Friday, July 31, 2009

Of course, back logged posts

More posts are coming...I have promised myself. I intend to track my experiences on this blog for my own records in addition to an effective means of sharing with the important people in my life!

Currently I have been dealing with a minor health issue...I read this succinct definition of the condition in the book Where there is no doctor [but of course, I do have doctors].

giardia....A tiny, microscopic parasite that can infect the intestines causing frothy yellow diarrhea.


Thursday, July 16, 2009


Be sure to keep an eye out for new links on the right side panel of the blog...scroll down...

I will post relevant links throughout my service in Nicaragua. There is also a link to my PHOTOS! I just added a great resource for development projects and info as well.

Miss you all!

Site assignment & sustainable development lesson of the day

Yesterday we attempted to fight white fly in our school yard garden using a natural pesticide.  White flies were beginning to cause an issue on the underside of our watermelon leaves, so one of my fellow trainees made a fermented Neem leaf tea as a pest deterrant.  It may be the neem, or perhaps dirty water, but after waiting a week to apply this foliar spray, the solution stunk to high heaven.  We were afraid we might be doing more damage than good by applying it to our plants (flys started to swarm on this putrid smelling mixture as soon as it left the bottle). We hope to make another, fresh, batch to compare odors...We literally couldn´t handle the smell and it quickly penetrated the bandana I tied over my nose.  It was just another comical lesson in S.D.  Along the way we used a plastic soda bottle for yet another use-  By poking a very small hole in the cap of a used soda bottle, we were able to create a make shift spray bottle.  We filled the bottle with the neem tea and squeezed it on to the plants.  This fun tool could also double as a third world squirt gun in my opinion.


I received my site assignment today.  Starting in August I will be serving in a small community outside of the city of Jinotega, Nicaragua.  I am excited to get started in this mountainous village.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Training, the first 6 weeks

I am in country, training my heart out.

My experiences thus far in Nicaragua have stirred up a myriad of emotions. The cultural adaptation experience is demanding, interesting, motivating, and sometimes overwhelming. Similar to a semester of full time university studies, my fellow trainees and I are engulfed in a montรณn of readings, presentations, and practical technical sessions. Unlike university life, many of us return home at night to a bowl of delicious rice and beans (gallo pinto) and a bucket bath. The sudden influx of new customs, social observations, and constant processing of a foreign language can quickly wear a person out.

Extracting myself from my lifestyle and planting myself in a development program in Central America means observing endless new social factors and realizing how much I have previously taken for granted. Things such as clean water, waste management, and emissions testing for vehicles...there are too many new observations to even begin a list on this blog.

The Peace Corps development approach is inspiring. International development is a lengthy process with many factors that can impede projects. The Peace Corps approach is to work with people who want assistance, find out what needs they have, find out what resources they have, and work TOGETHER to develop projects. In the end, the people involved should be trained and able to continue their projects without the presence of the Peace Corps volunteer. The inidividuals and communities hopefully feel a sense of ownership that can sustain long term, positive change. This is called capacity building!
I am very excited with my job here becuase I feel that I will have an active role in sustainable development. I feel very content because my nutrition and food science knowledge compliments my assignment goals. Some of my top priorities for my volunteer service include nutrition education, diet and garden diversification, environmental health projects, bio digestors (reducing firewood consumption by fermenting animal waste to produce natural cooking gas!)...But, ultimately my projects will be based on my community´s needs and the wishes of the local people! In Nicaragua, one must not enter a project with too many expectations...flexibility and patience are key.
I am enjoying learning how to do some farming. I am getting to see endless tropical plants that produce common (and not so common) fruits consumed in the States. My training team and I are working on a school garden, a product commercialization project with local youth, and we are all focusing on reusability! Creative use of resources--such as plastic soda bottles--is always fun to think about. Other training concepts include community banks to encourage saving and access to credit, as well as community health education. Project opportunities in agriculture are abundant!