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Hello all!

So not much has changed since my last post on Sunday, but I have the chance to get on the internet today and I’m not sure when I will get this chance again. Our schedule keeps changing pretty much every day so even when free time is budgeted into the schedule there are no guarantees. Apparently you can get an unlimited internet access card for $35 from one place, but our lack of free time during orientation has made me decide to hold off until I am in my placement. We stopped in front of my school the other day and it looked pretty much like a prison from the outside…..so we shall see. I met the principle of my school for a brief moment and she seemed really sweet. We didn’t have time to talk really but I’m excited to get to know her. It took a lot of effort to even say hello to our principles. Running on “Marshallese time” pretty much means that people are late and unreliable and plans are constantly changing without any notice what-so-ever.

We learned more Marshallese yesterday and it’s still super fun but not getting any easier. I’m trying to make up songs to help myself remember but it’s not going so well. On the other hand, I’m picking up sign really fast so that’s good!

As I described last time, Aras and Chris were robbed a few nights ago and we all collected money to give to them. We managed to collect $550 dollars and gave Aras his full $500 back and Chris the remaining $50. I think this made Aras feel a lot more comfortable and welcomed. It is so refreshing being around so many giving people. As soon as we heard what happened we all immediately went into action to help our fellow friend out. I feel very safe and supported by these amazing people. Many of them have lived such incredible lives already. Our token Scottish volunteer was a professor and soccer coach at a college for a number of years and traveled through Africa painting schools. Another girl lived in Uganda for a year working in a hospital and spent a semester at sea, traveling all over the world during college. Another volunteer lived in Panama teaching English and is currently applying to work in Africa in the Peace Corp after our program is over. Everyone is so impressive and while at different points in their lives, have ended up in the same place. It has made me feel much more confident and comfortable about not really having my life on a solid pathway yet. Having all age groups around me has reminded me that the journey of life is not nearly as static as we make it seem and that I have my whole life to work a 9-5 job.

Also we have been talking a lot about necessities for those volunteers living on outer islands (which is most of the bunch). I keep going back and forth on how I feel about living in the city. On one hand, the rural way of life and traditional, communal customs makes the outer island experience seem so incredibly rewarding. On the other hand…. The fact that I don’t have to stock up on 40 rolls of toilet paper to last me 6 months is pretty appealing. Also we toured the wellness center in Majuro that has a gym and garden that sells fresh, healthy food and is only a short cab ride away. I’m looking forward to getting involved in things there. After the United States evacuated 3 islands in order to do nuclear bomb testing in the 50’s they started donating food to the thousands of islanders that were suffering from the health hazards that inevitably come along with years and years of nuclear testing and waste in the water. These food packages were filled with spam and soda pop and other cheap processed foods that have become a staple in the Marshallese diet. A common breakfast for children in the Marshall Islands is Kool aid and Ramen noodles. Fresh produce is very hard to come by because of a lack of nutrients in the soil and the scorching hot temperatures. These eating habits have led over 50% of the islanders to get type 2 diabetes before age 30. The wellness center has been dedicated to helping treat some of the diabetes problem but still has a long way to go. I’m really happy that I am close to the wellness center and hopefully can get involved there in some way.

I also got to go snorkeling finally! I’m still waiting for my goggles in the mail (the postage system sucks HARD here…hopefully one day I get my stuff) but one of the volunteers let me borrow his. Snorkeling was SO fun, there are so many tropical fish everywhere you look. I was expecting pounds of trash in the water, and while they do have a problem in terms of overflowing garbage dumps the water is much more clean than I was anticipating. Apparently if you snorkel at night you can see small, safe sharks sometimes and if you get up early enough can see dolphins every morning from afar. I’m excited to spend a year swimming with these beautiful creatures. I also met our neighbor Jason (a former World teach volunteer and field director) who lives with his girlfriend and 6 guard dogs (who are actually quite sweet once they get used to you) and raises exotic clams to sell to aquariums. He gave a few of us a full tour early today and it was beautiful. I had no idea how colorful (and expensive) clams are. Some people pay some pretty big bucks for aquarium additions.

Also I just received a letter from my grandmother so it looks like small letters get here pretty fast so feel free to send me love letters <3. They definitely make me smile :)

For now that is all. I will continue to write as events and thoughts are manifested.

Ta ta for now.

Posted by gabbyfo 21:03 Archived in Marshall Islands

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