Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wrapping up a week in Hanoi

So many stories from our week in Hanoi... 
but with little time to write, I just wanted to post a few more pictures.  
Headed out to the site today for 12 days.... 
more to come soon.
Xin Chao from Hanoi!

BUN CHA!  I've been waiting a year for this wonderful amazing dish.... there is nothing like it.
Excited for bun cha!!!!
Walking back from dinner
Our leadership team, celebrating the completion of Leadership Team Training!
United Front
Rachael buying a balloon
And taking it to a little girl who had just lost hers.  I have the most wonderful people in my life, ever.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Snapshots from today - Hanoi

Walking in the Old Quarter
A new leadership team training session developed...

Look what we found! (just for you Pears)
Thai mango salad... i almost cried it was so delicious.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back to Vietnam! Again!

Bags are packed! I'm headed back folks!  
I'm headed back, but I'm going to the north this time, to Hanoi - the capital and possibly the most chaotic place I've ever been.  Last year I went to help start the first camp up there, and this year we are running the second year of programming.  I'm working with a phenomenal dream team, including this amazing woman:

So here we go, back to the land of pho and bun cha and motos and the next set of adventures!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prep day

That time has come again.. the day of prepping and packing and getting everything in order to be gone for a month.  I've been kind of dreading this day - the trips seem to be getting closer and closer together.. I can't believe I'll be in the air in less than a day!  This is not to say I'm not excited... I love everything that's ahead. Every bit of it.  But wow oh wow its a quick turn around this time!

So, to beat the travel-weary blues and to savor my last moments in the usa, I started the morning with one of my favorite New Haven things... I walked over to the little Italian market just around the corner, and got a coffee and a breakfast sandwich.. and then sat under an umbrella and savored the sunshine.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

if we could overcome our fear of failure.....

inspired today by this beautiful TED talk that my friend benjamin from retainer media shared on his blog .

(you should check it out, he has his pulse on inspirational stuff - I am constantly being introduced to organizations, trends and ideas through the videos he shares)

mid-week campfire

fire pit + s'mores + blaine's famous dark & stormies + wonderful, beautiful, supportive girlfriends + balmy spring-almost-summer weather + ridiculous stories to share + laughter + really funny texts from my momma = 
my wednesday evening

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

50 Years Ago

I thought this piece by the Atlantic was a fascinating look at our world 50 years ago: 

50 Years Ago:The World in 1962

Latrines and Weddings

Waaaaaaaay back in the summer of 2006,
That service project helped shape the trajectory of my next 6 years.

Six years later, nestled between international programs, I get to celebrate the union of this wonderful inspiring woman to the love of her life.

Congratulations Tamar and Matt!
May 12, 2012
The beautiful barn where the reception was held.  It was an amazing, homey venue..
and such a fun place to get our dance on!
Fun Rice reunions - movie star Maeve!
And more and more reunions - Victor and I

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bye winter!

I packed up all of my winter clothes today, changed my comforter on my bed, and opened every window in my house to let in the warm spring breeze.

Adios winter!  Don't hurry back.

A few days at home

On the way back from the Painted Turtle, I was able to stop through Idaho for a few days to see my family.  It was quick, but so so wonderful and refreshing to be with the people I love most in the world and in the place I first called home (and always will, for that matter).

Home sweet home :)

Almost every stop home includes dinner and a drink at The Drift Inn - a Fletcher family favorite.
My dad made some amazing, mouth-watering lime soup from scratch - inspired by one of their recent vacations to Mexico.  YUM.  I ate THREE bowls at home, and I cooked myself a pot when I got back to Connecticut this week - equally yum.

Here is a similar recipe: Lime and Cilantro Soup

Beautiful view from our restaurant - look how cute my mom is!

View of the Prine.. Pryne? Bridge in Twin Falls from Elevation 486.

Spring has sprung in Idaho!  These are some blossoms from one of the trees in my parent's backyard.

Some more of my mom's flowers.

Though both mom and I are pretty terrible shoppers alone, we have so much fun when we shop together! 

Love you momma.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A fresh outlook

This trip happened to be Gloria and Nilton's first time in the United States.  I had SO much fun watching them experience everything with fresh eyes.  It reminded me of what simple things we take for granted!

Some highlights 
  • Eating their first bagel
  • Going to Starbucks (a big request from them)
  • Eating a 'Super Hamburguesa' at In and Out (um.. yum.)
  • Watching planes take off from LAX
  • Finding the Michael Jackson star on the Hollywood walk of fame
  • Eating avocados on a sandwich instead of as dessert like they do in Paraguay
  • Seeing the ocean for the second time ever
  • Nilton recounting how it took him 20 minutes to figure out how to make the water come out of the shower spout - I laughed so hard I almost crashed our rental car.  Next time I will be sure to prep them better on the bathroom end of things.

This was only the second time they had seen the ocean - so amazing to watch their reactions.  I teared up a little :)

The parents of one of the Americans that they know who lives in Paraguay invited us over to their house for dinner.  I translated for them.  It was SO incredible - they loved it (and so did I).  This family welcomed us in with open arms and fed us an amazing meal.  It was so cool for G & N to get to see an American home.  G&N talked about how much they loved it and how incredibly kind the couple was all weekend.  Their hospitality was inspiring and reminded me how much impact just opening your door and cooking a meal can have.

I had to get a foot picture in there!  Mountains just outside of LA - on the way to the Painted Turtle camp.

Nilton enjoying the view from the mountains on the way back from The Painted Turtle.
He thought the jumping picture was pretty cool and wanted to take one of me... but we had a little trouble with the timing :)

Our Weekend at the Painted Turtle

Gloria and Nilton, who are from Paraguay, flew in to California to volunteer at the Painted Turtle's Rheumatic Family Weekend.  Entire families of children who are living with Rheumatic diseases are invited up to camp for a weekend where they can leave all of their worries behind and focus on just enjoying being and playing together as a family.
Gloria and Nilton are going to start similar family programs in Paraguay this fall, so in addition to volunteering, they were there to soak up every piece of information they could so that they can go back to Paraguay and implement it.  They got to talk to the leadership of the program and pepper them with all of their questions.  This is G, N & I with the Painted Turtle Camp Director!

I was there to translate for them and to be a liaison... but in the end, I think I ended up having the most fun of anyone!  I was so so so happy to be there with these wonderful people!  It was incredible to get to spend time with the families and just focus on them rather than worry about running the program.  I was just about ready to retire and just become a permanent camp counselor.
We met so many of the most amazing, giving people - people who volunteer their time EVERY WEEKEND to bring these special experiences to children living with illness and their families.  It was truly inspiring to get to spend time with the other volunteers and remember that there are such beautiful people out there.
Thank you thank you thank you to everyone there who made this such a magical, educational and inspiring weekend - Gloria and Nilton left full of ideas and excitement, and I left refreshed and rejuvenized about why we do what we do.  Just amazing!