August 2009 Archives
Itís pretty late right now, but this is really the only time that I can find to write a blog! Iím currently at the cape with my family staying at a resort that we go to for a week every summer. With all the events you can do during vacation itís difficult to find a spare moment to actually just sit back and enjoy yourself. Luckily, I was able to find this time to look back and reflect.
Move in day is approaching, and kind of caught me by surprise! I wasnít quite sure how close it was until a friend of mine that attends Holy Cross said how overwhelmed she was with packing to go back. I soon realized that we move back in on the same day, and that was in less than 3 weeks! Iím not overwhelmed with packing or anything, I actually have yet to start, but it was definitely unexpected. One thing that Iíll keep in mind is to not over pack. That was the cause of most of my stress and clutter last year; bringing winter jackets during the fall that I didnít end up using along with many other unnecessary items.
My older sister, who will be a senior at Bates College this upcoming semester, doesnít come home very often because she usually lives in an apartment up in Maine. She does come home for the last month of summer to accompany the family on the annual Cape Cod vacation. In my eyes, she doesnít look any older or mature than Iíve remembered, but when I think of her entering her last year, she definitely does seem aged. Itís weird; sheís always been two years ahead of me, but the gap has never been that large to me until now. Realizing that she soon will probably get her adult life started, Iím only getting started with my training!
Weíll share college experiences with each other, and what Iíve noticed, even with many of my friends; most students love the college they go to. Many will have loved the college they go to even before attending, but others will go in hoping to transfer out to a more prestigious school. I came into the first year not knowing what to expect, but hoping to be able to like it enough to stay until graduation. I ended up loving my first year, and the feeling is mutual amongst most of my friends and their respective colleges. Even my friends that were planning on transferring decided not to and now plan on staying at their college. So if youíre nervous about your first year, so is everyone else in your class, but by the end, youíll most likely end up loving it.
A question I love asking some of my friends who will soon be entering their first year is, ďare you nervous about making new friends?Ē As you may have heard, college is where you can re-identify yourself. Make a whole new group of friends on a clean slate. I love asking the question because I always know that the answer is the same, of course theyíre nervous and worried about meeting new people and ďfitting inĒ. My best advice that I got and will give out is to leave your door open the first couple weeks of school. Go around and look for open doors, and introduce yourself. Itís the quickest and best way to make friends, and in no time, youíll have a huge group of friends!
Well itís getting late and I have to be well rested for all the activities planned for tomorrow! If anything exciting happens on this vacation Iíll post up an update soon!
Although my trip to Mississippi was packed with rebuilding the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, I had an amazing time down there!
Iíve never been down south before this trip, but Iíve always heard that itís much hotter than New England. This could not be truer. During the day, the time that we worked, I donít think the temperature ever dropped below 95! I remember a couple weeks ago before my departure, I was very unhappy with the non-summer weather here in New England, but down in Mississippi, with the 100+ on average, I actually missed our weather. What made it even worse was the fact that we were required to wear long pants on the work sites due to the possibility of snakes, spiders, etc.
In total, there were about 100 others that traveled down to Mississippi, all being from different parishes in Massachusetts. They were all still in high school except for one girl who was actually going to be a junior at UMass Amherst. I didnít mind being one of the oldest ones there, but it definitely gave me a more mature and experienced feeling. Many asked me about different aspects of college life; how the dorms were, how hard were classes, if the rumors about not having to go to class were true, etc. Just to get that out of the way, not all classes are set up in lecture style, so yes, you do have to go to class!
The 100 was randomly broken up into teams of 4-8, with 2 adult leaders (I was not a leader) per team. Each group was assigned a random work site in Mississippi to work on from Monday-Friday, each site having its own tasks. Some people helped build the frames to houses, some did roofing, etc. My team worked to help restore a building for a group called The North Gulfport Community Land Trust (NGCLT). This group was run by two females who had lived in the community all their lives and were adamant about bringing their community together and fighting the injustices that the government put on their community. The neighborhood was considered a ghetto, which was inhabited by low income families. We had to do some gardening and painting for the work site, which the NGCLT hoped would eventually turn into a small education center, where the kids in the neighborhood could come to utilize the resources that werenít available in their own homes. There would also be tutoring, GED classes, language classes, and many other resources available.
The first couple of days, we worked in the garden; weeding, mowing the grass, and making sure the garden was in good condition. Eventually, the garden would turn into a community garden for everyone to plant their own vegetables and herbs. Gardening in the hot sun with no shade was the worst task for us, but we tried our best to suck it up and just finish the job.
The second task was to paint the whole building. It made no sense to us why they wanted to paint the brick building, since it already looked nice with the original brick red color. We were told that painting the building would show the government and whoever else providing the NGCLT with funds that progress and work was being done on the building. First we had to wash down the whole building, then prime it with a white base coat, and then paint it with the final color, Cosmetic Peach. The group consisted of no professional house painters, so the job was messy but we got it done!
Priming the building with a white base coat before the actual color!
Painting the building with the coat of Cosmetic Peach!
One corner finished! The whole group posing under the sign
It took us the entire week to complete the whole work site, but afterwards the NGCLT was extremely grateful with our work. It was a great experience for me; I had the opportunity to speak with many of the children in the neighborhood that walked by. Everyone I talked to actually liked the new peach color, and they all agreed that they would utilize the building once it was completed.
I enjoyed the whole trip, and talked with the director of the program about next yearís return. Iím planning on going back next year as a leader, and cannot wait until that day comes!