Have fun when you can. Think all the time.

Music, Trees, Environment, BBC, Hardwood floors, Storytelling, Adventures, International development, Learning new things, Getting new perspectives, Writing essays, Water, Road trips, Photography, Spaghetti squash, Art, Books, Getting involved, Gingerbread lattes,(Not)Sleeping, Reading, Poetry, Falling leaves, Aging, Monologues, Prickly pear tea, Making lists, Politics, New ideas, Exploring, Traveling, Dinosaurs, Killer whales, Sushi, Pop Culture, Meeting new people, Barbequing with friends, Tubing down the river, Waking up early, Discovering new things, Trees, Empathy, Believing in the Power of Love

December 21, 2011

What a wonderful life

Last year at this time I was preparing to board a bus to take me first to Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras) to meet up with my great friend and co-worker and then board another bus to take us across the country to the department of Santa Rosa where I spent Christmas with her family in a Honduran fashion, traveled to the Mayan ruins in Santa Rosa de Copan and traveled to Utila (one of the bay islands) to celebrate New Years by scuba diving and meeting travelers from across the world, and ending up with my Central American family in El Salvador to cap off the holidays hiking volcanoes and exploring deserted beaches.....I've had a rough life I know.

I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and friends over the holidays, to participating in some of the traditions that I 'missed out on' last year, and to *hopefully* getting some snow, but I am also missing the new traditions that I got to be a part of last year, my friends and family from across the world and realizing that, as corny and lame as it sounds, as long as you have love in your heart and are sharing that with people who are important to you, it doesn't matter what day it is or where you are, every day can be special and filled with the same joy and happiness that is bursting through my chest at any given moment over the last couple of weeks in anticipation for stockings, cranberry sauce, ice hockey, hot chocolate, rosy cheeks, crumpled wrapping papers, onesie pyjamas, wood stoves, church on Christmas eve, Christmas crackers, board games, homemade red wine, gingerbread houses, my ever growing family, and amazing friends both old and new.

It has been crazy to reflect on my 2010/2011 year and all of the places I've been, people I've met, and things I've accomplished. I have grown tremendously as a person, my concept and perspective of the world as I know it has changed at least a thousand time, I've been mentored by some phenomenal people who I admire and respect, and I cant see myself slowing down anytime soon.

I am ecstatic for 2012 to bring a new set of challenges, new opportunities, new growth and new adventures. I've said it once and I'll say it again, I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a group of supportive friends, family and co-workers that allow me to follow my heart (not my nose...fruit loops), constantly develop myself both personally and professionally, and keep challenging myself.

My prediction for 2012....it's going to be a great year.

Who would have thought, if you put roots down and give them a chance, they do in fact start to grow :)

Delaney C

October 24, 2011

Elated with knowing we were in the right place, at the right time.

That pretty much sums up my life as of late. The stars have alligned, leaving me pleasentrly surprised, and eagerly embracing whatever comes next. The roots that I decided to put down after returning from Bangladesh have indeed been growing and things are falling into place.

Returning to Canada proved to be a challenge (as usual), espeically with so many unknows. I re-read my entry just before returning from Thailand and as a predicted, re-entry has always hit me particularly hard. “I am nervous (once again) to return back to Canada, to a bunch of unknowns and changing relationships with so much baggage--filled with not only souvenirs but unanswerable questions, frustrations, unsharable experiences, memories, and dreams.” (June 18, 2011) I think I can count the number of people I have shared pictures with one one…finger. That’s not necessarily because people don’t want to see them, don’t want to hear stories, but maybe because I’ve grown tired (and frustrated) of trying to explain things, share stories, bring feeling to places, people and issues. Moreover, no matter how hard I try, or how articulate I am the person who has showed genuine interest in ‘sharing’ my experiences can’t, and I’m left feeling more isolated than ever, alientated by my experiences. So I don’t delve too deep when someone asks me excitedly, “Oh, how was your trip?” and have continue to ‘compartmentalize’ the me who exists in Canada, to the me who exists abroad and is interested in development internationally so ease the relationship-shock but it hasn’t necessarily been the most effective method of coping. I think I will always have an issue compartmentalizing and trying to separate but will have to explore other ways of coping.

After a few weeks working for the lawyer, anxious about finding a job, and fearful I would be forced to remain under his reign indeffinitly, I somehow landed a job at Big Brothers Big Sisters, and with that entered the non-profit sector. (Yeeey!) It is a delight to work for such a respected and well known organization that (in my mind at least) is doing such great things for the community and taking an individual and preventative approach matching kids with mentors in a variety of different programs. The job has me constantly learning, keeps me on my toes and ensures not a day goes by where I am not inspired by the people I work with, my co-workers, or humanity as a whole. I am excited for what lays ahead and very appreciative to have this opportunity so young to develop both personally and professionally in such a supportive environment.

Not to turn my back completely on the international aspect, I am one of the co-presidents of Engineers without borders (EWB) at the University of Manitoba, which is proving to be more of a challange than anticipated, although a welcome one. EWB is a fantastic organization that does some great grassroots work both through advocacy and education in Canada and by working with governments and non-government organizations in Zambia, Ghana, Malawi, and Burkina Faso. It's my hope (and personal goal) that at the end of my 'term' the EWB UofM chapter will have a good foundation and starting point to jump off from and do some great things at the UofM and in Winnipeg as a greater community. Cross your fingers for me.

I've also been exploring the possibility of taking some courses with Mediation Manitoba as a way of continuing to develop my personal/professional strengths, besides the point that I find it fascinating and really enjoy doing it. I'm excited to continue to explore the possibilities, perhaps work on some side projects, and develop some skills that I'll be able to transfer to any situation I am faced with (in a working environment or otherwise) and see where that takes me.

Now for a personal development beef of mine. When I hear people, awestruck by the sense of community lammenting their own loss in our own 'industrialized' and 'individualistic' society say, “What a sense of community, I’d hate if development changed that. They should be grateful for what they have and stay the way they are, Canada [insert any Western Industralized country] isn't that great, we have our own problems.” I want to smash my head against a wall and scream, not necessarily at the person, but rather at the absurdity of the comment.

This infuriates me. I get the feeling of loss for our own culture and society and the feeling of sadness for what we seem to have given up to get our flat screen televisions and white picket fences, but it is absurd, ridiculous and unfair to impose our ideals on others because we are 'sad' for what we feel we have lost but are at the same time unwilling to give up our comforts in order to have back. Frustrating and pretentious. Mini rant now over.

In the moment,
Delaney C.

August 8, 2011

Volcano by Damien Rice

Don't hold yourself like that
You'll hurt your knees
I kissed your mouth and back
But that's all I need
Don't build your world around volcanoes melt you down

What I am to you is not real
What I am to you you do not need
What I am to you is not what you mean to me
You give me miles and miles of mountains
And I'll ask for the sea

Don't throw yourself like that
In front of me
I kissed your mouth your back
Is that all you need?
Don't drag my love around volcanoes melt me down

What I am to you is not real
What I am to you you do not need
What I am to you is not what you mean to me
You give me miles and miles of mountains
And I'll ask for what I give to you
Is just what i'm going through
This is nothing new
No no just another phase of finding what I really need
Is what makes me bleed
And like a new disease she's still too young to treat
Volcanoes melt me down
She's still too young
I kissed your mouth
You do not need me

Simple Pleasures of Summer

Fresh picked blueberries, walking barefoot, driving with the windows down, dirty dirty pop music, reading good books cover to cover in the sun, fresh cut grass, sunrise, sunsets, homemade sangria, canoeing, morning runs, laughing so hard your cheeks hurt and sides ache, twist ice cream cones, thunderstorms, tubing down the river, hikes, road trips (no matter how long), adventures, live music, festivals, local talent, naps, hammocks, star gazing, grilled cheese, bonfires, street meat, iced coffee, picnics, staying up all night talking, swimming at night, cranberries, daydreaming, fresh air dried sheets, hot sun on bare skin, sandy beaches, rolling waves, watermelon, cucumber and tomato salad, genuine smiles shared with strangers, family, rocket popsicles, bike rides, discovering hidden treasures, Indian summers, farmers markets, people watching, ferris wheels, surface dives, Moosehead Light Lime, Bulldogs, cedar chests, best friends, having fun doing nothing at all, sun tanning, long walks, late night Catan, new adventures, climbing trees.

Simple Pleasures of Summer.

Delaney C.

August 7, 2011

Peace Corps Volunteer Challange: Honduras

My friend Eyal from the Peace Corps that I met during my time in Juticalpa, Honduras posted this a couple of weeks ago and I found it quite interesting...interesting enough that I felt it deemed a re-post. What it is is a challenge for those at home to give up specific luxuries of home in order to live more similarly to how the Peace Corps volunteers live in Honduras.

After reading it through the first time my reaction surprised me when I was left thinking, "Man, that seems hard, I'm not sure I could do it." My second thought was "Wait a minute...you did do it!" I tried to pinpoint why it was difficult to even fathom living in a way that I had lived for nearly five months and I think a large part of that is the disconnect between the way I am able to live here in Canada and the way that I was forced to live in Juticalpa ie) no running water (let alone hot water), no flush toilets (no flushing toilet paper), no microwaves, no debit/credit cards, hand washing clothing ect.

It seems much harder to imagine these tasks as part of my life in Canada when I have the choice to take a hot shower and throw my laundry in for a 20min cycle and truth be told I'm not sure that I could make some of these changes a part of my every day life in Canada but it was interesting for me to be reminded to be conscientious of the lifestyle differences and to remember that certain changes (limiting water use, recycling, composting, taking the bus instead of driving, not buying unnecessary items ect) are changes that can be adopted into daily practice and it is important to continue to do them.

One of the points that had me laughing to myself was "You cannot watch television, but may watch soap operas or soccer at a neighbours house" simply because how accurate the statement was and it made me remember how into soap operas my family was. Too funny.

Check out the link below, and if you're up for the challenge try it out and let me know how it goes!!

Good luck :)
Delaney C.


June 21, 2011

Thai Fashion, Fullmoon Party and Bangkok Ping-Pong Shows

I have been back from Thailand for six weeks now and although I am loving spending my time soaking up the sun with wonderful friend on beautiful Manitoban beaches I felt that my two weeks in Thailand deserved a post.

After spending five weeks in Bangladesh with RDRS we said goodbye to Bilan and Lindsay in the Bangkok airport with ferocious hugs and Kaitlan, Lauren and myself headed out into the streets looking to start a two week long adventure. I won't chronicle the full two weeks for you because frankly some things are better left unsaid, and some other things are better left without an electronic paper trail HOWEVER I will offer some tidbits from my Thailandia adventure...because if you don't tell people its like you were never really there at all. Right?

Before I start on Thailand I'm going to indulge in a tangent. In Bangladesh I had the interesting opportunity of traveling sans camera (thanks to my darling little sister who neglected to put my memory card back into my camera before I headed for the airport) and I loved it. As a traveler I have always been conscientious of focusing on where I am and not focusing on capturing 'memories' in order to share them with people back home...I'm a bit more selfish than that. I like to focus my time on where I am, with the people I am with. I rarely buy souvenirs for people back home, I never fill up memory cards with pictures and I try not to talk/think about Canada in a way that it monopolizes my time/thoughts. Because of this mantra so to speak I find it hard to understand when some people seem to travel with the purpose of sharing...when every picture becomes a photo opportunity to share with someone back home, when every little market means another trinket to be purchased for cousins once removed, and every experience is followed by either "Tim would love the jungle trek we did this afternoon!" or "I can't wait to tell Jane about the monkey temple!"

I'm not against sharing experiences with friends and family, I'm not heartless, I miss people and think of them fondly and often when I'm abroad, but I'm very much a 'be in the moment' 'remain in the present', 'right here right now' kind of gal, and no amount of pictures or
souvenirs will ever make the place that I was seem as real to you as it was for me (unless you travel there yourself) so I might was well make the most of my physical an geographical location and not try to take you (unsuccessfully) along for the ride...or at least make it a top priority. Travel savvy or travel selfish?

Now, on to Thailand!

In Bangkok Lauren, Kaitlan and myself devised a way for free (and very entertaining) city wide travel. Enter Thai fashion and tuk tuks (motorized rickshaws). Tuk tuk drivers are paid commission to take unsuspecting tourists to gem shops and tailors in hopes of getting the said passengers to spend mucho dinero all while thinking they are getting a steal of a deal and walking away happy (all the while getting ripped off big time). Usually the tourists who fall victim to this little game are trying to get to temples, shopping malls, floating markets, ect. however Lauren, Kaitlan and I tried to capitalize on this routine in order to save a couple Baut (Thai money). By the end Lauren had perfected her story and at some times I even believed we were looking to get a suit made for her dad. We only ran into one awkward encounter when we ended up back at a tailor shop we had been to the day before and we had to quickly change our story and make up some new questions on the fly. Definitely hilarious, although I'm not sure how much money we ended up saving in the end it was a great way to see the city, kill some time and learn a little bit about Thai fashion.

Koh Phangan was put on our Thailandia hit list because of the the elusive Fullmoon party (http://fullmoonparty-thailand.com/) and our perfect planetary timing. We found a hotel on the the other side of the island and for ~$14/night we were given a little slice of paradise. Empty sprawling white sand beaches, gorgeous bungalows, winding roads perfect for renting scooters to explore, turquoise waters, and coolers filled with jumbo Changs (Thai beer). We spent our Koh Phangan portion of Thailandia hanging on the beach, participating in impromptu games of beach volleyball, watching fire dancers, and laughing with new made friends. On the night of the Fullmoon we hopped in a taxi to venture to Haad Rin to partake in 'the' party. Bucket drinks, neon paint, fire dancers, pounding electronic with lots of base, 20,000 people ready to party, street meat, pass out zones and partying till the sun comes up. We caught a taxi back to our hotel with just enough time to shower, pack, and turn right around to catch a ferry back to Bangkok....worth every minute of it.

Our first night in Bangkok we went in search (high and low) of a place worthy enough of starting our adventure and celebrating the end of our five weeks in Bangladesh. We went up and down streets, in and out of bars, intrigued and (mildly) entertained/disturbed by the go-go dancers, glowing signs flashing names like "SuperSex" and "Pussy Palace" and overt in your face prostitution. We were pulled aggressively a club that had ~20 men in briefs with different numbers on their hips dancing, waiting for someone in the audience to want a special dance. We returned to our hostel unscathed and feeling pretty pleased with our first introduction to Thailand. Later we would find out (only after we had already booked beds for when we would return to Bangkok in order to catch our flight back to Canada) that our hostel was located in the middle of the red light district and things would make much more sense.

Everywhere we went that night we were approached by men hollering at us "Ping-Pong Show" and making a popping sound with the lips. We brushed it off but everywhere we went in Thailand this trend continued. Seeing a "Ping-Pong Show" was something you had to do when in Thailand, like climbing a Volcano in El Salvador, or Surfing in Australia...it would be a shame to return home without experiencing one of THE things that Thailand (more specifically Bangkok) is known for...so when we passed through Thailand again, we made a point of putting it on our list.

After hanging out on Koah San Road (one of the most touristy districts) we met up with two other friends and sought out a show. We approached a man who was less pushy than the rest (reluctant to go with the men aggressively hawking Ping-Pong Shows as a result of warnings from travelers who had spent 700 THB and been taken to clubs only to be yanked around, forced to buy drinks and shown nothing) who took us to a bank of tuk tuks. We were transported via tuk tuks to our old stomping ground and taken into one of the dingiest strip clubs I have ever had the pleasure of being in. We paid 300TBH each (~$10) while we overheard some men paying over 900THB meaning that prices are quite flexible and received one free drink with the price of admission.

There were some women walking around handing out drinks taking orders and flirting with patrons while other women gyrated on stage in tune to the music. The show entailed women after women taking their turns on stage to perform her trick and began with a member of the audience assisting a women pull a 20-foot scarf out of her hoo-ha (think of a clown pulling scarves out of his throat) and went on to a talented artist draw her rendition of Mount Everest with a marker clenched in her lady parts while another opened a twist-off glass Coke bottle (perhaps a sponsor) with a little grunt before she hobbled off stage. For the Ping-Pong part of the Ping-Pong Show a women began to fire ping-pong balls with a force not to be reckoned with...I'm talking perfect serves and some men in the front row (who had been given paddles) got some rally's going. The show didn't end there but continued with two of the women having sex on stage while James Blunt crooned "You're Beautiful" in the background. The show went on, but not for me.

The entire event was awful, horrible, and profoundly disturbing and the fact that these shows are so wide spread and sex tourism is so rampant in Thailand as a result of demand is chilling. I left the club feeling as though I had been punched hard and repeatedly in the pit of my stomach over and over again almost unable to process what had went on and why I had been unable to leave earlier. I'm not sure what I had imagined going into the Ping-Pong show, and while I was horrified by what I saw, I'm glad that I saw it because its going to happen regardless although I don't like that my money supported such a horrible industry.

With Love,
Delaney C.

Here are two other links of travelers accounts of the Ping Pong Show:



June 18, 2011

"Laughing makes your heart grow stronger"

**Warning: This post is unusually optimistic.**

If that is true, that laughter makes your heart grow stronger, then my heart is in impeccable shape after spending the last seven weeks surrounded by such amazing and hilarious people. Before heading off on my Bangladeshi adventure I was warned about the heat, the food, the traffic, the poverty ect. but no one mentioned to tell me how funny everyone was or how the effective use of humour can play a huge role in development. One of the masters of the utilization of humour (in my eyes at least) is my good buddy Basudeb, the district project coordinator of Lamonirat for RDRS. When that man steps into a room he fills it with his presence, his hearty laugh, and his eyes that brim with happiness. He's charismatic and knows how to work a crowd, and even though he spends most of his time in his office doing paper work and managing staff he is completely comfortable in the field, not talking down to program participants but getting onto their level and speaking their terms and also relaying that back to us with a component of realism and honesty that is sometimes overlooked. His office is always full of staff who clearly enjoy his company as much as I do, and he is always offering anecdotes, advice, praise, and a good cup of tea.

Although I am becoming more and more sure that international development is not the end all be all for me (something I plan on exploring in the upcoming year) Basudeb will remain a role model for me in whatever future carer aspirations I choose to follow.

I've learned a lot over the last few weeks and not all of it is related to Bangladesh, development, RDRS, ect. Although a lot of it is, I have also learned a lot about who I am, and who I want to keep being. My optimism has become a very useful tool, and even though I have always know that I can be happy in any situation the importance of attitude has become even more clear. For me, it becomes a choice. Its possible to be happy in any situation, and its also possible to be miserable (or somewhere in between)in any environment, in any crowd. Call me lazy, but it takes way too much energy to be miserable and if I'm only on this wonderful world for a limited time I want to love as many of those minutes as possible and take in as much of its beauty as possible.

Along with my borderline obnoxious positivity is my ability to learn something new in every situation even if seen the same scene a hundred times. To be able to continue learning even if I've had the same conversation, visited the same school, read the same paper. Learning never has to stop, and I don't ever want it to. Right now I am in no way ready to head back to school for a 'formal' or institutionalized education, but that doesn't mean I am going to stop learning, in fact I think I may learn more. From my friends, from strangers on the street, from the world wide web, from all the books I read, and from the world...because that's what its there for...right? To explore, to grow, to change, and to keep you just confused enough to keep on keeping on.

I leave Thailand tomorrow after spending two amazing weeks traveling in the Southern part of the country with Lauren and Kaitlan, and although those two weeks have flown by Bangladesh feels forever ago, and Winnipeg even further. I am nervous (once again) to return back to Canada, to a bunch of unknowns and changing relationships with so much baggage--filled with not only souvenirs but unanswerable questions, frustrations, unsharable experiences, memories, and dreams.

I forsee culture shock, which by now I know hits me pretty hard, but I am also very excited for the whole list of 'new' things and 'first times' that await me. A new apartment, a new job,new relationships, my first time at folk fest, my first semester completely detached from University (well mostly) and for a whole list of things that make me happy even though I've done them a million times before, like camping, road trips, dim sum, slurpees from 7-11 the beach, spending time with my friends and my ever wonderful family AND a challenge to myself for the upcoming year...Spending September 2011-September 2012 (one full year, yes one ENTIRE year)in Winnipeg without leaving for an extended period of time. Something I haven't done in the last five years, since graduating high school. Why does the idea of staying put for twelve months scare me more than taking off across the world all alone...

Because sometimes if you put roots down, they grow,
Delaney C.

May 22, 2011

Lets talk about sex baybee

We spent 2 days at the Drop in Center for Sex Trade workers in Saidpur last week and learned about RDRS's programs related to HIV/Aids prevention and reproductive health. The social stigma against sex trade workers makes it difficult for the women (and their children) to be a part of society. Their children are often teased (even by their teachers) and forced to drop out of school, and many of the women suffer similar problems when trying to get out of the sex trade making for a very difficult (if not impossible) transition.

Although in 2010 the rates of HIV/Aids in Bangladesh is only 0.01% (although I speculate that number is significantly higher and kept low due to the number of unreported cases due to lack of access to testing centers and the social stigma surrounding HIV/Aids), RDRS takes a very preventative role and provides education and training sessions both for the Sex Trade Workers (on the importance of using protection, how HIV/Aids is transmitted, how to be assertive and request a condom, signs and symptoms of STIs ect.) as well as for high risk groups (rickshaw pullers, transient business men ect.) teaching all that good stuff as well as teaching them to respect the sex trade workers line of work.

Using workshops, films, education, and training sessions RDRS has taken a very proactive and preventative (opposed to reactive) stance towards the issue of HIV/Aids in Bangladesh and is one of the aspects about many of RDRS's programs that really like. I am a huge fan of dealing with issues before they become problems, providing education before we need to apply treatment, and talking about issues before they become taboo.

Sex. Its happening everywhere, and there are no signs of it going out of style...so why are we so afraid to talk about it talk about it? Canada is not to be let off the hook by any means, and our sexual education in schools is weak at best. Sex is going to happen whether we talk about it or not, but education can try to ensure that its aa safe, protected, and informed decision. Scare tactics might work when we are heading to the polls to elect politicians, but its never stopped anyone from hooking up.

Very fittingly after our visits at the Drop in Center we visited the Maternity Health Clinic in Lamonirat...because after sex comes babies. The clinic is open 24 hrs a day and education is provided to women as they wait for their antenatal checkups. Its difficult to convince women to come to the clinic for childbirth as a safer alternative to home deliveries due to traditional practices and superstitions and 48/1000 babies die during childbirth. I'm a long way away from having any children (don't get too worried Mom) but I can't imagine that something so natural can have such a fatal end result that can be prevented by access to health care. We have a long way to go if we are going to achieve Child Health/Maternal Health by 2015.

While I don't disagree with any of the Millennium Development Goals ( End poverty and Hunger, Universal Education, Gender Equity, Child Health, Maternal Health, Combat HIV/Aids, Environmental Sustainability, and Global Partnership) I have always been unsettled by the way in which they were proposed. Alone each of the goals is daunting although admirable but without putting plans in place and instead leaving it to the discretion of individual countries to do as they see fit and remaining very vague does not seem feasible. I was able to talk to Basudeb (the district program coordinator in Lamonirat and ask his opinions of the MDG's and he seemed to be as skeptical as I that some sort of miracle will descend from the heavens prior to 2015 solving the worlds problems, bringing equality to all, and making the world a generally wonderful place to be. I wonder if Unicorns will make a reappearance? My fingers are crossed.

Just something for you to think about that I stumbled upon while reading an article in the paper today. In the month of May:

-29 women lost their lives for dowry.
-6 became subject of repression.
-21 female children were raped while 11 women were raped.
->of the 21 disgraced children 4 girls were gang raped and 3 were killed about molestation.
-10 women suffered acid injury.

Never stop learning,
Delaney C.

May 21, 2011

My Bedeshi Birthday

One of the perks of an international birthday….It goes on FOREVER. Every year my Birthday seems to exceed my expectations and this year was no exception. I’m not sure how many Canadians from rural Manitoba can say that they turned twenty-three in Bangladesh but if there is a club out there I totally want to be one of the members.

I woke up (after having a ‘midnight’ Kit-Kat pre-birthday party celebration with the girls) to the manager of the guest house in Kurigram (where we were staying) bringing me a huge bouquet of roses sent from Aslam (the manager at the guest house in Rangpur). We enjoyed our breakfast of tea, toast with homemade nutella, eggs, and fresh fruit and then Jaqel (our amazing driver for the last two weeks) present me with a bouquet of fresh hand picked flowers and a birthday wish.

We headed to a group meeting which is a program facilitated by RDRS for the most vulnerable members of the community. The program is 24 month period in which group members decide the topics of the week (ex. Dowry, early marriage, and divorce ect.) participate in IGAs (goat rearing, micro-enterprise ect.) and create a network of support for each other. This group was a group of twenty-six women who are categorized as the ultra-poor and were all divorced or widows and of only one had completed primary education.

We headed back to Rangpur where I was greeted by MORE flowers and a cute little vase courtesy of Aslam. After lunch Aslam took us to the market to by fabric for our sari blouses and petticoats after fifteen minutes of hinting that it would be better if he came with us because he could get us a better deal…gotta love indirect communication. I love going to the market. I love the chaos and the confusion. The constant honking and the dusty heat. I love almost getting hit while you weave in and out of people, tuk-tuks, rickshaws, and animals. I love the bright colours and flowing scarves trailing from women’s necks. I love the street vendors selling food of names I can’t even imagine pronouncing, the bazaars selling golden bangles, plastic purses, and yards of fabric. I love how if you stop moving, and stand still for even a second you will be washed away by activity and excitement and become only an obstacle for other people who remain a part of the machine.

We returned to the guest house to MORE flowers and a special dinner of duck prepared with apples (which might be the best duck I have ever had, and one of the most amazing meals I have had here) and Aslam had baked me an upside down pineapple cake….delicious.

The generosity and hospitality of the Bangladeshi people is overwhelming and I’m not sure that I deserve this sort of treatment from my new friends—even if it is my birthday and I am once again shocked by how much love I receive from every part of the world…I am a very very lucky girl.

With lots of light,
Delaney C.

Can I ask you a question? How many lives do you live….because I think you only live once.

Kurigram is one of the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged districts in Bangladesh due to lack of job opportunities and being an area prone to natural disaster. After arriving in Kurigram, meeting the staff, and receiving background information on some of the programs we would be visiting we had tea, and an impromptu philosophy session with one of the staff we have affectingly nicknamed ‘Dr. Love’. He began our session by saying that “there are many important things in life, but love is the most important.” What a smart man.

A couple of days later during a discussion about the meaning of feeling we were offered Betle Nut (which I heard as Battle Nut, and was pretty excited about), and I (foolishly I might add) agreed to try for not other reason then, why not…I am in Bangladesh after all. You take the Betle nut, put Lyme on a special leaf, wrap the nut around the leaf, put it in your moth and chomp chomp chomp. A couple of chews in Dr. Love informs me that “The first time I tried this I vomited.” To which I thought, “Boy am I in for a ride.” It was about this time that my tongue and lips started to go numb and my brain began to get fuzzy coupled by a nice head rush. Aslam explained that Betel nut is a stimulant and a form of tobacco....so like chew essentially...if chew and something much much stronger had a love child. I'll always try something once...why not.

Since my first year of University (when I first applied to participate in this program) I have been fascinated by the Chars (sand bars in the middle of the river that thousands of people live on because plots of land on the mainland are expensive and scarce). Chars people face isolation as they are only accessible by boat and many NGOs refuse to work on the Chars (out of the 20 NGOs working on the mainland in Kurigram, only 4 work on the chars), lack of running water and electricity, access to education, flash flooding, and widespread erosion that forces then to re-located their homes every 1.5-2 years.

Contrary to my love for the city, the markets, the buzz and the dust I discuss in my Birthday post, I love the chars for completely opposite reasons. I love the haunting quietness, the isolation, the boat ride over as the main land gets smaller and smaller. The lack of lights and the sun slips out of sight, and the singing that can be heard from across the sandbar after we’ve tucked into our mosquito nets. I love the simplicity, and the smiles that seem more genuine and I love the quite. I love how it’s slower, how there are just as many people but everything is calm and serene. I love looking out into the river and watching the fisherman’s boats pad slowly up and down the channel in search of fish, and the stares of curiosity. I love riding on motobikes sideways with my colorful scarves billowing behind me and I love how there is more time to interact informally and just spend time in the presence of other human beings.

We visited many programs as part of the Chars Livlihood Program (CLP), several schools, micro-credit groups, and community groups. We had cultural nights where we broke out “Survive” and tried our best to represent Canada well, and we met Mrs. Delaura at a micro-credit meeting, who will remain one of my inspirations and a powerful female role-model (along with Silvia, and my very own mother to name a few of truly inspiring, powerful, and amazing women in my life). She was beautifully dressed in her green sari and stood tall and strong and something about her exuded strength and confidence and to say she was inspiring (and maybe a little intimidating) would not do justice.

Mrs. Delaura grew up on the mainland and moved to the chars to be with her husband because that was where he was raised however he now works in Dhaka in the garment factory and returns to the chars only once or twice and month to visit. She was trained as a health-care professional by Friendship (an NGO that works on the chars) and offers planned parent hood, hygiene education, and education about contraceptives for ~600 tk/month (less than $10 Cdn). She has three children (one of whom lives with her on the chars) who she puts through school and explained to us that during her 26 years living on the chars she has had to move her home 15 times due to river erosion. She invited us to her home that evening where we were able to sit, chat, and ask questions while neighbours and community members pressed closely around us.

Although I wish I had the ability to speak any language simply by wishing it to be so, I don’t find the lack of verbal communication to be as frustrating as one might expect and even if it’s just in my head the moments when you hold a gaze just a second too long and something clicks, as though its transferred between two people, or a hand squeeze, or a brush of your loose hair...those can mean more than the simple physical interaction, and I like to think they do.

One day while the girls tried to rest I attempted to draw the children away from our glassless window and distract them with jump rope, Frisbee and the beach toys that Bilan had brought. We played in puddles with the water toys each child passing the toy around the circle so everyone could get a turn, we jumped rope (even though it was much to short for someone my height to jump with—which ended up with hilarious results) and played Frisbee in huge circles. That’s not what this program is about…playing with kids, skipping rope, laughing and infections smiles. But for me that’s what makes it great, that I have the opportunity to create moments that are special to me, that include what I love to do (interact with people, and just have fun) and share something special.

With Love love love,
Delaney C.

Little Green Hands, Ancient Mango Trees, Culture and Community, Song and Dance.

In Bangladesh there is a huge importance placed on culture, and many of RDRS’s programs have a cultural element teaching the Adebasi (indigenous people) about their culture and at almost every school we attend there is singing and dancing. In Honduras and El Salvador it is also common for students to share their culture with songs, dance, and traditional dance while we timidly respond with an off-key rendition of O’Canada—our national anthem—while discussing whether the ‘Boot Scoot and Boogie’ is Canadian enough to put on display.

What is Canadian food, or music, or dance? What is Canadian culture? When abroad I always have the hardest time explaining what it is that makes me Canadian other than simply being born (and continuing to live) in Canada. Canada is a multicultural country. A mosaic of people and customs from all over the world living within the same geographical location, and that’s part of what makes Canada a wonderful place to live but also very hard to explain when visiting more homogeneous populations. I’ve started to wonder whether Canada (and many Canadians) has an abundance or an absence of culture...

My father was born and raised in Portugal, immigrating to Canada with my Uncle and my Grandparents when he was ~16. My mother is French-Canadian and grew up in Quebec before leaving for College and later University. Regardless of the opportunities to speak both French and Portuguese and have a ‘culture’ so to speak I guess I don’t. I do not have Portuguese dancing to display at cultural events, or the ability to whip up French-Canadian cuisine to bring to pot-lucks and although I know can speak Spanish (from my time in Honduras and hours of practice) and make a mean perogy (does that mean I’m Ukraine now?) I feel like I’m missing out on something, although I’m not sure what that something is. How important is it to be ‘in tune’ with where you came from? My cousins can speak Portuguese, do Portuguese dancing, represent Portugal in Folkerama, and are part of a Portuguese community in Winnipeg and I can’t help but feel a little jealous and as if they have a couple more puzzle pieces kicking around as to who they are and where they have come from.

In Canada our government provides social services and safety nets, but what happens in countries where the government is unable (or chooses not to) provide these programs for its people? In the case of Bangladesh (Honduras, El Salvador, and many other ‘developing’ countries) this support comes from Non-governmental organizations, other countries government assistance, or the communities themselves. In every community we have visited it seems that everyone we meet is involved in at least one (often more) community program—whether it be community policing, federations, micro-enterprise initiatives, community health programs, women’s collectives ect. engagement comes from all over the place in a variety of different forums.

In Canada government programs will support me if I get sick, loose my job, or need extra assistance, but rarely (at least in urban settings) will the community rally around you to provide support in a time of need…disintegration of community? If I want less crime I bring in outside support to enforce stricter rules, if I want a new community center I look outside for funding and for someone to pay to do the labour. There is less of a community and if I get sick, my neigbour may never know….but just because we don’t necessarily need each other to get by doesn’t mean we should hide away in our individual ivory towers, which makes me think….development, but at what cost?

I like the idea of working with the community, within the community on community issues…because who better to understand the issues at hand, the dynamic of the community, and viable solutions than the community members themselves. With the community policing program a huge focus was on mediation rather than on punishment. Rehabilitation and working with people to provide support, new coping mechanisms, information and education, rather than sending people outside of the community, away from their support networks and into an institution of punishment…seems much more healthy to me (for individuals and entire communities). Also, if you know who you are accountable, and everyone within the community knows each other its less likely that you are going to be deviant (are you more likely to steal from a stranger or a friend?).

Another creative initiative (which I’m extra pumped about because I used a similar technique for my big program in Honduras and I like seeing used other places because it makes me feel as though I am on the right track) is the use of song, dance, and theater to engage the community in advocacy issues and provide information to groups that otherwise would not be engaged (women, children, youth, illiterate ect.) This technique has been used in many of the community groups and federations that we have visited…staring with love songs to draw a large crowd and then shifting to folk songs, and skits that deliver messages of important issues facing the communities they are directed to (anything from disaster prevention, eve teasing, dowry, early marriage, and environmental issues to domestic violence and civic engagement). Maybe it’s about time political leaders in Canada came out with rap songs or music videos? Just kidding…kind of.

Have fun when you can, think all the time.
Delaney C.

May 6, 2011

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

I'm having a hard time writing this blog, maybe just because I know I have to, and there is a possibility of more people reading it...just a little bit intimidating. But I will try to remain as frank, open, and sincere as possible.

Arriving in Bangladesh has proved to be a very confusing experience. It feels oddly familiar (at least so far) even though I have never been here before. So many things about Bangladesh remind me of Honduras and its hard not to instantly want to compare the two, but it is something I need to make a conscious effort not to do.

We met with a man from the CIDA section of the Canadian High Commission (an Embassy but in a common wealth country) and we had the opportunity to talk to him about his experience working for CIDA, working in development and whatever else our hearts desired. He talked a little bit about the trend to switch from facilitating/funding numerous localized projects to fewer decentralized projects (which I also saw during my experience working with LWF). This ‘focus focus’ approach seems counter intuitive to me…by putting all your resources, funding, time and effort into one or two projects you are also putting a whole lot of faith in the fact that they will be successful and effective, and also putting a lot of faith in the counterparts you enter these projects into with. Would you put all your eggs in one basket???

I knew that finding clothes here would be a challenge, seeing that I am at least a foot if not more taller than the general population so when in Dhaka I didn’t get too frustrated in not finding much that fit. It also helped being warned in advance…and I’m coming to terms with the fact that I stick out EVERYWHERE. Last night after arriving in Rangpur and having a meeting with the RDRS staff, we headed to the market to try and get me hooked up.

The word overwhelming comes to mind. Bilan and I shared a rickshaw and we took off down the street…like literally bolted, passing everyone in our path. I clung to Bilan for dear life and may or may not have let out a small shriek or two when rounding corners. We got to the marked and first when to a shop to get a chawar camise (a specific long top that they wear in Bangladesh with a scarf and “Aladdin” pants) to get my size. They have no change rooms so I was taken to a beauty parlor (where men are not allowed) to try on my top. I went in and after a quick game of charades I explained I was not there to get my nails done or eye brows threaded, but simply try on my shirt and was directed to the corner where I proceeded to take of my shirt and replace it with the chawar camise well everyone stared at me.

Then we went to a shop with fabric to tailor. The men at the shop started pulling out spool (?) after spool, and then pre-made but not finished chawars….what felt like thousands of them. I finally settled on a few and we ran around the corner to the tailor, who spun me around, pushed my arms up and then down taking my measurements with a stern face and then getting angry when one of the half made chawars wouldn’t work because the neck was too small. Everything sounded angry because I could not pick up anything (apparently I don’t speak Bengali…who knew), and I was pretty much confused and overwhelmed the entire time, but now I am excited because when I return from Thakurgaon (our first site visit) I will have three awesome, beautiful, handmade outfits waiting for me 

I am excited (even though that hardly seems like the right word) to begin our field visits and start interacting instead of just being a spectacle when we parade around together. I think once we get to Thakurgaon everything will begin to come together for me…Here’s hoping!

12 hrs into the future,
Delaney C.

April 30, 2011

Bangla Bound!

I'm leaving on a jet plane (again)! At this time tomorrow I will be well on my way (along with the wonderful Bilan Artes, Kaitlan Robertson, Lauren Reeves, and Lindsay Graham)to Bangladesh where we will spend 5-weeks traveling throughout Northern Bangladesh with the non-governmental organization (NGO) RDRS, learning about the different development projects that RDRS facilitates. This program differs from my experience in El Salavador as there is no physical component, and Honduras as I am going as a student mentor/facilitator of an amazing group of girls from the University of Manitoba and will not be 'working' while I'm there. Also Bangladesh is very different than both Honduras and El Salvador and I am looking forward to the opportunity to draw some parallels and make some comparisons.

Once again I am thrilled to have the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture, travel to a new part of the world and gain new perspectives, and learn more about development and of course myself :)

I am excited to be traveling with such a dynamic and diverse group and I am sure that each one of the girls will bring a unique perspective that I am excited to have the opportunity to have shared with me, and foresee some awesome (and challenging) conversations.

I love being part of a team, I love being around people, but I do think I will have to work (at least a little bit) to switch gears from my last time abroad when I was alone the whole time.

I'm excited to see what lays ahead.
Bring it on!

Delaney C.

PS: If you haven't voted, make sure you vote on Monday!!!!!!!

April 11, 2011

Oh! The Places You'll Go
Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

**When I graduated high-school my parents gave me a copy of Oh! The Places You'll Go, I think they knew something I didn't at the time, and I'm only now figuring it out.**

April 10, 2011

Right here, Right now

I've been back from Honduras for just under two and a half months now, and I'm long over due for a blog.

In typical Delaney fashion, I had a job arranged for myself before I left Honduras, because heaven forbid I 'chill' for even a minute. I got a job working as a legal assistant for the Tribal Corporation Investment Group, and then decided it would be a good idea to run for President in the University of Manitoba Students Union Election, with some amazing people who I have grown so close with in a matter of only a few weeks. Needless to say, all of you that know me, and know me well, know that I keep busy and I love what I do (that's why I do it) but I also know that sometimes I like to keep busy in order to avoid certain things I would rather not think too much about. In this case, my time in Honduras, and what it means now that I am back in Canada.

Coming back to Winnipeg has required (re)adjustment, and has proved to be a challenge in itself, perhaps only harder to deal with because I wasn't necessarily expecting it to be as difficult as it has been. Why would coming home to a familiar place, a city where I have lived nearly my entire life, a community that I am involved in, and friends and family who never let me doubt just how much love surrounds me. How could that be hard....right?

In five months I saw a lot. I experienced a lot. I learned a lot. I changed a lot. And as I was seeing, experiencing, learning, an changing so was everyone who was a part of my world in Winnipeg (and Canada), and we weren't necessarily moving in the same direction. My first week back I was talking to a good friend of mine and he mentioned the term 'Relationship Shock', and it was like a light bulb turned on for me. I had heard of culture shock before, and re-entry shock and experienced those both, but was at a loss trying to articulate the growing tension that I could feel surfacing in many of my relationships, but even knowing what to call the phenomenon I was experiencing. Knowing that I wasn't alone (as cliche as that sounds) relieved a little bit of the pressure.

I still feel the need to 'compartmentalize' the Delaney that lives abroad, that does these things that I cannot even begin to explain with any justice to those of you that know and love me but haven't been there with me. I find myself torn between not knowing what to say when people ask me how my 'trip' was, and finding the line between giving enough details to satisfy them without diving completely off the deep end boring them...or scaring them away with an out of context rant. So usually I keep my mouth shut, smile, say it was great--life changing even, and wait for follow up questions if they choose to probe deeper.

Although the 'compartmentalizing' works so to speak, I feel like I have to choose between the Delaney that lives and exists in Canada, and the Delaney that does this other 'stuff'. Essentially being forced to turn my back on whichever I am choosing not to "be" in that moment--which also feels like I am lying about myself (and to myself) and separating two very real and crucial parts of who I am and what makes me who I am, and I can't help but think (and feel) that by denying myself that other 'part' I am weakening myself, and I'm not sure that's fair.

I also haven't let myself be angry. And i am angry--although this is a very unnatural feeling for me. I'm also frustrated, and confused but I haven't been able to deal with these emotions 1) because I have made myself so busy that it is impossible to do so 2) I haven't been able to find ab outlet in which to do so and 3) I want to talk about these angry/frustrating/not beautiful perfect things but i haven't been able to do so in a constructive way (or any way for that matter) so I have decided to be mature and completely ignore the situation....but maybe that's what I needed to do.

Not everything in Honduras was great, and wonderful, and amazing. There were times when I would try to call Canada, and all I wanted to hear was a friendly voice and I would end up so frustrated I burst into tears because the connection was so awful that when all I wanted was for whatever poor soul waited on the other line was to tell me to take a deep breath, snap out of it, and that it would be okay I had to instead deal with whatever demons I was battling that day. I spent a week in my room, listening to music and reading books, only leaving to go to my office and return straight home because getting yelled at and whistled at and being frustrated with not speaking Spanish made me not want to venture into town. Arriving in a country where I knew no one and foolishly didn't speak the language might have been one of the stupidest and most ballsy ideas I may have ever had, and proved to be one of the most obvious challenges and at many times I felt like a child, knowing what I wanted to say but unable to find the words to express myself.

On the other hand, its is hard to explain, that the times I was so frustrated, and confused, were also some of the best times of my life, and I am happy that I was so foolish...in a weird incomprehensible way.

I've also had trouble explaining what I did in Honduras. On paper it doesn't look like much, and that the problem with trying to quantify my experience and 'prove' that what I did was valuable and worth while. I worked with LWF (specifically Jose Luis) in the area of natural resource protection and illegal deforestation providing information and education while trying to engage youth and women in the process of environmental protection, but really what I did was much much more that the charlas and tallers I delivered, but to someone looking from the outside, judging my experience, it would be easy for them to say "Well. that's it. That's all you accomplished in 5 months?", and its even harder for me to defend myself.

I'm really not sure if this blog is coherent at all but it's gotten the dialogue ball rolling so to speak, and for right now that's all I can ask for.

While I sleep, the world is changing,
Delaney C.

February 23, 2011

Good Work or Good Times? Discussion on Expectations

It has been difficult for me to articulate my expectations going back to my first experience(s) in El Salvador (2008, 2009) because of the evolution I have undergone from a 19 year-old relatively ‘fresh’ student to the student I am now after having been able to experience some amazing opportunities leading up to my most recent 5-month Students for Development Internship in Honduras, and as I think about my expectations for my upcoming internship with RDRS in Bangladesh this May.

When, in 2008, I traveled to El Salvador with a group of students from the University my biggest expectation was simply that I wanted to ‘help’ people. I wanted to put some of the theories I had been studying in textbooks and tossing around in my classes into action, and I wanted to see a different part of the world. I’m not sure that before I left I quite realized how deeply I would be affected, and how this first introductory experience would have a very dramatic impact on the rest of my University education (and likely the rest of my life).

I had the opportunity to return to El Salvador in 2009. This time as a leader of a new group of students to the same communities I had visited the year before and instead of just wanting to help people, I wanted more. I wanted to start figuring out if the project in question was as efficient and effective as it could/should be, and I started to ask (a lot) of questions...about the project, about the Universities role in El Salvador, and about development in general. I expected to be able to make changes, to shape the program to be able to push the program to be as effective as possible and work with the communities involved the most efficiently.

In September 2010, I was accepted for a 5-month internship and set off for Honduras. Solo this time to work for five months with a non-governmental organization. This time I wanted to work for a longer period of time with an organization and be able to start utilizing some of the skills I had developed over the years. I expected to be able to share some of my techniques, skills, and ideas, while learning a whole lot at the same time, and I expected a practical application of everything I had studied and experienced over the last four years. At this point, my expectations were less about where I was going (I could handle the bugs, the violence, the food, the heat, the people, the changes) and more about taking more than a two-week vacation that again raised a lot of questions and left me without answers.

As I think about my expectations for this May, when I will be facilitating a 5-week program for four undergraduate students in Bangladesh with an NGO called RDRS, I hope that I will be able to share some of my experiences, some of my questions and help the students go ‘deeper’ and see beyond the resilience, kindness and smiling faces. To explore their own philosophies of development, and to realize that there is more to these experiences than returning to Canada feeling grateful for all that we have been given. That continuing the dialogue, that sharing stories, pictures, and enthusiasm helps makes us all global citizens and that just because we are countries apart doesn’t mean that the connection (between people, between countries) needs to and should end.

February 1, 2011

The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold

Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet,
Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll.
Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,
We know, we know that we can smile!
But there's a something in this breast,
To which thy light words bring no rest,
And thy gay smiles no anodyne.
Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,
And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal'd
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves--and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!

But we, my love!--doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices?--must we too be dumb?

Ah! well for us, if even we,
Even for a moment, can get free
Our heart, and have our lips unchain'd;
For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain'd!

Fate, which foresaw
How frivolous a baby man would be--
By what distractions he would be possess'd,
How he would pour himself in every strife,
And well-nigh change his own identity--
That it might keep from his capricious play
His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being's law,
Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
The unregarded river of our life
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
And that we should not see
The buried stream, and seem to be
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
Though driving on with it eternally.

But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;

A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us--to know

Whence our lives come and where they go.
And many a man in his own breast then delves,
But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
And we have been on many thousand lines,
And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
But hardly have we, for one little hour,
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves--
Hardly had skill to utter one of all
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
But they course on for ever unexpress'd.
And long we try in vain to speak and act
Our hidden self, and what we say and do
Is eloquent, is well--but 'tis not true!
And then we will no more be rack'd
With inward striving, and demand
Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
Their stupefying power;
Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
From the soul's subterranean depth upborne
As from an infinitely distant land,
Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
A melancholy into all our day.

Only--but this is rare--
When a beloved hand is laid in ours,
When, jaded with the rush and glare
Of the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,
When our world-deafen'd ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd--
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life's flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

And there arrives a lull in the hot race
Wherein he doth for ever chase
That flying and elusive shadow, rest.
An air of coolness plays upon his face,
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.
And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose,
And the sea where it goes.

January 31, 2011

Issue: Corruption

The issue of corruption (especially in developing countries) has been taking up a lot of space in my brain lately. While in Honduras I worked with a Non-governmental Organization full of talented, intelligent, passionate people who were great at what they did, and loved it. I mean really cared about what they were doing, really believed in it--and it worked. The programs, the projects they are working in small communities, in tiny villages and aldeas made up of campisinos and farmers, but their programs and projects will never succeed nationally, or even in larger cities like Juticalpa, because of the brick wall and hindering force that is corruption. Corruption occurs in Honduras (and many other countries across the globe) in many different mediums, and until the issue of corruption is addressed and dealt with the issues of natural resources management, education, (gang)violence, drug trafficking ect. will never be able to addressed--effectively anyways.

Many people site education as the key to development and a better situation (for a country, for an individual, for a people), and I wouldn't argue against that, but I would stress the importance of dealing with the corruption as well, because corruption is most definitely present in the education system of many countries effecting issues of accessibility, quality etc.

Okay, corruption is a big road block to successful development...now what? Although I am very frustrated with the issue of corruption relating to development, but what frustrates me more is when 'outsiders' go into communities, go into countries and try to impose their ideals, values, and way of life on the people living within those territories. I am strongly against structural readjustment policies, external government reforms, and large broad paintbrush style solutions conjured by someone external to the community to be effected. I don't think that these big end of all poverty save the world in 5 simple steps its so easy style plans are functional, effective or practical and I think that these theories might actually make actual effective and successful development more difficult to come by. Because our society is based on things that are convenient easy and procure big results with little effort (or change in our own personal lives) these notions are extremely popular but offer skewed and unrealistic goals that people accept without thought--especially when they leave a warm fuzzy feeling in the individual.

Take the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for example. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, Achieve universal primary education, Promote gender equality and empower women, Reduce child mortality rate, Improve maternal health, Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, Ensure environmental sustainability, and Develop a global partnership for development by 2015. I will not argue that those aren't great goals, they most definitely are, but they are HUGE goals, and by 'committing' to achieve ALL OF THEM by the year 2015 is hugely unrealistic, oversimplifies the issues and allows politicians off the hook to actually implement programs, projects, and plans that target these goals--focusing on several large goals instead of starting small, and focusing on specific issues is a common trend that gets votes (for politicians looking for re-election), but doesn't necessarily get things done.

Check out these books:

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
-I have yet to read this bad boy, but I watched the documentary and the book is on the top of my reading list. Take it with a grain of salt, but likely has some truth.

White Mans Burden-I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone that would be foolish enough to ask me for a suggestion. An easy enough of a read for anyone (not just development majors) to understand, filled with great colourful examples, and closely aligns with the type of development that I favour.

The End of Poverty-On the contrary, this author supports a more simplified, fix the world in 5 simple steps, broad paintbrush style of development that I don't necessarily support. Still an interesting read with a different perspective, with an intro from BONO how could you go wrong?

Have fun when you can, Think all the time
Delaney C.

January 26, 2011

Back in My Home and Native Land

Its just under a week since I left Honduras, and I'm feeling 'flat', as though I am back in Canada but part of me is still very far away. Leaving Honduras was hard, and I found myself more nervous to return to Canada than I was when I originally set off for Honduras. I wasn't necessarily expecting to feel this way which has felt me feeling a bit blindsided causing me to have trouble articulating my feelings towards the end of my internship. Its been difficult to put in to words what my time in Honduras has meant to me, what I have taken away, and all of that good stuff, when I have been so harshly tossed back into things having to immediately worry about what comes next and begin crossing things off my 'to-do' list that seems to have been created somewhere between Houston and Toronto.

Without a doubt my time in Honduras has taught me invaluable lessons, both personal in nature and about development but trying to quantify those lessons has proved to be difficult if not impossible, and that's not the easiest thing to explain to people who want to know 'all about' my experience in Central America. I'm never sure of the line between giving enough information to satisfy ones curiosity and giving too much information leaving the listener bored and wishing they had never asked.

Culture Shock is a force not to be reckoned with, and for me reverse culture shock (upon returning to Canada) has always been a harder battle. I feel guilty. I feel overwhelmed, especially at University or in places with lots of people (which I used to thrive on). I feel more confused than ever...about what the next step is for me, and I feel like a part of me is still in Honduras.

Con Esperanza y Amor
Delaney C.

January 7, 2011

15 buses, 2 ferries, several car rides and many memories later

I am back in Juticalpa for my last week and a half before returning to my home and native land with very mixed feelings. My time in Honduras has been amazing, although an amazing that is very different than you would use to describe a vacation, an evening out with friends, a second date, or a concert you've waited a long time to see and I'm not sure I'll be able to effectively articulate that aspect of my internship but I'll try my best to do so in a later post. I've learned so much about so many things that it seems impossible to have only been here for a short 4 1/2 months. I've been able to see some amazing things, meet some amazing inspiring people, and have had some amazing experiences (not all good ones, but ones that will be a part of me forever), and ironically now its the uncertainty of what happens next that has me a little freaked out to return to a city I have known my whole life full of friends and family with open arms and smiling faces.

Unfortunately last Thursday something a little bit scary happened, occurring just 10 minutes away from the city I live in and on a highway that I take frequently. I'm not naive, I know that Honduras is/can be a dangerous place, but this is a little more close to home for me than the shootings that have occurred inside of the town during my time in Honduras because its a route I take often and a time (while taking the bus) that I have no control over what happens to me once I get on. Since returning to Juticapla I have talked to my Honduran family about the incidence and they told me that the town is really tense and the streets are even more dangerous at night. I'm hoping that the next week will be as uneventful (safety wise) as the last 4 1/2 months and that as long as I continue to be smart, I'll stay safe.


LWF shut down for Christmas and I had the amazing opportunity to explore other departments (provinces) of Honduras and spend the holidays with Sandra (my wonderful coworker from Teguic.) and her family in Santa Rosa de Copan. Santa Rosa is cold! and it would have been useful to have a scarf, touque and mittens. Her mother is the sweetest fiercest little old lady, and I enjoyed helping her make pan (to eat with cafe) and her nephew Emilio had a huge crush on me, that may or may not have been mutual. Sandra took me on walks up and down her cobble stoned streets showing me important buildings, and her favourite places to grab a coffee and read a book. She tried to teach me the difference between Salsa and Meringue(sp?) and after many late nights dancing in her living room with her attention seeking but adorable niece Fernanda I may just have figured it out. Christmas was great however the only tradition I was able to keep alive was waking up on Christmas morning with a hangover--guess that one will have to stick around for a couple of more years. Sorry Mom. We went over to Sandra's Brother's house for Christmas dinners and a house full of friends an family. We had nancatamales, rice, and some special Christmas dish with specially prepared pork. There was music, dancing, and too many shots. The firecrackers started at around 8pm and lasted until early into the morning. Why Hondurans are obsessed with firecrackers (fireworks without the pretty colours) is beyond me but men--grown men--are in the streets daily shooting these things off hour after hour. I must be missing something, If you can't beat them, join them--Ill have to give it a try before I come home.

I also really enjoyed maneuvering around the country via bus all by my lonesome and I have come to dislike the term "Chicken Bus" given to colorful modified and decorated US school bus and transit bus that transports goods and people between communities here in Honduras, as well as other parts of the world. I've been on a million of these buses, and although I can only speak for the section of Honduras that I live in, I have yet to see a chicken (or any form of livestock) on any of the buses, but even if I had I would still feel uncomfortable by the term. As a foreigner it might seem weird or different to see some of the things transported on these buses, however a car is a luxury that many Canadians (especially those living in remote rural areas) have that does not exist in many other parts of the world and if you could see all the weird and possibly freaky things going into those cars and being transported behind closed (car)doors from store to home you'd probably be just as shocked and surprised. I think that terming these buses, often the only way of transportation to rural and remote areas, after livestock is ethnocentric, small minded, and demeaning to the cultures that use them and takes away from the fact that they are efficient (relatively speaking) and a great cost effective way to get from point A to point B while having the opportunity to take in the beautiful countryside.

While taking a bus back to Santa Rosa de Copan after visiting the Mayan ruins in Copan a man started talking to me in English. This happens quite regularly, as though simply knowing English forges a great bond between us, and usually I don't mind chatting and helping someone practice their English however this time after about twenty minutes the man (who was about my age and apparently lives and works in Hollywood) started typing things in Spanish on his phone to show me so I could practice my Spanish, things like "You are so pretty" "I want you", then after getting off the phone with Sandra (letting her know that I was close, and letting him know that someone was waiting for me) he grabbed my phone to get my number and then said, "You are my Canadian girlfriend now, I need to take a picture of you to show my family, you can meet them tomorrow." Bahah Luckily for me the bus was just pulling into the dirt patch that serves as a terminal so I jumped into the isle insuring there were several people in between us, hopped into a cab, and sped away...although I couldn't avoid his calls that continued for two weeks even though I failed to answer even once. O Honduran courtship how I will miss thee once I am back on Canadian soil.

I have no doubt my last week here will fly by as I try to finish my research, pack up my room, say good bye to my new friends and family and embark on the 48 hour journey that will take me home to the frozen tundra close to my heart that is My Winnipeg. I may have to stop traveling after this because my heart is getting stretched pretty thin trying to reach so many people in so many places all at the same time. Either that or I'll have to figure out a way to teleport to make visiting much easier because there's still a lot of the world I want to explore.

Happy New Year, Make memories you are proud to keep,
Delaney C.