December 30, 2012


Christmas was not the same without snow…
Christmas was not the same without my family…
Christmas was not the same without my favorite foods…
Christmas was not the same…

It was however, a wonderful time spent with my family on Fefan and on Weno!
Christmas morning was not overly eventful, my family opened their gifts…before I was awake (kind of made me sad, not to see their faces, but they were so thankful!)
My American family called and it was the first time they talked to my Fefan family! That was fun to have my families talking to each other!
I was able to go to Weno and Skype with my family! (I really enjoy Skyping with my family!)
I spent a few days with my Weno family too!
I was able to really concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas this year, without all the craziness of materialism! (this was my favorite part of the season!) There were days when I played my IPod with a speaker so we could all listen to Christmas music. I even decorated a “Christmas tree” with my siblings!
Even though it may not have been the same as I am use to…I really enjoyed the holidays.
The one thing that was the same…Happy Birthday Jesus!

December 23, 2012


One of my cousins left for Guam.
He also happened to live in my house and be one of my 5th grade students. His name is Arson, but he went by Sonson.
I was very sad to see him leave, because of his new found love for reading, and he was one of my swimming buddies. (if I left back to America now I would be happy knowing that I helped him create a love for books).
He has a big heart, a warm smile, and like any other boy his age…climb trees (he would climb the apple tree in front of the school and give me apples), build things out of sticks (I once watched him build a trap to catch things, he worked on it for over an hour!), and be adventurous (he was always off doing something with other kids).
I spent the first few weeks with his class going over the basics of phonics, and then I gave them word lists of short words to practice their phonics. It was so amazing to see them understand that you can sound out words and read a book. (from my observations most learning has been memorization, they never knew that letters made a sound and when you put them together it makes a word).
I was given some decodable books (they are short easy to read books for students just learning to read) from a teacher I worked with back in the States.
Sonson loved these books! Every night he would come to my room and ask to read some books! It made my heart so happy to see him want to read! Or he would ask for some paper to study! (He would first ask me in Chuukese, but I would always make him practice his English and tell him to ask me in English…)

We had a party with all the kids in the village to say goodbye. We had tons of food, and I even bought some ice cream! (the little kids loved this!) As with all Chuukese gatherings, we had speeches…I told Sonson how proud of him I am and that I would miss him very much! (all while crying…)
me and SonSon
I am going to miss him coming to my room and asking for books or paper…but hopefully I sparked a life-long love for learning! (I know I still have a long time here in Chuuk, but if he was the only one I was able to help while I was here, I would say my time here was well worth it!)

Wiooooo Sonson!

December 16, 2012


Tour…graduation and Mortlocks
One of my aunts graduated from college! It was an exciting event! I went to Weno for the day to be the photographer and show my support for such an amazing achievement. Her class was the first graduating class for CCPI (an online division of a school in Hawaii). 
I live with a family where education is important (that is rare in Chuuk). Most of the families that do value education have parents and or grandparents that finished school (even if it was just high school). The one thing I found out through conversations with them is that a majority of them had an American teacher (either Peace Corps or other volunteer teachers). Almost everyone who has a job which requires schooling will tell you that they had a Peace Corps teacher when they were younger. The school I teach at was started by my host grandpa and a few of his friends (I think in the 80s, anything that deals with time, I always get conflicting information…Chuukese have no concept of time). He also was the one to apply for the school’s very first Peace Corps! (since then I believe there have been 4 other PCV’s, so that makes me the 5th, again conflicting information).
It is comforting to know that I live with a family that values education, and supports all the work I am doing for the children of the community.

Another big event that happened this week…some of my fellow PCV’s from the Mortlocks came to Weno! (the Mortlocks are part of the state of Chuuk, but they are outer islands, meaning a ship ride of about 24 hours or a tiny (8 seats) plane ride of about an hour). They have not been to Weno since they left after swear-in in August! I was super excited to get to see them and hear all about their sites and life.
(some background information…team Chuuk has 7 PCV’s, 3 in the Lagoon (where I am) and 4 in the Mortlocks-we are one big family!)
I feel like I live in complete luxury compared to them.
They may live on tinier islands and be able to see the ocean from their front door and walk on beaches…but they do not have the ability to get away to town like I do (sometimes you just need to get away)
Here are a few of the differences…

I can hop on a boat and go to town whenever I want.    
I have cell service.
I have a variety in food choices, including vegetables!
I do not have internet (unless I go to town)                                                                                       
They are ‘stuck’ on their islands. (They are given one drum of gas for emergency purposes, but other than that they have nowhere to go…)
No cell service, they use satellite phones.
They literally eat fish and rice three times a day (they only get large ships to drop stuff off about every other week)

Two of the islands have internet! (although it would be so nice for school, I actually enjoy not having the internet)

December 9, 2012

dark dark dark!

I now feel like a real Peace Corps!
You may be asking, why?
Yes it is true I already live with limited amenities. (no electricity, cars, running water…)
But up until a few nights ago I had light every night, provided by our generator.
Well we ran out of gas or the generator was broken depending on who you ask…

First let me tell you a typical night I have been experiencing…once the sun goes down, at 6pm on the dot every night (living on the equator time and weather are super predictable!) we turn on our generator and have light until about 12 or 1 in the morning, once the gas runs out (I am the only one who turns out my light when I sleep everyone else sleeps with the lights on…). So I have ‘power’ to have lights on, charge my phone (PC policy says I have to have one so they can get a hold of me in case of emergency or I can get a hold of them…at first I did not like the idea of having one however it has been nice to also be able to chat with my family back home!), use a fan (I really like and am thankful for this!), charge my computer when I need to (I only use my computer to type up my blogs, organize my photos, or write PC reports I usually only pull out my computer once or twice a month when I am on Fefan), charge batteries, school work (grade papers) or anything else I may need to do.

So I had my first night of complete darkness! (well almost complete…I had my headlamp)
I ate dinner by kerosene lantern.
Everyone went to bed by 7.
I wrote letters and read with my headlamp.
It was a quiet evening.
I had a great night sleep because it was super dark and no hum of a generator…

I realized that I do not really need light, it only makes life easier.
Now I have experienced life as most locals live daily (not everyone is able to have a generator).
Actually this is what I was expecting when I signed up for Peace Corps, so I am blessed to have the generator, but I do not need it. (actually I prefer not having it)

That is why I now feel like a ‘real’ Peace Corps (I do not think there is actually any one experience that qualifies as a ‘real’ Peace Corps experience, it is all in what you make of the entire experience over the two years)

December 2, 2012

6 months!

Tour…6 months, is it really December?!
On December 6th I will have been away from Colorado for 6 months! Crazy! I feel like I just left yesterday…
I believe that there is one big reason why I feel like it was only yesterday that I left…there are no seasons here so it still feels like the middle of summer! Do not be mistaken, I do not miss the cold at all (I am a warm weather girl) but there is something to be said of a nice snowy mountain view… (oh Colorado mountains how I miss you!)
This has also played a big role in me not feeling like it is the holiday season. No snow, no crazy shopping frenzies, no yummy foods that my mom makes…
I do not miss the cold feeling of snow, only the way it looks.
I do not miss shopping! (actually I am super super excited to spend a Christmas away from commercialism and remember what it really means…the birth of Jesus)
I do miss the yummy food…I could go for a good raspberry filled, powder sugar covered cookie (also known as a snowflake or the best cookie ever!) and some homemade checks mix (oh checks mix how I miss your smell filling up the house) right now…
The one thing I do have (thanks to my awesome friend B!) is Christmas music! Now that it is officially December I have started to play it!
Even though it does not feel like Christmas, I am going to make the best of it. Decorate my classrooms with fun crafts I do with the students (pictures to come later), sing Christmas songs every single day, and if I am really lucky bake some cookies (my family on Weno has, wait for it…an oven! and if it is working when I come to visit them I am totally going to bake!)
I am going to share the joy and spirit of the Christmas season, and create some new traditions with my new families!

This year try spending more time focusing on the reason for the season, Jesus, and see how He moves in your heart (by the way it will be totally worth it! so go ahead and give it a try)