Monday, May 26, 2008

new friends, old friends, and signs from above

Its been awhile since the last time i went to church. Because of a lot of changes in personnel at my home church i have been really disinterested in attending, not to mention my general skepticism about the whole thing. I guess to use a cliche I would say that I am spiritual, but not religious. For example, on the day I found out I was going to the Philippines I ran into an old co-worker who is Filipino who then introduced me to another Filipino who was passing by. I hadn't spoken with her in many months and then shaazam! I take that to be a fairly loud cosmic "YES, DO IT!"
And then there is last night. I am hanging out with my newly made MAT friends. I have technically been in class with these people for a year and am sadly just now getting to know them. Which has made me think about my old friends a lot this week. I've met a lot of really amazing people over the last five years, but I definitely have not held up my end of the bargain. So we're at a bar and I drop my ring. Of course it goes between the slats of the patio and is gone forever. But I didn't say anything about it, and didn't make a fuss.
I didn't say anything because that ring was a symbol of an experience that goes are beyond a physical reminder. My study abroad experiences are the reasons I became who I am today. Losing a physical thing that I will always have the memory of is no big deal. And that's the cosmic message I think I was supposed to get. I need to be okay with letting go of the things that physically tie me to Chapel Hill and focus on creating a strong set of memories to carry with me always.

To balance out the sap of this post here's something a little lighter.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'm kind of like a spy now

Today I spent about four hours getting together my international paperwork. Because I'll be a government employee, the Peace Corp has asked that I get a second passport. In my mind this is a much cooler thing than it will be in practice. A recent episode of LOST has Benjamin Linus, the main antagonist, rummaging through a stack of passports in a frantic hurry. I think it'd be cool to also have the enjoyment of picking your own identity every time you wanted to travel. Part of the reason for me to go on this trip is to escape my American culture for a while. I think this goal will be hard to meet when I'm double-fisting two of the new, hyper-American passports (which have scenes of Americana in them like this jewel).

People who have passports are clearly trying to leave America, is it necessary to remind them of what they're missing? The only positive I can see is that every time I get a new stamp it can cover up a dead president's head, or one of these nice cowboys.

In this NYT article I the author is clearly trying their hardest to present the changes in their best light. At the bottom a lady is quoted as saying,
“It seems to represent an idealized version of a country that is far from ideal right now.Amen to that sister girl!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Peace Corp

As of now I am officially accepted into the Peace Corp! On August 13th I will be leaving for the Philippines.
The Philippines are an island consisting of over 7000 islands, although most populations reside on the largest islands. Language of the Filipinos is Tagalog which is related to the languages of Indonesia and Malaysia. The Philippines has an interesting past in that it was colonized by the Spanish and then transferred to America after the Spanish-American War. There was initial resistance, but by 1913 most of the fighting was over. Starting in 1935 America started giving the country more autonomy until 1946, when the country was made independent. Because of this the country has a rich blend of cultures, which should make for an interesting comparison to Singapore.

My path to the Peace Corp has also been a long process. Last summer I started thinking about what I wanted to do post-UNC. I knew that travel and service were very important things for me. During my time at UNC I had a great time, but was so focused on my own experience I did little to help others. Service has always been important to me and so I started looking into the Peace Corp. The more I read about the service the more I really wanted to do it.

First, all applicants fill out a very extensive on-line application that took me about a month to get fully completed. After that I had an interview with a recruiter to basically make sure that I was worth their time. Then I got medically cleared, which meant several doctors appointments, shots, tests, and the removal of my wisdom teeth! This whole process started in August and I just found out where I am going this last week. Needless to say, the turn around is fairly slow, but I think the benefits will certainly be worth the effort.

So that's a little bit of information for now, there's certainly more to come. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oh God, A Blog

Its a situation I think we've all been in. The over-zealous traveler wants a sort of cyber-umbilical cord to connect them to the mother of their previous, untraveled, life. In four years as an undergrad I was easily on ten different email lists of people leaving for study abroad, summer camps, or other only slightly interesting endeavors. I probably got about ten emails from those lists combined. That's cool, I get it. Traveling is actually a lot more fun that writing about traveling.
I can't say for sure that I can do much better than what I've encountered before, but I figure it won't hurt anyone to try. The goal is to get a few months of practice in before I leave the country. That way, by the time I get there I'll be used to keeping up with this thing, and it won't die out once I realize I have better things to do.
Anyhow, I guess that's what you can expect out of me: nothing too fancy, a decent amount of effort, and some honesty. I'm positive the next two years are going to be fun and interesting and challenging, so if you're into that kind of thing maybe come along for the ride.