11 July 2014

Playing "Pin the Rose on the Map"

My brilliant former co-workers arranged a game at my going away party...

"Pin the Rose on the Map"

For those of you who have never clutched a donkey tail in your hands, secretly dreading you were going to walk right into a tree, the basic play is:

You take a sticker
You are blindfolded
Your friends (tormentors) spin you around in a circle three times
You grope blindly forward, attempting to stick the sticker in the "correct" place, enduring the laughter of friends and sweating over potential tripping hazards.

It's really fun, actually.

The fun part of it is how out of control you are - relying on instincts and feelings (or possibly cheap and thin fabric for cheating if you're lucky).

The actual bidding process as an ELO (Entry-Level Officer, not this ELO) is surprisingly similar.

I have a list of cities and jobs and entry dates, everywhere from Tijuana to Tokyo, from Ouagadougou to Montreal. I have my personal and professional goals. And I have the opportunity to pinpoint my interest, giving my preferences for where I'd like to go and what I'd like to do.

But, I've also been equipped with the equivalent of a good-quality fabric blindfold - I have only inklings, instinct, and a certain amount of research to inform my choices. The facts that I learn about the country may have nothing to do with my future lived experience and the opinions I hear from previous officers could either be helpful or entirely misleading.

Plus, in this process - I may be able to take a few steps forward on my own, but rather than being spun about in circles, I have a Career Development Officer (CDO) holding my shoulders and directing me.

It's really liberating, actually.

I am certain that no matter where I go, there will be frustrations and joys, challenges and celebrations. I'm worldwide available and that's really exciting.

18 June 2014

Commuting by bike

One of the best choices I made this summer was finally signing up for Capital Bikeshare.

I have started cycling to work at least three times a week and I love it.
with this view!
Of course, I'm lucky enough to have a gym at work so I can go straight in and clean up before heading to my desk. This is one of the things that I'm worried about with my move to start training. With temperatures exceeding 95 degrees and the stifling humidity, I definitely need a place to shower and cool off even after an easy ride.

I'm planning to try out my planned path from home to FSI next weekend; it should be interesting to see how easy/tough it is!

06 June 2014

A chance meeting

 I went to a federal employee mixer last night and just happened to run into Nicholas Kralev, the author of America's Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy This book was a valuable resource as I explored this career and prepared to take the Foreign Service Oral Assessment (FSOA). What a serendipitous meeting to have right after receiving my invitation to the A-100!

05 June 2014

A new adventure commences

I'm restarting my blog because I just got the news that I've been waiting for since November 2011... I will be appointed as a Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State on June 30th! I am overflowing with joy, tempered by sadness for what I will be leaving behind. Stay tuned for updates, pictures, and stories!

10 March 2013

Learning about pacing

Good morning! Don't forget it's daylight savings today. You should put your clock forward one hour. Hopefully we can absorb the "yuck" of that lost hour of sleep today and going in to work tomorrow won't be too bad.
Yesterday I ran the longest distance that I've ever gone. Well, "ran" is probably not the correct word - I only ran for about 57 minutes, and walked for an additional 40 minutes or so. But my total distance was over 8 miles!

This makes me feel better about taking on the crazy challenge of 10 miles on April 21st.

One thing I realized as I was doing intervals was that I really need to be careful to keep my walking intervals short or my muscles cool down and trying to run again is much more difficult.
This is the danger of layering podcasts like I did yesterday. I used the run from week 6 of Freeway to 10K from Podrunner and then added on the run from week 3 of the NHS' Couch to 5K program. By playing one immediately after the other, I ended up with nearly 10 minutes of cool down/warm up before I did a running interval on the 5k one. This was just too long. My muscles got tight and even doing just a 90 second run was unpleasant.

 This is really good to realize because as I'm doing intervals, I tend to tell myself "I can just stretch the walking interval just one more minute...." in an effort to make things a bit easier. Now I know it's actually easier if I don't extend! Anyway - here's a video from the week before. If you donate, you can see my most recent video.

26 February 2013

Training Runs and Zombie Chases

All last year I kept running even after I'd accomplished my very first 5K and a lot of my running was done with an awesome app called "Zombies, Run!" This app was perfect for me - it made getting on the treadmill pretty easy and once the heat and humidity stopped being ridiculously oppressive, I even got out onto the street. I laughed out loud and even cried during one of the episodes. It's been my favorite app that I purchased and I highly recommend it. I'm trying to help the other runners doing the Run for Africa's Youth get into good podcasts and apps for running, so if you have any other ideas, do pass them my way. Today's post on The UNITE Foundation Facebook page highlights "Zombies, Run!" Here's my second training video for your enjoyment

25 February 2013

The Run for Africa's Youth 2013

The Run for Africa's Youth Many of you have already heard that I will be doing the "Run for Africa's Youth" again this year, but I haven't been good about keeping you all updated through my blog, so I'm going to load up the blog a bit this week with more information about what I'm doing. I have been training since January 1st for this run and I'm still worried about my progress, but I'm getting out there every other day. As part of my Razoo fundraising site, I've been creating a new video about my running journey every week. Here's a link to my first video. It's very amateur, but I hope to improve with each new one! First week - Why am I running in the freezing rain?

20 March 2012

Running for African Youth

Dear friends

I'm running a 5K on April 22nd.

I know... Rose? running?
I realize this sounds unlikely, but I've been working really hard since November to get myself in shape enough to be able to run a 5K in good pace and good health. And now I'm going to do it!

The best part about the 5K is that my efforts are going to raise money for the youth leadership camp I helped coordinate in Togo. It's still going strong over there, changing lives one teenager at a time. And now I get to be part of the effort to support it on this side of the ocean.

My fundraising goal is $265 - enough to send one student to camp this year. It's not a huge amount, so even donating the price of a movie ticket (about $10 these days. yikes!) will make a dent. $15 is already 5% of the goal!

I thank you all in advance for all the support you offer me - prayers, encouraging words, love, and more.

If you're able to make a financial contribution, it's really easy through this link:
Either click on the link or copy and paste it into your browser.

Support my cause here


26 January 2012

A wee summary

A few days, or possibly weeks ago, an alumna from my high school emailed me, wanting to know more about going into the Peace Corps. I wrote up this summary and figured it would be a good way to get back into posting on my blog as well.

When our alumni director interviewed me, she asked me whether our high school had influenced my choice to go into the Peace Corps. I had a hard time articulating that in the moment, but it certainly did. Choosing to serve requires an immense amount of self-confidence and a belief that one single person CAN make a difference. I know that the supportive environment, both teachers and other students, at our high school nurtured those qualities in me. I'm not surprised that another alumna is looking for a way to 'give back.'

Let me just say, if you are considering doing service in international development, I believe that Peace Corps is the best option available. The training and support you receive and the huge emphasis on project management, cultural integration, and community-initiated work is a unique blend. Too many other volunteer opportunities focus on one thing - like cultural exchange, where they send volunteers to an area, they do a cookie-cutter project like building houses, eat a few meals with a host family, and then go home. In the Peace Corps, you arrive in your village and spend the first six months doing a participatory needs assessment, learning what your community is good at, how they celebrate grand occasions, how they mourn loss, and what they want to do to improve their own lives. Then you develop ideas and projects hand-in-hand with your local counterparts. It's slower and you will work harder than in other projects, but in the end, you have personally learned a huge number of skills in project management and design, skills that you wouldn't have had exposure to in the workplace in America for several years. And your unique integration with the community, positive identification of their resources (human, plant, animal, financial) allows your community itself to find the strength to not only be successful with you, but also to continue the work after you've left.

I spent three years in Togo, in West Africa. I went in as a Small Enterprise Development volunteer with an emphasis in Non-Profit Development. The following summary is only the bare bones of the work that I did, I recommend you take a look at other entries on my blog for a fuller picture.
A short video I used in a presentation
I spent most of my first year doing projects in my tiny no-electricity-no-running-water village, working with a local seamstress to build up her business and then, through her, teaching apprentice seamstresses and tailors basic business skills. My second year, I took on managing and running a national youth leadership camp, recruiting camp counselors and young people from all over Togo to learn skills from the personal - self-confidence, to the practical - puberty and adolescence, to the social - how to prevent HIV/AIDS and teach others to prevent it too. I took on a third year of service (service is normally only 2 years) because I had the opportunity to take on a leadership role in the volunteer community, helping to improve training and support for volunteers. In addition to supporting volunteers, I was able to continue the community projects I'd taken on, bringing them to the next level - re-establishing a scholarship program for girls with a US-based foundation to support them, and starting to put together monitoring and evaluation techniques for the youth leadership camp that would enable us and our funders to better attract donations.

As you can see, I did a lot of interesting work - from grant-writing to building a gigantic walk-through uterus to help kids understand how menstruation and pregnancy work. I participated in tons of community events - from a convoluted traditional engagement ceremony that started with a 45 minute hike up a mountain to joining the local church choir (trying as best I could to sing along in the local language Ewe).

It was at times tough and tear-your-hair-out frustrating, but I am so happy that I did it. I am very proud of the work that I did, blessed by the friendships I made, and profoundly changed by the challenges I faced.

I strongly encourage you to apply to the Peace Corps - keep in mind that the application process itself took a year for me, and that's pretty typical, so go into it with patience and flexibility.

31 October 2011

San Francisco

I'm in San Francisco.

Yes, that's right. I'm back in the United States. If you don't know this already, then you don't know me, at least not personally.
Or possibly it's just that I'm a bit rubbish about getting in contact and I've been a hermit for the last month.

In any case, I'm in San Francisco, housesitting for my friend L's sister. L is here as well, also recovering from completion of service in Togo. We keep trying to set ourselves up to apply for jobs and grad school. But all we accomplished this past week is watching the entire second season of Glee. http://www.gleethemusic.com/us/episode/audition

That's not entirely true.

We've done some exploring.

We went down to Fisherman's Wharf http://visitfishermanswharf.com/
and walked up Pier 39 http://www.pier39.com/index.cfm

We wanted to find some seafood and were very nearly seduced by the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. But luckily L had brought along a box of Wheat Thins in her enormous over-the-shoulder bag. So we pushed off our hunger and hiked up to Little Italy to check out a fantastic little restaurant called "Sotto Mare" http://sottomaresf.com/

This place is fantastic. The fish was fresh and delicious; they adapted their menu according to what they'd been able to catch the day before. Service was quick and friendly. We sat outside in the lovely sunshine and didn't realize how popular the place was until I wandered inside after the meal for the restroom. Every booth was full, and people were sitting at the counter. From the banter between waiters and patrons, I'm sure this place has a lot of regulars.
Highly recommended.

After lunch, we hoofed it back to the car and decided to check out the Scenic Route http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/49-Mile_Scenic_Drive, or at least as much of it as we could stand before falling asleep. (Amongst all of the Gleeking and sight-seeing, naps have been another common activity)