Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shout Out

A HUGE 'Thank You' to the Sara's Wish Foundation for awarding me a scholarship towards my trip. Check out their cause.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Putting it in perspective

Here is a shortened version of my story...

Last June I graduated a year early from the University of Oregon with degrees in International Studies and Sociology, as well as minors in African Studies and Nonprofit Administration. After taking a month off to visit some friends and family around the country, I began my pursuit for the perfect job. As I am sure you can imagine, this is not the best time to be looking for a job. I spent months searching, making calls, sending resumes and cover letters, and following up. I never even received an interview from anyone but the Rose Quarter catering office. I currently work part-time doing catering events for the Blazers. This is not quite how I imagined my life after graduation.

I started to dream about all the possibilities that the world has for me. Before graduating I planned on doing an internship in East Africa, but due to graduating early, never got around to it. Now I realize that this was a huge mistake because traveling as a student is much cheaper (as are most things in life). I decided since I have been unsuccessful at finding any sort of professional development job, most likely due to lack of experience, an internship would be a great alternative to waiting for something to open up. I decided to be proactive about my situation. I spent a lot of time choosing a program that fit both my personal and professional needs. It is through the Foundation for Sustainable Development. I applied for a community development internship in Kakamega, Kenya.

I spent several weeks waiting to hear if I was accepted to the internship. During this time I applied for numerous grants. Unfortunately, only one awarded me money. Most of them felt that I needed to have more information about the work I would be doing before they would support me. However, in order for me to build a project, I need to be in country. Or at least this is the sustainable way of working abroad, something many people don't quite understand. Luckily, I was accepted! This has sparked a whole new focus in my life.

I am now tirelessly on the search for funding. I need to come up with $17,600 to cover the cost of my entire trip by April 5th. I would hate to have to give up on yet another dream, the first being working for a development nonprofit out of college. So now I am looking at all of my options. I realized I would not be at this point if it weren't for many people. Hence, why I have contacted all of you.

I think it is important that people see that my education and support from friends, family, and even strangers, has gotten me here and how it will benefit both me and the people I will work with in Kenya. This internship is an investment in communities far away, as well as my future.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

So many things to think about...

Here are just a few of the things that are on my mind regarding my trip...
1. Travel insurance
2. Flights
3. Clothing
4. Mechanisms of communication (internet connection, cell phone, etc.)
5. Swahili (I am so nervous that I will not remember much. If you know Kiswahili, start calling me or writing me! Tafadhali :)
6. Bugs
7. Shoes
8. Camera
9. Food (excited to try new things, but I will miss a juicy burger I am sure!)
10. Malaria pills, in addition to all the other medication I will be carrying on me
11. Should I sell my car, or have it waiting for me when I get back?
12. Host family (Yay!)
13. Meeting my sponsor child in Tanzania, hopefully!
14. Luggage
15. Missing my Zoey-girl (my black lab) and of course MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting in touch

I have been having such a hard time getting in touch with my contact at FSD lately. Finally, today, I was able to talk to him for the first time in weeks. It was so good to have some of my questions answered. Planning a trip like this consumes all of my thoughts, causing millions of questions to pop up daily. Having no way to keep track of them all, I often feel overwhelmed and lost. Adam, the East Africa program coordinator, was so helpful! Every time we do talk, he motivates me to keep going!
Thanks ADAM!
Not only did his answers to my question make my day so much better, but when he told me I had received my first 3 donations I almost cried. After months and months of being denied for jobs and grants, I started loosing my focus. I would question why I wanted to do this internship. But having all of you believe in me keeps me going. So...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Small steps...

When I decided to confirm my acceptance for the community development internship, I was overwhelmed with excitement. Quickly, that excitement turned to overwhelming stress. The thought of coming up with around $18,000 in just two months sounds impossible. But I am holding true to my dream! I know that I can do it. I will do what it takes to make this trip happen.
As I started making preparations for the trip, I realized I am finding less pleasure in buying material things for my normal day-to-day activities. For example, I have been wanting a new jacket...but who needs a pea coat in Kenya. I also wanted to buy a bigger bed...but in reality sleeping on a cot for a year sounds like way more fun.
I realized that this trip is going to be more than just a professional development experience or dream of mine, but it is helping me realize that living a simple life suits me just fine. I am learning to appreciate the things that I already have. This trip really is going to change me...and I haven't even left yet.