November 26, 2010 - 2:00 PM
I have mentioned this before, but I shall repeat it here. I love that the University of Oregon is so close to a big city like Portland. It is fairly easy to take a weekend and hop up there for a different kind of experience. It is a nice convenience for students.
Last weekend, I did just that. I have a friend who graduated from the UO last year and moved up there and I had been meaning to visit him. We met studying abroad in Greece. So, I went up Friday to stay a night. I ended up having a lot of fun and was once again convinced that Portland is a very cool city.
It felt so good to just hit the road first off, but it felt even better to get out in such a neat city. My friend lives in a part of Portland I hadn't been in before. It is a wonderful little area full of local shops and restaurants and that unstoppable vibe of mellow floating throughout the air. His flat is on the top of this neat, older house and is right off the main street of the neighborhood. It is full of big windows with wonderful views of the surroundings. He definitely got lucky finding the place!
A few of us went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant that was a short walk from his house. It was super tasty. Walking there gave me the chance to do some window-shopping as well and have him tell me a little more about the neighborhood. After dinner, we headed out to some different places downtown and met up with some other friends.
The next morning we went to Portland's Saturday Market. I loved seeing all of the farmer's market booths and all of the food vendors. We got some of the tastiest breakfast burritos from one of the stands. Saturday Market is the perfect example of why I love this area of the world. There is just something about the combination of the people milling about, the wonderful foods, and the crisp, mellow environment that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, despite the temperature outside.
Being in Portland left a huge smile on my face and an undeniable feeling of pure bliss in my heart. I look forward to traveling the world, but there is something about the West Coast that will always have my heart and soul begging for more.
It was nice to get away from Eugene for a night and do a little Portland exploring. I am hoping to start going up there more next term. I might even stay weekends at my aunt and uncle's house to do some of my thesis writing.
November 25, 2010 - 9:00 PM
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it has the innate potential to be the absolute manifestation of mellow. Mellow happens to be my preferred state of being, my ultimate hope for my state of mind.
Mellow: adjective - pleasantly smooth or soft; free from harshness; softened or matured by aged or experience; relaxed and good-humored: everybody got very mellow and slept well.
On Thanksgiving, it doesn't matter how many people show up. It doesn't matter what you do or what you eat. It doesn't matter what time it starts and it doesn't matter that everything be perfect. Thanksgiving is just about getting together to relax, eat, and give thanks in any fashion one sees fit.
This Thanksgiving, I came home to Northern California with a good friend of mine, Michelle, who graduated from the UO last spring. We drove down on Tuesday and since our departure from Eugene, the trip has been nothing but mellow. We have gotten to sleep in a bit, lounge about the house, saunter our way around town, and basically just do whatever we feel like whenever we feel like it with no real stress or need to please. This is exactly what I needed post-week nine when all of the stresses of the term are condensing into a final seven or so days.
On actual Thanksgiving Day, Michelle and I hung around my dad's house for a while. We ate pastries and drank coffee. Then, we took a break to go to the beach and walk my dog. To me, there is nothing like the beach. It makes me feel so happy and so at home. My heart swoons for coastal cities. The sky was a beautiful blue all the way across with so much sun it made me wonder how I had not noticed Eugene's lack of it this past week. Basically, I believe that no matter what is wrong in the world, it can be relieved by a trip to the ocean and a cleansing of the feet in its salty water. The beach was even better with such great company.
Upon returning from the beach, Michelle and I indulged ourselves in a table of chips, dips, and cheese and good conversation. Eventually, we moved on to my mom's house for the main course. It was nice to see my mom and spend time with her. She cooks some of the most amazing food I have ever eaten. As soon as I walked into the house, I could smell all of the wonderful flavors I would soon be consuming. The three of us then sat at the table and talked about what we were thankful for and read some animal spirit cards and ate stuffing, green beans, artichokes, turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, and all of the other great Thanksgiving sides. It was so relaxing and delicious. I was able to just feel at peace.
After a couple of hours of the pain on the couch that resulted from all of the gluttony, we moved on to dessert and ate it while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that my mom had recorded earlier. It was a nice end to the evening.
Thanksgiving was all it needed to be this year - mellow.
November 21, 2010 - 6:30 PM
Throughout fall term, I have been meeting weekly with the PPPM Internship Program Director, Rhonda Smith. Last year, I worked with Rhonda while I was applying to various competitive summer internships. We made a great team and I ended up landing an internship at The Carter Center in Atlanta. This year, I will be graduating and hence, I have named our meetings for this year my "Life Meetings." This year, I'm not just applying for a summer internship, but applying for opportunities that will help to shape some of my future goals post-graduation. I have decided to focus on applying for three very selective programs and then have some back up jobs lined up. The three fellowships I will be applying for are as follows:
New York City Urban Fellows
This is a nine-month fellowship in New York City that combines work in the Mayoral offices and various City agencies with a seminar series on urban issues that impact public policy. I am hoping that this opportunities could place me in a position that would allow me to learn more about how large cities handle homelessness and which organizations work together to battle this epidemic. This application is due in January and is quite intensive, including writing a 1,500-word policy recommendation, a 1,000-word personal statement, a resume, three letters of recommendation, an application form, and a transcript. The Fellows also get the opportunity to take trips to Albany and Washington, D.C. This would be an incredible opportunity and I have been looking for an excuse to live in NYC for a while!
City Hall Fellows
This is a 12-month program in San Francisco that aims to develop strong leadership skills in Fellows through learning how to work in local city government. Fellows get the chance to evaluate and help create local policies. Fellows act as full-time employees with the City. I love San Francisco and would greatly enjoy the chance to work in such a beautiful city, helping to better it through local government work. The application for the next session has not been posted yet, but the deadline for this one is sometime in March.
Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program
This is a yearlong program with the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington, D.C. Six months of the program are spent in D.C. learning how to work on hunger issues from the policy level and the other six months are spent placed somewhere in the U.S. working with a nonprofit or other direct service organization to learn about ending hunger at the community level. I think this would be such a great interdisciplinary approach to a topic that I feel very strongly about. The application is due in January and includes a resume, application form, personal statement, and two short essays.
I am trying to take these applications one piece at a time so they don't become too overwhelming as I try to also work on my thesis and class work. So far, I have gotten all of my letters of recommendation in line and have polished up my resume to fit on one page. Next, I plan to start outlining the essays. I can already see the hours of editing ahead. I'm ready!
November 20, 2010 - 11:00 PM
This last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to help out in the PPPM 412 class, Internship Development. PPPM 412 is a class required by PPPM majors to complete before starting a credit internship. It provides valuable professional development tips and opportunities to learn how to create the best resumes and cover letters possible. Last Tuesday was the Mock Interview class session and I got to act as one of the interviewers.
The students were required to send their resume and a job description they wanted to apply for to their assigned interviewer prior to the class. The interviewers were to then come up with six to eight questions to ask each of their students. I actually found this process very educational. Sitting down and taking the time to think of questions that an interviewer might ask helped me better understand the mind of interviewers. It was valuable being able to think of what a person might be asked and to see how the interviewer would arrive at their questions.
On the day of the interviews, I had three different students to interview and they each did a great job. We got the chance to discuss everything from a good handshake and attire to avoiding the word "Um" and how to be prepared for questions. I had a really nice time being able to discuss the interviews afterwards with the students. I think it was valuable practice for all of us.
I also got the chance to talk with the teacher of the class, Rhonda Smith, afterwards about ways to further improve the mock interview process and make it run smoothly for sessions to come. Hopefully, I will get the chance to be an interviewer the next time around as well.
November 15, 2010 - 1:07 PM
This weekend, I spent a majority of my time trying to be productive with the whole writing a thesis thing. I am looking forward to next term when I will be taking eight credits of thesis research. This means that I will be able to devote more time to my thesis work without other class work making that difficult. It gets a little exhausting trying to work on my thesis while I have what seems like one thousand other things to do for my other classes. The saddest part is how much I want to work on my thesis! It brings me so much joy! Yet, I can't devote as much energy to it as I would like. Winter term will be fabulous!
Anyway, the main thing that I worked on this weekend was finding good sources for the literary review section of my thesis. This section involves looking at the scholarly articles already out about my topic and learning what I can from them and seeing how they relate to what I find out in my research.
I found a lot of great articles this weekend simply by doing a search on Google Scholar. What is really handy about using Google Scholar on campus is that there is a nifty button that appears next to the search results that says "UO FindText." This allows the user to have immediate access to the University's various databases that have pdfs of many of the articles.
As always, I found myself with much more reading that I wanted to do than what I really need to do. There were just so many articles that sounded so interesting. I decided to focus my search on articles that related to the idea of the Housing First approach when addressing homelessness. Housing First shies away from emergency shelters and emphasizes permanent housing. This relates to my project, as the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) is aimed at prevention and, well, re-housing. The policy sees the importance of not just putting the homeless into the cycle of shelters, but back into stable, prolonged housing when at all possible.
So, now I have all of the articles I could really ever need, but the next part requires a bit more work. Now comes to time for actually thoroughly reading them all and beginning the written section of my thesis. It will feel so good to start finally writing the pages of what shall be one of my proudest UO accomplishments.