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Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Change, Culture, Feature, Guest Post, Study Abroad, Travel |

How Beijing Gave Me An Iron Heart

How Beijing Gave Me An Iron Heart

I may have left my heart in San Francisco, but Beijing equipped me with a brand new one – made of iron. When I returned from my year-turned 6-month relocation to Beijing, people often asked me to choose and describe my favorite part of the experience. It’s such a completely expected and usual question, but I still found myself fumbling with how to answer. Filing through memories and experiences, and then bundling months of perspective into a single statement felt overwhelming. Faced with the question, it seemed I could do nothing more than shake my head, mouth gaping — I was speechless, and I was stumped. Initially, I considered the usual suspects: food, culture and activity. Memory after memory, I shuffled, trying to pinpoint the winner. But it wasn’t the steaming bamboo trays of jiaozi, though they were truly amazing. Once I spent nine hours in a moon-themed KTV room singing karaoke– that, too, was incredible but still not my favorite. Even waking up early to dance in the...

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Culture, Feature, Guest Post, Travel, Work Abroad |

My Time as A German Au Pair

My Time as A German Au Pair

After college and an excruciating experience student teaching, I knew that I did not want to start a career right away. AT ALL. There was too much to do and to see. After going to Uganda before college and Germany during college, I’d developed a hunger to travel any and everywhere and to experience a different culture and language first-hand. I decided to be an Au Pair, or a nanny, to a German family in northern Germany. My main goal was to get better at German, see a lot of interesting things and meet a lot of interesting people. It was so exciting waiting in the airport to board my plane; I’ll never forget how hard I tried to keep down my smile. It was one moment in my life when I really knew I was doing the right thing for me. I boarded the plane and went off to have a three month learning experience. First of all, Germany is absolutely beautiful. I love everything about it: the...

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Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Blog, Change, Culture |

Women are Powerful

Women are Powerful

As women, we are often told that we are weak physically, mentally, and emotionally. We sometimes even believe it. Even though we are both subtly and overtly told we are less-capable citizens of this world, the truth of the matter is that Women are powerful. This past week in Chicago, I have been energized by the incredible community of women around leading, creating, and mentoring. Beth Santos of Go Girl Magazine is uniting women around the world to engage in their local and global community. Blair Brettshneider at Girl Forward is helping empower young refugee women to reach their full potential. Dr. Jill Bishop founded Multi-Lingual Chicago to train people to speak more than one language and participate in a multi-cultural environment. On a more personal note, a friend I have not seen in seven years told me about how she recently gave one of her kidneys to her father to save his life. In my own life, I am more grateful and excited each day to be investing...

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Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Blog, Change, Teach Abroad, Travel, Volunteer Abroad |

Give Heart, Give Hope

Give Heart, Give Hope

Stories change us. It is why we tell them to children to teach them about how to live life. It is why we share them with our friends. It is why we blog. This week, I was touched by the stories told by Ellen Hartman and her friends. Ellen volunteered in Moshi, Tanzania through Cross-Cultural Solutions and formed powerful bonds with the women and children of the Jipo Moyo center and the Hard Life artists. She has kept in touch with her friends which grew into a partnership called Give Heart, Give Hope. Even though I see Ellen on a regular basis, I had no idea how much her time in Tanzania impacted her life. This is a curious thing about travel. It is difficult to convey how the experience inspired permanent change in us. We simply live the changes and tell our stories. I was also touched by the photos, videos, and blogs written about people who come from very different worlds but still found ways to communicate,...

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