First of all I want to thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, love, and support of me leading up to my adventure abroad volunteering in Madagascar. Just wanted to start off with a warning. This is my first blog. So hopefully I'll be able to get more creative with it along the way, but please bear with me as I figure this out. Additionally, I want to keep this entertaining for everyone, especially myself. So I am going to try and do different things, such as just telling a story from the week, or sharing a picture or video and work around that. My primary goal will be to keep you involved and entertained, so if you have any feedback, even if its negative, I would much appreciate it, questions, comments, anything, please let me know. The last thing I want is for this to be a burden to have to read so I'll keep it short, sweet, and to the point. I'll also be planning on putting pictures up on facebook and may even start a flickr or something along those lines. It's gonna be an amazing ride and would love to have you join!
Additional warning, this first post most likely will not follow my grand scheme. I want to be able to catch everyone up because it seems even my parents have been bombarding me with the same questions these past few months.
For those of you who don't already know, I am going to be volunteering in Madagascar for the next year through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's (ELCA) Youth in Global Ministries (YAGM) program. You can find out more about the program here:
I'll be volunteering with a final number of, 61?, other volunteers. They will be headed all over the world. I will be experiencing Madagascar with 6 others from all over the US and I am definitely looking forward to sharing an experience like this with them. We will be directed by our country program coordinator Austin Propst and his wife Tanya, both of whom we were able to meet at our retreat in April and both seem like really great young motivated people.
At this point in the process we are just waiting for orientation to begin on Wednesday August 14. It will be a week long orientation in Chicago with all the other volunteers followed by a 3 week in country orientation for which we fly out on Wednesday August 21. Of course my parents are flipping out about about my packing situation, but I thought 2 days would be ample enough time to put together a couple suitcases. For whatever reason, they seem to think that will not be the case, as I guess parents are supposed to act.
As far as my actual placement, I will be in Mahajanga Madagascar. A port city on the northwest side of the country.
All I know is that I will be living with a large host family whose main income comes from being fishmen, so I will be eating a lot of seafood and rice as I was told. The opportunities for volunteering will include, but not necessarily be limited to teaching english, working with Project Shalom who opens it's doors to aid Muslims in need, volunteering with an FLM Hospital, and working at a school for deaf and blind children. I've looked a little up about the city. Apparently it's one of the warmest climates in Madagascar, and if you know anything about me, you know its going to be interesting adjusting to a climate that I will most probably be soaked in sweat a majority of my time there, haha.
It's been kind of nerve racking getting ready for something like this, without much literature to go by, the only real sorts of reading are devoted to the biological diversity of the country. About 90% of the species of plants and animals living there are found only in Madagascar which is awesome! So I've just learned to take this, as I do with my everyday life, one step at a time and try not to worry about anything. It'll fall into place at some point just as it's meant to, and if not? Well I'll just have to make the most of it.
Again, I apologize for the lengthy first post, and I hope to be more entertaining once the journey really begins!