Thursday, July 30, 2009

So Long So Cal pt.1

I have 23 days left before I leave to the Caribbean for two years. I definitely plan on milking my goodbyes for as long as I can. We kicked it off last night by turning our weekly bike ride, WTF Wednesdays, into So Long So Cal Pt.1 A bunch of friends came out to the Press for drinks, merriment, and good company. It was really great, and even though I ended up in tears, they were good tears. Solid, I love these people, I am going to miss Claremont tears. I moved around a lot while finishing school, and Claremont is the one place that has really felt like home to me. I have met so many amazing people who I know will be in my life forever. I am really going to miss this place and all these crazy people that I LOVE SO MUCH!! Thank you all for being there with me last night!! Here are some snapshots of the madness. They're all out of order, but I think you'll still get a feel for the evening.

1. WTF Wed weekly meet spot
2. Izzy & Ratsamy
3. Classic Rodney
5. Salud!
6. My WTF Co-Founders, Kirk & Dan
7. Mojo Jojo!!
8. Izzy & Me
9. Aye que Lisa
10. Lisa, Diana, & Alisa
11. Nick & Kirk-G Town Represent!
12. Alisa & Dean (Iz & Ratsamy in the back)
13. WTF Riders
14. WTF Drinkers (our motto is Bike, Drink, Enjoy!)
15. Luke & I wear cool shirts

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New details, new excitements!

Today I had a brief interview with Mavis Huggins, the Associate Peace Corps Director for the islands of St. Kitts & Nevis, along with two other PC trainers. The ladies have asked to speak with all of us who will be departing soon to serve in the Eastern Caribbean. They want to gain some insight on our experience and our ambitions for PC service. It was a brief conversation, but it went really well, and added yet another surge to my growing excitement. We discussed some of the youth development work that I have done here in the U.S., including tutoring and mentoring. Mavis wanted to know what projects I was hoping to involve myself in while in St.Kitts. Luckily, I have been reading a lot of other blogs and doing plenty of research on the islands. Two ideas that I have come up with are a literacy program for primary students. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, even as a kid, and I am excited about sharing this passion with the students on St.Kitts. I think a strong interest in reading is something that all students can benefit from. Another project that I have been considering is a Girls Group. I haven't really worked out the details yet, but basically I want to work with a group of girls to help improve their self-confidence, body image, activity level, etc. In many developing countries, women are still viewed and treated as second class citizens. Changing the way girls seem themselves and their potential, can impact the way that their community perceives them as well.Mavis and the other trainers gave me some great feedback on my ideas, and commented that my ambitions will serve the community well. What a great feeling to be so well received right off the bat!
They also provided me with some encouraging updates on my communication options on St.Kitts. Apparently Internet is readily available in most homes, so keeping up with the blog and emails should be pretty easy. She also recommended leaving my US cell phone at home, and purchasing an inexpensive prepaid phone while on the island. So chances are, I'll even be able to make regular phone calls back home!
We ended the conversation by discussing my accommodations. August 25th-30th will be spent on the island of St.Lucia for some initial training. On August 31st I will be relocated to the island of St.Kitts, where I will spend 6 weeks with a Kittian host family. They will open their home to me, and "adopt" like I was one of their own. With my host family, I will have an opportunity to learn about Kittian life & culture, and they will have the privilege (responsibility?) of introducing me to my neighborhood. After the 6 week period, I will be sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer and set out to an apartment on my own!

Monday, July 27, 2009


I received my staging information today. I can't even begin to describe how excited I am. My Peace Corps application process has been lengthy, to say the least, and so many times I feared that I wouldn't have the opportunity to serve. But this makes it real, SO VERY REAL!! My ticket has been confirmed. I will be leaving for Miami on Sunday the 23rd. I believe I spend 2-3 days at Orientation with the other EC PCV (Eastern Caribbean Peace Corps Volunteers), then off to St. Lucia for training, and then eventually to my assignment on St.Kitts & Nevis!!
In all honesty, I cried today when I received my email. I feel so blessed and so thankful to have this opportunity, God has truly answered my prayers. Not everyone has the blessing & good fortune to fulfill a life long dream. I am also thankful for all the friends and family members who have been supportive of my dream, and wouldn't allow me to doubt myself (especially you, Jaime Lyn!).
This is an amazing day. I think it's time to pop that bottle of chateauneuf du pape I have been saving!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why the Peace Corps?

I have begun corresponding with another future EC PCV (Eastern Caribbean Peace Corps Volunteer). She recently asked me why I have chosen the Peace Corps, a question that many friends have asked, and so has the Peace Corps. Part of the application process requires us to write a Motivation Statement about why we have chosen to apply, and I thought to easiest way to answer everyones' question, was to share my Motivation Statement with you all!

2/11/08 (over 18 months ago!)

The idea of participating in Peace Corps first began to interest me while I was still in High School. I was fascinated by the idea of moving abroad, learning a new language, and serving a community in need. At the time, as a teenager, it seemed like a romantic and lofty goal. When I began college though, in 1998, many other ambitions and distractions occupied my mind, and Peace Corp service lost its priority to me. Then in 2001, I experienced what I consider to be somewhat of an epiphany.
One typical morning I was getting ready for work as I normally did. I got in my car and prepared for the quick twenty-minute commute to my job at a local mall. As I made my way down the highway I worried about being late. In the midst of my distraction, I lost control of my vehicle. My car veered towards the right and in a panic I pulled hard to the left, strongly over compensating the re-direction. As my car hit the gravel shoulder along the highway it began to spin out of control. I can still remember the exact details of this experience. I knew that I was tumbling and could hear the sound of unnatural movement. I was scared because I did not know when the movement would end or what condition I would be in once it did. Before long it did stop, and there seemed to be a long pause of dead silence followed by the blaring whirl of other cars passing me by. It did not take me long to realize two things; first, I was upside down and second and more importantly, I wasn’t hurt. I felt perfectly intact, no blood, sharp pains, or anything. I also quickly realized that I needed to get out of the car, fast!
I rolled down my window, unbuckled my seat belt, and climbed out of the window. Already a small group had gathered and the people there were concerned and helpful. They made sure I was okay, verified that there was no one else in the car, and waited until an ambulance arrived. I went to the hospital that afternoon, they checked me over and soon discharged me without any significant concerns.
Over the next several days I went over the events again and again in my mind. I even went back to the tow-yard to sign off my car. When I saw it, I could not believe it. It was beyond totaled and had even caught on fire shortly after I had evacuated it. I wasn’t sure how I survived, and with no injury at that. I soon began to question not only how, but why I survived. As I meditated and prayed over this question, I gained a personal understanding that I had survived for a reason, a purpose. I began to feel that I was here on Earth to something good, something for someone else. I continued to search my mind and heart for what that something could be, and the answer began to develop, the Peace Corp.
Since this time, the goal to become a Peace Corp volunteer has been in my mind and in my heart. At times the desire has been stronger than others, but it has never left me. Because of this desire, I have continued to seek out opportunities and experiences that will help to prepare for life as a Peace Corps service volunteer.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tic toc . . .tic toc . . .

It has been well over a year since my last blog. I guess I just never gained the momentum that I was hoping for. Well I have been messing with this page all afternoon, as I am anxiously awaiting some very good news that may make blogging seem a lot more relevant. Keep your fingers crossed for me.