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One Month in- Halfway point of Pre Service Training!

April 6, 2013

I “unplugged” myself for about a month during our Malagasy home stays. For the rest of Pre Service Training (PST) we will be staying at the training center on the lake in Mantasoa until we are sworn in on May 10th. Reflecting an entire month of experiences in one post is impossible, so I will try and keep this one short and sweet by focusing on home stay basics.

First, let me introduce you to my family! I truly believe that I have the best host family out of all the volunteers. My mother, Justine, was always patient and understanding when I stumbled my way through conversations in my broken Malagasy. My sisters, Ranto, Sarika, and Mirana all were fantastic companions on the weekends and in my free time when I time to relax, watch football (Americans read: soccer), and learn Malagasy games.

After a month’s worth of memories, my favorite is probably dancing and singing with my sisters and their cousins and friends every night before dinner. It is amazing how half a world away, so many things are so incredibly similar. “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” is in their repertoire as are songs particular to Madagascar. My favorite (because it’s the only one I know all the words to) goes something like this in English:

Wash and we will play,

wash and we will play

And your shoulders

And your hands

And your shoulders and your hands

It makes a lot more sense in Malagasy then it does in English- they have much fewer grammar rules than do we Anglophones. After games in our packed red dirt yard, we would sit down to dinner by candlelight, as only the village president and a select few others in Anjozoro have electricity. Dinner was usually either spaghetti noodles with various veggies, or rice and a loaka, or side dish, usually beans of some sort. I am feeling really good after a solid month of only whole grain fresh veggie meals! Aside from their general awesomeness including cooking for me, my family would also review the day’s Malagasy lesson with me- another benefit to having classes at my family’s house, along with getting to have extra time at the house in the AM.

Now I am in a new home, with more amenities, and potentially “more connected”. Though I appreciate having all the things around me that remind me of home, I find it’s almost easier to not have them at all. I enjoyed focusing on my language and technical classes and then unwinding with my Malagasy family at the end of the day. Though the first couple of days were strange (a lot of pointing and naming things), it was a great way to learn not only the language, but the important skill of living within a Malagasy community. It’s not a perfect parallel to our sites, as many sites are new and have never hosted a volunteer before. Anjozoro, our home stay village, gets volunteers at with every stage that comes through pre service training. Regardless of their constant exposure to volunteers, it is still a valuable opportunity to learn the ins and outs of Malagasy communities in a safe place. Thankfully, our training center is located in the area where we have our home stays (it is about 5k from Anjozoro to the training center in Mantasoa). I will get to visit my family on the weekends, but will not by any means be as familiar with the community as I was when living there. Sad to leave, but happy that I will get another 4 weeks here to visit before being dropped in my permanent home of….drum roll….(we had to wait a whole month to find out our placements so I’ll keep you all waiting as long as I can…..)





AMPONDRALAVA (it means a Tall Donkey in Malagasy!). More on my site will be up in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime I will be learning my new northern dialect, until now it’s been official Malagasy, which is spoken in the highlands. We have a technical training trip, where we will get to learn all about different environment volunteers projects and see some of the other sites, a little bit more of the country, and work a little bit with different groups of people here.


** Sorry, my site in proper Google-fied English in Ampondralava, I’ve updated this posts with new info recently acquired from different sources/ Translations and spellings are subject to change! Sorry!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill L. Smith permalink
    April 6, 2013 09:04

    I get a kick out of the fact that when I enter “Ampondrolava” into Google, the only result returned is this very blog post. Guess you really are going somewhere remote!


  2. April 6, 2013 09:33

    Hi Kim,

    Great reading your post. You sound great. I also got your letter to Anne and will forward the Scotland goodies.

    I had a great visit to Denver last week. Grandma looks great and Tim and Gayle are busy preparing for the big wedding.

    Love you lots and I’ll try to call Sunday morning your time.

    Love, Mom


  3. Paul Castelin permalink
    April 6, 2013 19:53

    Your Mom said it well when she said that you sounded great! You do sound excited and very engaged in your adventure. Thanks so much for posting; it’s a great way to share your experiences with those of us who love you so much and wish you well. You are perfectly suited for what you are doing and I have no doubt that you will personally have a big impact on those you encounter (as they will have on you!). Let us know if we can Skype with you once in a while.
    Uncle Paul


  4. April 8, 2013 23:52

    You sound so happy and charged up Kim! Thanks so much for posting – we think about you all the time. “Has anybody heard from Kim?” Is a common refrain around the office. Congratulations on the chance to do such excellent work and meet some wonderful people.


  5. Jarie Castelin permalink
    April 14, 2013 23:23

    Hi Kim! I am also following your blog! So interesting to learn about the different places, and people you have encountered so far;I am learning so much!! New names, new places! Thanks Kim for taking the time to write your blog as It is a gift to us as well as it will be a nice gift to you when you are finished. I am sending you mojo, mojo, mojo!
    Love and Hugs, Aunt Jarie


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