Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March Madness

Ahhhhhhhhhh. I haven’t written in almost 3 weeks!! Shame on me! Bah. Honestly though, things have been insane, and it’s going to take forever for me to write about it all. The problem with that, though, is that it’s 10:45 p.m. at night, and for reasons I’ll explain later, I really should be trying to get a good night’s rest. Guess that’s not gonna happen…

To simplify the process, I think I’m just going to make headings for “important” topics.

First Group
March 8-12, Nick and I had our first group, 8th grade private school students from Alabama. The week was extremely challenging for us, but we got through it and made it to the light at the end of the tunnel. I’d write more, but this IS the internet, and I’d rather stay away from specific details. Feel free to ask on a more personal level if you’re interested in the gory details. Heh. I will say, however, was that I got to experience a few DC things for the first time—the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Newseum. It was super cool to visit the awesomeness of the Newseum on my birthday; what a great way to end the week.

Dawn’s Visit
Amidst the craziness of my first group, my bestest Sunshine stopped in to visit for a few days. Dawn was invited to represent Louisiana at Ag Day on the Hill (details coming soon), and since it was her Spring Break that week, she asked if she could stay with me for a few days, aka March 9-12. …She does “have a boyfriend in DC” after all…lololol. (This is a joke based on the fact that Dawn visits DC a million times a year…she’s already been here twice since the end of January, with at least another visit to come in the near future.) While she was here, Dawn and I each visited new places for us, and together (with Nick) we went on the National Treasure Tour at Mt. Vernon, which is quite possibly the coolest behind the scenes tour ever. (Granted, it's the only behind-the-scenes tour I've ever done, but let me live in my fantasy world, mkay?) Anyways, it was nice to have Dawn around while my group was here. She kept Nick and I grounded and really helped out at some of the sites. It was also super special that she happened to be here right up until my birthday… :-D Gotta love special friendness. Lol.

Ag Day on the Hill
Back to Ag Day, young adults from nearly every state in the nation were invited to attend Ag Day on the Hill, a day of promoting agriculture and youth development. Most of the young adults were members of 4-H and or FFA, and the event was also sponsored by some other organization. I was pretty excited about this event, because even though I wasn’t chosen to represent Louisiana (see previous paragraph), many of my friends from other states came out for the event on March 11-12. It was super awesome and fun to get to hang out with Gillette (MT), Wendee (DE), Emily (NJ), Jeff (ID), and Benjamin (OH/MI). Because our schedules were so jammed, we didn’t have a whole lot of hang out time, but we appreciated what we had. We definitely don’t take time for granted when we’re only able to see each other once (sometimes more) a year. A small tribute: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong…”

My 22nd Birthday
As many of you know, my birthday was on March 12th, only the bestest day of the year. Unfortunately, I was working and then exhausted from work, so I didn’t get to enjoy it very much. I also missed home quite a bit, and was sad about not being able to celebrate with Kim, my birthday twin, for the first time in four years. Bah. It was nice, though, to see all of my 4-H friendsies (Dawn, Jeff, Benjamin, Gillette, Wendee, Emily, etc.) on my day. My housemates were great too. Colin and Christy stole the rest of a cake from their group and added mine and Brian’s names to it so that we had an official birthday cake. Oh yeah, it was Brian (housemate)’s birthday too…only he was born in the wrong year (1986), hehe. There were some fun times, but I’ve definitely had better. …I mean, hello, no birthday is complete without MooKim festivities, and Rascal Flatts, lol!

Jeff’s Visit
Adding to the greatness (and busy-ness) of the week, Jeff, my great 4-H friend from Idaho, stayed in Warren Hall following Ag Day through Sunday, March 15th. Jeff was a Program Assistant for Citizenship Washington Focus (the sister program to Wonders of Washington) last summer, so he used to live here and knows the ropes pretty well. Anyway, Jeff and I were pretty close, since we met in 2007 as Collegiate Facilitators at National 4-H Conference and continued to talk over the years and hung out quite a bit while I lived in Idaho last Fall. The PAs took the afternoon off on Friday (3/13), as we’d all had a tough, tiring week. Saturday, Jeff and I went into the city and ended up spending nearly 4 hours in the Museum of American History. Then we ate dinner at an interesting restaurant and unsuccessfully attempted to score tickets to a Capitals game. When that didn’t work, we gave up and went back to the Center for the night. Sunday, Jeff, Nick, Christy, and I went to the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown. It was cold and rainy, so not many people were out, but we still had a good time. We had to leave early though so that Jeff could get to the airport in time for his flight home. It was a good weekend overall…thanks for visiting, Jeffe.

Office Work
As for work, I’ve been doing projects in the office since my group left. I won’t have another group until Vermilion 4-H arrives on April 13th. To be honest, I’m perfectly fine with this because I really do prefer working in the office anyway. The groups stress me out too much, and I can feel so much more accomplished by doing projects instead. Thus far, I’ve made a ton of nametags for groups coming to the Center, completed a draft of a WOW Destination Directory for the planners to use when designing itineraries, and now I’m starting some event planning for the 2010 Board of Trustees meeting. Never know what they’ll come up with next…

Nathan’s Visit
Last weekend, March 19-22, Nathan came to visit from Seattle. I met Nathan last summer when Kim and I moved our stuff up to Boise; he’s been friends with Joey (Kim’s fiancĂ©) since like middle school. Somewhere between moving in July and my return in September, Nathan decided to up and move to Seattle (what a loser!). Anyways, we’ve kept in touch quite a bit, and since he’d never been to DC before, he took the opportunity to visit when there was a free place to stay and certified tour guide to take him around. Sounds like a good deal if you ask me. I took most of Friday off of work and we spent the day walking to all the awesome monuments in downtown DC. We had a late lunch/dinner at the Reagan Building and then returned to the Center to hang out and watch movies with my housemates for the evening. Saturday, we started our day with (free “comp” tickets to) Arlington Memorial Cemetery, and then metroed to lunch at the Old Post Office Pavilion. We went up to the top of the tower there (my first time) and took some pictures of the amazing view. I’d hoped to take Nathan out to the Capitol Visitor’s Center but with timing and my inexperience as a tour guide, the timing didn’t work out. Instead, we spent a while at the National Archives seeing the Charters of Freedom (which is what he really wanted to see, anyway). Then we walked over to the Capitol, sat around the reflecting pool for a while, walked up the steps, took some pictures, and then metroed back to the Center for another night of family movie watching. Sunday was relaxing but fun; it was gorgeous out, so we had a Warren Hall family soccer game, and then sat on the porch forever hanging out and watching our circus of a family do crazy things. Marcie and quite a few others did some tricks with her yoga ball, she and Justin did an egg toss, and then Amanda sprayed everyone with the hose. Good times. When it was time for Nathan to go, Justin dropped us off at the Bethesda metro stop and I rode with him out to DCA then metroed home alone (for the first time!!). Looking back, it’s hard to do DC in such a short period of time, but I think we did a decent job, and I hope he had a good weekend nonetheless.

Random stuff now…

Tour Guide Licenses
Our tour guide licenses (finally) came last Friday!!! I’m official now!! Yay. …Can’t wait to start getting the discounts, lol.

Graduate School Update
I’ve now been admitted into North Carolina State and Louisiana State University. Still no idea where I’m actually going to go, and waiting to hear back from Ohio State and the Clinton School. Unfortunately, I may have to make some decisions in the next few weeks. That won’t sit well with me, so be prepared for a freak out session?

Conference Starting
Tomorrow, awesome people start pouring into the Center, as the Collegiate Facilitators and Planning Committee members arrive to gear up for National 4-H Conference which officially begins on Saturday. I can’t wait to see all of my 4-H friends again!! There are going to be 4 of us from Louisiana, and many of the Ag Day folks are coming back. Woot. It’s going to be a crazy, awesome, sleepless, amazing, hard, tough, and great week, and boy, I cannot wait. …Conference is my favorite event of the entire year!

Christy’s Blog
And once again I’d like to encourage you all to read my housemate, Christy’s blog. She writes when I don’t, and doesn’t, when I do…? Heh, not really, but she has included details about some of our doings that I didn’t, so I say it’s worth the effort. Keep up with her when I’m too busy or lazy to write here. And anyways, it’s always interesting to get different perspectives on the same thing. I think so anyway. So, here’s her blog, again.
(Real) March Madness
Since it's the title, I guess I should also note that I'm participating in basketball brackets through work...and I suck. To my credit, though, I picked schools based on where I know people, not on actual ability. I did pretty well in the first set of games, but it all went downhill from there. Not that I care much, but I just thought I'd mention it to tie everything back together.
And now, I MUST sleep...because sleep just does nottttttt happen during Conference. Ugh. Expect another update once things settle down...if things ever settle down around here.
Adios mu cha cha,

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Starting Now

Good news--I passed my tour guide exam!!! Yup, you got it, myself and the other three PAs all passed our DC tour guide test. Yay!! We haven't gotten our official cards yet, but it'll be great when they come in, so we can start using our licenses to get discounts at tourist destinations lol.

Backing up a bit, this past week was our first week of "real work." Christy and Colin had their first group--middle school students from a school for "learning differences" in Georgia. Despite the challenges for working with this group of children, I truly admire the idea of creating a school for children with learning differences.

As for the PA experience, Christy and Colin did a wonderful job, even with all of their opportunities for on-the-spot problem-solving situations. Their week started out with the group's delayed arrival due to a strong snow storm that swept the East coast. Because of this, the group had to eat lunch at Union Station (they took a train here) before coming to the Center, and then two workshops were given the first night, since the Zoo was closed, and it was definitely not a good idea to do Nightview with snow-covered roads. On another day, Mt. Vernon claimed they didn't have the group's reservation, and Hard Rock Cafe mischarged the Center beforehand. Through it all, though, I'm pretty sure everyone had a great time, which is all that matters, really.

So...snow. Yup, that's right...I HAD MY FIRST SNOW DAY EVER!!! I don't even know where to start about this one. Monday morning, most people at Center decided to work from home, so the PAs got a hold of our supervisor, and she said to take the day off. Can anyone say, "SAWEET??" Cuz, yeah, that's exactly what it was. On my first ever snow day, there were many other firsts...snow angel, snow man, sledding (!), and snowball fights. I have a ton of pictures posted on Facebook, so you should totally check them out. It was just such a glorious day...probably one of the best of my life!

Nick and I didn't have a group this week, so we were in the office doing projects all week. The National 4-H Council Board of Trustees had a meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, and since I'm working with the President's team (the one who organizes the board meetings), I was pretty busy toward the beginning of the week. The Board inducted three new youth trustees, and they wanted to offer an orientation to these new members, so they asked me to design the orientation program. Victoria, one of my long time great friends from home, has been a Youth Trustee on the board for over a year, so she was invited to facilitate the orientation.

It was really cool to use my experience in designing workshops or training sessions to design this orientation, and even cooler to know that one of my best friends would be the one leading it all. This really helped my motivation and understanding in the whole concept for the orientation, and although it didn't look exactly like my original plan, in the end, I think it all worked out well. I think they'll probably continue offering a youth orienation in the future...awesome to know I helped with implementing this new idea. And, it was great to see my dearest Victoria, even if it was only for one day, heh. Plus, she'll be back again in three weeks...

So, yeah, that's the sort of stuff I'll be doing when I am working for the President's team (weeks when I don't have a WOW tour group). I'm sure they'll come up with some interesting projects. In fact, the President/CEO's assistant said that I may have an opportunity to work on some of their new international projects that relate to expanding youth programming (in the form of 4-H) in Africa. It all sounds pretty cool to me, so we'll have to see what happens.

Alas, Nick and my first group arrives tomorrow evening. It'll be a quick turnaround--they arrive, settle in, eat, and leave for Nightview in only an hour's time. Crazy, but we'll manage. The 8th graders from Alabama will be here through Thursday morning; with Dawn arriving on Monday, and more 4-H gang on Wednesday, I feel like this is going to be a crazy week. Currently, I'm trying not to think about how scared I am for my first group, but I keep reminding myself that Nick will be there for support, and I will get throgh it. I bet it will even be better than I expect, because things generally work that way when I am stressed.

Oh, I guess I should also mention that I received a letter this week from the University of Georgia. Apparently, I was not accepted into their graduate program. I was a bit disappointed, and especially frustrated to believe deep down that the reason I didn't get in is because of my GRE scores. I know I could do well in any program, but if my GRE scores keep me from being able to demonstrate my abilities, then oh well. I also realize that my previous life experiences (i.e. Idaho, DC, etc.) have evolved into culminations of events that lead up to the opportunity, or were long in the making. UGA was rather random, I don't have much stake in Georgia, and so therefore, it's probabably not where I'm meant to be.

I expect to hear more from other schools sometime around the beginning of April. Rest assured, however, I'll keep you all updated with things as they go along. And, expect another update...just as soon as I get through this week and the awesomeness of great people visiting during the best week of the entire year! Tehehe...

...Party time?