Peace Corps

#BlackHistoryMonth #tbt: Being the first African American woman to travel to space is one of Mae Jemison’s many accomplishments. A dancer, Peace Corps doctor, public speaker and astronaut, Mae went to college at age 16, holds 9 honorary doctorates and has founded many STEM-related programs for students. 

Why Peace Corps is not Voluntourism

According to Webster, Voluntourism is a form of tourism in which travelers participate in voluntary work, typically for a charity. Over this past week I’ve shared some contrasting views on Voluntourism, which is increasingly prevalent and controversial in our globalized world. 

Having served in Morocco as a volunteer full-time for two years, my views on volunteerism have certainly morphed from what they were in high school, college, and even grad school. It may seem ironic that coming out of this international service experience I am more convinced than ever that local community service is where the real change happens. When people are involved and invested in the community of which they are a part, they can help create an environment that reflects their values. Lasting change happens when folks are invested for the long-term. It stands to reason that people have more cause to care about the long-term outcomes of their actions for the community in which they live and plan to raise their children than in some random spot on the globe. 

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for volunteering in a community that isn’t your own. Whether it be in a state that’s been hit by natural disaster or advancing water-security internationally, sometimes an issue needs more hands, resources, and minds tackling it than what might be available in the affected area. But how do you bridge the sincerity and personal investment people have for their own communities to a foreign community and, possibly, culture? This is where an organization like Peace Corps comes in. 

One of the biggest critiques of voluntourism is the lack of understanding volunteers have of those they’re “helping.” This ignorance can lead to mistaken actions that are neither helpful nor sustainable. And the short-term nature of Voluntourism doesn’t leave room for the volunteers to see the real effects of their actions. The structure of Peace Corps is thoughtfully designed to avoid the pitfalls that seem to be haunting this growing industry. Here are 6 ways that Peace Corps not Voluntourism. 

1. We Live with Host Families

The first step to understanding a culture is, not just seeing how they live, but living how they live. By staying with host families we’re able to observe and participate in the little things that might never be captured in a “cultural session.” Understanding the lifestyle of our host country nationals is paramount to shaping the action-steps we take throughout our service. It helps us see what the real needs are, the cultural constraints, and how decisions are made. Living how those around us live plumits us into the community in a way staying a hotel or dorm never could. We eat what they eat, sleep where they sleep, and wear what they wear. We are a part of the family.    

2. We Learn the Language

Learning someone’s language is an indisputable way to show that you really care. It isn’t easy; it means constantly exposing yourself to failure; it shows long-term investment. Sometimes, PCVs learn languages that no one has ever paid any attention to before. And it isn’t just about being able to express ourselves, it’s about being able to understand those we’re with, hearing their thoughts, singing their songs, crying to their soap operas, laughing to their jokes. Though we never stop being students of the language, our effort says “we’re not just passing through.” 

3. There is No Agenda

The other day I was sitting at the women’s center with the new volunteer in my site. One woman was teaching the PCV a stitch that is used for the traditional Moroccan clothes. As we sat there sewing and chatting with the women, I had an overwhelming sense that this is where the magic happens. While I admit it is frustrating at first, Peace Corps does not give us much direction on what to do in our communities. I realize more and more each day just how appropriate it is that they don’t. True development is ecological not top-down. Peace Corps doesn’t barge into communities with a plan (even if all the American volunteers are begging for one), instead the volunteers watch and wait and listen and learn and then find ways to fit service in. Shwya b Shwya, or Little by little, is our motto here.  

4. We Listen

When speaking to the 100+ new volunteers that recently arrived to Morocco, I told them You may be asked to teach English or something you don’t want to do, but you have to remember this isn’t about what you want, it’s about what they want. Listen to your community and meet them where they are. Start with English-it’s your foot in the door- and as you get to know your community you will learn how to introduce other things. But always remember, what you want doesn’t matter. When we don’t listen failure is bound to happen. In fact, failure is bound to happen regardless, but listening to our communities is a huge part of having a service that is effective and allows our failures to be transformed into learning opportunities.    

5. We Capacity Build

They say that in development our goal is to put ourselves out of a job. And Peace Corps volunteers often work towards just that. We are encouraged to find community partners for every activity or class, teaching them how to teach and lead if needed. A project done without a host country national is not considered sustainable and sometimes even frowned upon. Our primary role is to promote volunteerism of people in our communities. If our presence somehow inspires those around us to invest in their town and believe that positive change can happen, then that is a job well done.  

6. We Stay for Two Years

Development takes much longer than two years, but it’s long enough to lay a foundation and get things started. Two years is long enough to learn the names of the kids on your street, long enough to celebrate the annual holidays with your host family, long enough to watch favored characters on the soap operas get murdered and come back to life, long enough to watch your baby host sister learn how to speak and master words you still can’t pronounce right, long enough to watch your friends get engaged, married, pregnant, and become mothers. My village in Morocco is my home and the people I serve are my family, neighbors, friends.  


It is undeniable that some folks sign up for Peace Corps to have a neat, easy, satifying experience, but Peace Corps is none of those things; development is none of those things. Those people either realize and embrace the struggle of true development work and call forth the patience to see their commitment to the host country through, or they quit after a few months in country. Either way, they are forced to come to terms with the fact that Peace Corps is so much more than Voluntourism. A sincere volunteer always remembers this is not about me, realizes the value in an unAmerican level of patience, and learns that being uncomfortable doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.

So ask yourself this when considering volunteering outside of your community: What are my intentions? And have I done my research on this organization? 

Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don’t be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it. Finally, know who you are.
—  Kristin Armstrong
The White Dress.

This story is about my friends MIL, and her wedding. Strap in guys, this is a wild ride in which I did THE THING that got me banned from any of her family functions. (Plus a few threats of dismemberment and bodily harm)

A good friend of mine from university was getting married! They had been a couple since Junior year of college, through her 2 years in the peace corps and currently her return to this continent. 6 years in total. She had been to all manner of family functions and always came back with a strange story about how she thinks her MIL secretly hates her. But she being a very quiet and sweet person pushed those thoughts aside.

Point 1: She is vegetarian and jewish, husband is not. She was invited and went to Christmas dinner and figured she would just eat sides, as well she brought a vegetarian casserole. MIL, after knowing her for THREE years, and being told by husband a few weeks before about not to forget friend doesn’t eat meat…proceeded to put meat in every dish. Friend drank water and ate her casserole the whole night while MIL cried to everyone that friend was so rude for not eating her cooking.

Keep reading

Riding the bus to an art fair yesterday, a man recognized the Peace Corps patch on my backpack. He flashed me a peace sign, and then told me in a thick Cameroonian accent that he had been taught by a Peace Corps Volunteer when he was a student. He wanted to let me know that because of that volunteer, he had become an engineer.
—  I wish the bus ride had been longer so I could have talked to him more.
Numerology: Calculating Your Life Lesson Number

Originally posted by traceloops

Numerology Basics

Each one of us has four personal numbers that carry a specific vibration. They are the Life Lesson Number, the Soul Number, the Outer Personality Number, and the Path of Destiny Number. In this post, we’ll be focusing on the Life Lesson number.

The Life Lesson Number represents lessons one must learn in this lifetime and is most significant to career choices. It is derived from your full birthdate. 

Though this post will be focused on calculating one’s number using the numbers in your birthday, I’m including information on how to calculate the numeric vibration of letters as well, because it’s intrinsically related.

To work with the value of letters beyond “I”, which is 9, we reduce the value to a single digit. For example, “O” is 15, so we reduce the number by adding the first digit to the second: 1+5=6. The number 15 is then written as 15/6. The letter “T” is 20. We reduce the 20 by adding the first digit to the second: 2+0=2. The number 20 is then written as 20/2.

Number Values of the Alphabet

A   1       J   10/1       S   19/1
B   2       K   11/2       T   20/2
C   3       L   12/3       U   21/3
D   4       M   13/4      V   22/4
E   5       N   14/5      W   23/5
F   6       O   15/6       X   24/6
G   7       P   16/7       Y   25/7
H   8       Q   17/8       Z   26/8
I    9        R   18/9

We can reduce any word to a numeric vibration by using the above table. Before we move on to calculating one’s Life Lesson number, lets experiment with a few words:

3  +  9  +  6  +  5  =  23/5
C     R      O     W

We reduce 23 by adding 2+3=5, which is written 23/5

5  +  9  +  2  +  3  +  8  =  21/3   
W     I       T      C     H

We reduce 21 by adding 2+1=3, which is written 21/3

3  +  9  +  7  +  8  +  2  =  29/11
L      I       G     H      T  

We reduce 29 by adding 2+9=11, which is written 29/11

There are four double digits which generally are not reduced. These are referred to as master numbers. Master numbers offer more opportunity for expression, yet demand more effort from the person or thing in question. The master numbers are 11, 22, 33, and 44. Whenever you arrive at one of these numbers in your calculations; retain the master value. 

Because the word “light” vibrates to master number 11, it’s written as 29/11 instead of 29/2, which would be the case if reduced entirely. The number 2 is still acknowledged as the base number as the word will fluctuate between the vibrations of 2 and 11.

An individual will fluctuate between any master number and its base digit because the vibration of the master number is too intense to live under continuously. Living under the vibration of one’s base number offers respite while preparing to work with the master number vibration again. 

Calculating Your Life Lesson Number

To calculate your Life Lesson Number, add all the digits of your birthdate together and reduce the sum. Here is an example of how someone with the birthdate of 24 October 1948 would calculate their Life Lesson Number:

10 + 24 + 1948
10 + 24 + 22 (1 + 9 + 4 + 8)
10 + 24 + 22 = 56/11

Since the reduced sum of their birthday is a master number, the sum is not reduced further. 

Now that you know how to calculate your Life Lesson Number, read on to see the description of each numeric vibration. All number descriptions come directly from Numerology and The Divine Triangle (1979) by Faith and Dusty Bunker, the reference material for this post.

Life Lesson Number Descriptions

1: You must learn to be original, strong willing, creative, and innovative. You should have the courage and drive to go ahead into new fields of expression and be a pioneer. You should always go forward, never turn back. At times you may be dictatorial and stubborn because you do not like to be restricted or directed. You are a good executive and work best alone. You are usually efficient and well organized. You are not naturally domestic but can manage well in any situation. You usually like sports and athletics and enjoy the thrill of winning. You are sophisticated, not emotionally romantic, and always appear at the head of social and commercial groups. By learning the lessons of number 1, you become intimately familiar with the universal energy; that probing, seeking, independent spark that moves all creation. You are creative on the physical plane because your pioneer spirit precedes all others and expresses your unique individuality. 

2: You are here to learn to become a good mixer. You are a good salesperson, more persuasive than forceful. You should be a support for those in leadership roles, help them to find their goals in life, and remain behind the scenes if necessary. This quality can be a help to you in business because those who benefit from your talents will in turn help you make use of your abilities. In partnerships and groups, you will encounter the lessons you came to earn in this lifetime. Success is then very possible. You must have consideration for others and should bring people together for a common cause. Various professions are open to you as you learn to be adaptable to most things that need to be done. You could select a career in finance, music, medicine, religion, or statistical analysis and research. 

3: You are best in intellectual, artistic, or creative endeavors. You need to be expressive to manifest and to see the results of your work. Beauty, fruitfulness, luxury, and pleasure are your keywords. You should have ambition and pride. You must become conscious of the law, and by being an excellent disciplinarian, you will achieve a position of authority over others. 3 combines the daring of 1 with the caution of 2. It is a number of self-expression and freedom. You must guard against becoming a jack-of-all-trades; rather, you should specialize. You could then be successful in artistic, religious, or inventive pursuits. You should avoid routine work because you dislike restriction. You should work alone for the best results. Business partnerships become too disciplined for your freedom-loving nature. You could write, lecture, teach, or find your niche in journalism. Whatever you decide to specialize in, you must use your creative and inspirational talents. 

4: You must build a solid foundation on which to base your life. This demands a well ordered system of conduct and morals. Administration or some sort of management would be the best type of employment for you. You want your home life to conform to the culture in which you live. You will provide well for those within your care, and you expect them to respond with respect and dignity. You should become a diligent worker and honestly earn your success. By being thrifty, you will have an adequate savings account as security against any possible losses. You should learn not to take a chance unless it is a sure bet. You should seek high goals. You might want to achieve concrete results quickly, and therefore should strive for patience and perseverance. Learn to face reality and base all your efforts on sound practical reasoning. 

5: Your keyword is freedom. If you have “free rein”, you can accomplish wonders, but if you feel bound or limited, you lose your enthusiasm and accomplish little. You would be a good explorer or Peace Corps volunteer, as you learn well by travel and experience. You are a diligent student if interested in the subject, but you may fail in subjects for which you see no useful ends. You should be eager for new experience, and shun monotony. In your quest for knowledge, you will become interested in discovering answers in books and magazines. An avid reader, a fluent talker, and a versatile doer, you are the witty conversationalist and brighten any group by your mere presence. You are here to learn and experience the value of freedom and should not tie yourself down too severely. Your talents once learned, prepare you for a literary career or a a position in sales and dealing with the public.

6: You are here to learn a sense of responsibility for your family and community. 6 is the love and domestic vibration and requires that you be responsive to the social needs of others. A fine sense of balance must be acquired so that you can equalize injustices. This keen sense bestows artistic abilities as well as judgmental talents which can be utilized in the legal system. You should develop compassion and understanding necessary to ease the burdens of those who will naturally be drawn to you. You are among those who serve, teach, and bring comfort to humanity. A wide choice of professions is yours including nursing, teaching, welfare work, ministry, medicine, restaurant enterprises, a legal profession, and possibly veterinary or animal husbandry. You may also choose to end a career in the arts, interior decorating, or hairdressing. 

7: You are here to use and develop your mind. Your words should be full of wisdom when you decide to talk. Your strong intuition helps in any line you choose and gives insight when needed. You may be an enigma to others, and even to yourself at times. You like to read, think, and meditate. Many times you have to relay on your soul-force to solve difficult material problems. You may delve into the occult, the mysterious, and the phenomenal side of life. Music and other arts are in harmony with your keynotes. You may be drawn to the church, science, or research and analysis. A career in mathematics or investigation could hold your interest. You should learn to open time by yourself in the woods or by the seashore where you can get in touch with your inner self and your deepest thoughts because your destiny is to use your mind.

8: This is the number of power and ambition, the number of the executive, the boss, who lives by brain and brawn. You will learn to work and will want to see everyone else working. You can push people to become successful in their own right. You should lead and show by example how to profit in business. You are here to learn to handle power, authority, and money. You can build a business empire and should work to that end. You want success for your family and for the family name as a matter of pride. You want your offspring to carry your name with honor and dignity. Sports is another field open to you, as this number vibration bestows great strength and endurance. Many famous athletes operate under an 8.

9: You should be the universal lover of humanity, patient, kind, and understanding. You are at the peak of life’s expression and must turn and show others the way. You seem to receive wisdom from above; thus you know that the true way of happiness is in service to others. You are the marrying type, strong in passion and compassion. You easily acquire money or wealth, and know how to preserve it. You are never petty, but deal in broad concepts and can attain success in the face of difficulties. You are here to show others the way, through your breadth of thinking. You can choose from many professions; education and medicine are the most usual. You may become an orator, writer, or lecture with equal ease. Communication, foreign service, statesmanship, and leadership positions are easily within your capacity.

11: The keywords here are altruism and community. You came into a unique and testing incarnation. You must practice “love thy neighbor as thyself” and use it as your foundation. Your strong intuitions are of value in gaining wisdom and inspiration. 11 is one of the most difficult vibrations because the demand for high standards is constant. You must learn patience and at the same time be able to make quick decisions. Seek for balance between the material, physical life which has to be considered, and the inspiration, spiritual life which underlies your self-understanding. You can succeed in the field of science because all new inventions and discoveries such as laser rays, research in fields of anti-gravity or kirlian photography, or any area of electronics would appeal to you. You could choose to be an astronomer or an astrologer, or a bible researcher and interpreter. You may become a teacher or writer in the field of philosophy. You are original and creative and could become and inspirational speaker. 11 is an esoteric master number of spiritual import. It bestows courage, power, and talent with strong feelings of leadership. You must not let this power go to your head, since frame and recognition are likely; instead realize that true mastership is service.

22: You must express a basic building urge, accomplish things in a big way, and work with large groups or business concerns. You would enjoy the import-export business which could demand long distance travel and meetings with persons of authority. You like to take an inspirational idea and put it to practical use. Self-knowledge is very valuable to you. 22 gives the promise of success. You know how to use your ability to adjust the physical laws of life and living to demonstrate esoteric wisdom. You could become an executive in banking or financial affairs in a national capacity, or help organize businesses for others as an efficiency expert or the like. As an ambassador to foreign countries, you would demonstrate statesmanship. You like to be occupied in some large enterprise to challenge your power to achieve. Your lesson is to learn to take charge of large organizations and corporations and to handle money efficiently and usefully for the benefit of large groups of people. 

33: You should be steady and reliable and develop a strong desire to protect others. You would like to live close to nature, and this urge may influence you to choose a life in agriculture. Your goal would be to produce food on a large scale to provide sustenance for the hungry of the world. You would never be found in any profession that could act destructively to humanity. Your talent may lie along the line of the arts: music to bring harmony, painting to bring beauty, or literature to promote education. Service in the field of medicine an healing could also attract you. Possibly, you would choose the law as a way to protect others through justice. Since the 33 consciousness is almost beyond that of humanity, a place within ministry or priesthood could lead you to the realm of your dreams as world savior. You may be required to sacrifice your own desires for the need of others in order to fulfill your Life Lesson vibration.

44: This number stands for strength and complete mental control over your life while on earth. It requires discipline in every department of life so that you may be instrumental in promoting the material advancement of the world. Your mind must be trained to let the higher forces work within it, and you must keep your body and environment in order so that you are ready for any opportunity to achieve this same results from others. Your high energy potential is meant to further evolution by helping others set their world in order. You should try to promote better ethics and justice in the world of business. You must recognize reality, then use what you learn to alleviate the physical burdens of others. You are the instrument by which this alteration takes place. By displaying bravery, resourcefulness, courage, and discipline; you serve as an example for others. Edgar Cayce is an example of the 44 vibration. 

Please remember that these are just general descriptions of the numeric vibrations pertaining to the Life Lesson Number. Not everything may resonate with you, and that is perfectly fine. Numerology is meant to be tool to guide, not a stringent set of rules to live by. 

Stay tuned for follow up posts on the Soul Number, the Outer Personality Number, and the Path of Destiny Number

((source))

7

Alright y’all. I may be living in rural ghana at the moment, but I finally have decent enough wifi to be on tumblr and upload pictures. WHICH MEANS. Look at my puppy. This is my scrappy butt. I’ve known him since he was six weeks old, and nearly black he was so dark. November sixth he will be five months old, and hopefully by then he can actually come home with me. 

Very short introduction!! This is Gyata (jata, the gy is like in “gym”). In Fanti it means “lion,” and right now the little guy may be all of six pounds or so, which means the people in my village think his name is freaking hilarious. I do too, particularly when he comes running and his ears no longer follow physics. They do weird things, those ears. He’s been my saving grace and the light of my days, ultimately he’s the reason I’ve been having less and less anxiety and more and more energy to actually work. He’s just so care free! Most of the time. He really doesn’t like men… if he sees a group of them and I don’t outright shelter him, Gyata bolts… Something to work on. But for now, LOOK AT MY AFRICAN VILLAGE BABY HE’S SUCH A NERD

I’ve been super inspired by the language moodboards I’ve seen around, and I thought I’d give it a shot with the language I learned during my two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in central Uganda - Luganda. Besides I haven’t seen too many African languages represented!

For those who aren’t familiar, from Wikipedia, The Ganda language, Luganda is one of the major languages in Uganda, spoken by five million Baganda and other people principally in Southern Uganda, including the capital Kampala. It belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger–Congo language family. Typologically, it is a highly agglutinating language with subject–verb–object word order and nominative–accusative morphosyntactic alignment. With about four million first-language-speakers in the Buganda region and a million others who are fluent, it is the most widely spoken Ugandan language. As second language it follows English and precedes Swahili. The language is used in some primary schools in Buganda as pupils begin to learn English, the primary official language of Uganda. Until the 1960s, Luganda was also the official language of instruction in primary schools in Eastern Uganda.