27 December 2006

Water Purification

Should I bring a personal purification system?

If so, which type should I purchase...

MIOX Purifier

Hydro Photon SteriPEN Adventurer Water Purifier


After hearing from several Kiribati RPCVs, I have decided it is not needful for me to spend the money on a water filtration system. A purification system is provided in country by the medical officer.

19 December 2006

Peace Corps Resume

Rhiannon Doherty
February 2007


2002 – 2004 Rebel Shakespeare Company - Salem, MA
Program Director and Business Manager
  • Designed and implemented several educational programs and classes
  • Formatted and managed company budget and records
  • Taught courses on variety of topics, including Shakespeare’s language & basic acting
  • Managed staff duties and responsibilities

2004 Cohen-Hillel Academy - Marblehead, MA
Artist/Teacher in Residence - “AIDA – Nationalism and Drama”
  • Implemented original lessons based on the national curriculum guidelines
  • Collaborated with students to create performance pieces exploring ‘Aida’ through current issues.
  • Trained students in research methods and interpretation techniques of historical materials.

2004 Marblehead Community Charter School - Marblehead, MA
Drama Enrichment Instructor
  • Established a new structure and curriculum for school’s Enrichment Program
  • Assisted students in improving their basic communication and social skills through drama activities
  • Provided students with a guided opportunity to explore cultural understandings and assumptions in a classroom environment

2004 Samurai Scholar After-School Program - Salem, MA
Special Needs Mentor

2004 Lynn School Accelerated Program - Lynn, MA
Workshop Director - “A Shakespeare Experience”

2003 Peabody Veteran Memorial High School - Peabody, MA
Substitute & Student Teacher

2002 – 2003 Shaw Elementary School - Millbury, MA
Workshop Artist - “Life and Times in Medieval and Renaissance England”

2002 – 2001 Campfire Organization - Salem, MA
Drama Program Facilitator

2001 Performing Arts School of Worcester - Worcester, MA
Senior Counselor

2000 King’s School - Worcester, UK
Workshop Instructor - “Out of Our Father’s House: American Feminist Drama”


2003 – 2004 Massachusetts Dept. of Education at Emerson College
Teacher Certification Program

2000 – 2003 Emerson College (a 4-year University)
Bachelor of the Arts in Theater Education
Graduated Magna Cum Laude


Drama as Education I & II Credits - 8
Including - Educational Theory
- Curriculum Development

300 hour Teaching Practicum Credits - 12

Theater for Young Audiences Credits - 3

Developmental Psychology Credits – 3


None Spoken


Digital Photography
Web and Graphic Design
Costume/Clothing Design and Construction
Dance – American and Ethnic Forms
Theatrical Performance
Buddhist Literature and Philosophy
Interest in World Religions
Meditation & Yoga

01 December 2006

Information for Sending Packages

Here are the details...

  • Double Ziplock Bag Everything. Or better yet send it in sturdy Tupperware. Or both! Ants and rats are a problem and will get into everything.
  • Bubble mailers and envelopes are MUCH cheaper than sending things in cardboard boxes.
  • Be mindful of packaging... The packages sent should be able to be recycled or burned
  • For customs purposes - Be sure to write "Educational Materials" and throw a few school supplies into the mix.
  • Be as VAGUE AS POSSIBLE on the customs form. You won’t get in trouble and it will definitely make it so your package doesn’t get raided. It’s not that customs is untrustworthy, they just have a passion for stuff like American chocolate, magazines, etc.
  • Do not send food or other items in tins/metal containers, then the package will likely be opened and inspected because the x-ray cannot detect anything inside those containers.
  • Send everything AIRMAIL. Packages sent via surface mail have been known to take up to six months getting to PCVs
  • A good technique for ensuring that packages get past customs is by marking them with "God Bless this Package." So go ahead picture a god of your choosing and think of them looking after the package and seeing it safely to me.

30 November 2006

Packing List

This is my current packing list to be shared with the public, so friends and other RPCVs can comment on my planning thus far. If you have any brand suggestions or feedback please leave a comment. Thank you.

Strikethrough indicates that I currently have the item.

Highlighted indicates that this item has a link.

* indicates that this item is recommended by the Peace Corps Welcome Book


Duffle Bag on Wheels (60")

Medium Sized Hiking Backpack (45") with Pillow attached

Pelican Case for Electronics

Essential Clothing

3 Pairs of Linen Pants/Capris *

1 Pair of Hiking Shoes

3 Wicking T-Shirts

2 Short Sleeve Shirts
Lightweight, Button Down *

1 Long Sleeve Shirt
Button Down, with Pockets

Tanktops at least 1 Wicking *

1 Cardigan Lightweight

3 Pairs of Pants
2 Variable Lengths/1 Fast Drying *

2 of 3 Skirts Long and Fast Drying *

1 Set of Swimwear
for Traveling *

1 Fleece Jacket
Lightweight, Zip-down Front

A Few Pairs of Underwear
High Performance or Cotton *

3 Sports Bras
- 1 Wicking, 2 Supportive *

2 Traditional Bras*

3 Pairs of Socks Wicking, Anti-fungal *

1 Pair of Sandals High quality. (50% PCV Discount) *

1 Pair of Reef Shoes *

1 Pair of Flipflops

1 Rain Jacket Waterproof


1 Trek-type Towel Medium*

3 Nalgene Bottles 2 16 oz. with wide mouth/ 1 32 oz. wide mouth *

3 Bandanas *

1 Pair of Sunglasses

1 Wide-Brimmed Hat *

1 Leatherman with knife and can opener *

1 LED Headlamp, battery operated *

1 Lexon Utensil Set

1 Folding Plastic Tableware

1 Hammock
Lightweight and Sturdy *

1 Shortwave Radio
Wind-up with LED Light and Alarm *

3 Dry Bags
1 XSmall/ 1 Small/ 1 Set of Variable Lengths

2 Pillowcases
, 100% Cotton *

2 Flat Sheets , Full and 100% Cotton *

2 Mini Rolls of Duct Tape

Various Combination Locks

Various Wire Locks

Ziplock Bags Various Sizes

Sewing Kit

2-3 Sets of Earplugs Sleeping/Swimming


Safety Pins

Bungee Cords
Various Sizes

Folding Camping Seat *


1 Watch Waterproof with Compass *

2 Flashlights
Water-resistant, Hand-powered *

Several DVDs New Releases for Dorm*

Laptop (Powerbook G4)

Extra Laptop Battery

1 Solar Panel Charger
(Bruton - Solarius 26)*

12 Volt Lead-Acid Battery


Travel Adapter
(Type I) *

Extra CD-Rs/ DVD-Rs

Digital SLR Camera
(Nikon D50) *

1 of 2 Lithium Camera Batteries

2 of 3 SD Memory Cards

CD Player

Silica Gel

Medical Kit

Personal Thermometer

7 Day Pill Holder
with UV Filter

Multi Vitamin
with Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Iron, B Complex, Folic Acid

Herbal Sleeping Aid

Antiseptic Powder


Lip Salve with Sunscreen

Motion Sickness Pills

Natural Laxative

for Coldsores

Financial/Legal Considerations

AMEX Blue Credit Card
for Emergencies

Personal Passport*

Medical Record & Immunization Record in Protective Folder

Photocopies of Important Documents
in Protective Folder

2 Pair of Perscription Glasses*

Personal Grooming

Crystal Rock Deodorant*

Facial Scrub

2 Toothbrushes

1 of 2 Tubes of Toothpaste,
with Floride *


Waterproof and High SPF (Bullfrog)

Dental Floss

Natural Insect Repellant

Clippers, for hair *

Extra Razors

2 "Keepers" Female Santiary Product*

Liquid Hand Sanitizer


Lightweight Games

plastic *

Personal Photo Album/Address Book,

Books *

Zen Flesh - Zen Bones
A Buddhist Bible
UU Hymnal


Kushiel series

Dietary/Culinary Considerations

Potholders thin silicone *

Good Knife

1 Can Opener

Measuring Cup

Measuring Spoons

Tea: Herbal, Green, Red

Soybeans, Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado

Spices: Indian, Japanese, Basic


Educational Supplies



Art Supplies:
Sharpies, Watercolors, Colored Pencils, Brushes*




Curriculum Planner

Solar Powered



Accordian Folder

Children's Books

Good Pens/Pencils

Pencil Sharpener

Stickers *

Gifts for Hosts


American Calendars *

Pot Holders *

Children's Books

29 November 2006

Commonly Asked Questions about Peace Corps Kiribati

I found at list of commonly asked questions about service in Kiribati here on the Peace Corps Online.

Commonly Asked Questions about Peace Corps Kiribati

Commonly Asked Questions about Peace Corps Kiribati

Note: This information is purely the opinion of Eric and Marian Larson. Views may differ depending on the volunteer. For official policy and information, consult Peace Corps literature and Peace Corps officials.

Q: What is it like getting to Kiribati?

Depends on your group's situation. K27 came through Australia and had to pay extra for their luggage (they were reimbursed). K28 (our group) went through Hawaii and Fiji, without a hitch. K29 went from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands in two batches, having to leave a lot of luggage in Hawaii. They were reunited with their luggage a few days later in Kiribati.

Staging, usually in San Francisco, is an afternoon-long process of paperwork and mental preparation for the trip. Ours was run by a woman contracted by the Peace Corps. We didn't meet anyone who had been to Kiribati, but somehow we didn't mind. We were up for an adventure, and that meant unpredictability. Most of our questions were answered soon enough when we got to the country. If you think this Q&A might spoil your adventure, feel free to stop reading.

Q: Do I need to worry about vaccinations before staging?

In our experience, no. When we arrived in Kiribati, the Peace Corps nurse who is a fulltime employee of the Peace Corps office in Kiribati looked at our vaccination records and filled in the gaps: tetanus, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, hepatitis A and B, and typhoid are the ones I remember. Just be sure to have records of your vaccinations, or you risk getting the shots again. Ouch! Luckily there's not a lot of weird deadly stuff you can get here. No malaria, and no rabies, for example.

Q: What is training like?

Peace Corps Volunteers everywhere get trained before they are sworn in. You'll be thankful for this when you start your service. Other volunteer organizations don't have much in the way of training. Peace Corps currently believes in community-based training, which means for 8 weeks or so you live with a local family. (This is in addition to a week or so staying with a volunteer, and a few more weeks in Tarawa learning your way around the governmental ministries and Peace Corps policies. About 12 weeks in all.) Homestay is where you begin to learn the culture and the language. It's hard. You eat new types of food, awake to the roosters at 3 a.m., get sick, sit on your tender rump for hours at a time on the ground, miss home, pray for mail, get wet when your little hut leaks. You get the picture. You might learn local dance, ways of getting fish, how to fetch water from a well—skills that will serve you well living on an outer island. Some people have a blast.

You might wonder, if your service is going to be in Tarawa, why you're being forced to endure this outer island boot camp. Well, it because it humbles you. It also shows you what kind of life most of those in Tarawa come from. And if you're doing work in Tarawa that will impact people on the outer islands, wouldn't it be helpful to know how those people tick? The alternative is the colonialist model which is more like: "I'm going to come in and show you poor people how to do things right." The community-based model says: "I'm going to live like you, understand you better, so we can do great things together."

Q: Is the work fulfilling? Will I learn new skills for future work?

The work varies tremendously from volunteer to volunteer, island to island. Work depends on local counterparts, resources, shared vision, and personal motivation. Some volunteers are very busy while others are not. Some decide to focus instead on the cultural exchange aspect of the Peace Corps mission, which is 2/3rds of your job description. One thing is certain: Work is treated differently in other countries. Learning how to adapt to that and still manage to get things done involves a complex set of personal skills that is bound to serve you well in whatever future work environment you find yourself. Or, it may drive you insane and cause you to end your service early with bitterness. It all depends on how you decide you're going to be. Will you change, or will you die trying to change everyone in your host country?

Q: Is life in Tarawa much different from the other 16 Gilbert Islands where volunteers are placed?

Some things are the same, like topography of land and the kindness of the people, but not much else. Tarawa is the city, while outer islands are the country. Think of Tarawa as having the stuff of a small town in America and the outer islands as small farming hamlets. Tarawa has a power plant and buses that travel at high speed. Outer islands have a bit of solar power at scattered homes, some small gas generators, and maybe a handful of trucks for transport. Drinking is, in general, more accepted in Tarawa, and there is a much larger population of Westerners. One can get most foods in Tarawa (and goods, tools, etc.) while the stock on outer islands is unpredictable. Tarawa has email and telephones, while most outer islands don’t have phones (as of now, two or three islands have solar-powered pay phones. Telcom is expanding phone service each year to new islands.)

Q: Is Kiribati safe for single females?

Kiribati has the reputation as a safe country overall. The people love Americans. They have a stable government and no civil unrest. Thievery happens but is rare. However, there have been a number of instances of sexual assault on PCV women over the years, including at least one rape. Usually the attacks have involved men who overdrink. There have been break-ins of homes at night and attacks on the road or in the bush. Almost always they have occurred when the woman is alone at home, on the beach, on the road, or in the bush. PCV women protect themselves by traveling with other PCVs or local female friends. Some single women sleep at a neighbor's house, keep a dog, or ask a trusted friend to sleep on a buia outside her house. It is rare that a woman taking these measures has any serious problems.

A single woman living alone is not familiar to the Kiribati culture. Women don't sunbathe on the beach alone, travel through the bush alone. Many PCV women have led very independent lives without a single problem, but others have experienced problems. A woman should have the freedom to travel alone without fear, but a corresponding reality is that there are some men in Kiribati who are violent--and Western women are very conspicuous targets. Likely this would go for most Peace Corps countries, of course. The nice thing is that women in Kiribati who believe in safety in numbers and allowing their neighbors to "protect" them are rarely refused help. Marian lives very conservatively. Sometimes it frustrates her that she can't do things alone like a guy can, but she is happy with her decision. To date, she has not experienced any violence directed at her.

Q: Can you save enough money to travel? What about meeting family?

Most PCVs travel to other countries during their service. From Kiribati, Fiji perhaps is the most popular destination, followed by Vanuatu, Australia, New Zealand, and other Pacific countries like Samoa and Marshall Islands. And, of course, many return to the States one time for Christmas after their first year.

At the moment, PCVs take in about $350AUS each month in various allowances. Tarawa volunteers take in a bit more, but costs are higher on Tarawa. We've managed to pay for a 12-day trip to Fiji (one night in a resort) and roughly half of a trip to Australia on Peace Corps dollars we've saved. We decided not to meet family in Fiji last year, as we worried flights might be delayed. But many volunteers do meet family, usually with no problem. And some PCVs have family visit them in Kiribati, almost always with good results. The people here are very generous and there is usually a week or two of things to do on an outer island before some people start to go stir crazy.

Q: Just how isolated are you in terms of emergencies?

Living on Tarawa, you are near the Peace Corps medical officer, a hospital, and an international airport with regular service to Australia. On an outer island, you have only between one and three regular flights per week, and only a few islands are in close range for speedboat travel. In case of an emergency, the PCV or a friend would CB or use a satellite phone (some islands have them now, and all islands are due to have them in the very near future) to call the office and the medical officer might elect to hire one of Air Kiribati's two planes to come and get you. One problem is that none of the landing strips have lights for night flights, but conceivably villagers could light up the runway with flashlights (I'm not kidding). And the Marshall Islands has an American base with military craft that conceivably could be called on in an extreme emergency. Yes, it's remote and scary, especially in the case of a dreaded appendicitis. At the same time, were something to happen, everyone would be going well out of their way to help you. It's risky, but one we've decided we're willing to take for all the BENEFITS that come from being hard to reach. It's nice not to return home and automatically look for the answering machine.

Q: What are the advantages or disadvantages to joining Peace Corps as a couple?

Having constant moral support is wonderful. Living in close quarters for two years can be very difficult, but if you can adjust, your relationship is all the stronger. Sharing experiences is priceless. Doing it by yourself I would assume is a huge confidence booster and something to be proud of. But it's hard enough with Marian's help; I wouldn't trade this decision for the world.

Q: What's the food like?

Some of the food is quite amazingly good, especially the fresh seafood when you can get it. It all depends on what village you live in and whether you know people who fish, or if people sell fish. There are some coconut recipes that are very tasty. There is not too much in the way of veggies, but there have been vegetarians who have gotten by (though none would say it's been easy, and most give in and start eating fish.) There are a lot of canned foods, like canned meats, that are popular and very unhealthy. Lack of variety is a common complaint by PCVs, including us. We spend hours talking about food we miss. I miss food almost as much as I miss friends and family.

Q: How about your health?

Some people never get sick, but they are the exception. Marian and/or I have had the following: giardia, salmonella, something like dengue (blood test being processed), food poisoning, fish poisoning (a mild version, not ciguatera, thank God), 24-fever, common cold, heat rash, diarrhea, and just plain feeling tired, low energy. I'd say we've been sicker than most in our group, however. I've lost 40 pounds, Marian 10. It's nice to have year-round sunshine and a place to swim to make up for feeling cruddy sometimes. I've probably only lost about 3 weeks of work due to sickness, however. Somehow you make it. The physical challenge is something I was looking for. Though 12 of our original 32 group members have left, only one left due to a medical condition.

Q: Is mail reliable?

Yes and no. Most PCVs get mail once or twice weekly. Most airmail takes about three weeks coming through Fiji. Surface mail (by ship) can take months or more than a year. Any mail, even junk mail, is better than no mail.

Q: What happens in case of a family emergency back in the States?

If you have a satellite phone, your family can simply call you. If not, Peace Corps Kiribati keeps trying by CB until they get hold of you, and you can then go into Tarawa to speak with your family by phone. There is free email at the dorm that is currently working, and there is an Internet café in Tarawa that costs $8AUS per hour. Peace Corps has strict policy as to when you can return to the States on their dime. Consult the maroon handbook for this one.

Q: When does your service end?

Most Peace Corps terms of service around the world are 27 months. Currently PCV groups arrive in Kiribati in October and leave 26 months later, in December, before Christmas. This is because there is a long school break December and January in which very little work gets done, so there's often little point in sticking around. Some health volunteers leave even a bit earlier, with special permission. Others get permission to stay beyond the 26 months, and some extend for a third year.

Q: Can I have a pet?

Cats are great for mice, and there are plenty of both in Kiribati. There are plenty of dogs here, too, and many PCVs adopt one or more. Then comes the question of what to do with them when you leave. We're researching on how to bring ours home, but most elect to pass them on to other PCVs (when possible), make them dorm pets (when there's not one already), or let them fend for themselves (they don't always survive.) It's a very difficult issue that has no clear answers. Take note: If you get a pet pig, it will certainly be eaten.

Q: How easy is it to go swimming? Snorkeling? Diving? Surfing?

Most PCVs swim, even in Tarawa where it's hard to find places that aren't polluted. Getting past the breakers to snorkel is harder on some islands than on others. There are wonderful places to dive (unfortunately the latest word is that the dive school on North Tarawa is going out of business in June 2003), and there is some good surfing. People do bring surfboards and find opportunity to use them. (Remember if you are a single woman that getting to water might mean traveling alone, as water is almost never used recreationally by locals and most beaches are deserted. See the above statement on safety for women.) We believe in the buddy system and never swim alone. We have seen sharks, lionfish, Portuguese man-o-war, and a few other prickly sea critters, but we're alive to tell the tale. Everything's pretty well fed and has very little use for a starved PCV.

Q: Do many PCVs travel after their service?

The ones in Kiribati certainly do. When you leave, instead of letting the Peace Corps buy your ticket home you can take the cash equivalent and purchase around the world tickets at good prices. We're going straight home, but most of our friends are doing at least a couple months of travel on their way home. Some travel for a year or more, and some even go to Holland. Isn't dat veerd?

Aspiration Statement

Rhiannon Doherty
February 2007

A: While serving the community of Kiribati with the Peace Corps, I look forward to making use of several attributes aquired in my previous professional experience:

- My ability to organize and structure a classroom setting to facilitate understanding for a variety of different learning styles

- Using my experience with communication and emotional understanding in the classroom to advise and guide pupils on personal and academic problems and issues

- I plan to use my creative problem solving, fostered in teaching an artistic discipline, to find practical and effective solutions for some of the issues present in Kiribati classrooms, such as a lack of available materials

My aspirations for my experience in Kiribati are simple:

- I hope to be challenged and rise to meet that challenge.

- I look forward to learning a new language and adapting to a new culture.

- I would like to use my understanding and skills to benefit those around me.

- I believe that above everything it is best to approach a new situation with no prejudice, bearing an open mind.

B: Some of my strategies for working effectively with my host country partners and their expressed needs are:

- Constant and clear communication

- Accurately assess the needs of the assignment

- An honest evaluation of my professional abilities

- Research cultural and social environment of Kiribati before departure

- Keep in mind my personal needs while working to fulfill my professional role

- Hold myself accountable for my actions within and outside the work place

- Value the difference in perspectives between myself and my host partners

C: My strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to my own cultural background are:

- Finding shared activities to celebrate a common bond such as dance.

- I will recognize and accept that there is some degree of “culture shock” that will occur and any emotions/sensations from this time period are temporary and part of my adaptation to a new way of life

- Making sure to withhold judgment on new experiences and just revel in the moment

- I will establish simple goals for my day/week and evaluate my progress.

- Maintain a pastime from home which I enjoy

D: Skills and knowledge I hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve my project and community:

- Gain an understanding of cultural values and practices

- Gain an understanding of the governmental and educational structures in place

- Language proficiency

- Medical precautions and safety techniques that apply to my specific situation

- To be briefed on previous PCVs experiences and accomplishments

- Techniques to thrive as a female PCV in a possibly difficult gender situation

E: My long-term personal/professional aspiration is to open an interfaith spiritual retreat center and act as a community mentor and counselor. To that end, I believe that my service in the PCV will influence this goal in the following ways:

- It will allow me to assess my ability to commit my time and energy to a community of
individuals as a counselor and mentor

- I will be able to observe myself in a highly demanding position that will call upon not only my professional abilities but my personal values

- My experiences in my assignment will permit me to gain new perspective on different cultural understandings

07 November 2006

My Destination.

I will be doing my service in Kiribati on one of the remote outer islands.

Come February 24th, I will be on my way to here...


For an Overall View - Go Here.

For Peace Corps Info - Go Here.

04 October 2006

Medical Acceptance

"Dear Ms. Doherty:

Thank you for submitting all the requested medical and dental information to the Office of Medical Services. You have been medically and dentally qualified for Peace Corps service. "

No more tests. I'm in.
What a struggle... What a relief.

12 September 2006

Defying the Odds.

My third and final test is negative. I'm negative!!!!!!

I can go.. and there is nothing to stop me...

I can hardly believe it. But I am so grateful.

I'm going to the Peace Corps in the forseeable future... probably by Christmas.

06 September 2006


"Small fragment of normal ectocervix."

I never though I would be so happy to see those words grace paper.. but the entirety of my future plans with the Peace Corps are now secured with that one small phrase.

And I have a job with Labour Ready. Just the sort of thing I wanted... physical labour for a decent wage. I do not even really need a car, so I may just borrow the one we get for my brother. But I report at 5:30 any day I would like to work.

This is me - grinning from ear to ear.

01 August 2006

Medical Deferment

I heard from the Peace Corps finally. I have been medically deferred. I have a letter explaining the details coming in the next few days.. but when I spoke to my medical screener - he said it had to do with the cervical issues. This is not something I can resolve... its a lifelong ailment. So I am assuming that they are looking for such and such negative results in a row. That could be interesting.

03 February 2006


So I went through the interviews and the investigations...
Now I have to choose where I want to spend the next two years of my life -
(I need to tell my recruiter by Friday evening ideally.)

(The only assignment I know the actual country of placement.)
Departs in September

The Work: This is a specialist assignment where I would be aiding local rural artisans to sell and market their wares to a global market. Business advising and development, really.

The area is most likely quite rural and is strictly Muslim.

Sub-Sahara Africa - Western coast most likely
Departs in July

Hang-up: I'd have to learn the local dialect through French and my french training is many years dead.

The Work: Community development in rural communities. Working with Aids and health awareness while teaching at risk youth and working with local businesses.

Central Asia (any of the -stans)/Asia
(could be China or Mongoila or Phillipines.. who knows)
Departs July

The Work: Teaching English in a secondary school. Possibly technical training and teacher training involved.

May not be a rural area... so I could be stuck in some huge Asian city...

Some Pacific Island
Departs September

The Work: Education mostly secondary and curriculum development

Very rural.. no running water and little electric