Baggage

When I walk into my bedroom, there staring at me are three unpacked suitcases.  With stuff piled around them.  I find it somewhat unbelievable that I still haven’t fully unpacked from my trip to Mozambique which I returned from 2 months ago.  Summer school took priority I suppose.  Then there is the suitcase from my last trip to California.  It’s been less than 2 weeks so I’m giving myself a break on that one.

I can’t help but wonder a little bit as to why I’ve waited so long and if it correlates with my state of mind.  I haven’t had much time at all to process my time in Mozambique which would help explain that one.

As far as the other suitcase, there is no explanation really needed.  How long will it stay unpacked?  I feel almost afraid to empty its contents.  Will I just stare at it for months to come?

I was going to skip class today to clean up my bedroom and unpack those suitcases.  But I came to class instead.

Unexpected and amazing relapse into a (recent) former life.

My mind has been swirling with all sorts of thoughts that I can’t seem to sort out.  I haven’t had time to think much about the past month in Mozambique, I’ve been so busy and I only just left a few days ago.  Not being able to talk closely to anyone and my lack of Portuguese language skills also took a toll:  I feel pent up and anxious but unable to talk about it.  I got used to just not talking at all about my thoughts or feelings: the most complex of things to express in English, let alone in a foreign language.  And where does one start when so much has happened?

It’s great to be back, but the malaise of the mundane has shown itself again and it’s only been a few days.  After overwhelmingly constant stimulation the world seems so still, yet busy at the same time.  Everyone is running around doing life.  Though the slow pace of Mozambique was at times maddening, it was comforting.  If it didn’t get done today, there was always tomorrow; and if not tomorrow, the following day and so on.  Or at times, not at all.

fishermen in Pemba, Mozambique

When I close my eyes, I imagine the bright sun reflecting off the sea with the fisherman slowly drifting by. I spent most of my free hours Continue reading

Snorkeling Song

From last week…

Pemba, Mozambique

Pemba

What a beautiful day outside, though it has been beautiful most days. Some say Hawaii is paradise and I agree, but this is my version of paradise. I’m not necessarily living in reality right now, though in the moment, it’s a great place to be. I spent the last few hours snorkeling in the area in front of the house. I had heard you could snorkel out front, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

At first it was just sea grass. Lots of it. I was swimming deeper and deeper and still nothing. Not one fish or coral. So I decided to move south, parallel along the shore and finally found a sweet spot. The visibility was decent. In regards to sea life, it wasn’t spectacular but it was beautiful; a lot of very interesting star fish and corals. I saw several eels and a wide variety of colorful fish. Large bright red and beige starfish seemed to be everywhere with these little nubby things on them. On a few occasions I spotted huge odd looking starfish with up to 15 fingers: they were green with 1-2 inch purple spikes all over them. They frightened me a bit, they were so weird. Then there were the awesome big bright blue star fish with long fingers.

I love watching the coral growths sway in the water like hair and observing the little fish that like to hide in them. There were bright green fuzzy looking corals that almost look like moss from afar but when you go closer they have tentacles all over them in circular shapes. Brilliant! But what was most amazing to me was Continue reading

International Women’s Day

This is something I wrote for a dear friend’s blog …

International Women’s Day

March 8, 2011

“Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.”

Bangladesh – our new friends, Winnie, and me

Happy International Women’s Day!  Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day that was birthed out of poor working conditions for women in Europe in 1911 but blossomed into a yearly celebration to honor women around the globe.  Go ahead and tell a special woman in your life how great they are! (And if you are a woman, include yourself!).  There are countless reasons to celebrate women and the contribution they’ve made to our lives and society as a whole.  The theme for 2011 is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women”.

This is relevant for all nations, including the US, but what stands out in my mind is a trip to Bangladesh for work about a year ago.  I was in the countryside sitting in a circle with Bangladeshi women along with a Kenyan colleague of mine, Winnie.  The purpose of the gathering was to observe a unique women’s savings and credit group model popular in Bangladesh (similar to micro-financing).  With the help of a translator, we were able to ask questions and exchange ideas.  The village women asked for our opinion on their program and for any suggestions we may have.  When Winnie spoke, one thing that I found powerful was Continue reading

Revelations of Revolutions

Since I’ve  moved to Hawaii I’ve purposely avoided reading newspapers or even listening to the news.  I was so inundated with news of the world for so long, most of it bad news, so the break was much-needed.  But I am slowly becoming more interested in what’s going on in the world again.  I am sort of a closet news junkie, but I mostly peruse headlines to see if anything catches my eye.  I’ll lie in bed with my iPhone when I wake up and before I go to bed and read online newspapers.  What a dork.

When the protests in Egypt began, I didn’t have any strong feelings toward it and for the most part was disinterested.  The last few days, I’ve thought more about the significance of the revolution that has occurred there.  Perhaps it is possible for civil society to truly change the status quo.  To even overthrow a dictator of 30  years!  Some of my work had involved “civil society building” activities and in a sense that is what community development encourages.  It always seemed like a development buzz word without much power translating to what was actually on the ground.  Part of my disenchantment with development was seeing how Continue reading