so, you thought you could dance?

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When I was four years old, my parents enrolled me in tap dancing. I loved it, or so I thought. My class learned a routine to the song, On The Good Ship Lollipop. The day of our recital, we were each handed an over-sized lollipop crafted from brightly colored sponges on a wooden dowel to hold as our prop. I vaguely remember some kid taking a bite out of the sponge because they thought it was a real lollipop. (Maybe, that was me?) Anyhow, as my mom helped me wiggle my way into my leotard and my froufrou white and blue tulle and silver sequin-littered tutu, I remember her saying one thing to me, “Mommy and Daddy will have a camera, so don’t forget to smile.”

Well, I did exactly that with a few shuffle-steps in between.

I was very confused about what was happening. To this day, I have not one picture from this.

Fast forward to my junior year in college. I decided to take Intro to Dance thinking this would be redemption to my smiling debut of 1991.

We learned a routine to Lady Marmalade. Zero redemptions were earned that semester.

I barely scraped by with a B. Although, I learned a few things about my dancing style that semester. I can’t. That’s my style. I actually learned that my feet…and legs…and body… don’t move that quickly or with any type of timed, coordinated rhythm.

Even as an adult I have had the same err problems in Zumba and hip-hop aerobics classes. I’ve had an instructor approach me after Zumba one time to say, “You’ll get better.”

And to clear things up- I never once thought I could dance. Similar to my swimming, I can do enough to not drown.

All this to say, Namibians can dance.

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Gosh, I could look at these smiles ALL day. I love these kids!

Namibians love to incorporate dancing in everything. Church service, weddings, youth groups, after school, the list goes on.

I split my time during the week between the local schools and the clinic. The first few times I visited the schools, the learners (students) would just laugh at me. Mostly because they don’t understand my American English. Since some of the learners are becoming more comfortable around me, they now have taken the time to show me their hobbies and talents.

I made a deal with my learners. I’ll help them with English if they will teach me to dance.🙂

I decided to start using YouTube for my videos instead of Vimeo because it offers more capabilities of editing, etc., and it has more of a Peace Corps audience than said Vimeo. Plus, my friends and family back home already use YouTube.

In this video, the learners have organized a song and dance about animals and why they are important. Take a look! Make sure watch it in HD for best picture.

❤ Krystal

waterworks and sometimes it doesn’t.

We’ve all heard about Namibia and its water crisis. In 2007, an aquifer was discovered in my region (Ohangwena). It is predicted to be able to supply a significant amount of water to Namibian residents.

Until that phase is rolled out… Some days I come home to dry taps.

I don’t think I have ever appreciated the conveniences or realized the magnitude of inconveniences when it comes to water until I moved to Namibia. I mean, just like food, clothing, and shelter, water is a necessity. Water is life. Water is bae.

Being a PCV, you quickly learn that it’s always a good idea to plan for water to just not work.

Sometimes for a few hours and maybe sometimes for a few days.

WATER FILTER (CONVENIENCE)

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Peace Corps supplies volunteers a water filter. Although the water in my area is clean and purified, it’s nice to have a container to store water in. You quickly learn to be creative and efficient with your resources in the Peace Corps. This is strategically placed above my dish washing bucket so that any extra drop can be used for washing dishes. Some PCVs utilize jerry cans for extra water storage in case of emergencies, or if they need to travel a distance to fetch water.

BUCKET BATHING (INCONVENIENCE)

Summer time is approaching quickly, which means outdoor shower. But, for the other times of the year it means bucket baths.

I hate bucket bathing.

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I am so new at this concept, I never actually feel all that clean. You know the Peace Corps meme with a glass half-full (or half-empty, however you want to look at it) which says something along the lines of “I can take a shower with that.” While in my case, that truth is a tad bit stretched. But, I will say when I do take a bucket bath I use at most 6 liters of water.

I fill up two of these and add about a liter or so of cold water. One of many “American” downfalls of bucket bathing is time spent. It takes about 3 to 4 minutes to heat up each pitcher of water, and a considerably longer amount of time to actually bathe.

There’s also a techniques, which I will probably still be working on at the completion of my two years in Namibia.

First, wash your face.

Second, wash your arm, legs, pits, and bits.

Third, wash your hair.

Lastly, wash your underwear. It’s very taboo to wash your underwear with your outerwear to hang on the line. So, instead your underwear should be washed with your bath water and hung up in a private area, such as your room, to dry.

TIPPY TAP (CONVENIENCE)

In the village, we do a lot of health promotion and education on proper hand washing and hygiene which includes how to make a tippy tap. My host brother actually made this one while I was away for the weekend. A tippy tap is a wonderful hands-free way to hand washing when running water is not available.

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DISH WASHING (INCONVENIENCE)

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I shared this photo on my Instagram a few weeks ago. I share a kitchen with my host family and there is no sink. Instead we use buckets to wash and rinse dishes. Since moving out to my hut, I have downsized to only one bucket (buckets get expensive and take up room). I wash my dishes in one bucket, set them aside, and then fetch clean water to rinse. I then use the rinse water as the wash water for the next load the following day. Repeat. I do sometimes consider this an inconvenience, but actually it’s a little therapeutic. Sometimes, the kids help me wash. They like using my kitchen gadgets, i.e. bristle brush to clean my water bottles and my sponge with the built-in stainless-steel sponge.

It’s truly the little things that make a world of a difference.

❤ Krystal

food: the universal language.

Food: The Universal Language by: Krystal Wright

Submitted by: Krystal Wright

Deborah Gillespie, MS, RD/LD

In the field of dietetics, it is difficult to be all knowing in the ever-changing and expanding science of nutrition. Toss into the mix a military family and recreation and one may find it even harder to find a good balance. I had the opportunity of interviewing Ms. Deborah Gillespie to pick her brain about her experiences as a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Everything from the pathway she has taken to become a dietitian, to the mentors who have inspired her and guided her under their wings, to the most rewarding aspect in her work.

 “Providence moves when you follow your passion.”- Byron Davis, former Olympic swimmer

 Ms. Deborah Gillespie is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and has been for over 20 years. Following her passion as a formally trained dancer, Deborah originally had intended to study Communication and Music at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It wasn’t until a family member was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes that she realized her true interest in nutrition and decided to change her focus to Home Economics and Consumer Sciences- Dietetics earning her bachelor’s degree and continuing on the earn her master’s in Medical Dietetics from Saint Louis University.

 “You cannot buy your health; you must earn it through healthy living.”- Joel Fuhrman, M.D., board-certified family physician, author of Eat to Live, and nutritional researcher

 Deborah’s education fully prepared her to take on her role as a dietitian. She was a teacher’s assistant during her graduate studies at Saint Louis University and began working in an oncology research lab thereafter. She has be able to expand her dietetics portfolio by working and specializing in public health, women’s health focusing mainly on weight management and gestational diabetes, community clinics, research labs and even consulting. Deborah believes that health begins with what is put on your plate, which she has shown through her involvement in food education, health-risk research, and experiences ranging from food preparation to clinical work.

With the field of dietetics having such endless possibilities and countless focuses, Deborah mentioned that staying proficient in every aspect of nutrition is one of that hardest parts of her job. Due to the fact, there is a large umbrella that covers dietetics; there is always so much to learn. With the employment trends emerging in dietetics she believes that nutrigenomics- the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression, the focus and shift of using more functional food groups and superfoods, and the merging of the food service industry with clinical nutrition will open up the doors for new dietitians entering the field.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”- Julia Childs, American chef, author, and television personality

Having the fortune and flexibility to work part-time as a Registered Dietitian has been a major benefit for Deborah. Being a military wife, the flexibility has played in her favor when her family has relocated to several places in the United States and even overseas. Although it requires a lot of time and planning to balance her family and work, she has had amazing opportunities to travel and enjoy food cultures around the world and even took classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Acquolina in Venice and Cucina Italiana in Soignies. She admits that her favorite foods include almost anything with pesto. Along with expanding her culinary knowledge, she also serves in local food banks throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with a helping hand and educational insight to those less fortunate. Helping people and being fully engaged in the present is how she continues to keep balance and find reward in her work. Seeing people change their health and change their lives by reducing or eliminating medicines is also a great reward, in her opinion.

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”- James Beard, American chef and food writer

To put it simply: Food is universal and touches everyone. Although our foods may look different and be prepared differently, it’s the common link to every living thing. In addition to learning something new practically every day, Deborah’s passion for nutrition, food, and dietetics comes down the fact that it links us all together, even stating that it’s our “common ground.” A mentor she met during her previous work was Dr. Nixon. He was one of the first nutrition advocates she met during her work. She respected the fact that he would exhaust all nutrition solutions prior to offering a prescription to his patients.

 The field of dietetics can be very rewarding to those who enjoy flexibility, creativity, and most importantly serving others. With the increasing knowledge and research in nutrition, in addition to the role it plays with healthcare, those with an open-mind and increasingly thirst for knowledge are more likely to succeed in this profession. Taking advantage of opportunities before graduation, such as volunteering at a local food bank, women’s center, and gaining hands-on experience yield the best chances for excelling in the field. Having “people skills” such as being a good communicator, empathic, and organized are also very helpful.

From my interview with Deborah, I have realized that a dietitian is really a profession based on serving the needs of others. The reward of having healthy clients exceeds monetary reward. There are several career paths you can take when you become a dietitian- from research to consulting to clinical work. The possibilities are really endless. I enjoyed getting to hear about what dietetics has to offer for me in the future.

Beard, James. (1974) Beard on Food: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdoms from the Dean of American

Cooking. New York City, New York: Knopf.

 Childs, Julia. (1975) From Julia Child’s Kitchen. New York City, New York: Gramercy.

 Fuhrman, M.D., Joel. (2003, 2011) Eat to Live. New York City, New York: Hachette Book Group.

 Roll, Rich. (Producer). (2013, February 1). RRP# 14: Byron Davis: The Rich roll Podcast. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.richroll.com/podcast/14-byron-davis/

career assessment report.

This year I decided to return back to school to studying dietetics after spending four years in the corporate world. I decided to pursue this career field based on my personal interests and character strengths. 1) I have a passion for health and fitness, mainly through nutrition health. 2) I love serving others, and helping them reach their personal goals. 3) I love learning new things, and dietetics is an ever-evolving science with new techniques and facts emerging every day.

My main areas of interest include sports nutrition emphasizing collegiate sports.  After obtaining my DTR, I plan to continue my education to become a Registered Dietitian. Being a former collegiate-athlete, I recognize the importance to nutrition when competing in events. By being about to work hand-in-hand with student-athletes and parents, I will be able to teach the importance of nutritional health and how it direct effects physical health, especially when meeting demands of competing at high levels of competition.

General Dietetics Specific
Work Experience (not  related to dietetics)

Chesapeake Energy Corporation- Land Technician, September 2010- July 2013; Paycom Payroll, LLC. – Payroll Specialist, November 2009- September 2010; Bath and Body Works- Sales Associate, August 2010- September 2012

Work Experience (related to dietetics)
General Skills

Organization

Time Management

Event Management

 

Dietetics Specific Skills (skills you learned from dietetics classes or work)
Volunteer Experience (not  related to dietetics)

Read2Win Fort Worth- Volunteer Reader; SWITCH- Leader

 

Volunteer Experience (related to dietetics)
Club/Activities (not related to dietetics)

Oklahoma City Landrunners Running Club,

Club/Activities (related to dietetics)

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics- member, current

Award/Certificates Received (not related to dietetics)

 

 

Award/Certificates Received (related to dietetics)
References (not related to dietetics)

 

References (related to dietetics)

dietetic technician program

bountiful harvest.

Mahangu, porridge, pap, oshifima. Chances are you will see me use these words a lot over the next two years.

Mahangu is one of many traditional foods in Namibia. It is prepared in some form or fashion in most Namibian households. On my homestead, it’s used daily to make oshikundu (a traditional drink) and oshifima (a stiff porridge used as you would a dripping bread).

 Several times throughout the year, my host brothers head to the farm to harvest mahangu. They have been at least twice since I’ve moved in. All I know is 1) “The Farm” is very far away 2) Harvesting mahangu is very, very hard work. Mahangu is harvested and then pounded down to create a flour-like product which is then used to make oshifima.

Before I get too ahead of myself, here are a few Cultural Fun Facts I wish I would have known sooner, and I am sure other PCVN can relate.

Fun Fact #1– It is considered rude to smell your food before you eat it. Still trying to break this habit.

Fun Fact #2– It is rude to refuse food. You can usually say something along the lines of thank you, but I ate, I am full.

Fun Fact #3– It is traditional to wash your hands before you eat (and also hygienic). At a family meal, we pass around a wash basin filled with soap and water for us each to wash our hands.

Fun Fact #4– You should only eat oshifima with your right hand. Whoops again!

Fun Fact #5– When offering a homemade food or drink, it is customary to taste it in the presence of the person. It shows that it is indeed nawa to consume, kinda like a modern-day wine bearer, but of your own offerings.

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Making porridge to feed the pigs. Every man, woman, child and animal eats mahangu around here.

 

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I should really stop becoming friends with potential Namibian entrees.

This weekend my host family celebrated a season of a bountiful harvest of mahangu.

We all gathered around the coffee table.

We feasted on oshifima and goat meat.

It was delicious.

I can compare this experience to what we do in America on Thanksgiving. It’s a huge celebration. There is singing and prayer and lots of laughter.

Unfortunately, my host mom was not home at the time due to a death in the family. So, my host sister, Lucia prepared most of the meal with the help of my brothers to braai (similar to BBQ) the goat meat.

As we sat around a crowded coffee table rejoicing over the abundance of oshifima and meat for dinner, I began to realize how thankful I am for a family who has accepted me into their house as their own.

Although there is still a period of transition for me between Fort Worth to Okahandja and now Ondobe, I am at HOME.

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❤ Krystal

typical days.

“My life hasn’t really changed.”

Any time that thought crosses my mind and comes close to coming off my tongue, I have to stop myself. I mean, I know my life is different than it was in the States. But, since I am finding some normalcy in my day-to-day routine, I so easily want to believe everything is the same, when I know in fact, it’s not. I mean, come on, I have WiFi!

MY TYPICAL DAY IN THE UNITED STATES

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I woke up each morning.

Okay, who am I kidding? I woke up around 11 am. Usually, to the sound of neighbors mowing their lawns, which always seemed quite early. I would get up and go through my late-morning routine: take a shower, brush your teeth, etc. Then I would go to the kitchen to eat a piece of string cheese or two, maybe a sandwich if I was feeling fancy, and also because it was always too late for breakfast. I would spend the next hour or so deciding what to do with my day before work. Plus, I had to pretend like I did more than work and sleep. Would I go shopping? Go to the gym? Hang out with a friend? No matter what I decide, I would never have enough time to do it, but I chose one of my options anyway. I would quickly rush out of the door and into my car to gym, Kohl’s, or go see friend. Rushed back across town to home to get ready for work, depending on the day of the week, I would even squeeze in picking up my brother from school. Finally, I would arrive at to work without absolutely no time to spare. I would eat a slice of pumpkin bread and make myself a matcha water and work until close. After work, maybe grab a drink with friends at our favorite spot. Repeat.

MY TYPICAL IN THE PEACE CORPS

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I wake up in the morning no later than 7 am to the sound of chickens and maybe even some dogs. I put on my slippers and walk down the hall to the bathroom. If occupied, I wander outside about 100 m to the pit latrine. While outside, I’m greeted by my host siblings in the local language and also a few giggles and waves. I get dressed, make a French press coffee, and a bowl of Jungle Oats. I ride with my host mom to the clinic and greet patients in the local language while entering the clinic. Attend the daily devotional in the front of clinic with patients prior to opening. Spend the morning attending HIV/AIDS support groups, Life Skills lessons at the secondary school, or making house calls around the village with a Health Extension Worker.

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For lunch, I walk 1 km home because there is no microwave at the clinic, and it’s nice to get some fresh air and steps under my feet. Return back to clinic after lunch. Work on ideas for girls club, read through Peace Corps documents, study Oshikwanyama, or make conversation with memes selling food under the large tree in front of the clinic. Knock off of work anywhere between 3 pm and 5 pm, depending on the workload that day. Exercise with my host siblings or go for a run through my village. Watch the kids cook oshifima (traditional porridge) and meat outside over an open fire. Some nights I make air-popped popcorn to share with them and we watch a movie outside under the Milky Way.

Some of my favorite past times:

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– Watching my host siblings feed the pigs and just do chores in general. I’m amazed by the extent of housework children do at their ages. I wasn’t even allowed to touch matches, let alone collect firework, start a fire, make dinner, use a machete to cut melons, etc.

– Asking a million and one questions about everything, and getting “Yes” and “No” responses (mainly because the kiddos don’t understand what I am saying)

– Walking to the corner store to greet the pregnant Meme and to  buy lemon creme cookies to share with my host family.

– Finding new recipes to make in my crockpot.

– Starting conversations with the secondary school learners on what they aspire to be when they graduate.

❤ Krystal

the application process.

Before this becomes too much of the distant past, I wanted to guide you through what it takes to apply for the US Peace Corps. Over the last few years, the application process has undergone some major revamping to make it a little less daunting and to add a little more fluidity to the application process.

It is a very thorough process, but I saw this as more of a gatekeeper to initially set apart those actually willing to serve or to question people like myself, why I was still doing this? Best advice during this process, stay proactive, keep all your records organized, and stay in contact with Peace Corps.

There is no real “set” time frame on the time of which you apply to the Peace Corps to the time you get accepted. I think a majority of that comes from the application deadlines and also how open a future PCV is willing to serve anywhere around the globe.

  • August 1, 2015 – Started my Peace Corps application
  • August 16-18, 2016– My friend RPCV Morocco, Lindsey, helped in editing my motivation statement
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Lindsey helping me edited my motivation statement and resume. From the doodles, one of my nieces decided to help as well.

  • August 19, 2015- Scheduled a phone appointment with RPCV Kenya, Michael Madej,  to discuss Peace Corps- concerns, interests, advice on applying, what to expect, etc. (Mostly so my family would stop worrying)
  • August 30, 2015- Submitted Peace Corps application
  • September 2, 2015– Submitted HHF (Health History Form)
  • September 3, 2015- Selected preferences on places to serve as well as soft skills questionnaire
  • September 9, 2015- Received an email from Office of Recruitment and Selection asking about my availability to depart as early as April 11, 2016. On my application, I indicated April 30th as my earliest availability, mostly because I thought, if selected, a solid 6-8 months would give everyone (including myself) enough time to get everything together.
  • September 10, 2015– Placed under consideration for Peace Corps Namibia (then Googled how to pronounce Namibia)
  • September 15, 2015 – Skype interview with David Goff
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Skype interview completed.

  • September 16-October 22, 2015- Wait, wait, wait some more.
  • October 23, 2015– Received and accepted my official invitation to serve in Namibia as a Health Extension Volunteer
  • November 2, 2015– Legal kit sent from HQ and started online modules on HIV Basics, Safety and Security, as well as PC Core Expectations
  • November 13, 2015- Completed fingerprints and legal kit and returned via expedited mail
  • November 20, 2015– Placement Office received my completed legal kit
  • October though December– Spent making appointments and digging up medical records for medical clearance.

On that note:

Thank you Gabby from Texas Hip & Knee for you incredible patience in filling out seemingly never-ending paperwork regarding my knee.

Also, thank you Head Athletic Trainer Edwin Detweiler from SWOSU for going to the vault and finding records on my knee surgery from 10 years ago during my soccer days.

  • December 17, 2015– Finally tracked down a Yellow Fever Vaccine
  • February 16, 2016 – My birthday and the day I announced to on my blog about my offer to serve in the Peace Corps, oh and I had to visit Quest Diagnostics to have lab work for G6PD, guess this was unintentional missed during my physical, travel immunizations, and dental appointments.

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  • March 2, 2016– Finally, received medial and dental clearance to depart for Namibia
  • March 8, 2016– Updated resume and aspiration statement

6 months and 1 day, for start until finish.

Even though the medical clearance was a pain in the rear during most of the time, three things particularity made this portion a tad bit easier for me:

1) Being enrolled in my dietetic internship required me to be up-to-date with most of my immunizations, so I only need a few.

2) Part-time employment at Starbucks. This meant I had insurance which covered many of the medical/dental expenses, or made them more affordable for me.

3) Also, PC has a reimbursement program, so save your receipts and some medical expenses are reimbursable.

❤ Krystal