blog it home 2017.

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Forgive me. I have to get a little textbooky with you. But, just briefly. I mean, you could just skip over the beginning, but then you pose the risk of this post not making much sense.

Okay, you made it through the introduction, so just read the three points. Goal 3 is most pertinent to this post, but 1 and 2 are important as well. So, I guess after you read 3, go back and read 1 and 2. Now, read them in order. Perfect! It flows better that way.

Peace Corps Goals:

1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

The first two goals are what PCVs live and breathe day in and day out. They say being a PCV is a 24/7 job and that is certainly true. The last goal, commonly referred to as the Third Goal, is what Moving Wright Along is about- sharing the culture of Namibia with y’all back home and I hope you’re enjoying it.

Easier access to the internet changed the game in Third Goal communication. Never did I imagine while being 8,000-miles away from home I would still be able to connect with my friends and family back home and feel like, in some cases, I’ve never left.

The power of social media via Facebook, Instagram, WordPress (all my favorite platforms) has changed things.

Since 2013, Peace Corps has hosted the Blog it Home contest. Winners were then invited to Washington, D.C. for one week to promote the Third Goal in a series of intercultural presentations, professional development events, and other activities around the city.

Blog it Home has had over 1,000 PCVs participate since 2013. So, this year, with a fresh look, Peace Corps posts globally are hosting their own Blog it Home competitions. This means more bloggers, more winners, and more fantastic Third Goal stories!

But, no trip to D.C., but it’s still okay. :/

I have decided to enter Moving Wright Along into the running for Blog it Home in Namibia.

So, what I would love from you:

Nothing.

Okay, I lied.

Just keep on reading Moving Wright Along. After you read, comment. After you comment, share. Although winners are not chosen based on readership, I think it’s important that I am reaching my audience to promote cross-cultural understanding.

If you’re new here, check out some of my reader’s favorites:

And if you want, check out a few of my favorites:

My blog will be judged on the following criteria: Demonstrated commitment to increasing intercultural understanding (40%), cultural richness of blog (30%), quality of writing (15%), quality of media content (15%).

So, I need you, yes you, to continue to read and engage with me on all of my Moving Wright Along platforms.

I want to thank y’all for reading, sharing, liking and following my blog, Instagram, and Facebook page. I used to think when people from around the world read my blog, it was by sheer accident. I’m coming to terms with the fact that people across the globe actually subscribe to and read my blog, intentionally, and that’s pretty cool.

Follow Moving Wright Along, Peace Corps Namibia, and Peace Corps on Instagram: @movingwrightalong@peacecorpsnamibia, and  @peacecorps

Like Moving Wright Along and Peace Corps Namibia and  Peace Corps on Facebook

❤ Krystal

peace corps and long-distance relationships.

During the application process, Peace Corps inquires about relationship statuses of all applicants. And for obvious reasons, they are casting for the next MTV’s Real World. I mean, after half a century of Peace Corps volunteers, they know the toll distance can take on relationships.

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Volunteers have extreme highs and lows throughout their 27 months of service and sometimes those ups-and-downs are difficult for someone on the “outside” to grasp. Romantic partners may worry from afar, but they still have no control over situations thousands of miles away.

I can’t tell you that a long-distance relationship is easy because it is not. I realize many things are out of my control (I think I need to write a blog post called: who is in control?). Some days the network is just down or the WiFi signal is only strong enough to connect in short phrases of “can you hear me?” or “what did you say?”

I originally wrote the post to give tips about navigating a long-distance relationship, but I realize there is no true answer across the board. But, I will tell you the two most important reasons why a long- distance relationship as worked for us.

Openness

“Big talk” and the tone was set early in our relationship. We’ve defined our relationship and what that entails during and after my service. Of course, openness includes honesty, trust, and patience. Since we’re able to discuss these things, I believe we’ve been able to build a stronger foundation.

Support

Having support back home can make or break a volunteer’s service, IMO. I have been extremely fortunate to have a boyfriend who has supported my decision to continue on with Peace Corps and “accomplish the goals I set out to meet.” Peace Corps is important to him because it is important to me. Having a boyfriend who can provide sound advice especially when my emotions are whack has been beneficial for me. I won’t go into sappy deets.

Another bonus of our long-distance relationship is we don’t argue much. We realize the times we talk are valuable and there’s little time or energy to be upset with each other.

Welp, there you have it.

❤ Krystal

 

 

you’re invited to camp glow.

I’m writing to ask for your help with one of our main projects in Namibia.

We’re currently raising funds for Camp GLOW (Guys and Girls Leading Our World). It’s a leadership camp which focuses on gender equality and will take place in Windhoek at the end of August. We have 44 campers from all over the country, meaning youth from different tribes and cultures coming together (many of them seeing the capital for the first time) and exploring ways to set goals, break stereotypes, and become the leaders of Namibia’s tomorrow.

I’m sending Teopolina, a Grade 9 learner, to camp this year, so it’s consuming my every waking thought. Because of Peace Corps policy, I’m not allowed to post our fundraising link directly to Facebook. I know it’s summertime and you’re all really busy, but if you can give even $10, every little bit counts.

Follow this link:

https://donate.peacecorps.gov/donate/project/camp-glow-namibia-2017/ where you can find more information about Camp GLOW and how you can help.

If you can think of anyone else who would be able to make a contribution please send the link along to them.

I’m eternally grateful for any help you can give.

Thank you in advance!

❤ Krystal

red, braai, and blue.

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I always look forward to holidays. It seems that once the 4th of the July hits each year, the final months of the year fly by. For many American expats, getting US holidays off of work is a rarity, unless the holidays are also observed in our host countries. In Namibia, shared observations of holidays include Good Friday, Easter, Christmas, New Years Eve and Day, to name a few. All other holidays are just days.

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To make up for holidays missed, many times PCVs organize celebrations on weekends before or following the holiday. This year, Independence Day fell on a Tuesday, so to make-up, we held a braai the Saturday following in a town central to many Ovamboland volunteers.

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A braai is in many ways similar to what Americans call a barbecue. And just how Americans use the word barbecue as a noun and a verb, the word braai is no different.

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Photo from Krystal W.jpg

Yeah, Rachael and I braaied pizza. Mmm. Sweet Baby Ray’s!

One of Peace Corps goals is to share American culture with our host country- colleagues, family, and friends. Fortunately for us, most Namibian’s main food group is meat, so it didn’t take much convincing to involve locals.

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Celebrating Independence Day abroad not only brings together PCVs, but also other expats as well. This year, many World Teach Volunteers joined the festivities as well as PCV’s colleagues, significant others, and friends.

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Namibia celebrated 27 years of independence on March 21 of this year, while the United States celebrated 241 years. Being from a country almost 10 times “older” than Namibia, I’m reminded each day the amount of patience that should continue to go into the work I am doing.

During the 2016 holiday season, I started a tradition of using a tablecloth at special events in which everyone signs. Each year, I will hand embroider each person’s writing to remember all my friends and family who I have shared special occasions with during my service and even after. This will most likely be the last big celebration with the current group of volunteers. Group 42 will COS in later this year, and a new group of education volunteers will arrive in August.

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Happy 4th, y’all!

❤ Krystal

11 years in the making.

I have never been known for having a good memory. My older brother would get upset with me when he would start reminiscing about good ole days, and I couldn’t remember the slightest details. He can recall Christmases from when we were in diapers, road trips across the country, and what pizza toppings were on a pizza during a family movie night in 1996. Even if I exhaustively jog my memory, I come up with nothing.

My freshman year of college, I took Intro to Public Speaking. This was a required class, but I enjoyed it because it served as a sort of therapy for me. During this time in college, my parent’s had recently divorced and I was going through physical therapy for my ACL tear. It was a rough time for me to say the least, so I found solace in writing down and presenting my thoughts (I’m sure I was a wreck), but I remember one thing clearly:

In this class, I decided I was going to bungee jump at Victoria Falls.

Okay, let me back up a little.

One of my classmates was Zambian. She gave a speech about a fear that she overcame. That fear was bungee jumping from Victoria Falls Bridge. She described the fear, exhilaration, excitement, and adrenaline she experienced during her jump, and from that day on, I put bungee jumping at Victoria Falls on my bucket list.

One problem.

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In 2006, I had no clue where Zambia was even at. Let alone Victoria Falls. Was it in South America? Or an island off of Australia? As I told you before in a previous post, I’ve never been a traveller, so putting something on my bucket list was okay. I mean, if it happened it happened, and if not, it was a stretch goal after all.

In the years following college, I can’t say I actively devised a plan to achieve this bucket list item aside from pinning it on my Pinterest. When I moved to Namibia, I realized Victoria Falls wasn’t too far away.

So, last month I  found myself in Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe and Zambia are neighboring countries) to run in Victoria Falls marathon (I only ran (walked/jogged) the 7.5k fun run). During my weekend, I realized, this was my opportunity to fulfil a dream over a decade in the making. As soon as I checked into Shoestrings Backpackers, I booked my ticket to jump at Shearwater Bungee in Victoria Falls.

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On June 17, 2017, I was the 9th bungee jumper from Victoria Falls Bridge. All of the feelings my classmate described that day in 2006, were #allthefeels I experienced in my jump.

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What bucket list items do you want to fulfil? Wanna bungee jump at Victoria Falls?

Come visit me! I don’t think I’ll jump again, but I’ll watch.

❤ Krystal

the truth about fomo as a peace corps volunteer.

When I was growing up my parents were strict. I jokingly tell people that the pastor’s kids had more freedoms than my older brother and me. My parents had parental locks on MTV, BET, and VH1 (Larry figured out the code, P.S. Don’t use your children’s birthdays, hehe). Sleeping over at friends houses were few and far between and I knew nothing about sex until I was 14 or 15, since I was excused from the “Facts of Life” education at school. So, growing up it’s safe to say, I dealt with a lot of FOMO (failure of missing out) because in many cases I did.

As a college student, I made sure I never missed out on anything. Going to the library parties Wednesday through Saturday night, football games, university events, movies, Spring break trips, you name it, I was probably there. This trend continued through my 20s as my way of making up for lost time.

Then, I joined the Peace Corps.

27 months away from my close family and friends.

27 months of missing out.

Missing out of life events such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other significant milestones.

Besides many trivial things I am missing back stateside during my time in Namibia, these are real things. These are times I can’t get back or recreate. These are times I couldn’t prepare myself for prior to leaving for service, although I did try.

It has become so easy for me, and I am sure for other expats, to dwell on everything we’re missing at home. Recently, my friend, Carrie, challenged me to think of things I would be missing if I chose to not come to Namibia. With a little bit of thought, here I go:

    1. Making Lifelong Friends

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      I mean, I could make lifelong friends anytime or place, but in April of last year, I began a journey with volunteers who will always just “get it” and “get me”. Volunteers from all over the States who will appreciate what it takes to be a PCV. I have made friends who continue to challenge me, support me, and relate to me on a daily basis. In addition, I have gained friends from Namibia- from PC staff, colleagues, host families, and neighbors. Being a volunteer in Namibia means gaining a namily, that’s for sure.

    2. Learning a New Language and about a New Culture

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      Why would I want to re-learn French when I can learn Oshikwanyama? I learned a language I never even knew existed in a country I never knew existed before applying to Peace Corps. Each and every day I learn new things about a culture I would have never known about without taking the leap to travel outside the borders of my own.

    3. Traveling to New Countries

      Before Namibia, the only stamp in my passport was from Mexico (not even sure if that counts if you’re from Texas). I have never been an avid traveler, but by the end of my service, I will have a handful (or two) of stamps added to my collection.

    4. Discovering New Skills and Hobbies

      I taught myself to hand embroider. I’ve practiced more of my calligraphy and doodling (yes, there’s an art to doodling). I made my own sourdough bread and reignited my love of gardening. Yes, the life of a volunteer is hectic, but I also have a lot more downtime than I have ever had (or will ever have again). Watching movies and TV shows get old, so learning something new is never a bad idea.

    5. Strengthening Old Relationships

      Although I am thousands of miles away, there is something about distance that helps strengthen relationships. Not only in romantic relationships (but, those too). Being away from family and friends has allowed me to make more decisions about me, and what makes my life meaningful and fulfilling without other people’s anxieties and emotions influencing them. I have gained a greater sense of independence and realize more of my ability to do things (and do them well) on my own. Distance has made me better at planning communication with people back home while also determining which relationships have been worth sustaining in my time away.

    6. Increasing Knowledge and Skills for Future Endeavors

      Peace Corps, for me, offered an opportunity to change my career path while gaining two years of hands-on experience. I have also had the ability to acquire knowledge and refine skills that may make me more marketable post-Peace Corps. Granted, there is still plenty of time between now and COS (close of service), these are still important things to consider IMO.

    7. Realizing How Much “Grit” I Have and How to Survive on Less 

      Endurance. Passionate. Excellence. Courage. Perseverance.

      I don’t think I truly knew what grit was until I joined the Peace Corps. But, I’m positive that I have had in inter-weaved in my personal makeup my entire life. Many days as PCV are disappointing. Many days I must revisit the drawing board. In all of the unpredictability, these things are predictable. So, why do I do this? Why am I still here? Grit. That’s the only way to explain it. I have the desire and need to achieve and love the feeling of accomplishing a long-term goal. Yes, enduring a variety of hardships in my living and working environments may not be for the faint of spirit, but in a crazy way, having grit breathes life into me.

      Also, no promises that I won’t try to serve lentils 101 ways after Peace Corps, but living minimal really makes you think about what is important in life, and what brings true happiness (the secret is: it’s not things).

So, with all the FOMO, there is a joy to be gained. JOMO, if you will (I didn’t make this up). I’ve found joy in having time to get to know myself absent of fears and anxiety. Even if I am missing milestones back home, there are so many experiences I am gaining here. With more one year of service to go, I continue to look forward to the months ahead.

❤ Krystal