Friday, September 28, 2012

this & that

Thank you Heather for this photo!
Next week is October, hurrah!  I just love this picture of my Mom and I at Kate & Tony's wedding so I had to share.  School is in full-ish swing so that's been occupying my time while Mali (read here for more) is always on my mind.  I'm looking forward to spending quality time with friends this weekend and getting another week closer to Abdoulaye's arrival :)

Yesterday, our office had a Women in the Field panel discussion with women from WRI talking about their experiences and how they brought them to where they are today.  At the end, the women imparted some of their sage advice; here are some of my favorites in haiku form!

Bloom where you’re planted.
You’re the thinker of your thoughts.
Life is not scripted.

Do you have any special weekend plans?  Hope you have a good one!

Monday, September 24, 2012

sweet surprises!

My weekend started on Thursday when Sarah came to town.  We ate pizza at Two Amys (thanks, Dad!), wandered the gardens at the Washington National Cathedral and took our breakfast on Friday morning to the Rosedale Conservancy near my apartment.  The weather has been so wonderful lately, I am loving the baby crispness in the air in the morning on my way to work and again when I bike home in the evening.
Cassie and I continued weekend festivities with ice cream at Something Sweet and more Cathedral wanderings.  Morning, noon & night, the architecture and the way light hits the building never ceases to amaze me.

I had FLOC training on Saturday followed by some birthday bowling (pictures to come!).  Sunday included a birthday brunch celebration, a visit to the National Zoo (the giant baby panda passed away this weekend :( and the 2012 National Book Festival on the Mall to hear Junot Diaz speak.  Have you read his new book, This is How You Lose Her?  I have a copy to pick up and I can't wait to read it!

I hope your weekend was filled with trifles & treasures - I'm so thankful for all of the ones in my life!

Friday, September 21, 2012

happy golden anniversary!

John can't believe it's already the autumnal equinox - can you??
I can't say I really remember September 21, 1991 but I do remember all the flak I got (and continue to get) for being a sour-faced flower-girl at Mom & John's wedding.  I think they've pretty much gotten over it (I know I have!).  Just wanted to give a shout out to them since my anniversary card got returned in the mail.  Happy 21st Anniversary Mom & John - y'all are a true blessing!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Almost here!

It's hard to believe that it's been close to 5 months since I left Guinea (and last saw Abdoulaye).  Time is really flying and I am optimistic we don't have too much longer to wait until he gets here (maybe mid-November??).  

Today I'm thankful for Skype, morning dances, pertinent talks (and a boss who will let me go to them!), cool weather, smoothies and catching up with friends on the phone.  I am also truly blessed to be living with Cassie who understands where I am coming from and what I am going through-thanks for being there for me little lady!

Abdoulaye taught me some Azonto dance moves this morning (see video below).  I took away pretend like you're scratching your arm and twist your foot.  Got it.  
Anything especially blessing you this morning?  I'd love to know!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

National Council for International Visitors: NCIV

Image Source
One of my goals for this term at SIT is to learn more about International Education organizations (especially those based in Washington, DC).  I'll do this by doing some online research, talking with folks in the field and posting my findings on my blog.   The first organization I am looking forward to learning more about is the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV).  

NCIV promotes excellence in citizen diplomacy through regional and national meetings to highlight the importance of international exchange.  Their motto is "one handshake at a time," which highlights the importance of face-to-face meeting to promote communication and diplomacy.  I'm excited to learn more about how I can be a part of their organization as a volunteer and the specific work they do. 

What does international education mean to you?  Do you know any organizations in the DC-area working in IE?  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

For Love of Children

A friend of Cassie's volunteers with For Love of Children (FLOC) and said it would a neat organization to join.  After attending last night's orientation - I have to agree!  Watch the video above - I bet you'll have to wipe away a tear or two.  At the very least you'll get some goosebumps.

At orientation last night Elizabeth Metz, FLOC's Recruitment and Outreach Manager, shared some chilling DC school statistics.  Here's how she presented them:

Out of 100 students in Washington, DC
43 will graduate from high school,
29 of those students will pursue a post-secondary degree,
and 9 of those students are accepted pursue a post-secondary degree.  

Those numbers were, and are, shocking to me.  Then I thought - are they really shocking?  Maybe I'm just clueless when it comes to educational statistics.  So I thought, what are the statistics from my own school district just a few hundred miles away in Virginia Beach, VA?  VBCPS offers a plethora of statistics on their website.  Here's what my school system's statistics look like:

Out of 100 students in Virginia Beach, VA
87 will graduate on time from high school,
85 of those students will pursue a post-secondary degree,
 and I'm not sure how many are accepted - anyone have this stat?

Since I'm lacking on the last statistic for VBCPS of how many students not only plan on but actually pursue a post-secondary degree, I will be pessimistic and say only 70 actually do.  70?  As in, 61 more than Washington, DC??  Unbelievable.

And while I know comparing Washington, DC public schools to Virginia Beach, VA public schools is comparing apples to oranges in terms of socio-economics, that's still a pretty incredible disparity.  Not to be all dooms-day on this rainy Tuesday - there is a light!  Elizabeth said that in their 6 year history, 100% of students who participate in FLOC's programs graduate from high school and something like 95% pursue a post-secondary degree.  Wow!

This weekend I'll receive training in the Wilson Reading Curriculum (Any teachers out there?  Thoughts?)  to join the Neighborhood Tutoring Program, which works with students from grade 1-12 to improve fundamental reading, writing and math skills.  It's just a couple hours once a week with one student at a FLOC learning center on my way home from work.  I am excited to get started and let the learning begin!  As with the Peace Corps, I have the sneaking suspicion I will be gaining a lot more than I am giving. 

Check FLOC out on their website, follow them on Twitter and 'like' them on Facebook if you're so inclined! 
Image Source

Do you have any DC volunteer organizations you recommend?  Or perhaps models of organizations that you love somewhere else?  I'd love to know which ones!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Eye on Ethiopia: Michael Tsegaye

Image Source (from 'Working Girls' series)
I found a link to Michael Tsegaye's work on Africa is a Country (can't find the exact was another photographer's current favorite) and I couldn't stop clicking through the images on his website.  It's an Ethiopian kind-of month for me, I guess.  Read more from the Goethe Institute and here, too.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Image Source
Have you heard of soleRebels?  A friend posted an article about the company on Facebook and now I'm lusting after a pair of their canvas kicks.  What do you think?  I love the business model and like the author says in this post - they're a great alternative to Toms.  Fair trade, local materials, local hire, recycled.  What's not to love?  Maybe the price....  I also think it'd be neat if my bike and my shoes had almost the same name (with a different pronunciation :)

Do you have a favorite brand (fair trade or not!)?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

one year??

Hard to believe it's been a year since Abdoulaye's application for a tourist visa was denied.  Wouldn't it be wild if I heard today that his K-1 fiance papers were moving?  OK, I'll settle for soon....  Can't wait for him to be here so I can give him a big ol' smooch!


Jackie & Taylor came, too so we had to go to Carl's
Don't you want to rub this little otter's belly?  At the Otter House
Breakfast cheers at the Kenmore Inn! 
Waiting on my train (coming from the other direction :) 
 This past weekend I headed to Fredericksburg, VA to see Sarah's show - what a treat!  Not only do her works catch you and keep you coming back to look just one more time, Sarah has the same effect!  I'm so glad I was able to go down and visit with a dear friend who I met so many moons ago through a French conversation group that met on a bench in front of Hyperion in downtown Fredericksburg.

I went to the University of Mary Washington (just up the hill from downtown) and I love going back to where I spent 4 wonderful years of my life.  Walking into Libertytown and through the streets of downtown I was held by that comforting feeling of a place that is always changing and at the same time stays the same.  I imagine that's what it will be like when I one day return to Mali.   It was so good to see familiar faces (especially Kathleen Walsh whose new show opened at the Hill Center in DC this week).

Kate's sister, Corrie, also treated us to breakfast at the Kenmore Inn, which was a real delight.  Biscuits and gravy?  Yes, please!  Another friend invited us to lunch at the Sunken Well Tavern - does the generosity ever end??  We also got to spend some quality time with Sarah's family while watching football and keeping an eye underfoot for children and a little pup :)

I am so sorry to hear the news of the passing of the US Ambassador to Libya along with others (as yet unnamed).  

Friday, September 7, 2012

have a whale of a weekend!

Image source
Remember when Sarah visited me in Mali in 2010?  If not - see our pictures here and here (and a little video below :).  I'm headed to Fredericksburg, VA this weekend to see her and her new show, Curios, debuting at LibertyTown Arts Workshop tonight.  Read an article about it here!

Hard to believe it's been two years since I've seen her - it feels like much longer!  I'm excited to catch up with her and other friends and re-visit one of my favorite Virginia cities :)
What are you up to this weekend?  Do you have a favorite Virginia city? :)  Also - I may be too optimistic but I should be hearing from USCIS in one month about Abdoulaye's visa progress - fingers crossed and prayers welcome for OAA!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

kate & tony are hitched!

Next time I go home I'm getting a picture from elementary school to scan and compare & contrast :)
Kate and Tony said 'I do' this past weekend just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.  It was such a delight to reconnect with Kate's family, college friends, Houston and Chicago folks and to meet a few new faces, too.  I'm so thankful I was able to be there (and with my cute little momma as a date!) to celebrate such a special day in their lives as a married couple.  The venue was gorgeous, Kate was obviously stunning and the dancing was rowdy - just as promised! :)
Front Porch Farms view
See more pictures from the nuptials here!
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