Monday, April 14, 2014

EXCELLENT NEWS!

Today I am wearing my hipster glasses and a big smile, because I have some great news. 

I just accepted an offer for full funding to complete my masters degree as a traditional (non Peace Corps Masters International) student! I will return to Laramie, Wyoming in late August to take (and teach) a few classes!

 I anticipate returning to Benin over winter break to finish my thesis research. I will write up my thesis, which will relate to the positionality of Peace Corps Volunteers, during the spring of 2015. 

I will graduate with a masters in International Relations with a specialty in NGO Development and Administration in late May of 2015. 

Special Thank You to the University of Wyoming for your continued support! 


Thursday, April 10, 2014

LOVE

After sharing some difficult aspects of my Peace Corps service, I thought I would show you something wonderful that came out of my medical separation!

WARNING: This has nothing to do with the Peace Corps

Nevertheless, I hope you all enjoy! :)

Part 1

Part 2

Vlogs Uncensored: 15 Things I wish I would have known about the Peace Corps!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Chance To Rebuild

Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes. It was, to put it mildly, a memorable birthday weekend... but we will talk more about that in the upcoming EHarmony video. :)

My most recent tests came back very positive, the levels of blastocycts in my body have significantly decreased since I cut all carbohydrates (even fruit), sugar (yes, all sugar...there was no birthday cake for me), and dairy out of my diet.

With this approach, even if the antibiotic treatments do not work, doctors expect that the parasite will be starved off by, at the latest, June (that is if I don't give in and eat something other than meat, nuts, and non-starchy veggies...)!

With this good news, I've started taking steps to re-build my life in the United States. As I write this, I'm looking at temporary summer jobs in the field of, you guessed it, Education! I'm planning to live in southern Michigan, where I can continue treatment, while staying productive until September, when I hope to return to Wyoming and finish my Master's as a traditional (as opposed to Master's International) student.

It is likely that I will return to West Africa (possibly Benin) briefly, in the next year, to complete my thesis research (which I began during my service). If all goes according to plan, I'll graduate with my Masters in International NGO Development and Administration, by May of 2015... over 9 months ahead of my previous graduation date.

I'm excited about the prospect of returning to the Cowboy State, which I've missed considerably since leaving last June. This campus (shown below) has a special place in my heart!

Campus of University of Wyoming, as shown here! 

Sorry for the lapse in videos, I am going to try to make some tomorrow morning and get them posted by the weekend. I did take a lapse in both blogging and producing videos after I received some hateful comments from "followers" of this blog, last week.

In the spirit of focusing on joy, I will continue with two videos, one dealing with Peace Corps directly, one dealing with my life since returning to the U.S.

Stay tuned! 


And to any soon-to-be-Peace Corps Volunteers, getting ready for departure, please don't hesitate to e-mail your questions directly if I haven't addressed them on this blog. My inbox is always open: jebanda@mtu.edu.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Week of ... Life

This week is my birthday; Thursday I turn 25! To celebrate, I decided to live my life...not by focusing on being sick, but by focusing on doing what makes me happy.

I have a vast medical to-do list, as is required for all medically separated Peace Corps Volunteers. However, after 50 days in and out of hospitals, I'm burnt out on the whole western "healing" experience. I think I am over due for a medical break.

Thus, I cancelled all of my appointments for the week, rescheduled them for next week, and left the greater Ann Arbor area, to head north, where my parents live. Of everywhere I've lived in recent years, this feels the most like home right now and I am happy to be here.

I truly do believe that happiness is healing and I would not be surprised at all if my health improves significantly from my 1-week vacation from mentally engaging with the idea of illness. If I've learned one thing during my medical separation, it is about the profound intricacies of the mind/body/spirit relationship.

My Peace Corps experience taught me a small amount about development, a small amount about language, a small amount about culture, and a TREMENDOUS amount about how to be happy. Throughout my service, I witnessed such a huge degree of abuse, fear, and hatred that I had to learn how to find happiness within my self, when there is a deficit of happiness in my environment.

Watching pain and suffering was not easy, but my life is enriched tremendously as a result. Now, today, I find happiness in all that is around me. Sometimes day-to-day life is just overwhelmingly amazing and wonderful to me. Even now, as I sit here, I am just astounded by how lucky I am to be here, listening to a fascinating documentary as I type this post, sharing this sofa with an adorable sleeping dog, listening to the crackling of the fireplace.

My appreciation of the small things has just exploded to the extent that I am incredibly happy just sitting with my self, I no longer feel the need for external stimuli; 9 months of difficult experiences is a small price to pay for what I've gained.

I'm pretty underwhelmed by excess material possessions at this point and I've made conscious efforts to, daily, rid my environment of everything I don't need; Peace Corps taught me the burden of having more than you can use.

Thus, for my birthday I've asked not for gifts, but for experiences. On my birthday I will spending some quality time with loved ones at the salon and spa, the idea of which is just gluttonously luxurious after taking bucket baths and using the same bar of soap for washing both my body and laundry, for 9 months. Over the weekend, I will be attending a spiritual retreat with sister, which I am sure will be an incredibly engaging, uplifting, and healing experience.

I've also got something else, really wonderful, planned! I realize my last video series was a bit heavy, for that I am sorry. Worry not, because I plan to balance it with the most positive and uplifting YouTube video I have ever made!

Be ready to have your mind blown. :)

Until then, have an awesome week.

Birthday Candles Wallpaper HD
Here's to my upcoming, "year of profound change," numerology year 5 for the win!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

VLOGS UNCENSORED: The Truth About My Medical Evacuation & Separation, Videos 1-3

Videos are in progress, check back soon.

P.S. I've become a sort of expert at managing social media from hospitals. Good skill?




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stay Tuned For Vlogs Uncensored

Today was the day. Since 5pm, I have been officially medically separated from the Peace Corps. Finally, after 9 months, I can breath a sigh of relief knowing I am in complete control of my destiny. 

To kick off this new beginning, "A Leap of Faith: The Second Season," I will be uploading a three part video entitled "The Truth About My Medical Evacuaton and Seperation." 

This 40 minute compilation will give you an authentic look into my life during the past 50 days, the highs, the lows, and were I am now. 

Expect the videos by the end of the workday tomorrow. 

 
The Adventure's Now Unedited. :)