Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's official!

Well, today was the day. I'm an official Peace Corps Kenya Education Volunteer, I swore to loads of stuff and ate loads of sweets that I regretted almost immediately after.
I guess I'll backtrack since I haven't updated in a while...
Last week was alot of just last minute training and packing and such. It took forever to get all my stuff packed... and as much as I didn't plan to I did bring my bucket... full of books and PC manuals, 2 suitcases, a backpack and a purse with a mosquito net and medical kit hanging off my luggage. Last Friday we had our host family appreciate which was nice, we got free lunch and made fools of ourselves by putting on skits about life in Kenya for the families. I headed back home with my family and exchanged gifts with them and then started the packing process. Peace Corps luggage pick up began Saturday morning and then I caught a ride with family to our hotel in Machakos town and had a SHOWER and I, Cindy, SAT ON A TOILET SEAT. It was wonderful. That night the hotel arranged a really adorable parting dinner for us, they put candles on the table and tried their hand at American food. Sunday morning we loaded our mounds of luggage into the PC vehicle and grabbed a matatu to Nairobi! We've been in Nairobi since then doing trainings and such.
Yesterday we met all our counterparts for the first time. The man that came for me is actually not from the school but from the Parish... so I don't have much information on what i'll actually be teaching, but he's really nice and he's tried to answer all my questions. Ok, so now i'm up to today! I got up this morning and attempted to make myself America beautiful. We took buses over to the ceremony at the second in command under the Ambassador, the house was beautiful and they had loads of sweets out for us after the actual swear in. We've had the rest of the day off and quite honestly I haven't done a thing. I've  been pulled in every direction since we landed here and for the first time I feel like i'm on my own schedule and no one else's. Becoming a Volunteer is kind of like turning 18, suddenly you have loads of freedom and it's just so nice to know you're allowed to do things now. Tonight will most likely be a pretty gigantic "yay we made it through training" party and then we head out tomorrow morning. I'm so excited about finally seeing where i'll live for the next two years and getting in my house and having time to myself and not live out of a suitcase anymore. I'm also nervous that i'll walk in and it'll literally be a giant empty house and i'll need to buy EVERYTHING.... but we'll see. That I can update you on later, but tomorrow I plan to question the heck out of my counterpart on the way to Sega, on the way to home.
Thanks to everyone for all the support i've gotten through training. All the cards and boxes and blog comments and fb messages are what kept me going some days.
Speaking of mail.... for the time being just hold off on sending mail until I get my new address. If you've already sent mail or boxes don't worry, they'll make it to me, it'll just take a tad longer. As soon as I get an address I'll try to get it up on the blog.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A brilliant collection`

So PST is coming to an end (thanks goodness) and I thought i'd recap with a collection of some short stories that you may not have heart yet. I'm not holding anything back this time, so enjoy!
"No one will catch you"
Piki pikis are motorcycle taxis, you've never heard me mention them before because they are against Peace Corps law. My sister was harassing me that I was too scared to ride one and I quickly explained, "if Peace Corps catches me on one, i'll get kicked out, no questions asked." So the next morning i'm walking to town with her and she gets a piki piki and tells me, "get on, the PC won't catch you." Now for those of you who don't know, I live the furthest out of town and I pass about 5 PC houses on the way in... and oh yea there's only 10 white people here, and oh yea i'm one of only 2 blondes. I think i'd get caught. I politely declined.
"Tuk tuks"
Since i'm on the topic of transportation, i'll tell you about tuk tuks. They're taxis. They look like little tilt a whirls with a driver. You drive it like a jet ski. They're quite ridiculous.
"Compromising the bucket"
Due to various digestive issues several people keep buckets in their room just in case it's the middle of the night and they don't have time to unlock 1,000 doors, walk across the yard and get to the choo. I have one bucket, it's for water purification, so it would have to be the most urgent of emergencies for me to use it because I refuse to compromise it's cleanliness. Well, remember the new bakery i told you about? I made one too many stops there Saturday maybe. So i'm talking to Mom on the phone, "no i'll never shit in my bucket, I use it to purify water." At midnight that very night i'm proud to announce I did not shit in my water purification bucket... I did however throw up into it. At least it made it to week 8.
"Close call"
Since i'm on the topic of bodily functions... let me tell you about the time I almost crapped myself. Yea, about ten minutes into my 3 mile walk home I felt the urge. By the time I actually reached the choo I was shuffling and trying to remind myself I was an adult, adults don't crap themselves. I did make it, just barely, and I was overwhelmed with pride in myself.
"The insanity factor"
My family thinks i'm nuts... and rightfully so. Because of the communication barrier almost everything I say turns into a game of scherades. I also sing along to the Safaricom commercial and have told them numerous times I should have been chose as the lead singer for it.
"The hunger factor"
I'm always hungry here. The food normally lacks nutritional value and therefore doesn't stick with me. It's quite annoying and makes me mad, so people tend to stay away if they know i'm hungry. I turn into the Hulk. This is not an exaggeration.
"So you wanna know about the cow"
So I kind of told you in passing but I got chased by a cow. It was Thanksgiving day and I'm walking down the street with another trainee, Karl, and also flashing someone in America. So i'm counting the rings and Karl is all, "there's a cow on the loose, there's a cow on the loose." He was so calm, so I just ignored him and then hung up the phone. The minute I look up I see several Kenyan children and adults running and flailing their arms in the air, as we cross to the other side of the street I see it. There is a cow on the loose! It's running full speed towards anything it thinks it can trample. Luckily Karl found us a spot on the other side of a drainage ditch that the cow couldn't cross over, but it did head towards us anyway until  it saw the ditch, then it went on chasing some kid that probably instigated being chased by a cow. Anyway, once everything was settled, about 3 minutes later the cow owner comes running down the street, full speed, "where's my cow?!!" Now you know the cow story.
"The new crab chip"
Mom sent Old Bay (Thanks Mom) and people have started trying it and i've been carrying it around with me and putting it on french fries which in africa are called chips. Crab chips.
Old Bay tastes like home.
"Mzungu monologues"
So I renamed my blog. Mzungu is the word used here to describe you or get your attention if you're rich and/or white. We hear it all day long. Most days i'll hear it in the distance, the high pitched yell "MZUUUUNGUUUUU" usually it's some kid halfway up a mountain looking down at me and waving.
"Activities for boredom"
If you're bored and would like a taste of life in Kenya, may I suggest the following activities..
Try to wash your clothes in a bucket
Try to go #2 while hovering over a toilet seat, it's harder than you think, but my legs are getting pretty strong.
Try to hover over a toilet seat, hold and umbrella, hold your skirt up, and not touch anything around you, and oh yea, close your eyes, there's no light in the choo, silly!
"Standards of cleanliness"
So it was evident almost the moment I arrived that things being clean would matter to me less and less. Most of us are happy if our clothes touch a bucket with soap. Once I flipped my sheets over and deemed it clean sheet day. I've also almost completely given up on ever getting my feet clean again.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Down in Africa

Hello to all! I finally finished model school yesterday! I think in all I taught 13 lessons this week. It was exhausting but really beneficial, I think all of us are more comfortable with teaching now. So tomorrow begins week 8 of our training. I'm guessing its going to be a variety of information they just forgot to tell us in the last 7 weeks. wow, 7 weeks i've been here... doesn't feel like it at all.
In other news, we just got a new grocery store in Machakos town! It's beautiful! I've been trying to get there all week but I wasn't able to make my first trip until this morning. It's I think 4 floors but right now only the first 2 are open. It also had a bakery!!! When I walked in I could smell it, it smelled just like Mom's kitchen when she makes chocolate chip cookies. I literally almost cried right there in the market. It's like a little slice of America. I got a chocolate muffin, it was warm... still tasted like it was made in Africa unfortunately but it was one of the better pastries i've eaten here.
Before I forget i'm going to add to my list of  interesting things about Kenya list:
They name buses and matatus the way Americans name boats, but weird stuff like Speedbird, and Mac Master
Apparently weddings here last 8 hours. There's no dancing or alcohol so I don't know what they do but when I find out i'll be sure to let you know.
The food/drinks here have far less ingredients than in America. No lie, the ingredients listed on my peanut butter jar are as follows: peanuts, salt. the end.
If you drink beer from the bottle, you're a prostitute
if you wear jeans, you're a prostitute.
i might be a prostitute.
Okay, I also started learning Kiswahili. It's going well so far and it's really helping me communicate with my grandmother at home. That's all I have to say about that.
The plan is to move out of home stay next Saturday and stay the night in a hotel that night and then head to Nairobi Sunday sometime. We'll train there for a few days and then we officially swear in next Wednesday! Thursday we leave with our Kenyan counterparts and travel to our sites!
P.S.- We got our PC cookbooks recently and i've been torturing myself by reading it pretty much everyday, I can't wait to cook my own non kenyan food.
I'm so excited to get to site but at the same time, every time I go home and walk in my room all I can think is "look at all this crap you have to pack up Cindy"
Well that's all for now. Oh! Wait, I forgot to tell you I was chased by a cow, yep, a cow, on Thanksgivng day. Never a dull moment. Hope all is well in America!
Happy Birthday Chuck!
Oh and I titled this blog this because I heard "bless the rains" on the radio in Africa...priceless (Ashley please relay this information to Phyllis, i'm sure she'll think it's funny)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A quick update!

Hello all! It's been over a week since I posted I know! I'm sorry. I'm probably just going to list out how things are going since I'm limited on time today, but I really want to let people know what's going on!

So Thanksgiving was great, we went to Loitokitok and saw the other part of our group which was great! We camped there at their hub location and it poured rain so all my stuff got wet including my camera.... which now is pretty much not functional which is a bummer but hopefully I can buy a new one in Nairobi at swear in. We'll see. We lucked out and got a ride with the pc vehicle on the way there so we only had to pay for the camping and return trip!!!

We started mock school this week. The kids are on break but some of them volunteered to stay behind so we could pretend to be real teachers and actually teach stuff so everyday we've been teaching 2 lessons a day to different levels of classes on different topics. So far i'm finding English to be the hardest to teach and the books here are almost impossible to lesson plan out of, but i'm really enjoying myself and I feel like the kids are really learning something. I challenge myself every class to make sure I have something interactive and something visual. Tomorrow i'm teaching a lesson on personal finance and am thinking about setting up stations where they will spend money and figure out how to budget. we'll see how that goes. Today I did a lesson on Tourism and it's effect on Kenya's economy and they seemed to grasp everything. We also have current volunteers here observing and they've been giving really helpful feedback.

Last night we did taco night at myhouse. I would call it a successful disaster.... tacos were eaten, they didn't taste that great but they weren't awful either. I made baked pineapple, it didn't set properly but it was delicous anyway.

Sorry the typing is awful, this keyboard is ridiculous.

Anyway, all is well here, we have exactly 2 weeks until swear in and i'm going strong, if I can make it through taco night, I can make it through anything.

If you\re still sending mail, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, there is alot I think that isn't making it here so... what we get is already limited sometimes. And to the group that I just found out sent a box THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! It is MUCH appreciated.

And to the people that are still reading this ridiculous blog, THANK YOU for your continued support, the blogs will get better when I have more time to write them before hand, I promise! Happy December everyone!

Thanks for reading! Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The real deal

Hello to all! I took my first real LPI today... we won't get the scores until tomorrow or possibly the day after or possibly (knowing PC) the day after that. Hopefully I passed, but I know I used more ASL than I should have. yikes!
Beyond that, all is still going well here! This week is Thanksgiving but before that we have several other tests on basic life skills like lighting lanterns and jikos and washing clothes and such, should be easy... but I don't want to jinx myself! Once I come back from Loitokitok after Thanksgiving we'll have only 2 weeks left before we go to Nairobi to swear in!!!!!! I think everyone here is counting down the days just to be alone in our own place if only to eat whatever we want, whenever we want.
Sorry, I pre-wrote a blog in a notebook that I forgot to  bring with me, but the topic was weird stuff that happens in Kenya so through the course of sitting at this internet cafe hopefully I can remember most of it. Here's the list, it will be added to over the next 2 years i'm sure!

Kenyans will drive on through or over almost anything
We bring toilet paper with us everywhere, no matter what. It's the first thing I pack in the morning
When flip flops break they're like blown out tires, just left, broken, on the side of the road.

Sorry, I could only remember those 3. I'll try to bring the whole list next time! Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A light at the end of the tunnel

So, it's Friday here... lunch time. It's the end of week 5 for us in training and I just took my practice language proficiency interview... they haven't told me yet how I did, but I take the real one on Tuesday. If I pass i'll move into a Kiswahili class next week, so cross your fingers!
Next week is Thanksgiving, which is hard to believe because it's so hot here, you'd never guess it's November. Anyway, a few of us from Deaf Ed are headed to Loitokitok to join the rest of our training group for the holiday. We're celebrating on Friday, so we'll spend the night there (we're camping!) and then head back on Saturday. After that, we only have about 2 weeks of training left!!!! We're all ready to swear in and get to our sites and start the real work.
So, things are still going well here, not too much to report. I GOT A BOX YESTERDAY!!! THANKS MOM!!!! I seriously almost peed myself when I saw the Old Bay! We had another mail call today and I got quite a bit which was really really exciting so keep it coming!!! It's what we all look forward to. I guess this entry isn't too terribly exciting but just wanted to update and let everyone know i'm alive and doing well!
Love to all!! Thanks for reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Day in the life

I'm writing this blog in advance in hopes that it will be more informative and less scatter brained. Sorry in advance for any repeated information; i'm also keeping a personal journal and forget sometimes what i've put in it vs. my blog. Since I think this is going to be really long i'm going to divide it into categories that way you can pick and choose the stuff you're most interested in. Enjoy!
Daily Routine
I normally get up at 6 and pick out my clothes for the day. Usually by the time I get to the kitchen my sister has already heated the water for my bath so I retrieve a bucket and pour it in. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to take a bucket bath. If you're interested here's my process: Dunk whole head in, shampoo and condition hair, wash face, rinse hair, wash body and then lastly I wash my feet because they are always the dirtiest. I proceed getting ready as I would in America.
Before I leave for the day we have tea and Breakfast which so far has ranged from butter and jelly sandwiches to butter sandwiches to just plain bread and at the moment we are having honey sandwiches.
We have language all morning and then walk to town for lunch followed by a few hours of technical training. When I get home at night I try my best to help with dinner which is usually served around 8. By the end of dinner i'm struggling to stay awake so I normally turn in for the night around 9.
Home Stay
I live with an older couple whom I call Shu Shu and Omau which means Grandma and Grandpa here and their granddaughter who I refer to as my sister. There is a definite language and cultural barrier that's a constant struggle but day by day we make it work. We have electricity but not indoor plumbing. The bathroom here is outside, it's called a Choo, there are several different types but basically its a hole in the ground or a toilet-like situation that leads to, you guessed it, a hole in the ground. :-)
My room is a nice size. I have a bedside table and then another table to keep my clothing on. My bed is twin size with a very fancy mosquito net. At first I loved the net, I felt like a princess... now it's just turned out to be a gigantic pain in the butt more times than not.
A special thanks to KatieBug and LizBit for the artwork they sent me with, it makes my room beautiful!!!
The Deaf Side
It's probably just the area i'm in but deafness just seems more prevalent here. Pretty much all the Deaf kids here go to Deaf schools and this year they're pushing to do the national testing in KSL for the first time which is awesome, I look forward to seeing it happen. The structure of KSL is very similar to ASL bu the signs are very different so that makes it somewhat challenging.
Interpreting is kind of in the baby stages as a profession so there are lots of little things that need to be tweaked so they have a more cohesive idea of qualifications and expectations for the profession. For now I just sit back and observe the differences.
Obviously  I can't speak to what goes on in hearing schools but the Deaf schools i've been in in Kenya are so different from America. Roughly the schedule is as follows: 8-11 Classes 11-11:30 tea break, 11:30- 12:30 classes 12:30-2 lunch and then 2-3 classes.
When a teacher walks in the room all the students stand which blew my mind the first few times. In general, the kids here are super respectful especially towards Teachers.
While in Kilifi we stayed on the school compound and when the kids saw us coming, they come running so they could carry our bags for us to the teacher's room... adorable.
The money here is Kenyan Shillings /= The exchange rate is about 78/= to 1 USD. I've stopped converting in my head since I get paid in /= that's how my brain works now. To give you and idea, here is a price list:
Blow pop 10/=
Mini jar of PB 108/=
Chipati  60/=
a letter to the U.S. 98 /=
Adopting a Kenyan accent
It's the only way they can understand what i'm saying. I sound ridiculous.
The other trainees
Even though our group is small i'm lucky to have ended up with some pretty cool people. Since digestion is a full time job here our #1 topic of conversation is pooping. Not sure I could tell you what everyone's major in college was but I can probably tell you the consistency and frequency of their bowel movements fairly accurately. We'll be with the other 26 of our group next week for 2 days and we're all really looking forward to that. in the meantime, i've made some wonderful friends here.
Food and water
Maybe this is something people are interested in... i'm not sure. Most of our food comes from the market, the local farmers grow it and sell it, fruits and veggies that is. Everything else can be found in the supermarket. Most things are made so they don't need to be refrigerated such as butter and jelly. The main snack foods are chips and "cookies" which includes actual cookies, tea biscuits, digestive biscuits, etc.
I drink more tea than the Queen of England.
I purify my own water seperate from my family. Basically I put water in a bucket, pour in the magic powder and stir it till all the gunk settles on the bottome, then I filter it into a larger can with a lid and it's just that simple. It tastes disgusting but beggars can't be choosers so I hold my nose. :-)
Things i'm glad I brought
Laundry line
Intuition razors
Soccer world cup blanket Christie gave me when she was still in Germany
Pictures of all you beautiful people
Comforts of home
Things I miss:
Mom- that's a given. I was spoiled rotten.
Friends- obviously
walking into the kitchen and eating whatever I want whenever I want it
making dinner in less than 2 hours
It's amazing how much this place feels like home after being gone for a week. For the most part I feel safe here. I try to be friendly to the people that live between my house and town so they look out for me, yes it really works that way. I think the locals have warmed up to the daily invasion of white people so I think we all feel welcome at this point.
Hight five if you read all of that!! Overall, it's going well, i'm happy and healthy. Thanks to everyone who has been commenting on my blogs, it always makes my day to know people are reading!!!!
Thanks to Mom, Aunt Janice, Kels and the Grandparents for the mail i've received so far! It's a big thrill here for sure!
Love to all from Kenya!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Found an internet cafe

Hello All!!!

I found an internet cafe and I thought what better to do than update my blog.

So I just returned from shadowing last week. It was an excellent experience, I stayed on the coast in Kilifi and got to see several different classes taught by several different teachers. We also had some excellent food and learned how to cook American in Kenya!! Yayy!! Big thrill of the week was having dinner on the Indian Ocean. What a view!!! As soon as I get to my site and figure out the internet situation I promise you will see loads of pictures from training these past few weeks.

Since I haven't talked about my site yet, i'll do that. It's a Unit within a hearing school with about 25ish Deaf kids. It's located in a small town called Sega that's located near Busia right next to Lake Victoria. I'll have a house with "running water and electricity" and it's on a Catholic school compound, and i'm pretty sure i'll have quite a bit of stuff within walking distance.

Not too much else going on, just excited to finish training and get to my site! Thanks to everyone who has sent/ been sending mail. I didn't get any the first time around but some was delivered while we were away so hopefully there'll be something tomorrow... that's a big thrill here. Hope all is going well in America and I hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Happy belated Birthday Ashley!

Love to all

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Hello All!
I am alive! It's been ages since i've been able to update. My netbook went dead and at this stage I have no way to charge it... so probably for a while you'll just have to deal with word of mouth updates since I probably won't see the internet for several more weeks.

This is officially week 3 "shadowing week" so I traveled with a current volunteer and another trainee to the Coast so i can see her life for a week. It's especially exciting to be away from training for a week and just hang out with Volunteers and see what life will ACTUALLY be like once training is finally over. At this point, I feel like we've put a pretty big dent in it.

We got our assignments last week and i'll be in a small town in west Kenya close to Busia, there are several other Volunteers posted there so.... that's that.

Training is pretty ho hum at this point, we do a few hours of language in the morning and then do technical training in the afternoon. Lunch is always my favorite part of the day because I can order whatever I want and eat however much of it I want :-)

Food Here:
Ugali- Unlike anything i've ever had, I personally dislike it and so does everyone I know.
Samosa- A good reason to come to Kenya, it's basically a pastry situation with meat inside it.
Chipati- They're basically giant Tortillas and although they don't sound that great, they're to die for.
Lollipops- At this point, if Coffee is the major export, I'm convinced lollipops are the major import. They are EVERYWHERE

Anyway, I'm keeping this short since i'm using someone else's laptop and internet but just wanted to post and let everyone know that I am doing well. My Mom gets pretty frequent updates so if you have a serious desire to know what i'm up to or if you want to send anything and don't know what, i'm sure she'd be more than willing to fill you in... cuz she's awesome!!

Love to all! Eat some cheese for me, it's nonexistent here!

Friday, October 15, 2010

oh yea p.s.

As of right now, this blog is the best way to keep track of and get in touch with me EXCEPT of course sending letters!!!!!  Also, my ADDRESS CHANGED so please make a note of it from now on, sorry for all who had beautiful pre-printed address labels:

Cindy Weaver/PCT
PO Box 698-00621
Village Market
Nairobi, Kenya

Sorry for the change, Caribou Kenya!

Day 3... I think

Hello All!
Hope everyone is well. Im finally starting to adjust to the time difference here.  Today we had a fun filled day of paperwork and training, so as opposed to yesterday's physical exhaustion today I'm mentally exhausted. No complaints though, the people here are great, the trainees and the trainers. Tomorrow we will be leaving Nairobi for our training sites. Mine will be in Machakos, and the other non deaf-ed volunteers will be in Loitokitok. Luckily we get to meet up at some point in training because splitting up from them is a completely depressing. Scott, if you're reading this, there is a guy here who is basically an older more hyper version of you here that i'll be going to training with which is nice, keeps things upbeat. Everything is going well and i'm excited to get to Machakos and meet my host family and be able to settle in.
Love to all!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shorty short

 Hello All!

Quick update. Both flights went well, they were both very very long. The plan was to sleep on the first flight and stay awake for the second to trick my jet lag. It didn't work, I slept 20 minutes on flight one and about 2 hours on flight 2. It's midnight here and 5:00 in MD, so i'm exhausted and just wanted to let everyone know that I arrived safely and will be sleeping under a super luxurious mosquito net tonight. Sqeaks is doing well also!
All my love from Kenya!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day one.

Hello All,
I made it to staging in Philly just fine, found another Trainee to go to staging with and we got here mad early so we had plenty of time to get to know each other. We went downstairs to head for lunch and found about 15 other PC people. Everyone here is really great, I've made loads of new friends and already shared lots of laughs.

The actual staging itself wasn't so bad, but it was exhausting, it's draining to spend the morning in airports and then soak up information all day, but we did it, and most of us did it with smiles on our faces. Lots of team building and get to know you activities, but they were fun because I introduced myself to pretty much everyone before staging even started :-)

Anyway, all is well here... i'm exhausted and need to get some rest before our early and very very very long day tomorrow.
Thanks for reading! It might be a long while before I can post something again, but i'll do my best!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Snow pants in October

Well, less than 12 hours until I board my first flight towards the "hardest job i'll ever love." I'm surprisingly calm and haven't cried hardly at all which is shocking to me and pretty much everyone that knows me. It does feel good to be ready finally. I made 1 million trips to the surrounding bargain stores, several of the associates know me by name... or not but they know i'm the girl going to Kenya. I finished packing up my bedroom today, it's weird to see any empty room... and even weirder because I now have nothing to wear, so i'm chillin in my snow pants. :-)

I'm really excited to finally meet the other volunteers tomorrow, and not nervous at all anymore (or yet... i'll let you know)

So, i'm headed out at 7:15 tomorrow morning and meeting another PCT at the Philly airport to head to the hotel together. It'll be nice to know someone before I get to the hotel.

I'll do my best to update tomorrow. I'll try even harder to update while i'm in training but I make no promises.

Watching House and eating Oreos for the last time for 27 months.
Stay tuned..

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The kitchen sink

Packing complete!! Syke. I packed stuff but did not include any toiletries any makeup or any under garments... so it's kind of done, but not really. Anyway here are the pictures of the crap spread all over our living room.

Turn computer or head sideways for better viewing

Alright so, just a few more days before I leave and we'll be staying in hotels and such until next Sunday when we stay with our host families for the first time. I don't know anything about them yet, but i'm sure they'll be fantastic.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"I've got the power"

Ladies and Gentleman, buckle your seat belts, find a comfy chair and maybe a snack, this is gonna be a long one.

I haven't updated in ages, mostly because I just couldn't find the words for the insane and amazing and emotional things that have been happening in my life in preparation for my departure so I'll start from the less recent and move to the most recent... prepare your life accordingly.

The New York Weekend:
I went to New York, I'm fairly certain that I mentioned I was going to do that. It was a long drive, but it gave me plenty of time to work on my Long Island accent and annoy my Mom. Overall, it was great to see everyone. Every time I go there I'm reminded how big a bummer it is that I don't get to see that part of my family as often because they really are fun people. We pretty much hung out and caught up which is exactly what I wanted to do since the rest of my life seems so rushed. The kiddo made me a card that i'm taking with me and can put on my wall upon my arrival to wherever i'm going. Goodbye was difficult, the most difficult one so far to be honest, but I'm so glad that I got to see them before I leave!

The Baltimore Weekend:
So a friend of mine convinced me to extend my weekend a bit so we could tour around Philadelphia, I thought it was a good idea since all i've seen is the airport and thought it might help to land in a city that I have good memories in. Here's the abridged version: We went to Philly, had cheesesteak, saw the liberty bell, had an amazing dinner during restaurant week, found a random concert in a really awesome found art labyrinth built by a former PCV (freakin cool), ended up in Atlantic City, went to Ocean City, NJ, learned to surf, drove back to Baltimore. I met my college ladies for some fun and had a great time with them, as I always do. Hopefully that all makes sense, if I went into detail you'd be reading a novel, trust me. We also went bowling, I did terrible, it was fun. Another group of people i'm glad I got to see before leaving.

Safari Njema Weekend:
This past weekend I went to a crab feast with some of my family at a nearby fire hall. I ate a ridiculous amount of crabs and consumed a fair amount of alcohol but I had fun and it was nice to get quality time in with the family!
Sunday was my going away party and it rained all day long which forced us to move everything inside which was a real drag since so many wonderful people showed up! For awhile you couldn't hardly move around in our house. I felt bad that people were cramped but I didn't hear anyone complain. Loads of people came, which was great because I know the majority of them I really won't see again until I return to the U.S. You'll all be proud to know I didn't cry at all. I got choked up several times but never did shed a tear which shocked the heck outta me.

This was a "Go, Diego, Go" cake but it looked the most like Africa. Do what you can with what you've got, we threw Diego out and plopped an elephant on top.

Last Day of Work:
Finally, we're up to present day. Hopefully the pictures broke it up a little bit for you all. Today was my last day of work. On my way in I heard "I've got the power" on the radio, I thought it was fitting. All in all, it was a good day, there was drama and competition and cake! It was sad to say goodbye to co-workers as i've grown close with them over the last year and a half or so. Okay, I admit, I cried a little. Overall, i'm glad to be done, I feel like I will really need the week ahead of me to prepare myself as much as possible.

I'm going to stop the torture for now, I think i've written enough. Expect blogs more frequently over the next week... probably tomorrow, maybe tonight if I get real energetic!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here's what I've been up to...

Hello All! It's been a while since I've posted anything real so I'll update! I've made my official flight arrangements and since I live a stone's throw away from Philadelphia, PA I won't be flying out until the morning of October 12, 2010. I'd like to say I found a few people that I'll be in orientation with but I think they found me first. I'm still really struggling with this blog thing... but i'll get there eventually. I'm really excited that i've found a few blogs for people that i'll be serving with in Kenya!!! In the grand scheme of things however, it still hasn't hit me yet that i'm leaving everything I know for 27 months, I don't think it will until the very last minute. Anyway, to summarize i'm RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to meet the other Kenya people!!

This weekend will be trip 2 for me. My mom and I are headed to New York tomorrow after work to see family. It'll be a nice trip since I haven't seen them in two years and I'm not sure i've ever been there in any climate other than cold. I'll let you know how the trip goes but I'm certain it will be fantastic.

In other news, I got an e-mail from Kenya today... actually it's from the Africa Country Desk Assistant, but I prefer to say I got an e-mail from Kenya. He sent a little survey situation to fill out so they can better fit me with a host family which is exciting, I'm glad they're asking for a little bit of input from me. My Grandmother really wants me to have a family with teenagers because she thinks they'll be more willing to teach me what they know... and more likely to speak english. I kind of hope my family doesn't speak any english at all. It's also a really exciting thought to think that my host family is probably contemplating what kind of American they will get. :-)

I'm updating this blog from my back porch and I just noticed that leaves have started to fall here but we've got this wonderful breeze that makes it really pleasant

so it's not that great a picture but... you get the idea
Okay, this is my last thing and it comes with a picture too. My friend Ashley took me out on the town for one last time before I leave... We had an absolute blast and it was so much ridiculous fun! We met a bunch of guys that went to the same college as me, as well as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. He told me to get a good bed, and to not quit... he talked much longer than that, but that was the jist of it...

That's all for now, this was a long one, thanks for reading if you were able to stick it through to the end!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

hey staging team, lets be best friends

It's here! My staging information is finally here! I didn't even have to wait for it in the mail, they sent it directly to my e-mail which is new and refreshing. Anyway... it says my staging starts on the 12th of October and then we fly out from JFK on the 13th. Looks like we get to make a quick stop in Amsterdam! Just wanted to post up a quick update!

Also all my stuff is officially moved into the concrete box... what a ridiculous day that was.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Full swing, fall down

I haven't updated in a while but there isn't too much going on in Peace Corps world other than I'm still waiting for my medical hold to be lifted. However, I've been trying to see more of the people I know I'm going to miss when I leave. At this point I'm full speed ahead on everything I'm doing i.e. packing for the PC, packing for the storage unit, working on invites and decorations and such for my Safari njema party before I leave!!
Yesterday I had my first ever real skateboarding lesson. It lasted about 8 minutes before I completely wiped out and got a gnarly scrape on my elbow... I've been telling people I was in a break dance competition in a parking lot because if I tell them I was skateboarding they look at me all crazy. I am proud to say I was up on the board for several seconds at a time so I was pretty impressed with myself. I'm fairly certain I would have continued but I think I got up too quickly and then almost passed out, it was hilarious fun and time well spent. I'd do it again in a heartbeat... but with more padding.
I also received my first Kenya letter from a great friend the other day. It was a dry run I suppose and before I got it I was so confused as to why I was getting it before my departure but it was great and I loved every word of it. I'm bringing it with me.
Speaking of what I'm bringing with me.... my pile of "things I need to bring with me" is dominating the left side of my closet and starting to ooze out the doors. Therefore, in the future there will be a post about deciding what to bring with me out of that mountain, plan your life accordingly.

Storage moving day: T minus 9 days! Status: Not Ready.
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My worst nightmare

It's official, the new school year is getting underway and I worked two whole days this week! I'm exhausted! Turns out my first day back the PC called and wanted me to call them by Friday afternoon, it was urgent. When I found out the message was from the PC nurse I was a little worried as to what could be going on. Friday morning I get up and I have an e-mail saying my application status has changed: MEDICAL HOLD! After 3 miniature heart attacks I called the nurse and she explained i'm on a hold until I get my immunizations since i'm part of a new pilot program that requires you get them before staging. Long story short i'll be getting a Polio shot this week. Woo!

I have started feeling like my time here is dwindling. I see people and wonder if it will indeed be the last time I see them for 27 months which is a really weird feeling. I've also planned several trips to see out of town family and friends which pretty much take up almost every weekend in September.

Surely everyone wants to know how the packing is going! I have 1 bin left and 0 clothes packed.. that's how it's going. I'm confident it'll eventually get done... maybe.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Christmas in August

I was right! It is like Christmas! Everything I ordered last week came in yesterday and today! I think my most exciting purchase was a sleeping bag that fits into this tiny bag and then it also has compression straps to make it even smaller! It's fantastic and light weight and doesn't take up much room. Still a few things left to pick up but the list is definitely dwindling... and so is time.

In other news I started back at work today. It was a mad house as anyone that works in a school knows the first day back always is. I am pretty excited that I will get to see my co-workers for another month though but it sure is tough getting myself back into the swing of things.

Lastly, I said my first real actual goodbye last night to a friend of mine going to college way on the other side of the state tomorrow. It was a bummer to think that's the last time I'll see her for over 2 years but she's super awesome and ridiculously supportive so she promised to write!

Speaking of college.. must not be much going on in local news world since all I heard about was traffic back- ups around the streets of the local University since it's freshman move in day. Seriously I heard 5 different news/traffic reports mentioning it during my 12 minute drive to work this morning. Anywho good luck to anyone that is starting school in the next couple days!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What to wear

If you've ever met me, you know I can stand in front of a full closet and tell you I have nothing to wear. If you know me well you know how exact my packing process is and that I match up all my outfits and try them on before packing. I have a dilemma. I have one more day off before work starts back up and about 2 1/2 weeks before I move all my worldly possessions into a giant concrete box. So at this point i'm asking myself, "Self, what will you wear between now and October 11th?" As you can imagine, no clothes have been packed into boxes yet. I've made progress on other things though and gone through quite a bit of junk/treasures depending on how you see it. Here are some interesting things I've found in no significant order:

1) My smashed penny collection from my childhood days
2) This really adorable blue box with Giraffes on it that makes me want to go to Africa right now
3) Some interesting newspaper articles that i've never seen before including one with a picture of my Dad teaching another legally blind individual how to water ski.
4)Way too many pictures/momentos of ex boyfriends
5) $20
6) my sanity... SYKE!
7) An entire ziploc bag full of cheap bangle bracelets. They were TOTALLY "in" about 7 years ago
8) A key to my first car that was totalled a few years ago
9) A marker from band camp
10) An itinerary from my trip to Canada in 8th grade

Anyway, in official Peace Corps news I sent off my resume and aspiration statement today so there's not much else to do now until I get more staging information and schedule a flight.

Thanks for reading! :-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dry run

Today I made an attempt at a dry run for packing. At this point I have one bag that I am for sure going to use since it's gigantic and a duffle bag (I can't wait to see me carry it through multiple international airports but I don't need wheels adding to my weight limit). I think it's fair to say I got about half of my list into this duffle and it ended up weighing 25 lbs so I'm starting to feel more optimistic about getting what I think I will want/ need for the next 2 years into 2 bags equaling less than 107 inches and less than 80 lbs.

As far as things to do I've done an impressively good job of knocking stuff off that list. I finished all my passport paperwork so hopefully that will go through without a hitch. At the moment I'm working on my aspiration statement and resume to send to my host country since they don't know anything about how wonderful I am yet.

I've also ordered boat loads of stuff from a few different places so this week/ next week are going to be like Christmas and I can't wait!

On an exciting note... Happy Birthday to my Mom tomorrow! We went and rented jet skis today and it was wicked awesome. We arrived real early and were both apprehensive as neither of us have ever operated one before. They gave us a form to sign our life away and the back had a little quiz to give us our temporary "boater's license for the day" that's what the girl said. So right now, that's right ladies and gentleman (I assume) I am a licensed boater, I'll be basking in this special feeling until midnight (I assume that's when my contract becomes null and void).  Anyway, I think it was a great way to get both our minds off of the stresses of life. Neither of us crashed. Neither of us fell off. Neither of us injured anything. We're both proud.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Break down

I'm an emotional person. I always have been... overly emotional really and because of my fair skin after about 2 tear drops my entire face turns red and my eyes swell for about 2 days. I can cry due to pretty much any emotion a person can have. It confuses other people. I've gotten used to it and just apologize for it because those tears always come at the most inconvenient time and once it starts it's like trying to cram a tent back into the bag once you've taken it out... a struggle to say the least.

The Peace Corps application is like a good movie, you have to see it over and over and every time you do you see something you missed the first time. Last night I spent the evening reading and filling out paperwork until my eyes were ready to bleed and decided my top priority was getting my passport and visa taken care of. The process is weird so I'll try to keep it short and to the point. Basically I need to bring this passport application, my current passport (expired or not), and another paper specifically for the PC. The instructions I was given say to bring these items to a Passport Agent and get them to sign off on it, throw it in an envelope and hand it over. Easy!

This morning I got up abnormally early so I could get my passport/visa photos taken and tie up a few loose ends before losing my vision and sanity at the eye doctor's office. My productivity hit a brick wall at that point so I napped, but set an alarm to get up and get to the Passport Agent before they close at 3.

I arrive at the post office and wait for about 45 minutes before I can be seen because a family of four needs passports and who knows what else. Finally it's my turn. I get in the office and the Agent tells me she can't help me. I tell her all I need is for her to stamp the application with her signature put it in an envelope and give it back. She calls someone, the someone tells her she can't do it, she doesn't have the authority suggests maybe I go to Washington or Philadelphia to have it done. I know better. I pull out my detailed instructions and show her again what I need. She calls one more someone. Now she is willing to help but needs my birth certificate which I do not have and live too far away to go back and get and be back on time. She's telling me to come back tomorrow and she'll mail it and I explain to her that I'm supposed to mail it (they even gave me the ups envelope to mail it back in). She says to me "do you know how hard it is for me to let go of something with my signature on it?" I am frustrated.. and along with any emotion, like i said... tears. I'm apologizing like a maniac and she says "The woman I talked to told me not to give the application with my signature on it back to you" "...and to make you be authentic, I think you absolutely have been."

Finally! My tears worked to my advantage. To sum it up I'm going back tomorrow with birth certificate and optimism.

On the brighter side I've set a date to go up and see my college girlfriends which turned my frown upside down!

Monday, August 16, 2010

First ever blog post.

Hello world!

I have never blogged in my life. That is a fact and it has already been a rocky start. Every blog i've ever seen has always looked so neat and organized and I'm warning you, this may be the biggest disaster of a blog you've ever seen in your life.

Now that i've gotten that little factoid out of the way, I'm starting this blog to (hopefully) document my time spent with the Peace Corps in Kenya. I have been wanting to start a blog to talk about the application process but decided to wait until I got my official invitation stating which country I'll be going to so I could give this blog a cutesy name (I know, I did a great job).

it's bigger than it looks
So I officially received my invitation to serve today! I'm being placed in the Deaf Education program and I will be in Philadelphia for orientation October 11-12 and then I'll ship out to "Pre-Service Training" for 3 months ( October 13-December 15) in Loitokitok, Kenya. Beyond that information I don't know too much else.. meaning I am not sure what the chances of having internet are over there but I figured better be safe than sorry and introduce myself to the blogosphere now.