One Month but Who’s Counting

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My view from the veranda at breakfast

I’m not that great at the whole “updating the blog” thing (and to be fair, not that much has happened here as of yet), but I figured I should mark being in country for over a month with a new post.

I’ve been living for the past month here at Lake Mainstay in Guyana’s Region 2, about half an hour from the city of Anna Regina, and somewhat of a getaway vacation spot for urbanite Guyanese, with a host family that’s dope to say the least. Minerva, my host mom, is a nursery teacher and also runs the local bar/pool hall/general nighttime gathering area next door to the house. I told her my first week here that I would try anything she puts on my plate at least once. She took it very much to heart. Speaking of heart, I handled the chicken heart she gave me just fine. And the beef liver and tripe. The three solid “no”s I’ve had so far are chicken foot (which Minnie continues to tease me with whenever she eats), corilla (a vegetable which tastes like a pickle and the devil had a bitter baby), and beef face (the taste of beef with the texture of phlegmy glue).

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Minerva, Mary, and an Amerindian chief

She lives here with my host sister, Mary, and my host dad, Lennox, who, like many men around here, split their time between home and mining in the interior of the country. When he’s here, he drives a minibus (one of the major modes of transportation along the coast), and takes me to the local barber to get haircuts (I got a fade and look like a wanna-be cool youth pastor).

IMG_20180718_070539193_HDR.jpg15 seats, 2 seatbelts

Most of the time here is spent in training- the first few weeks were mostly basic things (how not to die and that sort of thing), and then we moved into more sector-specific technical training. This week is the beginning of our 2-week model school- we get the chance to hone our skills teaching science for the first time to 3rd-6th grade students (which is the majority of what we’ll initially doing at site). I got to teach the birds and the bees to a classroom of sixth graders this morning, which is something I never thought I would willingly do in this lifetime. What an experience.

IMG_20180717_112158805Mr. Zack in teacher mode

One of the greatest and weirdest experiences I’ve had so far was meeting the REO (basically the governor) here in Region 2. He showed up randomly at my host grandfather’s house late one evening. I was wearing an Auburn t-shirt (because how often do governors show up randomly at 8 pm?) and as soon as he saw me he asked “Where’d you get that jersey?” Turns out he graduated from Aubs in 1988. It was the coolest thing and also a sign that I will never escape Auburn no matter where I go.

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All in all, Guyana is a wonderful place. The people are great, the food is great, the culture is great, the weather is tolerable. How many people get to do something they love and have palm trees swaying in the yard? Not saying I’m winning at life, but definitely winning at life. Excited for 26 more months here.

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Core Expectation #3

“Serve where Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship if necessary, with the flexibility needed for effective service.” (a little ominous, right?)

What a first three weeks in country. It feels like half a lifetime ago already that we stepped out on the rainy tarmac at the airport. Part of that is how busy it’s been, between a full day of training each weekday, integrating into my training host community, learning how to fit into an entirely different culture, and my first battles with gastrointestinal issues (another post on all those things soon when I have time).

Anyway, part of the first few weeks of training is the staff learning our personality/strengths/likes/etc in order to decide where we’ll spend the next 2 years of our life after swearing-in in August. No pressure or anything. In the past, they’ve waited until several weeks into training to reveal sites, so it was a sweet relief that this past Friday the staff went ahead and let us know where we’re headed.

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(happy faces for no more waiting)

Peace Corps has asked me to serve in Guyana’s Region 2 (Pomeroon-Supenaam), the same region we’re doing our training in right now! I’ll be in a riverine (no roads within 35 miles) indigenous Amerindian community teaching at the local primary school. Electricity via solar and generator, well water, and cell service (to some yet-to-be-determined extent). I’m so stoked.

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(das me)

Last note before I sign off, I have a new Guyanese number: +592 691 6217. WhatsApp me if you want to get in touch! I’ll post more soon about everything that’s happened in the past month.

THIS is America

Currently sitting in JFK, working on an inordinate amount of airport-overpriced McDonald’s (I don’t think calories count before you move to a foreign country though?). It’s getting close to midnight here, and less than two hours until I’m wheels up to Guyana. It’s been a busy last couple of days, staging in Philly, with another long day of travel tomorrow once we touch down in country sometime in the early morning.

Anyways, being on the brink of leaving America for a couple years has me thinking a lot about America. If the news is any indication, we’re going down the tubes– and they’re nice enough to provide pre-made enemies to target your indignation at! (Although I’ve yet to figure out how Democrats, Republicans, Christians, and Atheists are all concurrently destroying the republic).

These past couple of days though, I’ve gotten to meet and know the 37 other volunteers in my cohort, and have come to realize, despite what Childish Gambino may say, that THIS is America, this group of people of diverse race, gender, and background who have come together to serve. Not that I have any idealistic views about changing the world through my service (I won’t, and that’s not even the point of the whole thing). I just believe that, in the words of Bill Clinton, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

So excited to serve. The values that have made America always great, the “courage, imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand” are alive and well.

IMG-20180610-WA0000(taken shortly before we ran back to the hotel through pouring rain)

Enough nighttime rambling from me. Next post from Guyana!

T minus 10 days

Those of you that know me well know that procrastination is one of my strongest traits. I figured it was time to put off procrastinating making this blog, so I’m making it as a way to procrastinate all the packing I haven’t done yet.

This blog will be my way of letting people know what’s going on with me in the jungle. I’ll post photos, stories, and updates as often as I can. Before I jump on a plane next week, I answered some questions below that everyone’s been asking me:

  • When are you leaving for Africa?

Not for the next couple years at least! While Ghana and Guinea sound like wonderful places that I’d love to visit, I’m headed to Guyana, on the northern coast of South America. I’ll be stepping foot in country bright and early on the morning of June 12th for two months of training before I head to my site.

  • How can I stay in touch with you in Africa South America?

I’ll have access to internet sometimes (but very sporadically and not reliably at all), so you can Email/Facebook/Whatever me but chances are I won’t see it for a hot minute. If you want to break out the old pen and paper though (and drop a buck on an international stamp), I’d appreciate all the postcards/letters you’d like to send. Here’s my address while I’m in training from now to the middle of August, I’ll be getting a new one when I move to my site and I’ll post it then:

Adam Brasher, GUY 31
U.S. Peace Corps Guyana c/o United States Embassy
100 Young & Duke Streets, Kingston
Georgetown, Guyana

  • What will you be doing in Guyana?

I’ll be serving as an environmental volunteer in an indigenous community in the interior of the country. I’ll be helping teach the national science curriculum in a local primary school four days a week, heading up a wild club for local youth, and working with the community on ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change. All this along with any other projects myself and the community come up with along the way!

  • How can I support you?

Everyone I know has been so supportive and great, but materially-wise I’m trying to cut down 22 years worth of stuff into 3 bags, and monetarily-wise, Uncle Sam’s tax dollars support me while I’m there, so I’m really all set. That being said, I’d very much appreciate all the thoughts/prayers/karma/whatever universe ju-ju you believe in that you’d like to throw my way!