Monday, November 12, 2012

Surprises!!

The past month has been interesting and fun (for me at least!).  I decided for my second break to surprise my family by coming home for break without them knowing that I was coming. It was a great break!!
video
The week started off with the surprise, and then a Celtic Thunder concert, listening to live bluegrass music by some of my family's friends, not just one but two campfires and cookouts, spending a day outside working on the yard, and a fun family photo shoot.  I had a great time visiting with my family and am looking forward to when the program is over and I can spend some more time with them over the holidays.

Got safely back to the Vicksburg campus and started working on the meetings that we needed to present before heading out on our next project.  We headed to Dry Ridge Kentucky to work with Habitat for Humanity on building a house for a family whose house was destroyed by tornadoes that came through the area in March.  We have been here three weeks already and will be leaving on Wednesday to head to Saucier Mississippi to work with the Mississippi Children Home Services.

One thing that I am really excited and nervous about is that I was accepted as a Team Leader next year for the Sacramento campus working with FEMA.  It means that I will be away from my family for another year, but that I will be getting the training that I really want in order to do disaster relief work.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Memphis

Hmm, let's see--a team blow up, Max coming back, sent on a disaster assignment, finally we were sent to our project, got poison ivy--let's just say that it has been a very eventful past month.  Two days before Max came back, there was a team blow up with half of the team basically blaming me for a lot of things.  It ended with me walking out of the meeting crying.  I talked with Ana (our temp team leader), then in the next couple of days I talked with our Unit Leader Justin saying that I wanted off the team or I would go home.  It was basically a climax for me, Justin decided to leave me on the same team.  Max and I have talked about it several times and I feel that staying here will work.  The day that Max came back, our team was sent on a disaster assignment to Jackson Mississippi as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac hitting the gulf coast.  We worked long hours helping the Red Cross manage a shelter in Jackson.  After a week, the shelter was closed and we were sent to Gulfport Mississippi to help the Red Cross with mass distribution of supplies.  Basically, we were unloading tractor trailers and loading up Emergency Response Vehicles.  The Red Cross was having a hard time trying to figure out how to best use us, so after three days of getting the run around, we were sent back to our regular projects.
I am currently in Memphis Tennessee working with the Vollintine Evergreen Community Association (VECA) mostly doing yard work.  Hence the poison ivy, I figured out that in large quantities I react to poison ivy.  Thankfully I finally went to the doctor and got some medicine to help heal it.  We are staying at Pilgrim House Hostel in Midtown Memphis and I have really enjoyed staying at the hostel and meeting people from around the world.
Our next (and last) project is a split round where we will be working with Habitat in Kentucky and with a childrens camp in Mississippi.  Both of the projects heavily involve construction, so I am happy about that even though it was not my first choice.  Our first choice was the Florida Keys working with Habitat, but that project was given to a different team.  All in all, I have been mostly enjoying my experiences this year and seeing how much I have stretched myself but I am also looking forward to whatever adventures are in store for me next.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Round 3-Hattiesburg

So, a lot has happened since I left Tuscaloosa.  Since so much has happened, I'll start with the good news first.  The project that I am working on right now (I will be here until the end of August) has internet where we live.  We are also working in the same building as we are living in.  It is a 10,000 square foot house that is being restored and converted into volunteer housing.  We are working in Hattiesburg, a small college town in southeast Mississippi.  I went and explored some of downtown this morning with my team leader and one of my team-mates.

I was very sad to leave, I miss all the great people that I worked with at Habitat and the amazing homeowners!  I truly enjoyed my time in Tuscaloosa and will probably find my way back there some day in the near future.  We came back to campus for a few days of training, then our summer break started.  I decided to stay on campus during break, which was a good and bad decision. It was good because I was able to work over break and get some independent work hours out of the way, but it was bad because I just needed to get out of the AmeriCorps environment and I wasn't able to.  One of the other bad things that happened right before break was that one of my team mates was sent home from the program.  Cellus had become a good friend of mine and I miss him very much.

During break, when I was not working, I ended up watching all of the Harry Potter movies.  It was nice to just chill for a while.

The day before we were supposed to leave for our project, we found out that our team might be called for a disaster in Florida.  But another team's project fell through, so they were called up for the disaster instead.  Then the morning that we were leaving, Max was called for meetings all day.  We found out later that afternoon it was because the staff was pulling him from our team temporarily, at least we all hope that it is temporary.  They pulled a corps member from another team and promoted her to be our new team leader.  All in all, it has been a difficult past couple of days for our team--missing two of our team members. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tuscaloosa Week 6


One of the proud families of a new home!!
The past couple of weeks have been interesting ones, mostly they have been filled with working with Habitat. I have really enjoyed working construction again, I always forget how much passion I have for construction work. During the time that we have been in Tuscaloosa, we have helped complete three houses with a few more nearing completion. The site supervisors seem to like challenging me and making me learn new construction and leadership skills. It has been good and bad, good that they are pushing me to better myself, bad because I feel like it might cause resentment on my team. As far as I can tell, it hasn't yet and I am learning different ways to include my team-mates on the projects that the site supervisors are giving me.

I sadly dropped my cupcake over... 
I had a great birthday this year, it started with Mama texting me first thing in the morning with her special birthday song. As a team, we traveled to Birmingham to see the Civil Rights Museum there. We got the time mixed up and ended up having time to go out for brunch before exploring the museum. After finally settling on a place to eat, we went to a small European cafe. I had crepes for the first time. They were delicious! The Civil Rights Museum was very interesting to explore the different exhibits. Then for dinner, I had requested that as a team we go out to eat at Ruby Tuesday's, and we were able to. A few weeks before, I bought a dress that I really liked and decided to wear it for my birthday. One of my team-mates was kind enough to help me with my hair, so I got dressed up for my birthday. It was a fun day.

I have really enjoyed working with the different volunteer groups that come in each week. Its fun because each week you get to work with different people. The only bad part is needing to explain the same things over again each week. This past week, there were a group of college students from Northern Ireland that were volunteering with Habitat. Unfortunately, I was assigned to a different work site so I was not able to work with them. But I was able to play soccer with them after work one day. It was a really fun game, I was the only girl playing and the Irish are all gentlemen and didn't want to hurt me. We played inside a church's utility gym, complete with the carpeting. It was entertaining to watch the ball bouncing off the walls and ceiling beams.

The group of Irish and us after a sweaty game.
Also this past week, I had my first experience gluing down bamboo flooring to a concrete slab. That was a very interesting and messy experience. But the floors turned out a lot nicer than we thought that they were going to.

Harrison (a local volunteer) and me.
He was pleased that I was able to
teach him more about carpentry.
Other than construction, we have also been doing other random fun stuff. About a week ago, a group of us went and saw The Avengers in the movie theater. I enjoyed the movie, but if I knew my comic book superheros, it would have been better.

Yesterday we were given a tour of the path of the tornado by Jared, the volunteer coordinator for Habitat. It was interesting, but also hard for me to do. Jared watched the tornado happen, so most of what he described was very similar to the flooding that happened in Binghamton this past fall. The way that he described the people's reactions to the disaster brought back a lot of recent memories for me.




Dewayne (one of the construction
supervisors) and some of us


A great group of volunteers!
They worked on the tricky bamboo flooring.
On Friday, I got my first (and hopefully only) major battle scar. Somehow I decided to cut my hand on a metal can while I was trying to cook dinner for the team. Five stitches and five hours later, I am finally leaving the emergency room and heading back for supper. Thankfully I only sliced the fat pad of my thumb. I am having the stitches removed on Monday, in the meantime I am not supposed to get my hand wet or pull/pick up anything with my hand. Hmm, it has made taking showers and getting dressed very interesting. It seems to be healing pretty well even with all the abuse I have been absentmindedly giving it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tuscaloosa Week 2

Just finishing up week two here in Tuscaloosa, it has been a fun week for me.  At the end of last week, we finished building a house during a blitz build.  SO MUCH FUN!  This week we have started framing another house next door to the one that we have already finished as well as working on finishing up a house on another street.  I forgot until this past week how much I enjoy construction work.  For me, it is a way to relax and still be working on something, almost like a form of therapy.  Sadly, I don't have any pictures right now, but will be working on making sure that I take some and get a hold of some from my team mates.  Right now, I am looking forward to the rest of the time we have here working with Habitat as well as figuring out a fun way to celebrate Max and my birthday (same day!).

If anyone wants to send me a random package, my current address is:

39 Juanita Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

This address is only good until the middle of July.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tuscaloosa Week 1


It has been an interesting couple of weeks. I was sad to leave the State Parks in Tennessee, but excited to move on to the next project of working with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa. It was very exciting to be able to finish the projects that we started at Cummins Falls State Park. We were able to finish the trail all the way down to the water, as well as building three small kiosks and one large one. I was very excited and relieved that we were able to finish all the work. It is always satisfying to finish a job and not need to leave before it is finished. The last week that we were there was the best and most stressful (for me at least). The stressful part was building the kiosks, I was the person responsible for making sure that it was correct and finished in time. Unfortunately, I made some mistakes concerning the measurements and we needed to mount the roof on the large kiosk twice because the support posts were not lining up with the rafters. The best part of the week was the weekend right before we left, it was packed full of fun activities. Swimming at Cummins Falls, caving, white water rafting, visiting an aquarium and seeing a 3D Imax movie, hanging out around a campfire, in general, just having a good time together.

Transition week was a long week, I was ready to be in Tuscaloosa and instead we were in training and meetings all week. The best part of transition week was being able to see other people.

This week was our first week in Tuscaloosa. We started off the week with a blitz build, basically a house was built in 5 days. It was a fun first week, we got to work along side volunteers from the Tuscaloosa fire departments. I have been having a great time doing construction work again, the only downside is the heat and humidity here in Alabama.

I am really looking forward to the rest of the time we have here in Alabama. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A "Good" Person?


Over the past couple of months, as people have been discovering my plans for the rest of the year, I have been called a “good” person.

What does it mean to be a good person?  Does it mean that you never do anything wrong or is it just that what you do isn’t as “bad” as what everyone else does?  People keep telling me that I am a good person, but what exactly do they mean by that?  Is it because I am different in the way that I go about living my live?  Is it because I have a different set of standards than most people?  What is so amazing and inspiring about being a “good person”?  How do you even know what a good person is?

Do I define myself as a “good person”?  No way!!  I know that I am not a good person at all.  Sure, I may live my life differently than most people think of as normal, but that doesn’t make me a good person.  I still struggle with the same things that everyone else does, I still make bad decisions, I still mess up royally.  Am I better than anyone else?  No, I am just as “bad” as everyone else.

So, if I am no better than anyone else, what makes me different?  Is it the way that I grew up?  Is it the circumstances that I have been in?  Is it just a part of who I am?  No, it is a choice that I made and continue to make everyday. It is a choice that I can only make through the power of God in me, if left to my own choice, I would choose to do bad. It is a life-changing choice, something that impacts every area of my life.  

I have made and continue to make the choice to have a personal relationship with God.  How I love Him, how much He loves me, how He takes care of me and teaches me what I need to know.  I choose each day to love, trust and obey Him.  Does that make me a “good” person?  No, on the inside I am still a “bad” person, even though it might look like I am a “good” person on the outside, the difference is because of God and what He has done for me, He counts me as "good" in His eyes.

To me, trusting God is not just something that I do on Sundays, it is not a religion for me, it is a main part of my life.  To me, God is not just someone that is watching from somewhere what is going on here, but someone that really and truly cares about what happens to me each day.  I know that I am a bad person, I have done and continue to do bad things everyday.  But I also know that God sent His only son to take the penalty of what I have done that is wrong.  I owe God my life, and I am trying to give it to Him each day.  He is the reason that I live my life differently.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fun Pictures

This is the Ranger house that we stayed at in Tennessee

Dave, Max and I working on the kiosk

The crew while caving.

At the aquarium

The waterfall at the cave entrance

In the shark cage at the aquarium

Cellus on a ledge about 15 feet above the rest of us.  I also climbed that  ledge.

Cummins Falls State Park

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Round 1 second to last week!

This past week has been very busy and fun!  We went swimming in front of a waterfall on Thursday, spelunking on Friday, to an Aquarium and IMAX on Saturday and whitewater rafting today.  Lots of pictures were taken, just too late to try to post them tonight, hopefully next week I will be able to post them.  Work is starting to wrap up, we are almost finished with the making the trail at Cummins Falls State Park, as well as finishing up small projects at Fall Creek Falls State Park.  Right now my big project is copying and building some new kiosks for the trails at Cummins.  The deadline for the park opening is coming up fast, so there is plenty of last minute work and stress for the rangers at the new park.  I am very glad that we have been working here in Tennessee, I have had a blast here!  Also looking forward to the next project!  Not looking forward to working in the heat of the south though.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nearing the End of the First Project

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Cascade Falls

part of the Cable Trail

It has been two weeks since my last post...it feels like not much has happened and yet that time is flying by so fast. We only have two more weeks here at Fall Creek Falls before moving on to the next project. I have really enjoyed working on two different state parks, as well as meeting new people and doing new things. One of the major things that I have been working on this past week is running more consistently. I have found that I actually like to run. Also found a really fun trail to hike/climb. It is called the Cable Trail, which is the perfect name since the trail is about a 45 degree slope to climb up and down over rocks. I had a blast climbing the trail by myself.

Jessie and Jon (one of the seasonal rangers)
Work-wise things have been going well. We are getting close to the end of the trail at Cummins Falls, then there are some finishing touches to do at Cummins Falls before the grand opening of the park. At Fall Creek Falls, we have been working on trail maintenance, started building some bridges for the trails, as well as making signs for the trails and clearing a new trail. All in all, we have been very busy with work and trying to not get bored in our down time. The closest internet is 5 miles from where we are living, the closest gas station is 15 minute drive, and the closest Wal-Mart is 45 minute drive away. Basically, we are living in the middle of a state park in the middle of nowhere.



Campfires!!


This week we found out were we are heading next, the only information that we know so far is what city we are working in and who we are working for. We will be in Tuscaloosa Alabama working for Habitat for Humanity for the next couple of months. I am really excited to be working with Habitat, since it will be construction work!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some Pictures

a kumquat tree

the best smoothie place in Vicksburg!

the smoothie sign

Travis and G helping clean up my dorm floor after the water main broke.

Cummins Falls, we are building the trail to this waterfall!!

Jessie with a 4 yr old box turtle

Cellus with the same turtle

The view from the overlook on Easter morning at the sunrise service.

a log in the way of the trail

I chopped through it myself!!

Round 1 Midpoint


 These past couple of weeks have been very difficult for me, mostly rewarding but definitely difficult. About two weeks ago, I got really sick. I barely had any energy to move let alone to try to work hard physical labor. For three days I tried to work through it but by the third day, Max (my team leader) and I decided it would be best to see a doctor and make sure that there was not anything seriously wrong with me. Basically the doctor told me that I have overworked myself and my body just needed a rest. I ended up taking the next day off of work and slept all day and all night. I was able to work on the last workday of that week, but I made sure not to push myself too hard. That weekend most of the team decided to go out of town for the weekend, so it was just Dave and I staying on site for the weekend. It was a very nice relaxing weekend for me, I was able to catch up on sleep that my body so desperately needed. Also, I was able to go to a sunrise service for Easter Sunday at the park. It was the first time that I have been to a sunrise service that I can remember. It was also really nice of Dave to offer to take me to church before I had a chance to ask him.

This last week was a good week, but at points stressful. Monday I still wasn't feeling the greatest, so I worked at a slower pace than I normally would. Tuesday I felt quite a bit better, went for a jog with Jessie in the morning, worked all day, then was able to do PT in the afternoon without totally exhuasting myself. We played soccer as a part of PT and I had forgotten how competitive I can be when I am motivated to be. It was a lot of fun. Wednesday I worked all day and felt pretty good. Thursday I chopped through a fallen tree all by myself. I was very happy to complete it by myself without needing to ask for any help. The last part was really difficult to chop through, as it was an old oak tree. Friday we had the day off from regular work (instead we worked on Saturday) so we did an Independent Service Project (ISP) at a senior citizens center. Because Max got sick, I was the one in charge of figuring out what project to do and was the temporary team leader for the day. It turned out to be a decently good day, it was a light day of work and most of the team was able to rest in the afternoon, which was very much needed. Saturday we worked around Fall Creek picking up trash off of some of the trails in the park. Sunday was the day that was my favorite and least favorite at the same time. We were able to sleep in, and went rock climbing and repelling in the afternoon. I repelled both cliffs that they set up. The first one was Copperhead Rock-50 feet tall, the second one, Buzzards Roost, was 150 feet. I am scared of heights, so I was very nervous about backing myself off the edge of a cliff, but I am so glad that I did it. It was the most exhilarating thing that I have done in a long time.   

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Project (Round) 1--Week One

This past week has been a very long, stressful and wonderful week all rolled together in one.  Last Sunday was a long day for me.  Due to team stuff to prepare for our first project, I was not able to go to church.  We spent most all of the day together as a team trying to prepare for meetings on Monday and Tuesday before heading out on Wednesday. 

Monday was induction--so now I am officially an AmeriCorps NCCC member.  The speeches were good and somewhat moving.  The rest of the day was spent in meetings.  Tuesday was an insane busy day for me--we had cleaning like crazy to do and I needed to also pick up the tools for our project, then had a meeting in the afternoon and room inspections in the evening.  If we (even one member of the team) did not pass the room inspections (including the bathrooms, lounges, and kitchen) we were not allowed to leave until it was corrected and reinspected.  We also had our presentation in the morning, which went decently well.  The room inspections passed with only a few minor issues to be corrected.  But that night around 10 p.m. the water main broke in our building.  It made for a very long and busy night right before leaving early in the morning on an eight hour drive.  Wednesday was the travel day--a very long travel day.  We had two vans to drive, the passenger van and a cargo van.  Three times during the day the vans got separated from each other and one of them (the cargo van each time) got lost.  The last two times we got lost, I was in the cargo van with Dave--the worst part was that my cell phone had died right as we got lost and Dave didn't have a cell phone at the time--so no way to really contact the other van.  Thankfully we were able to find the other van without too much trouble.

Thursday was our first day on our project site.  We are working and living at a state park with waterfalls similar to Ithaca, NY!  Most of the day was spent in orientation and seeing different parts of the park.  We came back to the ranger house that we are living in and worked in the afternoon clearing the yard and chopping some trees.  We raked the leaves into a pile and burned them, the ranger working with us (Stuart) also told us that we could have campfires whenever we wanted.  I smelled like wood smoke when we were finished working!  It was so much fun!

But I think Friday, Saturday and so far today have been my favorite days this week.  Friday we traveled to Cummins Falls, a newly acquired state park that we are building trails for.  In the morning we were able to see the falls and climb down to them the old-fashion way--climbing down the rocks with a rope tied to the trees.  I could and would do it every day!  Then after lunch and a short-ish rain shower, we were trained on the basics of trail clearing.  We spent the rest of the afternoon clearing part of the trail.  A lot of hard work, but so rewarding.  Saturday was a nice relaxing day for me.  I was the first person up, so I decided to explore some of the trails around our cabin.  Ended up going on over an hour long hike, came back, relaxed for a while, then did PT as a team.  We did a caterpillar run (where the person on the end sprints to the front and sets the pace until the next person reaches the front).  I was pretty happy that I almost made it to the end without slowing down---right before the last corner I needed to walk for a little bit, but I was hanging in there with some of the guys (Max, Kevin and Alex).  I really enjoyed the challenge of PT.  After supper, we played hide and seek in the dark.  Our cabin is right next to the woods and most of the girls and some of the guys were scared with how dark and creepy it looked.  That and I hid too good, we played it twice and they couldn't find me either time.  It was so much FUN!!  Today has been nice and relaxing as well.  I have been enjoying being able to relax, not sure how often we will get weekends with nothing planned on them.

Looking forward to this next week, it will be hard work but also a lot of fun!  Next time I hope to put some pictures up as well.

Week 3

3-17-12 (Saturday)
Saturday was interesting.  We had "tool" training all day.  Basically we went back to the two houses that we had worked on gutting the week before and worked on some rebuilding of those houses.  Mostly it was prep work for making the houses livable again.  Most of what my team and I were working on was pulling nails off the studs so that drywall could be hung.  Also, we worked on supporting some of the studs with L-braces.  After lunch we were able to hang some insulation and a 4x12 sheet of drywall.  It was nice to be doing construction again.

3-18-12 (Sunday)
This morning a group of us went to an African Methodist Episcopal Church.  It was interesting and the members of the church were very welcoming.  The church was very glad to see us there as visitors.  I really enjoyed the sermon.  It was about Josiah and how he repented and turned toward God.  The pastor kept making the point that there is nothing new under the sun and that God has a special plan for each one of our lives if only we will dig deep enough to find it.

3-19-12 (Monday)
We had classes in the morning, then headed out for a camping trip in the afternoon.  We went to Holly Springs National Forest.  Even though we got lost on the way to the park, we were still able to get a good campsite.  It was next to the lake with a dock at the site.  By the time that our supplies came--they were packed in a cargo van for the whole group, not just our team)--it was dark.  It made for a very long day by the time we finally ate supper and set up our tents.

3-20-12 (Tuesday)
We worked most of the day digging up campsites that were rarely used.  It involved smashing concrete and taking apart picnic tables.  A fun day, but physically intense.  As we went to make supper, we found out that the main part of supper somehow had never been packed to take camping.  Therefore most of the team went shopping for supper, I was too tired to go shopping and stayed at the campsite.  By the time they got back with food, it was pretty late.  Again, a very long day.  We decided to sleep on the dock instead of in the tents that night.  It was nice to look up at the stars, but it was a bad night sleep wise.

3-21-12 (Wednesday)
Ropes course day--we were kinda robbed though, a rain storm came in well we were still at the course.  I enjoyed doing all of the low elements, and pushed myself through my fear of heights and climbed a 30 foot wall and zip-lined to the bottom.  It was really scary, but I had fun doing it and would do it again!

3-22-12 (Thursday)
We went to Jackson because the state congress wanted to give us an award.  My team was not one of the teams chosen to be presented with the award.  Instead, we went to the old Capitol building, which had been converted into a museum.  I really enjoyed touring the museum.  In the afternoon we had some more classes for specialty role training.  Dave and I are what is called VST (vehicle, safety, tools), basically, we are in charge of the van, safety wherever we are, and taking care of the tools.  Heidi and I are Peer Helpers, which is basically like a counselor only without all the training--we are there for the members of the team and if need be refer them to a team leader or the counselor.  It was also one of my team-mates (Alex) birthday.  His parents had arraigned to get him a cake for his birthday and Max (our team leader) let me in on the secret and picked it up from the office and hid it.  It was a fun night.

3-23-12 (Friday)
In the morning we had our last PT as a Corps.  Afterwards we worked on a presentation that we needed to present that day.  Max also asked me (spur of the moment) to be his assistant team leader for this project.  It wasn't really a shock that he asked me, it was more of the short notice and the added sense of responsibility that threw me for a loop for a little bit.  The rest of the day was spent in meeting aver meeting.  After the meetings, I fell asleep until supper time, then went straight to bed after supper.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 2

3-12-12 (Monday)
We had lecture all morning about the different dangers of mucking and gutting houses that have been affected by a disaster.  Most of it was review for me.  After lunch we were able to go to a couple of houses that were flooded last year and work on them.  Not only were we doing the mucking out, but we also started working on the rebuilding by replacing some of the rotten studs.

3-13-13 (Tuesday)
All day was spent in lecture.  Tuesday was a very big night for us--that is when we found who is on our permanent teams.  We were told a charade to act out (a taxi cab driver) and to find all the other people that were acting out the same charade.  Then we were sent on a scavenger hunt to find out who our team leader was and where he was hiding.  It was fun and frustrating at the same time.  I only knew a few of my new team members.  After getting some help from one of the other team leaders (one of our clues was stolen), we finally figured out where our team leader was hiding.  I was happy to find out that our team leader is Max.  He is laid-back and likes to find humor in every situation.  After a team meeting, some of the team went shopping for food for the next couple of days.  I made the mistake of going with them--we were out shopping until 11 pm.

3-14-12 (Wednesday)
Wednesday started out bright and early with physical training in the morning.  Afterwards we had a fun day doing Hands of Peace as a new team.  Hands of Peace is a training tool to help teams build unity and community.  I really enjoyed the day.  We also came up with a working draft of our team charter (rules to live by as a team).  In the afternoon I was told that I would be moving rooms earlier than the rest of the campus.  So I packed up and was moved a few hours later.  The nice part is that I already knew my new room-mate.

3-15-12 (Thursday)
Instead of being in class all day, we volunteered around the community.  My team ended up working at the local Salvation Army.  Most of us worked outside clearing some logs and brush that the Salvation Army volunteers had already cut down.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to work outside all day.

3-16-12 (Friday)
Physical training in the morning was fun.  We went around the gym as a team and did different things at different stations.  It was challenging but fun.  That night we also had room changes, but I didn't need to switch rooms again, which was nice to not have to do again.

I know that this is about a week out of date--but just so you guys know, in a couple of days we will be heading out on our first project.  We will be working in Pikeville Tennessee at two state parks.  At Fall Creek Falls State Park we will be maintaining trails, and at Cummins Falls State Park we will be clearing new trails in preparation for the park opening.  I am super excited about working at both parks, they have waterfalls that rival Ithaca!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Week One Continued...

3-7-12 (Wednesday)
We had PT at 6 a.m. this morning.  I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I was going to.  Afterwards, after a shower and breakfast, we had several different classes though out the day.  Some of the classes were on the power of words/language, discrimination and sexual harassment, health and nutrition.  One of the highlights of my day was watching a NBA game, Atlanta vs Miami.  It was a very close game and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the second half of it.

3-8-12 (Thursday)
Have been very sore today due to PT yesterday, but it is a good kind of sore.  Went through an all day CPR/AED/First Aid class with the Red Cross and now am certified for the next 2 years.  Sadly, there have been some issues with my current team.  We have not been able to get into a rhythm as a team, instead it is more like a group of individuals.  Part of the problem is that our current team leader has not been a very active part of the team due to some team leader issues that he has needed to deal with.

3-9-12 (Friday)
PT this morning was canceled due to thunderstorms last night.  So that meant that I was able to sleep in a little bit longer.  We had an all day class with the Red Cross based on disaster response and setting up a shelter.  I found it interesting, although most of the people found it boring.  It got me excited to come back home and volunteer with the local Red Cross and get new certifications and stay up to date on my current ones.

I know that I haven't been able to update this daily, but as a forewarning, when I am out on projects, I will probably not have access to a computer.  Therefore I will try to keep this as up to date as possible, but no promises.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Week One...

3-1-12 (Thursday)
I started today off with a run early in the morning, trying to get ready for when physical training (PT) starts.  After breakfast, we went into classrooms and had training on how to respond to disabilities.  After lunch, we went to a local cemetery to learn about tool safety and to clean up the cemetery.  Tool training consisted of a quick overview of what the tools are and what they are used for.  Most of the tools are garden/landscape tools such as axes, rakes, shovels, shears and that type of thing.  Then we worked for a couple of hours clearing brush in the cemetery.  Afterwards we came back to the campus that we are staying on, cleaned up the tools, ate supper and relaxed for most of the rest of the evening.

3-3-12 (Saturday)
Yesterday was just a day of training...don't remember exactly what happened that day.  In the morning we helped volunteer at a local 10k run with a 5k walk.  It was in the Vicksburg Military Park and was called the "Run through History".  After helping with the run, we came back to campus, had lunch, relaxed for a while, then went on a scavenger hunt as a team.  We drove all over Vicksburg getting pictures of different places.  one of the places that we stopped at was a nice little coffee shop with an art gallery upstairs.  Another stop that I enjoyed was the Tomato Place.  The Tomato Place is a mix of a farmers stand, an outdoor restaurant and a smoothie place.  (I had Heavenly Blues, which was a blueberry and yogurt smoothie, it was delicious!)  Once we were finished with the scavenger hunt, we tried to find a place in town to eat dinner as a team.  We ended up going to a small Italian place with a gourmet dessert place next door (it was at a strip mall).  I was too full to get dessert, but instead saw the large teddy bear next to the front door.  It was about half my size--I had to give it a big hug--the guys teased me, asking what I would do if it suddenly hugged me back.  I told them that I would just give it a bigger hug then.  After coming back to campus for the night, I ended up watching The Nightmare Before Christmas with my room-mate and another girl.  By the end of the movie, all three of us were falling asleep, so we cleaned up and headed to bed.

3-4-12 (Sunday)
I was able to go to a Baptist church service in the morning, which I really enjoyed.  In the afternoon, most of my team went back to the Tomato Place, had food and smoothies and hung out for a while.  In the evening we were reassigned to different temporary teams that will last until next Tuesday when we will find out our teams for the rest of the year.

3-5-12 (Monday)
Today started bright and early...needed to be at the military park at 6 am for baseline training for PT.  We stretched as a group, then were timed on how many push ups we could do in a minute as well as how many sit-ups in a minute.  We were allowed to modify the push ups and sit ups, so I ended up doing crunches and half push ups.  I did about 30 of each in the 2 minutes.  Then was my favorite part (NOT), the 1.5 mile run/walk.  I am proud of myself, I was able to do it in almost 16 minutes.  The rest of the day was spent in diversity training.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Travel Day

First, sorry that this is out of order, seeing as the training day got posted before the travel day; but it has been decently busy so far.

2-27-12
Today was the day.  The day that a new adventure begins in my life.  It started out decently.  Five a.m. was kinda early in the morning to be heading out into the cold weather to try to catch an airplane to Mississippi.  We (Mama and I) purposely got to the airport super early because we knew that there was an issue with my ticket.  I had tried to check in online, but the first leg of my journey (from Binghamton to Philadelphia) was with a different airline than the rest of my flights.  Somehow the ticket for leaving Binghamton was showing that it was not paid for.  After an hour of trying to figure out what was wrong with my ticket, we finally figured it out and were able to resolve the issue without me paying anything more than the baggage fees. 

So then I go through security--no problem other than scanning my bag twice--and board the plane.  The pilot announces that the breaks didn't pass the pre-flight inspection and we needed to wait for a mechanic.  Because Binghamton is such a small airport, only 6 gates, we needed to wait.  Ended up unloading the plane, waiting for an hour, then re-boarding the plane.  Come to find out, the breaks weren't working because of the cold weather.  By the time the mechanic showed up, the breaks were working fine.  Anyway, that delay caused all my connections to be messed up.  Therefore on each of the other two flights, I needed to ask where I was supposed to go and if they had a ticket for me.  Somehow I got from Philadelphia to Atlanta before I was supposed to and somehow my flight to Jackson wasn't leaving until around 7:30 p.m.  Thankfully I was put on standby and made the 2:55 p.m. flight instead.  Finally got to Vicksburg and signed in.  Met my two room-mates and two of the three girls in the room next to ours (that we also share the bathroom with).  It should be interesting rooming here.  Most of the other 5 girls seem to be noisier and more girlie than I am.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

2-28-12
Last night was a long night.  Some of the girls in the suite were traipsing in and out of the room for most of the night.  The bad part was that they thought that I was dead asleep, so they didn't seem to care how loud they were.  I was too tired to try to tell them to quiet down.  Thankfully, I was able to talk with my two room-mates and I think that we may have come up with a solution.  I guess we will find out in the next couple of nights.  Today was a good day, long but not as stressful as yesterday.  We spent most of the day with our temporary teams doing paperwork, sizing and picking up different parts of the uniforms and having our ID pictures taken.  All in all, I think today was a good day.  A lot of people are forming groups of friends, whereas I am doing my usual watching and interacting with lots of different people.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day One of Training

So after a crazy day of flying and delays, layovers, standby and other fun stuff like that, I finally made it safely to Vicksburg Mississippi.  (I left my notebook in my room, so I will tell that story later.)  Today was a long day of "in-processing", which is basically the beginning of orientation, as well as being issued our uniforms.  For the most part it has been a "relaxing" day, in the sense that even though all the orientation stuff is going on, I know that everything is working out and not much has happened so far that has thrown me for a loop (yet).  Today reminded me in a way of working at Lowe's--on my feet on concrete for most of the day, lots and lots of walking, carrying stuff, helping people figure out what was happening next.

On an interesting note, last night I tried fryed catfish.  Not really a big fan, but then again, I am not really a big fan of seafood in general.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

4 days and counting

It is really hard to believe that in four days I will be in Vicksburg Mississippi!!  I finally received my travel information.  Monday, February 27th is going to be a very long day.  I am flying out of Binghamton around 7 am Monday morning to arrive in Jackson Mississippi around 1 pm Central Time, then I will be picked up by AmeriCorp and travel to Vicksburg Mississippi.

Mud in a cup--one of my favorite desserts!
This past week has been a busy one, and will continue to be busy until I leave.  Even though I have been very busy, I have also had a chance to enjoy time with friends and family.  Every day I have had the opportunity to spend time with either friends or family or both.  Last night I had a very relaxing evening with some close friends, an evening of good food and fellowship.

As the days go by, I am trying not to think about how much I will miss everyone, instead I am trying to focus on how exciting it will be to be heading on a new adventure and making new friends.

I am very thankful for all the friends that I have in the Binghamton area.  Without all of you, I'm not sure how I would be able to start this new adventure.  You all are an awesome support group behind me. :D

Friday, February 17, 2012

The waiting game...

It is hard to believe that in two weeks I will be down in Vicksburg Mississippi!!  It seems that the last couple of months have flown by.  This past week is one that I will remember for a long time.  Some of my co-workers threw me a party.  They took me out bowling, I had a GREAT time even though I am probably the worst bowler ever.


Then came my last day of work...that was a emotional but peaceful day.  I am sad to be heading so far away from the friends that I have a work, but there was a definite sense of peace that heading to AmeriCorp is the right direction for me to be taking right now.  As much as I hate saying "goodbye", sometimes it needs to be said.  But in this case, it is not "goodbye" but instead it is "see you later"!

Yesterday I was able to take a day trip out to Alfred and see most of the teachers that I had at college.  They were excited to hear what I am up to.  I was also able to see a couple of close friends from college and had the chance to relax with them for a little while.

In the meantime, I am still waiting, somewhat impatiently, for the travel details to arrive.  So today is the figuring out what I need to pack up and leave at home and what I need to take with me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Step one . . .

So, step one is complete...the blog is set up.  Now begins the adventure of trying to keep this "journal" updated.  In a few weeks, I will be embarking on a new chapter in my life.  I will be heading to Vicksburg, Mississippi to work with AmeriCorp for the next ten months.

It is with much excitement, nervousness and some sadness that I am looking forward to the day that I  leave.  I am excited to be a step closer to doing what I really enjoy doing, nervous because I feel that I am going into this blind, and sad because I am leaving a great family and great group of friends.