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Peace Corps Volunteers in Benin have been posting blogs on their experiences in
Peace Corps Volunteers in Benin have been posting blogs on their experiences in . These blogs are personal and reflect a wide range of opinions about Peace Corps and the country of Benin. The opinions are those of the blog authors and we have posted feeds on one page as central repository of these blogs.
== Volunteer Projects ==
== Volunteer Projects ==
Revision as of 21:17, 26 August 2008
|Peace Corps Welcome Book|
Sheryl Cowan 11/2006 to Present
While Benin has seen economic growth over the past few years, it remains among the world's poorest countries. Human and material resources are often insufficient for the country to provide quality teaching for schoolchildren, to care for the health of families, to preserve and restore the natural environment, and to promote business skills. Peace Corps Volunteers are addressing these needs with a broad range of activities in business development, education, environment, and health. In a recent letter to the Peace Corps, former President Kerekou of Benin declared, "Your Volunteers offer to the citizens of my country a model and another view of what they themselves can contribute to the development of the Republic of Benin. The reports I receive from the people, as well as from the Ministers of my government, bear witness to the need and the durability of Peace Corps activities in Benin's development."
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Benin
Since 1968, more than 1,500 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Benin. The initial program included projects in animal traction, small-farm grain storage, rice production, and secondary English education. From the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, the number of Volunteers in Benin remained at approximately 50. During the late 1970s, Peace Corps/Benin received fewer requests for assistance, and by 1980 only six Volunteers remained in-country. In 1981, the government of Benin (GOB) expressed renewed interest in having Volunteer assistance in implementing its new development plan, particularly in the areas of education, reforestation, and rural development. The Peace Corps responded by developing projects and recruiting Volunteers in those areas.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Benin
Peace Corps staff, in collaboration with the ministry for which you will work, will decide your post according to the needs of the country. This happens after Peace Corps staff reviews all sites for appropriateness, safety, and security and takes time to get to know each trainee during pre-service training. You may not know where you’ll be assigned until the last few weeks of your training program.
Main article: Training in Benin
The Peace Corps employs a community-based model during pre-service training. Community-based training is best described as discovery-oriented and self-directed. It is based on adult learning methods that emphasize individual responsibility for developing the competencies to function independently as a Volunteer. Training takes place in a village or town, where you will encounter the day-to-day realities of Volunteer life. You will live with a family, take care of your own needs, and work either independently or in small groups to accomplish tasks that build your skill levels. Each “learning group” will be assisted by a Beninese facilitator who will help you learn the necessary language skills to accomplish your living and work tasks. You will be assigned to a learning group based on your French language competency level and project assignment.
Training will be stressful at times as you try to learn new skills in a different and often confusing environment. Our highly experienced training staff is here to help you help yourself learn the skills necessary to become an effective Volunteer.
Your Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Benin
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer and trainee. Medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease. The medical unit in Cotonou is staffed by two full-time doctors, one receptionist, and two laboratory technologists. Limited laboratory testing and radiographic studies are also available at local facilities. If a Volunteer becomes seriously ill, the Volunteer will be transported to either a regionally approved facility or to another country as determined by the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Benin
In Benin, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteer behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context that may be very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in certain host countries.
Outside of the capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. Foreigners justly know the people of Benin for their generous hospitality; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present. We ask you to be supportive of one another.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues in Benin
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
Frequently Asked questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Benin
- How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Benin?
- What is the electric current in Benin?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Benin friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Benin?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Benin
These lists have been compiled by Volunteers serving in Benin and are based on their experiences. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You can always have things sent to you later. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Benin. Clothing can very easily be tailor-made from local fabrics. Second-hand clothing is also very popular across Benin and is available in many markets. It is not necessary to bring a large amount of clothing. Nice-quality shoes and sandals can also be made incountry. Luggage should be durable, lightweight, and easy to carry as you will be responsible for transporting it in-country. Duffel bags and backpacks without frames work well. A good backpack is priceless because you will likely travel in-country regularly. Almost all the basic items you need can be found here; however, they may not be good quality or they may be expensive. So, if you are particular about something, bring lots!
Main article: Blogs of Peace Corps in Benin
Blogs of Benin
- Best of the BBC's "Walk on the Wild Side"
- Wow...Just, WOW
"If there's one guy who can play a worse boss than Steve Carell, it's Will Ferrell -- and the movie star is set to do just that."Will Ferrell On 'The Office': Replacing Steve Carell, Guest Starring In Four Episode Arc[?]
- Does anyone read this?
Stumbled upon my blog?thinking about writing in it now since I have some free time?we?ll see.[?]
My birthday was spent relaxing on a beach in the Bahamas then going out to eat and relaxing by the pool. It was amazing. Myself, E, and a few others didn?t have to start work until 3:30 so we all got together and relaxed. It was amazing. Later that night we then celebrated up on Deck 5 until 2:30am. I worked until 1, but still, my birthday was a blast. Below is a picture that was taken of me on the beach that day. But this post is short because I?m finishing up some stuff at starbucks then heading back to the ship. Au revoir!
- Sailing away?
Life is good. I?m currently sitting in a very comfortable and padded lounge chair outside of the Cove Cafe on Deck 9. I am facing out on the Port side and watching Nassau float by. We just left port and are now sailing through the small channel into the open sea. I also just finished my Chocolate banana smoothie and am listening to some amazing music. Can?t complain. In an hour a couple of us are going to go watch Toy Story the Musical stage show. I?ve been on the ship for over 2 months now and have yet to see it. We have the #1 rated entertainment in the industry so I expect this show to be just as good as the others. I am on ?Early?s.? This means that I work from 8am to 6pm straight. Of course I?ll sneak away for lunch and such, but no big break in the middle. But now I am off and I can relax until tomorrow when we?re at Castaway Cay. I signed up to go Jet Skiing tomorrow but unfortunately they couldn?t accommodate due to scheduling conflicts. Oh well. My birthday is also coming up on May 11th and we?ll be in Nassau?it?s a good coincidence that we also have a Late-Night that day?meaning we don?t leave port until 2am. This is (I think) our 5th late night we?ve had since I?ve been on the ship. But, since it is my birthday what I think I?m going to do is rather than ask to get off early to celebrate I want to have a big break in the middle of the day. I?ve already been out a few times for late night and Bambu and Senor Frogs will always be there. So both E and I are asking for a big mid day break and then we?ll find something to do ? relax on the beach, go to a fancy restaurant, and who knows. So Happy Birthday to me!
We are now in the open waters and what a beautiful view. The sun will probably be setting in the next 30 minutes and it?s hidden behind a thin layer of clouds causing the rays to shine down onto the Atlantic. It?s very peaceful and tranquil. I am definitely excited to come back to do another contract. Yes there are long hours and hard times, but it?s moments like these where it all makes up for it. I feel lucky to be here?considering there are only ~50 americans who work on board and it?s considered the #1 cruise ship in the world. Apparently if I sign up for another contract then my next contract will be during Dry Dock?this is where we?ll be docked and a ton of repairs/housekeeping occurs for 2-3 weeks. 2-3 weeks of cleaning the ship and hanging out. The last dry dock occurred in North Carolina I guess, but rumor now is that it will ocurr on an island in the bahamas. Also with dry dock, I guess our shifts will never start before 9am and end no later than 6pm or so. And we can get off the ship at night and have fun. Apparently it is just a TON of fun. I?m excited for that experience as well.
I still miss all my good friends from OSU and Bend and I wish they would come visit, but I also know I?ll see a lot of them come June. June 21st is when I fly back to Oregon. Hang out in Oregon for a bit then E plans on coming to visit after she?s done backpacking Europe. Then maybe head to Orlando to hang out with my current roommate here on the ship?his vacation coincides with mine so we hope we can plan a trip to Disney world and live in a hotel for a week or two and just have fun. But who knows, time will tell. I really don?t see myself staying in Bend for the entire 6 weeks of my vacation. But I?m going to go ahead and logon the internet and update the blog with this post and head back down to my room to get ready for the show. Hope all is well in the states! Cheers![?]
- Here are a few pictures of some of the latest happenings. First picture is from the beginning of the night on our ?Late Night Nassau.? Following this picture we walked (forever) to Outback Steakhouse for dinner, the Green Parrot for drinks, then of course to Senor Frogs. Second picture is of well, my home. Third picture is all of us dressed up for a Martini night?note to self: next contract, pack more formal wear. Lastly, the fourth picture is us at the Hollywood Studios. Enjoy.
- It?s been a while?
- Don?t worry, I?m alive everyone. Just been extremely busy. Not just with work but also with my social life. It seems as if I?m rarely actually in my room anymore. Working obviously takes up the most time as we all work approximately 70 hours a week. Then the free time I do have is spent mostly with E. I really don?t know where to begin when explaining what I have been up to. I?ll just bullet some of the cooler things I?ve done recently?
- Spent a day with E at Atlantis, ate at a restaurant called Anthony?s and walked around enjoying a nice morning/afternoon off. Sat around on the beach for a bit and just talked and watched the people walk by.
- Went on a walk up to the Queen?s Staircase and an old fort on a hill in Nassau. Waterfall wasn?t running at the staircase but it still was a great time and enjoyed every minute of it.
- Went snorkeling at Castaway Cay and saw a stingray and burnt my back.
- Went to the Magic Kingdom early in the morning one day with a small group and, of course, had a great time.
- Went to Hollywood Studios for a Recognition trip because our department scored amazing on the cruise survey.
- Have had many late night Nassau?s because our scores have been ridiculous. The last late night was just a few days ago and went to the Outback Steakhouse and then out to a few bars, ending on Deck 5.
- Saw the premiere of the Disney movie Earth in the theater on the ship. Interesting movie, great cinematography. If you saw the Planet Earth series then it?s just like that.
- Was on the Crew Olympics Dodgeball team, which we took Silver?should?ve been Gold, but?well, oh well.
- DJ?d a night at the Crew Bar. It was a ?Back To School? Party featuring 90?s songs?however, after the 3rd song a guest in a stateroom complained about loud music from below his room, so we had to stop. But luckily we are having another night to makeup for this in a few days.
There are quite a few pictures up now on Facebook of some of this stuff. If you don?t have a facebook account then you?re just out of luck for now. But I?ll try to upload some on here sometime too. I?m feeling brain-dead tonight, so this post is probably boring and dry. I?m struggling for material. But all in all I can say I am thoroughly enjoying my time on the ship. I?ve got a ton of new friends who are in the same boat as I am (no pun intended, har har har), and we are all so supportive of each other. The 8-9 team is also amazing and we are all so different but yet, we fit together so perfectly. Then on top of that I am so glad I have met the people I have and have gotten to know E and spend so much time with her especially. Alright, well, I?m going to go grab some tea at the crew mess then head on out. I?ll write more later when I?m actually in a typing mood. Cheers.[?]
- Quick update
Currently sitting in the starbucks in Nassau right now and just finished my Iced Latte. If you buy one drink you get two free hours of internet, which isn?t that bad of a deal. Especially if you?re from the Northwest and are addicted to coffee in the first place like me. But I?m refusing to buy internet cards on the ship now because in the first 2-3 weeks on the ship I spent $60 on them and I was wasting too much time on facebook/myspace when I could?ve been out enjoying things on the ship and on the islands. So if I?m not updating things as much that is why. I?ll still be able to write emails and such, but I won?t send them until I have internet (either while I?m in Port Canaveral or in Starbucks). But things are going great here on the ship. Meeting some amazing people and definitely have very little to complain about. Miss all you Bendites I know, but I?ll be back to visit in June for a week or two. I?m 99% sure I?ll be doing another contract after this one as well. Rumors are going around about the new ships being built and they sound AMAZING! It would be so great to get on one of those in a year or two. But like I said, this is just a quick update to let ya know that I?m doing great, loving the life/job here and I?ll try to update again soon when I can. All my free time is spent now hanging out with friends and enjoying ship life rather than online or in my room. It seems I am rarely in my room anymore. Alright, off I go back to the ship for a quick bite to eat and then work until 1:30am. Cheers![?]
- Sunburnt and loving it
- Well, here I am, sitting on my top bunk, legs sunburnt and loving it. Oh yes, my pale white Oregonian skin has not seen the sun for a few months and now it?s loving it. I?ve been on board for 3 weeks now. Today was my 3 week anniversary. And quite honestly, it?s been a blast. I truly enjoy it here. I have yet to have a feeling of doubt. The people I have met here are great! The job has of course it?s ups and downs but so far has not been overwhelmingly difficult. If anything I?ve enjoyed the challenges it has presented me and I try my best to seek for more. I feel like I?ve made some great connections with the managers and HR. I really want this opportunity here to open up the door for future opportunities. Everyone who I?ve talked to about that has told me that right now is the time to step up because of the way the business is growing. There are two brand new ships scheduled to set sail in the next year or two. The rumor is that they will send 25% of the crew from each current ship to the new ships. Positive for transitioning: New LARGER ship. Negative: they would be taking over the current Wonder & Magic itinerary, thus my ports would stay the same. It?s definitely way too soon to determine anything but it definitely keeps me motivated.
Work is going great though, still learning all the responsibilities of the job and have had a few times to get off and enjoy the islands. Last night I got off early and went to the theater on the ship and watched Bolt in 3D. Then a few days ago I had a good 5 hour chunk of time off while in Nassau so I went on a walk around the town. I didn?t have any cash on me so I didn?t buy anything. But I just got paid and think I might go buy an awesome pair of fake Gucci or Prada sunglasses. If anyone wants a fake Coach or Louis Purse let me know! The market is full of them. I?m going to try to sign up for some shore excursions too (i.e. parasailing, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, etc?). They are actually free for me! Just have to book them and make sure the time of the excursion corresponds with time I have off from work. Unfortunately though, the one excursion that still costs us is swimming with the dolphins. But that would still be awesome so maybe some day I will splurge. Tomorrow I have the ever so famous 10 hour shift?with no breaks. 8 to 6. I?ll be able to eat, I just eat with the kids. So it?s really not that bad. And tomorrow is Late Night in Nassau! So a few of us are going to try to get off the boat early and go out to a nice dinner and bar somewhere in Nassau. Maybe at Atlantis? Who knows. No one plans anything in advanced here by the way. We don?t get our schedules until the night before. So I didn?t know my schedule for tomorrow until I got off work tonight. Then during the day we make tentative plans like - "Hey, Hot tub on Deck 10 tonight?? ?sure, maybe.? And then you just wait until you get off to see what happens. I don?t mind, it?s just the way things are here.
But I?m heading off now I think, it?s late and I need to sleep. But to sum things up, the people here are amazing, the locations we go to are great, the kids are a blast and ship life is quite different but also really fun. I?ll write more later?Cheers![?]
- More pictures! (from Nassau)
First picture: Carnival (I think) on the left. Disney Wonder (my ship) on the right.
Second picture: STARBUCKS!!!
Third picture: An alley in Nassau[?]
- A few pictures?
Here are a few pictures from Castaway Cay, Disney?s own private island in the Bahamas. First two are obviously me and the ship, then the last is a picture of the private beach just for crew members. It?s awesome, it has volleyball courts, bbq food, hammocks, and more! (click on pictures to make them larger). Oh, and I do plan to upload more, I have more, but they are large in size so I have to reduce them?in a day or two I will go around and take pictures of all my work areas.[?]
- I have Internet! kind of?
- Yesterday we were in port at Cape Canaveral and luckily one of my coworkers has a car here! So we went to walmart and the mall, and of course, IHOP. I was then able to pull out some cash to use on board to buy an internet card. So now I have access to the internet when I want, until the balance runs out. I bought a $20 card, which uses ten cents a minute. But I really won?t be on much ? just to check email and update the blog. When I have time I will upload some pictures. Currently we are docked at Nassau and I actually have 5 hours off or so today in the afternoon to go explore. So I?m just waiting for her to clock out and change then we?re heading ashore. Other than Castaway Cay this will be my first time on a public Bahamian island!
But things are going great! We just finished lunch with our Training Officer. We had it at one of the restaurants onboard and it was delicious! We ate at Tritons which is a semi-formal French style cuisine. I had some training earlier this morning and have to be back at work at 6 and work until 12:00am. I will write more later, but for now I?m going to take a quick nap. We were up until about 2:15am last night for a team building exercise?It was basically the two different Youth Activities groups versus each other in a ship-wide capture the flag type game?it was awesome. Cheers![?]
- In Nassau!
- Well I?m sitting here nestled into my new room. Currently we are anchored in Nassau in The Bahamas. I?ve only been outside once though, out on the private crew deck, to take a look around. We?ve been busy with training for the most part. Before we could use any electrical appliances we had to have them approved by their on board electricians?thus, why I am on my laptop now and not before. Everything I had was approved with no problems. The room has 4 outlets, two in the bathroom and two in the bedroom so I think I might buy a strip for the bedroom so I can have more stuff plugged in at once. Luckily, most of my electronics can charge via the laptop too.
But things have been great here, some current cast members I?ve talked to talk about how bad training is, but honestly, I don?t mind it at all. I think it?s because I?ve been through a lot of training before with many previous jobs? Or maybe it?s because I am only one day 2 on the ship (although we had a few days in Orlando of training/traditions as well).
I?ve got to make this short because in a few minutes my training group and I are meeting up on Deck 1 to go receive a tour of the Engine Control Room and then have training for our positions after. But a quick note- I do have access to the internet; that is, if I buy a $20 internet card, which I might?not sure. I will have internet when I?m in port at Cape Canaveral so I might just logon and do all my email and post updating then? I don?t know, it is tempting to go buy a card though. We?ll see?I just don?t want to be in front of the computer when I have an entire cruise ship to explore! Ok, gotta go, Cheers![?]
- Air Time
- It?s hard to believe that in just a couple more hours I will be landing in Orlando and ready to start my new career working for the mouse. Currently we are somewhere over the United States?not sure where. I?m flying Delta and they seem to be a little out-dated compared to other air companies I?ve flown with. They are currently showing the movie The Life of Bee?s on one of the 5 TV Monitors hanging down on the aisle. I was spoiled on my flights to/from France/Africa, as we had TV?s in front of us on every seat that were interactive when you touched them ? enabling you to change channels, movies, and play games. Oh well, thankfully I have my laptop, zune and book for entertainment. This girl I know recommended I read ?Under The Banner of Heaven.? So far it?s really good, but also pretty creepy and gross. What?s it about you may ask? The Church of LDS (i.e. Mormons), but it primarily discusses the extreme fundamentalist mormons (FLDS). These are the ones that still practice polygamy and such. It?s a sad book because quite frankly, everything in it is about how girls are mistreated and how it?s a ?guys religion.? Ironically, I just had a layover in Salt Lake City.
But yes, it is true, I am finally on my way (literally) to Florida finally. I don?t know if it?s hit me yet though?I mean, I know I am on my way, but I?ve never even seen the cruise ship before or been on any cruise. I?ve worked with Disney before, I?ve worked with kids before, and I have sailed on a yacht in Tahiti?so I suppose I blend all those together in a grande scale and voila! The flight captain just announced that we are actually ahead of schedule by 10 minutes, so we?ll be arriving in Orlando at 4:20. I figure I?ll make it to the hotel by 6, grab dinner (I?m starving), and maybe head to downtown disney.
I had a great visit in Bend for the last few months. Made a ton of great new friends that I hope can come visit and had many great ?adventures? around Central Oregon. It was so nice also to spend so much time with my Parents ? although they are complete Dorks, I can openly and honestly say that I wouldn?t them any other way. I?m not exactly sure when the next time I?ll be in Bend will be?could be in 18 weeks, or could be in a year or two. Just depends on what doors open with this new career.
I?m really not sure what to write and I feel like I?m just rambling. I really just want to kill time and do something while sitting here in my tiny little airplane seat. I?ve been lucky though on the previous flight and this flight. On the previous flight I had no one next to me and on this flight I have a little boy who?s probably 7 years old and is plugged into watching Scooby Doo on his I-pod. He makes these seats look huge, so I can take up most of the elbow room. He did almost fall asleep leaning on my shoulder however?oh well, kids are kids. I thought Lunch would be served on this flight too, but it?s only if you want to fork over like $12 for a deli sandwich on stale bread. I?ll just starve myself and get greasy food at the hotel. I feel like I?m kind of coming full circle with disney world too because my very first visit with my family years ago we stayed at the All Star Music Resort, and now I am employed by disney world and that is where they are putting me for Traditions for a few nights.
I was sitting here thinking about flying and what I would change if I could. First, when I checked in I was 2lb?s over the limit and that would?ve cost me an additional $80 on top of the already paid baggage cost of $15. So, I simply removed the 3.5lb' white tennis shoes I got for disney and moved them to my carry-on. But what if they charged by pound? If $15 is what it costs for a piece of luggage up to 50lb?s that is 30 cents a pound. That way it rewards the people for packing light?Or why not maybe make it a little higher so it encourages people to pack lighter and then remove the $80 fine for going over 50lb?s? I just think they could do something more efficient about this situation. The other thing I was thinking about was having power for laptops and such while flying. We are traveling at 400mph through the air, why not have some type of wind-powered electricity conductor on the plane that could generate power for us? I?m no engineer, but it seems possible to me. I did see a sign at the airport that some airlines are now offering internet wi-fi on some flights?I?m sure it?s extremely expensive and is paid by the minute, but a laptop?s life expectancy without external power is now only about an hour or so?Well imagine business man Bob on a trip from Oregon to Florida, air time of approximately 6-7 hours, uses internet for one hour, laptop dies and then no more income via internet for airline companies. Now install Eric?s new wind-mill for airplanes device, it keeps his laptop charged, allows him to then purchase more minutes and facebook all his friends online. It?s a win-win situation. I have a few other ideas, but they?re pretty unrealistic ? hot tubs, guitar hero, and a bed, if not a bed then maybe one of those beds that are on the wall like astronauts sleep in, but have an anesthesiologist available for those (like me) who find it impossible to sleep on planes to assist.
I just adjusted the clock on my computer so if I?m correct it is 1:40pm in Orlando?and if we are scheduled to arrive at 4:20pm that means I still have 2 hours and 40 minutes left?UGH! And my laptop has 62% of the battery remaining. I would hate to live at wherever we?re flying over right now?.miles and miles of farmland as far as the eye can see. I see a small little city, probably with a bar or two where all the locals gather to talk about their crops and complain about the crows and economy.
They are selling mini shots of alcohol and such on the plane, I could always buy 5 or 6 of those to help make time go by quicker. But I have a feeling that stumbling into the Disney World Resort for my new job as a Youth Activities counselor reeking of Booze wouldn?t be a wise decision. The terminal next to my Orlando flight was heading to Cancun, on that plane you could get away with that. I was daydreaming in my head while waiting for my flight on ways to get on the Cancun plane and just find a hut on the beach that I could live in and somehow make substantial amounts of money by doing nothing?It was a pleasant daydream.
Alright, well I think I am done rambling and will probably use the remaining 52% battery life on Mah-Jong or Solitaire. I?m not on a flight that has Internet and I wouldn?t want to spend the money on it anyways, so I?m just saving this post and uploading it when I have access ? so yes I am currently on the plane, but no I am not online and this won?t be posted until I?m off the plane. Best of luck to all my friends in Bend, I wish the best for you guys and miss you all!
UPDATE: The Captain said good and bad news?Bad news ? we are heading into a storm so expect bumpiness?Good news ? we have a new arrival time of 3:45! 35 minutes difference from original, we must be hauling![?]
- Snowed in
Well it decided to snow here again. It?s been practically snowing here non-stop since last night. 3 inches so far it looks like, so not too bad. However, now I?m snowed in because my car is not at all equipped to drive in this weather. I drive a V8 Mustang GT that is also lowered an inch and a half. I took a few pictures as well because as much as I can?t wait for the tropics I?m sure there will be a day or two where I wish it was a little bit cooler?so these pictures may help.[?]
- Eli & Stupid-head (aka Ozzy)
Anyone that knows me real well knows that I care tremendously about our two dogs Eli & Ozzy. Eli is about 11 and Ozzy is almost 2, and they are both Golden Retrievers. Right now Eli is laying on my bed with a t-shirt on because he just had surgery to remove some bumps?the t-shirt prevents him from licking his wounds rather than the giant cone. During the day when I am at home with nothing to do I typically just hang out with the dogs and take them on walks occasionally and play with them outside. They are my entertainment and I don?t know how I?ll cope on the ship without seeing them every day. I did see a photo album somewhere online, can?t remember where, that was of one of the Disney ships and there was a golden retriever on board. I?m guessing it was a therapy dog. Ozzy is in training to become a therapy dog so that makes me wonder if he gets certified then could he come on the ship when my parents come to visit? Something I?ll be sure to check on! Below is a picture of the two dogs sitting so kindly with Santa. It took about 5 minutes to snap a picture and 2 seconds for them to pull Santa off of his seat and onto the ground. One second after this picture was taken one of the helpers decided it would be a great idea to bang on a huge lid from a storage bin to try to get the dogs attention and look up. Oh boy was he in for a surprise. The dogs bolted forward with Santa hanging tightly onto their collars. A Crowd of about 10 were watching, all laughed, and Santa was on the floor. I thought the whole scene was spectacular. In the picture you can see the personalities of the dogs coming out?Eli (on the right) looks scared to death and wants nothing to do with this while Ozzy could care less and well?who knows what?s going on in his head, probably humming a song.[?]
- Toxin debate?
So I was skimming through the New York Times today and came across another article in relation to Toxins in your body - ?Flush Those Toxins! Eh, Not So Fast.? In my opinion, I think it?s bogus. Toxins exist, yes, and they do get into your body. But from what I have read elsewhere it seems as if our kidney, liver, and other components of our digestive system do a great job removing them themselves. All the ?results? that I ever hear people claim from these detoxifying diets are an increase in energy and just ?feeling? better. My explanation ? Placebo. It also seems obvious that when you drink a mixture of water, lemon juice, cayanne pepper and maple syrup and avoiding fast food, fatty foods, oils, then no shi*t are you going to lose weight. I suppose if it makes one feel better then who am I to say not to do it as long as it has no adverse negative side effects ? which I think as science studies these fad diets more we may find some. I also have to admit, I did become a sucker and try a very small detox diet. This consisted of drinking two glasses juice with Psyllium mixed in a day. All this did was make my stomach grumble and complain. Did I feel any different, no. But I did ?feel? like I was doing something healthy so therefore I noticed I wanted to trick myself into actually thinking I was healthier. Anyways, I just felt like putting in my two cents.
Read this article if you?re interested - ?Experts warn of detox diet dangers?[?]
- Eric Recommends?
- The Sounds! Looking for a new album to download to expand your i-tunes library? Well then check out The Sounds. A week or two ago a buddy of mine had some fellow travelers come to town whom he met while backpacking Southeast Asia. Two of the guys are Finnish and told me to check this group out. I did, I liked it, so I?m telling you to. Their Myspace page has easily playable songs so go there to listen! [?]
- Book Review, take two!
- So if you didn?t already read what I just posted earlier today?I was quite bored earlier and was writing a book and movie review for what I?m currently engulfing myself with when I succumb to my boredom. But, I was using Bloggers online post editor and I accidently deleted everything I wrote?this was about an hour after writing?so, I am here, comfortable on my couch listening to Pyotr Il?yich Tchaikovsky attempting to do it again.
I have massive amounts of free time now, and I fill this time by doing a variety of fun activities. Mostly reading, hanging out with friends playing with the dogs or playing Wii. I know, I?m awesome. So here you have my take on some of the books out there that you should possibly check out.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell ? To be honest, I thought this book was going to be different. It was still a great and informative read but I thought it would tap more into almost a ?self-help.? Meaning educate how to take control of this unconscious thinking of the first few seconds of thought and use it to our full potential. I suppose this could be due to the fact that it is subconscious. But Malcolm Gladwell is a brilliant author who has a wealth of information regarding human motivation and the power of though. I recently watched a video of a presentation he did on TED, it?s titled ?What We Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce.? Entertaining discussion, worth checking out. I would have to say my favorite chapter was when he discussed marketing trends and what Pepsi learned (remember the Pepsi Challenge?). It does get a little dry in the middle, but other than that a great informative read with many examples to help make his statements valid.
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris ? I encourage theists and non-theists both to read this book. However with one word of caution ? make sure you have a dictionary available. Sam Harris is a very articulate author and must have excelled in English & Grammar. This is a book where you will need to read over paragraphs multiple times to finally understand the point Mr. Harris is trying to make. But he does make some very bold claims which he then, in my opinion, efficiently backs up with sufficient evidence and logic. The book discusses whether or not Religion is necessary in our society but also goes one step further and discusses the possible threat it may have on our society if we do not change our current ways. Religion is a hot topic but I do encourage again both believers and non-believers to check it out. Though this book can be quite ?wordy? any other book by Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens would also be a great read for someone interested in Religion in society, such as Dawkin?s book The God Delusion.
The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches by Charles Darwin ? Amazing. You have to be a total science nerd to really enjoy this book. the vocabulary can get quite scientific so may be difficult to read for some. But I am astonished that at the age of 23 Charles Darwin started a 5 year exploration trip around the world to study animal & plant species as well as geology of the planet that has never been studied before. Darwin is quite articulate and can make a sea of floating bacteria seem incredibly interesting. Most people know Darwin for his Theory of Evolution from The Origin of Species. But this book is primarily focused on all his new discoveries while exploring in regards to plants, animals, geology and human life/culture. I also find it fascinating how much of a ?liberal? he was for his time. Examples of this include him being opposed to slavery and questioning the literal truth of the bible (i.e. world being 6,000 years old and such). Anyone who wants to explore the world in the early 1800?s from the viewpoint of an eager & excited young scientist should definitely read this book.
Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell ? I?ve really only just begun reading this book. I think I?m literally on page 20. However, I already know I am going to thoroughly enjoy this book. Thus far I can relate to 95% of what Mr. Cockerell is referring to due to the fact that I have worked for the Mouse in Walt Disney World and have seen his leadership strategies at work first-hand. With the new doors opening for me with the company I hope this book becomes extremely useful and I can gain a lot of insight on how to successfully manage myself as well as others. Definitely an easy read compared to the two previous books I mentioned. As I read more I?ll update.
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner ? I just bought this book yesterday. I haven?t read any reviews or have heard of this book prior to when I purchased it. All I know is that it?s about a guy who travels the world and writes about what happiness means to the different cultures he experiences. Is it good? Not sure. I?ll find out.
SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea by John Lofty Wiseman ? Ok, so I bought this for my Africa trip. I never really had to refer to it. It was more of an entertaining bedside reader. Want to learn how to make a rabbit trap? Survive on a raft in the ocean? Learn what plants are poisonous? Heal sunburns with natural ingredients? This book has it! I did do some extensive research however before purchasing it. I wanted to buy the best Survival book out there and all recommendations online & in person directed me to this book.
Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer ? I have yet to start reading this book as well. I am a fan of Michael Shermer and the research he has done. A year or two ago he also visited OSU to debate the widely known Dinesh D?souza (Dinesh partly blames 9/11 on liberals) and I was there to witness?it was an intense debate titled, if I remember correctly, ?Does Religion Matter.? But as far as I know this book will enlighten me on why people believe ?weird things? such as alien abduction, near-death experiences, psychics, recovered memories, and denial of the Holocaust and hopefully making a justifiable and/or scientific explanation of why.
Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham ? I received this book as a Christmas present from my mother who always wants to see the best in me. I read a few pages and it looks quite useful and informative. From what I read in the first few pages it seems like the author says (in my terms) ?screw your weaknesses, but focus on your strengths.? Not too sure, but I?ll find out. I think Oprah recommended this book ? my mom will do/buy anything Oprah tells her to.
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 2009 by Rick Steves ? Before I knew I was going to work for the Disney Cruise Line I had a very high potential opportunity to go live and work in France. I would?ve done that for a few months, got paid decently and then use my salary to go backpack other parts of Europe. My plan hasn?t changed too much other than the fact that instead of France I?ll be on a Cruise Ship for 18 weeks and then for my 6 week vacation go backpack somewhere exciting and new (as my salary allows). Again, this book was a Christmas present from the parents and I am extremely glad they bought this for me because each time I look at it it reminds me of my goal ? to see and learn about our world. If you aren?t familiar with Rick Steve?s you should become familiar with him. His travel guides seem to be more personable than others and touches on many subjects that I think a lot of guides miss out on ? like, how do you use some of those crazy restrooms you can find in Europe?
Well, those are the books currently on my bookshelf. It seems as if every time I visit the local Barnes & Noble I pickup one or two more so I?m sure it will easily expand in the next month. However, I?m not too sure how much time I will have to read while on the ship. I?m sure working 70 hour weeks will drain me. But I?m sure I?ll come across an afternoon off at Castaway Cay where I can go to the private crew member beach, sit back in the sand and catch up on some much needed reading. Cheers![?]
- Testing picture uploading via MLW
I took this picture a couple days ago. We had some thick fog here recently and this is what it does to the trees.[?]
- quick update?
- So I just downloaded Windows Live Writer for Vista so I have that as well instead of using Bloggers online post updater. But I?ll write my reviews soon. Still frustrated. Salut. [?]
- So...I've been sitting here typing away for nearly an hour. I've been reviewing the books I am currently reading and planning to read. When all of a sudden I double click on a word to copy it and then I accidently click the right mouse button (or something of the sorts). Basically, what this does is go back, or forward, can't remember. So I LOST IT ALL!!! I seriously had a good post going to, tons of links, tons of information, my own critique and UGH! All gone! So, instead, this post will be a question - What is a good blog posting program to use that won't mess the Frick up! I thought bloggers posting website automatically saves your blogs too...but apparently not. I know that Windows 7 comes with Windows Writer which I have linked up to my Blog...but right now I'm logged in on Vista. Anyways, I'm frustrated and I will write my reviews of my books in the next day or two, so be patient, but for now I'm frustrated. Cheers.[?]
- I got new kicks, yo?!
- So my new shoes arrived for the job. They?re insanely white and must weigh 10 pounds. My legs are going to be steal by the end of my first 18 week contract. Ooh, that might be a good idea, wonder if it?s that beneficial to wear those leg weights while I work for an hour or two? Wonder if those actually help your calf muscles grow or even maybe help with a little cardio? Not too sure, I?ll check into it. I?m writing this blog entry using Microsoft?s Windows Live Writer?it came with the new Windows 7 Beta release and I like it. Makes everything so much easier. Don?t see any reason why I shouldn?t be posting more?.
If you have yet to see the movie ?Marley & Me,? then you MUST go see it! Especially if you?re a dog owner or group up around dogs. Such a great epic film! But also note, you should definitely bring tissue. I think 99% of the people there were in tears. I also think tomorrow I am going to go see ?The Unborn? with M. It looks extremely scary, should get my heart rate up. But according to M?s sources it actually IS a really good plot (or something of the like). I?ll do my own review of it tomorrow or something.
Yesterday one of my buddies came into town who I haven?t seen in a while. D was a great friend of mine from way back in the Fraternity days. He now seems like he is doing well off in his career and I applaud him for that. It was fun to reminisce about life back in my early college days?glad I had those experiences but also glad I was able to move on. Alright, well I?m off to go find dinner. Cheers! (oh, and below you will find a map of the area I?ll be living in soon?mainly just put it on here because it?s a feature you can do on this blog editor, so just messing around).[?]
- Alas, finally finalizing the final details for my final departure...
- I received a phone call Friday from the wonderful person who has been a primary contact for the DCL for me. It was just to confirm everything and to see if I had any further questions. He also told me what ship I will be on which is exciting! I will be on the Disney Wonder...this is the ship that focuses on the smaller 3 and 4 day bahama and cast-a-way cay cruises. I really have no preference as to which ship I would be on...granted the Magic does go to the Carribean, but the Wonder does go to Cast-A-Way cay more often. I looked at the itinerary and it looks as if they schedule the 3 and 4 day cruises alternating...meaning right after a 4 day cruise would follow a 3 day, then following the 3 day would be a 4 day. I also received a little more detail regarding Traditions. For those of you who have never worked at Disney World - Traditions is an intro to the company course required for every cast member. But according to the DCL the traditions I will be going through will be different then the one I went through before because it's for the DCL. So I fly in on a Wednesday, go to my hotel then relax because the next two days will be all Traditions (with nights free to roam the parks I believe). Then on Saturday I was told is a free day to do whatever I like...most likely go to Epcot or the MK. Lastly, on Sunday I will board my ship and be shown my new home and take off on a cruise that night. Totally excited. The only bummer news I was told however, was that I couldn't necessarily arrive early...well, I could, but I would have to pay for my own travel arrangements then. But if I let Disney take care of it all then they pay for all my air fare and hotel. I'm sure it's a liability thing where if I was to arrive a week early and I turned up missing or something then they may be held accountable? I'm not too sure, but I have a hunch that I will have plenty of opportunities to go visit the parks in the coming year or two (most likely during my 6 week vacation). Which reminds me, I'm not sure if I mentioned it in a previous post but I'm on an 18 week contract with 6 week vacation time in-between...my plan for vacation - travel the world! We'll see though.
So now I relax in Bend, maybe try to go up to Mt. Bachelor and Ski or Snowboard or even Sled. We had a foot of snow here in town around christmas but it has since melted away...which is nice for me because now I can drive my car again. I think I also need to find more stuff to write about in this...like Rants & Raves. Currently it seems to be only about my adventure in applying for my disney job and such. I should start writing about topics that interest me as well (rather than just myself, ha). Maybe I'll do that my next post. But as for now I am going to go relax and eat some dinner. Cheers!
(I give credit to flickrized for the photo used on this post, I think it's awesome!)[?]
Peace Corps Volunteers in Benin have been posting blogs on their experiences in Benin. These blogs are personal and reflect a wide range of opinions about Peace Corps and the country of Benin. The opinions are those of the blog authors and we have posted feeds on one page as central repository of these blogs.
Main article: Volunteer projects of Peace Corps in Benin
Peace Corps Volunteers in Benin have initiated many projects in Peace Corps and some have started websites to promote these projects in Benin and abroad. Some RPCVs have started American nonprofits to provide continued support to the projects they initiated during their Peace Corps service.
- Volunteers who served in Benin
- Inspector General Reports
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Benin