Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spring Training

Hi, folks!

Apparently I've been living here in the DC area for more than two weeks now, and I've yet to decribe my work situation. I figure I should probably tackle that topic sooner or later, considering that the whole reason I'm up here is for work, lol. And, because I'm such a procrastinator (avoiding some work prep. stuff) these days, I'm going to take this time to write about my job thus far.

Starting from the beginning, I'm working as a Program Assistant for Wonders of Washington, which is a program run through National 4-H Council. PAs serve as tour guides, workshop facilitators, and Council interns throughout the Spring semester (February to May, or June). Keeping these three roles in mind, I'll break each of them down individually for you.

Our most time-consuming role as a PA is serving as a tour guide to groups visiting the city of DC. These groups could be 4-H groups, school group, scout groups, etc. Depending on the length of a group's stay, PAs use their knowledge as a licensed DC tour guide to lead the group to various popular attractions throughout the District and nearby Virgina. Nearly every "hot spot" is available for inclusion in a group's visit, so you say it, I've seen it...multiple times.

In order to gain the proper skills to serve in this role, all PAs must take (and pass, lol) the DC tour guide licensure exam, which equates to becoming a Certified Class B Tour Guide. To prepare for the test, we were given a study guide at the beginning of January with over 300 possible questions. Just a week after arriving (Feb. 17th), we took our test, and hope to find out the results soon. We have also been visiting many popular sites in the area, and running through the routes during the last two weeks of training.

Some groups request workshops as a part of their WOW experience; these workshops range in topic from how a bill becomes a law, to citizenship, leadership, and teambuilding. For this reason, each of the PAs were assigned to present a mock workshop to the group. We are all very experienced with facilitating workshops, so this was pretty much a piece of cake for us, especially since the workshop plans/outlines already exist, so all we have to do is review and execute them. Easy as pie.

And finally, our last (major) role as PAs is interning within a department at National 4-H Council. Nick has been assigned to work with the "Center team," which basically, includes doing work with our WOW supervisors and the departement in which the program is organized. Christy will be working with the Resource Development Department, perhaps working on curriculum development and other similar projects. Colin was assigned to 4-H Supply, which, for you 4-Hers out there, is the product development/marketing component of Council. This translates to...the 4-H Supply store, the one that designs and distributes 4-H brand paraphernalia across the country and world. And lastly, my assignment is with the CEO/President's office. I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I figure that out; it's sure to be an interesting adventure. :)

As we go into our third week of training here at the Center, we'll be focusing on practicing our commentary (talking/stories) for the Nightview tour, mastering the designated routes to major destinations, and meeting with our internship departments. We will also begin to prepare and plan for our first groups; Christy and Colin's first group comes in the first week of March, and Nick and I's group comes in the following week. Of course, we'll all be on pins and needles (okay, a little dramatic there, but still) until we find out the results of our exam, but hopefully it'll come in soon.

And, just in case anyone is interested in another viewpoint of a PA's experiences, feel free to check out Christy's blog. She has written a much more detailed description about our first two weeks of training, including funny stories and good times that we all have together. Don't worry, she has given me permission to share it with you all, so go ahead...check it out!

Now, I suppose I should get started on reviewing my Nightview commentary...

A plus tard,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ma Famille d'Hall Warren

Has it been eight days already? Wow, I've been here for over a week already...only fourteen more to go? Nooooooo, I like it too much here!! Heh.

Um, so, it has been a crazy week, even though I don't feel like I've gotten a whole lot accomplished. Before I get into the work stuff though, I should probably describe my living situation, or, as we have affectionately began to call ourselves--the (Warren Hall) family.

Alrighty, let's start with describing the house. I live in Warren Hall, which is located right smack in the middle of the National 4-H Youth Conference Center ( For many individuals visiting the center, Warren Hall is kind of that mysterious building that no one really knows about, even though it's right in the middle of everything. We (family members) think this is kind of funny. Warren Hall is a 3-story house with a basement; people used to live in the basement but after many occasions of flooding, it has now evolved into a laundry/computer room, and storage of all things unimportant. On the first floor, there are three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living/dining room, and tiny kitchen. The second floor contains four bedrooms and one bathroom (2 toilets, 2 showers, 3 sinks), as well as a few storage closets for linens and other supplies. There are two bedrooms and a bathroom on the third floor. (This makes for a total of 9 bedrooms, potentially sleeping 20 or more people.) We also have this really amazing balcony on the second floor, which has been dubbed as the "Meranda;" it's probably my favorite place in the whole house, and we definitely spend a lot of time there.

As for the family members (housemates), there are nine of us currently living in the house, but we expect to get nine more in the middle of May, as most of the current housemates start to move out. On the first floor: Justin, our Resident Assistant (RA), is a Master's of Social Work student at nearby Howard University and does a lot of work with refugees here in DC, as well as in East African countires. He is originally from Indiana, and has also been a Program Assistant (PA) in previous years, so sometimes he picks up a few Wonders of Washington (WOW) groups from time to time. He shares a suite with Brian, a fellow Howard University student from Illinios, who is currently interning with the U. S. Department of Treasury. Also, Brian and I share a birthday...can anyone say "partayyyyy?" :-p Matthew, Colin, and Nick share the third, first-floor bedroom. Matthew is a recent graduate from the University of Georgia, and living in here for an internship with some important office in downtown DC. Colin and Nick are my fellow PA's. Colin, originally from Virgina, is a former Americorps member who did assignments across the nation--a few of which in Arkansas and South Louisiana (BTR/Houma!). He's currently taking courses for a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management with LSU Shreveport. Nick, from Maine, is the baby of our family (only by age--he's 18), graduated high school in June 2008 and just returned home from a semester in France--as an English teacher and student of French. ...We try to burst out in random Frenchness from time to time, heh.

The second and third floors of our home are much less populated, to say the least. Myself and Christy, from Ohio, live on the second floor. Christy graduated from Ohio State in June 2008, and has done a lot of work with the state's 4-H Operation Military Kids program. It's kind of fun that I know a lot of Ohio people that she references from time to time. :) We each have our own room, which is super nice, and there are even two extra rooms on our floor. Ah, the life.

Two marketing interns for National 4-H Council live on the third floor. They each have their own room (freakin' awesome ones, at that) and share a bathroom. Amanda's from Baltimore, Maryland, but spent 10 months working as a journalist in Nigeria after graduating college. She's in New York this weekend--sounds fun!? Marcie, or Mama Marcie, as we like to call her, is a former 4-Her from California who co-owns (?) her own film/production company. Marcie's a silly girl who seems to love life and is teaching me piano!! Woot. (Now I just need to remember to practice every day, hehe.)

Now that I've described everyone, do you happen to notice a common theme? Though we all come from different places, I've noticed that we each have our own stories of adventure, life in diverse places, and a desire to serve others. Coming from South Louisiana, it's not always easy to find people with these sorts of interests and experiences, and I am just so in love with this opportunity to live with people who are just like me (in that regard). These people just insire me so much--I live with a feeling that I truly can do whatever it is that I want to do in life, and I don't feel like such the oddball anymore. It's really a unique situation, and we all seem to really love our family members. It's pretty rare to find this many people who can live in one house together and get along with each other--not to mention care for one another in such a way that we know where everyone is at most times, and even take care to wait for them at meals and things like that. I do realize this is only the end of week one, and things could change, but at least for now, I am thriving in the Warren Hall family. There's so much love!

When living with eight other people, I'm sure you could imagine the silliness that often ensues. Because we live at a youth conference center, the rules are very strict about alcohol and that sort of thing (it's not allowed in the house at all--and I'm perfectly fine with that), but it really doesn't matter, because no one needs a "substance" to have fun...we have plenty of fun on a daily basis. The "Meranda" has made for some great times in studying for our DC tour guide exam, as well as brief dance parties and coreography sessions. LoL We have also watched plenty of movies, including National Treasure (gotta study for the exam! lol.), which we got from our blockbuster mail-in account. We spend hours in the cafeteria joking around and having intense discussions. Yesterday, we spent seveal hours playing monopoly in the middle of 500 guests' dinnertime. Good times. I mentioned that Marcie's teaching me piano (slowly), and Colin plays the guitar a lot. Last weekend, Marcie called a post office in Hawaii in hopes of solving our debate about which day is the busiest postal day. (It was late in the day, so only Alaska and Hawaii's offices were open. She refused to call Alaska because she wanted to say, "ALOHA!" lolol.) There's always something going on, but we also have plenty of space to take time for ourselves, which will be important as time goes on.

I could go on forever about the house, and I haven't even begun to describe my first week at work. However, I think this post is long enough for now. Perhaps I'll write another entry tomorrow about all things work-related. For now, I think I'm going to stop here, and drag Nick with me to the office (such a far commute--the next building over) to find some scotch tape so that I can decorate my room. Did I mention I love my view??? It's so great!! Speaking of which, I'm in the process of taking pictures of the house and DC stuff; I'm going to start posting them on Facebook soon, so check it out!

More to come soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I have arrived!!

Just in case I have any loyal (or caring) individuals out there, I just thought I'd stop in tonight to let you all know that I made it!! Yup, that's right, I'm settled into Warren Hall, the house I'll be living at while I work here at the National 4-H Conference Center (just outside of Washington, DC). With no major mishaps, and a pretty smooth day of traveling, I had a great time meeting everyone that I'll be living with for the next few months. We have such a fun group!

In case you're curious, I live on the 2nd floor in a 3-story, 9-bedroom house (it can sleep about 20 people). There is also a commons room, kitchen, basement for washing clothes and computer stations, and an amazingly awesome balcony that has become my favorite place. I have my own room, even though there are 3 beds, 3 closets, 3 dressers in my room. Each room is set up a little differently. There is only one other girl who lives on my floor (for now, til May, perhaps), so she and I are the only one that shares the 2-toilet/2-shower/3-sink bathroom. Two girls who are interning with National 4-H Council's Marketing Department each have their own bedroom and share a bathroom on the third floor. On the first floor, the RA and a guy who is interning at the US Treasury Dept each have their own room (and bathroom?), and then the two other Program Assistants and another guy interning in a downtown office share a bedroom and bathroom.

I took some pictures of my room and bathroom--pre- and post move-in. I really want to try to decorate a bit, and will take more pictures if I do...they'll be posted on Facebook, just as soon as I have time and energy to create a new album. Oh, and I LOVE my bedroom view, it's pretty much the same view as the one from the balcony, so you can get the idea. And...there are freaking piles of snow on the ground!!! Craziness!! I really can't wait to share the pictures.

I'd go into more detail about everything, but it's technically after midnight here, and I've been up since 3:45 a.m. Central time, so I'm pretty pooped. In the morning, most of us are gonna eat breakfast in the Clover Cafe (cafeteria) together around 8:45 a.m., and then myself and another PA are going to 10 a.m. mass. In the afternoon, at least one other PA is gonna come with me to meet David (heart camp coworker) somewhere in the city. 'Course, this group seems pretty spontaneous, so we'll have to see what actually happens when the time comes.

Sleepy time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Leaving, on a jet plane...again.

Well, tomorrow's the big day! I had extremely high hopes of getting another decent blog out there before I head off to DC, but after 12 hours of packing today, I'm just not in the mood. My flight leaves Lafayette at 6 a.m., which means that I'm going to leave my house at 4:30 a.m. Eek.

In any case, I'm all packed up (even though I seem to have horrible luck with packing, recently), and am ready to the physical sense, anyways. Thinking back to my travel issues in getting to Boise last fall (see Hurricanes Gustav and Ike), I'm realizing that those "issues" were really blessings in disguse. At the time, I was seriously distraught over the fact that I couldn't get home from Ohio, and ended up not getting to say goodbye to my family before heading to Idaho.

Now, I realize how much harder it would have been to say goodbye only a few months ago. This time, it's hard to part from home (especially after being here for 2 months straight...for the first time in years, literally), but I am also taking with me the knowledge and experience that "time flies," and pretty soon I'll be seeing some pretty cool people up in DC--my mom and brother included. Sure, 4 months is a long time, but it's not an eternity, and I'll be back sooner than I know it. In fact, I'm sure you are all predicting future blogs about how I won't want to leave DC, hehe.

For the record--you know who you are--I didn't complain about having to leave home...and heck, I didn't even complain about the luggage situation (yet, heh). So, I'm getting better already, mkay???

I'm gonna hit the hay now...and will blog about the last few days, as well as my travel and arrival in DC. Can't wait to see how it goes!

"Leaving, on a jet plane..."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhog Day!

Happy Groundhog Day! It wasn't until the other day that I even remembered that today was a "holiday," lol. And, I still had to look online to even see the outcome of this annual event. Apparently our dear friend, Mister Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, saw his shadow today for the 97th time since 1887; he has only NOT seen his shadow 15 times, according to records. For what it's worth, supposedly winter will last 6 more weeks. Personally, I don't know how much stake I'd put in Mister Phil's prediction, and for that matter, I don't really care. I'm leaving for DC in 5 days, and I'm going to hold out hope that it snows (for real) while I am there. Just because I lived in Boise for 4 months doesn't mean that I had the opportunity to fulfil some of my lifelong desires--like making a real snowman and snow angel. :)

Because I'm so pumped about it, I just want to say that I have officially submitted all five of my graduate school applications. Yay!!! I met my goal of getting it done before DC, and for that I am very relieved and excited.

I have to say that my sleep patterns are very off at the moment. Allie spent the night at my house Friday; we watched August Rush and stayed up until 1 a.m. talking. She helped me with studying for my DC exam...a lot! Allie is great at conjuring up ways to remember strange things. We even have a funny new name for the Bascillica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (pronounced, BISnick, lol). It was a good time, heh.

Saturday, though, we were up super early to volunteer at the parish 4-H Demonstration Day. Poor Allie was only in 4-H for a year or two, and she got roped into one of the craziest Vermilion 4-H days of the year. She did great though, and I hope she at least enjoyed some of it...despite the craziness. ...Who knows, maybe she'll become a 4-H Agent one day. :-p

Also Saturday, I hung out at Nanna's for a while, did some brief shopping for DC stuff in town, and even got to see my Nannie and little Noah. Nanna got him a little bike to ride, so it was fun to see him figure that out. I'm sad that I didn't get to see Ross, Alyssa, or Eric, though, since I know that I won't be seeing them again before the end of May. Bah. I'll just have to send them some postcards or something.

It was probably the longest day I've had since at least Christmas, and I was so worn out that I fell asleep at 9 p.m. that evening during a Hallmark movie. Needless to say, I slept until 10 a.m. the next morning (13 hours!) and even took a nap on Sunday afternoon. With all of that sleep, I wasn't tired at all last night, and therefore, didn't get to bed 'til 5 a.m. Oops. Thankfully, there were a few other insomniacs out there to keep me entertained. ;-)

I suppose I should probably get back to studying DC factoids...time is flying quickly and the test date will be here before i know it. Random notes...It seems as though Wendee (DE) will be joining the rest of the gang (as mentioned in previous posts) at Ag Day on the Hill, so that brings our grand total to about 7 awesome folks visiting the Center during that week. Woot. Also, David (NJ) told me that he decided to visit DC this weekend, so I'll probably be seeing him in only a few days...yay DC!

Wow, this turned out to be longer than I expected...