Thursday, May 31, 2012

2 states, 1 district, 1 day...e'erday im shuffling!

Since its an hour commute to the workshop everyday, I have to leave the house by 7:45am in order to make it there on time. I told my niece to wake me up when she leaves for school, which is usually around 7am, but today she forgot....forgot....forgot...you know what that means! I woke up at 7:32am, from my nephew entering my room to check if I was awake! According to my him, I jumped outta bed and was dressed and looking fresh even before my feet touched the ground! I dashed to the bus station only to find that the bus was 10 mins late...needless to say, I uttered some horrible words under my breath...


Once I got to Dupont Cirlce metro, I dashed to class, and made it with 1 min left to spare...like a true African! I was pretty tired when I got there, but somehow I seem to always gain an unexpected burst of energy. Classes are quite intense and cover a broad range of topics in development, strategy management and personal belief systems. Beryl Lavinger is out instructor for the first week out of three, and she is by far the most genius person I've ever met. She has a very critical-thinking mind, is able to effectively and efficiently response to questions and comments that float around the room, and always invites class interaction. I feel empowered by her. On the first day we discussed the idea of empowerment; many of us defined it as the ability to make someone realize a greater personal potential. However, [since we all agreed to disagree] she went on to claim that we don't "empower" a person; the person "empowers" himself/herself. All we do is remove the barriers that allow them to empower themselves. Some food for thought I suppose.


After work, I went to networking event that was organised by the DPMI. It was a networking event that invited old DPMI alumns and students studying at the Monterrey Institute in California that were in the DC area. It was a good time as there was, in the words of Sandra Peter, a lot of  "shmoozing". It was quite the event...at a bar downtown, with fancy finger foods and a bar, and tons of chatter in the air! As soon as I entered the room, I caught the eye of someone in a corner at the opposite side of the room. He stared me at me for 5 solid secs...enough to make you feel like you forgot to wipe the toothpaste mark from your face! Anyways, after chatting to a few professionals and getting to hear their story, I decided to head out. As soon as I got downstairs, two classmates, Marsha and Ayane, and that guy comes out. He makes small talk with us, and then pulls me aside. The first thing he says is:" You're not 21, are you?"...and I was like WTF...who is this guy? I reply and ask why that matters to him. What he said next was kinda comical. He told me that everyone who drinks wine in DC is usually older, and that I don't look old at all...and that he could tell I was young because he had a masters in Criminal Justice. I just stood there with a "are you kidding me" look on my face! I guess Mr Paljar was right...some complexes are just too much! :P


Yoga in the park...NBD
I ended up chatting up Mr Sherlock Holmes here, and found his name to be Hassan. He was from Morocco and lived in the states for over a decade now. He decided that city life was too much for him, and lives in the suburbs. He just so happened to be in the bar when the event started. However, from our conversation he told me how he cherishes smaller places that have a sense of being in them as opposed to being lost in bigger  city. Parallel to this, I love living in Decorah, because I can go to big cities like Minneapolis, Rochester, or LaCrosse, but then I can always come back to peace and quiet of my room at Luther College. Life is good after all! This insight was beneficial as it made me tolerate DC a little more, and also excites me for adventures I will have in this place. I have already met with family, and Nick, and feel like its going to be a grand summer!


After that, I went to the closest Starbucks to use their WIFI to check my email, and saw that my friend, Meghan Kousik, was in town and was down to chill. I called her to plan a rendezvous for tonight. She told me to come over to see her place, and so I began the journey from Dupont Cirlce to Georgetown. I decided to walk instead of taking the bus, as this would be more fun, exercise, and a good way to familiarize myself with more of "residential DC". I walked about 14 blocks, through French looking apartments, narrow roads, forest pathways, impressive-looking academic institutions, and M street. M street is know for its hip feeling and crowded roads. It has everything from fancy stores, like Zara, to eateries, like Johnny Rockets! This street leads up to the prestigious Georgetown University. Walking the streets, I got a better sense of "wealth". You see rich people on TV, and you occasionally see a fancy car riding down the road. However, jaguars and X6 BMW were a common sight here; the fashion sense reflected the same. I felt somewhat out of place, but then I realized that I'm just my own person...and hopefully I'll be that rich one day as well! :)


I got to the Key bridge that divides Virginia from DC and this is where I met up with Meghan. She lives in the basement on a student apartment, which houses her and a friend very comfortably. From outside, these Georgetown town houses look small in terms of width and length, but once you go inside, you see how long they are. Anyways, we decided to walk along the Potomac river and just catch up. We must have walked for a good hour and a half because when we stopped to walk back, the sun was set already. There were a lot of helicopters flying around, and Meghan hoped one of them had President Obama in one of them, and jumped to get their attention....yeah...not much luck with that! After walking back to her place, it was time to head back home.


I walked across the bridge from Georgetown, DC, into Arlington, Virginia, to hop onto the orange line at Rosslyn, transfer to the red line at Metro station, and take it all the way to Glenmont. By the time I got to Glenmont, I hadn't realized how late it was. It was 10:45pm. I waited for the # 10 or # C8 bus, but ended up waiting for 20mins. After that, i decided to ask one of the bus drivers, who was just chilling at the station, when the next bus is coming. He told me that the service terminates at 10:30pm...so I just missed it. Oh well...I guess my only option was taking a $10 dollar taxi. However, before I left, He introduced himself to me, Gabriel, and we got to chatting and he asked me where I was from. One of the joys of being from Namibia, is that not a lot of people know where it is! Do you know where it is? Don't cheat now! lol...Anyways, I describe the basic traits of my country to him. I told him about the diversity of languages and cultures within the country, our main minerals and economic assets, and how warm Namibians are. I am very proud to be a Namibian, and love tell others about myself, my country, and discovering new things about the aforementioned. This was quite the way to end my day...


Off to bed! This heat is killing me...and here I thought the weather in the Midwest was extreme...smh!


Cheers

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

8AMs all over again...smh

After spending a semester waking up at 9am for your class, waking up at 8am feels harder than Mission Impossible! However, with a goal to enjoy everyday of this summer, I'm slowly adjusting my biological alarm clock! I tried my best to wake up this morning as my nephew tried to beg me to wake up and walk with him to the bus stop, but after last night's unpacking..I just looked at him, and passed out again! Eish, its hard in this fast paced place. I thought things on Luther College's campus was fast...needless to say, I was sooo wrong! Thank goodness I set my watch 15mins faster, so I could be on time for things!


Today was quite a chilled day! My commute to is about an hour and 5 mins. I have to walk to the bus station, which then takes me to the Glenmont metro station, which I then ride to Dupont Circle. After escalating up what seems like the escalator to heaven [at the Dupont Cirlce metro station], I have another 7min walk to the building in which my workshop is being held. I know realized that this is more a training than a class, and so workshop is a befitting term to refer to it.


In the workshop today, we discussed the creation of tools and items that will help us evaluate and monitor our progress with respect to managing and/or creating projects. These in turn will help us establish a development philosophy which we will use not only in a later sections of the workshop, but also in my [our] professional development fields. This is the first time I'm really dealing with development, and it seemed overwhelming at first. So much time, theory, and human perseverance are needed to keep development programs and projects alive. The difference between a program and a project, is that a project is related the an objective of a program, therefore one program can have many projects. Ill leave it at that for now...don't want y'all dozing off or something!


Escalator at Rosslyn Metro...must be like 10 floors!
I got to meet up with Nick Mozena, who is interning at a pretty important financial organisation in Capital Hill. Just now that is fancy! It is always nice to know someone in the area, and this time was no exception. After the workshop, I walked to Farragut West and took the orange line to Rosslyn and met him there.We decided to prepare a welcome dinner so we had to go grocery shopping! He lives in a pretty good area, with the Metro right outside his door, a SafeWay accross the block, and sweet aerial view of a part of Arlington, VA! We prepared a pasta dish, with sauteed onions, garlic and tomatoes in Preggo, and a fresh salad. Way to end a day! Before I knew it, it was almost 10pm...time to head out!


On the red line from Metro station to Glenmont station, I decided to go through with my blog resolution, and I sat next to a random man. We assumed he worked in the military, because he was in full army gear. I went on to ask if he had a good day and he responded with a tentative head nod. As he turned his head to look out the window, I caught sight of his last name on his hat: Paljar. I recall passing through the state of Gujarat, India, and seeing that name somewhere, and without thinking about it I asked him where he was from. Surprisingly he told me that he was from Gujarat, but works in the states. I then went on to tell him of my Indian experiences, and the places I had visited. He was pretty impressed, and was even more so when I started speaking [broken] Hindi to him. For the next 20 minutes we talked about are initial experiences with "America" and how DC is a pretty crazy city when you live here for more than a year or so. Coming from the midwest, I am accustomed to a friendly environment, and also feel overwhelmed when I come to the east as there is a more "individualistic" environment feel. Many people have this assumption, but Mr Paljar interpreted this difference in social norms differently. He feels that it is not necessarily a social norm, but more a personal thing. Everyone has a different psychological complex, and therefore only communicate with those who share the same complex. This makes them keep to themselves when they don't feel that connection. This is evident in the train, bus, and airports. It was great being able to converse about this and see it at the same time. By no means should this be seen as a bad thing, but as different way of living. We all strive for identity...I guess we just go about it differently in different places.


And with that, I ended up at the Glenmont station, and took the bus home. Walking back home, I was able to reflect on my day, and see how fun it was. Even though I enjoy being in a smaller town, I feel that this change is good...after all, it is inevitable! So live and let live!



Monday, May 28, 2012

Summertime... #leggo

Well it's that time of the year again when every college student goes into lazy mode for 90 days! Personally, it couldn't have come sooner. With academic pressures and such, it was good to feel the "ITS DONE!!!" breeze after my last final. This has truly been a year of self discovery, maturing, and just having fun experiencing life. I often wondered about that latter part; was I truly having fun experiencing life? After some self reflection, I came to the conclusion that everything in life happens for a reason, and you just gotta enjoy the ride...rain or sunshine!


NANDOS CHICKEN...nuff said!

With that, I kick start this blog! I hope to keep it updated as often as possible. Being a college student and all, we all know how hard it is to do such things, so just bear with me people. This summer I will be partaking in a development program in Washington, DC, at the Development Program Management Institute. This is my first time dealing in the field of development, and thus makes me nervous for the experiences and weeks to come. After that I will travel, via Paris, to Namibia aka home, where I will enjoy a moderate winter...and reminisce on the December days in lovely Decorah, Iowa....just kidding...I don't miss the cold one bit! Following this, I will drive down to Cape Town, South Africa, for an 8 week internship at the Children's Radio Foundation in downtown Cape Town. I feel that this will be a grand experience not only personally, but professionally as well!


While thinking of ideas as an addition to this blog, I was thinking of taking an interesting photo everyday with my newly purchased Sony camera (happy summer present to me...lol), and seeing how it fits in with my day. This idea soon became kinda boring, as I don't think I'll have enough patience to think about all that on a daily basis (thanks junior year...at least you taught me how to prioritize!). Then I thought...since this is going to be an intense summer for me, taking me out of my comfort zone and such, why not play along that theme and do something personally beneficial. Freshman year, I made a resolution to visit 25 states before I graduate, with the purpose of not only seeing the country, but also getting to see what types of people reside in this country. I've come across many types and flavours of people, and thought that since I'm going international this summer, why not continue. Therefore, everyday I intend to meet one new person...initiate a simple conversation...and ask a set of general question (adjusted for each conversation of course) and hope to find similarities and differences between the people I meet and places they come from. I love meeting new people, and I feel this will be a fun way to go about it. All information will be censored for general security, but a good overview of the day will be made.


And with that...day one begins!


Cheers