Thursday, April 21, 2011

One year...LEFT?!?!

Fella's and Felines,

I am happy to report that as of today, I have been a Peace Corps Volunteer for 1 full year! That's right... on the 21st of April, 2010, I raised my hand and took the oath (something about helping people while promising not to turn my back on the US?). At this point, I can safely say that I've complied:

As of today I have:

(1.) ...taught...A LOT. Comprehension is improving as are grades, though my students continue to CRAM which makes me want to shake them silly.
(2.) ...planted hundreds of trees, the leaves of which will one day supplement large populations of orphans deep in the bush near my town.
(3.) ...had hundreds of conversations with hundreds of people concerning the state of Uganda development, why I am here, where I am from and the beautiful people that I call "My Fellow American's" back home.
(4.) ...made friends that I will have for life.
(5.) A LOT (see list). I've noted the books I think are worth reading with a "yes" and those that are not with a "no." Books that qualify as maybes are marked "EH..."

1. Desert Solitaire - YES. Brilliant.
2. The Things They Carried - YES.
3. Five Quarters of an orange - YES
4. Don't Let's go to the Dogs Tonight - YES
5. Army of the Republic - YES. A new-age "Monkey Wrench Gang".
6. Breaking the Chain - YES (if you are a cyclist)
7. The Curious Case of the Dog at Midnight - (HELL) NO
8. Intern - EH... if you are considering the field of medicine.
9. Playing the Enemy - YES. Quickly learn about Mandela's brilliance.
10. Life Expectancy - NO.
11. The Scarlett Letter - YES. (Read it in HS? Read it again. You'll see why it is a classic.)
12. My Favorite War - YES.
13. Disgrace - EH... I say this because this book made my skin crawl... Reading about a sociopath by a writer who has earned a Nobel in literature is creepy.
14. Middlesex - YES!
15. The Naked and the Dead - YES. A classic war novel.
16. The Monkey Wrench Gang - HELL YES. It'll make you want to blow up a dam.
17. The Devil in the White City - YES. Awesome history of Chicago. I could have done without the serial killer story, though.
18. In The Hot Zone - EH... An interesting, but not terribly so, look into many of the worlds conflicts.
19. State of Fear - YES. If only to discuss the fact that there is in fact another side of the "Global Warming" argument with dirty Peace Corps Hippies that boil over at the though.
20. The Wild Trees - NO. BORING.
21. Between a Rock and a Hard Place - YES. You'll want to climb a 14er in the winter afterwards.
22. The Shadow of the Sun - YES. Read it if you want to SEE and SMELL Africa from the safety of your suburban home.
23. Caught by the Sea - YES.
24. The Ice Soldier - EH...
25. Black Like Me - YES.
26. Women - YES (if you don't mind the chauvinistic rantings of Charles Bukowski).
27. Archangel - EH...
28. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - YES.
29. Down Under - (Hell) NO.
30. Intensive Care - YES, regardless of whether you aspire to be a nurse.
31. The Tipping Point - YES.
32. The Big Sleep - YES.
33. Slaughterhouse-Five - YES. (Even if you did read this on in HS and walk around bragging so... read it again. You'll appreciate it more now that you're "all growed up.")
34. The Grapes of Wrath - YES, YES, YES!
35. She's Come Undone - YES.
36. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - YES.
37. The Prisoner of Vandam Street - YES.
38. Slow Man - EH... written by the same guy that wrote "Disgrace" this one also made me squirm...
39. The Crucible - YES.
40. Op Center: Line of Control - (HELL) NO. Screw the guy who "book bombed" me with this one.
41. No One Left to Lie To - YES. Clinton is swine.
42. The Road to Hell: The ravaging effects of foreign aid and international charity - YES!
43. Brida - EH... check out The Alchemist instead.
44. Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates - YES!
45. The Audacity of Hope - YES. Get to know Barack "The Tightrope Walker" Obama. The book showed me that while the man is fantastic about seeing an argument from both sides, he lacks any defined vision for the US (lest he offend someone, somewhere).
46. Into The Wild - NO. Read "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" instead.

The goal is 100 books by 2012. I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

(6.) I've never been so fond of my Mother-Land. Sure, I was bitter when I left, and there are still bits and pieces about the U.S.A. that make me want to break things. But over all? I've come to regard The United States as the greatest country on the planet, a place for which I will never cease to be a proud citizen.

So there it is. I continue to learn about myself and my new world every day. It's a great world! And while I continue to ride the standard issue PCV emotional roller coaster, I feel happy, free and optimistic about the remaining year to come.

To all of my family and friends (but especially you Michelle):

Thank you for your support (the cards, a few delicious packages, and phone calls)! To become a volunteer, I had cut the umbilical cord of proximity, jump into an ocean and learn to swim again. And while the distance that continues to separate us is vast, know that I think of you all as my solid land on the horizon. You give me bearing, a destination to swim towards, a life that I will, sooner than we all might think (as this year as proven, "tempus fugit"), return to.

And to my fellow PCVs:

You have become my family, and I am more thankful for that than you can know. Keep up the great work, and I'll see you all in a few weeks at MST.

Muikare kurungi! (Y'all stay well!)
I love you all (but especially you, Michelle)!