Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
I think one of the reasons I like to sign up for as much as possible, to join as many committees or clubs or activities or groups as I can, to commit to everything thrown at me, is that I know that once I give my word, there’s no going back. I need the possibility for public shaming to motivate me to do things sometimes. If not doing a task will be seen as a failure then I’ll do it so I won’t fail. (When I return to the States and someday get a smart phone, I’ll probably become one of those terrible oversharers of things like how many calories I’ve burned or what books I’ve read. Apologies in advance!)
In any case, it’s a system that works for me, and thanks to my fear of looking a fool I do a lot more than I would otherwise be inspired to do. Exhibit A of this personal trait is my involvement in the Peace Corps’ Life Skills Committee here in Georgia. I consider myself a person with a strong interest in health, although it’s not a field I’d ever want to go into professionally. But if I hadn’t joined this committee, I’m sure I would never have done so many health-related projects during my Peace Corps tenure. Being part of this committee has made me feel obligated to be involved in health-related projects, and I’m sure glad it has.
Don’t get me wrong; I love to exercise, I try to eat my fruits and veggies and I really get a kick out of reading the health section in online newspapers (the Washington Post’s Medical Mysteries series being among my favorites). I’m just not sure I’d be able to get out there and convince others to take a similar interest in health were it not for the committee. But here, in this place where no one receives any kind of basic health information, where old wives’ tales rule as medical advice and where the average person doesn’t have the tools to take care of himself, I’ve been sparked. With the rest of the committee’s members, I've worked to try to share what I’ve been fortunate enough to take for granted. I’ve been lucky in health. I’ve had the combination of good health and good education (you can debate the American education system all you want, but compared to other systems I’ve seen in other parts of the world, ours is light years ahead and American kids have huge advantages in terms of availability of information and training, options and equipment, and dedicated teachers). If I can share just the information I’ve had hurled at me my whole life, it could make a world of difference.
And as I said above, the great thing about being part of a committee that is dedicated to arming citizens with the skills they need to be healthier and lead healthy, happy lives is that I feel obligated to do something. It’s the kick in the pants I need to get out the door. But realizing this, I also get a chance to really try to figure out how one can transfer those skills and knowledge and how to make it possible for other PCVs to do the same. I’ve already written here about the fantastic DVD series that the LS Committee created. We’re looking forward to making some other resources in the near future to continue to make things easier for PCVs. We will hold our annual Healthy Lifestyles Training of Trainers for PCVs and their counterparts in early February.
And it’s rewarding to know that these projects are having an impact. On December 1, we marked World AIDS Day. This is a tough topic here in conservative Georgia. HIV/AIDS is a difficult topic to begin with, and then there are all the culturally taboo subjects to deal with. The Life Skills Committee has done an awesome job making this possible, though, by providing resources and support to make it possible. For a second year, I was able to teach an HIV/AIDS lesson in my school (I had over 200 participants for my full day of sessions!). I showed a lecture from the DVD series (I’ve never seen my 10th graders so quite and engaged) and held a discussion with the kids. It was such an overwhelmingly positive experience and felt like one of those big PC victories, where things go right. Yet I don’t know if I’d have even made the attempt if I weren’t part of the committee.
Knowing this about myself is helpful, but it also encourages me to work harder to make resources for other PCVs, and to share information and best practices. And hearing about the successes other PCVs have had also makes it really worthwhile.
The Deputy Director at my school made a display about World AIDS Day
Saturday, December 10, 2011
We could blame the end-of-the-semester drag, busy schedules, bad weather, dark days or any number of things for our infrequent blog posts of late. Instead of excuses, though, I'll just apologize for our delay. We have developed a bit of a backlog of stories, though, so I’ll try to bring everything up to speed soon, rather than just skip over the missed things.
In the meantime, as I work on typing it all up, here are a few videos as appeasement for our updating negligence. A huge thanks to Brad, Holly, Matt and Rachel for the hours of entertainment that the Christmas Chicken Dance Chicken has provided in our household! (And if the poor chicken's batteries go missing before long or it ends up with its musical component ripped out, we’ll just blame it on the neighborhood stray dogs, not the slowly-going-crazy-from-hearing-the-chicken-dance-every-5-minutes Melissa).
So enjoy the diversion while we rustle up some more blog posts! (Lilit sure doesn't seem to mind the wait, as long as she can keep stomping around the chicken.)