Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 9th - BOOK CLUB

Rachel and I finally started our Uni-CV book club. It’s something I had wanted to do for over a year, but got stuck on the idea that I needed to supply the books. Instead I am trying to create a compromise by typing up the book to cut down on the amount of money it will cost the students to photocopy the books.

We are going to begin to meet twice a month. The first book up, chosen by the overwhelming majority of the club members, is James McBride’s The Color of Water.

Now a little on the random side, I am in the process of writing my second grant proposal. Whereas our library has a good number of books, we are missing come classics and most contemporary books. I am going to include a list of the books on this page.

Angelou, M. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Cooper, J.F. Last of the Mohicans
Crane, S. The Red Badge of Courage\
Ellison, R. Invisible Man
Faulkner, W. As I Lay Dying
Huxley, A. Brave New World
Kafka, F. The Trial
Kesey, K. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Larson, E. The Devil in the White City
Lee, H. To Kill a Mockingbird
McBride, J. The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Salinger, J.D. Catcher in the Rye
Sedaris, D. Me Talk Pretty One Day
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club
Tolkien, J.R.R. Lord of the Rings
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Smith, B. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels
Vonnegut, K. Slaughterhouse-Five
Dahl, Roald. James and The Giant Peach
Dahl Roald. The BFG.
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy.
Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

I have two requests. The first one is if you have these books or others that you think would be useful in a library (including young adult books) and would like to do something nice for the holidays, please send them my way. I think you can get a set price box from the post office for 5-15 bucks to ship things to Cape Verde.
You can send them to Lindsay Williamson C.P. 1120 Mindelo, S.Vicente, Cabo Verde.

The second request is that I am trying to figure out other methods to getting these books or class sets of books for the library. If you know of any organization or you work for schools, etc. I can appeal to for funds or book donations, please send me the information.

Thanks! In case I don’t update again before the holidays, have a warm, merry and healthy Christmas and New Year!

I’ll be heading off to Fogo to attempt climbing a volcano. It’s rumored to be three hours to climb up but only half an hour to climb down. It should be exciting. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t trip over my own feet yet one more time!

December 5th - SANTO ANTAO, COVA

Went to S.Antao for the day. Decided to come back early to tackle cleaning and work, but not before walking in an old volcanic crater, that’s now farmland, and then walking downhill into Paul before stopping at Alfreds.

November 28th - THANKSGIVING

We organized a big Thanksgiving dinner. The e-mails alone were enough to cause immediate salivation. We all cooked and prepared different dishes and ended up with enough food to feed a small nation. I stuffed myself so silly in the first ten minutes that I could hardly move.

It’s funny to see how people react to stuffing themselves. We had some pacers, some belly rubbers, and of course some lay down on the ground and don’t movers. Some pictures of the evening.


113-year-old World War I vet Henry Allingham passed away in the English coastal town of Ovingdean.

Allingham chalked up his long life to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women" and sources close to the war veteran said he "possessed a great spirit of fun."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I finally completed my first grant for funding. Some of you can expect packages in the mail of a copy of my grant if it is accepted and approved.

The backstory of the grant is that another volunteer that had taught English at the high school in Coculi, S.Antao, had ordered class sets of 12 award winning young adult books. She had chosen one to read with her eighth grade class and had created a study guide to accompany the book. The project was a success and her students were really enthusiastic about reading the book and completing the various assignments. In Cape Verde books are extremely expensive and many students hadn't had access to books before this project(most students don't even have textbooks - many rely on photocopying everything). She was really happy with the project and had been looking forward to creating study guides for the rest of the books when she extended and stayed for an additional year. Unfortunately, a minor medical problem resulted in her not being medically cleared to continue service.

That's where I come in. We were talking about her project and I asked if I could borrow a copy of each book. This semester I am teaching a teaching methodologies class and figured it would be a great project for my students to take on. My class was divided into groups and each group received a book. The students will create study guides for the book over the course of the semester.

In addition to the study guides, I'm hoping to get funding to order a copy of each book for all of the secondary schools located in CV. The books can eventually be incorporated into the national curriculum to promote literacy and EFL skills.

I'm really excited about the prospect of the project, especially in that I think it's something that will be sustainable and offer future volunteers an opportunity to expand the project even further.

I was especially touched when I heard how careful her students were with the books when the were reading Bridge to Terabitha, and seeing my students take the same care. I've also heard from co-workers that they are often working on the project between classes.

November 9th - THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT...

Some pictures of a few of my favorite neighbors. I taught them the hand slap game and now they come running when they see me. Really sweet kids. The decided to follow me home the other day. I tried to teach them 'cheese' (since most Cape Verdeans are super serious in photos for reasons I can't fathom) and how to take a self-portrait.

November 6th - DACIA DAVIS AND CO.

My future travel buddy and her brother and sister in law. Good company. I was tempted to go over to Santo Antao with them... Coulda shoulda woulda. I decided to stay to get ahead of my classes. Always easier to imagine than do. Regardless, got some fun times in with them. Let the penguin flap live on...

November 6th - DENG-HUH?

This weekend may have been the most laid back and relaxing weekend I've had since coming to Cape Verde. There has been a Dengue fever outbreak in some of the southern islands, particularly the main island of Santiago. Apparently over 3000 cases have been reported in the past couple of weeks. For a country of less than half a million, that's a pretty significant number. I've since read up on Dengue fever thanks to handy printouts throughout the time. I now know that there are four types of the fever, all with varying levels of seriousness. Did you know that it's the second most common infectious disease behind malaria? Neither did I.

The CV government declared a national day of service to cleanup the country and combat mosquitos. Instead of teaching my three Friday classes, I got up early and headed out to the engineering campus to help with the clean up (limpeza). Clean up consisted of picking up all the trash in and around campus, etc. We climbed on rooftops to clear off debris, leaves, etc. and overturned anything that could potentially collect water and therefore harbor mosquitos. It was an OCD's dream. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. When else would you get to climb over fences and tramp through fields without looking like a nut. Nothing like getting down and dirty to feel like you are accomplishing something.

Some of the other professors that came clearly meant business. They were dressed in jumpsuits and had gallon jugs with hoses attached to their backs. Sort of a ghostbuster flashback. Apparently gasoline keeps away the bugs. Although I love the smell of gas stations, I can't help but to think widespread use of it as a deterrent is all that safe.

Another downside to the cleanup was the burning of massive amounts of trash. I'm not sure what's better - for the trash to be dumped in the ocean or burned and released into the air. Both options seem pretty non-inticing. I guess trash always has to go somewhere, but there have to be better options.

Regardless of the somewhat painful reminders of what we do to the earth on a daily basis, it was awesome to see everyone pitching in around town. I wonder if people in the US would take advantage of a national day of service to help out and volunteer. I like to think yes, but you never know.

Although I didn't have my camera with me out at the DECM campus, I did take a pic of some of my neighbors cleaning up our cozy little area...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monday October 19th 2009

Classes started this week, finally! The week was combined with academic week, whichhas made some things a little hairy.

I'm teaching everyday. To say I'll probably be busy this semester, is probably an understatement. I'm teaching four sections, four different disciplines, in three departments, at two campuses. I've also added a few additional advisees to fill the slots of my advisees that completed their papers. The good news is that my monographia advisees from last year will finally get a chance to defend their papers! I'm confident that they will do great.

I'm excited for my classes, but a bit apprehensive about my first class at the other campus. Class there starts on Monday and I've yet to be contacted with any information from them. I wouldn't even know I'm scheduled to teach the class if it hadn't been for a little luck. To me that's not a good sign.

Regardless, I've been busy working all day (even during my seista (I know!!!)) trying to get a step ahead. The planning is coming along pretty good and now I'm just trying to get everything nice and organized. Being slightly OCD is definitely a double edged sword.

October 20th, 2009 - Ramblin'...

My last weekend of half-days and little responsibility. On Friday night we decided to celebrate with a little morrei (fried eel). Amazing. I certainly wouldn't want to encounter one of those little guys in the water, but when they are good and dead, I'm game. I even love the chewy skin ( I generally have a strange aversion to the texture of certain foods). The spinas (tiny bones) are the only thing that causes some slight hesitation. Maybe this is the secret to why Cape Verdeans are on average an above average looking people. The French had it wrong. Eat foods with bones, and eventually you will learn to savor your food and slow down. If it weren't for the spinas you'd better believe I'd absolutely devour them whole. What fascinates me is that Cape Verdeans can eat these pieces of heaven without looking the least bit perplexed. Some might even say gracefully. You don't even see them getting rid of the bones until they are all stacked in a neat little pile on the plate. In the meantime I'm sitting there with bones on my shirt and in my hair. I'm pretty sure it's the equivalent of a baby trying to eat spaghetti next to an Italian Don. I mean a fork and a spoon? Really? Too complicated.

As if that wasn't enough, when I ran into a former colleague later I couldn't refrain from blurting out that I heard his voice this summer when I was flying to Boston. You know the voice in the video that tells you to fill out your customs forms? Yeah, well I know him. Funny coincidence. One more to added to list of people that have a legitimate reason to think I might be borderline insane.

Aside from that, on Sunday I went on the AM hike. Of course I initially went to the wrong gas station, but I realized my mistake. I'd like to think it's because my brain is slow to wake up before the sun, but the problem is it doesn't become much faster later on in the day. The walks are usually about 3-4 hours (of course with a snack in the middle) but this one was a bit longer. We circled Mount Verde and walked along a ribeira until we reached the water. From their I broke off with another volunteer I managed to coerce into waking up early and a co-worker. We detoured and walked to one of the more secluded beaches. Apparently it used to be the 'posh' beach and only the wealthy had access because you needed a truck to get out there. Just last year they finished building a beautiful new road so now.... hello, we roll in! So much for keeping it posh. Unfortunately I was not only not wearing a suit, but I also forgot my camera.

Monday, October 12, 2009


October 5th - BACK TO SCHOOL

This past week I was back in Mindelo. I went back to work and got a tentative schedule. It looks like I’ll be teaching three classes at our campus and a basic English class out at what was formally known as ISECMAR (the engineering campus). At our main campus, I’ll be teaching a methodology course, Basic English Part II course, and Oral Comprehension. I’m hoping to get my classes sorted out and organized during the week. As usual I’m facing the problem of my mind going in a million different directions for each class, and having to sort through it all to make a sensible plan for the semester.

I'm really excited about the teaching methodologies class because I'm going to try to incorporate two secondary activities.

Laurie, who was teaching English at the secondary school in Cochuli, Santo Antao, had started a project that I'm hoping my students will complete. While she was teaching she wrote a proposal for books for the English sections. She had ordered a class set of 12 different award winning young adult books. She had read Bridge to Terabithia with her students and had created a detailed study guide to accompany the book. In Cape Verde, books are not only really expensive, but the selection is very limited. In the high schools, instead of having course books, students have to photocopy almost all materials. When even basic course books are limited, outside reading becomes almost null. It sounds like the students were really proud of their accomplishment (reading an entire book in a third language would undoubtedly be no small feat). She had been hoping to create study guides for the remaining books so that any English teacher could use them in their classroom. I'm going to borrow a copy of each book from the library and have my third year students work on creating study guides for each one. They are studying to be teachers and I can't think of a better situation in which they get to practice their own skills but also help others. I'm hoping that they will be as excited about the project as I am. In the meantime I'm going to try to apply for additional grants to purchase a copy of each book and to print and bind copies of the set of study guides to then be distributed to each high school in CV (35 in all).

I also met with a women from Italy that had been teaching English out in Ribiera Craiquinha. Craiquinha is known as one of the "rougher" zones in Mindelo, complete with gangs that get a perverse thrill from mugging (cash or body) people. She had been teaching two English classes at the youth center. One for elementary aged children and one for teenagers. She had received my name from a common acquaintance and was hoping that I would be willing to pick up where she was leaving off. I'd love to work with younger kids again, but since I'm here for a limited time, I figured it would be better to try to get some of my students involved. I'm going to try to organize a system to have our English students teach a course there once a semester. Between the 60 Ss it can be a great way to get some of them to volunteer their time, serve as role models for the Ss. and to practice their own English and teaching skills.

I'm also currently working on applying for funds to beef up our own library at the language campus of Uni-CV. Previous volunteers recently acquired over 400 books to add to the library, but it lacks many important works and resources that could be useful. I'm also hoping to start a book club with the English students and I'm hoping to get the funding necessary to purchase sets of a selected few for that purpose.


I finally got a chance to walk out to Baia.

I went out with the other V's on SV. We ended up taking the shortcut along the road that has been washed out by the rains. It was a nice detour, not to mention I I learned what the heck an ant lion is (even saw one devouring a small dead beetle). I've never seen the island so green and since it'll start returning to it's usual dirt brown in another week or so, I'm glad I had the chance to see while I can.

October 10th - WALK


Thursday, October 8, 2009


Medical went well. I have low pressure, which I’m thinking is a good thing. I also hd some little parasites camping out in my belly. No big deal. I have to take a week of antibiotics to get rid of the little guys. I hope they enjoyed their stay while it lasted.

I also had to get my hearing checked and x-rays. I thought it was a little disconcerting that they take you into the x-ray room in small groups and you stand and wait while people get their close-ups. Eh, a little radiation never hurt anyone.

I also spent a bit of time visiting a fellow volunteer who was knocked down by a dog. Sounds pretty harmless, but this dog must have been a beast because it pretty much simultaneously took out both of her knees. The downside is that we are losing her for a month or two while she gets treated and recovers in the States, the upside is that she’s determined to get better to get back here. She also had some pretty outstanding roommies. My personal favorite was Donna Joanna who was 87 and trying to kick her way out of her bed to fazi xixi (make pee).

If you ever happen to find yourself in a hospital in CV, make sure to bring your own pillow, food, drinks, toiletries, and even toilet paper. Just in case.


Apparently it rains in S.Vicente. Really hard. Who knew? I at least didn´t. While I was away my island turned green (granted there is still more brown, than green I´ll give it to them).

I had four days in Mindelo before having to head to Praia for mid-service medical and it didn´t stop raining the entire time. The streets flooded and the city seemed to shut down. Talk about setting the mood to invite a little homesickness. This summer CV had record amounts of rain. While that´s great news for some areas and islands, it´s been equally devastating for others. Whereas my host family had a great two years of farming in Assomada on Santiago, I talked to a friend who lives in S.Nicolau and was really upset to hear that it just devastated the island. The new road there washed out, farms were ruined, mudslides covered homes. A family even passed away after their home was washed out. It just seems ironic that in areas that are so dry and where rain is generally appreciated, it sometimes wreaks absolute havoc.

I´m attaching some pictures of my island green. I was sent these by the hiking group. I´m hoping to walk out there soon to see it for myself.


After the family fun day times even, it was back to NY.

After a few days back home, I headed back into the city, back to Boston, back to Praia, and finally back to S.Vicente.

The trip home was incredible, but felt like it went by way to fast. Even though I'm really happy in Mindelo, it was still hard to leave home.

My top 10 list...

1. Having an excuse to basically force all sorts of friends together for a night out
2. The comfort of being home (even just the smell of home)
3. Reclaiming my job as the official ªlaundry b*tchª of the house
4. The large popcorn and large soda combo at the movie theater
4. Riley
5. Organizing my life.
6. Walking around the city so much in one day that your legs are sore
7. Boston
9. Rainy nights upstate
10. New pants that fit

Don't even get me started on the foods that I devoured while being home... or the fountain sodas consumed...