Blog It Home 2015

My Blog Won the 2015 Peace Corps Blog Competition!!!! Here are a few photos from our winner’s tour in Washington D.C.

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A sunrise jog through Washington D.C.
Presenting at the White House
Presenting at the White House
Meeting the Peace Corps Director Carrie
Meeting the Peace Corps Director Carrie
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The Washington Monument
My family came to see my presentation!
My family came to see my presentation!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Over 1,655 people ‘liked’ my blog and countless emails reached the Third Goal Office on my behalf. I was selected as one of 8 winners to travel Washington D.C. from October 4-10 for a winner’s conference, following which, I plan to also visit my home in Pittsburgh, PA before returning to the Philippines.

In the course of one week my blog received 4,871 views representing roughly one third of the hits I’ve received since I created the blog. And the number of people following my blog tripled from 15 to 45.

My blog's site statistics from this past week
My blog’s site statistics from this past week

Here are just a few of the comments I have received from readers:

“Sarah words cant express how happy we are to meet you and be your host family!!! God bless you!!! Where’s the turtle?????? Hahaha!”

“Hi Sarah I’m from Tanauan, Leyte. It’s really nice to read your blog. What a small world! We are here in Greenwood, SC and my son goes to College of Charleston. He will be sophomore this fall. My mom host a peace corps volunteers a few years back in our hometown. They were from Pennsylvania.”

“Good night and God bless you! BTW, I see your mom at the cleaners every once in a while when she picks up your dad’s shirts. I can’t wait to tell her we had this deep world-solving conversation. It’s very nice to chat with you and take care!”

“Kamusta SJ, I’m an RPCV from batch 269, and served up north in Baguio City with the City Social Welfare and Development Agency, now living in DC. Read a bit of your blog and media; love the creativity and curiosity. If indeed you have the privilege of coming to DC, there’s a bunch of RPCV’s from the Philippines here and we’d love to welcome you. Keep up the good work!!”

Thanks again for all of the support! Please continue to read the letter below to learn more about the mission behind my blog…

A Clan of Superheroes:
A Clan of Superheroes: “The Fearless Fameros” check out my S’mores and Superheroes Blog Post for more info

Dear Reader,

I remember learning about the Electoral College in 8th grade history class and thinking my future presidential vote doesn’t really matter.[1] When it came time to vote at age 18, I dug a little deeper and discovered “the profound importance of social pressure as an inducement to political participation”[2] thereby the weight of your one vote may inspire others in your social group to also vote, oftentimes for the candidate. Suddenly, my nominal single ballot could multiply.

This is the principle that inspired me to start my blog. We live in a global world where ideas can spread like ants, small but powerful and able to invade every possible corner of one’s home (See blog post: Ants). And so we must ask what do people tell stories about? And what stories need to be told?

Since moving to the Philippines my blog has been my primary form of communication home. Before I left I printed business cards with my blog address and personally distributed or mailed the cards in letters to family, friends, and friends of friends. Now my blog has been read in 57 different countries and not a day has gone by that it has not seen at least one visitor.

Still I dream of something bigger. Climate change is a real threat that knows no national boundaries. Our actions today will directly affect our future tomorrow. I want to inspire coordinated blogging among Peace Corps Volunteers in all countries. I want to see our stories woven together to present a global story of water, of food, of family…etc. Studies show that people are more likely to donate to a single individual in need than to tales of thousands in tragedy[3] because personal stories have a way of making emotion tangible and the opportunity to make a visible improvement inspires action.

I would like to start a dialogue on coordinated blogging at the Peace Corps DC conference in October 2015. I propose that this year’s conference be themed around water. And water is life. Your water story is different than the one in my host family’s house and different still from each other community where volunteers are serving. Let’s use stories to fill the knowledge gap between consumption and environmental consequences. Let’s learn from each other to develop best practices for water use and other current issues.

The Peace Corps just launched a new 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Plan. How much more can we accomplish if our developing world stories inspire global action? Actions carried out by individuals in individual homes. Every product we purchase is also a vote. When I write a new blog post, I think about my audience… Americans, Filipinos, Canadians..etc. If I can get 40+ people so far to read my post “The Life Molecule,” maybe the conversation about water has started and my personal vote for sustainable water consumption now weighs more than just one.

Salamat po,
SJ Byce

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[1] In the 2004 Presidential Election, one Pennsylvanian vote had a weight of 0.84 thus below the national average of 1.0. See http://www.learnnc.org/lp/media/lessons/davidwalbert7232004-02/electoralcollege.html#4
[2] Gerber, A., Green, D. & Larimer, C. (2008) “Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review. Vol 102. Issue 01. Feb 2008, pp 33-48.
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2 thoughts on “Blog It Home 2015”

  1. Hi Sara. I have enjoyed checking out your blog! My name is Michelle, and I was a part of the PC Blog It Home contest a couple years ago (I also know Jamaica PCV, Dominique, whom I think you met in DC!). I’d be honored to have a veteran PCV blogger like you take part in my Blogging Abroad project. I’m hosting a six-week Blog Challenge for the New Year at bloggingabroad.org. This will be “phase one” for an online project that helps bloggers “level up” their blogs to promote cross-cultural understanding (a.k.a. the Third Goal). I invite you to visit the site, watch the video (or read the transcript if loading videos is a challenge) and sign up to join us on an adventure in blogging!

    1. Hi Michelle, So sorry for the delay in my response. I’ve really struggled with internet access these past 2 months (my former wifi cafe closed and now I don’t have great options). I’m about to check out your project now. It sounds really cool and again sorry for the delay, I literally have just spent hours staring at loading screens lately and have a backlog of “things to do if the internet is ever fast” haha

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