April 6, 2003: Headlines: COS - St. Lucia: PCVs in the Field - St. Lucia: Personal Web Site: Deb's Travels in St. Lucia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Saint Lucia: Peace Corps Saint Lucia : The Peace Corps in Saint Lucia: April 6, 2003: Headlines: COS - St. Lucia: PCVs in the Field - St. Lucia: Personal Web Site: Deb's Travels in St. Lucia

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-13-244.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 2:31 pm: Edit Post

Deb's Travels in St. Lucia

Deb's Travels in St. Lucia

Bonjou! I'm Deb, a 28 year old American from Seattle, currently in the Peace Corps in St. Lucia, in the Eastern Caribbean. You can read a bit about me, St. Lucia, my booklist and also find links to some of my friends' sites in the background section. You can find my mailing address and phone number in the Contact Me section, and my ongoing journal/narrative in the Tales section. Check the weather for inspiration before calling your travel agent to plan a visit.

I do have email, but please be patient if it takes me a while to respond (and please spare me any big pictures or forwards, unless they're REALLY good). Please do send actual letters!(see contact info). Good karma and a fast response guaranteed. I will save the juicy bits for letters, so you will be rewarded!

Love and sunshine,

A Pueblo Verse

Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of earth. And hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree which stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here. Hold on to life, even when it is easier to let go. Hold on to my hand, even when I have gone away from you.

ABOUT ME: The fact of the matter is that if you're looking at this site, you probably know me. But in case you don't or you've somehow forgotten why I don't call anymore, here's my story. The short version.

I'm 28, and I left the US on July 26. I'm a graduate student at the University of Washington, enrolled in a Masters of Public Administration program called the Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI). I've completed the bulk of the academic part of my degree, and am serving 2 years in the Peace Corps in the Eastern Caribbean. My training was in St. Lucia with 50 other volunteers, and after 3 weeks together we were sent off to various EC islands. I stayed here.

More distant background: I was born and raised in southeastern PA, went to school at University of Delware (English/Journalism & International Relations) and then spent a year serving as a VISTA volunteer for the Delaware Coalition for Literacy in Wilmington, DE. After a brief trip to Europe, I worked for nearly a year as a job developer in a welfare-to-work program at the beginning of welfare reform. Luckily the economy was in better shape then. Regardless, I burnt out, and moved to Seattle just to check out what it had to offer. I fell in love with the northwest.

Unfortunately, the nonprofits in Seattle didn't reciprocate my love. I wanted to do fundraising, I found work as a cashier at REI. Then in Customer Service and HR at Amazon.com. That's where I worked until I finally woke up and realized that I used to have a plan, and I really needed to revisit it and figure out what to do with my life. Enter the PCMI program. I got in during the inaugural year, so I'm really just a guinnea pig at this point, in a sense. Which really just adds to the adventure. There are 8 of us from the UW either gone or about to leave at this point, and it's really exciting to know that I know someone on nearly every continent at this point.

On a personal note, I also have alopecia, which is a condition that caused me to lose my hair 3 years ago (1999). There's still a lot of unanswered questions about alopecia, but doctors think it is an autoimmune disorder. Essentially, I've become allergic to my own hair. There's no history of this in my family, or in me, and it could come back, or not come back, at any time. I was one of the unfortunate types who lost ALL of my hair... sigh. There's a link to NAAF on the right if you have more questions. I do wear a wig, so you'll see me both "hairy" and "au natural" in various photos. This all adds a whole new dimension to my experiences in a place where people are very blunt about physical appearances, and in which I am swimming publicly very often--something which I shunned out of self-consciousness before.

I'm keeping a weblog, so check back and see what I've been up to. PLEASE SEND LETTERS! See the contact info page for the details.

Tales from Bananaland

My recent escapades for your entertainment/education/edification. Enjoy.

3 April, 2003
15 Seconds of Fame

I've been on local tv twice in the last two weeks. Not that it's that hard to get on tv around here. Our whole 69 group was on TV for being in a training last week, our IST, on Program Development and Management with our counterparts. Then on Sunday, there was a concert/fundraiser in the square downtown all day, and a friendly neighborhood ras told me he saw me on tv then. So now I've written an article for a local paper (in October), was on a radio show talking about the environment (in November) and I think I've been on tv 3 or 4 times, though thankfully not speaking. yet.

Since I last wrote, I had training and began working with my new counterpart, Jimmy. He's a few years younger than me, getting a 2 year degree at the local community college in sociology and economics, and is working full time at the National Youth Council as a volunteer. Everyone there is--there are currently no paid staff. There is one woman on the executive council, and there are girls and other women in the various councils around the island, but the majority of the people involved heavily are guys in their 20s. Because everyone is young and a volunteer, the office atmosphere is both hardworking and laid-back. I really like that, though I sense it's a little too laid-back for Jimmy sometimes. He's a very driven guy--goes to school and works fulltime as a volunteer, plus has a young baby at home.

The National Youth Council, my new assignment, is an umbrella organization of the District Youth and Sports Councils (under the ministry of youth and sports)-of which there are 18 island-wide. The organization does things like hold debates, youth parliaments, community meetings, HIV/AIDS and leadership workshops, etc, and also has links with the scouts, cadets, 4H, and other community-based organizations. I've met so many interesting people in the last few days I can barely count them or keep track. The office is currently right in the heart of downtown, by a bakery in sort of a dodgy building. It's central though, and that's nice for things like errands and grocery shopping. I do pay more for transport, especially now that I don't have a driver to take me home every afternoon. Sanity is worth an extra $1.50 a day though. Also, my new office has AC, and is much closer to the PC office. No more walking 3 miles to get my mail.

So after the training last week, I went in and met with them to discuss what I'll be doing. I guess I'm back to sort of integration phase right now. This is Youth Month, so there are a lot of activities going on that will be good for me to attend and learn about. There were two activities going on during the weekend, so we arranged for me to start officially Monday. Wed an Thurs were spent primarily writing a grant for the Soros foundation at UW--a course that I took last year made me eligible to apply for some funds for a technology project. Margaret and I wrote a grant asking for computers and phones for a child abuse hotline for her organization, St. Lucia Save the Children. It's a greatly needed project, so I hope that we are awarded the grant. We worked for HOURS on the thing. Friday I went out to La Guerre by Gagamel and his family (his real name, btw, is Marcellus. Gagamel is his ras name). We had intended to do a bit of hiking and see a waterfall as well as cook out, but we got started late, so we just went around and visited various neighbors, mainly relatives. Then we picked vegetables and herbs in the gardens and made a fire, and cooked everything up in this enormous iron pot on the wood fire. He's vegetarian, so we made a "jot" or a "bouillion" of "ital" which is vegetables or soya. Many of the various assembled relatives ate with us, and we drank nice fresh green coconuts that gaga climbed up and got for us. When I left, he sent me home with green onions, celery, herbs and a jug of coconut water. That night, a group of 6 girls (the french, canadian and american contingents) and brendan, the lone irish male, met up and went to Anse La Raye to see Margaret's new apartment (she moved into the village from the outskirts) and have some food at the fish fry. Then Brendan, Caroline and I headed north to the usual haunts. We had a fun, late night. Saturday we went to the beach, and I rushed back to shower and reach downtown for a town meeting in Babonneau with the NYC group. I got down there, waited for someone else, and then found out that the meeting was cancelled. Got a ride north and met Shan and Sam, and we hung out a bit and went out, where Caro met us. It was a slow, boring night and I was tired so we left early. I was in bed by 11 pm, and slept for 12 hours. Sunday was the concert in the park downtown. It started with gospel music, then jazz, then calypso, then finally reggae when I left around 7 pm. I found a few people that I knew to hang out with, but mostly I spent the day relaxing alone. (Cleotha, my second host mother, was there selling drinks to raise funds for her school for the disabled and hearing impaired, so i spent some time by her tent throughout the day.) It was nice to finally see some live music and be in a concert environment.

This week, after the grantwriting seminar and marathon grantwriting last week, I start my new job to find the first task: grantwriting. Not on my own, thankfully, but with Jimmy. It's a good but difficult experience to edit something on a project you just learned about with a person you've just met. Those journalism days are paying off! We also cleaned out a back room that is supposed to become a resource room but was used as a trash heap/storage room for apparently a very long time. I'm in the midst of sorting out what's going on with some grant money I've been administering to the Red Cross for a report due tomorrow. And tomorrow we have our PC meeting in the morning, and then go to the airport in the afternoon to meet the new batch of trainees. There are 37 of them, apparently, and we don't know how many are staying in St. Lucia. We'll know in 3 weeks when they get their assignments. They're all comunity dev and health volunteers. We're all very excited for some new blood though, particularly young people!

No big plans for this weekend yet. Hoping to get a call from Mom and Cindy, who is back east for some bridal showers and to try on her wedding dress. We'll probably have a dinner party with the girls on Sat. night because they have some guests in town. And my hard-won Bajan tan is fading, so I need to hit the beach. I saw the guys from Sandals on Sunday and they bugged me about when I'm coming back. Maybe I'll make my way there this weekend and finally get to windsurf. Take care everyone, and happy weekend!

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - St. Lucia; PCVs in the Field - St. Lucia



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