Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jamii Bora

Today we had a staff meeting of epic granduer. Ingrid Munro came to speak with us personally about life, love, happiness and the persuite thereof. I know you all are probably sick of me talking about her, but I just wanted to write some of the wisdom before I forget.

- Ingrid is from Sweden originally, however, she has lived in Kenya most of her life. She made friends with the street beggars, theives, prostitutes and desolate children. After her career of working with the African Housing Coalition, she retired and wanted to stay at home to write a book, however, her desire to help others was too strong to sit in a rocking chair. Her friends and neighbors with whom were in ultra poverty came to her often for advice and financial backing. She decided one day to teach them about saving money then she made them an offer of two scoops of rice and one scoop of beans if they can save 50 cents a week. The word spread like wildfire and soon many people were coming to her at the end of the week with their 50 cents. After a while she gave them more incentive to save by saying that she will find someone who can match their offer and give them double the money if they keep saving. She failed to mention that it was because of the money she had raised from their efforts of buying beans and rice. So they would come to her from all around with 50 cents and she would give them a dollar, then they would come back with one dollar and she would give them two and so Jamii Bora (Good Families) began.

She was giving ultra micro loans yet she changed the lives of these 50 street beggars. She works mainly with women and with all of her loans she has has a 98% payback rate. Can you imagine? She is loaning to people whom the banks in America would never even consider. She said in the meeting today " I have never met a theif who was a bad person. I have never met a prostitute who was not a good woman. Likewise I have never met a theif who wants to be a theif, or a prostitute who wants to be a prostititute. They are doing it to save themselves." The 50 women who started the organization have now mentored, trained and worked with hundreds of thousands of people. They not have their own community with everything built by Jamii Bora members, they have their own school, bank, health insurance, home insurance and they have done it with not even a penny of donated funds. They have truly pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.

Her organization runs by the slogan of " We don't care where you have come from, we just care about where you want to go." How would the world be if we all lived with those words in mind? If we helped everyone to see their true potential, no matter the consequence or sterotype.

Oh so much to think about...


(clear throat) Attention everyone, I have an announcement to make! The Microcredit Summit Campaign would like to announce that through the use of microloans over 100 million people have been given a second chance at life and are now successfully out of poverty!

Imagine the sea of people at the President Obama's Inauguration, now times that by 100 and you will understand the magnitude of this announcement! I am so excited to be a part of this. I can't believe I am working for the Microcredit Summit Campaign, Results and Action because I have the opportunity to sit in on conference calls with Muhammad Yunus and Jeffery Sachs and dine with Ingrid Munro. Not only do I get to meet some of the most influential people in the humanitarian world today, but I get to actually get to be apart of it, love it, celebrate it.

If you would like to learn more about our exciting news check out the article in the Deseret News ( Shout out to Utah for being the first the publish an op-ed peice on the media call) and also a video clip from CNBC with Muhammad Yunus and some really annoying CNBC guys.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

21 on the 21st!!

My roommates made me dinner and set the most festive birthday table DC has ever seen!

They made the most delicious vegetable curry ever! My favorite by far!

Then we played around in the hallways with the shopping cart we stole from Giant til the cake was done baking...

There were so many candles! I am getting old!  The boys decided to show up just for the cake and left right after they were done... typical. 

OH my goodness, Becky made the best BTS cake EVER!
So excited! pretty sure my mouth is wide open in every picture... I was just excited ok?
(L-R) Julie, Laurie,Becky, Shannon, me, Lisa
We had to throw in some limbo action and Becky was the dominating champion.

After the limbo we danced in our apartment until exhaustion set in.

Oh what a wonderful day. Thank you so much for everyones help in  making it so special and such a fun day! The cards and packages were well loved and I will miss the excitement of running home to the mailbox to see what sweet surprises were waiting for me. Thank you to my incredible roommates, I couldn't have handpicked a more perfect group of girls to live with, you have done so much for me and I can't thank you enough! Sure do love ya! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration Ceremony

When reflecting upon those simple moments of definition in our lives; those moments that flutter through our view like leaves on an autumn day, there are few that come with such impact as the moments experienced today. Though through this journey there is nothing to be said of glory, triumph, defeat or revelation; there is much to be said about humanity, commonality, and most importantly, friendship. No rhetoric, nor picture, nor written text can ever convey the emotion and bond that was wrought through a simple transistor radio. 

I left the house at 8:00 AM prepared for the cold by being bundled with many layers, prepared for the ceremony with my official ticket in hand, prepared to witness history but not prepared to understand the magnitude of such an incredible event.  We embraced the cold, the lines, the crowds and joined in the chants for desperate measure. The gates to our golden opportunity to see such a historic event were within arms length when they were shut in our face.  

Friends, when in all actuality they were complete strangers, invited us to join them at a nearby office building to watch the ceremonies, we accepted with extreme gratitude for their open hearts.  During our journey through the mob of people we were stopped when we heard the music of Yo-Yo Ma coming from a nearby radio. We quickly huddled with the crowd gathered as a mans hand, wrinkled and calloused with age, held high his leather-bound transistor radio for all to hear.  When the crowds dispersed there were 8 of us left huddled together atop a cement median listening to the events happening only a few hundred yards away.  After the swearing-in had occured, the man whose radio we were listening to leaned over and kissed his wife ever so tenderly and hugged every person in the crowd. An instant bond was formed and a family of friends had grown together. Each age, race, gender and religion was represented, yet we held each other as if there were no differences building walls between us. As our new President Obama gave his eloquent speech, I was brought to tears in the shadow of our nations capitol as I looked into the eyes of all who surrounded me, the smiles on their faces and the warmth in their hearts. That moment proved democracy is real, freedom is real, humanity is real and that love can exist even between strangers. 

The speech ended and we all embraced each other with joy overflowing. As I thanked the man for his miraculous radio, he looked me straight in the eyes and said  " Now it's your turn." I have repeated his words a thousand times in my head since that moment and will never forget how intense his aging eyes looked at me. It is true. It's my turn. 

It's my turn to make sure that each person I meet knows that I love them the way the old man loved me. It's my turn to prove to people the beauty of humanity. It's my turn to show everyone that most people are looking for a common good and we are all in it together. It's my turn to take the reigns that may parents and grandparents have handled to make sure democracy is upheld. It's my turn to be optimistic. It's my turn to have a voice. It's my turn to change the world. Yes I can! 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Partyin' with the nation!

This weekend has been non-stop adventures! 

Friday: At work we planned out our goals for the next year and it is amazing how many major organizations and political figures we have influence with. After work, I went to a forum for the Center for Global Development and was totally in awe at the incredible people the surrounded me. The forum was a discussion with David Gergen (advisor to 5 presidents and CNN corespondent)  on Obama's Global Development Goals and it was so informative. I learned so much and was so impressed with the discussion. Then I was able to meet the former executive director of the World Bank, crazy I know!  the founder of Transparency International  and so many others!  After the forum I went to a party at the Center for American Progress with all of my intern friends and then we went dancing for the rest of the night at Hawk n' Dove. Funny how it the was coldest day and night of the year with a -20 degree wind chill and it was the day I was out and about the most. 

Saturday: I slept in and cleaned up the apartment for a bit. I was able to meet up with Kjerstin, one of my best friends from Ogden! She came in for the inauguration and it was so fun to see her and catch up! That night I drugged myself with cold remedies and fell asleep.

Sunday: My friend Shannon from Maryland and I skipped out on church and went to the inauguration opening ceremonies. We only left about 2 hours early and we were able to get amazing views!  It was at the Lincoln Memorial and was an incredible concert...the line up was so awesome! I was able to see BONO!!,  Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Renee Fleming, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder as well as Tom Hanks, Steve Corell, Jack Black, Denzel Washington and Queen Latifah... just to name a few. The other girls had dinner all ready when we got home which was so nice of them! After dinner we had homemade brownies for dessert and watched a movie to end the night. 

Monday: Today we went to Georgetown and shopped til we dropped. I went a little wild, but I spent wisely... so I was wildly wise.  Georgetown is such a wonderful little town with quaint houses, boutiques and shops.  We went straight from Georgetown to the Capitol and were able to land prime tickets for the inauguration!! I am so excited to go!! I can't believe I am back here during such a historical time! I am witnessing, experiencing, living, breathing history and I am taking it all in! I love this city.

Friday, January 16, 2009

White collar 9 to 5

So here is how my work days go...

7:45 - Wake up

8:30 - head to the metro

8:50- Get to work

9:00-11:00 am- Read every newspaper,website,blog etc. gather news for the daily media clippings on the issues we are focusing on. Usually consists of foreign affairs, World Bank and the IMF. Health issues such as Tuberculosis, AIDS/HIV and articles dealing with our Microcredit Summit Campaign.

11:00-1:00 pm- Work on assignments from my boss Jen

1:00-2:00 pm- Lunch

2:00-5:00- Continue working on assignments/study issues and successes of Results

5:30- Commute home, change into comfy clothes and veg until bed time

Pretty exciting eh? Yeah, who knew how exhausting sitting at a computer all day could be? I kinda drives me crazy cause I don't have the attention span or the patience to sit that long but at least I am working for an incredible cause which makes it all worth it. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Apartment Life

Bla sorry for the ugly start picture of me! I have been home sick all day so thought I decided to make a movie. Sorry for my deep/annoying voice. Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

First day on the job...

You would think that all of us were in kindergarten again when we all had our outfits set out the night before, we all had our lunches packed and we left an hour early. Therefore, I was exhausted, 45 minutes early for work and had a nice meal for lunch.  The top pic is me, the middle is Becky (brunette) and Laurie (blonde) they both work for Sen. Hatch. The bottom pic is of Julie and she works for the Republican Governors Assoc. 

New Member Dessert Night!

On Sunday we went to dessert night put on by the new members commitee. It was so fun and one of the girls was kind enough to pick us up from the metro so we didn't have walk so far, the car was super small and there were seven of us, but we totally fit! Amazing! 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Only in D.C.

Only in D.C. when talking about favorite cookies would a conversation go something like this...

Friend: Have you ever heard of cowboy cookies?
Me: No, what is in them?
Friend: Oh they are so yummy, they have nuts, oatmeal and chocolate chips. Not to mention they are Laura Bush's favorite cookie! 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This sure aint Utah

A world filled with groundhogs, cart escalators, force fields, tennis shoes, small one-way streets and no car for mobility is a lifestyle change that has not happened so gracefully.

Groundhogs: Even though I have yet to ride the Metro, I still watch in imaginative wonder as hundreds of people are moving underneath me with every step I take. It boggles my mind.  How are these tunnels burrowed? How far beneath me are they? How come it's so deep that I can't hear their voices yet they still can breath? Who came up with these underground systems and what were they thinking when they came up with it? Maybe he was just a worm farmer who loved tunnels and thought it would be cool, so he did it for fun and the idea really caught on. I laugh as watch people come up the stairs into the sunlight like as if they are breaking through the earth to a whole new destiny of discovery. What a world.

Cart escalators: I had heard about these, but I had never seen one before. I was totally amazed as I pushed the cart onto it's own mini escalator next the human sized one and it just magically clicked into place and started to make it's journey upward. True brilliance. Let's hear it for two story Target's and the entertainment they provide by supplying a cart escalator.

Force fields: Attention everyone, in the mall right next to the Colombia Heights metro stop there is a force field with strict rules that must not be broken or severe consequences will be thrashed upon all who break them. Upon exiting the building the sign that reads " Do not take shopping carts beyond this point. The self-locking device will be activated," is NO JOKE! I didn't believe it but there truly is a force field to stop shopping carts from leaving the building. Once you step an inch passed that sign with a shopping cart, the wheels lock and there is not hope in moving it again, backwards or forwards. It blows my mind. How does that work? Seriously though. How?

Tennis shoes: I have noticed so many people drenched in designer outfits and entirely decked out in accessories from head to almost toe. However, they are rockin' the classic Nike tennis shoe as footwear and it makes my day to see that. I think it kinda keeps them humble, or I would even go as far to say, grounded ( no pun intended) and makes them seem not quite as untouchable. 

One ways: The driving here is totally different. I have had it way too easy with the super easy grid patterns of Salt Lake and Ogden. All of the roads curve, wind, go from one-way to two-way, from two lanes to one lane and they expect you to understand it. Give me time, maybe someday I will actually know which direction I am heading. 

No wheels, no deal: Grocery shopping tonight proved how off our thinking is more then ever. Becky, Laurie and I filled two carts completely with much needed supplies and groceries to last a month. Totally forgetting the fact that we have carry all of it home instead of just taking it to our car like back home. Even after we did realize it, we still didn't think it would be a big deal. So here we are, two blocks from home, each of us with about 5 bags in each hand and it's raining. We slowly make our ascent and after just a few feet Becky's hands have already turned blue from lack of circulation and my arm has gone numb. After the half-way point a lady kindly tells us that it's ok to take the cart from the store as long as you bring it back, to which we were shocked after our force field experience. We powered through and made it to the lobby of the apartment building with lactic acid built up in our arms and fingers tingling from all of the weight. We dumped all of our bags at the desk and took the luggage cart for the duration of the journey which was only a few feet of ground to cover. We didn't care, we were desperate. Moral of the story: Never again.

Friday, January 9, 2009

One day down...

Oh what a day! After a late night filled with random adventures,  a speedy morning running to get on the road in time and two flights dozing with delirious dreams I made it here to the beautiful city of Washington D.C.  It was a welcome home like none other to fly over all of the beautiful monuments and historic buildings at sunset. After landing and gathering my two huge bags I was off to Van Ness Street, my home sweet home for the next 4 months.

I took a cab ride by an ancient egyptian wise man. 

Checked out my new apartment. Its a way cool two bedroom, two bath place. There is lots of storage, new furniture, a balcony that runs the length of the apartment and every room has giant windows and sliding glass doors that open to the balcony. I did some cleaning, unpacked all of my bags and got all settled in.  

Becky and I ran some errands, ate some delicious food at a fun little cafe across the street called Epicurious. 

I live in such a fun neighborhood, with tons of shops, cafes and not to mention a huge park surrounding. I can't wait to explore and grow in love for the people, places, smells, sights, sounds and beauty of this fabulous city. 

I just found out that Results wants me to work everyday from the office, instead of the part time position they offered me. I am kinda bummed that I won't get as much free time to explore the city but the knowledge gained from working so much will be just as beneficial for my own personal growth. I know it won't be easy these next four months but I am excited to continue in self discovery. 

After a whirlwind day, I am now watching Lady and the Tramp with my roomie and enjoying some butter lovers popcorn. Random I know.. but it's the only movie we have. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 oh my, oh my!

Happy New Years!! Wow, what a year. What a wonderfully crazy year. Here is a little recap of the adventures from 2008!

-Turned the big 20- not a teenager anymore!
- Explored Greece for a week
- Grandma and Grandpa came home from an 18 month stay in Moldova
- Went longboarding in Cali for a day
- Lived in Ecuador for 3 months
-Visited Peru
- Saw my two best friends get hitched and helped with the wedding chaos
-Moved back to the city. I really love SLC.
- Finished my last semester of my undergrad with a load of 21 credit hours
- Was accepted to work as an intern for Results ( a non-profit org) in Washington DC with the Hinckley Institute of Politics
- had a fantastic Christmas surrounded by family and friends

2009 will bring:
-5 months living in the beautiful city of Washington D.C. (Jan-May)
-my 21st birthday on the 21st of January
-Cross-country road trip with my big bro ( Boston to Utah)
- Trips to Ecuador/Peru to visit Annie
-Costa Rica surf trip
-Drivin' the Alaskan Highway with Daddy-o
- London town in the spring
-being a career woman? What do you do when you are not in school? :)

These are all somewhat liquid plans... I will keep you posted on their details as time passes.

So I will back into the blogging scene from January to May at least to keep my family and friends updated on the DC happenings! I am SO excited! Until next time...