Thursday, January 19, 2012


A part of the peace corps is culture exchange. Tanzanians teach me how to cook, clean and wash according to their standards. In the time that I have been in Tanzania I have not learned how to make many Tanzanians food but that's because I do no like Ugali, rice or andazi. Most of there reason are do to allergies to such food or that fact I just really don't like them but my first family of Tanzania was amazing. My mama taught me to know what it meant to be part of a family, my sisters taught me to understand how to act and talk like a young women of the culture and Mi, my youngest sister taught me to smile and laugh again. In the mean time I taught them how to make cookies, cake, how to use peanut butter in food and how to rest but most of all I taught them O-H-I-O! Now being in Lushoto, my villagers are teaching me the local language, games, conversations and what is needed in the village. In the mean time I am teaching them how to play american games, use walking/hiking as enjoyment and how to make banana bread. But I made a mistake and burned myself very badly while trying to help my neighbor make bread. Warning the next pictures are kindof bad....

This is what happens when you have hot water on a Kerosine jiko and it falls on your skin! So everyone please be careful!

You belong here

One the first day of going to my site at the base of the mountain the song playing on my Ipod was You Belong Here. This is how I feel. Life in Lushoto is wonderful. Words can not describe how this first month at site has been for me. I can honestly say I am happy, happy that makes you smile everyday and happy that is not fake or forced just plain and Simply Happy. For a long time I have been looking for missing piece of me and now I feel that I am coming together. The pieces are coming together. In the last year I have been through a lot and I finally feel like I can focus on me. Focus on getting healthy mental and physical and helping support my village to improve it. Here are pictures of my new home and happiness.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Its going to get better

This is where we stayed in Dar

 My 80lbs of stuff

 Tanzania money 1500 tsh equals about 1 dollar

 Lady Liberty in Africa
Where I stayed in Muheza with my homestay family.
Its has been almost two month since the last time I wrote on here. It has been a very busy and crazy time. I think I will be posting based on pictures and one great story of the week or month. Possible the highlight of my time. No one really like to read long blogs so I want to keep this simple and fun. I will probably have post from the past and present as well. Because during trying I kept telling myself it is going to get better!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Softly, I Leave You

Today I left Ohio. For how long I have no idea, but it will always be home. Just because it is home doesn't mean that home that I will stay home or return home. Its a place I feel save and know, can I ever be as happy or sad as I was in the past. I don't feel that Ohio is a place I can grow and develop anymore. It's a great place to grow up and have roots but it not were I want to settle. In retro spec, I don't think I want to stay in one area and settle for too long. My idea of the world is to see with my own blue eyes not just in pictures or books. My feelings are I need to travel and doing these things. It is one of the reason why I am sitting in Philly and on my way to Africa. To experiencing something that is exciting and scarey at the same time.  But leaving today was very hard, after leaving breakfast this morning I had to hold back my tears. I couldn't look at my father because I knew the tears would come, so I turned up the music and distracted myself. Doing this you have to detach yourself some ways to do this because once it is so hard to leave everyone you know. I am missing my sister moving. my brother going to the police academy, watching my cousin grow, having weekly dinners going to cars shows with my dad and getting ice cream. These ideas I can not think about but the things I will gain as I go to Africa, the chances to see real wildlife, grow, find my passion, have a simple life and see myself making a difference. I have so many personal and professional goals while I am in the Peace Corps. I hope to have stared or finished by the time I get to December. Each month I hope to start a list, this way I can have small goals and work towards something. That is one thing that I am very much looking forward to in Africa, living day to day and not too much in the future. Time moves so fast that a slow down pace is going to be a great thing for me because I tend to move so fast so I don't to think about anything. Especially home but I know that home provides support and love. These are two things I am going to need when I tough times. I need home to say that I can make it through and finish my daily goals. Home I had to leave softly and quickly. That was the start of day ones goal. Tomorrow is just making it to Tanzania. Again Ill be leaving Philly on a bus, to New Jersey, Amersterdam and finally to Tanzania where the adventure starts. Bu

Monday, October 3, 2011

Is Tarzan there?

This is one of the questions my best friend asked me about Tanzania! I am going to miss her random thoughts and ideas. Who else is going to make me laugh as much as her? For that fact who is going to keep me company while everyone is quiet but we don't stop talking about random things. As for my other friends who is going to put me in my place or yell at me for doing something crazy? Who's crazy stories am I going to listen to or dance in their cars? These people can never be replaced in my life. I have so many question that I want answered now but not taking the time to find the answer doesn't allow growth in your life.

For all I know I may find Tarzan in Africa, who is to say that Tarzan wasn't in Tanzania or the country didn't inspire the story. All the animals from the jungle book are in Tanzania except the bear because I am pretty sure bears are not in Africa. But all the others are, so if I find Tarzan, I will say I am Jane! Then I will remember my best friends words and remember home. Because they will always be with me and never replaced. But for awhile Africa will be my home. A new place to have a new family and friends. A way to learn new skills, break old habits, start new habits and really become me.

I have high hopes for Africa. To me Africa is the place for healing, meeting some of my personal and professional goals, get back in shape, have a tan, impact someone, leave my mark, be remembered, have a lasting spot in my heart for Africa and the people I meet while on my journey.
  "We must leave our marks on life while we have it it in our power,"
"If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa have a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagle of the Ngong Hills look out for me? " Out of Africa

These are the things that I will be thinking about, will I create my own song of Africa and will they make a song of me or will I be forgotten like the last fall. On my last day in Africa, I hope to be able to answer these questions. I am ready for this trip to start, one week and I will be in my new home, keeping my friends and family in my heart, living with the bare necessity and finding Tarzan!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Journey

So today makes my last day in West Virginia. A place that is very misunderstood and under appreciated. Their are so many wonderful people here. Many people in the U.S.A don't even realize it's a state, they think it is still apart of Virginia. For me this state help me to really find myself again and prepare me for the journey ahead. The past two year were not easy. How many people can say in this time they overcame personal problems, went through a break up, got sued, moved out on their own, graduated from college then moved to another state where I knew almost no one while trying to get the final details of the Peace Corps. That is a a lot of stress and I just need to get out of Ohio. Some times the best thing any of us can do is step away and get away for a while, that is why vacations are always refreshing. Today is my last day of vacation, tomorrow brings the duty of finishing my last details then to another place where I again know no one but I am not afraid. I am ready and if it wasn't for this time here among the mountains I don't think my confidence and mind would be ready for October. West Virginia allowed me to go rafting, which I can not wait to do in Africa, know my mother again, first time I have lived with here in 20 years, meet new people on my own, preparing me for meeting amazing Peace Corp people, knowing I do this journey. Looking forward to the journey ahead and it will be here for anyone to read. So I tend to not really look in the past of my life, could say I am one of those that don't like to look in the rear-view mirror but I only feel it's fair to explain some of my back story since it has been brought up so here is the bullet point version of the last two years.

June 2009 Applied to PC- got an interview and during this time I just finished seeing a therapist, same time went to a DEAF Event and talked to a PCVR about his time in Fuji, this time PC was doing alot of radio ads and almost everyday I heard one.

July- Had a phone interview, week or 2 later got nominated for Health Educator to leave for the Pacific Island August 2010, saw ad on TV for PC

August- Had to get paperwork signed by counselor about being able to go and was fine to move on to next stage to get medical paperwork. PC want to defer me for a year but counselor tells them I am able to go 

 October- Got served paper for a car accident I was in two years ago to date, lawyers try to settle and tell me not to worry about case because it was a throw out case.

November- Broke up with boyfriend

December 2009- Tell Recruiter that my case my not be thrown out and get Legally deferred till case is over,  New Year's Eve find out that I will be medical deferred till August of 2010. Same time watch a T.V show that has a character that says she just got back from the PC.

January till June 2010- A lot of thinking, crying and falling back into old habits good and bad

June- Graduate from OSU, move out and have fun for a while, got my tarot cards done for the first time said I would no love life for a while, that someone I saw as a sister would no long be in my life at this time next year, a decision that I had been waiting for would happen during the harvest season and be favorable. All of these things has happen, during this time I am working with my lawyer about my lawsuit. Court case is set for August. During this time I am thinking about not even going to the PC, then run into about a few PCVR, one in a line, at hairdresser, a few at compfest, at work and my favorite random sign started to read a book and one of the character was going to the PC. At this I closed the book and threw it across the room.

August- Lawsuit is pushed back but medial deferment is over but can not get medical papers till legal issue is done, move out on my own. Watched How I Met Your Mother episode about Barney going to the PC

September- Won my lawsuit after a week long trial, friends encourage me to contact PC again, was thinking this time to go to grad school then go or teach English, got my medical papers a week later. Stayed on my shelf for a few months

September till December looked into other options, second guessing a lot of things, listening to others and not myself. This time my tooth is hurting. Also I decided grad school wasn't what I wanted to do and saw another episode about Barney and the PC,  their are four episodes on this subject. I saw all of them during this time.

January- March 2011 Start my medical papers, had to get a root canal again on same tooth that had one 3 years ago. This time heard more ads on radio again and I saw a psychic who told me that if I didn't move forward with past plans that I was putting off I would go down a dark path what involved drugs, now if that didn't scare you into going into the PC. Just for research purpose went and got tarot cards done and he said I had two paths, one was good and the other was very bad. They said a lot of the same things.

April 2011- Decided I didn't want to be in Ohio anymore and some of my bad habits were coming back and I really hated my job was very unhappy, I missed deadline for medical papers but got them in time for me to not reapply over again. Meet a few more PCVR at work

May 2011- Moved out of apartment, quit job, moved to West Virginia and found out was Medically cleared but would not be leaving till late 2011. Watch Boy Meets World in morning and two character were going to PC, their are about five episode on the topic.

June 2011- Had another interview with placement officer, found out going to Tanzania in October 2011, this was the same day I started my application. Meet a person while at work the next week that vacations in Tanzania. Meet a few more PCVR at compfest again!

July 2011- Starting to preparing everything, meet some of my future coworkers and meet a guy a work that knows Swahili and practiced with him.

August 2011- Packing things to go back to Ohio, fully happy, complete and ready to leave, said goodbye to friends and mom, meet a couple that spent time in Africa in Uganda, and read a book that talked about Africa and it was a trashy paperback novel, also found one of my favorite quotes, remember we can not complete others and they can not complete us. Because before we can help anyone, we must first help ourselves be full and whole to improves others. When full we can only improve but empty we destroy. So help others by completing yourself and grow with the each other.

So that is my rear-view mirror. Many events have happen and along with  random signs about the Peace Corps during this time. Some may have seen my signs as me looking for reinsurance   but I do not see it that way. I see them as reminder that I need to do this and keep believe in the journey. So we will see what other signs come into my life as I continue my journey.   


Friday, July 29, 2011


              Why? Is a question anyone and everyone that want to join the PC is asked, it never fails, you even have to answer this question when applying for this job. So my answer to this question is, at 17, a PCVR- a returned peace corps volunteer came to my high school and told us about his story. The way he spoke about his time in Africa and the passion he felt about the PC. I knew just sitting their this is what I wanted to do.  I had plans to become a nurse and do nurses without borders as a senior in high school. Plans changed in my head as this  to join the PC, get my nurses degree, and then do NWB. But after doing some research and talking to the PCVR, found out my skills, such as playing sports doesn't really qualify me as a good candidate and I need to go to college first, develop marketable skills. The PCVR also told me I needed to start volunteer now and until I left with the PC. That next day I told a person that I hold in high regards my plans and his reaction, said their is no way I could something like this and my services were better used in other areas. At first it really hurt but as you tell more people they have the same reaction, so you can do two things, let the dream fade or reach for it. That next week I started volunteering at a local hospital and the experience change me.

        My very first week as a volunteer in the hospital, I met one of those people you never forget, those ones that step in your life right at the time you need them and fade away as fast as they came but leave marks on your heart. This person was Robin. She was a very sweet women whom was in the hospital on the wrong floor due to limit space in the hospital. Robin was there to get her second leg amputated because of complications with her illness. I remember the first time I came in her room and asked if she wanted a magazine and newspaper, she was getting her hair washed and she said so sweetly come back when my hair looks nice. The nurse was not so happy to see me.
          My time as a volunteer gave me a real view of nurses, not that they are all this way but most of the nurse on said floor were rude to me and not so friendly to their patients. I know some wonderful nurses and the stress of the job can take its toll but as a teenager it change my idea of being a nurse and from volunteering I realised I didn't want a job that made me rude and grumpy all the time.
               Anyways back to Robin, later during my shift which was Tuesday from 4-8, I revisited Robin, to her delight her was freshly washed and clean. As I walked in she said it been 4 days since my hair was washed and I just need it for my spirits (this I hear comes in handy in the PC when you get to use a shower). Robin proceed to tell me about her life and why she was in the hospital. This lasted way past my shift and was forced out of her room. She made my first day very easy and for the next month she made it even better. The patients on my floor were only suppose to be on the floor for a few day to  a week max but Robin ended up being on the floor for a whole month. So my one day a week, ended up being 2 days a week and once I even came in 3 times just to talked to her. Robin was always happy, never bitter or resentful for losing her legs when I met her. She told me the first time she lost her first leg, she was mean. I had a hard time believing this but she told me how she started to become depressed and take things out on her family. It was a dark time in her life, she kept thinking about all she had left behind when she lost her leg. She said my family was losing me and I was losing them, it all change when she saw  the effect on her young son. He didn't want to spend time with here because "Mommy was mean" After hearing this she changed. Change her attitude, made new dreams and had her family back. So this time around she was going to be happy about losing the second leg, because there was no third one to lose but her family she could lose. Robin said life is not about being bitter about bad things, life is about making bitter sweet, good and let it move on as you continue on with life, continue on with your dreams. Robin then asked about my dreams and I told her about the PCVR and she said your going to be a great PCV, never let bitter in others or yourself stop you because bitter doesn't taste good. Always smile and see the sweet in everything you do. This has always stayed with me, at times I can admitted that I forgot to sweetened the bitter in my life, but once I start to move past I simply start to stay those words she said to me in our last private conversation.  The last time I meet her husband and sons. They were so loving and supportive of her. I still wonder where she is and what she is doing? I wish I could show her and thank her for being one of the first people to encourage me on this journey.  Its strange how strangers can be the ones to truly touch our hearts.

        So this lead me to going to College, car accident which lead to being sued, strange signs to start application, getting medical deferred and the steps and signs to getting back to the PC. From the start I knew my dreams were over the rainbow, waiting of me and not just in the clouds! I now know why this is my favorite movie since first seeing as a child, can not wait to wake up on the other side of the clouds far far away. Here are my three favorite version of the songs.