Monday, August 10, 2009


So the last stretch of traveling included a Transitions Summit to Nicaragua
from July 28th until the 11th of August.

I'm going to quickly rewind for a sec.

Mid May was Guatemala for three weeks followed by Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia,
and not-so-great-China for a total of five weeks in Asia.

CHANGE was mid July til the end. Some of our evenings would close to dancing spontaneously with other CHANGE facilitators and Oxfam America (OA) staff to the song "Kids" by MGMT or Coldplay's "Viva la Vida."

To my delight, a day after the CHANGE training I found myself champion of petition collections at the Coldplay Concert in East Troy Wisconsin. A little under 200 in 3-4 hours, not bad..

Nicaragua was intense, insightful, and inspiring in a nutshell. Breaking it down=
There were 11 other white middle/upper class students from all across the U.S. in Central America, initial thoughts include "fuck." I had been spoiled to say the least, CHANGE brings in international folks and with my travels as well. Traveling in groups is not my cup of tea, but I learned that sticking us all in a barely comfortable van that would shuttle us around to and from our destinations leads to lots of singing. Yep, singing. Singing The Beatles, Disney songs, and the like.
People have so much to offer and we need each other, badly. At my homestay, the head of the house was a woman called Dionisa. She was no older than 50 and had given birth to 15 children, she is now grandmother to 23 young ones. Her husband left her after she started organizing the women in her community to form a co-op. He wanted a more simple minded woman that did as she told and would not recognize a car had she seen one, were his exact words.
There were a couple of people on the trip that I had read into pretty quickly without giving them a second chance. I jumped the gun. But all is well now.

We mapped out so many ideas for this year there were a couple of times I was completely overwhelmed and unsure anything this year would go my way. The biggest of all is the International Convergence which is set to take place in February. We're not sure where yet and every day that goes by that we are without a list makes me more anxious.

On another note, I am no longer living with 14 other roommates at Ubuntu. It's gone up to 17.
More people, less rent, more dirtiness= less "alone time"?
No matter.
What I love about Chicago is how enormous it is, there's always a corner in which you can hide away and disappear from the world.

School starts in less than a week, I'm taking on four courses. It's my last year at Loyola and there are tons of things I want to do. One of my "lofty" goals is to go sweatshop free, the entire university. I'm not alone though, many have looked to get the U sign onto the DSP but have for one reason or another failed. Fair trade sugar as well as rice is up in the in, I need to let it bubble some more then we'll see. This all got kickstarted after visiting Nueva Vida, the women's sewing co-op in Managua. They're located on a free trade zone and built the factory they work in with their own two hands, they were badass.

Another exciting journey this year is going to be being a STARS mentor. STARS (Students Together Are Reaching Success) supports the retention & success of Loyola students.
I'm given a "family" of freshman students that are particularly underrepresented and commuter students, flood their inbox and chat about how to get involved with the Loyola community and Chicago area. It's a fun job that helps pay the rent and gives me five or six fun people to challenge me (ideally) and allow me to grow as well.

Good times, good times..