Long time no talk! I have so many topics over the last few weeks that have come to mind that I wanted to write about. Malala getting the Nobel Peace Prize, My second Dashain and one year mark have come, I finally have some gears going on projects, N199 vets are going, etc etc.
But I think you guys, whoever you are (I seriously have no idea who all you followers are, but I like you too!) would like to hear about what I was up too.
I am no longer the baby of the group here in Nepal, N201 has arrived! I am now a seasoned vet who has all the answers and understands all aspects of this Peace Corps career. (Nothing in that second sentence was true)
I spent two weeks with them in the Kavre district of Nepal. How I got the lucky straw and got two weeks with them instead of one I don’t know. While living in a hotel for two weeks, over the Dashain holiday, was really depressing, getting to know them was really wonderful. I walk away knowing I got to know them better than most of N200 will get to know them, and that really felt like a privilege. In some ways they are very similar to my group, and in some ways they are very different. They skew a larger spectrum when it comes to age, backgrounds, travel experience, etc than my group does. And I think that will be a benefit to them as a group. The more diversity the more ranges of ideas and abilities everyone can work with.
Really I got great pleasure in teaching. I ran/assisted with four sessions over the two weeks.
My first was Composting, I specifically wanted to do worm compost/vermicomposting. If you read this blog or saw my photos on facebook you saw me with my little wormies, all named Bob (and in this in no way relates to my Uncle Bob, it’s because the company that sells them is called Bobs red wigglers. Love you Uncle Bob!) I worked on that with a new member of our staff. Why they couldn’t bring in another volunteer I don’t know, I wish they had because it ended up being a very difficult session for me as by the time the other compost training was done we were out of resources and time. So Worm Bob’s got kind of screwed. But you live and learn and I offered some suggestions for improvement by the time we finished.
Secondly I assisted another volunteer with training on how to do presentations n Peace Corps style, which we call 4mat. Or the 4mat format. Despite the long training everyone did really well with this. New ideas were generated and I think the new crew has a really excellent start on some ideas.
I led one independent session talking about Behavior Change in Peace Corps. The basic idea behind this in Peace Corps is you can’t just go up to a Nepali and go “No my way is the right way!” and knock the pesticides out of their hands. You have to lead them to their own conclusions, prove to them these ideas are good ideas. For example if you wanted to prove compost was good, maybe you as the volunteer make a compost pile and build a garden from it. Well from that you get some really beautiful vegetables and a neighbor takes notices. And then maybe you talk about why. And then maybe you convince them to use some of your compost on a small part of their garden. And then maybe next season they make their own compost and use it on a small part of the garden, etc. and it all builds. See you gotta be sneaky about it! That session went really well I think. I felt good about it anyways.
I finished up with a session on Unwanted attention with our security officer. My biggest pet peeve in Nepal of course. Its the reason I am not sure if I could ever do Peace Corps again. I think most of them will handle all the attention better than I did, but at least they know if it gets to them they aren’t the only ones who suffer!
And truthfully I got a really nice comment from one of the new volunteers (sorry if you rembeber who you are!) but someone said “You are really transparent, Megan.” Meaning that I came in and didn’t sugarcoat what I knew to be true. I was honest without being negative. I think some people take my bluntness as a negative trait, I don’t kiss ass or seek favoritism, I don’t like to waste my time. I just tell it as I see it. And I wish in my PST I had gotten more of that. I don’t like the idea of getting painted beautiful pictures of what your life should or would be like in Peace Corps. I think my adjustment to permanent site would have been easier if there had been a version of me in my PST. So it meant a lot someone gave me an honest opinion of me.
As I pass my halfway mark I am starting to ponder what my life will be like after Peace Corps, and part of me used this experience of being with N201 as a beta test. Much like my constant pondering of whether I should sign up for Peace Corps over the last 10 years, I also have wondered if I should go into teaching. I hated all aspects of school, except for college, growing up. But as the years have gone on and I just haven’t really figured out what I have a true talent for, teaching keeps coming back to me. I did apply for Teach For America in 2008, right when the economy collapsed, but was rejected because they had a huge set of applicants that year. And also, back then all I had taught was gymnastics to two year olds. This experience felt really natural though. I think the trainees responded well to me, I felt like my theater background of enthusiasm and energy came into play. It felt good.
And if you were a person who hated school, what better person to come in and teach. They know how much it can suck, so they will be more relatable and really want you to succeed so you can stick it to the man. (well I would.) Of all the teachers and educators I have had over the years, the subversive ones have been the best, the ones that I still remember, and I learned the most from them and got the most empowerment from them. I could absolutely be that person.
I see now how important education is in someone’s life. I get why this is Malala’s crusade. I took my education for granted, as so many Americans do I think. I’ve seen a country where people still aren’t sure how they get pregnant when they are 28 years old. Kids who skip school because they’d rather sit at home and watch tv, and a government system that thinks it’s okay to let that happen. Without education you have no opportunities, and your world stays too small.
So thank you N201 for letting me flex my teaching wings with you. I am so glad I got to go have kahjaa/chiso fanta/kurta surawal shopping with you. And I can’t wait to see you all again!
And you know I mean it. I can’t bullshit.