its just starting to hit me that I will actually be leaving the country for more than 2 years. You know when you move away normally its not for that long a period and you can always come back and take care of things relatively quickly without thinking too much about it. But for this....its totally different. I won't exactly be able to get back here all that quick. Even in terms of possibly vacationing back home half way through doesn't even look like a likely scenario. Since any travel in between my period of service is all on me, I doubt I can afford it. Soooo..........God willing I have covered all the loose ends before I leave.

Anyways I'll miss write will ya?

But I'll especially miss my family. Mom/Dad I know you don't read this but I love you and don't stress. I'll be back before you know it.
Soo, you crazy and i love you for that too. Take care of yourself and we'll be laughing it up again before you know it.
Eun...I already miss you so much sweetheart. But I have hope in seeing your beautiful face again soon enough. Study hard and bring the big "I AM" upstairs all the glory. Remember this equation:
((Thoughts of you*Faith and Prayer)^804 days I'll be gone)/(Lots of letter writing) = ;-)

Hmmm....did I forget anything???? zzzzzzzzzz..........

i'll be in philly soon enough......

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Packing List

Ahh 1 more day to go......

Heres what my packing ended up looking like:
The list....

Pants: 2 pairs of good khaki’s, 1 pair of dress pants, 2 pairs of Jeans, 2 shorts
Shirts: 2 north face shirts, 2 white t-shirts, 1 long sleeve shirts, 4 miscellaneous T-shirts, 2 button up dress shirts
Shoes: Chacos, Birkenstock clogs, Hiking boots, sneakers, flip-flops, Docs
1 pair of scrubs
2 ties
North Face Venture Rain Jacket
Lots of underwear
2 pairs of hiking socks
8 pairs of regular socks
Baseball cap
Mr. Escalante math teacher hat

Toiletries, etc.
2 toothbrushes
2 toothpastes
Burt’s Bee’s kit
Burt’s Bee’s bar shampoo
Liquid shampoo small
2 pairs of glasses
6 months contacts
Contact lens solution
2 contact lens cases
Tom’s of Maine deodorant
Act fluoride rinse
2 small bottles of hand sanitizer
Nail clippers
Hair cutting scissors
Toilet Paper
Large pack towel
Small pack towel

USB cables
USB card reader
Brunton 4.4 Solarport charger
Palm PDA
Digital Camera
LED headlamp
Leatherman / whetstone
4AAA Rechargeable batteries / 8AA Rechargeable batteries
2 combination locks
1 keyed lock
2 moleskine notebooks
1 large moleskine notebook
Casio watch
Duct Tape
Traveler’s checks
Ziploc bags (gallon size)
Fleece sleeping bag
Duct Tape
MSR Locking pot
Utensil set
Paring knives
Nalgene water bottle
Seeds for garden
Twin size sheets
18 passport size photos

iRiver 1Gig MP3 player
2 or 3 novels
2 pairs earbud headphones
Deck of cards
Deflated soccer ball
Mini VT nerf football

Hard candy
Beef Jerky
Tea bags

Gregory internal frame backpack
Medium sized duffel bag
L.L. Bean backpack

Monday, September 19, 2005

R.I.P my Samsung SCH-A310

Yes.....its happened..

My 2.2 year stint as a cell phone customer of verizon wireless has officially ended as of October 19, 2005 12:01am Eastern Standard Time. I am no longer a easily accessible member of american society. Sooooo.....if you want to get ahold of my beautiful voice you must buy my newest single

"Mala what? Malawiciousssss"

Sunday, September 18, 2005


The whole process of having to uproot what little I know of my life and having to plant myself in another country for 2 years makes me reflect on just about everything...

There are always those "noble" desires and needs of wanting to help those that are "less fortunate" (whatever way you wish to define that term). But as much as those reasons exist, the selfish ones exist also.

There is that desire to look for something else. Maybe part of me wants to seperate myself and try to look at my life with a perspective that is "different". I'm making the assumption that something like this can do that. We shall see...shan't we....

It's also interesting that having to prepare to leave for a long time is also like seeing how people might react if you were to die soon. People kind of talk to you like they may never see you again almost. The experience is interesting nonetheless. I hope someone will miss me.

11 days to go.....CRAP!!! I got some much stuff I got to do before I go!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Beauty everywhere

One of the thoughts that I had when I went to Tanzania was just simply taking in how beautiful the country was. Everywhere I went, the fact that I was seeing things that was in no way like anything I had seen before. Seeing a culture, people, natural landscape that was outside of my normal everyday experience refreshes the soul in some way. But as much as I was able to see the beauty of Tanzania, it had an affect on me that I didn't expect.

When we got back to the United States I felt like I was looking around literally with new eyes. I had an appreciation for the natural beauty that I saw in Virginia (yes, it actually exists). The city of Richmond, americans (simply for being americans), fast food, etc. It's all a part of the culture, it's different. But it's also beautiful for simply what it is..... Now, I'm not saying its ideal or that it's even what I would choose, but it is what it is. I need to make the decision to have an attitude that says I will see the beauty that exists and accept it. I guess we get so used to always viewing things in a certain way that our prejudiced heart will not see it in any other way and even forget what good we had seen in the past.

The last few weeks I've been living with my parents here in northern virginia has been good. I've never had the most positive perceptions of this area. The traffic makes me "road ragey", the price of homes makes me "cringe" (literally), everyone is more metro than me (i feel like a bum in church), everyones too busy, etc... But even with all of that, when you strip away all the craziness here....its not that bad..... But, i'll leave it at that

I'll be in Malawi in a little more that 2 weeks from today. May I have an attitude to see the beauty of that country, its culture, and people also.....

15 Days and counting........

Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
I'd just stare out my window
Dreaming of what could be
And if I'd end up happy
I would pray

Trying hard to reach out
But when I tried to speak out
Felt like no one could hear me
Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here
So I'd pray
I could break away

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly.
I'll do what it takes till I touch the sky.
Make a wish, take a chance,
Make a change, and break away.
Out of the darkness and into the sun.
But I won't forget all the ones that I love.
I'll take a risk, take a chance,
Make a change, and break away

Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean
Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jetplane
Far away
And break away

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly.
I'll do what it takes till I touch the sky.
Make a wish, take a chance,
Make a change, and break away.
Out of the darkness and into the sun.
But I won't forget all the ones that I love.
I'll take a risk, take a chance,
Make a change, and break away

Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging with revolving doors
Maybe I don't know where they'll take me
Gotta keep movin on movin on
Fly away
Break away

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly.
Though it's not easy to tell you goodbye
Take a risk, take a chance,
Make a change, and break away.
Out of the darkness and into the sun.
But I won't forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk, take a chance,
Make a change, and break away
Break away
Break away

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Address while in Training

Here is my address while I'm in training for anyone who wants to write....

Kwang Han, PCT
Peace Corps
P.O. Box 208
Lilongwe, Malawi

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Packing....the never ending battle!

I'm come to realize that I only have a few weeks left before staging. The thoughts going through my mind are "oh crap" then "oh well". There are certain necessities that I must acquire from various depots and retailers before my final leaving of the great U. S. of A. The only problem is that I only have a vague idea of what I should be taking with me. I was...key word is was.... suppose to receive a welcome book from my country desk at the Peace Corp headquarters but have yet to do so....

In this most beneficial of welcome books there should be a suggested packing list for what I should be acquiring. Now, there are a bunch of suggested packing lists for what I should be bringing from all kinds of websites from various people that have served somewhere in Africa. But as far as I can tell it varies largely based on what people feel like they "need".

Things I will definitely be bringing:
Clothes: naked kwang is cool for a while but you know....the natives might complain (apparently showing my knees is scandalous)
MP3 player: i needs my gets lonely out there
Pictures: of my woman and family...i might forget what they look like after 2.25 years

Beyond that its a battle of the "what materials things define me and will help me to survive"

Who knows I might just meet the 80lb max requirement..... I better, I'm gonna be carrying all this crap (which would be 61.5% of my body weight)

Friday, September 02, 2005


The devastation that is shown in Louisiana and Mississippi is sobering. With all the sense of security and affluence that we may feel that we have in this country its amazing how quickly it can be taken away. wow.....

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Audioblogging is cool...

this is an audio post - click to play

Well from the way things have set up it appears that staging will be on the 28th of September in Philly. There was a possibility of having it either in Philly or D.C. but I'm actually glad they decided to have it there. It would have been kind of weird still being close to home while I have to go through staging. Once I'm there for 2 days I fly out of JFK through South Africa to go to Malawi.

I decided to switch over to blogger because it seemed to have nicer features and easier to use than xanga.....go figure, plus its just a google thing

What will I be doing till I leave...

I have to get all the grown up things done like changing car registrations, will (in case I meet Jesus sooner than anticipated), power of attorney, insurance, deferment of loans, etc...

Plus do all of the "being a good son things" like mow the lawn, straighten up finances, spray pesticides, powerwash the never ends

Read lots of books, watch lots of movies, visit peeps, and pray lots...

How do I feel?

Not sure...I feel okay for the most part but its bittersweet in general. The experience of joining the Peace Corp is something that is different for every person that goes through it. The only expectations that I have is that God will use it in some way to change and grow me. That is my greatest hope. So much to leave behind yet so much to look forward to...... A journey is best travelled knowing someone greater has blazed the path.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despise things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." -1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blog site in progress please hold.......