New Blog Site

Hirriyyota koo, akkam ooltan?

My Friends, how are you?

  Hey fellow Earthlings. So after hours, no days, of personal introspection I have decided to move to a different blogging site. Tumblr seems cool and is super easy for me to use but I don’t like that it requires people to have accounts to read dem blogs. A big reason I decided to do this was so prospective Peace Corps Volunteers could read about an American’s experiences abroad to get a better idea of what it might be like for them. The whole needing an account thing will limit who can view this. People who search for Peace Corps blogs in Ethiopia may not be able to find this off of a Google search.

I really appreciate that you are following me on Tumblr, and I hope you will continue to do so on wordpress . The URL is http://cleanjosh.wordpress.com/

  Like always, shoot me an email if you’d like to talk more, my email address is cleanjosh@gmail.com. We could even skype, if your into that sort of thing. My Skype name is joshuadoppelt. Add me on Skype!

  Now that I got this out of the way I can start to catch up on blogging for the last 6 weeks….Sorry about that delay. I got a lot to catch you up on.

  Nagaati bulaa,

Good night,

  Josh

  PS. Sorry for not being in better communication. I appreciate all of the emails and facebook messages. I get very, very little internet connection, and when I get it, it is too weak to do just about anything, haha. I will have much more time and much better internet connection when I move to my permanent site in 5ish weeks.

  PPS. Pictures on the way!

Akkam Jirtu!

Grab some popcorn and strap yourself into your couch/chair/whatever sitting device you employ, and get ready for the first true blog post. I apologize in advance for how general this post is. This is aimed to give you an encompassing understanding on what it is I am doing and where I am. Later posts will be filled with stories and cultural experiences. Anyways, here we go…

  Ethiopia has been truly phenomenal. Unbelievable. I have been here for almost 3 weeks now and it is hard to communicate just how different it is here and how special it has been to soak it all in. From the, seriously, best fucking coffee in the world multiple times a day, to tossing a Frisbee with a dozen little Ethiopian kids, to swarms of monkeys running down a nearby hill!!, to pooping in holes in the ground, to late nights watching football (I have been watching way more football here than I ever did at home), to totally different food all time there is so much that I have seen and enmeshed myself in over the last three weeks that it’s tough to relay it in a blog post.

  Right now I am in a town called Butajira, which is 3 hrs south of Addis Ababa. I am here for 3 months to train to become an effective volunteer. We have class and meetings 55 hours a week. The rest of the time we spend either hanging out with other volunteers or integrating with our host families. Language class is 4-6 hrs a day, 6 days a week. It is incredibly intensive, but has so far been pretty fun to pick up. The rest of the time I attend classes/meetings focused on job training. I learn extensively about HIV, and to a lesser extent nutrition and malaria in Ethiopia, and how to facilitate a change for the better/healthier here. I am going to be a health volunteer once I get released into the African wild/sworn in to the Peace Corps.

  I am living with a host family for the first time and so far it has been an incredible experience. My family here is so sweet and welcoming. My host father is a retired English teacher who loves football. Seriously could not be a better situation for me. Not only can I communicate with him in 3 languages, but I can trash talk his favorite team, Manchester United, for having a really shitty year. I have been running with him in the mornings, drinking coffee or eating with him in the evenings, and as of late getting my ass kicked in cards by him. His wife doesn’t speak English, but she speaks Amharic and Oromifa, the two languages I am learning. She has this raspy voice that always sounds like she is smiling, usually because she is. The principle discussions we have center around her ordering me to eat more food and drink more drink. If I am not doing either fast enough she lets me know. Today she showed me how to wash my clothes, which was a really fun/funny experience. Mostly because of watching her laugh at me trying to do it, and then just jumping in and doing it herself because I am a pretty incompetent clothes washer. Tomorrow she is going to show me how to milk the cow, which I am stoked for. They have 7 kids, their youngest is 14 and he lives with them. He is incredibly intelligent, confident, and soft-spoken. A really, really good kid. He constantly serves as translator for me and always helps me figure out how to do simple things over here. His English is pretty much as good as mine, which really makes me question my own intelligence. He is a major football bum and naturally we get along real well. We watch all the English Premier League games together and talk about the game constantly. Other family members make periodic guest appearances. My favorite is their granddaughter Honey. She is 2 years old and is my dancing partner.

  When I am not spending my free time integrating into my host family, I am spending it with some of the 62 other volunteers. It is a really diverse and fun group. Everyday is a new adventure with this crew. Today a few of us played football with a few dozen Ethiopian kids on a dirt field. We played for hours, the game only stopped once for a few goats who wondered onto the wrong football pitch. My entire body was covered in dirt/dust. My friend Kendra pointed out with a big laugh how dark I had gotten when I took my shoes off and my foot was dozens of shades lighter than the rest of my leg (I have no idea how the color shade continuum works, so keep that in mind when analyzing my quantification). After a few hours of being run into the ground with and by Ethiopian children a few of us retreated to a Juice Bet (juice shop) for a drink called spritze. Spritze is a combination of avocado, papaya, and mango juice, which I am already hooked on. Football is a weekly ritual here for new volunteers, and I can’t wait for the next game. The health volunteers play the agriculture volunteers. The winner of that takes on the language teachers. The rivalries and trash talking have already begun.

  In future blog posts I will try to add in more fun stories that symbolize life here in Ethiopia that show you what I see, and make you feel what I feel. This post is primarily intended to lay the foundations in telling you generally what is going on with me. Later posts will be more fun to read (I hope), and will have a little more meat to them.

  In all this talk of Butajira and my family here I have completely neglected to talk about what the town is like, what I was up to before coming to Butajira (I was up to a lot), and a ton of stories and descriptions of what life is like here. I’ll try to get to some/most/all of that in future blogs. Because all of that would take days to type up I will conclude with this. The people here are incredibly warm and friendly. Relationships are so much stronger than I have ever seen. Life is more laid back and happy than I can even explain. The diversity, both culturally and in topographically is exceptional and exciting, and I can’t wait to explore each thoroughly.

  Galatooma,

  Thanks for reading.

  Josh

Take a Giant Step

One of my favorite Taj Mahal songs is called Take a Giant Step. The song is about a guy comforting a woman after a heartbreak and telling her to take a step outside of her mind. I really like the phrasing he uses. Take a giant step outside your mind. I have thought of this phrase often about my journey to Ethiopia. Take a giant step outside of my world, my reality to enter a new way of life. Way outside of my mind, leaving yesterday behind.

I am sitting in the Frankfurt airport in Germany (Devoured a Frankfurter and pretzel, I don't care that it is 6am) and I figured it as good a time as any to begin my blog. I am really excited to finally get to Ethiopia after over a year of waiting! I'm super optimistic about the experiences to come. The other volunteers I have met are a truly eclectic and interesting bunch. World travelers, volunteers, climbers, and musicians. Everybody is interesting and interested.  I can already tell that these guys and gals are gonna be a serious foundation in my Ethiopian adventure. 

I had an awesome final week before leaving. I hiked the Grand Canyon with my friend Gedion (seriously if you haven't been to the Canyon you need to, seriously). I had the chance to visit my grandparents and great uncle in Florida for a couple days. And I returned to Highland Park for a massive farewell party with my friends and family. The final week reminded me just how lucky I am to have such incredible and supporting friends and family. They have played a huge part in keeping my morale high. It is going to be rough leaving everyone behind, and in particular my parents and brother. But this is something I have wanted for a long time and I couldn't be more pumped to take a giant step into Africa and start my journey.

Thanks for reading,

Josh

PS. Feel free to shoot me an email whenever. I can be reached at cleanjosh@gmail.com