October 25, 2009 - 8:35 PM
Why? Because I'm going!!!!!!!
A few days ago, it became official that this December, I will be boarding a plane and traveling to Israel for ten days. Israel, a land of so much history and culture! A few days have passed since I first found out that I would indeed be going, but the excitement has remained at around the same level as that moment. Every time I stop and think about it, I am blown away. In just about two months, I'll be in Israel. It all happened so fast and was somewhat unexpected, but then again, that seems to be how most of my adventures begin. One of the best parts of this trip? It's absolutely free.
There is a program called Taglit-Birthright Israel. The Birthright Israel program was started in 2000 by private philanthropists, the Government of Israel, and Jewish communities around the world. Birthright Israel provides free ten-day-long trips to Jewish youth, ages 18 to 26. The reasoning behind this is that the founders hope to lessen the division between Israel and Jewish communities throughout the world. It is also a way to connect deeper with Judaism and to meet other young people who relate to the same identity. The Birthright Israel program sees it as its gift to young Jewish people. I cannot think of too many other gifts that are quite as fabulous as this one.
I found out about the program last year from the program coordinator at the elementary school I work at. She told me that I should check it out. I told her that it had been a while since I had really connected with my Jewish background. She replied that that's what made me perfect for it. Birthright enjoys helping young people reconnect with Judaism. What better place to do this in than Israel?
Finally, one night at around 1:00am in September, I fidgeted about, missing New York, missing Greece, missing the feeling of travel and having some sort of adventure to look forward to. At about 1:30am, I went online and filled out the application. My application was a little late, so I was put on a waiting list. I let out a sigh and knew that this was the perfect way for it to be. It left it up to fate. I would find out later, closer to the date, if I would be spending winter in Israel.
About a week ago, I found out that an old, dear friend of my mother's, who recently moved out to the east coast to teach at Brown University, is basically BFFs with the president of the Birthright program. They met in Israel working on a kibbutz. Our family friend put me in touch with the president. It felt so amazing to be talking to the president of Birthright. He seems like such an inspirational person in charge of such a large, beautiful foundation. I could not find any possible way to fully express my gratitude with words. I need to send him a postcard from Israel. I was able to ask him how to get the most out of my experience and any advice he had in general. He recommended some books for me to read. When I hung up the phone with him, I might've ran around my house, jumping excitedly for a little while - maybe.
The rest is basically history. The next couple of months will involve my preparation for my trip. I'm ecstatic. I'll keep you all posted!
October 24, 2009 - 8:00 PM
As I mentioned before in an earlier post, I am helping initiate a new program this year within the after school program that I work in. I have unofficially named it the UO Visitors Program. This year, we are trying to have a different speaker from the UO come in each month and talk to our kids about what they do at the UO and why they love it. We are hoping to end the year with a field trip to the campus for a tour. It is a very important program because it gets kids thinking about college early. It is especially important for the kids in our after school program, who mostly come from disadvantaged backgrounds, because it shows them that they too have the opportunity to go to college.
On Thursday, we had our first speakers come in. Regan Middleton-Moreland, one of the queens of the blogging project with the UO Annual Giving Program and an advisor to the Student Alumni Association, came in with the president of the Student Alumni Association, Carissa Surace. We were so excited to have them! In true elementary school fashion, it was a little hectic trying to round up all the kids into the cafeteria to listen and hence, we were running a little late, but I think that overall, it went just as planned.
Regan talked all about the fundraising that the UO Annual Giving Program does for the University and why it's so important. I think that it was good for the kids to hear about all of the scholarships that the University offers to students through UO Annual Giving. There was excitement among the little ones when Regan compared the fundraising that she does to that that might be done by Greenhill Humane Society. Some of our kids last year made signs and talked to people about why they should donate more money to Greenhill. I think we have some future little philanthropists in training!
Carissa talked about how exciting the Student Alumni Association (SAA) is and how it is a great way to be involved in your university. The kids were very excited to hear about the big "O" that is painted on the side of Skinner's Butte and how there are plans this year for students to begin painting it again. Regan informed us that there is talk about making this "O' a historical landmark in Eugene.
I think one of my favorite questions asked during our brief Q&A session was from this little third grade boy. He's so small and has such an adorable voice (which he usually uses to ramble stuff, somewhat incoherently, about how he's going to get a girlfriend). He asked Regan how he could become a football player at the University of Oregon. Regan explained that it takes a lot of hard work in high school and that he could try out or be recruited when its time. He seemed pleased with the answer and I have a hunch that this little fella might just be playing Ducks football someday!
After Regan and Carissa left, we handed out the prizes that they had left for the kids. Each kid got a yellow bracelet with ducks on it. They were so excited and it was fun to see all of our kids wearing their bright yellow!
I want to thank both Regan Middleton-Moreland and Carissa for taking the time to come in and see us. They made a great first start to what I think will be an awesome addition to our program for the kids. Our next scheduled speaker is Jo Larson, a sign language teacher at the UO.
October 19, 2009 - 1:35 AM
Yes, the timestamp of this blog clearly declares that I should be in bed by now. This, I know. However, I have come to accept the fact that nine times out of ten, it just isn't going to happen. I am too deep into the life of a college student and I feed off of the night. My best work sometimes occurs in the wee hours of the morning. Keyword - sometimes. I may very well just be making up excuses. This all has a point though, I swear.
I think an important part of being a college student is the social aspect of it all. In my PPPM 480 (Introduction to Nonprofit Management) class, we discussed the future of education. Our professor posed the question of whether we thought college would stay traditional like it is now, where you move away to a school, go to actual classes, and carry on discussions, or if it would soon just be technology based with no need to relocate or attend actual classes. I think we all agreed that education is bound to begin making changes toward more technology-based instruction, but that it would never become fully computer-based because of the great need for the social aspects. College is where many students mature socially and learn important skills for interacting and working with others. Some of the social skills gained in college become vital in the workforce. A college education goes far beyond the books and intertwines itself with its environment.
Therefore, a potluck is a must! My logic is sometimes so fool proof, I even surprise myself.
About a week ago, I decided that there were many faces within my social circle that I hadn't seen in a while and that there were also some new faces that I just wanted to get to know more. I took this need and matched it with my love of food in order to produce the idea that I needed to organize a potluck. And so I did. Tonight, instead of sitting at home and doing homework, I met up with a great group of friends and conversed about everything, over food. Just about everyone there had homework that they should've been doing. One of my friends had their first midterm the next day. Many of us numbered off the amount of pages that had to be written by tomorrow. My number was roughly seven. That has been accomplished, by the way, hence why it is now so late. The moral of the story though is that none of us really cared. We all knew that we would get it done, so for those few hours, we just relaxed and potlucked. Yes, "to potluck" is a verb.
I loved reminiscing over old dorm stories and also hearing everyone's new stories. I loved that everyone seemed to love the tres leche cake I made. I loved it all. Potlucks are good stuff.
My late nights have meaning to them. I am willing to stay up late and finish a paper always before I am willing to sacrifice good company. And I have college to thank for that!
October 17, 2009 - 9:00 PM
What I love about Eugene and about going to school here is that there is always something new and unexpected that happens to pop up somewhere. There is such a diverse amount of skill that is woven throughout this community. Who knows what the people of Eugene are really into? They always seem to surprise me. Of course there are the bike enthusiasts who go cycling only in double-digit miles. And we are all aware of the sports enthusiasts that fill the streets by Autzen and MacCourt each year. Many of us are also familiar with the earth-loving dancers that find their true passion while spinning in circles at the Saturday Market to some hidden bongo beat. However, I doubt that everyone knows of another section of Eugene, full of passion and extreme devotion. I didn't know about this unique group of people until just this Friday.
I was on my way over to Tracktown to indulge myself in their lunch buffet with some friends. Pause. This needs to be talked about a little more. First of all, Tracktown has some of the best pizza in all of Eugene. Secondly, their lunch buffet offers you the chance to eat as much of their fabulous pizzas as you can, sampling all different sorts of flavors. Third, and last, students get a discount - woot! Ok, back to where we were going...
I was driving down Agate Street and happened to look to my right as I was passing by Agate Hall. In front of Agate Hall, I saw a large sign. I had to do a double take. I was so excited. The sign read, "Ukulele Festival." How is this my fourth year at the University of Oregon, but only my first year noticing that we host an annual Ukulele Festival? I shared my excitement with my friends once I got to Tracktown, but I'm not sure they thought it was quite as cool as I was making it out to be. I tend to find quirky events like this very compelling. I imagine some day I will become one of those old ladies that just goes and hangs out at various different expos happening at my local fairgrounds.
Anyway, the point is, my curiosity would not cease and I had to go explore this. This summer, one of my coworkers at the Fresh Air Fund (who later also became my travel buddy in New York City), played the ukulele. She was awesome at it and so passionate about it! She carried it with her where she went and her love for this cheerful instrument was something to be envious of. If for nothing else, I had to see this festival for her!
After lunch, I convinced one other friend to go over there with me. She had to take some photographs for her journalism class anyway, so why not take them of ukuleles? I was enthralled by all of the people I saw walking toward Agate Hall, carrying nothing else but ukuleles! I walked behind a man for quite a ways who was carrying two ukuleles and whistling a very jolly song.
Inside Agate Hall were tons and tons of different styles of ukuleles and the people who love them. There was also a class being taught on ukulele playing techniques. I looked at the schedule and saw that in the evening there would also be a ukulele concert! I gazed around the room in awe. Who knew that there were so many ukulele enthusiasts in little Eugene, Oregon? I love this city's randomness.
October 11, 2009 - 11:58 PM
Let's just call it what is it. One of the goals of this blogging program is to engage readers that may be alumni. Therefore, it is nice to write about aspects of the UO campus and of the student experience that bring a sense of nostalgia to the readers. Today's (well, tonight's and almost this morning's) topic will be one that I believe a good nine out of ten will be able to relate to. There always has to be that one person who's just so perfect despite how closely you look. How do they do that anyway? Moving on...ok, alumni, how many of you can remember those college nights, usually a Sunday around midnight, where you all of a sudden realize that you have procrastinated your entire week away and are now faced with a Monday morning deadline? I know you're nodding your head and smiling. Do not be ashamed, for you are in good company. Let's just call it what it is - procrastinators anonymous.
Week one is a beautiful week. It's a fresh start. It's new and intriguing classes. It's the joy of knowing you're still in college and don't have to worry about permanently joining the work force yet. During week one, you get to see all of your friends again and watch as the campus comes alive.
Week two is pretty great. By week two you have realized that you have chosen some great classes and you're still feeling pretty on top of everything. You're still saying hi to everyone that you haven't seen since the last term. You're still sitting on the steps of the EMU, watching the campus blossom with students.
Week three, you realize the honeymoon is over. Yeah, so, it looks like that reading that you put off for the first two weeks, just because you could, is now due. That paper you got assigned four days ago? Yeah, that's due too. Oh, and remember how you're suppose to write two blogs a week for the University of Oregon, not just one? Yeah, that's due tomorrow. Oh, and don't forget that you're starting work tomorrow. Remember how you were suppose to be planning for the past two weeks what you were going to do with the kids at your work? Well, it should be planned since work with the kids is, as stated before, starting tomorrow. Week three begins the rest of a ten weeklong term of getting your life back together.
Ok, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but in the heat of the moment when the procrastinator realizes their fault, everything seems a little more dramatic than it really is. This is the part you need to remember and this is the part that always pulls me through, lands me back on my feet. I just acknowledge my problem (procrastination), stand tall, face the mirror, look myself in the eye, and say, "I've got this." Then I knowingly nod my head and get to work.
Week four is when you've caught up and understand the routine.