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Mel n Bri in Vanuatu
FAQs
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FAQS

1.  What do you do? What is your job?
Believe it or not, we do have a job here...Many of you remember that they were pretty ambiguous with us before we came about what it was.  Well now we know, and we have the coolest job in all of the Peace Corps.  To really understand our job, you have to understand a little bit about the educational system here.  In Vanuatu children are "required" to attend school between the ages of  7 and 13.  Most kids do, unless they can't afford the school fees-which are pretty expensive-or they have to stay home and work in the garden or they missed too much school last year because they had to stay home and work and they are too behind to go back, but most kids do get their 6th grade educations.  At the end of 6th grade they have a nation-wide standardized test.  If 300 slots are available nationwide for 6th graders, than the top 300 scores will go on--but then you run into the problem of money again, because most of these kids don't have a secondary school close-up to their village, so they have to pay for boarding, and if you can't afford it, you just can't go.  I have heard a few different stats, but I think it is somewhere around 25 or 30% go on to 7th grade and then another 10% or so go on past 10th.  So you kind of get the picture--not alot of kids go to school after they are about 12 or so--So they really have little to do besides work in the garden for their parents and wait to get married.  Brian and I work at an RTC (Rural Training Center)  these are small schools set up by communities to give their kids an opportunity to get a little more schooling without having to pay the large school fees and go too far from home.  They are completely unfunded other than the community that sponsors them.  The communities will pay a couple of teachers a little bit of money and build all the classrooms so they can have a school.  You can imagine the problems with this system--they have no books, the teachers are unqualified, etc  (which actually isn't much unlike the federally sponsored schools)  Our job is to help our RTC implement some income generating activities, teach a little, and get them on their feet so that they can be self-sustaining schools.  The Peace Corps has a 6 year goal for each RTC.  They bring volunteers in and hope that withIN 6 years they will be self-sustaining so we can pull out.  They call us "RTC instructors and management advisors"
 
2.  What is your house like?  living conditions?
Have you ever seen Gilligan's Island?  It is made of woven bamboo and has a thatched roof.  We have no running water,  no electricity, and the nearest phone is a 3 hour walk-but Peace Corps is setting us up with a radio for emergency communication.  We live in a village of about 100 people, but it is a bush village, so it is pretty spread out.  Our house is actually on the school campus.  You can read my journal detailing our horrible toilet situation and how we take bucket showers.  We live in the middle of the bush on the east side of the island of Malo.  We have lots of coconuts, wild pigs, mosquitos, rats and very beautful jungle all around us. 
 
3.  What do we need? 
We need some love--come on guys!  A mormon and a catholic--we have 10X more family than anybody here and not one letter in the mail. 
 
4.  Are we becoming Ralph Nader supporters?
No.
 
5.  Do we shave?
Sometimes.
 
6.  Have we eaten/seen any weird animals/bugs?
We have seen some pretty wild spiders, and Spam is pretty wierd.
 
7.  Terror alerts/Anti-American sentiment?
None.  They love Americans here.  Everyone wants to tell you about WWII and how we saved them from the Japanese.  You sometimes just need to clarify that you aren't an Aussie.  They don't love them all the time.
 
8.  Can you come visit us?
O.K...so this isn't a frequently asked questions, but you can!!!  We have a guest hut!