Friday, March 18, 2011


Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick update: last weekend I went to the New Year’s party at the Lycée where I brought my guitar and had a roaring good time belting out American folk and blues songs and learning some Malagasy songs. The party was epic: they killed a cow!

On Wednesday, I brought my guitar to English club where we had another roaring good time learning “The Tennessee Waltz.” Walking back home I got pretty drenched because I used my rain poncho to protect my guitar, but it was all a lot of fun.

I may be going to a citywide teachers’ New Year’s party tomorrow (and yes, I know it’s already two weeks into February). That is, if Madagascar isn’t washed into the ocean. Supposedly tropical storm Bingiza should hit sometime tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women’s Day! And Happy Birthday Mom!

Whoa, sorry folks. It’s been a while since I updated. I did in fact go to the city-wide teachers’ New Year’s party with Mama Peace Corps. There was an hour’s worth of speeches and then a lot of dancing. It got way too hot in the barn-like dancehall, so we left early. Then it rained and stormed a lot. Turns out it wasn’t tropical storm Bingiza… yet.

That landed the next day, hitting the northeast coast of Madagascar as a cyclone and crisscrossing back and forth across the island once over the course of a few days, gaining and losing steam at various landings.

Since then I’ve been busy with classes, English club on Wednesday and Friday, Professional English course on Saturday, and I’ve just had my first radio broadcast! Here’s that story:

So, about two months ago I was walking with my buddies Momyne and Anthony and I pointed at the radio towers on the mountain. I asked if they knew where the radio station was (I’ve wanted to do a radio show since the day I submitted my application to be a Peace Corps volunteer). Momyne and Anthony took me right into the hole-in-the wall studio for Ambanja’s main radio station: Radio Ankoay, 105.0 FM.

The DJ didn’t find anything odd about us walking in on his live broadcast, but let us know that the owner of the radio station was across the street. We entered a small electronics shop and I introduced myself to the owner, telling him about Peace Corps, my program in Ambanja, and how I wanted to do a weekly broadcast that would mix English lessons and music. He said it would be fine and that if I left my phone number he’d give me a call back with available times.

Well, time went by and he didn’t call, so two weeks ago I went back to try to get the show on the road. He saw me and immediately brought out the radio timetable. We agreed on Thursdays, 6:30-7:00 pm. He said I could start the next week.

So, Thursday, March 3, 2011 I headed to Radio Ankoay with a CD of some good hearty American music, and an English dialogue with a Malagasy translation. The plan was to do an introduction, read through the dialogue a few times in English and Malagasy with Anthony, and then play the first track (“Good Ol’ Mantasoa,” chosen because my awesome Malagasy language instructors Edwina and Linda had written a full Malagasy translation back when I recorded the song in Mantasoa). After that, Anthony would read the translation, and then we’d go back and forth in English and Malagasy introducing the following tracks, each with a brief description.

Well, Anthony backed out at the last second, so I did the introduction and read the dialogue myself, which was fine (although I don’t think the voices I did were very distinguishable from one another). Then I introduced “Good Ol’ Mantasoa,” but the DJ had forgotten to plug the CD player in. He cued up a female pop-country singer as filler for the five minutes he took to connect things, which may have confused listeners at home, but eventually the song played and I read the translation (although I butchered the pronunciation). Then I went through three more songs (“The Tennessee Waltz,” “Early Morning Rain,” and “You Are My Sunshine”), introducing them in English and coming up with a quick Malagasy summary for each on the spot. In closing I was sure to thank my friends and family listening in Ambanja.

Those friends and family included all four Ambanja-area PCVs (Katie M, Katie B, Jonathan, and Jason) and the whole Mama Peace Corps family, all listening at chez MPC. When I walked in the door after the broadcast, everyone was very supportive and congratulatory (MPC screamed in excitement). I can’t wait for the next broadcast this Thursday.

Today school was cancelled for International Women’s Day. I went down to the main street where just about the whole town had gathered to watch thousands of women (and a few men, carrying signs or playing instruments) marching in an epic parade. They were divided by organization (for instance the Lycée, the post office, the police, etc.) and dressed in matching lambahoany (big, colorful, traditional toga-like cloth pieces). Most were dancing to the beat of djembes and little hand-carved three string guitars. It was a very loud and energetic affair. Way to go women of Ambanja!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well, tonight’s the night for the third edition of Emission Anglais on Radio Ankoay, with yours truly. Last week I recorded a Peace Corps indicatif (30 second intro that will be used on all the Peace Corps Ambanja radio programs) with Katie and Jason and Momyne. Then Momyne and I recorded a specific indicatif for my program, Emission Anglais (Katie and Jason have their own cool indicatif for Emission Sante). On Thursday I went with my Malagasy sister Sido (who has been staying with Mama Peace Corps while on break from university) to the station, and she and I made an awesome broadcast. We went back and forth in the dialogues we had written, each doing English and Malagasy, and then began introducing songs like pros. In a few minutes I’ll be heading to school, and then over to do broadcast number three, which I wrote out with Sido this morning. I think I’m starting to get the hang of things now.

In other news, last Friday I got really bad food poisoning and didn’t really leave bed until Tuesday. MPC, Momyne, and the housekeeper Rose all got sick too and went to the health clinic/hospital to stay for the weekend. MPC and Rose went home, but Momyne is still there, so keep him in your thoughts.

I'll be in Diego this weekend for a Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC) meeting, so you all can get in touch with me internet-style.


  1. And a radio personality is born! Don't let the celebrity thing go to your head. Thinking of Momyne... hope he's better soon.
    Dad and Mom

  2. Oh Josh, can you come live in Dayton, and I'll take over for you in Ambanja? (Of course April is a good time for this offer, as the rainy and hot seasons are winding down...). Please.