Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Little, New Things Around

Rainy season is here, and with it, a few new things have arrived at the High household in Durame.

Two chill dudes to steep tea with...

Our compound family got two new cats, and one of them is positively teeeeny! 

Colorful and fun new clothes pins came in a care package from my mom. 

She also sent us some colorful, solar powered twinkle lights, which make power outages way more fun.


Introducing Durame Leadership Camp

Summer camp has been a meaningful part of many of our childhoods as a place to learn, grow, and have fun. There are Peace Corps volunteer-run camps throughout the country this summer (Camp GLOWs or Camp GROWs, mostly), but they entail many volunteers coming together in a larger city and bringing only a couple or even just one kid from their town.

I wanted to do something on a smaller scale, and with a smaller budget, but that’s in Durame and would be affecting many more than two of Durame’s young adults. Thus, the First Annual Durame Leadership Camp was born! Spencer and I have been planning this for a long time, but things are starting to come together in a tangible way and we are getting really excited.

the huge poster I made to get my students excited about camp
Durame Leadership Camp will focus on leadership, life skills, and community service. We’ll teach things like how to make good decisions, how to set meaningful goals, and how to create an action plan for a community service project. At the end of the two week camp, the students will execute a community service project in Durame. Not only will this camp give them valuable skills they can use throughout their lives, but it will also give them self-confidence and show the community that young people can make a meaningful contribution to the town.

application questions
We’ve collected applications and will be choosing camp participants next week. We plan on making each accepted student special, individual invitations. I think it will get them excited for camp and be a good reminder of when the camp is, since it will be over a month after school ends.

The camp starts at the end of July and I’ll be sure to update the blog about how things get on! 

schedule planning, still a work in progress! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Life is Hard

Life in the Peace Corps is not easy. There are days when nothing seems to work out well and when those days stretch on into a week and then a month, it can really wear on you.

The guy on the bus who is taking up way too much of your personal space can seem like a massive problem when you already haven’t showered for a week, all your devices are dead because the power has been out, no one came to the training they said they wanted and you meticulously planned, the rat in your ceiling is keeping you up at night, and if you have to eat another bowl of soup for dinner, you will scream. But remember, you represent the United Stated of America 24/7, so don’t lose your sh*t!
It can be physically and emotionally draining. Sometimes, we need a break. Sometimes, we just need to get away from our rural town and into the big city. Sometimes, we need a little more help and want  to go see the counselor/therapist the Peace Corps works with.

I've had a hard time over the past few weeks. It’s hard for me to write this post, because I am admitting to everyone that this is hard and I need help to make it through. However, I do need help and I don’t want people to think that it’s bad and weak to go see a therapist if they need it, especially other Peace Corps volunteers.

Every Peace Corps experience is different, but I know that we all have some things in common and one of those things is: “Peace Corps life is hard.” We all knew this signing up, and maybe even most of us wanted that hardship, but that still does not make it easier. Thinking about living in hardship and actually living in hardship are two very different things.

So I went to see the therapist and she really helped me a lot. I have some new strategies and ideas to try out at site and I’m feeling a bit better already. This is a hard journey, but I’m hoping with a lot of hard work and focusing on one day at a time I’ll make it through to the other side of Peace Corps service stronger and more capable than ever.   

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Eating in Addis Ababa: Sishu and Natani Cafe

There is one thing that every Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia looks forward to when coming to the capital, and that's eating! In Addis, we can get the best foreign food in the country, with so many options. In our towns and villages, restaurants can be very limited (read: only Ethiopian food) but in Addis we can get burgers, cheesecake, salads, pizza, bacon, tikka masala with naan, four cheese pasta, cupcakes, cold beer, and so much more. It's like heaven. Ask any Peace Corps volunteer what they miss most from home and "food" will most likely be in the top 3. I know many people who say it's the number one thing they miss after their friends and family.

The best burgers in Ethiopia are definitely found at Sishu. The food is great (although expensive, especially on our measly budget) and the place is very cool. It's an old warehouse and styled with a mid-century vibe. All that, and they have clean bathrooms with toilet paper, soap, and paper towels to dry your hands(!!). (Paper towels are a big deal.)

Another favorite is Natani Cafe, where they have amazing cheesecake (and probably other desserts but I always get the cheesecake because it's that good!). Oh yeah, one time we got lunch and it was delicious and reasonably priced (for Bole). 

There are so many other great places to eat in Addis, but usually I'm too busy talking with friends I haven't seen in months and then feverishly eating that I don't take pictures. I've decided to just share these two restaurants now, and I will add more as I have more photos.

What are your favorite restaurants in Addis?? I also love MK's, Lime Tree, Cupcake, and Ifoya (not sure on the roman character spelling of that last one).