Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Global Youth Service Day

This week marks the 2014 Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), which celebrates and mobilizes the millions of young people who improve their communities each day of the year through service. This special day is celebrated each year in more than 135 countries, with young people working together - alongside schools, youth organizations, civil society organizations, government agencies, national service programs, and more - to address the world's most critical issues and change their communities. Established in 1988, Global Youth Service Day is the largest service event in the world, and the only day of service dedicated to children and youth. While this day has always been near to my heart, it is extra special this year because I am actively participating in it.

Yesterday I was contacted by a press officer from Peace Corps Headquarters inviting me to be teleconferenced in to the Global Youth Service Day Conference being held in Washington DC. Two other PCVs and I will be broadcast live to the National Mall to talk about our service and do a Q&A for viewers. We will represent the 7,209 currently serving Peace Corps and, hopefully, inspire youth to continue giving back to this interconnected global community.  Wow.

I feel very honored and extremely humbled to have been asked and a little bit intimidated by the task. But I am up to the challenge. I am inspired every day by the work we are doing abroad and I believe in the capacity we each have to help. I  have seen the impact in Botswana. This is my chance to share it with a much larger group at home. How very exciting!

If you want to learn more about GYSD, please check out their website at and if you're in the Washington DC area on Friday and see my face up on the screen, send me a wave!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reconnecting in the Motherland: A Mother and Daughter's Story

I have been asked countless times what was the best part of my mom's trip to Southern Africa. Of course, having road tripped thousands of kilometers to visit three countries has a lot of perks to it. We got to spend time at my boyfriend's family's farm; bask in Mozambican sun; snorkel at the mouth of the Indian Ocean; see lions, cheetahs, and wild dogs; get caught up in a glorious African thunderstorm; and explore the history of South Africa. We ate delicious food and drank jugs of wine. There were so many things to share and stories to tell about my mom's trip here. But, when I took the time to really think about what made her trip so special, I have to admit that it was a very simple answer: the quality time we got to spend together, reconnecting.

Despite talking over instant messenger or email almost every day, living 8,000 miles away from my mom has been one of the harder things about living abroad. We are incredibly close - even having lived together in adulthood (which is totally different, fyi) - and that type of connection is hard to facilitate over the internet. Typing fatigue is real, as are time differences and bad internet. And, honestly, sometimes you just want a great big hug from your mama! So the time we were able to spend just talking, laughing, and getting to really truly catch up was amazing beyond words. You forget sometimes, when you get overcome by your own life, how important that is. Her trip was a reminder and it made me feel whole again.

Reconnecting like that was also important because it brought me back to the core of who I am. It connected the changes in me with the beauty of my past. It brought my lives together, sewing them up, and giving me confidence in ways I cannot fully explain. The last time my mom came, it felt validating, like the whole Peace Corps experience was real and I hadn't imagined it. This time, it was that who I have become is real. That was a very powerful thing to realize.

When asked what the best part of my recent travels around Southern Africa was, I have to say "my mom". But the rest of the adventures weren't half bad either...

Cheers to grand adventures with great people!