Please forgive my eight month foray into the land of unmotivatedness and for not posting any news about my many adventures whilst living under a rock.
Effective immediately, I am initiating a blogging do-over (or maybe just a recharge?) and vow to at least attempt more earnestly to update my blog with interesting pictures and stories. So, until I can come up with an interesting story, here's a slew of pictures from the past eight months that are not necessarily in any particular order and my be slightly shoddy due to the fact that my camera was stolen sometime around mid-April. And, yes, you should give me credit for taking pictures without a camera.
But first, a quick update: I have completed my two year service with the Peace Corps and have since moved out of my village. However, I applied for a third year extension in town and it was granted! So, now I'll be the same old integrated environmental resource management volunteer, ahem, that I always was but now working at the provincial office in town I'll be able to conduct workshops and trainings on the good stuff in communities all throughout our province!
|Found this juvenile reef shark caught in someone's longline.|
|Working with some of my villagers to create a miniature sea cucumber raising pen.|
- A) to stop harvesting these highly lucrative (in the Asian markets) sea creatures from the deteriorating reef and thus help the wild populations and the reef recover;
- B) to act as a sustainable income generator - after two years, the villagers will be able to harvest these sea cukes instead and will be able to raise upwards of $50,000 in the process; and
- C) to give added motivation for the locals to continue to respect their tabu area, as these pens will be situated inside and are an investment.
My counterpart and I worked together on creating an official sign that would declare the boundary of our permanent marine protected area. We didn't have any colorful paint at the time except a primer that made things look pink when applied so... (I edited out our village name)
|'Our' Village Marine Protected Area - Fishing and Anchoring are Forbidden|
|My counterpart jumping off the beacon marking the southeast corner or our tabu area. The beacon marks the channel that leads into a nearby harbor. Meanwhile, I'm speeding around in the boat threatening to ride over to Taveuni (in the distance).|
|We thought the orange cone would make it a bit more noticeable in an important sort of way to any yachts or fishing vessels that might be anchoring in the neighboring harbor.|
|The village rugby team playing in a weekend tourny up the coast.|
|Playing in a netball tourny! If you squint you can see me kind of in the middle in the back wearing black - I'm the one with white skin.|
This last semester that I had with the kids I decided to take on a new topic - world geography. Most kids in Fiji have a difficult time visualizing the other islands within their own country let alone have any perspective on where America is in relation to Europe. The word for a white person is kaivulagi, which means native of a strange land but is translated as European. It doesn't matter where you are actually from; if you're white, you're a European.
So, I decided to become part of the World Map Mural club within Peace Corps and initiate said project with my class 7 and 8 students at our primary school.
The origin of the world map project in Peace Corps:
|Once the area was prepped, I laid out a giant grid that the students then used to carry out task number 1: drawing the map.|
|Once the map was completely drawn, we began phase 2: painting! Hands down the best part of this whole thing. The kids really got into. We painted one color each day - that way we didn't risk two neighboring countries blending their colors.|
|Slowly but surely the colors began to show...it almost looks like a real map!|
|This is more or less the completed map! We still want to put the Fiji flag in the upper left hand corner and fill in the Peace Corps symbol in the upper right.|
|The last day we had a jeopardy party! Three teams - 2 boy teams and 1 girl team. I'll give you one guess which team won.|
|Working on an all play question - so it wasn't exactly like jeopardy...|
|Our project group!|
During my last month in the village we did our last tomitomi (picking up trash) day with the village kids. So, being that it was the last one everyone and their mother came out to participate. Seriously, kids were coming out of bushes and sliding down coconut trees. Eventually, we had somewhere close to 35 kids marching along our village road in a rambunctious parade. Shockingly, they still managed to pick up trash and not just run around in a wild frenzy.
|Two of the kids working together to put the right trash in the right bag.|
|Little Viwa! Always wants to carry the trash bag.|
|Group shot! I think half of the group was off running amok.|
|Here's most of them just dying to break down my porch and swarm into my house to get their toys! That was a challenge... but luckily I had some friends come to my aid - you know the kind that can actually communicate in Fijian.|
|Me and my little namesake! Kirisitina (Christine turned Fijian - just throw a vowel between every constant and one at the end)|
So before I could depart from my village, the place that I called home for two years, we had to partake in all manner of ceremony and partying to "properly send me off." The first part involved me presenting my itatau, which is typically a gift of a bundle of grog, to my chief and community. I speak about my time with them, how they've made me a member of their families, about the work we've done together, about my hopes for their future, and an apology for any of my own misdoings during my stay - that's the basic recipe for the goodbye speech. The chief will accept this and speak in turn. Then to seal the deal, of course we partake in a bit of the grog I presented.
|The grog that I presented at my going away ceremony for the village.|
|The going away ceremony performed for me by the school. I presented grog and gave a speech and they returned the speech and prepared dinner.|
|Master Vavi - he was my counterpart for our coral farming project last year.|
|The high table for my going away party in the village! Only the chief and the elders sit up here. I was included because I was the guest of honor.|
|The women and children at my party, just hanging out and waiting for the party to begin!|
|And then came grog. Closely followed by dancing! :D|
|Stay tuned - more to come!|