A Badger Abroad

Peace corps adventuretimes in malawi

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Cam Lemon

if you want to see all of the pictures that I took on my travels………let me know if you have any questions about them

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A Primer to Dealing with Crotchety Cam AKA Africa is NOT a country AKA I’m Back!!!

This Badger is back in Wisconsin! Today is actually my weekiversary being back in Sconnieland. So far, I’ve:

-been to a Badger game/slaughter (poor Bowling Green….)

-eaten 4 types of cheese

-been to the dentist and the eye doctor (still cavity-free suckas!! Pass the caramel corn! Mt. Dews for everyone!)

-drank ice cold milk

-done a load of laundry consisting of only red clothing (ps-washing machines are amazeballs! What powerful sorcerer created these magical boxes….Dumbledore?!)

-drank a Spotted Cow (or several) -drank a PBR tall boy (hipster alert!)

-been disappointed by a Packers performance

-eaten gooey cheese curds

-been asked “Don’t cha knooow?!” countless times

-spied a deer on the side of the road

-witnessed the culmination of another Brewers collapse

-walked along a rushing river

-met my parent’s dog, Luwie, for the first time, who was named after my village of Luwazi

-been to a dive bar with a jukebox

-chilled on the terrace in Madison

-been sneak-attacked by some old friends (which most def didn’t scare the crap out of me…)

-made fun of Minnesota

-lol-ed at the diabolical lies and lunacy of Scott Walker political commercials

-seen my whole family, some of which it’s been 2 years since doing so

-survived a visit to the mall

-piloted a moving car (and accidentally driven on the left side of the road for about a block)

-eaten Taco Bell up to (and past) bursting point

-felt home

It’s good to be back.

Soon I’ll write more about the traveling I did on my COS trip, as well as write a long in-depth, super-poignant, tear-jerking analysis of my 2 year service, but before I get to that let’s get one thing clear……

AFRICA IS A (RATHER LARGE) CONTINENT!!!!!!

To all my friends and family I have yet to see since returning: I wanna see your faces. I want to tell you about my life for the past 2 years. I want to answer all of your questions. I want to share stories about my awesome students. I want to make you nsima. I want to teach you proper chim-nastics (pit latrine technique). I want to hear about your life. I want to do none of that and just chill and pretend like I never left, if that’s what you want to do. But please, please PLEASE do one thing for me before this happens. Look at this picture:

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Finished? Cool. So as you can see, Africa is a big place. Look at all those countries inside of it! My home in Africa was one tiny, small sliver of a massive CONTINENT (not country….Sarah Palin….I’m looking at you). Yeah I lived in Africa (and traveled a bit of it too), but asking me what Africa was like is like asking a Honduran what it’s like to live in America (spoiler alert: there’s differences). I’d be more than happy to tell you about Malawi, and the small glimpses I got to see of Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, and Morocco, but PLEASE PLEASE do a reverse Joe Biden (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/6/biden-wants-nation-africa-prosper/) and know enough that Africa is not a single nation, and that the FIFTY FOUR sovereign states of Africa are not homogeneous. On my post-service expedition, I was able to travel from about as far South as you can get in Africa (The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa) to about as far north as you can get (I took the ferry from Tangier, Morocco, to Spain), and the differences between those two distinct cultures was vast and staggering. I only was only in each country for a limited amount of time, and both seemed like 2 different worlds, but both are in Africa. I hope I’m not coming off as aloof or militant or snobbish, it just bothers me when people don’t take the time to look at Africa for what it is. I’m overjoyed to teach you about my part of Africa and spread Malawi awesomeness around, and here’s you’re first lesson: Africa be LAAARGE. I was in a small part of it. Historically, Africa has been represented as one singular piece, and it’s not your fault for thinking that way (I did), because that’s what we’re taught to know about it. We’re exposed to Disney-fied versions with lions everywhere, or see the infomercials on TV of the kids with the distended bellies, and think that that’s all there is to it. But it’s way more complicated than that. Africa is not one culture, not one nation, not one mind, not one entity…..it’s a diverse arena of so many peoples and backgrounds, religions and mindsets, languages and cultures, histories and stories. We think of the US as “melting pot” of so many peoples, and it’s just one country…..imagine how diverse Africa, with it’s 54, must be?! So keep this in mind if I happen to get a little short with you if you ask me how Africa was. I apologize in advance. It’s not your fault. Just keep this in mind: Yeah, I’ll tell you about how “Africa” was. If you can tell me about what “the Americas” have been up to these past 2 years. Not so easy to explain, is it?

So NO:

I was nowhere near Ebola. Actually, if you were in Europe recently, you were closer to the outbreak than I was.

Africa doesn’t need you to save it. They are just as capable as anywhere else to grow and flourish, and also equally as capable to shoot themselves in the foot.

Semi-related tangent-rant: Dumping icewater on your head for the “sake” of charity is NOT a good use of clean water (a rarity in many, but not all, African countries) and if somebody in my village, saw you doing that (including me) you would get the stinkiest of stink eyes. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, no, I don’t accept your ice bucket nomination, Tall Pat.

I don’t know African. There’s no language called “African.” There’s like 3,000 languages in all of Africa, dude.

I can’t tell you what the African flag looks like. Because there isn’t one. But there are a lot of beautiful ones across the continent (shoutout to Swaziland. Yours rules).

I did not see any tigers. They live in Asia.

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The rising sun of the Malawian flag, one of 54 in Africa!

Filed under themoreyouknow africaisnotacountry peacecorps malawi education africa africasnob sorrynotsorry tigersliveinasia

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Hey people who read this, I’m on total #nomadmode and not posting a lot of schtuff, but here’s a sample of pictures of my post-Peace Corps travels so far! So the question is: #whereintheworldiscameronstandiego

Filed under cos peacecorps rpcv

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As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the Peace Corps Malawi office in Lilongwe for the (most def probs?) last time.  I’m saying goodbye, which is tough, but I’ve said a lot of goodbyes to outgoing volunteers over the last two years.  But the thing is, now I’m the one that’s actually leaving. I’m not just saying goodbye to people, I’m saying goodbye to a place.  A place with so little, that has given me so much. A place that has tested me to the limits of my abilities and character. A place that has taught me so many lessons about life. A place that has become my home.  I’m feeling a lot of emotions right now and I’m sure that someday I may even be able to put these feels into something that’s not a rambling mess, but I just wanted to post something quickly on Malawian soil before I say the last goodbye.  Thank you to my fellow PCVs. Thank you to my Malawian counterparts.  Thank you to my students.  Thank you to my family and friends back home who have supported me along the way. Thank you to the people of Malawi. Let’s not say goodbye. Let’s just say TIWONANA

TAWONGA CHOMENE

Cam Stanley, RPCV
Malawi

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the Peace Corps Malawi office in Lilongwe for the (most def probs?) last time. I’m saying goodbye, which is tough, but I’ve said a lot of goodbyes to outgoing volunteers over the last two years. But the thing is, now I’m the one that’s actually leaving. I’m not just saying goodbye to people, I’m saying goodbye to a place. A place with so little, that has given me so much. A place that has tested me to the limits of my abilities and character. A place that has taught me so many lessons about life. A place that has become my home. I’m feeling a lot of emotions right now and I’m sure that someday I may even be able to put these feels into something that’s not a rambling mess, but I just wanted to post something quickly on Malawian soil before I say the last goodbye. Thank you to my fellow PCVs. Thank you to my Malawian counterparts. Thank you to my students. Thank you to my family and friends back home who have supported me along the way. Thank you to the people of Malawi. Let’s not say goodbye. Let’s just say TIWONANA

TAWONGA CHOMENE

Cam Stanley, RPCV

Malawi

Filed under peacecorps malawi goodbye somanyfeels patmullenisadoosh

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So You Want to Make a World Map

First, you need to decide, “is making a giant world map at my school really an undertaking I want to tackle, and will my school really appreciate it?” Hopefully, the answer is YES!!! Congratulations, you’re ready to start. 

Next, you need to make sure that you have a strong team behind you.  You are not God, you can’t create a whole world by yourself in seven days. I had a strong backing from my students, my co-teachers, and even the volunteer who will be replacing me at Luwazi, who happened to be on site visit when we started working.  

Now, you should read up a little bit on how this will actually happen. The World Map Project is an endeavor that has been undertaken by volunteers in Peace Corps countries all around the world. The first was created by a volunteer in the Dominican Republic in the 80’s, and she has shared the blueprint of that process, which involves enlarging a small copy of a map onto a larger grid.  So you’ll need to print out the manual, and check out what it entails. Can your students handle this? Maybe, you think? Good enough!

You can’t paint a map without paint and junk! So gather that stuff up.  I bought red, blue, yellow, green, and white paint along with a bunch of other supplies like pencils for drawing, markers for labeling, erasers, brushes of different sizes (some countries are small!), a paint roller, cups for mixing paint, towels, a scraper (still not sure why, it seemed necessary at the time), candy to give out to helping students, and some other little things. I wrote a very small and painless grant (APCD grant) to help out with the cost. A larger contribution towards our expenses came from friends back home! To those who donated to the cause: this wouldn’t have happened without you.  Really.  Thanks. You know who are.  Once you have your supplies, get at it!

Some of the map “pieces.” The manual divides the world into 19 different gridded areas, which will be redrawn on a larger scale 

Now that you have your swag, the first thing you need is to find a location for your map. We decided to construct ours on the side of a school building that holds the staff room and head teacher’s office, a high-traffic area that students walk past every day en route to their classes. Choose a place where your map can be admired!

Is your chosen wall location a brick wall? No probs! Hire somebody to plaster a smooth surface over the section of the wall so you have a easier area to draw and paint.  Our area was 2 meters by 4 meters:  

Our blank canvas

Next, you should put down a base coat(s) of paint.  I chose to just put down a layer of white paint, but if you want you can put down a layer of ocean blue over that to make it easier for yourself later when you’re drawing ocean borders and small islands.

This. is how. we doooo it

Once the base coat dries, it’s time to draw a grid across the space.  Remember those pieces of the world? Well all of the countries on those pages are laid over a grid.  You need to draw the grid system over the larger painting surface, so that you can use the numbered boxes as a reference system for when you replicate the map.  What you see on the pages, you’ll be redrawing, larger, onto the wall.  You get it?

  Mr. Mwale helps to draw the grid

Students take over the drawing of the grid

Okay! Nice job! Now it’s time for the tricky part….drawing the shapes of the countries.  Using the numbered grid boxes, you’ll correspond the sections of the map pieces with the same area on the map, and copy.  It sounds difficult, but with a little practice anybody can do it (there’s some sample worksheets in the manual to help).  Check out Thekson here and see how it is done:

Theckson rocking the heck out of South America

James takes a break from drawing to strike a pose

Master pencil sharpeners Bertie and Sharon make sure no pencil is ever dull!

It’s starting to look like an Earth! Yay!

Now comes the messy part…paint! So like I mentioned above I only bought 4 colors of paint, but in case you didn’t know….you can mix some colors together to make new colors!

Jaryt, who will be replacing me at Luwazi at the end of August, was on site visit while we made the map.  Here Jaryt, AKA Sir-Mix-A-Lot, mixes up some new colors to differentiate between different countries. 

Now it’s time to color the countries.  The more paintbrushes you buy, the more people you can have help! It’s a good idea to buy different sizes…some of the countries are really small, whereas a thicker brush is better for the larger ocean areas.  

We be paintin, we be paintin

Luke consults the map to see which color he needs next

Geography teacher, Mr. Chinula (blue pants, painting Africa), embraces every teachable moment

Okay, so now you’ve finished painting?  All done with the map, right? Nope! How will you be able to tell the countries from each other? Now you need to label the countries…we used a black permanent marker.  This can get tricky, especially with the small pacific islands and tightly compacted eastern European countries. We only had two markers, so not a lot of people could label at once, but we had several “spotters” making sure that the writers followed the map perfectly and had correct spelling.

George attempts to tackle the Pacific islands

Home sweet home!

Wow! Looks good! You’re pretty much done! Now, decide if you want to add any designs or finishing touches.  We decided to write the name of our school, a Malawi flag, a compass, and a dedication to our donors in the corners of our map.

Watson working on the compass rose

Thanks to these special people for their generous donations to the cause. We couldn’t have done it without you!

(Lebron) James centers up to his Malawian flag

 The finished product

You did it! See, it wasn’t that hard! You can work at whatever pace you want to…it’s possible to knock it out over a long weekend if you go all-out, or you can go at a more leisurely pace.  Once we actually started physically working on the map, it took about four days.  The work ethic, talent, teamwork, and capabilities of the kids blew me away. They were absolutely fantastic.  What rock stars.  Thanks to them, my co-teachers (especially Mr. Mwale and Mr. Chinula), Jaryt, and the donors for making this all come together!  This was one of my greatest experiences at Luwazi, and a great way to end my time there. 

Be proud, Luwazi!

Filed under worldmapproject geography malawi peacecorps