Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coming along!

I feel like I'm off to a strong start on my project so far since I have been making plans for different interviews and for the workshops.  Since my target audience is the older boys at La Montaña and they are in school and I'm not allowed to hang out up there, I have had to find a way around all that to figure out how I'd be able to reach them.  Kevin took me up to talk to the people in charge, and on Friday night when they are all around I will go give a little presentation about what I want to do.  Talk about pressure.  Normally I'm totally fine with talking to the boys and talking about what I want to do, but now they want me to do it in front of 22 teenage boys, in a language I don't speak THAT well.   Its four days away and already I'm nervous!  

Today I was a little bit frustrated with the way things were going and the lack of time where the boys could pay attention and participate in interviews.  There wasn't a lot of actual work to be done since everything works on Honduran time, so a lot of the boys who agreed to do an interview were distracted and busy just playing with the other volunteers.  I don't mind though, I think its great that the group is making an effort to play with the kids despite not speaking spanish.  Instead of focusing on boys today, I decided to work on the volunteer video.  The volunteer video is just another sect of my project that I hope will help to prepare future volunteers with what to expect when they come down.  Things like learning about "Honduran Time", the weather, and the general ups and downs of being involved in a program that is such an emotional roller coaster.  The intensity of this program often leaves people feeling the need to contribute and to continue efforts, but the feeling often dwindles and people forget to follow up or lose the drive to return.  I'm hoping that the volunteer video, and the videos I come up with in general will be something that people can share with friends and help to maintain the drive to fundraise and keep coming back.   

Tomorrow I have plans to talk to several of the boys about their stories, and then I will also be interviewing a few more of the volunteers.  I want to interview the group from Collegiate, who are all back for a second time, and then in two weeks I will be able to interview the other group from Collegiate who will all be coming for the first time.  I've interviewed the UVA girls who are here for six weeks, and will be interviewing several long term volunteers who come back regularly.  Hopefully its going to all come together the way I hope!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hello again friend, I told you I'd be back

As much as I love going different places in the world, I generally hate traveling.  Long lines, close quarters with strangers, and unnecessary delays.  I thought yesterday would be different, and I was off to a good start getting my bag checked and getting to the gate within fifteen minutes, but of course things are never that simple.  I had plenty of time to sit down and eat at Ruby Tuesday's and take notes in my journal as I thought about the possibilities of my interviews.  Once I arrived in Miami I was able to sit down at the Corona restaurant and have a beer and quesadilla while I waited for my flight.  Once I finished eating I got up to continue to my gate, only to see on the boards that my flight was delayed.  Only twenty minutes, but since things go slowly anyway I knew it would be longer.

About 45 minutes after we were supposed to take off we finally boarded.  As I sat down the person sitting down next to me soon followed.  He was about my age but clearly religious folk.  I got a little bit nervous since I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum (he's going down to convert Honduras, I believe live and let live).  Throughout the flight we got to talking and he seemed like an interesting guy, but I couldn't help but start talking about religion.  He's a mormon missionary, I'm a humanist.  Opposite ends of the spectrum.  He's trying to spread the word of Joseph Smith, I prefer to focus on the problems at hand.  I suppose that since I'm not preoccupied with any sort of after life, I feel the more urgent problems are the things we encounter day to day.  No matter though, we had interesting discussion, and though he thought he was right, and I thought he was a bit delusional we ended on good terms.  Except when we said good bye.  Normally when I say good bye to someone I give them a hug.  Even someone I have just met.  That to me is an appropriate way to say bye to someone you spent 4+ hours talking to.  Needless to say, I went for a hug, he freaked out and tried to shake my hand and it was superrrrrrr awkward.  

I guess I haven't met enough Mormons?

Anyway, I found Jenny and Paula with little trouble and we came back to the hotel to unpack.  Paula and I just sat in the hotel lobby catching up.  This morning we woke up and had our breakfast bars, but also mooched a little bit off the Elon group that is here so that we could get a little free breakfast.  It worked, awesome!  The Elon group decided to go to the beach, and thought they were going to be bringing some of the boys with them, but Kevin didn't get a bus rented so the boys couldn't go.  I wanted to be where the boys were so Paula and I stayed back and just hung out at the foundation instead of going to the beach.  

It was amazing to get out of Kevin's truck and have the boys do a double take and basically say "Blondie, what are you doing here??" Made my heart swell to see all my favorite guys again.  Eduardo, who I have been close with since the beginning of the first trip ran over and gave me a huge hug and said he was happy to see me (pictured left with Wilson).  Manuel looked me and said, well..... did you get the cameras for the course or what?? (I had originally pitched the idea to him when I first had it).  Porfirio looked at me, looked away, then looked back and his eyes totally lit up as he realized I wasn't just another volunteer.  And all the little guys that I had photographed before were SO excited to see their pictures.  
I tried to start talking about the photo course and the film, and some kids won't talk to me about the film but all seem realllly interested in doing the course.  I will need to figure out what their schedules are like so that I can plan accordingly.  One of the boys that I love, who almost made the mistake of running a few years ago (but now is doing really well on scholarship in a private school) agreed to tell me his whole story on video even though "its long, and really really sad".  He lived on the street for three years addicted to drugs and was basically an entirely different person.  We have an appointment for tomorrow at 3 to start the interview.  I'm nervous and extremely excited.  I think the next three weeks are going to be an emotional roller coaster.  But at least I know that I'm going to be back in three and a half months when its all over.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

24 hours

I can't believe I'm leaving TOMORROW!  This spring has flown by, and now that my mare is settled in at the farm in Durham where she will be in training, and I have done all the things I need to do, all that is left is packing.  

Yesterday I had several portrait sessions, and I wanted to share a few of the resulting photos. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Striking a balance

Today is one of those days of pure joy that can never seem to come around often enough.  Despite being in the middle of exams, today I was able to escape to the barn and just enjoy my horse.  Its easy to get caught up in the day to day struggles of work work work, but today as I stood in the barn aisle and Aston rested her head on my shoulder, it was like nothing else in the world existed.  It seemed like the heat had drained her already a bit so I thought today would be a good day to find out if she was willing to go on the trails by herself.  If you had told me two months ago that I'd be able to do this, I would have told you that you were crazy.  My little mare has beyond exceeded my expectations, and yes I have fallen in love with her. She's curious, engaging, and has so much personality. She's far from perfect, but she's mine, and that's good enough for me.  

There were a lot of moments on the trail when she stopped and asked me "mom, are you SURE you want to do this? Like really really sure?" and I'd say, yes I'm sure, but we can do it when you are ready.  And then she'd turn her head back, look at me and say "Well.... if you're sure....." and then walk forward where I wanted her to go.  I've found that she really does want to please, and doesn't want to be bad, but she needs the confidence from me to have confidence in herself.  We are able to build off of each other's strengths to accomplish our goals.  

I'm both excited and nervous to send her away for a month.  I'm nervous that the trainer isn't going to like her.  I know where she started, so I know how far she has come, but I also know that had she not had a bad start, she could be farther along.  Right now I would say though that she has less than 60 days under saddle, even though I have owned her for almost 4 months (4 months next Monday).  The first two months don't really count as much of the work we did was correcting physical issues and training issues.  Now we are moving way beyond where she has ever been.  Thursday I'm scheduled to have a lesson with the woman who will be working with her during the month of June, and I can only hope she comes home with an even more solid foundation, and learns even more than I have started to teach her.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cameras are ordered!

Today I finished ordering the cameras for the boys in Honduras.  I'm still designing the workshop set up I want to use to garner interest in the course we will be teaching in the fall, but for now at least I know I will have the proper equipment!  I will have 4 Canon XS's for the boys to share, and my own 7D to document the journey.  12 days and counting!  This coming week I'm heading up to Virginia to meet with the President of the ProNiño USA board, and possibly a few others, about the projects I will be completing while I'm down there.  I'm very excited!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A message on life from Spain

The following is an excerpt from a message from my closest friend over in Spain.  I traveled with her, got to know her, and found that we share many of the same ideals about the world.  Last night I sent her an email congratulating her on the scholarship she received to go study in Berlin.  Like me, Carolina has a concentration in Social Work and is also quite preoccupied with the state of the world.  At the bottom is the email received, if anyone would rather not read the translation. 

"Kelsey, the world is indeed a strange place, this morning I was thinking exactly that...  and I loved getting your message that corroborates my thoughts.

The strange thing is everything and these complexities are inherent in us human beings. Knowing ourselves, internalizing, being in stillness.  We need to carry a total certainty, to reach deep down inside of ourselves, to close wounds in order to control our emotions when we get hurt... And its difficult when we live in this crazy world where everything is a lie. Magic and creativity is the only realitythe energy of our body, and what intuition tells us...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Video of Aston

I just figured out how to post videos into the blog!  Fun.  I'm going to share the latest video of Aston (from last week).  

I have also been spending a lot of time thinking about central America and immigration.  Some thoughts on some of the nuances I've noticed are to come. 

I love the USA military