Friday, November 22, 2013

There are some people you need to meet...

Let me introduce you to 22 of the smartest, funniest, most creative, interesting & caring group of people you'll ever met. These are the 22 participants I have the honor of joining on a 3-week exchange trip to Samoa ... I couldn't be luckier!

One of the most challenging things I've had to do in a while was to take part in the selection process of the AYLP - Samoa 2013 participants. We had around 80 applications for these 22 spots. We reviewed all 80 applications thoroughly, narrowed them down to about 40, and then we interviewed via Skype with those 40 candidates. The hours we spent on Skype with those 40 applicants was exhausting and some of the most fun I've ever had ... we heard amazing stories, saw incredible passion, witnessed nervous excitement, and laughed at the sheer energy they brought to the process. It was hard work, yet I truly had a blast. 

While the decision to select these 22 participants out of almost 80 applications was unbelievably tough, it's become clear that the selections we made were right on. This group came together from their hometowns all across the Western United States in August for an orientation to our Samoa experience. It immediately became clear that the hard work had paid off. These 22 participants are THEE right people for AYLP Samoa. 

The 5 adults (myself and 4 others) who are on the trip have the best job in the world: we get to share in the learning experience alongside these 22 amazing participants. These scholars, athletes, artists, comedians, musicians, book-worms, students, sons, daughters, and friends are going to make amazing travel partners for our 3 weeks in Samoa. 

Can't wait to see you guys soon - Manuia!

Monday, November 18, 2013

3 Week Countdown!

The countdown has begun ... T-minus 3 weeks until I depart for a 3 week cultural exchange trip to Samoa. This trip has been months in the making, filling out my application paperwork back in March and learning of my spot in the program in April. I'm in the midst of some final preparations, and I realized I needed a way to journal my trip for myself and for my friends & family. (Plus, my friend Amy insisted I blog ... so here you go!!) :) My hope is to share some of my experiences of the trip through this blog. The entire focus of this trip is to learn and reflect on this cultural experience and how it impacts our world view and the role we play in our communities. I hope you will ask questions and comments so you can join me on this learning process.

Over the past 9 months I've studied the culture, learned some Samoan words, researched the nation's history, spent time looking at maps, and single-handedly consumed 2 boxes of Girl Scout "Samoas" cookies - all in the name of research. And now ... the 'research' phase is almost over and the trip is almost here. Only 3 weeks left!

I'll post a bit more background information about the program (American Youth Leadership Program, or AYLP), the participants I'll be sharing this experience with, and some of the places we plan to visit. Until then, thanks for checking out my Samoa Adventure 2013 blog!