Monday, May 28, 2012

Roses, babies and film - oh my!

We visited the Norfolk Botanical Garden - roses in full bloom!
Cassie's visit to VB/VA has come to a sad close (pictures here!).  Fingers crossed for a speedy reunion. This past weekend I went to the beach and gave a presentation on Mali to my church - such a treat!  Now it's on to a busy week involving job-related treasures and then my cousin Elaine's wedding :)

A little over 7 months ago I was celebrating Amanda & Ryan's wedding (my first blog post on trifles & treasures!).  Soon, I'll be celebrating the birth of their first child!  I'm so excited for my precious college roommate and her sweet husband.  When Cassie and I passed through Richmond last week we stayed with the happy couple and they let me snap a few photos of Amanda's beautiful belly, which she gave me permission to publish here.  Enjoy!

Read this article about Mali and watch this video about FHI 360's work in Cambodia (filmed by a friend I met while he was filming in Mali, Colby with DDC International) if you're so inclined. 

Anyone in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central & Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East or Oceania looking for a feature film grant?  Here's a call for applications for a great sounding one!

Monday, May 21, 2012

trifles & treasures

Dad and Sheri took Uncle Jimmie and I took the Sandler Center for Performing Arts for a Chris Botti show.  I had never heard of him before but Wow.  He was incredible.

This morning I shared a presentation on Mali with 83 third-graders at Parkway Elementary where a friend of my step-mom's teaches.  I wish I could present on Mali everyday to such an engaging and informed audience (3rd graders in VA study ancient Mali so they knew about the Niger river and some other tidbits - one of the kids even knew that Mali means hippo!!).

Monday, May 14, 2012

A little bit of this and that

We went to the Naro Cinema to see Delicacy - it was a real treat!
Cassie is here for a visit - I'm so spoiled!  We've been doing the things one does when in VB - hitting up the beach, cruising the strip, eating a lot of frozen yogurt, seeing movies at the Naro Cinema and eating practically non-stop.  Delightful!  
Mom made us asparagus/ham mini-casseroles!

Cape Henry Lighthouse-first federally funded project 
Cassie marvels at Virginia Beach dogs' ability to consume peanut butter at the Mt. Trashmore K-9 festival!
With Theresa and Amanda and their two pups (eyeing the peanut butter no doubt!)
Mother's Day lunch at Jade Villa - getting our Dim Sum and MSG quota
Transitioned to Mother's Day lun-din with Mom/Memaw!

<3 With Memaw who invited us over for lun-din for Mother's Day

How did you celebrate Mother's Day?  Any special plans for the week?  Of course we can't stop talking/thinking about Mali - read this and this for more information and please keep Mali in your thoughts/news feeds.  

We're hoping to visit the Chrysler Museum and the Botanical Gardens before Cassie has to go home - any other must-see/do recommendations for the Hampton Roads area?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Enchanted by Guinea

So after Peace Corps gave us the go-ahead to leave Ghana (the State Department chartered an Air Ethiopia flight to take us out of Mali), I headed to Guinea to see my little (tall) sweet-pea, Abdoulaye!  Here's a video I put together of our trip, hope you enjoy!  (Combining three of my favorite things: Abdoulaye, West Africa, and Taylor Swift!!)

I'm giving a presentation today to Mrs. Windish's Global Studies and World Languages Academy students at Tallwood (I gave one last semester, too).  I think her students are top-notch - I'm really looking forward to presenting the Prezi below!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mali, OAA, and Atlantic Shores

Lunch with the PEO gals at Atlantic Shores (Memaw to my right).  
Reading articles like this one and this one about Mali are painful (I also really don't like this one, which highlights the junta's targeting/fear of other West Africans in Mali).  I am hesitant to write about Mali for fear of contributing to her bad press image (although, I'm certainly not against reading posts that show Mali's democracy for what it really was - not much).   I know my blog could serve as more of an awareness-raising platform and I suppose that's what I'm trying to do right now.  Sigh.  I also prefer to read first-hand analyses (this one in English) of what is going on (and assume others would, too!).

While I haven't been writing about Mali, I have been talking a lot about her (just ask any of my family members, thanks for your patience, guys!).  It has been wonderful to have so many thoughtful friends, family members, and friends of the family listen, and talk with me, about my time in Mali and what is happening now.  Thank you.

In other news, I received a text message at 1:40am confirming the receipt of Abdoulaye's K-1 fiancé visa application.  I guess U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) never sleeps!  Step 1 1/2 of OAA done!  Now I'm just waiting for Form I-797 to come in the mail.  By the end of this process I'll be a regular K-1 fiancé visa expert - glad I'll only be doing it once, though!

While Visa Journey puts the current processing time in Vermont (where it was sent from Texas - VT processes visa applications from Virginia-based American fiancés in case you cared to know!) at about 5 months before the application is sent to its final destination in Senegal, I'm hoping they'll see how cute Abdoulaye is (I included pictures of us as proof of our relationship) and that he really needs to come to America sooner to contribute to our cute-i-tivity (thank you Kira for connecting me with the website!).  Fingers crossed!

Coming tomorrow - a video from our trip to Guinea.  Remember Morocco?  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yunalis Zarai and Bentley Brown: Music and the Immigrant experience

The job search continues!  (Aga Khan, World Learning, Friends of the Global Fight, World Resources Institute).  In between job searching, lunch with Memaw, and all the other in betweens that make life special, I have continued my blog reading.  I really do enjoy Africa is a Country (where I found these videos from Shola Ajayi - that I've now been able to watch!) and learned about Yunalis Zarai, a Malaysian artist (above) with songs being produced by Pharell Williams.  Listen to one of her songs - I'm sure you'll be hooked!  I also want to see Bentley Brown's movie 'Faisal Goes West.' (trailer below)  With OAA underway, the immigrant experience to the US is at the forefront of my thoughts.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hungry Like the Wolf

A single-teacher-school class in Sangala, Mali
As I talk with friends and family about my next step and search the internet for new job and internship opportunities, I have found some awesome organizations with some pretty cool listings.  Now if only I can find find employment with one of them!  I thought I'd share a list here of some of my favorites so you can get an idea of what kind of work I am looking into (aside from the general Communications/International Education):

Peace Operations Training Institute
International Youth Foundation
The Walters Art Museum
Johns Hopkins University
CASA de Maryland

I'm still looking and applying - and hoping the perfect fit will come along soon!

In other news, Abdoulaye's K-1 fiancé visa application is officially submitted - please wish us luck as we begin Operation Abdoulaye to America (OAA)!!!

P.S.  When we were in Ghana for our transition conference, a panel of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) working in Ghana came to speak about their experiences in working abroad/life after Peace Corps.  Here is a list of some of the places they worked:

West Africa Trade Hub
USAID Foreign Service
Global Mamas
Ghana WASH Cost Project
USAID Personal Service Contractor (PSC)
Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology
Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling
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