April 23, 2010

ist: part 2

We just finished the PEPFAR sessions about 3 hours ago, and everybody is exhausted and happy it's over.  I'll let the comic tell the story of the past few days, since Monday kind of set the tone for the week.

Note: this is not what was literally said, but it does capture the spirit with which some of us spoke to our guest speaker Monday morning. It was a very uncomfortable 90 minutes for many of us, to say the least.

Most of us are ready to go back to site, either because we've gotten tired of sitting in the same room for 8 hours a day, or because we're excited to use some of the things we've learned about here.  I'm a little bit of both.

When IST is a little bit farther away (time-wise), I'll come back and give some deeper thoughts.  You'll have to excuse me since my brain is fried at the moment.  Must've been the 2.5 Guinesses I had last night at our informal dinner with the Country Director; those things are 7.5% alcohol here in TZ!

April 18, 2010

ist: part 1

Like I mentioned in my last post, I'm writing this to keep you up on all of the fun and excitement happening here at IST. It's actually really not that exciting, but it's been an absolute joy getting to see a bunch of my PST friends again and having the chance to catch up on what they've been up to. I'm very proud that, after nearly 4 months at site, we haven't had any ETs yet! Everyone seems to be in good spirits and, while I've heard some pretty awful stories about a few of the schools and some interesting cultural experiences, everybody appears to love their placements.

The first part of our In-Service Training consisted of an Education training session that lasted 4 days. We spent some time reflecting on our time at site, and then had lectures on various topics, from project design and management to ways to make wine and beef jerky with local materials.  Overall, the education sessions were very helpful and motivating; many of us are eager to get back to site to implement some of the things we've learned!

We just started the PEPFAR sessions two days ago.  Now that we've already completed our day on Permagardening (yesterday), I get the feeling it's all downhill from here.  Downhill in the sense that things are going to start sucking pretty hard, especially if the first day was any indication.  On the first day of PEPFAR, it was like PST deja vu; we took a pre-test and sat through three of the same slideshows we saw 6 months ago.  What made it even worse was the fact that it was the hottest day in Dodoma since we'd gotten to VETA, and some of us didn't get much sleep the night before.

We had a very good reason for not getting sleep though.  When some of us went out to dinner the night before, we met two members of Parliament (since it's currently in session in Dodoma), who took us out to a club to "celebrate" our completion of the Education IST.  Much dancing and loud (LOUD) music ensued, as well as drinking and encounters with prostitutes.  Some people (the smart ones) left around 12:30am, while the rest of us stayed out until 2:00 or 2:30.  I should've left at 12:30.  Not that I didn't have a wonderful time, because I did.  It's just that the wonderful time was out the door after 12:30.  After that, the music seemed to be rattling my brain and people were no longer the fun kind of drunk.  Plus, the dance floor was jam packed by that time, so I had no room to bust out my dance moves.  And perhaps if I had left earlier, my temporary hearing loss would be gone by now.

So while I'm a bit discouraged about the next week of PEPFAR, I feel pretty good about going back to site.  I have a renewed sense of urgency to get my house back to an inhabitable state, and perhaps even start cooking stuff again!  Or at least make some wine.  I also have plans to finally get a garden going, either in my backyard, in my second master's shamba (farm), or near the Form V dorm as a side project for them to maintain.

I'll see what I can do about getting another update in before I step foot in my village again, but when sessions don't end until 5 or 5:30 in the evening every day and it's nearly a 20-minute walk into town, it's hard to fit things in.  I'm also still working on getting the comic up, and I'm considering putting up a video about IST, though it will depend on how much video I get in the next few days.  Until next time!

April 8, 2010

short hiatus

My apologies for not posting an update last week when I had ample opportunity; I was in Dar for a few days with 24-hour wi-fi access.  I did find time to upload the video I mentioned a few entries back, however.  So check that out below (First Three Months).  The comic will be forthcoming; unfortunately, the program I use to draw my comics broke when I ran a software update in Dar, so that set me a back a bit.  Hopefully I'll have it up next week sometime (while I'm at IST, no less).

I will try to write up a few entries during my time at IST, perhaps a commentary on the events of the next two weeks.  In the meantime, enjoy the video, leave some comments on it, and eat a block of cheese in my honor!