Peace Corps bloggers, like myself, write, photograph, and make videos as part of the Third Goal in order to give folks back home a sense of what our host country is like, and how we, as Americans, interpret cultural distinctions. To encourage and support such endeavors Peace Corps holds an annual Blog It Home competition. The prize is a trip to Washington, DC. I was honored to be among the 20 finalists chosen out of 300 world-wide who were invited to participate in Facebook voting. I am sorry to report that Postcards From Cambodia was not among the chosen. However, I did receive a lot of compliments and encouragement, and met new readers. Thanks to all of you who voted in the Blog It Home competition. Onward we blog!
Viewing the other PC blogs got me thinking about this as an art form. What is our purpose, I mean beyond that of the Third Goal? Why would anyone be interested in what some weirdo in Cambodia is trying to do in the name of peace? Reading the other 19 PC bloggers from around the world gave me a new perspective on how it is done. I’d like to introduce you to three blogs from the competition that I thought were outstanding.
Elena Ruter in Burkina Faso (on the African continent) is a multi-media artist and her website showcases her many interests. For her cover shot in the Blog It Home competition, she chose an evocative photograph of a country road with a solo traveler. (I don’t see a title for the blog.) Elena is a recent art school graduate and her writing is fresh and observant with an appreciative eye for beauty in the world. http://www.elenaruyter.com/tubabu/
A Peace Corps married couple, Amelia and Marc Mahan, serve in Malawi (another country in Africa) and post a happy blog titled Ramblin’ Mahans. Their co-authored blog is chatty and full of fun, with lots of smiling pictures. Looks like they are fully integrated into their community and loving it. https://ramblinmahans.wordpress.com/
Gabriella Miyares knows how to handle conversation or gaffin’ on her blog Letters From Guyana, which does read like a letter from a good friend. She shares her experience with bright enthusiasm. I learn something about Guyana (on the east coast of South America) with each post. Gabby goes to Washington, DC this October as one of winners of the Blog It Home competition. http://lettersfromguyana.wordpress.com/
If you missed the whirlwind Blog It Home tour, you can still view the blog albums here: https://www.facebook.com/peacecorps/photos or if that doesn’t work simply type “Blog It Home 2016” in your browser. My entry, Postcards From Cambodia is the one with the big Brahmin bull gazing fondly at his likeness. Say, did I ever tell you how I got that photograph? (The image is also on the Photos page of my website under Portraits of My Khmer.)
I was riding my bike home for lunch during Pre-Service Training when I saw a very big, very white Brahmin bull tied up near a sign advertising his services. I pulled over and dug through my bag for my iPad. I was so absorbed in trying to find it quickly before he moved that I didn’t notice he had sauntered over to see what I was doing. If the moment had been filmed it would have been a slow pan as I looked up, and up, and up into the kind eyes of a seven-foot tall Brahmin bull. (Well, seven-feet from his hump, which you cannot see in the cropped version of the photo.) Startling, to say the least. However, now he had moved away from the sign, which was the picture I wanted: a handsome bull admiring his likeness. I held up the iPad like it was a present for him and backed slowly towards the sign. He, dear sweet boy, followed me like a puppy. Click. Got it! He even looks like he’s smiling.
I had taken quite a few touristy pictures before this one. Colorful photos at the market, candid shots of PCVs doing laundry, that sort of thing. But this photograph of the bull told a true Cambodian story. With this photo something in me clicked as well. I decided to stay on the lookout for pictures and determined to keep my iPad camera close at hand. You never know when a picture is going present itself—and the story behind it.