Somehow it just seems right — no, necessary — to start 2017 out with Peace as the theme of this blog. There are so many ways to move toward peace, and not all of them are the right way. While I can’t claim to have figured it out, I do know that dedicating this past year to Peace Corps has been the right thing to do. With roughly 6 weeks of service left, it is a particularly poignant time for reflection.
To pick on a particular topic, language has played a huge role in getting to know the people of Georgia, and has helped build a cultural bridge. It hasn’t been easy. Georgian is a unique language, only spoken in this one country (and by the huge diaspora, of course). The script is unique, the blend of consonants difficult to wrap my throat around, and most of my co-workers prefer that I speak English so they can learn. Nonetheless, I’ve managed a little. I can confidently say
I know a little Georgian ვიცი ქართული ცოტა (pro. veet-see kar-tu-li tso-ta)
Georgia is a nation in recovery…recovery from the Soviet era, and post-Soviet problems. It has been awhile: the Iron Curtain fell in 1990, Georgia joined the exodus in 1991, and it was another 10 years before chaos and corruption were brought under control. Societal change is generational, at least. It will take a few to shed the effects of that time.
I spoke with some of my Georgian co-workers and friends to get their impressions. Some reminiscences of the Soviet era are of the easy times, all memories of the 10-year interval were of the bad times, some seem to be a denial. Read on as I tell their stories, not as individuals, but as a collective memory. Continue reading “we all Need Friends”→
When we (the ‘we’ of the RPCVs of Madison) began working on the ‘we all Create’ Poster back in 2008, we were thinking of the creations of art and beauty. But here in Georgia, I had the opportunity to create something in nature, in a place of existing intense beauty. It seemed a presumption to go to this place: could I be part of a project to make nature better?? But it happened – I was part of a “create.” Continue reading “we all Create”→
The Peace Corps Mission: To promote world peace and friendship.
That mission statement is the simplest and one of the more meaningful statements I’ve ever come across. It hasn’t been modified in 55 years…no need to! It says it all, to us peacemongers.
As I discovered during my service in Ghana, questions from friends and family quickly move beyond “what do you eat?” and “what’s the weather like?” into “just what DO you do there?” For my friends who follow me on Facebook, you may already have a fair idea. But this is for the rest of you!
Last week I was traveling with friends who were visiting from the US, on their way to Romania. We were in a small village guesthouse, Inga’s Guesthouse, a clean and friendly place with great food, but with bedsprings that bowed so deeply that my knees wanted to turn inside out. Their dogs were barking – a lot. They stopped when rain started pouring down on the metal roof of the house. I had a hard time falling asleep. At some point in the night, the rain stopped, and a half-hearted cock began crowing for what felt like another hour. When he finally stopped, I managed to get a few hours sleep. The benefit was: my ideas of how to write this next blog finally coalesced!
I knew I wanted to write about ‘we all Go Places,’ but how? What purpose? This is not a vacation blog. My restless night and wandering mind had me thinking about why I’m here, in Georgia, in Peace Corps Response for a full year, far from home and family. It’s a complicated question, all tied up with altruism, adventure, and impact. Continue reading “we all Go Places”→
There are so many ways to put Home into images – favorite sayings, stories, songs, photos and video. I tried to think about how to express my feeling of “home” here in Georgia, without exactly comparing it to my home in the US, or my last Peace Corps home in Ghana, or anywhere else I have been in the world, for a week or months. Each are unique and stand on their own. Ultimately, it comes down to my personal level of happiness…and most importantly, support from family at home.
When I was in Peace Corps Ghana (2004-2007), there was a dance called the high life that was popularized at the turn of the 20th century and is still popular. The term was coined in the 1920s and referred to the high-class dance evenings fashionable among the Ghanaian elite, especially after independence in 1956. If you danced well, or if the guests wanted to honor you, women would take their handkerchiefs and wave them over the top of your head while you danced. In Ghana, I danced the high life. I never would have guessed that my first significant impression of Peace Corps Georgia would be that I was living the high life. Continue reading “we all Celebrate”→