International volunteer conference

Written December 6th, 2012

Yesterday, for my last day in Tana I accompanied Peace Corps Staff to a conference for International Volunteer Week. It was a three day event but this day we talked about how to promote volunteerism among the Malagasy (they used to have a mandatory, one year “volunteer” requirement after high school but no longer do). The conference was mostly held in French (which I do not understand) so it was rather boring for me (and the accompanying PC staff) but here are the highlights:

During the intro people were asking questions and having some discussion when one man (a journalist) said that they should do something like Peace Corps does because we are kick-ass (or something like that). He also went on to complain about other volunteer agencies, especially the UN volunteers. Then another woman seconded that Peace Corps is awesome. Then a woman from the Volantaires Francis got upset and said that not all volunteer agencies were the same and they shouldn’t be judged against each other. She said her volunteers were professionals and Peace Corps was not but whatever. We totally won.

Then we split up into smaller groups for discussions. When we went around and introduced ourselves I blew everyone’s mind when I said “sorry I don’t speak French” and continued to introduce myself in Malagasy. There was one French woman in our group but someone made a motion that we should discuss in Malagasy because it is kind of insane for a group of about 20 people to have to speak in a foreign language (French) when there was only one non-Malagasy speaker in the group. He also said that I should not be excluded because I learned Malagasy. That made me super happy to see people stick up for me!

Also, I got interview for the radio (Don Bosco) so I can cross that off my life to-do list. And my chef-de-fokontany said she heard me! I’m famous! 

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One thought on “International volunteer conference

  1. The one year mandatory service for all high school Malagasy graduates during the socialism regime was a disaster. It didn’t help the graduates to move forward in their education at all.

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