Monthly Archives: February 2009

Link Explosion

If anyone has been following some of the other volunteers due to their blogs being linked-to on my site, prepare to be engrossed by even more peace corps kenya bloggage!  My blog roll has been added to considerably, so feel free to now keep tabs not only on me, but also on what many other volunteers are doing in this country.  As I said before, part of my job is making connection; hopefully I have just made some more.

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PMOG – an approach at cultural exchange through play

Being an ICT Volunteer, it’s in my job description to figure out how technology can aid my country of service. The more general role of a Volunteer is to help make connections: connections between organizations within countries, connections with people in different countries, connections. But the most general, and most important role Volunteers play is that of cultural emissary. I am here to share American culture with Kenyans, and to share Kenyan culture with Americas. Initially this was done through letters written home about volunteer experiences, but with the explosion of Telecommunications infrastructure around the globe, the internet is providing a much more real time oppurtunity for exchange. I love this medium.

With these things in mind, enter the Passively Multiplayer Online Game (PMOG). PMOG is an application that turns the entire internet into one big game. This is a bit more tech oriented, so sorry if I lose some of my readers here. But for those who are internet-savvy, think StumbleUpon, but with rewards and a very strong community.

First you head on over to the PMOG website before believing what I say. Then you go ahead and download the PMOG Firefox Extension. Sorry guys, only Firefox is support for now. After that, go ahead and create your first profile on the website, and you are ready to go.

So what do you do with all this? You explore the web. Every new site you go to gets you points, and even more points if you are the first PMOG user to go to that site. You can use points to buy cool items. And what can you do with items? You can lay mines to annoy other PMOG users, or crates to reward them for possibly visiting one of your favorite sites.

But the educational component of all this, the sharing component, comes in the form of missions. With missions you are able to create a virtual tour of websites around the Internet, including little blurbs about what you are bringing someone to that site. And in the end, people who complete these missions, while not only being knowledge-enriched, are also rewarded by the PMOG system in the form of points.

This harkens back to the old system of web searching, when actual people would browse the internet and catalouge all the websites they discovered, including categorizing them for the big search engines like Yahoo! Except now, you are getting a much more specific tour of all the information out there.

I have created a first mission. It’s is a simple mission that basically takes people on a tour of some of my fellow bloggers in Kenya, but it’s a prototype for what may come. I can see this as an oppurtunity to enlighten people who want to be enlightened. I believe that many people playing PMOG are simply curious creatures, and curiosity can be one of the greatest allies of generating interest.  Interest to me is specific curiosity.  And once there is interest, there can be exchange.  So by generating curiosity about Peace Corps Kenya, I hope cultural exchange will soon follow.  Then I can comfortably say I have been doing my job here 🙂

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Rain

Below I will list the effects of rain on Kenya as I have witnessed:

  1. People are happy because it waters the crops they desperately need.
  2. In many cases it removes the humidity from the air and cools a place down. This does not always hold true on the coast where saying it lowers the humidity would be the equivalent of filling a drinking glass from the ocean and saying you lowered sea level. There are just some facts which are statistically negligible.
  3. Matatus stop running. They fear wet roads. I think this may be the one safety mechanism built into the whole matatu system: fear of wet roads. Otherwise they fear nothing else.
  4. People stop moving in general and seek shelter under the nearest buildings awning. This also gives them a good half hour break after the rain has stopped because, well, you wouldn’t want to get caught in it if it starts again, so wait it out a little and see what happens.
  5. Electricity shuts off. I don’t have either a legitimate or wise-crack answer for this one. It can just be plain annoying. Needless to say I’m supposed to be teaching computers today. The one thing in this country that needs electricity to run. And we don’t have a generator for the computer lab… though maybe I can swing one…. they do like my proposals after all…

This list may continue to grow beyond its original size if I remember anything else.

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An interesting fact

One of my classes did not show up today. This was their second time not doing so. Upon consulting my principal we both discover that they have collectively decided to no longer attend my compulsory sessions. I have never felt so inadequate in my life. But i keep on trucking. Thats what peace corps is about right? See how low low really is. We have pockets of patience and flexibility.

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Camping

Went camping with some Peace Corps and a British volunteer down in Msambweni, about an hour and a half matatu ride south of me.  The campsite is actually part of the PCV Jeff’s project (he’s from my training group), and we were helping assess the situation and prove it’s viability, and also just giving some good ole fashioned business.  Good times.  A few pictures made it up onto the photo stream.  Check them out at the right.

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Cognitive Dissonance

Can we all just think about the cognitive dissonance one must experience every day when living in a society where it is more acceptable to have a 3G cellular modem and cell phone than a refrigerator?

Also, I don’t know if cognitive dissonance is the correct phrase per se, I just like how it sounds.

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In other news today…

Monkeys stole my lunch.  And no, this is not like my knife where I just couldn’t find it, and then eventually did, and made up a story about monkeys stealing.  This actually happened.

I was sitting on my sofa just thinking (we do that a lot in Peace Corps apparently.  The Corps’ tagline should be, “Two years thinking while most likely sweating like you’ve never sweat before!”), and I hear a rustling.  It sounds an awful lot like the plastic bag my carrot and tomato (yes, one carrot and one tomato) are in.  At first though I thought I was imagining it.  Then I hear it again and again.  So I get up and walk into my kitchen.

And there are two monkeys sitting on my counter trying to open my bag.  Of course they see me and bolt out my open door (I had left it open for air flow… see the sweating comment above).  Do they leave the bag?  No, they take it and make it over the 15 foot fence like it was a nothing.  I think I heard them laughing as they went.

Needless to say, I successfully made a caramelized onion sandwich.  It was also supposed to have carrot and tomato in it, but, well, apparently I have a monkey problem.

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