Archive | August 2012

Four Faves: Around Ecuador




Mujeres Cambia on Facebook!


We finally have reliable enough internet (for the time being) to launch the Mujeres Cambia Facebook Page! We will be keeping the page updated with photos from events, more images of Mujeres Cambia necklaces, and updates on news about the group.

Click here to go to the Mujeres Cambia Facebook Page.

Enjoy, Mari



The ABCs of Design


Flavorwire is a great resource for inspiration, focusing on design, culture, and entertainment. I have re-posted interesting items I receive in my inbox through Flavorpill before. Here’s another one featured in the latest Flavorpill email for the design enthusiasts out there: Emma Cook’s ABC flashcards. These cards feature such gems as, “M is for Moleskine” and “A is for Apple” (as in gorgeous aluminum Apple desktop computer).

I was curious to look at the letters that spell my name to see just how Hipster it would look and as you can see above, I don’t think you can get more Hipster than black rimmed glasses, insider design references, and a certain little black book. I once described myself as somewhere between Hippie and Hipster. Does the fact that not only do I have several Moleskines, an Apple computer and Warby Parker Specs but I also convert my images to RGB in Photoshop and use the Interwebs every day tip the scales more towards Hipster or does the fact that I am writing this as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador trump all the rest?

See what your name looks like by visiting Emma Cook’s website or her Behance page.

Enjoy, Mari

Gone But Not Forgotten: David Rakoff


Writer, performer, and all-around generous guy David Rakoff died on August 9th. I never met him but I feel like I know him through his numerous performances on my favorite radio program, This American Life. Last week’s TAL episode is dedicated to David and his work so if you’ve never heard him you need to download the free podcast ASAP. Seriously, do it.

While David shared many things with the world through his books and essays, those of us who were never friends with him recently learned that he was also one of the world’s best gift givers. Through a Tumblr dedicated to him, his friends and family have uploaded images of the spectacular and creative gifts he made for loved ones to celebrate holidays and milestones.

His many obituaries list other facts about him (The New York Times one can be read here) but for me, viewing the collection of the gifts that David made communicates something even more touching and profound about who this man was. Even though I never knew him personally, I will miss David Rakoff.



Watch him on The Daily Show here.

Watch David’s performance on This American Life:

Home Sweet Home


We’re back after a week in Quito! As amazing as it was, we’re also glad to be home. Paul and I had the pleasure of hosting two of the women from Mujeres Cambia at the past week’s convening of Peace Corps volunteers from our training class. It was the first time either of them had really traveled outside of their area of the country and I couldn’t be more proud of them and what they accomplished this week.

The best part about the entire week for me was seeing our two Mujeres Cambia representatives grow and develop into confident, self-assured presenters as they led a bead-making workshop and answered questions about the business behind Mujeres Cambia in front of a large group of Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts. Further, we had an important  meeting in Quito with a potential buyer and the women were rock stars representing themselves and their products.

Some highlights from our week in Quito:

  • Seeing other PCVs and hearing about their amazing projects
  • Catching up with Peace Corps staff
  • Staying with our host family in Tumbaco
  • Eating comfort food at restaurants
  • Enjoying hot(ish) showers
  • Selling over $1,000 of Mujeres Cambia merchandise
  • The interview with El Universo (the country’s largest paper) about Mujeres Cambia
  • Going to the movies (twice)
  • Meeting up with **Belén** my host sister from when I was 16!

Stay tuned for photos and more news to come.


Palmar Prezi


Above, see one of two Community Assessment Tool (CAT) presentations that we gave last week as part of the Peace Corps Reconnect conference for our training class.

Enjoy, Mari

I Heart Prezi and Typography


I am totally in love with this new way to do presentations. Paul and I (in addition to still managing our projects) have been working on our presentations for an upcoming Peace Corps conference next week. Hence, the lack of posts lately.

While researching new ways to spice up presentations, we found Prezi, which allows you to pan and zoom your information, animating your run-of-the-mill boring Powerpoint into a work of art. See the excellent example above by Travis Hitchcock.

The viewer allows the presentation to be played automatically or you can click, zoom, and pan yourself.

I’m using it to present our data in a more exciting way and I’ll be sure to share once it’s done!

Enjoy, Mari

Mujeres Cambia First Model Shoot





A Day in the Life

Often, I’m asked what I do as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I always try to answer as honestly and fully as possible since there are a lot of misconceptions out there about the Peace Corps. Some think that the Peace Corps is a glorified vacation or that it is filled with unqualified, idealistic, young people who are putting off going to work.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “No generalization is wholly true, not even this one.”

Sure, like any large organization, you’re going to find people of all different stripes. All I can do is speak to my experience, which happens to be very different than the assumptions listed above. In the spirit of showing not telling, I am going to give you a glimpse into what a typical day in my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer looks like so you can decide if it sounds like a glorified vacation.

Enjoy, Mari


Tuesday, July 31

It’s hard not to smile when you wake up to this!


7:00 – 8:00

  • Woke up and checked if there was power and internet. There was! So, I checked my email, read a bit of news, played a game and then made a To Do List for the day.
  • Put water on stove for bucket baths (we don’t have hot water and it’s our winter right now) and for making tea/breakfast.
  • Made breakfast.
  • Woke Paul up.

8:00 – 9:00

  • Ate breakfast and took bucket bath.
  • Made piles of Mujeres Cambia jewelry we would be sending later that day, wrote personal notes for packages, and double-checked each package and address.
  • Put CD with digital files for the Sembrar, Reforestar, Palmar project (Plant, Reforest Palmar project – planting 100 palm trees during August) banner in backpack.
  • Got dressed.

Mujeres Cambia jewelry is flying off the shelves.


9:00 – 10:00

  • Reviewed To Do List.
  • Gathered bags and left house and headed towards Libertad/Salinas an hour away (where the nearest post office, movie theatre, large super market, and local government offices are located).
  • Met a Mujeres Cambia member on the way to pick up more necklaces and to bring her along to Libertad/Salinas to train her on sending packages and applying for government account.

10:00 – 11:00

  • Dropped off Mujeres Cambia member at local government office to file paperwork.
  • Traveled to drop off digital files of the banner for the Sembrar, Reforestar, Palmar project.
  • Stopped by another printer to get quote to make t-shirts for the youth group and the reforestation project.

Some of the members of the Sembrar, Reforestar Palmar team.


11:00 – 12:00

  • Bought tools for reforestation project.
  • Picked up Mujeres Cambia member and brought her to the post office.
  • Checked in with another government office to sign Mujeres Cambia up for a special account with the post office.

12:00 – 13:00

  • Sent several packages of Mujeres Cambia jewelry to Quito and to the United States.
  • Received mail from Paul’s parents and the Peace Corps.
  • Said good-bye to Mujeres Cambia member.
  • Traveled to local supermarket to buy supplies for Mujeres Cambia and Palmar Pizza.

13:00 – 14:00

  • Shopped for food and supplies we can’t get in our town.
  • Ate lunch.

A sample palmera for the reforestation project.


14:00 – 15:00

  • Called several tree nurseries for quotes.
  • Called Ministry of Tourism to arrange for free transportation of the trees to Palmar.
  • Traveled to local tree nursery with best quote.

15:30 – 16:00

  • Confirmed free transport of trees!
  • Ordered 100 palm trees to be delivered for the Sembrar, Reforestar Palmar project.
  • Picked up Sembrar, Reforestar banner from printer.

Hanging the banner.


16:00 – 17:00

  • Traveled back home.

17:00 – 18:00

  • Arrived at home.
  • Put food away. Separated supplies into piles for Mujeres Cambia and Palmar Pizza.

18:00 – 19:00

  • Made work phone calls.
  • Got decorations ready for host mom’s surprise birthday party.

Our host mom blows out the candles.


19:00 – 20:00

  • Received cake and pizza order for birthday party.
  • Decorated host family’s house for party.
  • Surprised host mom.

20:00 – 21:00

  • Ate pizza, sang Happy Birthday, ate cake with host family, and celebrated host mom’s birthday.

21:00 – 22:00

  • Returned home to change, put on bug spray and lock up before heading out again to meet with the town’s vice president and a member of the tourism committee.
  • Had a meeting about the Sembrar, Reforestar Palmar project with vice president.

Closing up shop.


22:00 – 23:00

  • Walked to Palmar Pizza.
  • Conducted an end-of-the-month inventory of Palmar Pizza, counting all products and supplies with workers and noting them in a spreadsheet.

23:00 – 24:00

  • Walked back home.
  • Got ready for bed.

24:00 – 1:00

  • Fell asleep watching a movie.

Good night moon.

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