Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not for the faint of heart....

Would you believe me if I told you...

-there is a war being fought right now taking the lives of more people save WWII?

- more then 6 million people (and counting) have died in this war over a mineral used in our first world cell phones and laptops?

- this is not a traditional war; not only are men fighting against men, but they are using sexual terrorism as weapon?

-some 500,000 women have been brutally raped and battered beyond recognition?

-these women are not only raped but it is done in front of entire communities, their family and when they are done they practically rip their organs from inside of them, yet the psychological damage is more frightening then the physical?

-some of these women end up with fistulas which cause them to constantly leak urine and makes them outcasts of any village, form of transportation, social event or school?

-these are women of ALL ages?

-these corrupt rebels are attacking the women so badly that it is not only affecting the women lives but it is affecting the generations?

Would you believe me if I told you....

-there is one man Dr. Mukwege who has created a sanctuary for these women in the midst of this bloody war?

-his clinic is entirely free of charge?

-he treats at least 10 women a DAY who have been sexually terrorized?

-each day more and more women come with worse cases to be handled?

-his clinic has no guards, security or protection because the women are so scared of all men, especially ones with weapons no matter how good their intentions are?

- Dr. Mukwege's clinic has been under attack several times and his life is on the line on a daily basis?

-he continues to re-build the clinics and never stops treating these battered women?

Would you believe me if I told you...

I met him.

This is real war taking place in the D.R. Congo, where 70% of all coltan is found which is used in our laptops and cell phones. The rapings and village massacres are taking place in the areas rich in coltan because the rebel groups want to sell the mineral to wealthy companies who need it. How is it that most people have never heard of this war? How is it that it is not covered on all media circuts? Why is it that we don't care, when we are the ones feeding the fire?

Here I am on the my soapbox again...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday

How did I not know about this grand day of celebration before this year? I knew about carnival and Mardi Gras but I didn't know all of the amazing food that is used in the celebrations. According to custom, during the 40 days and 40 nights of Lent you are to give up foods rich in milk, sugar, eggs and meat, hence the reason why everyone parties and eats up beforehand.

Here is a list of the food I plan to eat today to join in the celebration:

Pancakes: Today is known as Pancake Tuesday among Anglicans,Lutheran and other Protestant denominations because it is customary to eat pancakes on this day. (although, not the classic buttermilk pancakes, these ones are slightly thicker then a crepe)

Doughnuts: Another food given up for Lent for it's sugary content.

Fastnacht: For German American populations today is known as Fastnacht day. A Fastnact is made from fried potato dough and served with dark corn syrup.

Malasada: Hawaiians use up their butter and sugar to help curb temptation by making large batches of doughnuts called Malasada

Semla: The Swedish fill their sugar craving with a traditional pastry that is a sweet bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream, served with a bowl of hot milk. YUM!

King Cake: a ring of twisted bread, topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple green and gold with food coloring. Some varieties have filling inside, also inside the cake is a small plastic baby (said to represent the baby Jesus) and the person who finds the baby is declared king or queen for the day!

We have ordered our King Cake from a local bakery, have the pancake mix and homemade doughnuts ready to go at home, thus we are going to get fat on Fat Tuesday! Join in the celebration and eat up!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Corporate Tools

Early Saturday I woke up with wide-eyed wonder as to what lay ahead later that day. I knew I was prepared; I had my resume printed, my business suit neatly pressed and I knew exactly how to get to the Washington Conference Center. I was about to embark on a wonderful journey through the "Adventures in Travel Expo." I was so excited to think of all of the travel agencies, publishers, adventure gear companies, and over-landing groups that would be there. I wanted so badly to blow everyone away with my knowledge, traveling history and savvy personality.  I had some hits with tour guiding agencies for students and young adults, but other then that it was a complete let-down. 

The ultimate frustration came from a man who proved to me the disgusting aspect of being a corporate tool. Every sentence out of his mouth was filled with " I am only in it for the money and I could care less what you or anyone else has to say." He was an influential man with an extremely popular and prominent travel company. I spoke with him about changing the interests of the company from luxury upper-class travel, to eco-friendly, global economic sustaining travel.Also, from changing the shows from Europe and Caribbean centered to Africa, Asia and South American travel. As I professionally, yet passionately told him how much of a response it would gain from the budget, backpacking, eco-conscience scene for about 20 minutes, his response was " I have had this pitched to me a thousand times and I still don't care."  I was so struck with complete disappointment. I was not hurt by the fact that he didn't feel inspired to hire me on as the new CEO or that my comments didn't and won't make a difference, it was just amazing to me how he never will care about the things that I am so passionate about.  He then pointed me in the direction of National Geographic and PBS who are more " my type" as he called me.

I truly am passionate about traveling. However I am more passionate about advocating for a better world. The travel industry is huge, and they have a huge amount of influence on travelers. All it takes is one good picture of one beautiful beach and people are booking their flights to the most remote island in the Caribbean, with which they have no idea what they are getting themselves into. I wish all it would take is one picture of a fruit stand in South Africa benefitting from the purchases of first world customers or the beautiful culture, religion, local flavor and inspiring beauty of third world Thailand by a picture of an HIV/AIDS clinic run by volunteer ex-pats. I wish it was appealing for people to stay in local hotels rather then corporate resorts.  Although I know it would be a dream to make some sort of a career out of my ideologies, I am brave enough to understand it's limits and realities. I will live it no matter where my river runs, even at times it may be rocky, the point is that I'm willing to ride the waves no matter how many corporate tools I may collide with. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Long weekend leads to a long week

Tourist attractions I can now check off my list because of this weekend: (most I have already been to)
-Lincoln Monument
-Washington Moument
-WWII Memorial
-Jefferson Monument
-White House
- Capitol
- Union Station
-Holocaust Museum
-Sculpture Garden
-National Gallery
-Arlington Cemetary
-Old Town Alexandria
-Busboys and Poets
-Woodley Park Area
- and I ran into Senator Harry Reid at church on Sunday! Only in DC....

It was a whirlwind of a weekend with an extra day off but now this week has seemingly dragged on for what seems like ages! However, it's Friday and I have another full weekend planned which will hopefully bring some job opportunities so I can afford to live here until I decide to move onto new adventures. Why not?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


As I stand at the printer for hours making photo copies, stuffing envelopes which inveitably give me paper cuts and set-up lunches for the staff meetings; I become bitter towards the work that I am doing in such an influential organization. I feel like I am being under-challenged and am almost offended by being looked down upon. I am unable to voice how I feel for fear of losing my job, or sounding bratty and egotistical.

However, this morning when doing my daily article search I was struck as I read articles of war-torn countries where basic human rights are being stripped from people, or even worse, have never been instated in their country. Places where children are taken from their beds and forced to do unthinkable, mentally debilitating acts of violence. Places where women are made to be slaves to corrupt men. Places where people have no choice which leads them to act in ways they never have before because it's a fight for their lives.

I would much rather have my job on the line, not my life. I would much rather have to staple paper together, then be forced into military actions filled with unspeakable vulgarity. I would much rather be under-challenged, then struggle for my life. Perspectives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lago de Anna

I have found heaven on earth and it is tucked in a sleepy little town dubbed Mineral Virginia. Imagine waking up to the sunrise reflecting over a beautiful lake that is as smooth as glass while you lay in the most comfortable "feather" bed. After which you drift back to sleep until your heart is content. There are no alarm clocks, cars honking, sirens blaring or buildings blocking the sun, there is nothing but pure solitude. When you do wake up, your amazing friends have made homemade waffles with strawberrys, bananas, whipped cream and maple syrup. After your stomach is so full you lazily walk to your own private dock and lay in the sun while reading a fantastically mindless novel. Once the sun is setting, yoga takes place that far surpasses all yoga sessions previous. Come night time, you eat some incredible food, swap funny stories, take a dip in the hot tub and watch a movie while curled up next to the blazing fire. Repeat that for 2 days solid and you have one of the most perfect weekends spent on earth.

Thank you so much Crowley family for letting us 7 girls have a taste of heaven by letting us use your lake home! It truly is paradise and the memories created there will never be forgotten.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thank you Mr. Groundhog

Dear Mr. Groundhog,

Thank you very much for predicting the weather to stay cold and gloomy for yet another 6 weeks. People from all corners of these United States have trusted in your ever so detailed sense of sight and therefore, have gained an immense amount of faith in you.

Since your debut on February 2nd, there has not been one alteration made to the wintery lifestyle we have become accustomed to these past 4 months. I must say though, Mr. Groundhog, that you miscalculated this year, for you forgot to factor in the phenomenon of global warming.

Now, because of you, I have the pure delight of enjoying the spectacle I have deemed " winter denial." My gratitude is overflowing when on my stroll in the 70 degree weather that I get to see a baseball cap, winter blue business dress, white cotton socks, Nike tennis shoes with neon orange laces and a fur coat that hits at the ankle all adorning one person. Mornings have become much more stressful for the American people who now have to factor in every season when dressing for the morning commute which creates quite a sight to behold.

Keep up the good work old friend.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Utah Pride...

I'm so proud of my little hometown newspaper the Standard Examiner. They printed an editorial about the work we are doing here at the Microcredit Summit Campaign. It's incredible to think that work being achieved here has made it's importance known across the globe through small-town newspapers and editorials which are being written as fast as they are being printed. Bravo Utah, keep it up!
(here is the link in case you are interested in reading it)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mac N' Cheese, Intercourse, Chocolate and War

On Thursday, Shannon invited all of us girls up to her house in Maryland for a homecooked meal and some much needed R&R. Our assignment was to make some dessert, so we whipped out some brownie mix and started baking. About 15 minutes had passed when we could smell burning, which was impossible since we had clearly just put it in. We checked the oven and sure enough it was charred to a crisp. Note to self: check to make sure the oven is not on "broil" when making brownies. We ditched the brownies, grabbed another mix, took the box with us to bake later and jumped on the metro. Shannon made the most amazing homemade Mac N' Cheese, we were able to meet her wonderful parents and relax while watching a movie on a TV that is bigger then 12 inches! It was so much fun and plans for future slumber parties are in the works.

Weekend trips are always an adventure and this one was no less. Our Friday night was a bit slow with some delivered pizza and chatting til all hours of the morning, however, we were resting for our long day ahead.

Saturday morning we were out the door by 7:30 and on our way to the airport to pick up our mini-van. One of my dear friends, Hilary, joined us so we had a full car. I'm positive it was quite a sight to behold when 7 girls show up to rent themselves a mini-van so they can go see the Amish and eat chocolate all day.

Soon we were on our way, with a quick pit stop at Target to buy an ipod adapter. First off, thank heavens for a GPS. We would have been so lost getting there. We were out in the open land, small country roads and quaint little towns. It was so nice to get some fresh and enjoy the space, but we would have been so lost without our GPS.

First stop: Intercourse Pennsylvania, a town where all of the Amish live. We explored the little shops, decorated ginger-bread men and ate some Amish food. The best part of the town was the horse and buggy trip we took with Aaron, our tour guide. When we pulled into the parking lot where the tour began Mama Lisa got out to do the negotiating.... the converstation went something like this:
" Do you have time to take 7 of us on a tour?"
"yes of course!"
" Can we all fit in there?"
" Well how many kids ya got back there?"
" I have 7 of them, but they are all my size!" haha

Aaron taught us all about the Amish way of life and cracked some hilariously dry jokes. Now I can say that I toured Intercourse with an Amish man named Aaron... Oh the Intercourse jokes never get old!

We then were off to check out the Wilbur Chocolate factory which was somewhat of a disappointment but the chocolate tasted good. But the real fun began when we went to Hershey Chocolate world and went a ride in a giant Hershey's kiss through the choclate making process. After that, we became certified chocolate factory workers ( I have the hat to prove it) and drink milkshakes. What could be better for 7 girls?

On our way home we checked out the battleground of Gettysburg at night. It was super creepy and only lasted 10 minutes which was way better then the last time I went... last time was 13 people, 1 Suburban, 3 hour long tape and 100 degree weather in 100% humidity.

When we finally got back to the rental car place, we were tired, anxious to get home and the gas tank was empty. Turns out they charge $7 a gallon when the rental place fills up your tank. Angelic Laurie, the sweetest girl around, transformed into this sassy business woman and fought with the receptionist until she got it down to $1.79 a gallon! When she wants something, she gets it and she proved her attitude that night, it was hilarious! Good thing she was there. Lesson learned.