Skills.
With 6 months to go before I return to American soil, I’m looking at ways to position myself in the graphic design field that will make me competitive for job placements. Here’s a list of non-design skills that I’ve gained that didn’t make the cut for my résumé:
Bake a delicious cake on a fire.
Splendid written and verbal pidgin English.
Endure 4 hour long meetings while sitting on uncomfortable benches.
Harmonize in a choir.
Hold hands with grandmas or small children for extended lengths of time.
Cook potato-type-veggies 15 different ways.
Kill and clean a chicken and or pig.
Lead groups of 200 students in singing songs.
Hike for hours in flip-flops up slick slopes.
Plant tarro (both water and strong tarro).
Identify tropical plants.
Cater meals for government ministers.
Hold a consistent bedtime of 9:00pm.
Wield a bush knife.
Tell you the month by the position of the sun on the horizon.
Take a complete shower with 1/2 liter of water.
Say good night in 10 different languages.
If you’re in need of a designer with any of the above skills (and so much more!) please contact me at your convenience. 
Sipa Ruka,
Lawo wan taem

Skills.

With 6 months to go before I return to American soil, I’m looking at ways to position myself in the graphic design field that will make me competitive for job placements. Here’s a list of non-design skills that I’ve gained that didn’t make the cut for my résumé:

  1. Bake a delicious cake on a fire.
  2. Splendid written and verbal pidgin English.
  3. Endure 4 hour long meetings while sitting on uncomfortable benches.
  4. Harmonize in a choir.
  5. Hold hands with grandmas or small children for extended lengths of time.
  6. Cook potato-type-veggies 15 different ways.
  7. Kill and clean a chicken and or pig.
  8. Lead groups of 200 students in singing songs.
  9. Hike for hours in flip-flops up slick slopes.
  10. Plant tarro (both water and strong tarro).
  11. Identify tropical plants.
  12. Cater meals for government ministers.
  13. Hold a consistent bedtime of 9:00pm.
  14. Wield a bush knife.
  15. Tell you the month by the position of the sun on the horizon.
  16. Take a complete shower with 1/2 liter of water.
  17. Say good night in 10 different languages.

If you’re in need of a designer with any of the above skills (and so much more!) please contact me at your convenience. 

Sipa Ruka,

Lawo wan taem

Mandarin Messages
According to the UN’s 2011 World Risk Report, Vanuatu is the most dangerous place in the world - in terms of natural disasters. Yes sir, we’ve got everything: Active volcanoes, tsunamis, cyclones, earthquakes, large bats…
In case cell phone reception is down during one of these super events I’m supposed to send a message to a nearby volunteer who will send news of our status to the PC office via satellite phone. Here’s how I sent my message during the last natural disaster drill (via mandarin),

Mandarin Messages

According to the UN’s 2011 World Risk Report, Vanuatu is the most dangerous place in the world - in terms of natural disasters. Yes sir, we’ve got everything: Active volcanoes, tsunamis, cyclones, earthquakes, large bats…

In case cell phone reception is down during one of these super events I’m supposed to send a message to a nearby volunteer who will send news of our status to the PC office via satellite phone. Here’s how I sent my message during the last natural disaster drill (via mandarin),

Fiction: My Alternative Escape

These past 20 months in the Peace Corps- away from the luxuries of infinite internet, electricity, or TV, I have rekindled my love for reading fiction as a break from work and life. At 9:00 every night when our school’s power cuts off I click on my solar flash light and read until my eyelids droop (usually I can last until 9:15).

Here’s a shortlist of the texts that have kept me company between class and sleep since my time in Vanuatu. Note that half the time I find these books hidden in the dusty corners of our school’s library or passed on to me from other volunteers…so most of the time I don’t know what I’m getting into when I open the book and not all of them have my stamp of approval. They have all have brought me new insights in one way or another and are helping me narrow in on my literary taste.  I’ve marked my top 10 with an *

  • Catch 22*
  • The Glass Palace
  • 22 Scotland St
  • The Book Thief*
  • Little Bee
  • I know why the caged bird sings
  • Brave New World
  • The Help*
  • The Other Wes Moore
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story*
  • Half the Sky
  • Black like Me
  • Simple Prayers
  • Somewhere Inside
  • 100 Years of Solitude
  • The Demonologist
  • Ghandi and Indian Independence*
  • Pillars of the Earth
  • Rising Sun
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Let the Great World Spin
  • Congo
  • Bossypants*
  • Little Princes
  • Same Kind of Different as Me
  • Bookseller of Kabul
  • Lets Explore Diabetes with Owls
  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames
  • The Story of Forgetting*
  • How We Are Hungry
  • The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime*
  • Absurdia*
  • The Liars Club
  • Night
  • Animal Farm*

What are you reading these days? Any suggestions?

Slow progress on Pacific women’s rights: a reminder for me to get to work

Vanuatu is coveted for its peaceful communities and the generous hospitality of its people. It seems a contradiction then that so many of the men in my village and throughout Vanuatu choose to communicate with their families through violence.

Research released by the World Health Organization last year found 68 percent of women in areas of the Pacific reported suffering physical or sexual abuse from their partner

This week yet another woman from my village was found after being beaten all day by her husband. She survived, but who knows if she will survive the next time and how effective chief or police intervention will be or if there will be any intervention at all.

In a culture where gender based violence is the norm, how does one break the cycle? 

I am a part of the Gender and Development Committee of Peace Corps Vanuatu. We are working with women and men around the country to get their insights into how we can work together to break the cycle of violence. We then provide training and materials to volunteers and their counterparts in how to help communities to combat gender based violence.

Read about Carlie Congdon’s work with the chiefs of our island. Her 2-day training last year provided over 20 chiefs with skills in gender based violence prevention and a better understanding of the rights and responsibilities of women and men in our communities. After the training chiefs have been more aware of their important role as the enforcer of justice in our communities and have been standing up for women. 

Vanuatu has a long way to go before reaching a place where both men and women can enjoy the right to safety and freedom even in their own homes. Hopefully through trainings and conversations we can start to make a difference and encourage peace within our island families.