Wednesday, June 27, 2012

To new beginnings…

Saturday was here, and when I woke up, John told me that it was quarter to six….PM! I almost collapsed in bed from disbelief! However, I had to get myself out of bed, as I had to attend my sister Patricia’s birthday party. She and her co-worker share June birthdays, and decided to hold a small get-together. She only invited friends and a few family members and so did her co-worker. I made the guest list I suppose, but I guess it’s just because I’m the last born, and she never partied with me :P. John came with me and we had a BBQ at the party. It was great to eat authentic Namibian BBQ meat again…there’s just something unique about it, even my Ashley and O’Brien who live in DC agree. McDonald’s chicken just doesn’t cut it, not does Red Lobster! It was a merry night of drinks, food and great company! The night ended pretty late, but I had to get back, as I had to pack and head to church in about 6 hours.

Something interesting that I found in a DC metro
My mother woke me up for church and I got ready. I used to wear black and white, but this time I decided to relax and go in a grey sweater and blazer. When I got to church, the choir master told me that during one of the hymns in the service, I was going to sing a solo. I was caught off guard by this, but couldn’t really refuse the offer as I knew the piece very well. It was entitled “Come ye disconsolate”. As I was singing, this piece really spoke to me, as it made me remember that whatever troubles and joys I go through, to always lay it before the Lord. Over the years, I have decreased in my level of religiousness, but I believe that I have been blessed with this life, and for that I thank God.
Table Mountain

After service, I met up with my close church bud, Wilhelm, and went home with home. It’s always a pleasure visiting his home, as his parents are so chilled, which makes for a very enjoyable environment. I caught up with them, and we had lunch: Lamb curry and rice! Will’s mom is the one who taught me to bake, and love doing it from time to time. I also met Sheila, Will’s sister and good friend of mine. It was nice chilling with them for the afternoon, but I had to get back home and finish packing. Yes, I had to pack again after just getting back home. After packing and watching The Karate Kid with my twin nephews, I was off to the bus station with my sister faith. We had to meet the 5:30PM InterCape bus to Cape Town. I was heading down to Cape Town, South Africa, for a 2 month internship at the Children’s Radio Foundation. We got on the bus, and got settled in. I think I have finally caught up on my blog. This bus trip lasts about 22 hours…so the next time you hear from me…it’s going to be from the mother city aka CAPE TOWN! WHOOP WHOOP!

Hope all is well with you, and that you are enjoying the weather where ever you find yourself today J

Home sweet home…

The plaque at Maurice Durufle's apartment

Ubi Caritas et Amor, Deus Ibi Est….this is a song the choir I participate in, Collegiate Chorale, sang as part of our yearly repertoire. Little did I know how much this song would mean to me when I first sang it for the first time. In choir, I sit next to Seth Duin and we both initially commented on how powerful this song sounded when we the harmony came together through the unity of all the voices. It was truly touching. However, when I went to Paris for January term 2012 (the month of January is considered a semester on its own), I was fortunate enough to visit Maurice Durufle’s apartment; he is the composer of the aforementioned choral piece. It truly was an honor to see the original manuscript of this piece, and see where he composed this song. On my way home, I had a layover in Paris for about 12 hours, and this was one of the places I went to visit; his apartment. I couldn’t go inside, but outside stands a sign stating that this was Maurice Durufle’s apartment. I instantly reminisced to the great times I had with the Collegiate Chorale, especially spring tour; the friends I made, the places I’ve been to, and the night shenanigans I was up to at a restaurant downtown (only Chihiro and Reuben, my Japanese and New Zealand high school mates respectively, will know this)! On his Monday morning, it was great then strolling onto the street where I spent the month of January, and also cruising along the metro around Paris. I felt like a true tourist! I went to the Roland Garros stadium, but was refused admittance because the museum just closed. I then went to the Eiffel Tour with the intension of going all the way to the top, as it was a truly lovely day, but the line was longer than the line in the cafeteria when the Dorians are around (basically the kind of line you don’t want to wait in). I decided to take my photographic memories, and head to the Arc de Triomph. Fortunately I was able to climb that instead, and there I met Juan Carlos. He was from Mexico, but was touring through Europe for a while. I finally met someone who loves travelling as much as me. It was nice to see how organized he was with locations and such, but still had a sense of uncertainty to how he was going to experience these places, and experience the act of travelling. I don’t really know how to clearly explain this, as it is an internal thing. However, I’m glad I made the effort to introduce myself to him and experience the top of the Arc de Triomph with him.

I finally found it...

This is the book I found in the Shakespeare And Company Bookstore...memories

Local Crepe maker in Rue Mouffetard, the street I lived on when I visited Paris in January.
Best bar owner in Rue Mouffetard: Thierry!

It was Monday night, and I was soon on a plane home, and sitting next to me on the largest airplane in the world, the Airbus A380, was Byron from Cape Town. It was great to talk to him about my soon to come experiences and just life in general. His reasoning and conversation skills were quite admirable, and we talked for almost about 4 hours of the flight. Similar to the liberal arts, he made me critically question and think about the experiences I was having and was about to have, and see how I want these to contribute to my future. As he put it:” Some sense of certainty never killed anybody”! Next thing I knew, I was in Johannesburg! When I land on Tuesday morning, I went for breakfast at the NewCafe, as I always do, as they have great burgers and McDonald’s-like chips/fries. My flight back home was soon after and before I know it, I was landing in Windhoek. The butterflies in my stomach were going…I don’t even know why! I guess there’s just something about being home after such a long time that kind of gets you going. I got out of the airport…and met my sisters. It was great to see family again; words cannot even describe the feeling. I got the chance to show of my driving skills by driving home, which was kind of scary as I’ve been driving on the right side of the road for a while, and had to switch instantly to the left side of the road. I’m sure my sister’s clicked their seat belts in for sure!

Me overlooking Windhoek....

We got home, and I got to meet the rest of my family, like my mother, father, and nephews. It was nice seeing them again after a year of just skype. However, I had to rest up as tonight there was a Luther College function happening at one of Windhoek’s fancy hotels. I made sure to be dressed appropriately, as I know Ann Peterson was going to be there lol, but she didn’t know I was going to be there. My family and I got to the function and all the Luther people were glad to see me, as was I. I was glad to see Ethan Schultz and Greg Peterson there, as they are probably the closest people I know in this group. However, through conversations and such, I got to know Ann Highum, the Millers, and Josh Martin-Schramm a little better. It was such an interesting experience catching up with them as I just saw them about a month ago on campus in America. Now Dr. Peterson was buying me a drink in Namibia…I love such experiences: meeting friends in different places.

It was a great night, but we retired as the night was going on late. Wednesday, I decided to meet up with the group after a church service. I met them at a place called Joe’s Beer House, which is a Windhoek Landmark! I got to hang out with the Luther group, and catch up a little. Unfortunately, when I arrived, the group was getting ready to head out. I asked if anyone wanted to stay behind for a last drink, and Ethan and Dr. Peterson stayed. We had a couple more drinks, and decided to head out because Ethan had to go skype with his girlfriend, Liz. I would have kept Ethan longer, but I know Liz, and she is a pretty cool gal, so it was all good. I fortunately borrowed my dad’s Prado, and could give them a ride back to their hotel. However, I decided to share with them a little bit of Windhoek. I took them to one of my favorite spots in the city where you could see a lit landscape of the city. It was a marvelous view, and I know they both enjoyed it as much as I have over the years. It was great to share this experience with them as one doesn’t get the chance to show others a part of his life, every day. I then drove them back to their hotel and headed home…I was truly content J!

Thursday came and I tried to connect with some of my friends. I was fortunate enough to get through to my friends Angelo and Lev, but I could not connect with Angelo. During the night Lev came to pick me up and we went to a place called “Chill Out”, which was a calm place for enjoying oneself, if you know what I mean. I got to meet Tino, Giovanni and Eldan; Lev, Angelo, Eldan and Tino are going to Cape Town in July and I will hopefully connect with them, but that’s for a later blog entry. The night went pretty well, and it was nice to hang out with “bras”. After this, I am sure that my Cape Town experience, which I will talk about later, is going to be “live” aka pretty good!
My brother, John, and I

On Friday, I was supposed to catch up with Lev, but unfortunately woke up 2PM; so much for jetlag! However, at night I went to my best friend Skippy’s place to chill with him and some other friends. MY childhood friend Benny was there, too, and it was great catching up with him as well. We split into 2 teams and played 30 Seconds, which is a game where you choose a card and have to describe all its contents within 30secs. It was a fun game to play as the creativity was at an all-time high! My cousin, Jason, then rang me up and told me to come to this club called Pharaohs. I never heard of this place, but fortunately got there after some direct directions. I just have to mention that navigation is one of my strengths. Upon getting to the club, I saw that it was some swanky place, but I didn’t really care if I fit the dress code of not. I went in and found him. It was great seeing him again. From how the next five minute conversation with him went, I know it was not only going to be an interesting night, but a SUNRISE aka party till the sun rises and is nice and warm. I’ve never “sunrise”, so I was in for a surprise. As I was dancing and such, I thought of my brother, and called him to come join us. He agreed, and I sped off to pick him up from his place. We entered Pharaohs again, but with my brother to my side, I felt like a boss…like a bigger man…a feeling I always get in the presence of my brother, John. As we made our way to the bar, I caught a glimpse of someone who looked very familiar. It was the manager, and it was a girl I know from high school, Ina. I came around to greet her, and she recognized me too.  It was good catching up with her, as she was on the girl’s tennis team back in high school in Namibia. I was often inspired by the way she played, as she would win many a tournament. I would have loved to catch up with her more, but my cousin Jason signaled it was time to go aka next bar. We then drove to a VIP lounge called Chez Ntemba VIP. It was a bit difficult to get in, but when we did, I made sure to tear up the dance floor. House music was in the air, and I didn’t spare a second to stand idle! Jason once again gave the signal and then we drove to the newly erected Hilton Hotel in downtown Windhoek, and went to the club at its base: El Cubano. This was even swankier than Pharaohs. I enjoyed seeing how people interacted in not only an intoxicated state, but a state where people were aware of each other’s statuses as well. For example, the girls would only dance with guys who wore blazers, and guys without blazers would be to the side, drinking and doing their own thing. This pattern was rarely broken, but when it was, that interaction was even more exciting to see. Sometime in our live, we all do people-watching, so don’t judge! Once we went outside, we saw that the sun was rising…just then my stomach spoke to me:” Sam, you know what to do!!!! (GROWL)”, and I told John and Jason it was time to bounce. Jason then took us to a breakfast joint that seemed to be owned by the owner of Pharaoh. I guess they did adequate market research to notice that their intoxicated customers love to sunrise, but need food after that. So we had breakfast at this place…and English breakfast to be exact, because that is the best sunrise food you can ever have…EVER!! Just fyi!

My days in Windhoek were numbered, but read on in my next blog entry…thanks for reading this far, by the way! 

Time [really] flies…

The last week of my DPMI experience was here and it was time for wrap it up! We were given the task of choosing an international organization, do a quick study on it and be ready to present it. The focus on the presentation was to present the organizations in a manner that addressed the “Girl Effect”.  This refers to the positive effects that result from increase a girl’s standards of living around the age of 12. Through research conducted by the Nike Foundation, the Girl Effect is one that is lacking in developing countries, and should be looked at as a viable development tool. I grouped up with a partner and became TechnoServe: an organization that deals with social entrepreneurship and/or capacity building. In the end, we grouped up with two more organization groups and came up with a program and project which we could implement in Senegal. I benefited a lot from the balance between theory and practice in this course.  Even though I would become frustrated with not being able to do the work properly, at the end of the day I would walk away with valuable information. 

Nando's in Chinatown

Wednesday I decided to head home early, as I was worn out from the 3 weeks of epic classes. This was the first time that I had headed home this early as well. On the bus home, I met Michael, who was a personal trainer at a gym in Wheaton. Even though he was buff, he had a humble face. He talked about success as a tangible thing…we just have to go out and touch it. The way he phrased it makes me hopeful that I can and will be something one day, as long as I work hard at it. Nevertheless, with that said I literally passed out as soon as I got home and woke up the next day at 4am! Got to get my beauty sleep or something!

Thursday was a chilled day, as the weather turned out superb, and class was as fun as usual. After class today, I hung out with Juan and a couple other classmates, at the hotel, and just unwinded. The week was almost over, and that meant the end of the program, so we all hung out as much as we could. We went to dinner at this place on Connecticut Avenue called “Tomate”; a small Italian restaurant with amazing bread and risotto! I was so satisfied after, that the ride back home felt like it took ages; I felt so sleepy and tired at the same time! Fortunately I made it back in one peace, only to find my niece and nephew doing karaoke on their home system…so I had to join them. I was shocked when I saw that they had golden oldies by Kayci and Jojo, Craig David, etc. Needless to say, I rocked the mike (the tv remote), and headed to bed after!

Friday was finally here and the class presentations were due! From looking around at the organizational alliances formed and the quality of the presentations, I can safely say I learnt a lot from not only the materials taught, but also my classmates. We all know how it is to work in a group: power dynamics come into play and conflict can easily arise. However, through various strategies, such as appointing a group facilitator and process manager, we overcame most of their issues. And with that, I successful finished the Development Project Management Institute course offered by the Monterey Institute, which is a graduate school of Middlebury College. Speaking of Middlebury College, Gabriela and I were fortunate enough to catch up, this afternoon, with a good friend of mine from high school in India. His name is Redwan, and he’s from Bangladesh. It is always nice to meet up with old friends and briefly catch up.
At Potbelly with Redwan and Gabriela

With that, we had to do the last day together some justice. We went out into Dupont Circle, and found an enchilada joint, and enjoyed some good good GOOD enchiladas. My taste buds dictated the latter part of the previous sentence. After that, we got some drinks and headed back to the hotel, turned on some music and danced the night away. I’m glad about how close I’ve gotten to my classmates, and I think these friendships will stand the test of time. It was such a jolly night and one could see that everyone really enjoyed themselves. Later on in the night, I glanced at my watch and saw that if I didn’t leave immediately, I would miss the last train home. Therefore, those of us who take the metro home, rounded up out stuff and bee-lined to the metro station. We made it in time, and I got home in one peace…that was one thing I wouldn’t miss though: the trek back home every day! Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on this side of town and made great memories. I have to say though that I’m glad I could share my memories with you all.

I was planning on staying at the hotel Friday night, but had to take the last train back because I had promised my niece and nephew I would take them somewhere they’d never been to yet. So with tickets purchased the night before, and the hotel room booked the morning of departure, we made our way to Union Station in DC to catch the bus to New York City. As soon as I told them where I was taking them, their faces lit up like Marine Drive in Bombay, India, at night. O’Brien, my nephew, was packed and ready to go with in 5mins after I told them, and Ashley, my niece, was scrambling to find her best pair of sneakers to show off in NYC. I was just looking at all this unfold before me, and couldn’t help but laugh for a good 10mins after. Unfortunately, since I got back home late the night before, we woke up slightly late, and when we got to Union Station, we had missed out 10am bus. We waited in the stand- by line for about 2 hours before getting a bus; we didn’t mind though, as long as we could go to NYC.


When we got in, we found our hotel, which was located just off Time Square, which was perfect as a lot of the attractions I wanted to show them were close by. We got settled in, and went to the Double Decker city tour bus place and got onto one and had a 2 hour tour of NYC. We got to go around Manhattan and Brooklyn, and got some good snaps taken. As an uncle, it was really humbling to see the excitement on the kids’ faces as the agreed that one would take photos and the other videos. Coming to this agreement was somewhat shocking to see, as they can never agree upon one thing! We got back to Time Square, and headed to the Rockefeller Centre were we got tickets to go to the observatory on the 68th floor. Going up the elevator was awesome because the roof of the elevator was glass, so one could witness how fast and how high the elevator was going. I’m sure if Jaye was in this elevator, she would be holding on tight to the side, and take in a huge gulp as well :P Anyways, once we got to the top, we  were blown away from the breathtaking view of NYC at night. If I’m correct, we could see as far as Staten Island, and had a great aerial view of Time Square as well. This was the building that had the famous photo of a bunch of builders balancing themselves on a steel bar hundreds of feet above the ground. It was a great experience to see this! Once we got down, we went to the Regal Imax cinema, and watched Madagascar 3 in 3D, which I fell asleep too, but was the best movie ever according to O’Brien and Ashley.  With a late night McDonald’s run, and an Italian Sausage off the street, we made our way back to the hotel. We were all tired and passed out within minutes of lying down on the bed. We awoke the next morning, and headed to meet our 10am bus near Time Square. What a great ending to our NYC adventures.

From the top of the Rockefeller Building. NYC baby!

As soon as I got back to the house, I had to pack up and get ready to head out. I grabbed my stuff left and right, and just threw them into the suitcase. Very typical of me, some of you might say…but hey, old habits die hard. As soon as I was ready, I took a taxi to Takoma station in order to get a haircut before I left. Luckily my barber, Tony, was ready for me, and I got a cut and headed out to Rosslyn. I made it just in time in order to make the bus to the Dulles International Airport and was the last one to board the plan. I tried calling Oket, my roommate, and other friends, but my cellphone’s battery HAD to die…Murphy’s law! I boarded the plan and calmed myself from all the close-cutting that just happened. As I got to my seat, I saw that I was seated at the window of a 3 seat row. I kindly asked the men if I could get in and they obliged. As I got seated, I introduced myself to them, and they introduced themselves as Allen and Ken. Allen was a South African, and we shared some words in Afrikaans. Ken was a professor of Music at a music school in Baltimore, and we conversed about being a music educator. This goes out to Patrick O’keefe and anyone else pursuing music education: KEEP ON! You’ll make a big difference in some kids life one day! Allen was Ken’s student and they created a bond because of the musical culture that Ken had instilled in Allen. They were on their way to France in order to tour what they called “The art of music: the French edition”.  The rest of the flight was occupied by inflight movies, but that little lesson I had just learned about a life filled with music will never leave me!

As much as I want to continue, I feel this is enough for one blog entry! Read the next blog entry to follow my next week into France and Namibia.  J  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I ordered a SMALL drink, not a litre of Pepsi...eish!

Its Monday, and I'm feeling good! Got a ride into DC today, while blasting PARTY ROCK!!! yeah, I guess that's how we roll! Traffic in DC is not as bad as I thought it would be. Even more surprising is the fact that I could actually navigate myself from home --> class without a GPS. Its sad how dependent we've become on technology. We need GPS's to get home nowadays, we constantly need our phones on us because we can't remember numbers by heart anymore! Interesting!
Anat Cohen Quartet at Sixth and I, DC.

Upon leaving class on Thursday, as I approached the Dupont Circle Metro, I heard my name being called out from behind me. When I looked back, someone was running up to me. I'm from small town Iowa, so I didn't know who would be calling my name from afar. When the person got closer, I saw that it was Amanda Lanzillo. She went to school with me in India, and now was a student at Georgetown University in DC. It was a shock to see her, because I visited DC for spring break, and wanted to visit my friends at Georgetown: Amanda and another friend from Pakistan, Sikander. Sikander was in the area, but Amanda was in Tajikistan. So she had just gotten back from her semester abroad and had just got back to DC. Good times!
Meeting Amanda, randomly, in DC

This past week was DC Jazz Fest week, with some great jazz performances around town. Stephanie, a friend from Namibia, invited me to one of the concerts she was going to, and I was surprised with who the artist was. Her name is Anat Cohen, an inspirational jazz clarinetist and saxophonist from Israel. I stumbled upon her while studying music in India, but found out more about her freshman year! It was a great experience to get to see her live; especially in such a great acoustic space, Sixth and I (a Synagogue). Following that, we went to a place called Clyde, a chilled restaurant in Chinatown. We had Oyster and the good life ;) Getting home was quite the trek, as usual, but it was nice to reflect on my love for music. Its been a while since I've played the organ or even sang in art song; but whenever music comes on, it is quite a sensational feeling I cannot describe.

Oysters at Clyde's
Friday started out well, with a relaxed commute to school. It was the last day of our facilitation module, and ended on a pretty good note. I feel like I gained a lot on interpersonal skills, and feel good about myself as an intermediate facilitator! After class, I headed home to change and head back down to Fort Totten Metro Station, where I met a classmate, Naizgi, from Eritrea. He came to pick me up so we could go to a class get-together at another classmate, Ayane's, place! His ride is too cool, so I basically felt like a boss with the windows purposefully rolled down and rolling down the highways. We got to Ayane's house, and were one of the first to arrive. Soon after, the rest arrived! It was such a great night. One of my classmates, Susanne, helped produce the series "Californication". I was just blown away, because that is one of my favorite series! Wonders will never cease :P It was such a great night, and an even better bonding experience. I've gotten close to this group, so even though it will be hard to end the program, I know the connections will last forever!

Nando's in China Town. Its in Chinese... :P

I slept the night over at the Church Hill hotel downtown, and woke up on Saturday around noon. Perfect time for Saturday. Today was an important Euro Cup 2012 match between Germany and Portugal, and some of us were planning to go to a bar down Connecticut Ave., and watch it. Unfortunately I couldn't get in, so I decided to go home. Later on that night I went back down town to visit with friends staying at the Church Hill. It was Pride Fest weekend, and the entire Dupont Circle Park was full of people! I was to meet up with my friends at a restaurant called Vapiano on the other side of Dupont Circle. As I was walking past the park, I got whistled at at least 3 times...I didn't know whether to respond, or just stop and was super awkward! So I just walked on, smiling. Vapiano was a great restaurant with grand portions, but great food. We stayed here for a while before going back to the hotel for a few beers. It was cool just chilling with people, listening to music, and conversing. It's been a while since I've done that! And that was how the day ended!

Sunday, we planned to see the Italy-Spain game downtown too, but I couldn't do that either. So I stopped over at Nick's place and hung out for a while. Its been a while since I've been to that side of town! We just chilled and went fresh fruit shopping at the Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom area. It is pretty neat how many organic and healthy products they had. It was like an entire 2 floors of healthy-ness! Intense! I headed home shortly after that and remained in my room, trying to type up this blog...which proves to be difficult at times, but I'm committed to doing this! :)

Monday...oh Monday! What a day! Started it off by riding with O'brien to Dupont Circle while blasting Party Rock in the car. That sure woke me up! Class today was interesting as we have a new professor, Evan Bloom, and foreshadows a great rest of the week. We are building up to great goals, and hopefully by the end of the week, all the hard work will pay off! Monday evenings is a night for pick up games, so I made my way to the Sherwood Rec Center near Union Station for an hour of intense futsal. Its great to play soccer again, and hopefully I can revive World XI, an international soccer team at Luther, and play against some clubs. I met up with a friend from Carleton at futsal, and hopefully we can work something out for next year. After this, I dashed to union station to head to Ayane's house, because another classmate, Tyma, was making a fabulous dinner. The menu consisted of Jollof rice, chicken, Tilapia fish and sides. It was quite the feast. With some mojitos to the side, it was quite the perfect Monday to start a week.

I'd like to thank everyone for reading my blog thus far and keeping up with my travels. I love travelling and meeting new people, and being able to share this experience with you is most pleasurable! Be well, and stay well...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sorry for the wait...

In the words of the rapper Lil Wayne....Sorry for the wait!

We needed this in Dieseth a couple months ago, lol!
Its been a busy couple of days! Class has started off well, with a new professor, Seth Pollack. He is quite the character, but is very intellectually sound. He also loves music, which makes me even more fond of him and his pedagogy. This week we are dealing with Facilitation, and especially facilitation in a Development context. On Monday we dealt with power, and power dynamics in development. Through a series of activities that define power structures and what influenced social power dynamics, I was more confident in facilitating power dynamics. To illustrate this, take for example a a group of students doing a project. It is inevitable that one student will assume a leadership role and sometimes even dictate what is to happen. Taking this as a microcosm for organizational development, it is important to facilitate such processes, so that power is equally spread and outcomes are brought about from a group effort. I felt very empowered after the lesson, as I felt I learnt some useful skills that will allow me to be a good facilitator in any kind of situation. Being open-minded, respectful and trustworthy are some qualities a facilitator should posses, and through self reflection, I feel that these are some of my strengths on which I want to build on to be a successful facilitator in the future. After work, I went straight home...exhaustion had caught up with me. This class is almost like a day job...9am - 5pm! However, I enjoy it a lot, and feel that I am learning a lot. 

A band playing Pachelbel's canon in D at the Dupont Cirlce
 Metro station. Such as great way to end a busy day!
A couple month ago, when I went to Carleton College to visit a friend, Sonali, I met Amit who is from DC, and he invited me and my roommate, Oket, to a pick up game at Carleton. It was pretty fun, because I got to play against my soccer mentor, Renaud Hein, and Sonali even joined; It was fun! I got to talking to Amit after and he told me about some pick up games that happen in DC. So on Monday I went to The Sherwood Recreational Center and met Roy, who was Amit's former soccer coach. A lot of people had come, and it was great to see such a rich soccer tradition in this neighborhood. We played teams of 5 for 5 mins or 2 goals (on a rotation basis). I got in a pretty good work out that day as I was all over the place. Its been a while since I played the sport, and therefore was rusty, but I got back into it really fast. After that, I tried to navigate myself to the closest metro station (Union Station), and got a ride from one of my team members. His name was Aki, and as we got to talking, I introduced myself and told him my story of Namibia --> India --> Iowa, and he found that interesting. He then proceeded to tell me about himself and I found out he was from California and was just visiting his girlfriend for the summer in DC. However, he went to school at Oberlin College, and I asked him if he knew Jin Wong....and what do you know...he does!!! Jin was one of my housemates in the house I lived in on campus at the school I went to in India. We played soccer together and became close as a result. Like I said in an earlier post...the world is small! Trust me! :P

Indulging in some karaoke with the kids...oh yeah! 
On Tuesday, class was about FALSCH (Facilitating Adult Learning for Social CHange). It build off from Monday's lesson of power dynamics in the community. We learned various tools and techniques in order to facilitate activities in order for them to be productive and efficient. So an exercise my group did was in order to regulate power dynamics was to have two rounds of discussion with about 5 other class members. In the first round, we put out the following statement:" America has an positive influence on the rest of the world.". This statement could be interpreted in various ways, and so we let the discussion begin. Immediately there were some that put forth the pros and then some put down the cons. It was a heated debate between myself and 2 other participants, out of a group of 8 participants. We then stopped the discussion in order to start the second round. So for the second round, I passed out 5 cards to all the participants. We would repeat the same exercise but with a different statement:" Larger families are better than smaller families.". However, this time each card you had represented one sentence. So for every sentence you spoke, you gave up one card, and you cant talk if all your cards are up! This made people more aware of what they said and when they said it. With this facilitation method, the conversation incorporated the whole group, even the ones that hardly spoke. It was enlightening and effective. So this was an example of how enjoyable my day in class was!

A car Nick and I saw in Georgetown. People have class in
this place. I guess I'll be moving here soon.. #wishfulthinking
After class, I just hopped on the metro and went straight home. I was so exhausted from yesterday's soccer, and out of shape as well. UGH...oh well, I guess I'm going to have to do something about that from this weekend on! lol. When the bus dropped me off at the bus station, it started pour cats and dogs...actually more like horses and hippos, because I felt like I was going to swept away from the water running down the road as I had to cross it. I guess I know how Jonah felt now! I found shelter across the road at a sheltered bus stop and stood there for what felt like ages, waiting for the tornado-warming rain-shower to stop. I then see this guy run towards the shelter and decides to stop at it. My first instinct was to hand him my handkerchief in order to dry his hands and face because he was just drenched! I asked where he was coming from, and it seems that he lost his wallet, so he walked all the way from the Glenmont station to here. His house was just five mins away from the bus station, but a solid 30mins from the Glenmont station. I told him to chill and take a breather because the rain was just being rubbish and pouring as if we didn't have places to be at! oh well! We started chatting, and his name is Cal, and he is from Maryland. We shared similar passion such as music and love for computer science. I was pretty surprised with myself, as I spitting out all this fancy music and CS talk...I guess I did learn something in those classes after all! We might meet up before I leave and have a jam session with some of his friends sometime next week! I love these random connections I'm making. To use a term I just used, I'm increasing my social ability to network and make connections with people of various backgrounds and different areas. When I got home, I was so tired, but the kids were bouncing all over the place! I didn't know whether they had ants in their pants, or if they were just happy to see me. Either way, they managed to get me to do karaoke with them. Apparently cable comes with a karaoke channel nowadays..hheeeeyyy! Thats whats up aka no more singing in the shower!
Dinner by Chef Nick! When in DC, do like the DC peeps do :P

Today (Wednesday), I was still exhausted from last night, and therefore it was hard to concentrate in class. However, I still learned a great deal about approaches and principles of participatory development. Development is not only about building houses in poor countries, or about NGOs and such. It is about capacity building...creating a personal sense of potential with the community one is engaged with. Through development, we should aim to make people more away of ways that they can grow and sustain that growth and motivation. Some of the concepts we went over were quite interesting, but I wont go into that right now.  After class, we had a happy hour event at one of the bars on Connecticut Ave. near Dupont Cirlce, and it was nice to get to know more members of my group outside the academic setting. I don't necessarily hang out with them much just because I live far from downtown, and plus I'm not yet 21. It pretty much sucks not being 21 in this place, because that rules out a bunch of places one can go to and things one can do. However, I'm enjoying my time as much as I can. I left the event early in order to join Nick for a home cooked meal. I got to his place, and both his roommates where there. They are pretty cool guys, and we converse pretty easily, which is good! Nick lives in the same apartment our best friend, Kazi, lived in when he stayed in DC last fall semester. I came to visit Kazi in November last year, so the area/place was pretty familiar. After a fulfilling dinner, I started my pilgrimage home. I knocked off about 5 soduko puzzles on the way! While on the train, I got bored of doing the puzzles, and just chilaxed and people watched :P I looked out of the window and saw the moon in spectacular view. It was red-orange, and was really close to the earth, thus having a larger than life appearance. As I was admiring this view, an older lady came to sit next to me. I thought she was just sitting down due to a lack of seats, but she whispered to me:"It's been a while since I looked at that moon...makes me think of em good ol' days". My curiosity got the best of me, and I asked her what she meant. She went on to tell me of the first day she met her husband and how they were in a small town in rural alabama, and for their first date had ended it by star gazing. He promised her that as long as the moon keeps shining, he won't leave her, and sure enough he kept his promise. Unfortunately he passed away 2 years ago due to health issues. This story was not only touching, but demonstrated the old "real love"...its really made me think of what love is today, in this modern global society...I guess that's just some food for thought!

And on that note...keep well, and live in the present. 


Cheers to the weekend...

I hope everyone has been busy for the past couple of days, because I have! As much as I want to keep, DC has me exhausted from these long commutes! Nevertheless, I'm committed to this blog, and want to share my experiences with you all! Summer is truly my favourite season because of the amount of people outdoors, the motivation and laziness that recur this time of the year, and the warmth of the sun. Unfortunately, in the past 5 years, I've only experienced one full summer. I went to an international school in India for 2 years, and as the "summer" rolled up, I would go back home to Namibia for the summer break. Unfortunately, summer in the northern hemisphere means winter in the southern hemisphere! So needless to say, last year was the first time I fully experienced summer as I stayed on campus and worked for Luther College Summer Housing. The good ol' Summer Housing Days! Since I haven't blogged for a couple of days, Ill try and go through last Thursday till today...its been quite the couple of days!

Thursday, I believe I woke up on the right side of the bed, because the sun was out and I was woke myself up at around 8am. It was quite morning as I even walked my nephew to the bus stop again...only to come back home and jump in bed again. When I woke up, it was 10:57am.....HOW DID 2 HOURS JUST FLY LIKE THAT??? oh deary me! So it was the usual drill: quick shower, get dressed (with Collegiate Choir music playing in the background, coz we just cool like that), quick breakfast and then dash to the bus stop. Fortunately I got there in time, and got on the metro on time as well. I was pretty nervous to be late today, because we had a group activity at 12pm sharp, and it takes approximately an hour to get down to that part of town and another 10mins to walk to the class. I decided to relax on the train and listen to some Ray Lamontagne while knocking off some soduko puzzles while I wait. Before I knew it, I was I dashed out like it was some Die Hard movie, and ran up the heaven escalators of Dupont Cirlce...I think bee -lined through the pedestrians and made it to class with 12 secs left to spare. For a lack of a better term, I did feel like a boss! And so the day began! Today we learned about creating strategic objectives and indicators for these objectives, in order to evaluate and monitor that they are going as planned. Its an effective measurement in project management! It was frustrating doing this exercise as it required the measurement of behavior as opposed to outcome alone. Even though the change in behaviour can be seen as an outcome, more emphasis should be put on defining a specific behavioural change that we expect to see as our goals are met. This is a fundamental aspect of development, as it is all about changing people's behaviour.

Sights from the metro...
After this I decided to head home early today. Its been a while since I've actually gone home before 10pm, so it was nice to head home this early. It was drizzlying as I was in the train, and from one the train stations, one could see a horizon view of DC in a cloudy splendour. As I was admiring the view, a random girl comes up to me and tells me that this is what she loved summer for. A lot of times, we take our conditions for granted, so appreciate it  some times. Just take a moment to look out your window, and breath in air, clean or dirty!

Friday started off pretty standard. I woke up, class/workshop, but after that I went to go hang with Nick. His roommates didn't move in yet, so I decided to go chill for a bit and just enjoy the downtown vibe. I left my house around 9:30PM and got to his place around Midnight...I couldn't believe how long I had to wait for buses and trains! It was insane;I even knocked off about 20 soduko puzzles. However, on the train down to Rosslyn, a guy on the train needed to reach his friends, but his cellphone died. I saw this and decided to lend him my phone. He luckily wrote down his friends number and could call him. I then just realized how dependent we are on technology. Our digital phone books keep all our numbers and data these days. Not even a decade ago, I knew every number I needed to know by head. I didn't even have a cellphone then, and didn't need one.
Lunch, yes?

Now, I feel a nervous twitch in my right side pocket if my phone is not on beuno! After he got in touch with his friends, we started chatting, and he introduced himself. His name was Yasar, and was Pakistani. He was born in the states, but his parents decided that he should attend college in Pakistan. So he just returned sometime in the past few weeks, and was trying to catch up with his friends. I told him of my adventures to Northern India and how the I went to the Wagah border ceremony (which is a daily ceremony where the Indian and Pakistani border patrol strut their stuff...for lack of a better term). He was pretty amazed, and was even more surprised when I said "mera taluq Namibia se hain" which means I'm from Namibia. This was in Urdu, a Pakistani language similar to Hindi. He got off at the next station, but left with a big confusion on his face..I bet the question on his mind was "How does a Namibia who lived in India and now stays in Iowa know Urdu????" well, the world is smaller than we think, people. Trust me. I know this too well!

oh...ok! :P
On Saturday, my friend Meghan told me about a food festival that was going on in Georgetown. I stayed the night at Nick's place, so we walked over the Potomac from Rosslyn, VA, to Georgetown, DC, lol! We met up with Meghan and her friends, and we all went to wander the food stalls on Wisconsin Ave. The were some pretty good food tastings. Firstly, one had to get a token, and each token was $5. However, for $20, you could get 5 token; $4 a token. I bought a box of two cupcakes from the Georgetown Cupcakes, which were pretty good! Every time I pass that store, on M street, the line is always outside the door. One would think some sketchy business is going on in there, the way people visit this place! My second and third tokens went to a pretty good Gazpatcho with a large shrimp, and key lime pie. My final two tokens went to a cherry pie and a pumpkin pie from Shut Your Pie Hole (picture to the right). It was thee most amazing pie I ever had. No offence to everyone who's pie I've had before, but this pie was off the chart! It was quite an intense experience, to say the least! aaaah!

On my way back home after this, I sat in a pretty empty train car. As I stroked my fingers through my hair, I pictured Benell giving me this really mean look, and telling me that I better cut my hair before I get an ass-whooping. Without hesitation, I got off at the next train station, and coincidentally, it was the station near the barbershop I always visit when I'm in DC. I met up with my regular barber, Tony, and he gave me the usual: high fade with a trim. Needless to say, I felt pretty fly leaving the barbershop! I love the atmosphere of the barbershop...its pretty similar to any barbershop movie you see on TV: old men chatting away while the young ones listen/play card games and just chill. When I finally got back to the metro platform, I had a 8 minute way until the next train was to come. Just then, a random guy came up to me asking if he could use my phone. His story was pretty similar to Yasar's, but he seemed in even more of a rush. After making his call, he introduced himself. His name was Feliks, and he was from Poland, or as Redwan would say: "He is a Pole!". He just got to DC last week, and was having a tough time navigating his way around. So I volunteered to take him back downtown and close to where he had to go, just because I had the time to. Conversation with him was very easy and he had a likable personality. I'm glad I met Feliks today, because it reminded me how being friendly can go a long way sometimes. In this world or stress and personal growth, it is easy to shut strangers out. A little help can go a long way for oneself, and/or for someone else!
Chuck's back...shit just got real!

Sunday was a slow day as I woke up around noon, and just zombied around the room, trying to get my clothes off the floor. Having to dress up everyday is quite a I guess, I can say I know how it feels, ladies! Just saying! At 2pm though, my program had a bbq at one of the participants' home in Forest Glen, which is pretty close to Glenmont. Fortunately a majority of us could make it, so it was quite an enjoyable time! It was pretty sunny, and so we had to call on Mr Corona and Samuel would have been a sin not to! After this, I promised my niece, Siku, and nephew, Simasiku, that I would go with them to see a movie. I met up with them at the Silver Spring Mall Cinema, and we paid to watch Avengers 3D. It was worth it, I thought. However, towards the end, I needed the bathroom really bad...and with 20mins left in the movie, I had to dash out of the theatre for a quick visit to the loo, and back in my seat. According to Siku I didn't miss much...PHEW!!! It was nice being able to go out with the kids and just see them have a good time! On our way home, I decided to treat them to some Nandos Chicken, which made us all think of home, and how we miss Namibia so much. I never knew that Nandos has Portuguese origins tho! It will be great to head home for a little bit, in a couple of weeks, but I wish I could take the kids with least for a while!

Ill stop there for now...this is quite a heavy read! Hope everyone is doing well, and that you all are making the best of your time. Overhearing two guys speak about motivation on the bus made me want to do more and be more...and that would be my message to everyone out there. Be empowered!


PS: If you want to comment on any of these posts, click in on the blog entry in the "Blog Archive" box on the right-hand side, and the comment box should be visible at the bottom of the entry :)