Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Halfway Home

Please don’t be deceived by the title of this post... I am not “going back to Cali” any time soon. Even though I plan to stay away from Oakland for more than two years, I still have two reasons to claim that I am "halway home".

First, I’ve just completed the fifth week of my nine-week Pre-Service Training, which officially puts me over the hump. I found the first few weeks to be helpful, but heavy on the theory. In other words, if I have to do another role-play or case study I may just vomit on myself. Luckily, we are into the meat of the training, which means more hands-on work, and more preparation that is specific to my assignment area and placement.

Just over a week ago, my 24 cohorts and I crowded into a classroom at the Escola Tecnica to get the answer to the question that each of us (and our families back home) have been asking for: "where exactly is the Peace Corps putting us for the next two years?” The walls of the room hosted illustrated maps of four of Cape Verde’s ten islands. On the floor in the middle of our circle rested 25 inflated balloons, each with a message waiting inside, fortune-cookie style. After taking a moment to get our minds right, we all stepped forward, grabbed our respective balloons, and got to poppin’. This may sound like pure fun, but take a second to imagine the anxiety that you might feel if you were in our shoes. Have you ever had a fortune cookie tell you what you next job would be, where you would be living for the next two years, or who you would be living with? Is that how you picked out your college, your major, or your last apartment? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are strange, but I still love you. As for my assignment, I was hardly surprised when my bubble burst—after all, I am the Luckiest Man Alive™. Here’s what my “fortune cookie-balloon” said:

“Andrew Williams - São Vicente”

After a week of basking in the glory of my luck, I got focused for a three-day Counterpart Conference. This event brought all of the Small Enterprise Development Volunteers (Trainees) together with our future parceiros (counterparts). Most importantly, I had a chance to sit down with the professionals with whom I’ll be working to learn more about the CEJ (Centro de Juventude), and to draft my job description. In this respect, I am blessed (again), and looking forward to working with my new team. I finally feel like I know where my next home will be (for work and for life), and as I enter week six, I can confidently say that I am halfway there.

The sad part about being a step closer to São Vicente is that it means I am a step closer to leaving my family here on the island of Santiago. Without a doubt, I will be adding Lucia, Fatinha, Antonio and Mauro, et. al., to my International Extended Family Hall of Fame, which currently boasts chapters in Guam, New Zealand, South Africa, and Costa Rica.

As my eyes water with the thought of moving on, I remember that I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, so talk amongst yourselves while I get it together. I promised you two explanations for the title of this post, so enough about the first reason. Most of you loyal (or half-assed) “followers” of Live From Tomorrow are familiar with my reading habit and my serious dependency on books. Unfortunately, last year I feel two titles short of my book-a-week goal, so in January I pledged to step my game up. This being late August, I an technically a bit behind schedule, but I am still proud to announce that I am halfway home to my 2011 reading goal. For those that are interested, below is a list of what I have soaked up so far this year:

Books Read in 2011

What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East - Bernard Lewis (2002)

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey (1989)

American Gods - Neil Gaiman (2002)

A General Theory of Love - Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini & Richard Lennan (2000)

Palace Walk (Between the Two Palaces) - Naguib Mahfouz (1956)

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption - Laura Hillenbrand (2002)

Devil in a Blue Dress - Walter Mosley (1990)

Meant to Be: The Story of a Son Who Discovers He is his Mother’s Deepest Secret - Walter Anderson (2004)

The Known World - Edward P. Jones (2003)

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century - Thomas Friedman (2003)

Martyr’s Crossing - Amy Wilentz (2002)

New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance - Charlayne Hunter-Gault (2007)

My Wild Irish Rogues - Vivian Moore Hallinan (1952)

The Fortune Catcher - Susanne Pari (2002)

The Bonesetter’s Daughter - Amy Tan (2001)

Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power - ??? (2005)

Women of the Silk - Gail Sukiyama (1993)

Soul on Ice - Eldridge Cleaver (1965)

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause - Tom Gjelten (2008)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - J.K. Rowling (1997)

Motherless Brooklyn - Jonathan Lethem (1999)

The Ugly American - Eugene Burdict & William Lederer (1958)

Small Business in the Third World - Malcolm Harper (1984)

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town - Paul Theroux (2003)

Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

War Talk - Arundhati Roy (2003)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)

Thanks for reading, until the next post...

Pura Vida,

Drew & Djanilo


  1. I enjoyed reading about your adventures and am impressed by your reading list. I'm curious which of them you'd recommend.

  2. Not only are you giving us a insider's view of your world, but a geography lesson as well!! Also, you do not mess around with the reading material. I'll have a new one for you in January. Love the posts. Be well, be happy.

  3. Jeff,

    I´d love to give you a custom recommendation or two, but I cant tell who you are from your profile? Jeff in Pedro Badejo? Someone else? Lemme know!

  4. jeff hilborn? jeff from jazzcamp?