Monday, November 20, 2006

Big changes

Greetings all!

I hope this finds many of you anticipating Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays to be spent with family and friends. Here we’re in the midst of planning for what will likely be a riotous Turkey Day with the Fianarantsoa American community plus those Peace Corps volunteers from other regions that will find there way here for what is fast becoming known as the best Thanksgiving celebration in Madagascar – with upwards of 40 people expected (though sadly, no turkeys this year L).

Sadly too, this will be my last holiday with the crew in Fianar and the rest of Madagascar. After Thanksgiving and the Malagasy presidential elections on December 3rd, I will be pulling up stakes, packing my bags, and starting a new chapter in my overseas life.

This year Christmas and New Years will be in Vietnam.

I have been offered a position as health coordinator for a regional office in Cao Bang city, capital of the northern province of Cao Bang, bordering China. The position is with ADRA, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, so I will be going back to my roots a bit, remembering my public health graduate work at Loma Linda University (which is also an institution of the Adventist church). Indeed, for those of you who know my former classmate Ali Crandall and what she’s been up to for the last years – I’ll be taking over her position.

As I said earlier, I will be leaving Madagascar very soon – my flight reservation is for the 11th of December, with a stop-over in Bangkok. I should be in Vietnam by the 15th of December. The contract is for six months, with the option to renew if all goes well.

This is a bit unexpected – I wasn’t due to finish my contract with the NGO SantéNet and USAID here in Madagascar until the end of January, but all of my supervisors have been extremely supportive in my decision to take this position, as it’s going to be a great opportunity to experience another culture, another continent, not to mention a great move professionally. I’m very excited, although also very sad to be leaving Madagascar which has been such a welcoming home for almost 4 years. Yet it is time to move on, and I’m sure Madagascar will always be here for me if I want to come back (and it’s not going to be easy to forget Malagasy even if I do try – I’m sure I’m going to be finding a lot of Vietnamese giving me funny looks as I desperately search for words between Malagasy-French-Vietnamese-English, sigh).

I’m not sure how many of you regularly (or even irregularly) check on my blog (not that I’ve been that regular of a poster, either), but that’s part of the reason I’m sending this note as a mass e-mail as well as a blog posting. The other reason is that it seems as though my current blog site is apparently not one that is very well-liked by the Vietnamese controllers, and I may not be able to continue posting to it once I arrive there. As I may have to go back to mass e-mailing unless I find another option once I arrive in Vietnam, If any of you do not care to get the random e-mail update from me, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll take you off the list. No worries – no offense taken! Also, since I’ve been blogging for so long (and have changed computers in between), I’ve had to scavenge many of your e-mail addresses from other e-mails or places that I’ve hidden them. So, if you have a different e-mail address you would prefer me to use, please send it along.

So that’s a brief update of the big change in my life – one change that may not have to be made is the address to my blog site: – I’m sure many of you will continue to agree that I am quite mad, even if I am no longer living in Mad-land.

All my best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and I hope to hear updates from many of you as well!


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