January 30, 2011 - 9:15 PM
Oh, what a wonderful weekend! Thanks to the super cheap Allegiant Air, I scored a round trip ticket from Eugene to Oakland for $150 and was able to fly home for the Berkeley YMCA's Teen Center grand opening on Friday night. For two years, during my junior and senior years in High School, I was a part of the Teen Task Force, whose job was to partner with a team of industry professionals to oversee the development of the Teen Center.
Our group worked on all aspects of the project, including hiring the architects and sub consultants, doing outreach to city officials and program partners, and engaging with donors. In the two years that I was involved, I really got to see the project develop from the ground up. If it wasn't for my work with the Teen Center, I probably wouldn't have gotten interested in planning and public policy, which probably means I wouldn't be here at Oregon, which means I wouldn't have had access to all the wonderful programs I've been a part of in the last year and a half that are so generously supported by alumni and donors. It's strange to think about how me being at UO is so connected to my involvement in this project.
It was really exciting to come back and literally be standing in the fruits of my labor, well really, the fruits of our labor because without the support of PG&E who donated the building, none of this would've been possible. Walking into the building and seeing the space alive and buzzing with the energy of so many teens, with a full calendar of programming scheduled for February, was a deeply gratifying feeling. Wow, I'm just so incredibly honored to have been a part of this whole project.
Other than the Teen Center opening, my weekend was filled with lots of delicious home cooked meals, long nights of rest in my own bed, sunshine, and many hugs from my very best friends. I'm feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle Week Five. Winter Term is flying by!
January 24, 2011 - 8:24 PM
Today Van Jones, President Obama's former Green Jobs advisor, visited campus to give a lecture on his book the "Green Collar Economy." His visit was a part of the Oregon Humanities Center's Sustenance Lecture series. As part of my Transformative Leadership class, I was also invited to a student coffee hour before his talk, which was an amazing experience.
To actually be sitting around a table with ten other students while listening to one of society's most influential environmental and social activists was really a once in a life opportunity that I feel honored to have been a part of.
He candidly answered our questions without shying away from being brutally honest about the country my generation is inheriting. My favorite quote from his hour and a half long talk with the group was, " Quit waiting for Barack Obama. This is real shit. If you think help is on the way, it's not. You are the help."
Hearing about how he got his start in campus politics and worked his way into the White House was really inspiring even though it's not something I aspire to be a part of. Most of the students in attendance at the coffee hour were members of the Climate Justice League, a popular environmental group on campus.
In his speech later that night in the EMU Ballroom, he spoke extensively on how he thinks creating job training programs to train people to install solar panels and work on wind turbines is one way to pull the country back together in the midst of a severe economic downturn. All in all, I really enjoyed hearing from such an inspiring and visionary world leader.
January 23, 2011 - 6:30 PM
Yesterday I participated in one of UO's largest student-driven philanthropy events. Known as Dance Marathon, this 12-hour dance party brought together 550 Ducks for a non-stop day of dancing in the EMU Ballroom in the heart of campus. Dance Marathon was started on campus about five years ago to support Children's Miracle Network, a national organization that provides crucial financial support to families whose children are in the Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units at Sacred Heart Medical Center here in Eugene. In addition to helping offset the cost of the children's medical bills, CMN also purchases life-saving equipment such as isolates for premature babies, which at $30,000 apiece is a hefty bill to front.
At first, I just signed up for Dance Marathon because a good friend of mine from the Leadershape Institute camp is the director of the event and I wanted to support her work. However, I quickly discovered that the cause hit a lot closer to home than I originally thought. I was also born fairly prematurely at 28 weeks and lived in an isolate at Gilette Children's Hospital in Minneapolis for the first two months of my life. Because I benefitted from such good care when I was a newborn, I felt like this was a meaningful way to give back to a cause that I was personally affected by.
Wow, what a day! I feel like I totally defied my own limits of what I thought I was capable of. Staying on my feet for twelve whole hours was no easy task, although I'm really proud of myself for making it all the way through, since it symbolizes what every parent goes through as they sit at their child's bedside in the hospital with little respite from their circumstances. Luckily, we were kept well entertained by local DJ's playing a mix of Top 40 hits and club scene music, as well as performances by Puddles the Duck, the Cheerleaders and the UO Dance Team.
I spent most of today vegging out in bed and reading trashy chick lit novels to give my feet and back a rest. The soreness is nothing, because it's all "For The Kids!"
January 17, 2011 - 2:00 PM
This morning, I joined about 500 of my fellow Ducks in the Service Learning Program's MLK Day of Service. We gathered in the Living Learning Center's Performance Hall to sign activity waivers, pick up some snacks for the road, and of course, a free t-shirt. Originally, I was signed up to go to make food boxes for low-income families with Food For Lane County, but I ended up switching projects at the last minute after I found out that my Alternative Spring Break Site Leaders. Cody and Kailey, were going to volunteer at Next Step Recycling. We thought it would be good team bonding so off we went to the Recycling Warehouse with about ten other students.
As an organization, Next Step Recycling provides a vital service for the Eugene/Springfield Community. They take in old or broken electronics, sort out the usable parts, and recycle the rest. For machines and equipment that is only slightly damaged, they have a vocational job training program that teaches people how to repair electronics. With the refurbished equipment, they run a store in the front of their warehouse to sell the fixed up computers and turn a small profit back to the organization.
In our three hours of service, we pulled alphabet keys off a couple hundred computer keyboards and breaking down damaged printers. While we weren't doing direct service, the support that we provided Next Step helped them accomplish a much needed task. I'm looking forward to doing more service with my Alternative Spring Break team before we head to Negril, Jamaica in March.
January 15, 2011 - 3:00 PM
For just being the end of Week Two, today was a pretty exciting Friday! First, I had a meeting with my advisor in the Study Abroad office, who gave me the go ahead to apply to the Buenos Aires program early, since I will be working through a lot more loop holes because of my disability. However, applying early means I'll be doing the entire application on paper, which is seems quite old fashioned when an application for almost anything these days is online. It's just really exciting that I finally get to start working on this process that I began planting seeds for back in the beginning of November. I'm keeping my options as wide open as possible. If everything works out with the Buenos Aires program, I will be studying there from January to June 2012. For Fall term 2011, the only thing that is keeping me here in Eugene is the possibility of being a FIG Assistant with the First Year Programs office. I will submit my application to them next week and find out in early February if I got the position. As it typical of me, I always have a plan B. My plan B is to apply for an internship with the Ethiopian Center on Disability and Development. Don't know what that looks like quite yet, but it's another possibility.
After those meetings, I headed over to the EMU for a meeting with my Alternative Spring Break Jamaica group. It's finally becoming a reality, especially as I get closer to reaching my fundraising goal for the trip. Countdown to Negril: seven weeks!