In case you were wondering..
It’s been almost six months since my last update. Six months of bliss. I really don’t like writing in this blog or writing at all really. I’ve found I’m only really good at academic writing, which makes sense since it’s what I’ve been learning to do throughout the past 4 years of university. I’ve somehow managed to skirt my way around any sort of creative writing class. While taking one probably wouldn’t have helped my GPA, it certainly would have been a good foundation to acquiring a valuable skill. Either way, I’ve somehow managed to maintain a small following of readers. Sure, they may just be my mom, all of my mom’s friends, and a randomer or two who googled just the right phrase to direct them to this page (which they swiftly redirect away from after realizing its uselessness to them), but all in all it’s served its initial purpose, and some.
This blog started out as a way to keep my family and friends updated on all the things I was doing as a corps member in AmeriCorps NCCC and 5 years later, I still use it for the same purpose: keeping family and friends updated on my travels and experiences. It’s almost comical how drastically my writing has improved in 7 years, though it is still nothing to brag about. Most of the time I write at the end of a very long day or trip and I just get it all down before I forget all the little interesting details, then post it without any read through or edits. Because 90% of the time I write in this blog out of a feeling of [self-inflicted] obligation, my efforts are usually limited to well, the bare minimum. Most of my blogs have been a long, drawn out, stream of consciousness, littered with “……”, “lols”, and poorly formatted photos. Quality writing, I know. But maybe one in every ten posts there will be one that I took a bit of time on; one which is more reflective, fluid, readable, and best of all: edited.
The good news is, despite my crap writing, it has turned out to be nothing short of a treasure; it holds memories and little details I would have most definitely forgotten which I am so grateful to still have. I use this blog as a reference tool more often than I actually write in it. In mildly related news, I found this great website (www.mapbox.com) that allows you to make customized maps. So I mapped out all the places I’ve been. Unfortunately, I’d have to pay for a WordPress blog template that would allow me to embed the map, so that isn’t going to happen. But if you want to take a peek: check it out here.
Despite the fact that I’ve been living abroad (in England) for the past year, I haven’t done loads of traveling. My studies at Oxford Brookes have somewhat chained me to the library and my ever depleting bank account has leashed me to the very bane of my existence, my employment at Subway (gotta pay the bills, amiright?!). I’ve done a few trips around the UK: Bath, London, Stratford upon Avon, Cardiff, Warwick, Stonehenge, Birmingham, but never got around to blogging about them because I barely fit the trips themselves in between uni, work, and the frequent CENDEP pub sessions – ‘but that’s ok, right?’. It’s been a great year studying in Oxford. I loved studying at CENDEP and I’ve met really amazing people.
This little gem is definitely worth sharing, but will likely only entertain those familiar with the NGO world:
Oxford: Oxford is great and therefore it deserves its own ridiculously long paragraph.
I love Oxford and I’m really going to miss it. It’s such a wacky little city that has more of a small town community vibe. It has interesting architecture and beautiful parks stuck in every nook and cranny. You can walk from the posh Oxford University city center right into little multicultural Cowley, a neighborhood full of students and people from all over the world. Cowley Road is a pretty amazing place – there are restaurants and stores selling food from every corner of the globe, charity shops (thrift stores), vintage shops, and loads of quirky little independently owned shops. You can walk or bike anywhere in the city and go punting on the river on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It’s small, but many big name artists come here to play music. A lot of fantastic local music comes out of Oxford. There is always a little acoustic show or local band playing somewhere in town. These local artists (e.g., Empty White Circles) find incredible support from local music venues, cafes, bars, and the community. Oxford has loads of community projects, festivals, community centers, art coops, food coops, and all forms of art everywhere, such as graffiti and busking musicians. There are ice cream trucks, a massive shark sticking out of the roof of a house, farmers markets every Saturday in many neighborhood and churches on Cowley Road set up little stands with old books, records, and crafts on Saturdays too. At night you can get kebabs and chips at food trucks all over town until 4 or 5am. There are constantly little festivals around town. You won’t go a day without seeing someone in a three piece suit in town. Bikers own the roads, not cars. And even while living in this little quirky, beautiful, diverse community, I still felt like the whole world was at my fingertips. All it would take was hopping a bus to Heathrow and at the drop of a hat I could be in Moscow by noon the next day. Not that I want to go to Moscow.
While on the topic of how great Oxford is, might as well write a little blurb about May Day. May Day takes place on May 1st and is an ancient festival/holiday that celebrates the coming of spring. In Oxford, the tradition is to stay up all night and drink. Then, at 6am the entire city gathers at Magdalen Bridge in town. At exactly 6, a choir (at the top of a tower) sings the city into spring. It was pretty amazing. While I didn’t stay up all night (presentation the next day), Jenny, Cathal and I went at 6am to hear the choir. There were a ridiculous amount of drunk people being very obnoxious but at exactly 6, everyone went dead quiet and the choir sang. It was really beautiful.
A few pictures (pretty sure one photo is meant to be worth a thousand words, so I’ve practically written a novel here)
We’ve had some good pub sessions:
Some even better ‘big nights out’:
A lovely evening at Nabeel Hamdi’s house:
A final CENDEP dinner at Turl Street Kitchen:
A great end of the year DEP exhibition, put together by Charlie Fisher:
In true LD (my mom) (©Meaghan Scanlan) fashion, she decided to come visit in the last few weeks before I come home. But what a lovely visit it was! LD and Peter came and visited me in Oxford, we did a long day trip to Stonehenge and Bath, and they spent the rest of their visit in London, which I visited on a day trip. It was really fun to have them come. A few pictures..
I’m now home (in Connecticut, USA) for the month of June. I’ll be working on my dissertation and in July I am headed to Haiti for about a month to do my dissertation research. My research is looking at whether or not transitional shelters (t-shelters) are actually transitioning (or, as probably only aid workers are familiar, the question “transition to what?”) in Leogane. I will be conducting interviews with t-shelter beneficiaries and key staff from the NGOs which provided the shelters.
Funny story: while I was googling transitional shelter related things a few weeks back, I stumbled upon my own blog where I had written an entire blog entry about transitional shelters in Haiti (read entry: here). I don’t really remember writing it, but I had a read through and it was pretty interesting – might even be able to reference myself in my dissertation.
While in Haiti, I will be staying with my friend Jolinda who was a fellow base manager for All Hands Volunteers in Leogane when I was there in 2011. After All Hands left Haiti, Jolinda began working for a fantastic organization called GOALS (you can read a little bit about how awesome Jolinda is: here). GOALS (Global Outreach And Love of Soccer) is an organization that “uses soccer to engage youth in community work and education that improve quality of life and develop new leadership” (Check out GOALS: here). GOALS is doing amazing work in Haiti and I am hoping to bring down some much needed supplies for them when I go.
So, I am reaching out to all of my lovely friends, family, and readers for donations of:
- Soccer equipment, used & new: Cleats (larger sizes are best, but small ones are good too), balls, cones, whistles, stop watches, pumps, etc.
- Entire team uniform sets – used or new
- Misc. items (which are available in Haiti, but are silly expensive): D batteries (for megaphones/rounding up children) and dry erase markers
GOALS does not accept:
- Dirty, torn, or unusable apparel, gear, equipment, materials, etc.
- Clothing unsuitable for sports activities, such as jeans, tank tops, etc.
Please consider donating cash or going through your closets and finding equipment you and your family are no longer using. If you live in Connecticut and have things you’d like to donate, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange for me to pick them up (I will bring them directly with me to Haiti in July). If you live outside CT and would like to donate, you can mail your donations to: 1201 Tree Bay Lane, Sarasota, FL 34242. For more information on ways to donate to GOALS visit their website: here.
What’s Next for me:
I wish I knew. I’m just kind of wingin it right now. I suppose come September I’ll have to submit my dissertation and start applying to jobs!
One more thing.. I’d like to take a quick minute to brag about the awesome people in my life and their super rad accomplishments:
Pat McDermott has been writing music reviews for The Fader, an NYC magazine. You can read one of his articles: here. Jill Banta is making her way in the fashion industry, designing her own clothes (see here) and designing jewelry for T. Tahari. Elliott Woolworth is creating amazing artwork and music. He is also in a wonderful local folk band, Hanging Hills. Jenn Schmahl is a writer and has started sharing her work on her new blog. My cousin, Skyler Clark Hamel is making his way as country rock star in Nashville, Tennessee and it won’t be long before you’ll be hearing him on the radio. Carmine Sesto is working the CT music scene, booking and promoting shows for Manic Productions and independently. Jen Ballard is approaching her second year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Central Region of Ghana. Jackie Evans has moved across the country to utilize her English-Spanish bilingual skills with an organization providing micro-loans to small businesses. Tucker Barney just graduated from the University of Hartford in Trumpet Performance. Max Goto just accepted an AmeriCorps VISTA position at Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Community Engagement. Meaghan Scanlan has been working as an independent graphic designer, most recently producing a brochure for the 16th Annual Young Writers Trust Awards, an organization which Elyse Pedra has been working for over this past year. Sarah Wilson is pursuing a career as a journalist in Boston, MA. And Cameron Aiken is finishing up his degree at Eastern Connecticut State University to become an elementary school teacher.
Lastly, the two, single greatest people in the world: My brothers
Everett: While working as a Recovery Specialist at Community Mental Health Affiliates, advising all of his friends and relatives on their finances, battling Cystic Fibrosis, home brewing deliciousness with his BFF Ryan Howe, touring the greater CT area to enjoy all the micro-breweries, managing stocks, and beginning his studies to get a CFA (chartered financial analyst) cert, my brother Everett manages to continue to be one of the coolest, most amazingly brilliant people I know, who somehow refuses to wear off on me.
Griffin: My “little” brother Griffin, on the other hand, has been rock staring his way through college, kicking dyslexia’s ass, eating all of the pi those calc classes throw at him, all while destroying on the rugby field and participating in other extreme sports that make me nervous. And did I mention he can build shit too? He can build shit. Big shit. Like houses. He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s a tremendous worker, he’s tall, he can build shit. Yeah, he’s pretty great.
I think that should just about cover it for now.