Monday, May 28, 2012

A bit about becoming older and being away from home (and of course a project update!)

Yes I realize I'm only 19! I'm not saying I feel old, just that I feel like I'm becoming a bit more of an adult. To me, it's a good feeling. On Thursday, since my phone had broken earlier in the week, I went to Metro PCS to finally just pay for my own phone entirely. My first type of any formal type of bill payment and while it may be small, it gives me that sense of responsibility, and being able to hold myself accountable. I feel myself becoming a bit more confident in my actions, though I still have a lot to work on as I tend to revert back to my habit of going into my shy little shell around new people.
  Now a few months ago, I would've told you that I wasn't homesick at all, that I never would be in this entire program. But that's a lie. Of course I get a little homesick every now and then over here, I think just about everyone does. Everyone here in Americorps gets stuck in this weird thing we like to call the Ameribubble. It's easy to get caught up in but every now and then when you're able to pop out of it, it's a bit stressful to think that there's so much going on that you're missing back home. What brings me back though is I think of aall the reasons of why I wanted do this in the first place. I wanted to help people, even though in some instances it feels like we're really indirectly helping people, when you look at the bigger picture, we've helped a lot. I always think that if I wasn't doing this, then I wouldn't be broke, but if I was still back home I'd still be working in a job where I was consistently doing the same eat,work,sleep routine, waiting for the next big thing to come along. Being in Americorps gives me that extra push I need, as well as the life experiences that are priceless. When I look at my team, it always amazes me how close you can become to people who were only strangers a few short months ago, and how big of an impact they can already make on you.
 Alright, enough of that, a bit of an update on our project!
   The past week we have been continuing on brush clearing near trails to minimize fire hazards around the camp, we also keep finding new trails! So we've been clearing those as well. Also, our team has been continuing to dig out ground for pits for the game called Gaga, which is an Israeli form of kickball, they installed one of the Gaga pits, but the dimensions of the pit turned out to be bigger than initially thought, so our team must dig out more ground to accommodate the pit. This upcoming week we will hopefully be spray painting roots and large rocks that we weren't able to get out of the ground on the trails in order to clearly mark them as to minimize tripping hazards.
    Things are moving along quickly! I can't believe that we're already halfway into our round!
Oh! Almost forgot! The first week of July (which is summer break for Americorps) I'll be on a trail crew, my team leader is leading it. It'll be in upstate New York and we'll be there for seven days. It'll definitely be an interesting project but it'll be fun teaming up with new people!
  Well, that's all for now! I'll try to update again on Friday!

                                                      Until then,
                                                  <3 Heather G

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Connecticut rain and a few other things!

So, we arrived in Hamden, Connecticut last wednesday night! When we arrived, our sponsor had a pasta dinner for us and a lot of the staff that works for Camp Mountain Laurel was there to greet us as well. We talked, they talked, we played a fun game, it made us all very excited to work for these great people.
  Having all of the team isn't as bad as I thought it would be, especially considering that where we are sleeping was originally a place that is meant for sleeping in! Therefore, there isn't insulation so it's been a bit cold, and, as observed today, there's a few spots where the roof leaks! But it's good, we make the best of it!
 Downstairs, where normally the office is for the camp, we have our kitchen area, which includes a fridge and freezer, hot plate and crockpot. Outside we also have a camp barbeque. It's quite an interesting thing trying to cook healthy meals for ten people!
  Since the camp doesn't open until we leave this project, in our down time we have access to the recreational equipment which includes an archery range (when we fix that area up we can use it) and a ping pong table that's located in their arts and crafts room, which happens to be filled with a bunch of random items so we'll have to clear that out before we can use it. The surrounding area is full of trails into nature! It's definitely a different environment from our last project,which is quite refreshing!
   Saturday, we walked around New Haven! (which happens to be where Yale is located!) The Yale campus is absolutely beautiful! New Haven is a really cool town as well! I was sung to by some person on the street because he wanted food, so that was pretty cool!
  Connecticut weather is constantly changing! They say if you don't like the weather, then wait five minutes! However, today it has been raining all day! After our tour of the New Haven YMCA, we continued on repairing trails, by the end of the day we were all drenched from the rain! Connecticut rain is definitely different from what I'm used to in Sacramento! For hours, the rain came heavy and in big fat drops! But I love pouring rain, so to me it was pretty awesome!
   Our team is continuing to strengthen and grow as the days go on and I'm starting to see the changes in myself, which is a pretty cool and interesting thing to see!
   Things are going pretty well here! I'll update again soon! We've got a lot going on over here!

                                                                             Until then,
                                                                          <3 Heather G


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Next Stop..... Hamden, Connecticut!

  So, once again I am procrastinating on packing! We get a limit of packing our issued red bags and one personal bag, figuring out what i want to take for 6 weeks will be a hassle!
      We left Baltimore last Thursday and came back to our Perry Point campus where we had a couple days off then it was back to work on sunday night to have a team meeting, then yesteday we had our project debrief, then tomorrow we do our director's brief for our upcoming project!
   We also leave tomorrow afternoon for Hamden, Connecticut! (4 hours in a 15 person van, oh my)Anticipation is definitely growing within myself and the team! We just had a 'hand-off' call with our sponsor today which means that we got to talk to our sponsor for the first time! Camp Mountain Laurel is a new sponsor so this means that they've never had an Americorps team at their site, this means that the sponsors will be super excited.for our team, but also means that we will probably complete a lot of their projects a lot quicker than expected, but that just means we get to move on to other projects that they may have!
    Oh yea! I turned 19 a few days ago! it's a bit weird since it was my first birthday being away from home since I usually spend birthdays with family. My team leader and some of my teammates came with me to a state park to celebrate the day with me. The park name was Gunpowder Falls State Park and it was beautiful!!! I got a lot of pretty pictures =)  One of my teammates also cooked me steak with asparagus and a side of mashed cauliflower that makes it taste like mashed potatoes and a blackberry with sweet tea mix was poured on tha, i swear this guy can make any meal pretty amazing, it was quite a satisfying birthday meal =)
   Yesterday, I also started a diet and am on day two with no sugary items and lots and lots and lots of fruits and veggies, the same guy that cooked my birthday dinner, also happens to be a health buff so I decided it will make me much more motivated if I actually understand what's good and what's not and the way I've been eating, definitly need to take advantage of this. What's great about Americorps is you have so many oppurtunities laid out in front of you that you might not have otherwise.
    More about Camp Mountain Laurel! Awesome doesn't even begin to describe how awesome this project is! It's in the country but still close to the city (finally get to see some stars!!!) they're giving us beach passes, hiking passes, free access to their gym that's about 5 minutes away that has an indoor pool as well as fitness classes we can attend for free. The camp itself has an archery range, tennis courts, an outside pool that opens around memorial day, a ropes course and a lot of other recreational activities. Although the camp itself doesn't start until after we leave, we will have the opportunity to work with other Y programs in the area to help work with kids. Also, in June we will be participating in a project known as Ka-boom, which will happen in June sometime and what it is, is a one day blitz build of a playground so that shall be cool!
     I'm assistant team leader for this round! I will be helping with team paperwork as well as lead the team in absence of our team leader among other things that will be discussed wonce we get a better idea of our work scope.
   I'm definitely excited to get out of the city, which is odd, considering iI lived in the country for 6 years I wouldn't think I'd miss it. The difference must be how much we have to do! (that and the fact that the ocean is like 10 miles away!   
       Well, that's all for now! I need to stop procrastinating on packing! Time for the next adventure!!
                                                                        Until Then,
                                                                   <3 Heather G

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First spike round is almost over!

These past couple weeks have been crazy fast! I feel like I just started this project with Rebuilding Together Baltimore! Rebuilding day was Saturday and our team worked on a few community beautification projects as well as helped with the fix-up of houses that had been specifically picked by Rebuilding Together Baltimore for this day. We worked with many volunteers and their is a huge change in the way the sites now look. I've gained some new skills here (like installing insulation!) which is pretty cool. I'm really happy with our project sponsors for this project (all the staff is in some form an Americorps Amum!) We've gotten to interact with them a lot which is nice. I'll be a bit sad to leave them!. Also, Since I'm a horrible explainer most of the time, if you'd like to know more about what Rebuilding Together is all about go to
   On Thursday we head back to Perry Point! My team's spring break is this friday-sunday, it'll be weird to be on the campus without anyone but our small ten person team there.
 The end of a round means that we lose a firefighter for the round (there are fire teams as well as the traditional teams) We have 3 firefighters on our team one came back but one left and when she come back from her round, the next firefighter will leave for the round. It's weird how oddly attached you can become to your team!
    Tonight, myself and some teammates are going to downtown Baltimore to have dinner in a part known as little Italy (italian food! yum!) to celebrate a teammate's birthday early. It's crazy that we only have a couple days left here! It's only been about two months, but it's felt like a lifetime that we've been here! Definitly excited to see some new parts over here on the East Coast! (We leave for Hamden,CT next Wednesday! Exciting stuff!) 
    Well that's all for now, these are definitely only the basics of what I'm doing! It's really hard to explain in a little blog post!
        Anyways, soon I shall have more exciting stuff to tell!

                                                    Until Then,
                                                <3 Heather G