Friday, April 20, 2007


Julie Campbell and I also had the same blogger page format.

Sad things

A hard week here, with workshops that didn´t go as planned, and resulting procrastination on other things coming up. I still struggle with a low-level lack of purpose and relevance, which ebbs and flows, and sits in contrast to my nice life and kind friends here in Cuenca. The missteps involved trying to learn how to do good education on HIV, family, violence, sexual health, and self esteem with women and families are supposedly the things that you learn from, but it´s brutal when you do something wrong, or even just adequately, and have to admit the mistakes and think, how on earth could I have done that differently and what in God´s name am I really accomplishing for anyone anyhow?

Took note of a Peace Corps volunteer who was killed in the Phillipines. Her name was Julie Campbell and I was struck by some uncanny characteristics which I had in common with her. She was a New Yorker, older than your typical volunteer, who left a sucessful career (in this case as a journalist) to do the Peace Corps.

And this of course was eclipsed by what happened at Virginia Tech, which I didn´t mention here up to now because I hadn´t really been able to process it from so far away. Reading Emily´s words over at I´m So Pretty helped make it all too real.

"And I'd give myself a harder time for taking it all so hard if I thought any part of my reaction were controllable. But it's not. I can't not feel this sad. I can't not be totally normal and laughing one second and on the verge of tears the next, the lump in my throat swelling for the millionth time in a day."

I do remember this same ragged, visceral grief from the weeks following September 11, 2001. The guilt for being sad even though it wasn´t something that had happened to you exactly countered by the physical pain that accompanied sudden and unexpected and senseless death close to home.

Over at Washington Monthly, I found Kevin Drum´s comments on press coverage and policy implications somehow comforting. Because it does seem to be that out of all the screwed up things that happen in the States, more screwed up things tend to get done in response.

All I can say is: I still hope everyone takes this very, very slowly. There might be lessons we can learn from Monday's tragedy, but our first reactions are almost certain to be wrong. Probably our second reactions too. Whatever we do, let's not make the cure worse than the disease.

Amen to that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I love when I get all officious and business-like sounding

In an effort to find some relevance for myself last fall, I found myself as the volunteer coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Interest Group here in PC Ecuador, a group of mainly straight volunteers who were interested in working on homofobia here in Ecuador. We had grand visions of building a nationwide network of glbt activists, planning leadership camps, and helping to spur the creation of gay liberation movement here in Ecuador.

We haven´t quite gotten to that yet. I think the email I was working on this morning pretty much shows where we are in the process.

Hi All,

A few updates.

1) Jambelí was great although we missed Eva and Farrah and Amy and Susanna. Thanks to everyone for making such a nice weekend and "teambuilding event." I´m working with Paulina to get the reimbursements out so hopefully you should get something before the end of the month.

2) Meeting on Thursday, June 28. Please block off the entire day 9-5 pm and the evening for PRIDE in Plaza Foch. Please note, this meeting is mandatory and will be fully funded,w transport, two days of $8 per diem and one night of hotel. If you cannot make this meeting and Pride, it counts as one of the two absences after which we would have to ask you to forfeit your seat on the group. If you are trying to coordinate your mid-service medical exam with this meeting, porfis, schedule it for the 26 or the 27!

Here´s why it´s so important: As you know, we have been asked to perform as part of the program for Gay Pride in Quito. We discussed this at Jambelí and the consensus was that a good lip sync piece would be
Better Shape Up from Grease. (Stay with me here, folks. And Dana rest assured that we want you to participate in this important cultural integration activity here as well, so please mark your calender if you are available!)

Jen has (pretty much?) agreed to help out with choreography and I believe that Brian and Becca have agreed to be take on the gender inverted roles of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. And they were entirely sober when they agreed to do this. The idea is that women in our group would be the T-birds and we would search out interested male Peace Corps volunteers to be the Pink Ladies. We have about $100 to spend on Pride so some of this could go for costumes. I anticipate that we can have a relatively short meeting to do business in the am of the 28th and devote the rest of the day to pulling together our performance.

If any of you are thinking some crap like "I´m not going to get up in front of hundreds of gay Quiteños and make a fool of myself," just try to let go of that. Please. I have.

Based on all this, here are a list of to-do´s to prepare for Pride. If everyone signs up to do one thing, it won´t be so stressful, for, um... me.

Burn discs with "Better Shape Up" and send to everyone in the group - Rachel and Becca
Choreography - Jen?
Send email to other Peace Corps volunteers to participate -
Find and design costumes -

Get a banner made with Peace Corps log and glbt groups name -
Design folletto on the glbt pc group -
Secure condoms to give out at our table, and perhaps lube? -
Confirm all arrangements with los organizadores- Claudia

Thanks all