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From the Journal of St. Lucia Project Team 32: The Inspirational Rock Star

24 Feb

As part of our work on the St. Lucia Project with Global Volunteers we, as a team are keeping a journal. One member per day writes an inspirational message and a different person writes a longer journal entry recapping the previous day. Both are presented at our morning meeting. We have an incredibly small team — there are three of us and I guess the optimum size is 14.P1160797

I have been having a bit of difficulty putting how I feel about my days at the Primary School in Anse la Raye into words and sharing that all with you here. Processing the real life manifestations of a huge cultural differences and easing the cognitive dissonance caused by the gross inequities in the world are going a bit more slowly than I anticipated.  P1160829

My husband Dan has been an inspirational rock star. He is working with a group of young adults in the island’s equivalent of a last chance school. Each one faces serious academic challenges and, for the most part, are not equipped to go out into the world. Here is a piece of his journal entry for Thursday, recapping Wednesday, February 18.

“My message of the day yesterday was about never underestimating your ability to make someone else’s life better and not even knowing it, but how cool is it when you see something happen? A student came in and didn’t think I had anything to offer…. We chatted about day-to-day events and the topic of a job interview came up…. He’s never had one and could I help… and thus began our work.

Barb talked about a good day with lots of working and baby interaction. Ruth had a long day that ended with the knowledge that she did such a good job convincing the principal of her competence that he left her alone…all alone…oops maybe too good a job….”



It all sounds so routine and everyday but hidden between the lines is the fact that Dan might have changed the course of a young man’s life that day. Absolutely staggering….P1160807

I know the humbling daily lessons will continue and the words will come in their own time.

One day, and in some cases, one life changing moment at a time.


Contribute to the World One Small Project at a Time

28 Mar

Life does throw us curve balls and there is more and more evidence that you can prepare your brain for some of these mishaps along the way by building up a bit of reserve.

Creepy Staircase

This was one dark, windy, steep, creepy staircase…

Building cognitive reserve can be very rewarding process.   Find a purposeful project and contribute to the world while you fill your well of brain processing power!

I discovered an outlet for my purposeful projects and that is being a Citizen Scientist –  a non-scientist, non-specialists who collects data and adds to the body of scientific knowledge.   There are a ton of projects out there — some easier to participate in than others.   I love the philosophy of one project  the Marine Animal Identification Network — a project tracking seals and reporting information about migration — because it sums it all up:

“In many cases, we learn through the imprecise science of serendipity whereby a matrix of possibilities results in a report: the right person in the right place at the right time knowing the right person to contact.”  How wonderful is it that we all, just by chance, can be that person at the right place at the right time and can contribute to science?

I was surprised at how easily I found projects that require very little investment of time and technology.    All you really need is a smart phone or a computer and  a few extra minutes to participate in some of these projects!  Do a search for citizen science projects in a geographic are or that have to do with an interest.   Love the outdoors?  Check out the projects from the National Wildlife Federation’s listing of projects from backyard birders to butterfly counting to star gazing.    All of these projects ask you to do is observe, record, and report.

Butterfly Resting Ground

This field was full of butterflies saving up energy to take the next step on their journey north. If we had not looked closely, we would have missed them completely!

Are you near the Mississippi River and interested in birds?   Work with the Audubon Society’s Rivers Project Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to  monitor and track birds in the  bottomland forests on the Mississippi River.  Observe, record, report, contribute!

In your reflection

What do you see in your reflection? Be kind….


 How about working with NASA from your own backyard?  NASA has several ongoing citizen science projects going on now and more to come!

There are so many things you can do right now that take so little and give back so much!


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