patience & perspective

Like usual, today was another long day. This time it was different because I almost hit a breaking point. I was close to tears in the middle of the day because everything was going wrong. I didn’t accomplish my first task on the calendar due to individuals’ resistance towards my goal. These individuals put up a brick wall and wouldn’t let me pass no matter what I said or did. It was the most frustrating experience I have had so far at my job. But it illuminated the importance of patience a person must have in order to be an effective communicator. (I really need to work on my patience a bit more.) I also was confronted with a situation I had never dealt with before. Luckily I had someone by my side to guide and support me through it. Looking back I realize how the situation gave me a knew perspective on my life in America. (Everyday my perspective broadens as I learn knew things…but this caused me to reflect a bit deeper.) The individuals I work with are so strong. They have faced many obstacles before coming to America and some of the obstacles don’t disappear when they arrive here. I wish I could wave my magic wand to fix it all but I don’t have that kind of power. Instead, I have the blessing to be in solidarity with these people; to listen to their stories; meet their loved ones; share in their culture. I might often be exhausted from this work. I will probably always say, today was another long day. But what an enriching job I am privileged to have. It adds fuel to my fire that burns for justice. It humbles me beyond belief. It opens my eyes to broken systems within our society. It has transformed me into a more socially aware individual advocating for refugees. This job is where I am meant to be at this time in my life and I am so thankful for it…regardless of the challenges it presents me with each day. 

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two weeks down.

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I have completed two work weeks at Catholic Charities Atlanta! Wow, where is this time going? Seems like yesterday I was flying back to the USA from Hong Kong. Now I am all settled into my new home in Atlanta. I have quickly fallen in love with this southern city and my job!

These past weeks I have spent hours cramming information into my head. So let me attempt to put into words some of the things I did and learned…

August 20th: I accompanied Pasupati (A Refugee Resettlement Specialist, like myself, who has worked for Catholic Charities since 2008. He was a refugee from Bhutan that went through Catholic Charities to be resettled here in Atlanta! He is one of many wonderful co-workers that I am blessed to learn from.) to a 24 hour home visit. We drove to Clarkston, GA. It is an area largely populated by refugees. The family we visited was from Bhutan and they spoke Nepalese. Pasupati speaks many languages including Nepalese so we did not need a translator. During the 24 hour home visit we assessed their needs. We also discussed their rights and responsibilities as refugees while working with us(Catholic Charities).

Usually before the refugees arrive in the US we set up their apartment with donated furniture and other home goods. But this family from Bhutan was not able to move into their apartment on time because of some issues. On the 19th we visited the apartment to inspect it and get it ready. Well I have never seen more cockroaches, spiders, and dirt in an apartment before… It was unacceptable. We talked to the head of maintenance and the leasing office to resolve the issue as soon as possible. However, they weren’t able to clean it and de-bug it before the family arrived on the 20th! I couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t be ready in time for the family to move in. The standards of this apartment complex are terrible. I later discussed the situation with my manager who gave me some insight into what happened. She said the apartment complex is very popular among refugee resettlement agencies because it is cheap and many US ties(friends and family members of new refugees) want to live in community with other refugees. The facilities do not need to be nicely up-kept because of the high demand. Also, many refugees do not fully understand that they deserve better housing. Many of them come from living in poor conditions and refugee camps. Some may not even know what it is like to own a refrigerator or a bed. So the apartment complex can continue to poorly manage their facilities because they have a locked in source of income through the refugee population. What a vicious circle of inequality and social injustice.

Later that evening I went to dinner at my Georgia relative’s house. Bill Oliver is one of my Grandma Rogers brothers. He lives in Atlanta along with his wife and some of his children and grandchildren. One of his sons had a dinner party that I was invited to! It was a lovely evening to connect with extended family. Many of them I have never met before or if I have it was when I was very little. I met Alice, who is my second cousin’s wife’s sister-in-law(did you get that?). She owns two horses and invited me to her home to ride them! Now if you know me well you realize that this is a big deal to me! I can go ride horses any weekend I want! I am beyond excited to get back to my farm roots and help Alice take care of her beautiful animals.

August 21: We attempted to move in the Bhutanese family again. There were still bugs. So it was pushed back to a later day. The family had to continue staying with their US tie, which is not ideal.

Then I went to our storage units with co-workers to rearrange some things. (I drove one of the company vans!!! I was so proud of myself.) Catholic Charities has donated items in storage to furnish the apartments for refugees.

Diana(the Jesuit Volunteer I am working with) and I were trained on how to create good case notes. Each refugee case must have detailed records of the services we provide. Case notes are essential to that process. After this year I will know how to do many things that a social worker does.

For dinner my community and I hate a fabulous homemade chicken pot pie created by Quincy!

August 22: In the morning I had an encouraging meeting with my manager Talia. I came prepared with many items to discuss. She is such a wonderful person to work for. She is what I look for in a boss/manager/mentor. I can always count on her for words of affirmation and structure. I told her about my hope to continue to work for a non-profit after this year. I said if all works out well I would love to stay within Catholic Charities in some capacity. She was so excited and told me she can see the passion I have for this type of work which inspires her. Talia gave me great career advice and also offered her assistance to me in the future. I definitely plan to take advantage of her offer to review my resume and cover letter down the road!

I then went to a 60 day house visit with Lizzie(another Refugee Resettlement Specialist who used to be a Jesuit Volunteer at Catholic Charities). We went to see one of her cases, which was an Eritrean woman.

Later I spent time reviewing case files for the audit coming up… Fun fun!

At the end of the day I sat in on a Cultural Orientation for a Russian family. This was the first Russian family Catholic Charities Atlanta has had in a few years so it was exciting!

August 25: We finally moved in the Bhutanese family!!! I was so happy for them!!! It was a hot afternoon in Atlanta but we successfully set up all their furniture that was donated to Catholic Charities. I showed the mother what a bedskirt was and how to properly make their new American beds. They were so grateful to have the basic items we provided them. It reminded me again just how fortunate I am in this life.

August 26: As soon as I arrived to work at 8am I accompanied Lizzie on a visit to one of her cases. The family was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo but were refugees from a camp in Rwanda. The father was dressed in nice slacks and a dress shirt and jacket. He was concerned about getting an iron for his clothes so he could look presentable for future job interviews. I was impressed by how much he valued his outward appearance and understood its correlation to “success” in America.

After that meeting Diana and I drove over the the storage units to browse and pack a box for one of Pasupati’s cases. They were in need of some extra bowls and plates.

Once we finished lunch Diana, Ashley(my housemate and other Dominican Volunteer) and I drove over the the Catholic Charities office in Chamblee. We met other volunteers and interns working for Catholic Charities in other locations in Atlanta. We received an orientation and brief history of Catholic Charities Atlanta.

That evening was my first airport pickup and it was for my first case! My boss Talia assigned me this case because the US tie was one of her first cases. So she thought it would be easy to work with this family because they have a US tie that understands the process. I couldn’t be more happy about my family.

We met the US tie, which is the daughter and son-in-law and two grandchildren, at our office. We then drove two separate vehicles to the airport to welcome my first case(an Iraqi man and his wife). While we waited for their arrival in the airport I spoke with the US tie who told me she hadn’t seen her father in three years. She said her father and mother last saw her little girl when she was one year old and that they hadn’t met her four month old baby boy. So I knew it was going to be an extremely emotional reunion. And I was not wrong! It was a moving moment to witness. I had tears well up in my eyes because everyone was crying and embracing their loved ones. The daughter ran up to her mother with her little girl and the grandma and grandpa(my case) just broke down in tears. When they finally saw their four month old grandson they cried harder and could not stop holding his face in their hands. I do not know Arabic or Kurdish but I could just imagine the grandma saying in Kurdish, “my grandson is so precious and beautiful”.

If I get the privilege of reuniting families like that every now and then I would say I am in the right career path. It is the most fulfilling feeling to provide individuals the resources to start their lives over in my country. America truly is a melting pot and I am beyond blessed to live here.

August 27: I drove to my Iraqi family’s apartment to complete the 24 hour check. I had an Arabic interpreter with me even though the grandfather knows English very well! Upon arrival I was warmly greeted by the daughter and her parents. Her husband was at work and her four year old daughter was at school. I asked everyone how they felt and smiles spread across their faces. The grandfather told me how happy he and his wife were to be in America with their family. He also told me that he had worked with the American military in Iraq to bring peace to his country. He explained that Kurdish Iraqis appreciate help from America and wish to rid their country of terrorists. I have never had a conversation with someone from Iraq and I don’t think I will ever forget it. He shared stories with me in such a trusting way. I was blown away by him. I can’t wait to continue working with him and his wife.

August 28: Diana and I were trained on documentation in the Catholic Charities database. I also received my official work cellphone!

August 29: In the morning I drove to my Iraqi family’s apartment again. This time we went over their budget that I created for them and I further assessed their needs. Soon I will help them apply for social security cards, Georgia ID’s, food stamps, and Medicaid. Then I will process them for Match Grant which helps them get employed as soon as possible in America. The goal is for our refugees to be self sufficient by the time we finish working with them.

In the afternoon, my coworkers and I went to Pasupati’s citizenship ceremony! 160 people from 63 countries became citizens of the United States alongside Pasupati. They called out each country and the individuals proudly stood up. They took their vows and were handed their US citizen certificate. I basically cried through the whole ceremony. They played God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood and I proudly sang it along with many others. It was a special event to attend. I can’t imagine being forced to leave my homeland behind and start over in a foreign country. Learning a new language, working a low income job, living with used/donated furniture, and building a life for myself from scratch… What immense strength many of these refugees possess.

possibilities.

Tomorrow Ashley and I start work at Catholic Charities! So Sister Kathy put together an evening prayer session. It was an opportunity for everyone in the house to reflect on the week to come and discuss what we need from each other. I am not used to praying in groups unless I am at Sunday mass. Well lets just say I am not used to a lot of these things that the Dominican Sisters do. But it is all a part of the experience right?!

We started off the evening with this beautiful song by Sara Thomsen:

Somewhere to Begin

People say to me, “Oh, you gotta be crazy!
How can you sing in times like these?
Don’t you read the news? Don’t you know the score? How can you sing when so many others grieve?” People say to me, “What kind of fool believes
That a song will make a difference in the end?”

By way of a reply, I say a fool such as I
Who sees a song as somewhere to begin
A song is somewhere to begin
The search for something worth believing in If changes are to come
there are things

that must be done
And a song is somewhere to begin

Additional verses:

2) Dream… 3) Love…

After the song Quincy(who is in the process of becoming a Dominican Sister) read a moving passage:

Live in your passion.
Be a conduit for possibility in yourself and others.
While you can’t go back and start over from the beginning,
you can begin from “now” and thrive into deeper possibility.
What you are passionate about will propel you forward in each moment of creation.
Living in possibility means being open to new things –
to the unexpected, to alternate life scenarios, to multiple options,
to twists and turns in life’s roads, to dream wild imaginings.
It is a place of hope and creativity.

Then we reflected on this question: What am I learning from my transition into this new chapter of my life?

We closed the evening prayer with another song by Sara Thomsen which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HgOJiJRKMM

Overall, it was a lovely time for our new community to come together. I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on this big transition I am going through. Often I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of things and don’t think about all that I have done. Living in community with Dominican Sister isn’t the most “traditional” thing to do but I bet I will grow and learn a lot this year!

it’s been a while

What a whirlwind I have been in since my last post. I’ll catch you all up to speed…

-In May, I graduated from Dominican University in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications, with a minor in Social Justice Civic Engagement, Magna Cum Laude.

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-From June 8th to August 3rd, I worked in Hong Kong as a summer staff member for Dream Careers, Inc. This was my second summer there and it did not disappoint! I met 48 wonderful college students from all over the world. My official job title was Media & Marketing Specialist. At the end I put together a kick ass slideshow/video commemorating the wonderful summer we all had! Here it is if you’d like to see it: https://vimeo.com/102429433

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-August 7th I flew from my parents home in Orlando to the midwest for a retreat! It was at the Dominican Sinsinawa Mound Center that my journey as a Dominican Volunteer began. You see I have been planning to do a year of post grad service for a while now and I am just starting that adventure! After a lovely week getting to know my fellow volunteers we dispersed to begin our service year. There are 18 of us and we all have different jobs. Some are serving in San Francisco, others in Chicago and NYC, and then myself and one other volunteer are in Atlanta, Georgia! I will be working at Catholic Charities of Atlanta as a Refugee Resettlement “Specialist”. My first day of work is Monday, August 18th!!!!

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-On the 15th of August, I said goodbye to my family(my parents, my 93 year old grandpa, and my dog Chloe) in Florida and headed to Atlanta! Ashley(the other volunteer in Atlanta with me) and I drove my car which took us roughly 7 hours. We were greeted by a lovely sign on the door that said, “Welcome Ashley & Sarah!”. It was created by our housemates for the next year who are Dominican Sisters.

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-Now Ashley and I are settling into our new home. It is a beautiful historic brick house located in Midtown Atlanta. I’ve been told it was built in the 1920’s. I love buildings with character and I am ecstatic to be in the heart of this vibrant new city of mine!

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I can not wait to continue blogging about this new adventure of mine! Thank you to everyone who has supported me in all my dreams and goals. I carry you all with me in my heart. Always.

My Final Blog Post

It has been a little over a week since I left Hong Kong and returned to the U.S. I have been resting in order to get over my jet lag as well as spending time with my family in Florida. Before I head back to school in a few weeks I want to finish up my blog about Hong Kong. So here is my last blog post about my final week in Hong Kong.

July 27th 

My last full weekend in Hong Kong was amazing thanks to my wonderful friends. On Saturday we planned a relaxing day exploring Lamma Island. It is the third largest island in Hong Kong and is roughly 30 minutes away from Hong Kong Island by ferry. Even though the island is large was not as crowded as some of the other islands we had explored like Cheung Chau. As my friends and I walked down the main street we noticed all the quaint stores and eateries. The town that the ferry dropped us off at was such a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong Island. After perusing the stores for souvenirs we decided to eat. Unfortunately we didn’t have much of a choice in where we at because it started to rain and we ran to the nearest place to eat. We ended up eating a great brunch that helped us all power through the day.

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Since we were just taking it easy we decided to rent bikes for the rest of our time on the island. Even though the bikes we not in the best condition they got us to where we wanted to go. I used the bell on my bike to alert the foot traffic to get out of the way as I rode the bike to the beach. My friends and I took some time to explore the little inlet that had a beautiful sandy beach and picturesque rock formations around it. We sat on the rocks for a while and soaked up the beauty that was around us. In those moments I thought about traveling home the next Saturday and how different things were going to be in just a short week. It was hard for me to wrap my head around going home. I never feel like I am leaving a place until I am on the train or in the plane home. So in that time on the rocks on Lamma Island talking with my friends about the upcoming school year and our flights back to the states I felt my mind wander. I looked at the waves crashing on the rocks and I realized that the next time I would visit Asia probably wouldn’t be for a long time and that made me sad. But everything that has a beginning also has an end. The time I spent chilling on the rocks at Lamma Island was great for me to reflect on the journey I had experienced the past eight weeks and what was to come once I left.

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We left the island in the late afternoon so we could go home and freshen up for dinner that evening. Dream Careers hosted a going away dinner at Top Deck at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. Everyone was told to dress to impress so we knew that diner would be good! The dinner was a wonderful buffet and everyone helped themselves to seconds. The evening was one of the last times that everyone in the program was together before we all flew home. We all took photos together and it was kind of bittersweet. It is amazing how close we all became in such a short period of time. I already knew I would miss everyone that was in the program (regardless of how close we were because everyone made the program the experience that it was) but the dinner really solidified how much we had al grown and that we all shared a common bond – that we were interns for eight weeks in Hong Kong during the summer of 2013.

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July 28th 

It is hard for me to put into words how amazing my last Sunday in Hong Kong was but I will give it a go! I really think my friends and I saved the best for last because Sunday we spent the day at the infamous Ocean Park. All the locals love the park and it was easy to see why. Ocean Park is a marine mammal park, animal theme park and amusement park. It opened in 1977 and has grown to about 35 attractions and rides. It boasts the award for The World’s Seventh Most Popular Amusement Park and has a larger amount of visitors than Disneyland Hong Kong. The park is separated by a large mountain into two areas, The Summit and The Waterfront. Cable car system, shuttle bus, or the Ocean Express railway that goes under the mountain can reach the areas.

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One of the first things we did at the park was visit the panda exhibit featuring Le Le and Ying Ying. The pandas are famous because they were a gift from the central government of Mainland China to mark the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. The pandas were much more active than the pandas we saw in Beijing so I was able to get some really cute photos.

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After seeing the pandas we took the cable car to the other half of the park. The view from the cable car was stunning!

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Once at the other side of the park we headed over to the dolphin exhibit. Lauren and I paid to participate in the dolphin encounter and we didn’t want to miss it! Landon and Andrew dropped us of and went to ride some rides before meeting up with us later. Lauren and I were extremely excited to see the dolphins and to actually interact with them! We met up with a group of people who were equally as excited as we were and we geared up to go into the water with the dolphins. The dolphin encounter was a bilingual session because everyone else in our group spoke Cantonese.

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We learned about the dolphin’s anatomy and other fun facts. For example, bottlenose dolphins can make music, squeaks, and whistles by opening and closing their blowholes, which is also where they breathe in air. We also learned that female dolphins give birth every two to three years, normally one calf after a pregnancy of one year. The calves are born tail first so they don’t drown. After learning about the dolphins we were able to go in the water with them! We interacted with two bottlenose dolphins. We fed them fish and had them make music for us. It was a blast! Once our dolphin encounter was over we were able to get really good seats to the dolphin and marine animal show.

Walking out after the show Lauren and I ran into a group of Sisters of Mother Teresa. Since we are both Catholic we immediately recognized their attire and said hello to the sisters. They seemed surprised to see two young Caucasian women so far away from their home. We explained that we were interns in Hong Kong and they commended us for being so adventurous. We asked why they were at Ocean Park and they said they brought a sister from Rome who was visiting. Then they asked if we had eaten lunch yet and when we said no they opened their bags and gave us some snacks. It was impossible to refuse their generosity.

We met up with the guys after the show and immediately went to go on some awesome rides! Now I am not a huge roller coaster person. I like them but if my feet dangle or if the coaster goes upside-down I am less inclined to ride the ride. Lets just say Lauren, Landon and Andrew love every kind of roller coaster and had no problem getting in line for all the crazy rides. Late in the afternoon there was a rainstorm and many people left the park. We were used to the rain and waited for it to blow over so we could continue to enjoy the park. Good thing we did because the rides were still going despite the rain and we didn’t have long lines! One of the crazy rides I went on was called The Flash. By the time we got in line it was already dark outside and it was drizzling on and off. I thought the ride looked innocent enough until I realized it spinned around and flipped me upside-down! Once I was buckled into the ride it started raining again and I knew it was going to be a ride I wouldn’t forget. I screamed and screamed but after it was over I was glad I did it! It was an accomplishment that I faced my fear of my legs dangling on a ride and flipping me upside-down! The last ride we went on was called the Hair Raiser. The ride was the largest one in the park and it went upside-down a few times! Since there wasn’t a crowd we ended up riding it three times, twice in the front row in the pouring rain. The best part was seeing the beautiful Hong Kong skyline right before we plummeted down the first drop.

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After we rode the Hair Raiser we went to the sea lion exhibit. The exhibit was pretty empty because it was the end of the day. We were able to get up close and personal with one of the sea lions. He was so cute and friendly that we gave him the name Chester. We were amazed that he swam up to us and stayed on the other side of the glass for so long.

Leaving the park was saddening because I knew I would probably never have the opportunity to go back again. I had such a fun time at Ocean Park and hope that someday I get the chance to go again.

July 29th – 31st

My last day of work at my internship was July 31st. I felt very accomplished when I left especially since I received a lovely letter of recommendation from my boss. Working 40 hours a week was something I had never done before and the experience gave me a new outlook on work.

August 1st 

Since I was done with my internship I had time to do a few things before my flight back to the states on Saturday morning. Thursday was a relaxing day. Lauren, Landon and I spent the morning and afternoon shopping. We went to the Ladies Market, which consists of over 100 stalls of bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs. Lauren and I found a store that sold purses and wallets that we had seen women carrying all over Hong Kong all summer! The brand caught our eyes because of the name. The name of the brand is Salad and we thought it was hilarious. We asked the salesman why the brand was named Salad and he said it was because you can mix and match the purses and wallets just like a salad. We also learned that the brand is exclusive to Asia with stores in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. After taking our time looking at all the merchandise Lauren and I both bought nice high quality Salad wallets!

That evening Andrew, Lauren, Landon and I planned to go out to LKF, Hong Kong’s premiere dining and entertainment area, but somehow we ended up hanging out in my room. We had all been going and going everyday so to just relax at home with friends was great. We sat around laughing and watching funny YouTube videos. Landon and Andrew showed Lauren and I some videos about their school UNC. Ever since I met Landon and Andrew they talked about their school and its sports teams. I didn’t know anything about UNC before I met them and now I know that UNC is a great school with an amazing basketball team with great fans. Sharing a little bit of our home states with each other was a great way to end the week and become even closer friends.

August 2nd 

My last day in Hong Kong was jam packed with things to do. In the morning we had planned to explore Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Unfortunately, the rainy weather changed our plans. We went and saw the new Wolverine movie instead. It was a good movie and it was a nice change of pace to just sit and relax.

After the movie I packed some of my stuff and got ready to go for afternoon tea with Lauren. We went to The Tea Room by Antique Patisserie for an afternoon of tea and cakes. We chose this after having seen some cute pictures online. Well, we were most certainly not disappointed! A 16-seat salon at Antique Patisserie is all girly girls could hope for: French décor, laced tablecloths, flowery tableware, and well-kept details make this place one to be remembered. Upon arrival at the venue, our first delightful surprise: Antique Patisserie has about 40 teas to choose from, and they bring the samples of all of them to your table for you to smell and choose! They accompany this with a detailed description of each of the teas, so that you make sure to choose the right one! I chose the Hanami Imperial Cherry Blossom, a tea with sakura flavoring (cherry blossom), and pale rose petals. It was delightful! Lauren chose a chai tea from India.

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Once we had made our tea choices, we were served a cup of refreshing small watermelon balls. Soon after, our teas arrived and so did our three-tiered Traditional Afternoon Tea set. The waitress provided a nice explanation on each of the products in our set.

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On the top layer we had 4 scones: 2 earl-grey scones, 1 raisin scone and 1 plain. There were also 4 puff pastries, 2 filled with sausage and 2 with spinach. The scones were served with butter and jam. On the middle layer were the savories, consisting of 6 toasts: 2 egg and mayo, 2 pork and 2 avacado with cedar and bacon. The bottom layer was my favorite. It came with the sweet treats, namely 4 different macaroons, 2 chocolate cakes, 2 pecan mouse cakes and 2 fresh blueberry tarts. I loooooved the blueberry tart and I probably could’ve eaten more than just one! My only complaint is the fact that no hot water refill was offered to us during the whole time. I loved my tea and would have loved to drink more than just what I had.

That evening Lauren, Andrew, Landon and I all went out to dinner in LKF at Lily & Bloom. Getting to dinner wasn’t as easy as it should be because there was a typhoon going on all day. It was a level 3 typhoon so we just had to deal with some wind and heavy rain. We arrived safely at the restaurant and we were pleased with the atmosphere. We each picked a glass of wine to celebrate. It was a great night to reminisce on the amazing summer we had experienced. Our food was amazing and we even got desserts. We shared some of our favorite memories from the summer and at that moment I thought about how much I appreciated having such great friends to experience Hong Kong with. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to be with over eight weeks in a foreign country. We did a lot together and really made the most of our time. Dinner at Lily & Bloom was a great way to end our journey together.  All of them will be in my memories and photographs forever.

August 3rd 

Saturday was the day I flew back to the United States. I woke up really early to catch my taxi at 6:30am. Landon was nice enough to wake up and help me get my entire luggage downstairs and into the taxi. I shared a taxi with another friend of mine, Kristy, whose final destination was Iowa. We were on the same flight to Chicago. We arrived at the airport early so we could relax and get a good breakfast before our flight. Many other Dream Career participants were on my flight as well. It was great to know that people I spent the last eight weeks with were traveling back with me so I didn’t feel alone at all.

On the 13.5 hour flight to Chicago I was able to watch some movies and reflect on my eight weeks in Hong Kong. Thankfully I got a few hours of sleep before landing in Chicago. One of my best friends, Lydia, picked me up from O’Hare International Airport. My flight to Orlando wasn’t until the next morning so I was able to spend some time with two of my best friends. Lydia took me to Chipotle for lunch and it was soooo good! I had been craving Chipotle all summer! She then took me to campus so I could checkout her dorm room which is right next to mine. I wasn’t able to see my dorm room yet so seeing Lydia’s room gave me a good idea what my room would be like for the upcoming school year. Later that night Lydia and I met up with our friend Kelly at Panera. It meant so much to me to see both of them and have such a warm welcome back to the states. The next morning I woke up at 4:30am to catch my early flight to Orlando where my parents are now retired.

Now 

My time in Hong Kong was a journey of a lifetime. I still can’t believe that I was halfway around the world for such a long period of time! It took a while to get over my jet lag but I think I am back on schedule. One of the best parts of being home is being able to connect with friends and family. I don’t have a 12 hour time difference getting in the way of talking to people I care about.

Being home and getting ready for my last year of college has been a whirlwind so far. Going into this year I have a renewed sense of confidence in my degree and myself. I believe I am taking the right steps to have a successful and happy career after college. My time in Hong Kong helped clarify what I want to do after graduation and what I really don’t ever want to do. Right now I still plan to commit a year to serving others after I graduate. I really want to work with refugees but I will go where I am needed.

Thanks everyone for following my journey! I spent a lot of time on my blog posts and I appreciate that you took the time to read them! Please don’t be shy to ask me questions about my time in Hong Kong! I would love to reminisce and talk about it.

See you soon USA

I am currently in the Hong Kong International Airport waiting to get on my flight to Chicago! I can’t believe eight weeks have past. Seems like yesterday I was seeing the HK skyline for the first time! Thanks everyone for following my journey! I wanted to post a few more blog posts but this past week has been hectic. My last day of work was July 31st and ever since then I have been packing. Maybe I will write a blog post on my 14 hour flight back to the states. I plan to write a concluding reflection once I am home. So stay posted!