Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Letter to myself

Recently I have been reading a bunch of 20-something self letters where women write letters to their 20 year old self. They are very sweet, and I imagine I will have a LOT to say to myself when I reach my 30's. For now I'm still a 20-something self... but I was inspired to write a letter to my Pre-IPSP self.

Dear Judy from late April,

Hello dear. Calm down! Seriously you are going to get everything done before leaving for St. Lucia and then some. The boxes will be packed, the furniture will be moved, and the assignments turned in -- all with the help of some wonderful friends.

Don’t set expectations about the people and the culture for a place you’ve never been to, you will either be sorely disappointed or think you are a God. So stop it, that’s not becoming of you. You will be happy eating plenty of plantains just like in Panama. You will get so much more sun in your entire life and so much rain in St. Lucia that you will then forever be confused as to which one you really like more. It’s a conundrum.

You will miss people and they will miss you, but in the end be grateful for any communication that you are lucky to receive. Even though internet connections suck sometimes, you should be grateful for that too. Oh, remember to back up all your work. Trust me on that one.

You are not responsible for the decisions anyone in your family makes or doesn't make, especially from afar.

There will be so much to do in your project in St. Lucia that at times it might be overwhelming, or it may be difficult to even know where to begin. That’s normal. Take it slow and every little bit helps. Your boss will appreciate any contribution you make. Letting go of a project can be just as hard as letting go of a person. This will happen several times over in your life (hopefully projects not people), so get used to it kid.

And please, remember to wear sunscreen.

Judy from late June

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What’s your service song?

Every public service trip abroad is made memorable by whatever song is playing in the bus, the restaurant, and in the street. You know what I’m talking about, that song that is inescapable. The song that maybe at first you hated, but have grown a soft spot for since… a song so indelible that every time you will hear it going this point forward you will be flooded with memories of this summer.

Often times that song for me is a recycled American song from the 80’s or 90’s. For example, I know KC in South Africa is listening to a lot of Celine Dion. However, in St. Lucia they’re pretty clever with using songs on the local radio to express deep opinions and beliefs. No need to repackage American music here. My service song is well in three short words: amazacrazy, awesome, and disgusting. It’s true. Listen for yourself. I present to you, “I Do” by Qpid.

What the heck are they talking about you’re thinking. “Did you really really really wring the panty? To make the man say I do?” Folklore in St. Lucia says that when a woman wants to marry a worthy gentleman all she has to do is wash her underwear and make sure that dirty water is wrung into macaroni (a favorite dish here) she cooks. After the man eats the macaroni pie he will forever fall in love with said woman and be with her until death do they part. Or at least until he eats macaroni pie washed in someone else’s underwear.

This $*%&ing song is stuck in my head ALL day, every day. Thanks, Qpid, whoever you are. I will never look at macaroni the same. I may not ever be able to eat it again either. Barf!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Logic Model

Remember in Decision Making & Analysis or wait is it Analysis of Decision Making or Analysis for Decision Making... (Julie & Monteith help!) well whatever.... anyway remember that day last fall where we went over logic models? It may have sounded like it could have been the study of an attractive model wearing glasses, a pocket protector, and other nerd gear. But nope, a logic model is actually a visual way to map out the causal relationship between components of a project and projected outcomes. Zing!

Tonight I thought it would be fun to make a logic model of my IPSP or at least parts of it. You know, like you do. Behold dear friends, my logic model! Proof I was listening and learning that day.

Click photo above to enlarge (not this sentence).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I like Creole

English is used everywhere in St. Lucia, but in the rural villages and occasionally walking down the street I hear Creole. I love how Creole sounds, and I’ve picked up a few phrases and words here and there. I can say: boy, darling, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, how are you, I’m fine, and don’t do that. I know it’s not much really, but I’ve enjoyed learning the meager phrases I know. I’m really kicking myself now for not taking a Creole language class, because it is such a fun language.

I can also say some other not so nice phrases… I mean you need to know how to cuss in every language right? If only so you can identify it when it’s being directed at you.

You might have read that Alleyne (my supervisor), Sarah, and I have a good working relationship. We are a cohesive team. Well, a few weeks ago Alleyne’s colleague, Della, was in our office and there was chit chat about this, that, and the other. Somewhere through the conversation I called Alleyne a “salop”. Pronounced: sah-lop. Doesn’t it sound nice? Well it’s not. Della’s eyes expanded 4 inches and they almost popped out of her head. “Did you teach that to her?!?” she asked. “No. Absolutely not. She learned it on her own,” Alleyne said.

Cut to lunch the previous day. Alleyne, Sarah, and I have the best work lunches. Seriously. Often they are the best part of my day because Alleyne usually regales us with various stories. On this particular day Alleyne told us about a friend’s wedding he had gone to, and that the bride’s ex-boyfriend was present at the wedding. Well this guy was a little drunk, and at some point during the reception got a hold of a mic and his speech in Creole went a little something like this, “Congratulations. I’m so happy to be rid of that %&*$”

“Wow! Can you say that phrase in Creole?” I asked Alleyne. So he did, and I zeroed in on the word “salop” which is apparently the worst expletive in St. Lucia and said it five times so I could remember it. See this student is a quick learner. Be careful what you teach me.

Alleyne still teaches me phrases, but he’s a little more selective now.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Fashionable Public Servant

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly a fashionista or a prima dona. Just ask my roommate Julie who has on occasion walked into my room and said “are you really going to wear pink ballet tights with that dress?” I like to call my wardrobe choices “inventive” or “thinking outside of the box” but perhaps she was right on that particular occasion.

I’ve been here 9 weeks, however, and I’m completely bored with every choice of clothing I have which to be honest is like 3 or 4 options. The tank top with the grey skirt, or the tank top with the wrap around skirt, or maybe the tank top with the capris. Hey it’s really hot here! But even my clothes look tired and worn out. It’s like they want to be taken out on a long walk in the forest behind the house and be put out of their misery. . .

You know what this reminds me of? If you’re thinking of that Simpsons episode where Marge buys the pink Chanel suit and sews it into various styles of dresses that would be correcto! Congratulations, you have just won a cookie. Payment to be made in full later. IF only I had brought a sewing machine. Note to self: tell Class 6 to bring a sewing machine or bee dazzler to liven up their outfits on IPSP’s.

So without further adieu here is the complete episode, an oldie but goody from 1996: Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield. (Trivia: this is the first instance a female writer and director were credited in a Simpsons episode.)

The Simpsons 714 Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield

As Lisa Simpson exclaimed, “You look so sophisticated. Just like Mary Hart!” May you all look as sophisticated as Mary Hart on your public service projects this summer. [insert laugh track here]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Sarah has left the building

Despite Alleyne's best efforts to keep her here, Sarah left St. Lucia today and is headed to Austin, Texas. I almost jumped in her duffel bag just thinking about being back in the land of breakfast tacos. Jealous. Have a safe flight, Sarah. Godspeed!

Sarah and our Supervisor Alleyne

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cuckoo for Cocoa Beans

Update: regarding yesterday’s post: Smells ® came out today and fixed my laptop. Woohoo! I asked the tech guy what kind of discount he got on Smells® computers and he said none. Can you believe that?!?

Ever since I read in the glossy touristy magazines that litter this island that a cocoa plantation exists – I wanted to go. I mean I had to go. Cocoa in some variation or another has been the entire basis of my palette’s happiness since the time I could remember. So last weekend Sarah and I took a bus to downtown, another bus to Soufriere, and a third bus to the Fond Doux Estate. It. Was. Magical.

We were given a tour by Omawale which means the first sun rises in African. Omawale is a 17 year old student who spends his summers doing odd jobs to pay tuition for schooling. He was a great tour guide of the plantation, and told us we could ask him anything we wanted to about the place. Boy did he regret that! This one ::points to myself:: had about 1,001 questions about shade growing, pests, cocoa, and the history of chocolate. I’m really glad the tour only consisted of Sarah, Omawale, and me because if there were a group of tourists they would have been rolling their eyes for sure. Sarah does a good impersonation of all the silly questions I asked.
However, we learned some fascinating stuff about cocoa beans. They’re grown all year round in St. Lucia because of the hospitable climate here. Plus they’re organically grown! Prince Charles even visited the plantation and toured it himself. (Very impressed.)

After they are harvested from their pods (see baby cocoa pod below) they are hulled and the cocoa beans sit in buckets and are left to ferment.

Once they have fermented the beans are put on these giant wooden slats to dry in the sun.

This is the best part! The dried beans are put in this giant chocolate bowl and someone on the plantation does a cocoa dance on top of them. It’s a special cocoa dance that is handed down from generation to generation. I asked Omawale to show us the cocoa dance, but he has not learned the dance yet. Some passing tourists heard me ask and then joined in and pleaded with Omawale to show us the dance. ::snickers:: Sadly, no dances were shown. IF only Chocolate Fountain would have been there... he would have dazzled us with dances for sure.

After the magic dance has taken place on the cocoa beans, the beans are placed again on a drying rack. The entire process takes about 3 months from start to finish. Some of the cocoa beans are sold to Hershey’s. Other beans stay here and are ground into what is known as cocoa tea. See Sarah enjoying her first cup of cocoa tea? You can almost taste it, it's so good!

Eat your heart out, chocolate aficionados! Or as I like to say: hellooooooo lover.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Laptop, you're fired.

A few years ago I was at Austin Java (a wonderful little coffeeshop) with two good friends of mine. We were meeting about a pet project that we were involved in – bridging the digital divide between the U.S. and Latin America. Well low and behold during our meeting a guy walks in with a desktop. I’m not kidding! An old iMac circa 2000. We laughed uproariously… 1) because it was a desktop and who bothers to unplug a desktop at home and drag it to a coffeeshop? And 2) we were all on our shiny Macbooks hence an outdated iMac was humorous. (Yes, we’re snobs.)

You see I love computers. Keep your fancy smart phones, flat screen TV’s, and GPS’s. This girl is completely content with a shiny, good working computer and reliable internet. Ok, I admit it. I have an unhealthy attachment to my computer. It doesn’t help that I formerly lived in a city, Austin, that did not rectify this problem but rather embraced this bad habit. See above.

Well friends, my laptop that I’ve been using this entire summer for my school project – for the sake of anonymity let’s just say this brand sort of rhymes with Smells ® -- has decided that it is going on strike and will not power on. It’s last words were 0110010101110100 001000000111010001110101 00100000011000100111001001110101011101000110010100111111 (if you don’t know what this means look it up) I was on the phone with the support team of Smells ® for about an hour last week to see if they could fix it. Oddly enough my phone call got routed to Latin America and the operator at Smells ® could barely understand me. It was quite comical. I don’t know how many times I had to spell my email address out… but it was at least 10 times. And folks my email address is long! Ug…

So I’ve resorted to using what I like to call my “vintage laptop” ummmm a spiral notebook. When I try to push its buttons, though, nothing happens. No weather updates, no interesting news articles, no NPR goodies, and no updates on what some random friend ate for lunch on Facebook. What the??? In a word, my vintage laptop is: useless. But to be fair it has straight blue lines in it in which to guide my pen, always is willing to work, and has an appealing pink cover. So in another word, my spiral notebook is: reliable.

There were many thoughts of acting out the therapeutic Office Space scenes out on my Smells ® computer. Oh Michael Bolton and Samir, I totally feel your pain. Anybody know where to get a bat in the Caribbean?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Thankless Recycler

Josaphat Small works on a small plot of land less than a mile away from the landfill in North St. Lucia. He sorts computers, cans, plastics, and scrap metal into piles. In a few words: Josaphat Small runs a recycling center. However, few people know of this enviro-friendly entrepreneur and his business.

With no help from the government, no advertising, and a bare bones website – few people know about this place, let alone take the long drive out here to recycle their waste. Josaphat Small recounts story after story about his plight to recycle on the small island of St. Lucia, and his previous work trying to motivate others to do the same. Unfortunately, each story ends the same. The fact is that few people recycle in St. Lucia. Even the businesses and hotels don’t recycle.

Mr. Small tells us that an upscale hotel (hint: the name of the hotel is an article of clothing you wear) wanted to be a certified green hotel, so they came a’knocking on Mr. Small’s door. Mr. Small gave them some bins and told them what and how to sort the products so that he could put them in their proper place to be shipped off. The hotel complied long enough to get the certification and then quit shortly thereafter. It was just too difficult for them to do.

This small recycling center has no sign, no traffic, and for some reason has been moved from plot to plot by the government. As soon as it starts up, the government mandates that it must be moved to another location. This humble recycling center has probably moved four times, and is set to move again in the near future.

But Josaphat Small keeps plodding on. He insists that recycling is one of the few ways to save our future. With a very small staff, they sort every weekday and sometimes if they’re lucky some of the landfill employees drop off bottles and cans that are readily found on top of the trash. Thank you, Mr. Small for all that you do!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trash Talk Tuesday

This morning we visited the landfill of St. Lucia. There are actually two landfills on the island: one in the north and one in the south. The one we visited today was located in the north. We found out that it was built in 2003 and is projected to last about twenty years (that’s not really a long time). After 2023, it will then most likely have about four feet of dirt piled on top of it, turned into a grass hill which wild animals will roam free on, and a new landfill will have to be found.

Here is a clip of the landfill from this morning. Incidentally today was trash day for my neighborhood.

I asked what happens to old landfills here, and we passed two today. One was a giant hill which I saw some sheep feeding on, and then I thought out loud, “that’s not really supposed to be a hill is it…?” Nope. The second one, well… a giant colorful tourist hotel was constructed on top of it. Little do they know…. it gives a whole new meaning to “taking the trash out”! The puns are endless.

Solid waste is a fascinating topic/issue as it is not unique to St. Lucia. Every community has dealt with how and where to dispose of their waste since the beginning of time. I was wondering if there might be an ancient civilization that had the answers, so I used my interweb box and conducted a search. Sadly, the almighty google tells me that since the beginning of time mankind has had a problem with disposing of waste, and the cycle continues on and on and on. It’s depressing. Even the Mayans couldn’t figure out a way to properly get rid of trash. When they finally couldn’t stand it, they burned their trash. I did find out some interesting facts though.

  • the first municipal dump in the western world was created in Athens Greece in 500 BC
  • During biblical times in the Valley of Gehenna, located just outside of Jerusalem, corpses of criminals and trash were burned around the clock. Gehenna has been likened to Hell
  • After England did some investigative reporting linking waste to the spread of diseases the “age of sanitation” begins in 1842

So what have I have discovered today? We’ve got a LOT of trash on our hands. Since some have considered a landfill like Hell, I wonder if the employees of landfills ever consider themselves lucky that on a daily basis they get to travel to Hell and back? And apparently we have not made any major strides during this so called “age of sanitation” aside from stopping the bubonic plague.

Then I began thinking, why do we have such a problem with solid waste? It appears that we have an inordinate amount of it and few places to stick it. Is the problem us, the role of government, or something else? How many people have actually visited a landfill? As trash seems to be something that is out of sight out of mind, I wondered what would happen if we take a giant glass cubicle and placed it in the center of town? Imagine a giant cube of trash right smack next to city hall, the capital, or wherever the decision makers are located. Each day community members would walk by this giant cube of trash and see it accumulating very quickly…there could even be a ticker like the stock market on it that tells us how many pounds of trash is in it. It also reeks, and because the structure is clear, we can see what dumb things we throw away. I think it would take 2, maybe 3, weeks for us to finally get tired of looking at the eyesore to do something.

In the words of Oscar the Grouch, “Uh uh. Sorry, Slimy, time for sleep now. So close your eyes and dream of all the wonderful trash that’s yet to come… there’ll be more trash tomorrow.”

Monday, June 14, 2010


A few years ago a documentary called Cane Toads: An Unnatural History was recommended to me. Something you should know – I love weird documentaries! The weirder the better and even if I don’t know a thing about the topic, I enjoy learning about whatever the subject is. Hence an entire documentary about a giant freak of nature – the cane toad – is not entirely a stretch for me.

See Australia was having some problems with its sugar cane crops. The cane grub was attacking it. So some smart people got together in the early 20th century and over a conference talked about what to do. Because Hawaii had a similar problem which was fixed by their native cane toad that ate the grubs – someone decided that cane toads should be brought to Australia.
But what the scientists didn’t know is that the cane toad lays about 40,000 eggs because in its natural habitat only a few survive. Without the cane toads natural predators present in Australia, the cane toads quickly took over. It became a real problem, and today almost a 100 years later, is in fact, a real problem. The cane toads have a toxic residue on their skin which make them out best even the deadliest predators in Australia. (Ironic since every critter is deadly there!)

So as I was reading the news this morning (preparing for a virtual Professionalism class no doubt) I came across an article that the cane toad has reached the Caribbean!

"To our knowledge, this is the first report of cane toads causing mortality in naturally occurring predators outside of Australia," say the authors in the journal Biological Invasions.

"Although cane toads have been present on Jamaica for more than 160 years, it is clear from our observations that Jamaican boas have not yet learnt to avoid this toxic prey species." (

The introduction of the cane toads in the Caribbean and Australia have created disastrous effects which have lasted decades. As I’m here in the Caribbean, I can’t help but be reminded how unfortunately all too often us “experts” in the field visit distant lands and think we know what’s best to help out. The truth of it is we’re learned in special academic fields that might not necessarily apply to communities and populations across a broad spectrum. Listening is really the first step toward social change, because when we invite voices that are often unheard we discover the answers are already there. Thus, I believe in a life which pursues public service, we're really just facilitators.

Just so you know, I’m listening. I promise not to bring any cane toads back to Arkansas. I'm not making any promises on the cute kittens I find here though. ; )

Friday, June 11, 2010

World What?

Hello, my name is Judy. I’m a Capricorn, and I’m here today to tell you all that I don’t know a lick about sports. If there were a support group for people who were raised in the south and should know a thing or two about sports but don’t – that’s probably what I would say. When I was in grade school we would play kickball on the field and I would routinely get yelled at for picking flowers in the outfield by a very scary gym teacher. Apparently picking flowers is not allowed while playing kickball. Who knew?

Not that I’m jumping on the World Cup bandwagon, because I don’t jump on bandwagons for a cheap increase in blog readership . . . but that’s apparently ALL that anybody and everybody is talking about these days. In fact, this morning Sarah was watching South Africa play Mexico and while I was in the kitchen very much consumed in cutting up a fresh pineapple I had just bought, she proclaimed I had to watch the “cute guys on the Mexican team”. Not that I disagree with her that Mexicans are cute (Hello Gael Garcia Bernal, Salma Hayek, and Jessica Alba! I mean right?!?) . . . but I’ve never watched a complete game from the World Cup Series.

Please stop throwing your tomatoes and glass bottles at me. Hear me out! I’m not *totally useless.

While I don’t know a thing about the rules of soccer or football or whatever the heck you call it. I do know one very interesting fact about the modern soccer ball (thanks to a math-loving friend of mine) that most people probably aren’t aware of. The soccer ball is the only ball made up of an intricate pattern of pentagons and hexagons. Did you know that there is only one way to assemble these pentagons and hexagons together to form a soccer ball? And no it’s not like a rubik's cube where you can take all the stickers off and replace them at your will. The really interesting thing about a soccer ball is that it is made up of 32 panels total so like I said that means that there is only one way to pattern the hexagons and pentagons together to create the sphere. Do you know how many pentagons and hexagons make up a soccer ball? Hint: each pentagon is surrounded by five hexagons. Answer provided at end of post. Don't cheat.

A soccer ball is like math in motion. It’s pretty neat. Even Gael thinks so too!

Hi, my name is Judy and I don’t know how to play soccer, but I do know a thing or two about the soccer ball. Answer: 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Visit from Valerie & Flat Jonathan

It’s been a fun couple of days for Team Lucia! We’ve had a visitor; two in fact. Yes dear friends, Valerie and Flat Jonathan came to St. Lucia for a visit. Actually she’s traveling through on her way to Dominica (a nearby island where she’ll start her IPSP) but still we’ve had lots of fun!

We talked about Social Change and the first year of the Clinton School. And your blog. Yes, your blog! So keep them coming, friends. It’s a little bit like reading People or Weekly World News for us, depending on how you look at it. More bat boy pictures please.

Earlier tonight we took her to Café Au Lait, a cute little coffee shop which has a beautiful patio that overlooks the harbor. We had an egregiously long dinner where we invited Flat Jonathan,
Flat Judietta and Flat Sarah out to play. Here they are gossiping about the latest Twilight flick that’s coming out at the end of this month. Flat Judietta is like way excited. Totally!

And here is a group photo of all us. We’ll be sad to see Valerie go, but she’s got an exciting summer of preparing a leadership initiative for the women of Dominica. Good luck! See you in the Rock, Valerie!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Immigrant's Tale

Every morning my boss picks Sarah and me up at the Home Depot which is only a short walk, a pedestrian bridge, and a hop, skip and jump away from our home. The Home Depot reminds me of a friend of mine, Ems in Austin who works for immigrants’ rights. Just so you know the Home Depot in Austin is where day laborers hang out and wait to find work, thus it’s not uncommon for Ems to visit and talk to the immigrants there, find out what’s going on. Immigrants’ rights are no laughing matter, and I admire her diligent work organizing Latino migrant worker vigils, fundraising, and more. However, naturally my whacky sense of humor likes to jokingly tell our boss that we’re like his little day laborers who he picks up at the Home Depot every day.

Despite fact checking and even calling the embassy before arriving to St. Lucia – Sarah and I recently found out we’re only allowed in St. Lucia for 6 weeks. As of Sunday, technically we were illegal aliens. Because we don’t want to be illegally doing public service here and we are working on a fantastic project, Alleyn, Sarah and I decided to extend our stay officially at the immigration office. No big deal. We called ahead of time and were told “someone responsible for us” would have to write a letter to the government that we were in their care. Alleyne wrote a beautifully worded letter and we merrily went on our way.

We arrived at the immigration office proud to show off our letter that Alleyne declared in writing that we were his guests and working here on a school project. How could we go wrong? Well apparently you can go wrong if you don’t also arrive with a print out of your departure flight, a receipt of payment of rent where you’re staying, and a passport photo of you. More work to do? Ok… I thought. This takes a few extra steps, but still no big deal. So we walked over to the mall and wandered into the photo shop between the shoe shop and the bridal shop situated on the second floor of the Blue Corral building. We asked for passport photos.

The two guys working there managed to tear themselves away from Facebook for a minute (kids these days!) and attend to our photo shoot. I was not exactly prepared for such a photoshoot and by this point didn’t care what I looked like, as I really needed this photo to stay in the country (ironic since I travel almost everywhere with my Canon camera and never like taking photos of myself). I sit down on a stool and smile for my photo.

“You can’t smile for your photo.”

“But… but… I can’t not smile.”

“NO teeth!”


If that weren’t enough, Sarah’s turn for her headshot came up. The guy looked at her and said, you can’t take a photo not covered up. I’m telling you though she was wearing the most modest tank top ever. It was basically a blue shirt with no sleeves. Really! The photo guy at this point looks at me and says, “Give her your shirt.” Wait a minute. What?!? I said, “I don’t have a shirt underneath this.” He pointed me to a door and said I could take my shirt off in small room.

If we’re going to stay in the country I thought… then I guess I could make this happen. So I went into the small room which apparently was a broom closet, and next to a bucket with a mop I took my button up shirt off and threw it to Sarah all the while hiding behind the door wearing underwear I wasn’t expecting to see the light of day.

Sarah didn’t quite know how to incorporate this into her ensemble. To be fair it didn’t go with her outfit and the shirt just wasn’t going to work out. At this precise moment in time Alleyne enters the photo place sees Sarah holding my shirt I had worn to work earlier that morning and me hiding behind a door.

Sarah says, “Alleyne, I need your shirt!”

I yell, “Alleyne, they made me take my shirt off!!!”

Sarah catches him up and luckily he did have an undershirt on, so we did a clothes switcheroo where I got my shirt back, Sarah got Alleyne’s shirt, and Alleyne is there in his undershirt. The photo was taken. Success!!!

And on top of that we’ll receive our extension!!! All in a day’s work guys. ::dust off hands::

So as you can see from my awful new passport photo -- worst photo ever. Now that I’ve posted it on the interwebs my hopes and dreams for running for president have come to an end. If I ever become a famous actress, leader or role-model I’ll cringe at the day this photo will pop up forever freezing this day where I was shirtless in a broom closet hoping to have my stay extended. On the other hand, this might just be the best souvenir ever. Ever!

So the moral of the story is… never joke you’re a migrant worker because you never know when that might actually become true. Also, always find a boss who will take the shirt off his back for you. That’s teamwork!

In the words of Genesis "It's no fun being an illegal alien."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Things I like about St. Lucia

1. Juice. Juices of all sorts of colors and flavors. Whether it’s tamarind, cherry, or lime I love trying the assortment of fresh juices here

2. Rituals Coffee Shop. I’m pretty sure it’s the Starbucks of the island, but when I’m out of the country any place I can get wifi, a/c and a latte is high on my list.

3. Interwebs. Speaking of wifi, I’m so glad Al Gore did invent the interwebs because that’s precisely how I keep in touch with friends and family back home via skype. Not long ago Team Lucia had a “conference call” with 2/3 of Team Shanghai, Trenia and Becca. It was great!

sunset 4. Each day as the sun flirts with the horizon and approaches nightfall we get the most glorious sunsets.
And the clouds are like canvasses of all the pink, orange, and purple reflections of the light. Stunning!

5. Public Transportation. Seriously I love the set up. So simple yet effective. You wait for a microbus to pull up, get on the bus and for the equivalent of 80 cents travel miles. All you have to do is yell “bus stop, driver” to get off. Amazing!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

When life gives you trash, build a hotel

Oh beautiful Europe, home of the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel, and everything Van Gogh! Europe is home to many of the world’s greatest pieces of art whether that be sculpture, painting, or frescoes, but Europeans have been known to do some pretty crazy art projects. Recently, they collected a bunch of trash from across all of the European beaches and made a temporary hotel from it. They placed the trash hotel near the Vatican in Rome, Italy. I’m not kidding! See photo below.

Sponsored by Corona, this project is called Save the Beach and is a public awareness campaign designed to show tourists and citizens alike that “if we don’t start taking care of our beaches we’ll soon be taken over by rubbish!”

Designed by German artist HA Schult, the hotel contains three bedrooms, two bathrooms and is made up of 12 tons of trash. Recently, model Helena Christensen stayed in the hotel.

The trash hotel is a great way to tie together public awareness, eco tourism, environmentalism, and climate change. I for one am chomping at the bit to build one here in St. Lucia. Any takers?

I know what you did yesterday

A recent survey released by PEW states that 69% of all internet users watch videos online. What’s interesting about this statistic is not that internet users are watching videos but what they’re watching. In 2007 the most watched videos were news. Now, however, the most watched videos are comedy.

Though the PEW doesn’t account for why we’re all of a sudden watching comedy videos and not news, it might be that there are more comedy videos available. Or perhaps, we all just need a little laughter in our lives.

Here’s to supporting their findings!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Meet Flat Judietta

Since someone decided to leave school early for IPSP someone didn't receive their Flat Stanley until just the other day. (Thank you Ben B. for mailing it!) For those of you who aren't familiar with the Flat Stanley Project, it's based on a children's book which encourages children to write a journal. Each year the Clinton School students make their very own Flat Stanley's and take photos of their little buddy from various locales around the globe.

As I was meeting my Flat Stanley I noticed that he comes equipped with a hockey jersey and baggy pants. I thought to myself that this would not be appropriate clothing for St. Lucia, so I changed it up a bit. . . or at least tried to. So I present to you....


As you can see from the photo above Flat Judietta (don't laugh Debbie) is equipped with a headband to tame her luxurious brown mane of hair. She also travels the world with chocolate in her hand, because what better way to save the world than with chocolate? Yes friends, Flat Judietta can solve any crisis with the help of her favorite bar of milk chocolate. She's wearing a pink, cotton tank top to ward off the heat rays on the island, and even manages to wear bangles. Probably the most notable difference between Flat Judietta and Flat Stanley is her leg wear. Flat Juidetta is sporting her favorite pair of jeggings (jeans + leggings); they are all the rage this year, folks. And of course to top it all off, she proudly wears her chaco sandals to get her moving on various public service projects.

You see Flat Judietta isn't just a fashionista, she's all about lending a helping hand in whatever part of the world she finds herself in. Don't ever tell her she's not capable of a job because she's 2 dimensional though. She'll fight you!

When Flat Judietta is not saving the world with chocolate, she enjoys hanging out in coffee shops and taking a little time to relax and read for a bit. Here is Flat Judietta reading a book she just picked up. See how happy she looks!

There will be more of Flat Judietta to come! Until then, enjoy your reading, travels, and summer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Happy Corpus Christi

When I hear the words “Corpus Christi” I think Corpus Christi, Texas, a small city on the gulf which happens to be home of the Whataburger chain. You know, the giant orange W (home of the double cheese Whatburger®?) But Corpus Christi isn’t about fast food burgers and fries here in St. Lucia. Oh no. It’s much more spiritual than that.

Corpus Christi is in fact a holiday closely tied with the Catholic Church. It celebrates the Eucharist – or the Holy Communion of the church where Jesus offered his disciples bread and wine, his body and blood. This is how Corpus Christi, Texas got its name actually, as it was named by the Spanish in honor of the Eucharist.

This in turn spurs a funny memory from childhood where when I was younger I would tell my parents that I very much enjoyed the “crackers” that were offered in church. “They’re not crackers!” my mother would angrily say to me. “Judy, don’t call it that,” my father would chime in.

“But why can’t I call it a cracker? It basically IS a cracker.” I would retort. And hence began a lifelong habit of calling the Holy Sacrament a cracker. I actually really enjoyed the taste of it which is why I was voicing this opinion to my parents in the first place, and wished there was more of it to go around.

I asked Alleyne yesterday what he did on Corpus Christi since I was not all too familiar with it. He said that it’s a day where everyone walks outside and prays. Then almost on cue, he said sarcastically that he would pray for me and my all sins. Here’s to hoping I can be forgiven for my various misnomers and other mistakes along the way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

And now, time for intermission…

Last Sunday marked the fifth week Sarah and I have been in St. Lucia working on projects to create attitude and behavior changes on climate change. It also means that in terms of our project we’re no longer ascending the mountain, but descending it, as we’re half-way done! I can hardly believe it. It feels like just yesterday we landed here and were excited about all the different breakfast juices St. Lucia has to offer (Tamarind, Orange, Cherry, Lime, Mango, Papaya just to name a few).

So, if you don’t mind indulging me by allowing me to prattle on – below are a few thoughts on the project and environment thus far.

The Country – it’s very apparent what a long lasting impact exists when a country was once under colonial rule by another country. Though St. Lucia has many conveniences of the states and is relatively close in proximity, it really has more in common with England than the U.S. Most notably is that cars drive on the left side of the road, which still confuses me to all get out. I’m trying to cross the street and looking in the wrong direction for an oncoming car. It’s amazing I haven’t been run over! The government structure, BBC news, and love for cricket, are all byproducts of England’s influence over St. Lucia. Fun fact: did you know St. Lucia was ruled 7 times by France and 7 times by England as the two European powers fought for control over the island?

The Project – my work plan has changed at least twice, in unexpected yet interesting twists, since arriving here. It’s become increasingly apparent that in my short time here I’ll not be able to even scratch the surface. More like gently touch the surface. I’m ok with this, but it’s been a good practice in learning how to figure out what I can realistically do in a given time frame and that no matter what, there’s always more work to be done on a service project and I’ll always wish I had more time. It’s a little bit like getting ready in the morning. Back in Little Rock I would wake up hours before class began while Julie my housemate (HI JULIE!) would wake up a mere 30… sometimes 10 minutes before class began. She somehow always managed to be ready before I was. I just had too many things I wanted to complete before class begins. (Dean Rutherford, please note that while it may appear to be a sign that I was unprofessional in arriving late to class, it was really an issue of being an overachiever because I wanted to get as much done as possible before the day starts. ; ) So you see it’s really a good problem.)

The Connections – what I will walk away appreciating most and remembering well after this project is complete are the connections that I’ve made. It’s been great hearing Sarah’s many ideas about involving youth, and I’ve no doubt she’s going to do some big things post-Clinton School with theatre, youth, and social change. Our time here with our supervisor Alleyne Regis has been wonderful. He’s a great boss and client in all areas. Not only does his expertise working in Entertainment Education provide us with great insight and direction, but he’s someone we genuinely enjoy spending our time with. We’re so lucky! Below is a picture of us taken not long after we arrived.

Sarah Leer, Alleyne Regis and me