Thursday, June 2, 2011

(F)un-employment schedule

So yesterday I heard back from two jobs I have been applying for, and well let's be honest, it feels real good to be wanted. Now I'm faced with a big decision, but the beauty is is that both have really, really good outcomes and options, so it's just deciding. I'm excited to move forward with life, and to start heading in a better direction...But with that being said, (f)un-employment has had some upsides. Here is a little look at my daily schedule:

9:00 AM- Wake up slowly
9:20 AM- Go up stairs and talk with Dam Dog or Mom
9:30 AM- Call potential employers and leave a message
9:32:30 AM- Make breakfast
9:40 AM- Eat Breakfast
9:55-12:00 PM- Watch Sports Center, apply for jobs, catch up on facebook, news, running news, and comedy websites, and generally waste time on the internet, as well as read.
12:00-1:30 PM - Run, do sit ups and push-ups, and shower (normally while listening to a podcast to learn Spanish)
1:30-2:30 PM- Shower and make lunch
2:30-4:00 PM- Go to the local Governor's Ranch pool, where I am the oldest person and actually enjoy adult swim (I know, it's sad)
4:15-4:45 PM- Nap
5:00 PM- Go up stairs
5:02-6:00 PM- Waste time on internet, play guitar, and read
6:00-7:30 PM- Watch Jeopardy, eat dinner with the family, and regroup
7:30-Bed time (between 12-2am)- Either go out with friends or watch movies, glee, or other random nonsense with the fam
repeat.

Goodbye lazy days, let's hope I still know how to work hard!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mary Tyler Moore; More Than Just a Bombshell

This morning I woke up to an interesting quote by Mary Tyler Moore that said, "You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you." I've been really lucky the last few weeks to have a lot of things, as simple as a well-timed quote, pop up to remind me that life's pieces all fall into place like they are supposed to.

This quote was really helpful today because, let's be honest, the last month hasn't been the best I've ever had. Being dubbed lazy, disrespectful, and a person who will lie about the severity of a family member's illness to get time off isn't the biggest self-esteem booster. Though I know this is all libel, and that any organization who will let go of a volunteer mid-event in a random town on the other side of the United States from their home without warning, is probably not a place where I want to donate my time, It's still tough. I truly admire a lot of what Invisible Children does and I've grown a lot through the organization before and after volunteering with them (mixed, of course, with a lovely organization called BeadforLife and the friendships found in Sarah McCall, Erin Fischer, and Chelsea Burns). The thing is though, having experienced my treatment, seeing the same poor treatment happen to a lot of other roadies in poor situations, and IC promoting the mentality that you can basically treat people however you want and get away with it because, "we are ending a war," is not an easy concept to grasp. I do still believe in Jason Russell's undying idealism, Jedidiah Jenkins's relentless love and compassion for every person ever, the truth Lindsay Williams speaks in the Tony film, and the empowerment youth feel when they get involved, but a lot has changed for me. I found that I'm at a point in my life where I need to take a break from IC, and take time to lick my wounds and re-group. There are a lot of great organizations creating economic and educational initiatives in Uganda and the DRC, and though IC has done great work, none of these NPOs are ending this war. They are creating mediums of peace and prosperity in war-torn areas, (which is one huge aspect to ending violence) but the only people going to end this war are governments. It's a sad realization I've come to, because I am much more a believer in grassroots campaings, but soldiers are going to stop soldiers, and governments are going to stop wars (after they milk them for all they are worth). A t-shirt sold isn't going to take a gun out of a rebel's hand, but it is going to help a region rebuild, and that is not something to overlook.

But like I said before, there has been a lot of positive things surrounding me throughout the last month. Besides small omens that remind me of my faith, and huge support from friends and family, one thing that really has helped me keep on keepin on is taking pride in my close friends' achievements, and looking at them as examples of how to progress. One of my best friends, Jason, is a shinning example. He is a person who has pursued his passion in multiple things, taken risks and huge leaps of faith, only to experience huge failure that led him to hightailing down HIS path to His dream. For me, I'm so inspired by his passion, and finding what he is put on earth to do. Each day when I hear new stories about doors opening, and seeing how a path becomes quite illuminated once you find and purse it, I want to keep pushing. I want to find my passion, and most of all, I want to find my purpose. It's been cool to see it happen on the small scale as well, with friends making huge strides in relationships, and realizing their own worth. A good friend of mine from CU, who I've worked with for years and seen her go through some rough relationships, called me on the phone a few nights ago. She told me of what she's learned about lacking aspects in past relationships, and places where she thought she was coming up short, but realized it wasn't the case. It was enlightening and moving for me, and gave perspective on how I need to approach dating and vulnerability with future relationships.

Though these victories for my friends have been a much needed vehicle of hope, do I have a bit of bitterness towards Invisible Children? I'm only human, and it would be a lie to say I don't. I miss the friends I made there, I'm jealous of those who have found family in their entire team, instead of deceit and hurt, and I'm very sad to not be reuniting with those whom I really created solid bonds with. But the thing is, I know myself, and as much as this last month has had some lllloooowwwww (read with a deep, baritone voice) lows, I've also been reminded of my worth, my strengths, and my blessings. I have some amazing friends, an extended family across the US, and a wonderful friend, who is more like a sister, whom I never would have met without this journey. It is definitely an uphill road from here, and my path still lacks lucidity, but daily omens and reminders to keep faith make it a much easier road to traverse.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

24 years and one week

I know some people dread birthdays and getting older. Let's be honest, I think I'm definitely getting closer to that stage, but at the moment, I really like each passing year. I'm a firm believer in another year older, another year wiser, as well as the best time of your life is always the present. The fact that I am in high schools most weekdays too and being reminded what an awkward period of life that is, welp that's a good reminder that I should be happy to be where I am at.

But regardless of liking growing older or not, it happens, and I know for me I like to reflect on what I've seen in the past year. 23 was a pretty crazy year for me. It saw love, triumphs, travel, and new adventures, juxtaposed by unexpected heartbreak, failure, stagnation, and inaction. I hit a lot of crossroads, which led me to have to overcome barriers that I didn't necessarily want to face. The year saw me gain acceptance to a program which was supposed to catalyze my future, only to lead me to more confusion and a leave me further away from being a grown-ass man. Friends came and went, new relationships where made, I lived at home for 2 months, which before thoroughly enjoying it, I feared for four years in college. and it all chalked up to a my fateful birthday in London, Kentucky where my new friend Ryan proceeded to tell me, "It's your birthday? We needa go to Taco Bell, that's what we do here!." I couldn't think of any better way to wrap up a crazy, wonderful year.

I think what this new year holds for me is re-emergence of desire and a lot of personal growth. College was an interesting time, and for those of you who know me and the experiences I had, you know that my tumultuous 5 years were far from the norm. I've been writing a lot about the type of experiences that come and completely blindside you, sweeping your feet from under you, and removing the ground you once found balance on. What really sticks out to me is that those experiences don't just come and go, they change you. In fact, they rebirth you. It's like rehabbing from an injury that leaves you temporarily disabled, except more in the metaphorical sense, and instead of learning to walk again, your learning to breath again. For me personally, that PT has taken a long time, but it is absolutely starting to pay off. I think, actually, I know this year is going to see such positive change. I've been experiencing it since I left CO, and I'm more focused now than I have been in years. I'm blessed to be in the position I am in now, traveling the country, and working for the organization which fell into my path in the midst of that rebirthing experience 4 years ago. I couldn't think of any place I would rather be, or anything more beneficial. 24 will be a year of growth, change, and progression, that is something I can bank on.


Favorite Songs of the Week: For when I'm home sick, Paper Bird-Colorado and one that makes me happy, Penny and the Quarters - You and Me

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Beautiful Interaction

I came across the article randomly, but I'm very happy to have found it. I've grown such much as a person through discovering the beauty of different faiths, so the fact people are taking initiative and creating a conference to promote this dialogue makes me :) take a read and enjoy! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/qasim-rashid/a-muslim-a-christian-a-si_b_826157.html

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Favorite Song!

Please take 4 minutes and click this link, and listen to the song circles. I absolutely adore it! This is my new running/driving/playing at night song when you are far away from City lights, and can't see anything but stars and country :)

Hope you enjoy!

On a random note, here is an interesting tidbit from the organization One . One has done a lot with advocacy for the developing world and US aid, so it's always interesting to hear their perspective.

Keep Ugandan in your thoughts and prayers for a safe and fair election!

Friday, February 18, 2011

On The Road

It's crazy to think our first five weeks are done at IC, but now starts the even more exciting part! I'm writing now from the back of our IC van as we cruise down I-40 East to Tulsa, OK. We have already had some great experiences thus far, and we haven't even had our first screening yet. We are really starting to get a feel for each other as a team, and we are all excited to start doing what we cam here to do. 2 days down, and already we've experienced a faulty GPS route, an impromptu banjo concert, and a teepee village getting ransacked by a T-rex. I can only imagine what else is in store. Here a a few pictures from the road. Hope you enjoy!

Launch Dinner!














vans getting ready to go!















Entering Arizona!















Our GPS apparently likes Indian Casinos















Our new found friend














Texas Sunset















Texas















Oklahoma

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love and Basketball

So I found guidance and path validation in another random movie this week. Last night, after an incrediblly entertaining evening, and a really fun concert, I watched the first half of Love and Basketball with three good friends. I'm really not sure if I think the movie is great (though I think the two main characters combine for a very good looking duo!) but it made me really nostalgic for athletics. As I went to bed I was actually a bit sad, and I couldn't put my finger on why until speaking with my Dad this morning. Though I do miss running, training, and competing, what this movie really made me miss was the team aspect of athletics; the community.

I always felt I got cheated out of the college athlete experience. Although I did get to do it for a year and a half, the idea of having your team, the memories, the bonding, the time spent with one another, and the collective action for a single goal, is something I covet. Looking back right now, and thinking about spending all day at a track meet and training for 2-3 hours a day doesn't necessarily get my engines revving, but the idea of doing that with people you care about, and having all the inside jokes, crushes, ups, and downs still resides with me. I know full well that my talent for running is still here, but what is not is the chance to be a NCAA athlete and compete on a team.

I thought about this for awhile today, and what I realized is that life is about progression, we just need to open our eyes and see it. I think the reason I'm so nostalgic about this idea of a sports team is because in high school and the beginning of college, I defined myself as an athlete. It was easy to find friends and a community when my goal was to be in shape, and my title was runner. I had it all figured out. Though I love the direction I'm going in now, and I wouldn't change it for the world, a single definition of who I am is no longer possible. I'm multifaceted and I have a lot of interests, which makes it difficult to sometimes find a nitch and a supportive community. But the fact of the matter is that after I spoke with my Dad, I sat on the porch of a house I share with 60 other kids, and realized I live in a community of individuals with same goals and aspirations. IC is the next step for me in community living. Though this is only for a short time, I am living in one of the most incredible, progressive, caring, and driven communities I've ever seen. We have the friendships, bonds, memories, ups, downs, crushes, heartaches, and the drive. Though we all have different backgrounds and stories, the most important thing we have is a common goal. We are a team (I know very cheesy, but so true), and all the things I thought I lost the chance at are all residing in the roadie experience. It's all here, I just needed perspective.

I am sad to have missed out on 5 full years of athletics, but I can't say that I would have lived my college career any other way. It was the experiences I had after quitting running that led me to BeadforLife, then to CEB, and now to here, and I can only imagine to other great communities in the future.

I dunno if I'll ever finish love and basketball, but I am thankful for the fact that movies, literature, and music will always be a source of guidance and insight into the path that is laid before me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kristen Bell vs. The SPLA

This has been an emotionally draining, tiring, rewarding week at IC. We started coming in the office at 6:45 AM, which for me means waking up at 5 for the morning run, and haven't made it home earlier than 7 PM all week. On top of that, we had some serious trainings, and have been met with some huge goals. It hasn't been an easy one...

But with that being said, the last 2 days have been some of the craziest days I've ever experienced. From 6:45 Wednesday morning until this moment, I heard one of the founders of IC preach his personal philosophy, listened to lieutenant Africano Mande of the SPLA speak with incredible wisdom on what it has, and will continue to take, to build the southern Sudanese state, meet my Ugandan teammate in an immensely ostentatious and emotional greeting at the San Diego airport, and nearly knocked over Mrs. Sarah Marshall herself Kirstin Bell while taking a pee break at work. On top of that I've only slept about 5 hours a night this week, and I got to be honest, I haven't felt this good in a long time.

Hearing Africano speak about the pitfalls of other recently formed states, and the necessity for the freedom fighters to rescind their own power was life altering. It was just so amazing to hear him speak about being a rebel, and born into a fight for his kinsman's land, with such wisdom and grace. Follow that with an emotionally charged, yet philosophically challenging testimony by a person I deeply respect, then experience a love and compassion that transcends boarders, and be able to quote my favorite dick and fart jokes all in a short time frame, it's like this job was created around my interests. Politics, religion, cross-cultural experiences, and dirty humor, I couldn't ask for anything more :)

I'm drained, and yes, at points I'm struggling, but I feel alive. I've never experienced anything like this, and I don't know if I ever will again. But what really matters is I can understand now more so than ever before, why this organization makes the impact that it does. I'm learning the importance of humility, as well as congruence in your actions, work, and values.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pictorial!

So I haven't had much time to blog lately. We have been doing 13 hour days at work, and I'm still trying to wake up in the mornings and run, so there hasn't been much time to update. Instead of writing, and getting all deep like, here are some pictures and a video of our lives. This gives a good view into life of a roadie, from inappropriate theme parties, to 60 plus people dinners, driving in vans, and going to the beach. Hope you enjoy!















video

The video is extremely long for a small pay off, so make sure you start it at around 40 seconds!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Integrity in your compassion

Tonight in our trainings, our presenter said to us that, "Demons only have power in the dark, so if we bring them to light, they no longer have a hold on us." I know for me, I have a lot of demons, and one of those will always be pride, and the fear that revolves around my image to other people.

One of the big things I struggle with now is the stigma I think i carry because I quit TFA. It's no secret, and I'm not scared to admit it, but I really struggle with that idea. I'm not one to quit things, and I hate the idea of thinking I failed.

I think part of this reserve comes from the stigma TFA places on the people who quit, regardless of situation or circumstance. I remember sitting with a higher up in TFA when contemplating my decision, and just hearing all this nonsense that made me feel as if I quit, that I would never have any affect on positive change in our country. Though those weren't the exact words, the intent was very clear. When I was really struggling, and needed help, and was asking for some guidance, my emails remained unanswered, and my requests remained unfulfilled. Two weeks before quitting I remember sitting in the TFA office, and in big red letters on a dry/erase board, seeing the names of a few kids who had left the program crossed out followed by a big RIP. Kids still in the program laughed, and the higher ups who manned the board obviously found humor in this.

Tonight we had a roadie leave the program. This is the second person to leave, and with 14 days left before we leave on tour, this is a pretty big deal. But the difference between TFA and IC is simple, IC practices what they preach. Instead of ostracizing the girl who left, or making her feel even worse for her decision, the director of the movement (one of the branches in IC) came in as if someone had passed, addressed all the roadies about our loss, then proceeded not only to speak highly of this girl, but encourage everyone who was friends with her to reach out and support her through this difficult time. He acknowledge that sometimes things don't work out, and praised her for making the decision. We now have to find two new roadies, put them in place, teach them how to book, try to make up for a months worth of relationship building, and leave on the road all in two weeks. But you know what, that is OK. It's Ok because sometimes things don't work out. It's Ok because in this organization people support one another, and seemingly unattainable tasks become much more tolerable because of our supportive community and collective action. IC truly practices what they preach, and even though the mission is to create sustainable peace in Central East Africa, they start with creating peace in the office in San Diego.

Having to quit something you've committed to sucks a big fat one. Living with demons sucks pretty bad too. But one thing is for sure, it's much easier to deal with demons when they are in the light, surrounded by people who want you to succeed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

bang the gong, bang the gong!

We booked over 70 screenings! Only 15 more to be able to hit the road! We left the cautionary yellow area and moved into the go-ahead-green area! Here's our celebration, gong ring and all!
video

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My First IC Success Story

So this past week has been a great stride in the right direction at IC. I have met some adversity, but challenged the issue, brought it to light, and defeated it. I haven't felt drive like this for quite some time, and though the work hours are long, and some times very arduous, I understand why this experience can mean so much to so many people.

This past week, I got my first and second screening agreement in. What this means is that I finally called a random school, college, or place of worship, gave a pitch about IC to a person I've never talked to, and convinced them to take time out of their schedules and put together an assembly of at least 200 people for a church or college (500 for a school), where we show our documentary. Ok, so not every person we call is random, and IC does have a ton of contacts, but a lot of the time we are calling random people, or cold calling as we say, and really trying to pitch a foreign concept. This is why in the last post I said I felt like being a telemarketer. But this week one of my screening agreements was very special. A young girl from VA (she's only 15 and crazy mature already), has been trying to host a screening with IC for four semesters. She started in her middle school, and is now a freshmen IB student at her high school. She literally lives and breathes IC, and has already made quite a name for herself within the organization. She has struggled with outside factors in the past, and her administrations have alway put the veto on her hosting our screenings. She has been shut down 3 times, yet still puts in the work each year to try and wear down her administration and push for something she really believes in.

We have a rule here that we don't do evening events at high schools due to past experiences with terrible attendance, but this week, we made an exception. Our young fifteen year old friend did all the work she coul to get us at her high school. She solicited teachers, her IB program coordinator, and finally her principal (whom I spoke with many times on the phone), and got the signatures needed to book her screening. She was elated, and ready to hear us bang the gong (a literal gong in the office) that marks a booked screening, but unfortunately her district would not allow IC to have a merchandise table during school hours. Since we do all our presentations for free, we need these tables to pay for things like our vans, gas, and promotional material, so with no merchandise table, there is no event. She was devastated, yet driven, and was not ready to give up this time. Because she has shown so much perseverance in the past and made such a name for herself, with a little push from myself and a receptionist who as worked with this young girl for two years, we convinced IC to let us host an evening screening at her school.

The reason this was such a win was because this girl has done so much for IC, and has worked incredibly hard to host a screening in her school. She has busted her butt for IC, and the thing is, she has empowered herself through trying to help others. She believes in IC. In high school there are so many places to invest your time and talents, and a plethora of different identities one can take on, but for her, it's not sports, theater, or choir, it is IC (along with academics cuz this girl is smart!). Being able to put her on skype, have the 70 plus people sitting in a room trying to book screenings cheer for her with utmost sincerity, and let her watch the gong ring, was incredibly moving. In fact, this is one of the reasons I love IC. We don't only help Ugandans empower themselves and work on a horizontal level between two cultures, but we empower American youth as well. My Dad always talks about how kids don't protest like the used to, but working for Invisible Children, and having participated in their nationwide events, and seeing youth like this girl completely devote their time, money, and talents to ending a war, I'm starting to question if that sentiment is true.

This was a good good week, and I'm hoping my trip continues in this fashion.

Stay tuned for a video of the gong being banged, which will give a little more incite, and some visuals, of what this actually means!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Testing The Water

I am now two weeks removed from CO, living at home, personal space and comfort and I'm starting to feel the magnitude, as well as the effects, of this new excursion. Since leaving home I've been in San Diego living with 62 other people, 9 roommates (not housemates), and working from 9-7 for an organization which I'm very fond of. It's been a really interesting process learning how to live in communion with kids whom I also work with and spend every waking hour, but it for the most part has been great.

This past Thursday and Friday were the first times I've meet true adversity and conflict at my new job, and it has made for interesting soul searching in regards to where the conflict arose. I'm a person who can be pretty hard on myself, and sometimes I forget that I know my heart and intentions when I'm targeted by harsh criticism. It's safe to say the last few days have sucked a bit, but thank God weekends include day trips to beautiful parks overlooking the pacific :) The conclusion I've come to, with the help of a training I took seriously last week, is the necessity to overcome device speech and thought. The thing is, although each person in IC has there own beliefs, values, and personality (and man are there some characters here!), this is one time in our life where those things need to come second to a cause. I want to make some good friends here, and I want to have fun, but the fact is I'm here to help try and end a war. This week I was definitely hurt, and I went to a place of introspection, but in this case, harping on my own discomfort is entirely selfish. Though we are all here for personal growth, that can't come at the expense of those whom we are trying to serve. It's been a struggle dealing with this though, because I know I can be selfless, but I also am fully aware of my propensity for selfishness. I have struggled the last few days with dealing with my anger and hurt, while still being a team player, but I know this is going to be good for me. I've talked with a lot of kids here, and this week has seen people really getting into team dynamics, and exiting the honeymoon stage. It is obviously a difficult step, but it's part of the process of working towards a cohesive team. People are getting real, and though it's necessary, it's not easy. I'm just hoping the house doesn't start to look more like a reality TV show...

I'm here to serve, and as our mission states as roadies, "I've dedicated the next four months of my life to sharing the story of this war," and that is what I'm going to do. Even if it means sucking up my pride, learning to be a little more selfless, experiencing life as a telemarketer (which I'll get into later), I am here for a purpose. I want to succeed, and I want to be able to say this was a feat I accomplished in May when my term ends.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week One in the Books

It's amazing to think I've already been here a week, as well as thinking it's only been a week. Time somehow has managed to fly and move like molasses simultaneously. Much like this conundrum time has left me in, I feel like spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally, I am pretty torn as well. Working with IC so far truly has been a dream. For those of you who don't know, seeing Invisible Children's Rough Cut was one of the most pivotal moments in my life. It introduced me to some life long friends (Ms. Fisher, McCall, Burns, Peters, and Stambouli) as well as gave my life a sense of purpose it had never really known. Running had introduced me to drive, sacrifice, and commitment, but IC illuminated things like compassion, purpose, and awareness. But with all the good I've seen so far, and how amazing I've felt, last night and today were a bit of a struggle. I'm drained. The work has been hard yes, but I think a lot finally caught up with me last night. IC is very intent on personal growth. To be honest, though I believe in what we are doing, and the direction we are going now as an organization, I do feel like I'm attending personal growth camp right now, instead of working at an NGO. Everyone here is so nice, encouraging, and thoughtful, and as crazy and ridiculous as that sounds, 90% of the time it's wonderful, but 10% of the time I just feel bogged down by it. I'm in a situation where I am CONSTANTLY surrounded by people, 62 others in the same house to be exact, and working like crazy. When we aren't at the office, we are studying, going over our introductions and conclusions, or speaking about a lot of personal stuff to get to know one another intimately in a short amount of time. The environment is quite conducive for deep conversation, and like I said before, 90% of the time that is fantastic, but when I get to that other 10%, I find myself wanting to be selfish, or have alone time, or not wanting space from the person whom I'm supposed to be giving and getting space from back home, because I want the comfort of someone who knows me for faults as well as why IC hired me. It's just a bizarre feeling to be so astounded by an organization, their work, their philosophies, and the humility they instill in you, and still be struggling... but I guess that is human nature. Change is the only constant, but it's something we as humans struggle with and fear the most.

BUT, after writing that, I do want to place some emphasis on how much I love this organization. One super duper awesome positive about working for IC, besides the great community they supply you with, is the emphasis they place on relationships and personal growth. Tonight, after working from 9-5, we stopped first to watch a clip of an MLK speech (which made me very happy), then had a session titled "Investing in Others." The leader of the session was a dude named Jedidiah, whom is the paragon of how to invest in others and create meaningful relationships. In this session we talked about intrinsic and extrinsic goals, watched a documentary about happiness,which spanned multiple continents to find a definition, and dove right into insecurities that harden our hearts and make lasting relationships less attainable. It was absolutely phenomenal, and the fact that this, for some of those lucky enough to be paid, is what work looks like, gives me hope for the future.

The one thing that stuck out to me most, and my ending point, is a question that Jed asked the audience. When you walk into a room of unknown faces, do you think to yourself that you don't belong and maybe your not worthy to be there, or do you see a room full of potential friends with interesting stories, views, and ideas? For me, I'm actively trying to see the later.

Much love and I miss you all back in CO!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1 day down, wow!


So, seeing as everyone who has ever held this position says that free time is a highly coveted asset while on the road, I've decided that instead of blogging and then doing an individual journal, I'm going to put them together. With that being said, this blog A.) does not reflect the opinions of IC, and B.) is going to be very very raw. I can't promise everything will be concise or to the point, but i can promise my inchoate ideas or thoughts will be a true reflection on what I am actually feeling at this time.

It blows my mind to think I've only been here for about 36 hours. The Target trip I went on yesterday, and watching the national championship game feels like it happened weeks ago, but really, it was only a mere 24 hours prior to now. Between getting off a plane, relocating into a house with 50 some other kids (no exaggeration), picking the lower bunk in a room that houses 10 guys total, and ditching 3 degree weather for a balmy 65, my head is spinning. And all this happened before I got to the Invisible Children offices.

Today was a crazy mixture of feeling excitement, fatigue, and encountering an overwhelming load of information. We got to the office at 8:30, went through a whirlwind of different introductions and trainings, some of which were definitely better than others (the sexual harassment training was literally one of the worst hours of my life) then ended the night by seeing a sneak peak of the video we will be showing on our tour. It was crazy to see so many faces which I have seen in videos over the last 5 years actually come and speak to me in person. I saw where the graphics were designed, where pictures of merch were taken, where the tours were booked, and actually sat down and chatted with a roadie (who is still roadieing) that came and spoke at CU when I booked the tour for our campus in 2007.

There were a few things that definitely popped out at me today that I think will be a reoccurring themes over the next 5 weeks. First, there were 327 applicants that applied for the 50 some roadie positions that IC had for this semester. Granted that this is a higher percent of applicants that are accepted than in TFA, when I hear Jason and Laren speak about our importance, compared to what I heard and saw in STL, it seems much more authentic. Having seen how dispensable we were, or seemed to be, in STL, I just feel better out here. From this idea, I realize the comparisons between IC and TFA is something I will be struggling with along the way. I also saw a great speech about cultural competency that was so down to earth,and so real, that it made the diversity sessions at TFA institute seem ridiculous. But more comparisons are to come later.

Second, and I think this is the most important theme, is the idea of humility and learning from mistakes within the NGO. Since I began working with NGOs in college, the question of whether or not relief and aid work does more hurt than help has always haunted me. There are many scholars, critics, and educated people who have a lot of valid arguments denouncing western humanitarianism, and there are a lot of days that pass when I don't think they are wrong. I've looked at my own progression, and seeing how so often I was wrong about opinions or initiatives I backed, I wonder how many NGOs or relief workers are doing harm abroad. It makes me scared for development, aid, or relief work, and the mistakes that, if I continue on this path, will inevitably make. But that is the beauty of what I saw today. The creators of IC, Laren, Bobby, and Jason, admit to their mistakes. In fact, they have documented them, made them public, and have completely shaped their NGO around what was learned during these mishaps. They have made sure that they learn from each mistake, and actually serve the populations with which they are trying to provide aid for with more efficacy. This site really made me reflect on my own qualms with humanitarianism, and their humility and ability to critically think about what their work actually does within Uganda and Congo opened my eyes. I think for me I am just scared to make the mistakes. I'm pretty hard on myself sometimes, and mistakes I make that negatively affect other people are not easily forgotten. But, seeing what I saw tonight, and hearing how mistakes can be turned into something positive, I'm feeling re-energized, and ready to keep pushing in a good direction.

It's been a crazy few hours already. I'm overwhelmed, I'm flustered, I have no idea what to think, but what I do know is I'm excited. I feel like I'm in the right place, and I can't wait to see how this experience unfolds.

sorry for the word vomit, hopefully next post will be more directed!

Monday, January 10, 2011

All packed and Ready to Go!

As I sit here in the airport, after being molested by TSA, and braving a very long and icy ride to get here (thanks Mom and Dad!) I am a mixture of nervous, excited, heartbroken, ecstatic, and anything else I could fathom at the moment. I've had an interesting 8 months since graduating, and I can't be more happy for what has occurred. From getting into TFA, to quitting TFA, to having a mediocre GRE, to having a good showing at GRE, to snowboarding, working as a buser for a whole 10 days, seeing old friends, figuring out how the next steps of a relationship will go, and packing up and leaving, I'm still a bit in awe. Right now though, I know I want to thank everyone who donated to my fund for IC, as well as everyone who has supported me mentally, physically, and spiritually along the way. These last couple months have been interesting, and it is safe to say the transition out of college has be rough for me, but I've been so blessed and fortunate to have such a great support system. Thank you guys all so much. I am a very very fortunate young man. I'll keep updating as much as possible, and hopefully will post some pictures soon! I had a silly picture I tried to add, but DIA won't let me :/

Keep checking in!