“Forums”

Last week I was given the opportunity to attend an international aid forum at the Convention Center here in D.C. I have been excited to get up from my computer and venture out to see the city, so I was ecstatic for this chance. I looked up the keynote speaker for the first day of the forum and was interested in his history and how he got to where he is today. I saw big names (USAID, UN OCHA, the founder of Teachers Without Borders) and thought that this would be a perfect time to make connections with the attendees. Was I wrong.

Come to find out, this forum was actually a trading show and everyone was attempting to sell their new high tech featured item and raise as many funds as possible. Big businessmen spoke on panels and took credit for work that had been done in places like Haiti. I was tempted to raise my hand and ask if he had been to Haiti since the earthquake and if he has seen the late “progress”. My guess is “no”. Needless to say, I was disappointed. It was a different side of disaster relief that I’ve never seen before. I have yet to decide how I feel about it.

On another note, I was able to attend a disability organization’s annual meeting this week. My main project is working towards building a nation-wide coalition advocated for the rights of people with accessibility and functional needs when a disaster strikes. I was surely humbled at this meeting, as I was a minority and part of a small crowd that did not have a disability. This organization is moving mountains both nationally and internationally. Disability rights has never been a strong suit of mine, but I have a feeling I’ll be learning quite a bit this summer concerning the subject. I’m pretty stoked.

I’ll end this post on a tiny possibility: I just might be seeing Hillary Clinton speak next week (?!)

From the Capitol,

E

P.S. For you sports fans, we’re undefeated in softball!!

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Can I interest you in a breakfast biscuit?

My first week here is almost over and I am surprised that I am awake, as I have already been up working for eight hours, done PT physical training, and finished my laundry.
I’m just getting used to waking up at 3:30 everyday. Sometimes I kind of regret not choosing the night shift (Noon-8pm). But I’m finding that I definitely don’t waste my day by napping after work. On my first day, I worked a total of 11 hours. The Culinary Corps came to our kitchen and taught us how to cook and clean in the kitchen. The Culinary Corps is a new program that collects professional cooks from around the country and they volunteer to go in to kitchens and cook for groups of people. For free. It was absolutely amazing. I helped make fried tofu and carrot cake. I worked with a chef that was a private chef for a family that lives on a boat and another who is about to publish a cookbook on desserts.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people say how Brad Pitt is all over the news right now for his project in New Orleans. I actually live about 10 miles away from this land of pinkness. So on Tuesday, I went down to the project to take a look for myself. Unfortunately I had missed him by a day…other Corps members actually got to meet him. Booooo. Being here for two months, I will probably be able to see the progress every time I go in to the city.

Yesterday was another 12-hour day of work. I decided to volunteer after work at a school to help organize a book giveaway for teachers in St. Bernard Parrish. Scholastic donated 25,000 books to the school district and all the teachers in the area were able to take a box home with them. It was so great to see how happy they were to just pick out new books for their classroom. I was told that only 5 out of 15 schools in the Parrish are open. One woman was looking through books and there was a book with the title “What You Should Know About Hurricanes”. She said, “I don’t think I want to know anything else. I think I know enough by now.” True.

I think the most moving thing I’ve gotten out of this week was during my orientation on Sunday. The director of Camp Hope talked to us and told us a story of how a man was stuck in/on top of his house for five days during the hurricane. So many rescue boats and helicopters went by him without stopping. This man had lost all faith in mankind and did not believe there was any sort of good in people anymore. Americorps then helped him and after his experience with us he said he now has trust in humanity again. Pretty cool.

Getting Things Done

ILB :0)

Decisions, Decisions…

Alright Kessel. You got me there. It has been two months since I’ve written. I fell off the face of the earth, but somehow I made it back. This is a very impromptu post, as I have to be at class in about 20 minutes. So bear with me.

Although this might be short or without any organized thought whatsoever, I still find this important. I’m asking for your advice. Yup, all of you. What do I do with my life?

I’ve applied for Peace Corps. I’ve applied for Americorps NCCC. I’ve gotten accepted in to Americorps, but I still have about 3-4 weeks until I know of my acceptance in to the Peace Corps. Do I just say “Peace out, Peace Corps”? Or do I still go for it? Let me compare the two.

With Americorps NCCC, I would travel out to Sacramento, Ca. in October and start training. I then would be traveling all around the country for five to six weeks working on various service projects, mostly in the Gulf. The program is a ten month commitment.

With Peace Corps, I’m guessing I would still be placed in Africa. I have no idea when I would leave. They could give me a month’s notice. From what I was told earlier, I would be working with girls’ education and empowerment. The program is a 27 month commitment.

My mind has been frazzled from thinking of future plans for a while, so any advice would be very much appreciated.

Just another reminder

I’ve fallen in love with YouTube…not sure if that’s a good/bad love.  But this video is just another reminder that we’re pretty damn lucky to live under a roof. Or have anything else for that matter.

I like this guy/gal.

The blog that I linked to below in my last post is great.  I found this, as well.

Place pointer here.

This could get me in trouble…

So I came across this video from another blog. This video states a pretty strong opinion, and while I don’t advocate for his impeachment, most of his political policies and decisions have been questionable at best.

Click here, s’il vous plait.

$1.2 Trillion…oh my.

What would you to do with $1.2 Trillion? I have a few ideas…and so does our government. I found this news article from the New York Times interesting. That’s a lot of moola, and guess what we spend it on? You probably guessed it right the first time.

YouthAids

Aldo shoe company is pretty amazing. I hear their shoes are great to wear, and I like to just look at them seeing that I’m broke. I’m not here to write about their shoes, though. Another reason why they are fantabulous is because they are working with YouthAids to help raise money for research and education on HIV/AIDs. They have designed a series of empowerment tag necklaces costing only $5. This money doesn’t even go to them; 100% of the proceeds goes to organizations. By spending only five bucks, one person will be educated and protected for six months. That’s pretty great.

So, go to this website, buy yourself a necklace, and let other people know about it. Just remember, you’re helping someone and so many others by just spending five bucks on a cool necklace. I’ve had one since May and it’s a good conversation starter. :0)

“It’s not always what we take with us, but what we leave behind…”

I have a backpacking class this semester. Yes, you read it right. I’m a fifth year senior, what do you expect? Anyways, on the first day of class, a middle aged man (maybe older) walks in with his stuffed outdoor pack, filled with everything and anything. He could have camped outside on campus for a week with nothing else but what was on his back. I’m not sure if he would want to do that…the squirrels are slightly aggressive.
He asked us to write down our own definition of what the word “backpacking” means. With a class of 30, not all of us being recreation majors, we thought of some pretty creative meanings. We all agreed that it was, carrying on your back, everything you would need to survive for a certain amount of time in the woods. Just you, a class of thirty in this case, and nature.
After thinking about this for a moment, I found it crazy. Seriously? Everything you need in that one bag, with some equipment strapped on? This is when I had a very minute epiphany. Why the hell do we need everything else in this world? Obviously it’s important to have great relationships with people, ya da ya da ya da. I’m talking about the material things that we buy everyday. Our society has forced us to “need” these items. Do I REALLY need a cell phone? Yeah, in this society. A car? Same response. The list goes on and on. But this made me think twice about really needing that cup of wonderful tasting caffeine in the morning, or that pint of Sunset Wheat at the bar the other night. I don’t really NEED these. And I don’t need this Mac either, or my iPod, or all these clothes…Don’t worry I’m not going to go crazy and sleep outside of my apartment tonight cooking up some hot dogs on my portable stove. And I have to keep my Mac – I have to keep up with this blog, right?
I guess what we really do need in life we can fit on our backs, as long as we have our favorite people with us. And I quote my professor, “It’s not always what we take with us, but what we leave behind as well.” I think the latter is almost as exciting.
So next time you’re buying those $100 pair of jeans, stop and think, do you NEED those? Didn’t think so.

Underrated

This article is overwhelming, I must say. It made me angry, sad, and helpless all at once. Half of the issues in this article I didn’t know about, which is probably the case for most people. Why is it that issues/conflicts like these are shoved under the rug to be left undiscovered? Can someone tell me, please? As my professor said today after ranting and taking a deep breath, “Bitterness…away…”. Nope, that didn’t work. I’m still pissed.

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