E: Daniella@PLAYMadagascar.com T: +261 032 4343 652

USAID 30th Anniversary

After running into the Financial Officer from the US Embassy, I was invited to attend the USAID 30th Anniversary Celebration. This is the biggest political event I’ve ever been invited to (!!), and really, a kind of special one. Thirty years ago the international community came together during the 1984 Resource Conservation in the Service of Development meeting to begin conservation efforts in Madagascar, under a possibly misguided idea that the island has been committing “ecological suicide”. USAID Madagascar played a big role in setting up the first protected areas and... Read The Rest →

World Lemur Festival at Parc Ivoloina

Being out of town for the October 31 World Lemur Festival date didn’t stop us from throwing a world-class World Lemur Festival for children around Ivoloina! Peace Corps Lauren and I were talking about how to celebrate her English club’s written animal stories, inspired by Alison Jolly’s Ako books (http://www.lemurreserve.org/akobooks.html). I loved the possibility to link Alison’s stories to the World Lemur Festival. It was easy enough to coordinate a radio announcement on October 31 to hold an event at the park two weeks later. What began as a way to celebrate their... Read The Rest →

Visions for Ranomafana

Took a quick shower and nap to recover from a taxi brousse ride from hell, but alas worth it, as I walk up to the research center amidst this ethereal rainforest that sends home sparks of just how tiny a speck we are in the scheme of things, with friendly familiar faces ready to greet me – a welcome relief. Eileen and I chat over coffee and cigarettes, catching up on a long list of topics to figure out, appreciating how quickly it goes from having this person next to me to years passing by. In addition to shared... Read The Rest →

Road to PLAY Designs

To be honest, this reentry feels like a total blur. It’s been like the first month of school – getting into a working routine with the team and figuring out how much to push further. Alain has been approaching complex design challenges in order to realize the vision for the first, and it’s a lot harder than we had imagined! These are his first botanicals, and with a handful of competing elements to communicate, we don’t want to overdevelop it, but let aspects drop back into the backdrop and others... Read The Rest →

Send off from Tana

Back in Tana, preparing for departure, I had a few days to kill. I ran into a charismatic group that seemed business-savvy, and roped me into a conference J2Ex. They brought along their stories of success in entrepreneurship to inspire Madagascar, and assured me I would get a lot out of joining them for the final day with students. SO, I joined! The final day was impressive. I met a Malagasy group working towards helping children and youth envision and realize their dreams, and one of them also brought experience... Read The Rest →

Good Company.

Madagascar is a great teacher, and sometimes I teach here, too. I love working with the study abroad, because it feels like my students. When I arrived, Fall Study Abroad 2014 arrived too (!) to embark on the same experience that opened my world, and I get to be their first lecturer. I got one day to unwind, and then, game on. I sent great articles and my syllabus. Lecture 1 began with introducing Alison Jolly’s narratives on natural wonders, being guests, and the role of education for conservation. The next... Read The Rest →

Breaking for Brunch

My computer screen broke and there was nowhere to fix it in country. This seemed like a good time to step out and see what to do from afar. This survey trip, guided by Alison Jolly, was ready for a chapter close. Missing friends and family, craving Sunday brunch, also turned into an opportunity to attend the MFG Meetings and meet the board, hear great talks, and then shoot off to Vermont to catch up over home cooking.    BK girls – MFG Meetings From a distance, it was nice to see how many wonderful... Read The Rest →

Endurance and New Energy

Getting little things done: built a little puppet theater for MFG, painted and set up some of the exhibits that Jana began, created a brochure of their education programs, and wrote an article for the newsletter. The more I did that MFG was needed help on, the more I felt welcomed, although the Education Director still seemed unconvinced he could use the help. So I did other things, but left my door open for invitations. I was enjoying this vacation from pushing against the tide, as I got plans together and endured sick... Read The Rest →

Slick Arrival: Sprains and Broken Glass

This port city of Toamasina is considered one of the most aggressive places in country, but it’s also a very cool place. Post-colony Tamatave remains home to wealthy foreigners – the global port pulls a Madagascar I never knew. Stay awhile, offer good intent, and it welcomes you, with east coast casualty and sass. Guess when I got here, I didn’t know what to expect, so when I got a text that Maya, the director, wanted to meet me at 8am, I was a lil nervous. Intrigued by the Peace Corps alumni with a development perspective, as she... Read The Rest →

Big in the Little

Truth: No big people can save me from the grit. But where can I go to actually begin? Mitch Irwin, Professor at University of Illinois arrived in Tana to prepare for his students arrival, and it was an instant match. He is a really nice person working at a small corridor in the southeast and is slowly building it into a model for synergetic relationships for the people and wildlife. He shared working drafts of his own storybooks for the children in his region, and he had the natural inkling... Read The Rest →

« Older Entries Newer Entries »