Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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.

#YOLO

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  

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