Allison N. Lasley

The world is....flat.

That one song that just sums up everything…

— 8 months ago
Things missed and longed for

Just a few things I’m going to miss about my experience in Gabon…

1. The Arc-en-Ciel staff and children
2. My wonderful international family 
3. Surreal sunsets (real deal Lion Kingin’ it over here) 
4. The beautiful, tropical beaches and trees
5. Slow, easy-going pace of life
6. The avocados (best I’ve ever had)
7. Happy, smiling faces all the time
8. Regab regab regab
9. Our bus and awesome bus driver 
10. Practicing and learning French

And those things I’ve dearly missed… 

1. Warm showers
2. Iced coffee
3. Being able to read menus
4. Family, friends, and Kava
5. 3G coverage
6. Cookout milkshakes
7. B&N
8. Yoga
9. The Roo 
10. Those Blue Ridge Peaks

— 8 months ago
Some of my favorite boys rocking their brand new dashikis. 

Some of my favorite boys rocking their brand new dashikis. 

— 8 months ago
joshlafayette:

I was super pumped when The Southern Revelry asked me to contribute to their Notable Alabamians installation. As the name suggests, I was asked to draw one famous/notable Alabamian. I chose Brent Hinds, the guitarist/singer in Mastodon. The only restrictions were “show the head and shoulders and make it one color,” which was nice. The words are lyrics from the Mastodon song, The Hunter.
The Southern Revelry is an even taking place in Opelika, Alabama on July 27. I will be there LIVE AND IN PERSON, so if you’re in Bama, you should come to it, too.

joshlafayette:

I was super pumped when The Southern Revelry asked me to contribute to their Notable Alabamians installation. As the name suggests, I was asked to draw one famous/notable Alabamian. I chose Brent Hinds, the guitarist/singer in Mastodon. The only restrictions were “show the head and shoulders and make it one color,” which was nice. The words are lyrics from the Mastodon song, The Hunter.

The Southern Revelry is an even taking place in Opelika, Alabama on July 27. I will be there LIVE AND IN PERSON, so if you’re in Bama, you should come to it, too.

— 8 months ago with 123 notes
2 weeks come and gone

It is so hard to believe that our work in Arc-en-Ciel is over. The days were long and exhausting but everyday felt so useful. It is difficult to express in words how wonderful this whole experience has been. I only wish it could have lasted longer. The children, the Arc-en-Ciel staff, and my team were absolutely amazing and I am so thankful to have gotten to work with them. It was a learning experience for everyone! 
Today is Saturday and we are recovering from the week. Tomorrow is going to be a day full of goodbyes. First, we will go to the three orphanages we have been working with to give our gifts and say our goodbyes to the children, and then we will say goodbye to the other interns as they leave for Mouila. I think it’s not going to be a fun day. 
It is very unfortunate that Mikayla and I won’t be able to continue our work in Lambarene and Mouila. The original plan of the 5 week internship was to spend 4/5 weeks in the orphanages, with 1 week for training with the Red Cross. Everything got pushed back two weeks because of miscommunication with the Red Cross, so now we don’t have time to leave Libreville. Our flight home leaves early Wednesday morning so we will stay in Libreville for three days on our own. We are planning some fun activities with our Gabonese friends so we can enjoy every second of Gabon while we are still here! 

— 8 months ago

Don’t let your limitations stop you.

— 8 months ago

My little peace of African heaven! Welcome to Arc-en-Ciel

— 8 months ago
Finally, the orphanages!

Sorry it has taken me awhile to write- it has been a crazy couple of days! We work all day in the orphanages and then come back exhausted and work more to improve our sessions at night. On average we get 6 hours of sleep per night. Today, Wednesday, we just finished our third day of teaching in the orphanages. Overall, it has been amazing and an experience that has exceeded all of our expectations. The children come from a variety of difficult backgrounds but are the happiest children I’ve ever been around. They are so curious and excited to learn every day. It is the children’s attitudes and the staff that we work with that make this working experience so wonderful. 
There was a orphanage swap and I am now the Team Leader of the Arc-en-Ciel team. We are eight interns strong and specialize in English, HIV/AIDS, IT, Cholera/Hygiene, First Aid, Sexual Education, Environment, and Administrative & Financial Management. I really love my team and we work so well together. For the past three days we have been teaching English from 9-12 in the morning and HIV/AIDS, Cholera/Hygiene, and Sexual Education in the afternoons. I am also working directly with the responsibles of Arc-en-Ciel to provide assistance for improving their financial and administrative management. So far we have plans to increase their use and understanding of excel and help them set up their website. We are also going to try to work with FoundImpact to see if we can help Arc-en-Ciel some donated computers for a Cybercafe so that they can have a sustainable income. Can’t wait to see what happens!
Tonight we are finally having a little break and going out to have a going away party for Mathieu, a French intern, who is leaving tomorrow morning to return to France. He has been here in Libreville for a month already with two other interns. It should be a lot of fun :) 

— 8 months ago
Maison de l’espérance here we come!

Hey hey! It’s Thursday night already and I’ve been too exhausted each day to write anything this week. The days at the Gabonese Red Cross are long but we have been very productive! We wake up at 7 AM and come back tired every day. This week at the Red Cross we have covered First Aid and how to handle both critical situations and assist injured victims, as well as HIV/AIDS sessions and how to teach children about this serious subject. Tomorrow, Friday, we will finish our classes with Malaria and hygiene information. We are all so ready to be done, get our certifications, and work in the orphanages. The 20 interns have been divided into 4 teams, all to work separately at 4 different orphanages in Libreville. I have been selected as the Team Leader of my team, which is composed of 5 interns total, who will be working together at Maison de l’espérance (House of Hope). We have a lot of editing to do this weekend to finalize our presentations for our first day of teaching, Monday! 

Aside from the normal routine, we experienced a dramatic fire event outside of our house earlier this week. Evidently it is the Gabonese way to clear bush fields by setting them aflame. It was pretty alarming to walk our of our house to see the field next to us on fire. Although the University security men had it under control, we did our part by hosing the embers with bottles of water. We all felt so accomplished haha! 

Also, both dog and rabbit was served this week for dinner. So happy to be a vegetarian.  

— 8 months ago with 1 note
So, where’s the bus?

Unfortunately, this weekend has been quite the let down. We had great plans after our week of work to visit our first orphanage, go into down for a nice dinner, and maybe visit one of the nearby islands, but it all fell through. Because our group is so large, we have to rely on safe transportation for us all. We have a bus on the way from Mouila, but it has taken longer than expected. Bummer. We are all crossing our fingers that it will arrive sometime this weekend.
On the flip side, Douglas and Cyrill have finally arrived! Geordy has been leading us for the past week, but now the actual DFO project managers are here. Time to get down to bidness. Our week of planning and playing are over. Next week we will begin our Red Cross First Aid training sessions, which will be for 8 hours each day, Monday-Friday. By the end of Friday we will have received our Gabonese First Aid certifications and will be ready to work in the orphanages! We are so excited!

— 9 months ago with 1 note
The language barrier that we face in Gabon can be quite challenging. Gabon is a French colony, so naturally, the common language throughout the country is French. There is a surprising high number of “dialects” or tribal languages despite how small the country is. With a population of barely 1.5 million, the country has 42-50 different ways of communicating. 800,000 of these people live in the capital of Libreville, where we are staying now. As a group, we have been able to manage well because of our French-speaking interns who can translate for us. It is often prohibiting, however, because we would really struggle if we were without them. It is strongly advised to not make trips into the city or ride a taxi without someone who can communicate effectively. Though you would be surprised how much you can converse by performing some charades and hand gestures!I’ve been learning French slowly…it is a difficult language. I have learned that I can read French relatively well because it resembles English, but the pronunciation is a challenge. Fortunately, our intern group gets a long pretty well with English because everyone can speak or understand it to a degree! I have to say all of the accents are superb. 

The language barrier that we face in Gabon can be quite challenging. Gabon is a French colony, so naturally, the common language throughout the country is French. There is a surprising high number of “dialects” or tribal languages despite how small the country is. With a population of barely 1.5 million, the country has 42-50 different ways of communicating. 800,000 of these people live in the capital of Libreville, where we are staying now. As a group, we have been able to manage well because of our French-speaking interns who can translate for us. It is often prohibiting, however, because we would really struggle if we were without them. It is strongly advised to not make trips into the city or ride a taxi without someone who can communicate effectively. Though you would be surprised how much you can converse by performing some charades and hand gestures!
I’ve been learning French slowly…it is a difficult language. I have learned that I can read French relatively well because it resembles English, but the pronunciation is a challenge. Fortunately, our intern group gets a long pretty well with English because everyone can speak or understand it to a degree! I have to say all of the accents are superb. 

— 9 months ago with 2 notes

From our University, we often watch the students play soccer. They are so good! We also have a nice walk to our classroom everyday for our meetings.

— 9 months ago with 1 note
Bonjour from Gabon!

Sorry it has been such a long time since I’ve written! We finally have Wi-Fi :) Today has been a very successful day. For the past week, all of the interns have been gathering in the University of Energy and Electricity, which is just outside of Libreville. Now we are working in our teams and preparing our sessions. Jordi, the Board Director of Discover For Orphans by FoundImpact, has had many sleepless nights making airport runs, running errands for us, and arranging meetings with potential sponsors. The project manager for this specific program will be arriving this week, which will alleviate some of Jordi’s stress. Today 2 other interns and myself accompanied Jordi into the center of Libreville to Pmug and the Gabonese Red Cross. We spoke to Pmug, a sports lottery company, to discuss financial support, and the Red Cross, to ask for desensitization and  humanitarian aid educational lessons. We will begin working with the Red Cross next week, which is very exciting. The Gabonese Red Cross was established 1.5 years ago but is growing rapidly in the country. After talking to the Director, it was really inspiring how much aid they have already applied in their first year of operations. Volunteers are clearly eager to assist when catastrophes occur and I think we will learn a lot from the sessions. 
So far life here has been so great. Most of the time it feels like summer camp. We all live in a house together with 2 to a room. I’m staying with Charlotte from France and she is the cutest. We have routine breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12pm, and dinner at 7pm. Luckily there is always delicious fish and vegetables to eat! Between those hours we are either working on our lesson plans, exploring the city, playing sports outside, messing around, or sleeping. Time here is almost non-existant and just seems to slip away. It is common to say that Africa operates with “Africa Time.” Things here just happen more…slowly…and sometimes not at all. There is a saying “We have the watch, but Africa has the time.” Some of the interns’ patience has been tested adjusting to this new culture, but truthfully, I’m really enjoying it. It is part of the culture, the experience, and is less stressful than normal American life! Each part of the day is much more enjoyed. Here I feel like I am really living in the present.

 

— 9 months ago with 1 note