Monday, September 19, 2011

Youth Newsletter

A few PCVs and I are attempting to start a Uganda wide youth newsletter. This is the article that I wrote for our Peace Corps newsletter announcing the project and trying to convince people to get involved:

As Peace Corps Volunteers we are in a unique position to build relationships with the people who are responsible for the future of Uganda. No, I’m not referring to our government officials, development workers, or local leaders- I’m talking about Uganda’s youth. Let’s face it, whether you’re a teacher, health worker, or business consultant we are all kid magnets! We work and interact with youth in a variety of ways and PCVs describe their life skills clubs, games and sports programs, involvement in Peace Corps camps, or just hanging out on their verandahs with the neighborhood kids as being some of the most rewarding experiences of their service. Through our varied interactions with youth we are not only able to recognize the need for guidance and positive influences in kids lives but also the benefits that can come from listening to them and creating opportunities for them to become leaders. Inspired by the amazing kids in our lives and communities here in Uganda a small group of volunteers have joined together with the GAD (Gender and Development) committee to lay the groundwork for Peace Corps Uganda’s very own National Youth Newsletter.

The Newsletter will be for youth, by youth. It is designed to be an open forum where kids can express their ideas, opinions, and experiences regarding gender and youth related issues by writing and submitting essays that will be used as articles in the publication. By engaging with these issues through the Newsletter youth have the opportunity to think critically and independently, are given the space to develop their own unique perspectives, become leaders and role models to kids in their communities and around the country, are exposed to different viewpoints, and have access to positive reading materials. We are envisioning having one publication between 2 and 4 pages in length once every two months but will respond to the needs and wants of both the youth and PCVs participants.

How will is work? The Newsletter committee will announce the theme of the upcoming issue and related essay questions to PVCs. PCVs can distribute the essay questions to youth in their areas. Volunteers will collect essays and submit their top writing samples. A panel of judges will then select the best essays to be handed back to the committee who will create the actual Newsletter from those selections. The Newsletter will be emailed to PCVs who can then distribute copies in their schools and communities.

As you can see there will be a lot of opportunities for volunteers to get involved and help guide the project. We’d like to have PCVs judge the essays and select which submissions make it in to the Newsletter. PCVs should also feel free to suggest themes for the issues, essay questions, or anything that they feel would help make the Newsletter more dynamic. As the project progresses there will also be opportunities to add new aspects such as creating life skills activities that compliment the ideas addressed in the Newsletter. The opportunities are endless and together with your help we hope to explore them all!

Our goal is that PCVs will utilize the Newsletter not only to help foster difficult conversations but also to highlight projects and youth who make you happy that you decided to live in a mud hut for two years. We know that you have a lot to be proud of and we want to help you brag. With the theme of each issue you will receive essay questions but we also encourage PCVs to make the project work for you. Feel free to interview youth who are less skilled in writing, create your own essay questions that relate back to the theme, or ask a student to write about a successful project that you recently completed together. We’re happy to be flexible if you keep us informed about your great ideas. The bottom line is that we think that we have an opportunity to do something really cool but it’s not going to work unless you and your kids’ thoughts and ideas are represented!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Late Night, Dark Sky, Journal Rambling

Right now the stars are literally twinkling.

Or at least they were before I went inside to get you.

Does our perspective on the world and life as a whole adjust to different environments and inputs the way that our eyes do?


I want to live in a world that twinkles. I think I do.

Clouds are coming.

I want the twinkle back in full throttle.

I just heard a lizard croak from inside my house.

It’s such and interesting library of memories that I’ve created.

A few minutes ago I had such a strong urge to be back in the Indian desert starring up at the Milky Way, disregarding the sand in my hair and itchy blankets as I surrendered to tribal drumming in of a distant village.

The experience undoubtedly enhanced by the pot cookies I accidentally ate.

I became completely enveloped.

Sitting here on my verandah in Ngai under that same exact Milky Way I realize that some day I’m going to long to be back here too.

I already do even as I write this.

So many places, so many feelings.

How much can one heart, one head, two feet and two eyes handle?

I think I’ll push the limits and find out.

Dark clouds are coming fast now, eating my stars.

It’s gonna rain big.

Toads hesitate in their declarations and mumble intrusively.

Bat wings are my ceiling fans and the army of crickets the background to my thoughts.

The spiky tree that’s home to the weaverbirds sits black and quiet, silhouetted by the rain clouds, disguising its chaos.

Morning will release their golden energy and nagging calls. I love it.

I wish it was still new enough to wake me but it’s now just the mundane noise of life.

Sights, smells, tastes. Strange things mixed with peanut butter.

All will be filled away in the library of my mind and memory.

I tend to lean towards chronology. I like seeing how one experience leaps to the next.

Filled away filled away to be recalled on another verandah of the future where I’ll sit and long for qualities of this distant land.