I’m Employed!

I am proud to say that I am employed and officially living in Charlotte!

I am the Media Relations Associate for Operation Christmas Child of Samaritan’s Purse. I am in charge of the Lower Midwest and Texas/Louisiana regions, but will be working in Charlotte. As a media relations associate I will be pitching stories to the media, creating email pitches and press releases and coordinating Family Day efforts for the Charlotte processing center. This may not sound like a lot, but trust me, I will stay busy for the next six months!

This week I had training in Boone with the 10 media associates that will be working around the country! We learned about the history of Operation Christmas Child, and all the projects of Samaritan’s Purse. We heard from people involved in all areas of Samaritan’s Purse and had the chance the walk through what Family Day will look like and process shoe boxes!  We also had fun hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway and completing the ropes course. I absolutely loved getting to know the girls and sharing our stories and interests. I will be working with Kaley in the Charlotte office in addition to a couple of Church Relations Associates.

OCC media associates hiking at blue ridge parkway

I am in love with the mission of Operation Christmas Child because when I was 16 I had the opportunity to be part of a shoe box distribution in Serbia. I traveled with Providence Baptist Church and gave out shoe boxes and performed skits to tell children about the love of Christ. It was my first experience traveling internationally and I learned about poverty, sadness and darkness that affected the people in the country. Thankfully, we could bring hope and joy to their lives with by talking about God’s love for them. For some the children, the shoe boxes we gave them were the only gifts they will ever receive. It was a great trip for me and now I am excited to serve on a different scale with Operation Christmas Child.

Fun Facts about Operation Christmas Child:
• Over 8 million children received shoeboxes last year
• Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has given over 86 million shoe boxes
• Operation Christmas Child has served children in over 130 countries

processing shoe boxes in Boone


Why I love Governor’s School

N.C. Governor’s School has been threatened due to the state budget crisis and must raise $100,000 by August 1 or the door’s will be closed. You can donate through NCGS Foundation to help keep this program alive!

A little background on the program (from the GS website): The Governor’s School of North Carolina is a six-week summer residential program for intellectually gifted high school students, integrating academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses on each of two campuses. The curriculum focuses on the exploration of the most recent ideas and concepts in each discipline, and does not involve credit, tests, or grades.

The Governor’s School is the oldest statewide summer residential program for academically or intellectually gifted high school students in the nation. The program, which is open to rising seniors only, with exceptions made for rising juniors in selected performing/visual arts areas, is located on two campuses of up to 400 students each: Governor’s School West at Salem College in Winston-Salem (begun in 1963), and Governor’s School East at Meredith College in Raleigh (begun in 1978).

My story about GSE

Getting There
I attended Governor’s School East (GSE) in 2006 before my senior year of high school for dance, but my journey to GSE started in 2004. Since I was attending for the arts I could audition as a rising junior, so in 2004 I applied to attend in Summer 2005. In addition to the application and aptitude tests, I had to audition at the county and state-level before being accepted into the program. As a sophomore in high school, I had never auditioned for a dance program other than placement auditions at my school for dance class. I was a nervous wreck at the county audition and didn’t make it to the state-level audition. I was disappointed, but that fueled my desire even more to try again next year. As a cocky junior in 2005, I went to the county audition a different person and a different dancer. I was aggressive, determined and strong. I walked in knowing that I would make it to the state audition. At the end of the audition, the instructor said she remembered me from last year and that I was much better this year. That solidified my thought: I will make it.

The state level audition took place at Meredith, where GSE is also held, and again, I walked in confident. Although, on the inside I was more afraid than I would let out. There were hundreds of girls stretching on the gym floor and then I spotted a familiar face. A girl who had attended American Dance Festival Four Week School with me in Summer 2004 was there. That put me more at ease as I tried to mentally prepare for how to stand out among the other girls. I don’t remember most of the audition, except the last time we went across the floor doing a leap series, and I felt like I was flying. I wanted show the judges: I was ready, I was willing and I was able to perform at Governor’s School.

Dancing My Heart Out
I was accepted into the program and ecstatic! I moved in to the dorm Barefoot at Meredith College with my roommate Elyse, and suitemates Maribel and Ruth. I met Ruth when I walked in and she and my mother were discussing toilet paper in the bathroom. Ruth was more outgoing and funny, we got along right away. Elyse, on the other hand, was shy and wasn’t really excited about the program. She was from the beach and was sad to be away for the summer.  We eventually brought Elyse out of her shell and I loved my entire suite.

From the dance side, I was pushed, challenged physically and mentally and stretched. It was contemporary movement, which I was used to, but it was taken to a whole new level. We practiced about 6 hours a day – learning new partnering techniques, improv and choreography for performances. We performed with the other arts students in an art gallery area. My group was stationed on a bench outside, where we repeated the same phrase continuously for about 2 hours. It was different from any other performance, since we were not the main attraction and we repeated the choreography over and over, but I learned a lot about performing for a small crowd in the space given, how to rely on the other dancers and how to pace yourself for a performance so long.

Our end of session performance was about a 20 minute long dance and the only thing I remember about it was that right before we went on stage, I learned that my friend’s mother had passed away from cancer. I was crying while I was performing and it was like an out-of-body experience. My memory of it is like me looking down on myself performing.  I poured my emotions into the dance and gave it 100% of myself.

Passion, Values and Beliefs
Growing up in a middle-class home with parents and brothers that were well-educated, my beliefs were pretty traditional and never challenged. Governor’s School changed that. I learned how to articulate my values and beliefs, while listening and understanding others. I was uncomfortable talking about my faith in some cases, but it was a growing experience. I met people with radical ideas and passions, things that I had never really thought about before.

One of those guys was Paul. I don’t remember how exactly I found out about it, but we had a meeting about Invisible Children and how we could tell people on-campus about it. We split into groups and tackled ideas about ordering t-shirts, having a screening of the documentary and fundraising ideas. I poured my heart into the efforts. I had never seen the documentary before coming to GSE and have since gotten involved with fundraising efforts while I was at Elon. I was inspired by Paul, he was so passionate about the issue and dedicated to making a difference – that’s what I aspired to do.

Learning and Growing
In addition to Invisible Children, we watched several documentaries and had several guest lectures as a program, including  Tim Tyson (author of Blood Done Sign My Name) and Grizzly Man. Each event was informative and eye-opening, making me think about issues like the Vietnam war or environmentalism that I had never really thought about before. Little did I know, but taking part in these discussions and lectures in 2006 would inspire me to go to many lectures while at Elon, because I knew that even if I didn’t understand a specific topic, that I could learn a lot at the event.

I also explored photography. I worked on the summerbook (the yearbook except for the six-week program) and fell in love with photography. I took more photos in those six weeks than I can count. I made my friend Victoria become my personal model and I photographed her around the entire campus of Meredith. I loved trying to be creative in shots and messing with settings on my camera.

Everyday challenged and inspired me. I know I have used those two words a lot in this post, but I don’t know how else to describe it. GSE taught who I was and who I wanted to become. It influenced my decision of where to go to college and what to do while I was there. I loved every minute of learning that took place on Meredith’s campus. Many people asked why I would voluntarily go to school in the summer – but with no pressure of grades or tests – I went for joy of learning and growing.

I don’t think this blog post can do it justice, but the summer at GSE will always be a special place in my heart.

Under the Tuscan Sun: My trip to Italy

My friend Virginia asked me to join her family on a 7-day  Carnival cruise around Italy and I obviously obliged!

We  arrived in Barcelona the day before the cruise and went around the city together. My friend Molly who has been in Spain the last year, met us and helped us get to Sagrada Familia, the unfinished cathedral. The outside of it was unlike any other cathedral I have seen – which I’ve seen a lot thanks to my 3-week class around Europe on that very topic. Inside was beautiful. The colors and shapes used were all inspired by nature. It was lighter than other gothic cathedrals.  I am so happy we were able to see this famous place!

The next day we took off for Italy. Our first stop was Monaco. Virginia and I took an excursion to Eze and Nice. Eze was a quaint small town. It was made mostly of stone, with cobble stone (slippery!) streets and little shops. We climbed up and saw a church, but we did not pay to go into the exotic gardens.  The view on top of the mountain was beautiful – even though it was cloudy. The coastline with mountainsides were pretty.

Then we went to Nice, where we stopped for a nutella crepe – wonderful and browsed the flea market, since on Mondays the flower market is closed and it’s a flea market instead.

After out excursion, Virginia and I walked around Monaco and Monte Carlo on our own. Prince Albert had just married Charlene Wittstock days prior to our arrival, so we saw the flowers and banners around the city.  We went inside the small chapel where the bride placed the bouquet.  Not quite as magnificent as William and Kate, but still it was cool to walk the same steps as a royal couple. The bride is from South Africa – hints the flags made of out of the flowers.

We stopped by to see the casino in Monte Carlo,but it was mobbed and required a bag check, so we decided to just head back to the ship.

On Tuesday we took on our 12 hour day in Rome.  We saw the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and piazzas on our own then headed to St. Peter’s basilica and coliseum for a guided tour. St. Peter’s and the Trevi Fountain were SO crowded and it definitely made me appreciate seeing these places in January (during Elon’s winter term program in 2009)  when there were very few tourists. We had a lunch included with the tour and enjoyed salad, lasagna and tiramisu = yum.

The most exciting part of the day was in the coliseum. A guy from our group (and cruise) PROPOSED to his girlfriend inside on the 2nd floor of the coliseum.  I had heard rumor that the guy would propose during lunch and when we first stepped into the coliseum, my heart was pounding for the guy! I forget the exact transition, but the tour guide said something about how the coliseum was not only a place of death, but also of love then called the guy up to tell us more. He gave a few facts about the coliseum and then went into his speech. It was so cute and of course, she said yes! Apparently, not everyone in their family knew it was happening and they came up afterward so excited for the couple!

the proposal!

Wednesday we went to the Grotta del Vento (Wind Cave) at the beginning of the Apuan Alps outside of Livorno. The cave was amazing. It was created by a massive river and they only had to create one man-made tunnel. We took a 2 hour tour of all the stalagmites and stalactites.  We walked down some steep steps into one tunnel – about 80km below the surface, to see the river now.  Afterward, we walked around Lucca and found a delicious pizza place and looked into shops. It was a small town and relatively quiet, so we just enjoyed wandering.

Thursday we had a tour of Pompeii. It was a hot, sunny day and one lady got sick, so we only had a 1 hour tour then we had to wait about an hour for the lady to get medical attention. On the tour, we saw the theater, bakery, brothel and temples. We also saw some pottery and a few of the bodies.

The next part was lunch. There was a large ivy and grape covered walkway and a pretty patio. Lunch had several courses and was so filling! We ate bread, tomato pasta, chicken, vegetables, and cake! It was off for our boat tour of the Amalfi Coast. I was so excited for this part.  The coastline with the cliffs and little fishing towns was absolutely breathtaking. I loved it! We walked around Amalfi and shopped, ate gelato and plotted to move to the town. haha

The next day was our last excursion to Messina. We took a city bus tour and saw the famous clock tower and cathedral of Madonna Della Lettera. The clock tower was all mechanical  and had lions roar, cock crow, disciples, and moving angels. It took about 10 minutes for it to move. The cathedral was very interesting because it mixed different styles of architecture. We went inside the treasure room to see artwork decorated with gold and diamonds in honor of the matron saint.  It was an amazing collection.

I absolutely loved Italy and wish we had more time to explore. I enjoyed the culture, food and sights of each town. I’m sorry it was such a whirlwind and I really wish I spoke Italian, but overall it was a great experience.