DC Symposium- February 21, 2014- (I wrote this four months ago but for some reason didn’t post.)
The Assistant Secretary of Educational and Cultural Affairs told us this morning that we were now officially part of US foreign policy, which is frankly a bit of a stretch for someone who- just two nights before- was forced to take “loser shots” for being terrible at trivia. It also made me feel incredibly pretentious, more so because everything from wallpaper to breakfast sausages was shiny and immaculately presented.
I’m in DC, y’all, and it’s been pretty good so far.
A couple of years ago- when I got all restless again about being in one place for too long- I applied for everything that would get me out of winter with my sense of financial responsibility intact. Thus, I got to frolic in the Tokyo twilight and blow some baht on the beaches south of Bangkok. It was a series of experiences that made the brain sort of explode in neuronal fireworks, and I came back feeling all recharged- if potentially rabid- and ready to inject a more global sensibility into my teaching. It didn’t take me out of winter, but it sufficed to scratch my travel itch.
And thus, it was with a delighted, “oh, neat!” that I found out I was accepted into this TGC fellowship, too.
TGC stands for Teachers for Global Classrooms, and it’s at the reason I’m here. The State Department has apparently decided that this program could be a double-whammy in that 1) we could take a global education class that would be immediately effective in our classrooms, which is solid investment in our glowing children and whatnot, and 2) we’ve got the compassion and intellectual background to be effective ambassadors. So after a rigorous (I invented that part because I want it to have been rigorous) selection process, 73 of us nationally were chosen for the program.
We took a class last fall. It was arguably the best professional development in which I’ve participated, though I sort of whimpered fragilely a lot over the course of it. They’ll also, this spring and summer, sling-shot us each into one of a half-dozen countries to explore their cultures and education systems.
So yes, I get to go to the Philippines!
They brought us to DC first, though, to meet as cohorts and do some work that would have been much more difficult online. They invited our administrators, too, so my principal, Steve, came to learn why global education is important while I languished in another room pouring peppermint tea on, inexplicably, only my crotch and knees.
Steve kindly included me in dinner plans with his wife and daughter last night, too, which was great because they’re nice and they were getting Ethiopian. My only prior experience with Horn of African food has been Somalian, so boom- another check on ye olde ethnic food bucket list.
Ha! I politely refrained from making “food bucket” a combination word along the lines of “Brangelina” there. I’m working really hard to keep the blogging clean because I’m required to keep one for my journey, and I’m not sure the government would smile upon my vivid descriptions of, for example, the Akihabara porn store or Thai penis cave.
Regardless, Ethiopian food was a solid experience. We had this charming smily waitress who made all of our decisions for us and then shortly thereafter, a giant spread of flat, thin bread- honestly it was like platter-ployes- arrived with a party’s worth of food orders chunked in pieces all over it. Each order was a mess of saucy meats or vegetables and spices, and sans silverware- because we were far too cosmopolitan to ask for that- we tore off bits of the rolly-ployes that were served adjacent and used them to tong up the food.
It’s cool because when everyone’s done, you can roll up the leftovers into some sort of Ethiopian burrito. If I hadn’t needed to immediately stumble hotelward (loser shots/travel day effect) I’d’ve probably volunteered to do so.
Nope, though. Sleep, and another symposium day.
I wish I could say more about the Philippines. Or DC, really- I love this place but I haven’t been able to get out much in my 24 hours. Took a walk during our break and, though I love Georgetown and its preponderance of interesting yellow houses that rival Falmouth’s, the only thing that really struck me was the amount of people sprinting down the street wearing headphones. I generally like this behavior because I approve of the social isolation, fitness, and/or kidnap avoidance it indicates, but it definitely kept me from location-specific observations. And I don’t have any about the Philippines yet beyond research, and I’d rather that stuff be first-hand.
Anyway, the parts of my body that demand nutrient absorption are screaming for attention, and I definitely passed a piano bar down M Street. I’m going to put on dark lipstick and pretend I’m a hep cat and telepathically mind-request Pennies from Heaven.
Winner shots if any tonight, though. Because life is pretty durn good.
June 23, 2014
Three weeks ago, US Airways got all geographically garbled and sent me to Los Angeles on the way to Albuquerque. I arrived somehow in the New Testament, where I was denied a room and had to shuffle wearily between lodgings until LAX found a place that would take me. It was a shitty little unflushed room, but since I was only there for a three-hour nap… meh… I endured. What were the chances I’d ever stay again?
I accidentally booked myself here last night.
Thus I find myself typing from a hotel bed that is only slightly wider than my hips. Worthington Ford is selling Nissan Sentras for a LOW, LOW PRICE, which I know because my television only has an on switch. The bathroom light is flattering, though, and I’m feeling good because as I was in there creating equally flattering poses and trying to figure out what day it was, it finally occurred to me that I’m on an adventure again!
I should have realized this yesterday when the recovering victim of asphalt assault picked me up to start my journey, but I was too busy being another Biblical creature- this one Lazarus, who allegedly lay dead in a cave for four days- to properly comprehend my situation. Trying to survive the last week of school while moving out of your house and planning a month-long trip to Asia will do that to you. I don’t think I’ve accomplished more in one week in my entire life.
So, yes! I’m homeless and I’m headed to the Philippines! I tried really hard to be either nostalgic about one or excited about the other yesterday, but my first flight was freezing and I was numbed right to my soul. I actually bought these ridiculous furry things that can only be described as “sockies” for my second flight, but that one was warmer and had one of those fun screens in the seat, so it worked out better and I could start feeling feelings again. I did so while watching my very first World Cup game ever.
I actually didn’t even know you could access the game until the entire plane erupted when, apparently, Portugal scored first and I thought we were having a LOST incident. When everything calmed down, though, and someone finally saw me bobbing my head around looking confused, he lent me these giant headphones that made me look like DJ FIFA Fan- which I’m not because I watch John Oliver- and I got to enjoy the rest of the show. I even bought him a thank-you drink from the aisle cart, but since the stewardess was blocking me when he ordered and since she didn’t give me a receipt for what appeared to be a plethora of Canadian Clubs, I may have inadvertently paid for a province-wide franchise of Costigan’s. Costigan’ses? Ugh.
Anyway, the game was exciting, I felt all kinds of misplaced patriotism because it was exciting and SPORTS! and I finally settled into a place where I can appreciate what’s happening.
I’m getting on a plane to Manila in a few hours! I’m going to eat tons and learn tons and experience tons, including bats! I can’t possibly get rabies because the vaccination lasts for ten years! I don’t have to live in that apartment anymore when I come home!
I can’t think of a single person in the Bible who could accurately reflect my excitement, so I guess I’m unable to bring this post full circle. Amen, though, to getting out in the world.
See you sinners in a month!