I have a an american friend(VANESSA) who is working for the peace corps in Madagascar. She is working in Diego(norhtern part of Madagascar). As I meet here many times, I took the opportunity to ask her about his life as a PCV in my country(Madagascar). Please find hereinafter the interview that I made.
BESORONGOLA: When did you come to Madagascar
VANESSA: I came to Madagascar on March 3, 2010.
BESORONGOLA: How did you heard about Madagascar?
VANESSA: I heard about Madagascar mostly after finding out I was going to be serving as a PCV here; I read informational books in the states before coming and all the material the PC gave to me about the culture and language.
BESORONGOLA: What does it mean a Peace Corps volunteers for you?
VANESSA: Being a PCV has many different meanings, and is constantly changing. I think it is very important to educate Americans about cultures other than their own because Americans have a very pervasive cultural in the global community. That is why I think my blog is an important educational tool for the Americans that read it. I also think being a PCV means helping to teach the Malagasy people about other cultures and answer geographical and global issues. It means learning how to be patient and understanding.
BESORONGOLA: As a PCV, what are your main activities in Madagascar?
VANESSA: This question is hard to answer because it is so different for every volunteer. Some PCVs work with NGOs or in schools or health clinics, some work alone in their villages. For me, since I work alone at my site, I have been doing a lot more cross-cultural work, getting tamana in my village and determining how I can best support my community. This means meeting with different fikambananas and organizations to create programs and network for resources.
BESORONGOLA: It seems that PCV speak Malagasy fluently, is that true?
VANESSA: The number one way to get integrated into a culture is by learning the language, so yes, it is essential that PCVs speak Malagasy well. Because most of us live and work intensively with Malagasy people, where we must practice speaking everyday. Not everyone is fluent, but we try.
BESORONGOLA: Can you say few Malagasy words with their meaning?
VANESSA: Mitsangatsangana- to wander/ walk around; Menatra- ashamed/ embarrassed; Mipoerapoera- to show off/ boast
BESORONGOLA: Are you affected by the current Malagasy political crisis?
VANESSA: The way all of the PCVs are concerned about the crisis is that if a major upheaval happens, it will lead to all us having to be evacuated from the country (again, as happened in March 2009). None of us want this to happen, so it is a concern. Other than that, we are not able to express specific opinions about the political situation for safety and security reasons.
BESORONGOLA: What makes Madagascar different from the other countries that you visited?
VANESSA: I have traveled extensively across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. Madagascar is my first African country, so there are many differences regarding distribution of wealth, certain “fady”, food culture, music, the more relaxed lifestyle, the kindness and friendliness of people, the unique environment and animals.
BESORONGOLA: Do you appreciate your life in Madagascar?
VANESSA: I love my life in Madagascar and am very “tamana” in my village. The only struggle I have is being so far from my family and friends and not having a clearly defined job at my site. I have so much to learn from living here, and am very appreciative for every day.
BESORONGOLA: in your opinion, what should be the top priorities of Madagascar now?
VANESSA: This is also a very challenging question, because I feel like I am still learning a lot about Madagascar, having only lived here for 7 months. It takes a long time to know a place. But, I would say it is very important for Malagasy people to improve food production techniques (using SRI rice techniques, building alternative cook stoves to reduce forest impacts, etc) so that there is less environmental and economic impacts in the long term. There are so many resources and agencies in Madagascar that are working to improve the development and infrastructure here; Peace Corps is just one of them!