Sorry It’s Been So Long!

Sorry it’s been too long since I’ve posted my last life update. It’s not that I haven’t been writing — I’ve actually have written quite a bit but I keep ping-ponging between different posts and so nothing ever gets done.

Well, I guess that’s not quite true. I did post a “Bringing Tech to Liberia” guide for next summer’s new crop Peace Corps Volunteers. (I didn’t send it out to the mailing list because I figured 99% of my readers wouldn’t be interested).

Speaking of tech: as I figured would happen (and prepared for), all my stuff is starting to fail. First my computer, and now my phone. The computer’s no big deal — I hardly use it and it’s covered by insurance. But the phone is important. I use that to organize all my photos, write blog posts, etc. I brought a backup one, which I’m using now, but I need to get a new one sent because I figure it’s only a matter of time before this one goes out. Anyone have old Android smartphones lying around I could buy off you? Send me an email / make a comment on this post and we can talk about it!

(I’m thinking of trying to get some desiccant sent to me as well, and try storing things in air-tight ziplock bags)

(Aaa! As I’m writing this the SD card in my phone with all my photos just failed too… I hope my backups work…)

Also tech-related: I’ve been elected as the leader of the volunteer-run “Communication Committee”, which I’ve started to put work into. Inter-post communication for Peace Corps Liberia (especially sharing electronic documents) is difficult due to the fact that most of our volunteers lack internet, and sometimes even reliable cell service. As the post grows (we’re getting 55 new volunteers this summer!) many of our existing communication and content distribution systems will start to be simply unmanageable. But we’ve got a number of cool ideas that I think will go a long way in solving these issues 🙂

You might be interested in the posts I’ve been working on… Here’s a quick preview:

1) “Ant Wars” – My battles with ants my first couple months at site. We had quite the arms race. Trying to solve this problem without toxic poisons actually dominated a better of my thought/time resources those first couple months…

2) “Rodent Wars” – After I had a handle on my ant situation, the mice/rats came. I killed a record of 5 in one day with nothing but a stick. (Actually a mouse trap helped in one case, but I still had to employ the stick to finish him off). I went on to kill 9 that week, including one I found playing in the packages in the Peace Corps office:

image

On second thought, I might not make this post public… there might be too much graphic content… I guess I could post a disclaimer. What do you think?

3) Teaching updates – The past grading period I’ve invented a new teaching system that allows me to teach arithmetic, basic instruction following, and attention to detail in one elegant package. That sounds good, but real selling point is that I can write a test on the blackboard for all the students to see, but then individually give each student a different “seed” number, which makes their test unique and cheating impossible.

4) Fermenting Things – Since I’ve been here, I’ve been learning about the traditional fermentation processes used in the food that I eat here, and in the meantime have been introducing my Liberian friends to homemade pickles, sourdough bread, and ginger ale. I’ve also been doing my own fermentation experiments with the food I’ve been cooking, testing the limits of what my gut can handle. I think I accidentally made my own version of natto or cheonggukjang out of red beans once. It was pretty hard to get down. Don’t worry, I brought diapers, remember? Haven’t had to use ‘em yet.

Anyway, I hope that’s enough of a teaser for you to forgive me for not posting in so long. But now I’ve gotta run — I’m in Monrovia this weekend for a Peace Corps training. Last night I had a blast going out salsa dancing with fellow volunteers (there’s a weekly venue here that is attended by a lot of expats), and today after training we’re planning to make a pizza using my sourdough starter! (I bring my starter everywhere now, cause I gotta feed it every night! It’s like a baby! See, I can take care of things!)

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2 Responses to Sorry It’s Been So Long!

  1. Evie says:

    Oh, Kyle, I just love your blog! It makes me smile and gasp and groan…the whole gamut of vicarious emotions I share with your on-going adventure. Of course, what tends to jump out at me is your teaching experiences. Given the problem with cheating, your new test with seed numbers is brilliant. I know you’ve got a math/engineering brain, but I think your greatest gifts may lie in teaching. Or maybe it’s just in CREATING (a key component to any teaching). Your brain is just a bundle of problem-solving cells that keep firing away!
    It’s wonderful that you are being accepted as a member of the community, and in such a short period of time. I wonder if they realize what a gift God has given them in you. Love you!

  2. Noelle says:

    You are amazing. I’ve wanted to make my own sourdough starter too, but couldn’t get past the notion of having to be home with it for a week to make sure it got fed every 8 hours.

    It didn’t even occur to me to take it with me.

    High five, and lots of hugs. Missing you tons.

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