Archive | July, 2009

Thanks, DePauw!

16 Jul

First of all, I feel so proud that from my graduating class, four people decided to serve with the Peace Corps ( not to mention the great amount doing AmeriCorps and Teach For America! ). Now I’m extremely flattered about this article: http://www.depauw.edu/acad/articles/?id=23761 though I wish the other two people had emailed responses to the questions so I could learn more about their respective job assignments, motivations for joining and locations. I feel honored to be part of a group of people pushing themselves to live and work in another country for two years. Sometimes I feel intimidated knowing that several of these people have been intending to join the Peace Corps for years because in comparison, my decision likely comes across as clandestine. Though the complete shift I made in my post-graduation trajectory may cause others to see me as capricious, I know just how passionate I am about the coming 27 months. My appreciation for this opportunity also deepens every time I meet and talk with someone who has been wanting to do this for some time. What I’m trying to get across is that, now that I’m away from DePauw and have been able to get some perspective on my college experience, I am overwhelmed by how blessed I am to have gone to a university that housed and taught so many concerned and giving people. Even if it took me longer than most, I’m thankful to be a part of a group of students joining these types of organizations and I hope that next year’s graduating class sees the same appeal and opportunity in these programs as the class of 2009.

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One Step At A Time

13 Jul

More to come later, but here’s a brief run down on the ways I’m preparing for Ukraine:

*Currently I’m tutoring four students in English through the IEI ( Intensive English Institute ) of UIUC. I meet with two students at a time for an hour each week. I’ve only had my first meeting at this point and I’m excited as well as nervous for what’s to come.

*Procrastination on the Ukraine is going exceedingly well. I need to kick my butt into gear on this one. Though the consistent answer I have heard from current volunteers and RPCVs is that they knew no Ukrainian/Russian before training, I want to get a head start on this so that it’s not such a shock that…

*I signed up for full immersion language training. Starting at the end of September, no more English for me. Being the type-A person that I am, there are times I worry myself sick about the prospect of struggling in these classes, but this truly will be the most effective way to learn the language.

*Attempting to run outside is my newest obstacle. I want to keep up my running throughout the next two years because of my hopes to eventually run a half and full marathon, and that means being able to train outdoors while I’m in Ukraine. While I can do 4 miles easily on a treadmill, I’m only up to 2.88 miles outside; I’m counting this one as a win nonetheless as I haven’t attempted to run outside in roughly eight months.

*Plans are starting to be made for the going away party!

*I have notified my bosses here at UIUC of the date of my final day of summer work so that I can start the agonizing process of attempting to pack 100 lbs of luggage for a two year trip. This involves evaluating what is safe to ship separately, as the Peace Corps indicated most of our mail will probably be opened ( possibly with items removed ) once it goes through all of the systems required in order to arrive at our posts in Ukraine.

The Bucket List Goes Digital

9 Jul
I took the 43 Things Personality Quiz and found out I’m an

Extroverted Reinventing Traveler

Check out 43Things.com where you can share your past and future adventures and cheer on others. I’m officially addicted.

Adventures of a Different Shade

2 Jul

I’m now taking the liberty to post a non-Peace Corps related adventure update in my blog since my URL is conveniently vague.

I am now a … brunette.

It’s been a little less than a month since my big change, and honestly, I think I’ve launched myself into a deep state of denial about what is proving to be more than simply a dye-job.  Remember those magnetized prank moustaches you could buy to stick on TVs or mirrors?  I have a mental one…of my blonde hair.  Miraculously, every time I look in a mirror my mind glosses over the dark honey brown and transplants a golden halo of comforting blonde hair in its place, causing my on-going delusion about my gloriously healthy relationship with and astounding ability to handle change.

There’s a way of presenting yourself to other people when you’re blonde…and female.  My self confidence has never been very high, so I always felt like I had to fake this blonde attitude that, to me, appeared to be a natural quality of every other person with the shade.  Though the idea of “fake it ’til you make it” works for some, I never got over the feeling of being an impostor.  I was a self-conscious blonde.  Emphasis on the self-conscious.  The residual awkward, shoe-gazing middle schooler left in me convinced me that though I was constantly being noticed just for my hair color, people who looked at me instantly saw my insecurities like a huge birthmark across the span of my face and would turn away in disappointment.  Confidence seems to be a requirement of the blonde identity.  Sorry, you must be this confident to highlight your hair.

Years of “faking it” have made this transition a nightmare.  Now, rather than being an insecure blonde, I am a vain brunette.  Joy.  It’s all due to my apparent propensity for mirror magnets.  I still think I’m blonde.  Not only think, but act, walk, primp, smile, talk, and interact as if I’m blonde.  You see, blondes are given a get-out-of-jail-free card on appearing prissy on the street.  They’re expected come off this way.  So, prissy nose in the air, I walk to work in the morning doubtlessly causing some unwarranted thoughts about my feelings of self-worth.  Walking down the street, I feel a compulsion to tell everyone that I recently dyed my hair.  “I’ll change my mannerisms, I promise, I just don’t know how to be a brunette yet!” Priceless.

I was overcome by sheer horror for my strict adherence to the socially accepted identity of “a blonde” when I stopped in a building to ask for directions to a particular office and lead into my question with, “This is so stupid of me, but…” When I was blonde, this is what people wanted to hear.  Start with that phrase after they notice your blonde head, and the person being questioned automatically likes you.  I always felt the need to fill this stereotype for people, as if it was equivalent to being polite.  Stereotypes are comfortable and I’m a shameless accomodator.

But how does that phrase go over as a brunette, you might ask…Not well, not well at all.  Suddenly, instead of being expected to lack common sense and filling this expectation to a response of pleasure and acceptance, I had failed the test.  This woman expected me to have a brain, a thing rarely expected of me as a blonde.  Even college professors frequently walked into classrooms on the first day of a semester with the thought “annnd riiiiiight…there!…there’s the class ditz” emblazoned across their foreheads.  Well, I had failed the test and the secretary’s face was as clear as a cue card.

Maybe by the next time I get a touch-up (which will be my second), I’ll actually see brown hair when my hairdresser turns the chair around.

Here’s a picture of my brown (wait, I think I mean blonde...) hair:

my new brown hair

Finally, on a completely unrelated subject, here is the problem I’m tackling in Ukrainian currently;  “Я не говорю добре українською” is an essential phrase that means “I don’t speak Ukrainian well.”  It’s pretty much a subtle, polite beg for help.  What a shame I seem entirely incapable of smoothly saying “говорю,” or “speak.”  Ironic?