The Other Side – Tionana

Tionana means “We will see one another” in Chichewa, the indigenous language in Southern Malawi. It is the language that I spoke with my host family, the Bandas, as well as the other people in my village all throughout my summer working in Malawi.

For me, tionana encapsulates my sentiments as I left my Malawian family and home to return to Canada in August of 2010.

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The Other Side – First steps off the plane

I’ve meant to write this post countless times. I’ve spent many hours thinking about it, sat down to a computer to start typing it, wrote a sentence here or there but never a full entry and certainly nothing to post. Somewhere along the line I fell into the trap of leaving your blog behind when you step off a plane and back into Canada. Well, starting now, I’m climbing out of that trap.

This is the first in a series of posts of the other side, the experience of being in Canada after working overseas.  Continue reading


I’ve had a hard week. The kind where you keep thinking that things have to take a turn for the better soon and then take a turn for the worst, the kind where you are tired beyond needing sleep, the kind that makes you want to go home. I wanted to go home this week – what I didn’t realize at the time was that home did not have to mean Canada. Continue reading

Half Formed Thoughts

A collection of musings I have been having over the course of the summer but have not yet formed into full on opinions but are nonetheless important observations. I would love to start a discussion and share thoughts and experiences on any of the following.

On Hierarchy Continue reading

The Moments I Remember I am From Another Culture

There are times in Malawi when I feel completely at home and even forget that some of the things I am doing are strange compared to what I would do at home in Canada. For me this is a part of integrating into a new culture. Before coming overseas, all of the volunteers coming with EWB are asked to think about the importance of integration. Although integration looks a little bit different for everyone, the overall goal is for our volunteers to develop a little bit of understanding and empathy for the lives of the people we are trying to help. Continue reading

Where is Laureene??

“Where is Laureene?” is a question Mr. Banda fields almost every day. Although his answers vary – she is at work, at the market, at the lake, in town, they always contain the same ending: she will be back soon, but the time is coming when Mr. Banda will have to answer “Laureene is in Canada” without the assurance that I will be back soon.

The time is coming when my life in Malawi and all the people in it will become a memory. Continue reading

Beware the Buzzword

They exist in almost every industry. Words that are used to describe something of importance to everyone within a specific industry or group but mean something different to anyone outside of that group or words that have adopted strong meaning to all who hear them across groups and situations. I like to call these words buzzwords and they are especially pervasive in development.

These words like gender equality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS pull on heart strings, open wallets and generally evoke reactions in those who hear them – but like all buzzwords, the reactions they evoke may not represent the true meaning of the word or program they are describing.

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