Friday, December 31, 2010

Mumford & Sons

After not posing for a while, I'm going all out with a serious post on the last day of 2010.

For some reason, I've heard Mumford & Sons a lot lately. I started listening to them almost a year ago now. I remember, because I thought David would really like them a lot, because they are raucous and thigh slapping with deep, touching lyrics that talk about both the sadness and joy of life. That was his style. But he went into the hospital before I could tell him about the band. He was one of my best music buddies.

 And so I continued to listen to them, while grieving, for months. But I love the music this band makes so much, I can't bring myself to stop listening, even though it usually makes me sad. I think it must all go back to the fact that the lyrics are sad but joyful all at the same time. That's just the way life is, anyway.

RIP Davey. I still miss you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Tomorrow I am going to Baltimore for work. All expenses paid. I get $25 per diem for dinner for Monday through Wednesday. There will be continental breakfast and lunch Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm going to the headquarters for one of the national agencies that we are an affiliate of, meeting with people from all over the country that have my same type of job. I'm very excited to travel for work, and I think it will be helpful for me, since I'm so new in the role. I also love that I have a job that lets me do these types of trips.

I get back late Wednesday night, then I will be in the office for a little while on Thursday, and right after work on Thursday, Kurt and I leave for Michigan! My mom is extremely excited. It'll be a time of food, fun and games, according her text. It will be so nice to have the family together, almost all of us in the same house, even. I will be dragging Kurt around all over Holland and Grand Rapids. I reckon he'll be quite overwhelmed when it's all over, meeting so many friends and family.

Right now it's 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside. That's -15 degrees Celsius. Ouch. I am more than happy to stay cozy and warm in my tidy, underground apartment with my electric heat on 70. From what I hear, it will only get colder. The questions is, as the winter plods on, will I prefer the warmer temperatures paired with excessive snow of West Michigan, or the bone-chilling, lung-freezing winds and temperatures of Nebraska, but with less snow?

Friday, December 3, 2010


They are on my mind. Today I was helping my co-worker set up an apartment for some people coming from Bhutan on Monday. Normally, I don't do that, but because we have such an onslaught of refugee arrivals next week, I wanted to make sure everything was ready. When I got into the apartment, I just got to work...unloading my car (a nice, strange looking guy in a man-dress and boots with no laces helped me out a bit), unwrapping all the goods (toothbrushes, shampoo, can opener, pencils, maxi pads, alarm clocks, etc), and putting everything away. I find it very enjoyable to see and/or set up apartments for refugees before they arrive. The whole place has such an aura of hope and excitement. As I was putting stuff away in the kitchen, though, I realized there were bugs EVERYWHERE! Half dead ones writhing on the floor, totally dead ones in the cupboards, tiny alive ones all over the walls and ceilings, cockroaches lounging on the living room wall. All of a sudden I ceased feeling excited and wanted to get out of there ASAP. And I felt bad that this was what they were going to get. Besides the bugs, though, the place was really nice. Huge kitchen, big living room, tons of counter space in the bathroom, gigantic closets. As my coworker who had this job before me says, though, "If we don't rent places that have bugs, we will never find places for our clients to live." It's an unfortunate truth. I have several refugee apartments, though, and this one was pretty darn buggy.

When churches or volunteers encounter these type of things ("Ack! Cockroaches!" Or "Why don't they have cable?" or "They have to take the bus?!") we sometimes have to explain that the refugees are very poor, and they get all the trimmings that come along with that. Even though I know this in my head, it doesn't make it any easier when I'm in a buggy apartment, or see one of those bugs scuttle out of my shoe when I get home (I did take my shoes off in the hallway, though).

Another issue of the week: bad landlords. One family went without heat for a week. I called the office manager a total of 3 times before it was fixed. I don't think I have encountered anything so frustrating as landlords who ignore your requests. I mean, it's one thing to ignore the accented immigrant, because you think they don't have a clue (this particular landlord thought the family had broken the thermostat, blamed them for all the problems, and gave me hell on the phone about it when it turned out the furnace was actually broken), but to ignore the American that can call the Fair Housing Center on you (which I did, and she was furious) is another step into horrible landlord territory. Then, this same week, I mention that my heat is doing strange things, and I get a new thermostat that same day. It's pretty amazing. And frustrating.

On the brighter side, I had a few encouraging meetings. I have another church sponsor committed for a family arriving in a week and a half, and another potential church sponsor. I met with half of the Bhutanese Community of Nebraska board of directors and we talked about their organization and what they can do to get 501c3 status and really grow to help their community. It does seem as though the holiday spirit is inspiring people to do good things for the refugee community of Omaha, and that is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving in Michigan

It has been a whirlwind of a few days. Thursday morning I got up at 4:10am CST, went to the airport, and flew to Chicago-Midway. I did not have to go through a backscatter scanning machine, nor did I have to have an invasive pat down. It didn't look like anyone else was going through those processes, either. We all just went through the metal detector, like normal. I got to the airport at about 5:30am, and everything went along smoothly and quickly. We landed in Chicago a few minutes ahead of time, and I was picked up by my dad and littlest brother at 8am CST. We had a lovely drive to Holland talking about politics and various world conflicts.

Our families' tradition, as of the past few years, has been a big lunch and a stromboli cook-off in the evening. Lunch was small and quiet: just me, my brother, parents and grandma. The stromboli competition is always Uncle Dan vs. My Mom. However, since Uncle Dan's wife, my Aunt Mary, was in the hospital, preparing to have brain surgery the next day, their family couldn't make it. Not to bash my mom or anything, but I usually like Uncle Dan's stromboli the best because he puts chicken and green pepper in it. Kara, Evan and our cousin Alex did come over for my mom's stromboli, so the dinner table was much more lively. There was plenty of reminiscing about the old days of our childhood (oh-so long ago for 18 year old Matt). Lacking Peter, though, it certainly didn't reach the levels of raucousness that is possible for our family. It was certainly a nice day, though. I had some old friends come over later in the evening. It was lovely to see them and we played a fun game.

Spontaneously, Amanda and I decided to go Black Friday shopping at Kohl's at 3:00am and to Target at 4:00am. We had never done it before and were kind of excited to see what the big deal was all about. We stayed awake by looking at ads and drinking caffeine at Denny's. Nate joined us there, and we got to Kohl's just in time to be squeezed through the doors by the rushing crowd. There were some pretty good deals, so we did our shopping, and it was at the moment I was looking for the end of the line did I realize I would probably never do this again. We waited a little less than an hour at Kohl's. Our plan was to go to Target next, and so we did. Nate got in line immediately. That line took much longer, almost and hour and a half. We were out of there at about 6:30am and I was exhausted because I had been awake for over 24 hours (except for a 2 hour nap I had taken in the afternoon). I can't even remember the last time I did that. I went to bed around 7am, and got some mediocre sleep until about 1:30pm, because I kept getting texts (I should have turned my phone off).

After waking up and eating (apple pie for breakfast) and showering for the first time in almost 2 days, I went shopping again at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids for a few other items I wanted to pick up. I'm not a big shopper, nor am I a bit fan of buying things (aka consumerism). However, I must say that I did get some useful items that I know I will use a great deal. Because I don't shop often, when I do shop, I make sure to get only the most needed items. I think I'm all set for another year now. I'm most excited for 2 purchases: my new jeans (it's extraordinarily difficult to find jeans that are long enough for me) and my Cuddl Duds (aka long underwear). My Cuddl Duds are another chapter in my quest to be warm during the winter.

I mostly went to Woodland Mall because it was very close to my Iraqi friends' home, which I planned to visit. I was there from about 6-10pm. It was really great to see the family and their latest addition, a baby girl named Hala. I had missed my little Aya and was so happy to get lots of hugs and kisses from her all night. I gave my camera phone to her, and she took about 25 pictures, mostly of Hala, but a few of me. Hala is such a gorgeous baby. She has hazel eyes, not brown like the rest of her family. She was very well-behaved, as was Aya, which is not always the case. I was pretty exhausted, though, so I headed home around 10pm.

For some reason, it never feels strange to be in Holland. I always think of it as the town of my youth. But driving around in GR was strange, because I'm not used to thinking of that as a part of my past. I still had the impulse to drive to the house on Herrick. It hasn't been that long since I was happily living in GR. I miss those days a lot. I miss all those people and all those places and events. I think it would be harder if I didn't have such a great life started in Nebraska, though. I have a fantastic job and an amazing boyfriend in Nebraska (who I have spent time missing in Michigan). I kind of feel like most of my life I have spent missing things, because I have chosen to move around so much. I often miss Korean food, and the excitement of living in a foreign culture. I often miss rowing, and how I was in such good shape and on a team working toward a goal. I miss friends in various parts of the country and the world. I miss familiar places, like seat 4 in a shell and the chicken galbi place in Nowon and Baldwin and the WYCE studio. Over my short years, I've learned to just deal with that. Sometimes the sense of missing something is stronger than other times, and it's just particularly strong for my former life in Grand Rapids.

I shall enjoy the time I have Michigan for what it is, though. Today I will play games with friends some more, and probably do a little dancing. I get to see Zika soon, which will be wonderful. And tomorrow I get to back to my great life in Nebraska.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I did not expect today to be as crazy as it was, though I guess more accurate words would be heavy and hectic. Hectic because this afternoon I sat at the front desk because our secretary in on vacation, and it was our department's turn to cover the shift and I volunteered. I think it was a quiet afternoon, as afternoons in our office go, but for me, who usually gets all her time to focus on her job, I got interrupted all the time for phone calls or walk-ins. And most of the walk-ins' appointments were canceled, but they weren't notified, which was rather backwards. Usually it's the client not from our culture that doesn't show up for their appointment. Adding to is all, I had to do all this accounting crap, which added a bunch of stress to the package, because I don't understand "ledgers" and stuff very well.

That was hectic, and heavy was this phone call I got from a girl who has had some problems with the landlord. She called me originally because she wasn't sure about a bill she got from them about fixing some things in their apartment. Today she called with a few follow up questions, and she was really upset. She told me all this stuff about how the landlord charges people for things that they shouldn't. For example, her apartment has bed bugs, but they told her to buy her own pesticides at the store (which she did, though bed bug experts always say that you should never, ever do that). Then she asked to have the carpet removed and have laminate put in, which helps a lot with bed bugs. The landlord said that she would have to pay for that, which she did. That was not true, however, because the landlord should have covered the cost of that. She was really hopped up and frustrated, going on and on about how it wasn't fair that the landlord was taking advantage of her and her people (Burmese refugees). It was such an intense conversation. I talked to her about the fair housing center and gave her ideas on how she could start to record the neglect the landlord has shown. It was hard to get her to move past being very, very upset and onto action, though. It was like she was so used to being helpless and mistreated that she couldn't understand that I was making offers that would help fix the situation. I hope that I can help improve the situation in the long-term. But it will take a looooooot of work.

On a light-hearted note, I learned about this refugee's name. It's "Po Karen James Bond Zero Zero Nine". That is his legal name. This refugee will not be resettled by our organization, unfortunately, but we all got a good chuckle out of seeing this guy's names on an official document. 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to going to Michigan for the weekend. I hope to see lots of friends and family.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yesterday was incredibly busy for me. I worked all day, then went to an informational seminar on bed bugs at the Douglas County Extension Office. Now you know who to come to for all of your bed bug questions. It's kind of a daunting prospect when you know a large amount of your clients have bed bugs. I mean, where do you start? Really? I think I decided I've got to try to organize some major information sessions with the refugees, with translators and translated materials for them to take home. That has got to be where we start.

After the meeting I went to the airport to see a family reunion for a Kachin Burmese family. Two teenagers were coming, a girl age 16 and her brother age 18. They hadn't seen their mom in 6 years and their dad in 10. The story is one of the remarkable kinds that blows your mind at how bad and good things can be for people at the same time. It was extremely touching, though. I took video that I won't post for privacy reasons, but I'll describe it. The mom stood at the end of the long, airport hallway, watching her children walk up to her. I was a little amazed that she didn't run toward them, but they're from a different culture, I guess. Plus, it made the moment that much longer and easier to hold on to. All three of them were crying. There were hugs all around. Even us, the Americans, were hugging the newcomers. The teenage girl was a happy, overwhelmed wreck, but it was beautiful. The kids got to meet their 1 1/2 year old brother, who looked like he could be straight out of a Kohl's ad he was so cute. The dad was holding the baby, and they just lingered back, being all stoic or something while the mom greeted the kids with great emotion. Dad hadn't seen his kids since they were 6 and 8, so I imagine it was a bizarre moment for him.

I got home very late last night and went straight to bed. I'm lounging a little bit this morning, heading into work late. I have to stay late today again, though. Tomorrow will be a short day, thankfully.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good book

A volunteer at LFS lent me a book called "The Middle of Everywhere" by Mary Pipher. Pipher is from Lincoln and has done a lot of work with refugees, though she is a psychologist of sorts. It's a pretty amazing book and I recommend it to everyone. She refers to many of the people she has worked with as "newcomers", and I think she uses that term to include people who have come here in a lot of different ways assylees, economic immigrants, etc). Some of the things she writes about aren't applicable to refugees, especially the part that talks about struggling to achieve legal status in the USA. Also, so far, I kind of feel like she is trying to make people feel sorry for refugees, which is difficult to stomach when you're reading a book. Who wants to feel guilty about that? And these people don't need our pity. They are often incredibly strong-willed and hard working, putting American born people to shame. But there's a lot of very accurate information and amazing stories in there, and I would recommend everyone read it.

Work is going to be a little tough over the next few months. Our program manager announced his resignation the day I started at LFS, and now, the woman who was sort of filling in is quitting. As I am fond of saying, it's like we are going to be on a raft in the middle of the ocean with no lifeline. We are not in the same building as our headquarters, and two other programs co-exist within our building, but we have no leader. It's putting a great deal of stress on us. *sigh* I keep saying that our strength is our awesome employees who are remarkably dedicated to the well-being of the refugees, even though they are over-worked. Hopefully not too much slips through the cracks, because bad service for us means people go hungry or don't get heat in their apartments or kids don't get in school or people don't get jobs or people get evicted. I feel like we're just going to have to hunker down and try to make it through these next few months as best we can, avoiding disaster as best we can.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

adventures in multi-culturalism

Guess what? I got a work credit card! With my work credit card, I will be buying things for refugees. For example, I really need to buy a vacuum cleaner or 2. One of our clients actually asked for one! I also will probably be buying winter items from time to time. There also may be bed bug related purchases. One never knows what sort of items a refugee needs.

On Sunday I went on a "multi-cultural tour" that visited Omaha's Hindu temple and a mosque. Here are some pictures!

This is a picture of Kurt eating ice cream before we met for the tour. It was delicious and it was a gorgeous day. It did get cold when we were eating ice cream in the shade, though, so we went inside.

This is the Hindu Temple of Omaha. The tour was extremely enlightening and I learned a lot. The same could not be said about the tour of the mosque. It contained some pretty common information.

 We took a few pictures in front of the temple, but they all were terrible. This was the best one.

Me and two of my coworkers, Claire and Leah, all ready to go into the mosque! Leah did research on how to do a head scarf the right way and she taught me (after this picture). I'm very excited now that I know how to cover my head properly. :0)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Burma = :0(

Things have been pretty slow at work this week. We had some people arrive on Monday, then no one is scheduled to arrive until November 17. Since so much of my work involves pre-arrival preparations, things have been slow. Yesterday was a bit boring and tedious, but today was slow, yet enjoyable. The staff meetings are always a good time, because we all get together and talk about stuff. Afterward, I ended up talking to our Karen case workers. I had a few items of business to talk to them about, and then I asked them about the "elections" that are scheduled for Burma on Sunday. I had heard a story on NPR about it that morning. I then listened to about a half hour of explanation about the Burmese government, refugees, refugee camps, Thailand, "elections", Aung San Suu Kyi, her father, ethnic cleansing, Burmese spies, and the like. I love my job because I get this kind of insider information from my coworkers. They like to tell me, and I like to listen.

They were telling me that the military government sends spies to monitor expat populations (Omaha being a GIGANTIC center for refugees from Burma). Community leaders who don't support their home government get their names sent back to Burma, so that if they ever enter the country again, the government will know and deal with them. My coworkers will likely never return to Burma. They're happy to be Americans, though (or at least, when they are able to apply for citizenship). I told them that my family came to America just a few generations ago, and that their grandkids and great-grandkids will be just like me. God bless America.

Also, I learned that the Bhutanese community is starting up their own community organization. The Karen did this and have been extremely successful, though they have thousands more in Omaha than the Bhutanese. My Bhutanese coworker wrote bylaws and filled out the 501(c)3 paperwork all by himself! That's amazing! I am hoping that I will get the opportunity to help them out nonprofit organization-wise...maybe help them get a grant or two.

My job is pretty great. My boyfriend is also pretty great. He made me dinner this afternoon, brought it over and put it in my fridge so I could have it when I got home (he works 5-9pm). It looks delicious.

And Happy Diwali, everyone!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

license/work/plane ticket

Today was kind of a cool day.

I got up early (which was probably the least cool part) and went to the Nebraska DMV to get my new drivers license. Interestingly, I now have an F restriction on my license, because my left eye doesn't see very well. Legally, I must drive with 2 side mirrors, which is a fairly normal practice, except I broke the passenger side mirror a while ago when I hit one of those stupid construction signs. It's not news to me that my eyes are bad, though. I am working on locating an ophthalmologist to get myself a new pair of glasses. My insurance includes eye exams every 2 years, and I have only a $10 copay.

Along with the new ID, I registered to vote at my new address. I didn't get to vote today, which is kind of a bummer, but I'm not too worried because of all the transition I'm going through these days.

At work today, I helped this older couple look at an apartment. They have quite the story. She is from Sri Lanka. He is from Sudan. They met while living in Lebanon. Then they came as refugees to the USA. She has had a lot of health issues, and they don't have any kids. They are very adoring of each other. They've worked so hard on their English the past year they've been here, and it has paid off. Unfortunately, the apartment we looked at was not well-suited for them, considering it has a reputation for drinking and drugs, which does not mesh well with their Muslim beliefs. I tell ya, working to find housing for the poorest of Omaha is tricky and difficult and I am gaining insight into what it's like to live in poverty.

Exciting news...I booked a plane ticket to fly home for Thanksgiving! I'm very excited for that. I hope to see many friends and family members.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

i could sleep

So I went to bed at about 6:15pm for a 45 minute nap, a half an hour after I got home. I planned to go to the gym for a while after mynap. However, I set the alarm clock in my bedroom incorrectly and woke up at 9:14pm thoroughly confused. Only when I stumbled into the kitchen and saw that I was still wearing the shirt I had worn to work did I realize what had happened. I had thought it was morning time and I had overslept because my cell phone alarm clock, which is what I usually use, didn't go off. Guess I'll go eat some food and stay up late tonight....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today I feel pretty good about myself and my job. I arranged 3 volunteers to take 5 families to Walmart to buy winter clothes. They are all families that have arrived within the past 4 months, and they have no idea what winter really is. I had to coordinate 3 womens' schedules, then inform 5 families that speak zero or little English to what was going to happen, then explain the plan of attack to all volunteers via phone and email, and then meet the volunteers in the morning with the checks for the families. I would usually expect 1 or 2 families to pull a no-show, or some other communication failure to occur. But everything went off without a hitch! Everyone got coats and other winter necessities with their money! Each family had at least one representative to shop for them! There were no problems at the banks! Miraculous!

I'm pleased with how things went today. Two more volunteers are taking 2 more families on Friday, and one other volunteer is taking 1 more family next week Tuesday, so I guess it's not all over yet. But this has been in the works for a long time, and it's getting cold, and I'm glad there are a few more warm refugees out there tonight. :0)

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Today while waiting for Amanda's henna to set in her hair, we turned on the TV, and Saved! was on! I had forgotten how awesome of a movie it is. It makes the Christian world look as ridiculous as it often is. The people who are supposed to show God's love are the bad people, and the people who are supposedly the "sinful" people are the ones with the most compassion and love and capability to forgive.

One of the best scenes...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

of Montreal/Janelle Monae

I went to this concert tonight at the Sokol Underground in Omaha. I was looking forward to attend my first concert in Nebraska and the first concert I have been to in a long time (that I was excited about). I expected a great voice from Janelle Monae and a spectacle from Of Montreal, and I was not disappointed.

Janelle Monae has a set of pipes. Whoa baby. I remember reading that she tried to be on Broadway, but she ended up with a record deal instead. This song has not gotten old for me yet. I love it every time.

I have been a fan of Of Montreal since I saw them at Rothbury 2008. I don't really know how to explain the odd things Kevin Barnes concocted for this tour. There were many people wearing full body leotards of various colors and patterns flailing around on stage. For most of the show, on the bottom, all he wore were pink tights and what looked like a lace apron. Then later, he changed into some gold lame' cape and astronaut type headdress. There were the people running around with pig masks. The 8 foot tall bird heads with fake guns were strangely unsettling. And it was all so loud I do believe I lost some hearing. I kicked myself for forgetting earplugs.

(Don't listen to this song if you're offended by the F-bomb).

What a busy week. I feel like I have hardly been home at all. I joined Snap Fitness this week, which I'm happy about. I have been feeling rather weak and blah lately. Some exercise and weight lifting will hopefully make me feel better. It usually does!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I have a new hobby. I just randomly saw a commercial for it on TV and was sitting at my computer, so I went there. I typed in my grandma's name, and I was sucked in. The website is mind-boggling. I found information about the lineage from my mom's mom's mom (maternal great-grandmother?) and her decendents back to the 1700s. Most of my ancestors were born in Dwingeloo, Drenthe, the Netherlands. It's pretty awesome to learn about.

Also, I got a haircut today. The first professional haircut I've gotten in a long, long time. I shall post pictures at some point, but it's not that earth-shattering or exciting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

insurance and immigration

Congratulations to me, I now have medical and dental insurance! I'm very thankful to have been in nearly perfect health for the 2 1/2 years I didn't have insurance. My appendix can burst anytime now!

I went to another arrival yesterday. It was family of our Bhutanese caseworker, Kumer. I learned how to say "Nice to meet you" in Bhutanese while we were waiting for them to get off the plane. I look forward to learning lots of phrases in a bunch of languages while I work at Lutheran Refugee Services.

This morning, I went to a forum on immigration reform, put on by this group in Omaha called "Omaha Together, One Community"...aka OTOC. It was inspirational, and now I'm all hopped up on justice for immigrants. Lucky for me, my job is working with people who are completely and totally legal in the USA. I don't have to battle that stigma of the "illegals". However, I find many people are incredibly ignorant regarding refugees. It is my quest in life to decrease that number. :0)

At the forum were two people from the church that is sponsoring the family that came on Tuesday: the pastor and a retired lady who chairs the missions team named Dee Maycock. Dee just might be my new hero in life. I'm not sure exactly how old she is, I'm guessing around 65 or so. She uses a walker, but moves pretty well with it. She is sharp as a tack and has bumper sticker promoting justice on the back of her car. So, after this meeting, the pastor, who is the silly, irreverent type, came over to Dee and put his arm around her shoulders and said, "I am eternally grateful to you for introducing me to the importance of justice to my faith." I was touched. Dee is the bomb.

At the forum today, I was reminded of the importance of immigrants to the identity of the USA. My own grandma grew up speaking Dutch at home and at church. Her family was nervous to put her in school because she knew no English. It was frequently mentioned today how funny it is that as each new wave of immigrants assimilates into the culture, they begin to vilify the next wave of immigrants as lazy, unwilling to assimilate, and a danger to their established way of life. This pattern repeats itself over and over in the history of our country, and it's unfortunate that people don't see that. It's unfortunate that the government believes that enforcement of laws is the way to deal with this massive and decisive issue, instead of immigration law reform.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

new arrivals

OMG, I love my job.

Today I had a meeting at 10am at a local high school to discuss with the Honor's Society about options for their service projects. Then, the rest of the day was pretty normal. At 6:30, I got to go meet LFS's newest family at the airport! It was very cool. There were about equal parts Bhutanese and Americans. The Americans were shy and seemed a bit uncomfortable, while the extended family and Bhutanese community members were chatty and happy. The family consisted of a mom, dad, two teenage sons, and a 6 year old daughter. Someone from the church had brought their young daughter, who had packed a backpack full of her toys to give to the little Bhutanese girl. It was so precious to watch the American girl show the Bhutanese girl how to play with some of the toys that I started to tear up a bit. I had forgotten my camera, unfortunately, so I just snapped a picture with my cell phone camera, which I don't know how to load into the computer yet.

Also, today at work, I played Spanish interpreter. While I was poking around in the file room after most people had left, I heard one of my coworkers trying to communicate with a woman about energy assistance, but failing. I listened for a while (because cross-cultural communication with language barriers is common and our staff is skilled at it), then I went out to them and said, "I can speak a little Spanish." I was impressed with my ability to speak and listen that well after all these years. It was exhilarating!

One of these days I'll post a detailed explanation of what exactly I do. I got home at 8pm today, though.

Everyone on our staff is cleared for overtime this week, prepping for the PRM audit, so I will probably be home late most nights this week. I still love every minute of my job, though, so I'm not complaining yet.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Today was a monster. I had to go into work at 8am, which is an hour earlier than usual. (My office mates usually begin showing up at 9am. It's pretty awesome.) We had a bunch of people from central administration coming to help us review the 165 files from fiscal year 2010 to prepare for the Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration audit. It's amazing what a group of determined people can do! Everything was done around 2pm...after I had been running around like a chicken with my head cut off for 4 hours. I'm not even really sure what I did during that time, except answer a lot of questions and move around a lot of files and paperwork. I guess I did eat some pizza and candy, too.

At 5pm, I met some Clarkson students at a refugee's house to start their volunteering hours. When I went in, the mother was showing them music videos. It was very fun to watch music videos in Karen. Apparently, much of the footage was shot in a refugee camp. I kinda feel like a zombie after today, but I still love my job.

Enjoy a Karen music video!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And begin

I decided to start another blog. Many of you might not have known, but I kept a blog religiously for about 3 years, one of which was my year in South Korea. I love that I have those blogs now. I've always been a fan of journaling, perhaps because it's so easy to forget what your daily life was like. I like remembering.

Also, since I am, yet again, far from my place of birth and separated from many people I love, I think it will be a good way to share what is going on in my life, so when I see people, it won't go something like this: " have you been up to?" And I will admit, when I moved to Nebraska, I sort of disappeared from Michigan, with nary a "Goodbye!" or an "I'll miss you, friend!" It was a difficult and strange in-between point in my life, and I'm glad it's over.

In case you didn't know, the current title of my blog refers to the nickname theme that has started since I've moved to Nebraska. It must include both my name and another word that has the long-a sound toward the beginning. Examples:

Renadio (the first and most enduring)
Renapist (the most offensive)
Renanal (the most hated)
Renalienated (the most brilliant)
Renainbow (the most adorable)

Which ones am I forgetting?

Anywho, I'm off to try to find a jogging route through my new little hometown of Waverly, Nebraska. Then, I shall watch the U of M vs. MSU game with my Michigan homies.