Racing to Italy, Maybe…

Hello!

I haven’t posted anything recently because I’ve had nothing to post!

I’ve not been the most faithful about going to the gym 6 times a week – though a week hasn’t gone by that I haven’t gone to the gym. YAY! I’m up to 50 lengths with no floating device!!! Even if there ends up being no tri in my future, I love swimming and am improving ūüôā I’ve looked into some girls only tris; the entry fee is more than my husband’s race fees! (Reason being – half the fee goes to the Susan Komen foundation(s) ) I haven’t started working on the bike or the swim..so I should probably consider doing that and incorporating weights.

On a typical day I’m able to go directly to the gym after work, do an hour on the elliptical, then join my husband in the pool. He was talking the other day about making his cardio come first because he’s experiencing fatigue after the pool – so that would allow me to add in something else too. Plain and simple – after I get wet, I don’t want to sweat again…it’s like a second bath AND I don’t want to change from work clothes to gym clothes to swim clothes to work out clothes..then to night clothes, or whatever – mainly convenience is what drives me ūüôā

Umm..I finished my article for the Spring RID VIEWS and have submitted it – it is currently in the editing stage. It’s kind of stinky because I had to delete a sentence about God – that’s the world I live in I guess. I tried to be vague – actually, I won’t post the article because I just cut and paste some of my blogging blurbs, edit them – helped it fit together a little more..and there it was. After it’s published, I’ll try to figure out how to attach the link so you can see the finished product! It’s fun cuz, although I didn’t go for the fame..and fortune, lol – but I’ve been very blessed for the experience to Ghana ūüėÄ

As I’ve stated before, I’m unable to make a repeat trip THIS year due to funding – however, there is something else in the works. The classroom teacher that I work with everyday is involved with an organization called CISV – Children’s International Summer Village. Check out their website at cisv.org and the Columbus chapter is columbususa.cisv.org no www – tried that, you get a Weebly error ūüėõ

Anyway, I have the opportunity to be a leader of Interchange. The long and short of it is this: some kids are selected to go from 2 different countries. The first country goes to live with a counterpart in the other country and then they switch – like an exchange program for the summer. I would be living with an adult and then that adult would live with me. And Scott. Therein is my hangup. My poor husband is an introvert and supports me in any way – he’s supported many of my crazy adventures in the almost 8 years we’ve been married – but he’s not quite sure about having a 62 year old Italian man living with us for 20 days….the expense of it, and the weekend vacation we’re to take him on, and the whole comfort of it all. If Scott says ok, it’ll be my job to “chaperone” – which it would be anyway, so no skin off my nose.

I think it’d be an awesome travel opportunity – I was thinking about being a camp counselor – there ya go ūüėÄ I love to travel – and I love being “enculturated” as opposed to just being a tourist. SO, fingers crossed he says OK!

It would involve me going to a weekend of training, running a weekend “mini-camp” and planning a “typical” family weekend vacation..but they’d be doing all the same stuff on the Italy end, an exchange of time and love for other cultures while promoting those ideals among the youth. I’ll keep you posted!

Week 2

I was counting – my hubby and I have managed to work out 12 out of the past 30 days – well, …he’s worked out more than me ūüėȬ† Each time we BOTH work out, I draw a nice smiley face on the dry erase board ūüėÄ

I’ve managed to..not conquer..but push myself to try and overcome my irrational fear of putting my face in the water. Although I breath every time (to the right) – I’m showing signs of improvement ūüėȬ† I tried breathing to the left – not as glamorous.¬† I did a “mini” tri in the gym yesterday – 50..or 44..it’s hard to keep track sometimes – but that many laps, one mile around the indoor track (run-walking), and 5 miles on a stationary bike.¬† I think this was over the course of 2 hours.¬† I need to add a mile running and biking and mini tri complete ūüėČ

I was joking with my husband that he’s training for an IRONman¬†and I’m training for a MINIman – it’s ok, you can laugh!

http://www.hfpracing.com/events/2011/tri-for-the-cure-series-2011

oops – add 2 miles to the bike.

ANYWAY – on the Ghana front – Auntie Baaba¬†put me in touch with one of GNDCS’s recent volunteers. It’s been fun reading his blog and reliving some of the same experiences.¬† Makes me want to go¬† back 1000 times more this summer. http://jump-matty.blogspot.com/¬† Matt is volunteering through One World http://www.oneworlded.com/ghana.html¬†a long and intense-ish program.¬† I don’t know if I ever posted this..Auntie Baaba – one of her sons WAS living in New York and he recently (maybe early Nov/late Oct) moved to Columbus.¬† Small world, folks.¬† Although I’m a patriot I’m also a citizen of a global village – it rings truer and truer as each day continues on.

To get all churchy¬†on ya, I find myself torn between that patriotism and the knowledge that we are all brothers and sisters – whether your in¬†Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Japan, the US, or Canada.¬† We promise to be¬†law abiding¬†citizens – but there is a huge wedge in my soulful ponderings¬†about the many people of the world who could use my help because even the poorest of the poor in my country have more than the average in another country.¬† Try not thinking about that as you play your Wii..even as I think about paying entry fees for a race for “fun”¬†– makes me feel somewhat guilty for all that I have – but more of a reason to be¬†thankful for all that I am blessed with.¬† The people I met in Ghana were so grateful – SO grateful for every little thing they had.¬† I need to feel the same attitude of gratitude.

Working with OSD

This was sent¬†to me by one of my contacts at OSD¬†– amazing stuff that a team can accomplish.¬† Makes me even more motivated to keep on trucking with my international idea.¬† I second Melissa’s sentiments – TY to everyone who made and continue to make all of this possible!!
As many of you may remember, we hosted a students vs. staff basketball game to collect donations to send to a deaf school in Accra, Ghana.¬† We had Jessica Wynn, a student from¬†Wright State University, come and talk about her experiences volunteering at the school in Accra.¬† She showed us pictures and explained about the academic and residential conditions of the school in Accra.¬† OSD¬†IVDL¬†students also collected items and brought donations to our IVDL¬†Immerision¬†Experience last year.¬† The donations were plentiful and we were excited¬†to get them where they needed to go, but we experienced a couple of roadblocks:¬† it would cost us approximately $800 per box to ship the items (combined we had more than 12 boxes of donations); and African customs could charge a hefty tax to the recipients (ie school for the deaf in Accra) on each box, which they of course couldn’t afford. What could we do?¬† We had to get this stuff to the schools/students who needed it so badly!¬†

With the help of Joyce Cain-McGraw, we got in contact with our security guard, Amad¬†Fontie, and asked him if he knew how we could get these items to Africa.¬† If you don’t know Amad, he is from Sierra Leone and is constantly figuring out ways to get needed items to his family overseas.¬† He also has family members who attended school at the Sierra Leone School for the Deaf and Blind.¬† He helped us by including many of our items with the items he sends over to his family members.¬† He also had two family members come in town and they took donations back with them in their carry-ons.¬† If you see Amad, please shake his hand and thank him for helping us help some very deserving students!

With the help of Jean Parmir, we met Amanda Kaiser who is an interpreter in the Bexley School system.  She planned a trip to Ghana to volunteer at a deaf school this past summer.  We touched base and I asked her if she would be willing to take some of our donations.  At first she planned to take just enough to fit in one suitcase but before I knew it, she was making arrangements to take extra duffle bags full of supplies.  Here is an article that Amanda wrote for the local Bexley newspaper about her trip:

“This summer, I traveled to Cape Coast, Ghana, Africa to work with Ghana National Deaf Children’s Society (GNDCS), an organization that teaches, advocates, and coordinates¬†services for deaf children.¬† I initially learned about a separate organization called Friends of Cape Deaf through the RID publication VIEWS.¬† It was through Friends that I was able to contact GNDCS.

I knew it was a trip meant to be¬†when I learned that a student from¬†Wright State University, Jessica Wynn, had recently done a presentation at Ohio School for the Deaf (OSD) about her experiences in Accra, Ghana – the capital.¬† She inspired the student body and the staff to such a huge degree that they decided to hold a school supply drive at one of their basketball games.¬† In all, they collected over 100 pounds of school supplies!! (I know this because I had to follow the airline’s strict weight guidelines.)¬† I was able to take almost every single thing that was collected for our deaf friends in Ghana!

Initially, before I started researching Ghana, I pictured the Disney movie, The Lion King. After reading several travel books focused on Ghana, I felt somewhat prepared and ready for anything – just flying by the seat of my pants!

The friendliness of the people also made things easier.¬† Ghanaians help each other without a second thought.¬† If there’s a stalled car in the middle of the road, everyone around will stop and get out to push it out of the way.

In Ghana, my role was to advise GNDCS personnel about how they can better fulfill their mission of providing for and supporting deaf children in Ghana.  The challenges the organization faces are numerous:  late diagnosis of hearing impairment, poverty, lack of technology, cultural stigmas about hearing aids, and lack of information about deafness.

I experienced many memorable moments during my time in Ghana — from students checking for my immunization scar to the time I was “tasted.”¬† On many occasions, I was inspired by resourcefulness of the Ghanaians.¬† For example, in a situation where we would use rope or bungee cords to tie down pallets, they reused plastic bags and tied them together to make a long piece of “rope”; then using that, they tied down their cargo.¬† Amazing.

I was particularly aware of the vast differences among educational systems.¬† In Ghana, it isn’t uncommon for a teacher to have another commitment or have a last minute¬†something pop up and leave the students on their own for the day.¬† I happened to be¬†in such a classroom one day and have the opportunity¬†act as a substitute teacher.¬† I wrote the fill-in-the blank exercise on the board that the head teacher had left for the students to complete.¬† As they turned in their work, I graded each one and was surprised at the low marks.¬† I was heartbroken about the lack of book knowledge these students have, or rather, what they haven’t been provided.

It really hit me hard and made me appreciate, more than I ever have in my 31 years, that I live and work here in the United States where there are standards and specific practices for teaching.¬† I was grateful also that, although there are still major hurdles to overcome, in the U.S., “disability” is handled more constructively than in many places.

I gained a great deal of humility while serving in Ghana and I hope to share that this year with Cassingham students.¬† The Ghanaian people are grateful for every ounce of anything they have.¬† Whether it’s a pencil or a pair of unbroken sandals to wear to church, the “make do with what you’ve got” attitude is definitely prevalent there.

The other thing that I hope will seep into my work is a never-ending drive to better myself and my surroundings.¬† Although much of the area I visited is extremely impoverished, those who have had the opportunity¬†to receive an education aren’t merely satisfied with basic levels – they want to go as far as they can.¬† I expect to model that attitude for those I encounter.¬† I also hope to spearhead a movement that will be able to connect schools internationally to serve as teaching models, resource sharing opportunities, and provide the opportunity for cultural enrichment across the miles.¬† As I share my newfound knowledge of Africa with students here, I hope that they in turn will gain an appreciation for all that they have and all the opportunities that await them in their future.

Amanda Kaiser is an ASL interpreter at Cassingham Elementary School in Bexley.”

This entire project began with a letter from a college student…and became something so much bigger than we ever could imagine!¬† Donations were given to at least 5 different deaf schools in at least 3 different areas of Africa.¬† I can’t begin to thank all of the people involved in making this happen.¬† What an amazing effort from such a small community of people!

Thank you…
         Amad Fontie and his brother and sister-in-law
        Joyce Cain-McGraw
        Jessica Wynn
        Amanda Kaiser
        Jean Parmir
        Kristin Saxon, Julie Stewart and their IVDL students
        OSD Students and Staff
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† …for helping us, help others!

Thank you,
Melissa Lago-Jones

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”¬† Gandhi

Bexley Discrict News :D

This was a fun little “ego booster” that appeared on my school’s website D:

Teacher Serves in Africa

This summer was extraordinary:¬† as an educator and interpreter, I traveled to Cape Coast, Ghana, Africa to work with Ghana National Deaf Children’s Society (GNDCS), an organization that teaches, advocates, and coordinates services for deaf children.

Initially, before I started researching Ghana, I pictured the Disney movie, The Lion King. After reading several travel books focused on Ghana, I felt somewhat prepared and ready for anything ‚Äď just flying by the seat of my pants!¬†

The friendliness of the people made things go pretty smoothly.¬† Ghanaians help each other without a second thought.¬† If there’s a stalled car in the middle of the road, everyone around will stop and get out to push it out of the way.

In Ghana, my role was to advise GNDCS personnel about how they can better fulfill their mission of providing for and supporting deaf children in Ghana.  The challenges the organization faces are numerous:  late diagnosis of hearing impairment, poverty, lack of technology, cultural stigmas about hearing aids, and lack of information about deafness.

I experienced several memorable moments during my time in Ghana — from students checking for my immunization scar to the time I was “tasted.‚Ä̬† On many occasions, I was inspired by resourcefulness of the Ghanaians.¬† For example, in a situation where we would use rope or bungee cords to tie down pallets, they reused plastic bags and tied them together to make a long piece of “rope”; then using that, they tied down their cargo.¬† Amazing.

I was particularly aware of the vast differences among educational systems.¬† In Ghana, it isn’t uncommon for a teacher to have another commitment or have a last minute¬†something pop up and leave the students on their own for the day.¬† I happened to be¬†in such a classroom one day and have the opportunity¬†act as a substitute teacher.¬† I wrote on the board the fill-in-the blank exercise that the head teacher had left for the students to complete.¬† As they turned in their work, I graded each one and was surprised at the low marks.¬† I was heartbroken about the lack of book knowledge these students have, or rather, all that they have not been provided.¬† ¬†

It really hit me hard and made me appreciate, more than I ever have in my 31 years, that I live and work here in the United States where there are standards and specific practices for teaching.¬† I was grateful also that, although there are still major hurdles to overcome, in the U.S., ‚Äúdisability‚ÄĚ is handled more constructively than in many places.¬†

I gained a great deal of humility while serving in Ghana and I hope to share that this year with Cassingham students.¬† The Ghanaian people are grateful for every ounce of anything they have.¬† Whether it’s a pencil or a pair of unbroken sandals to wear to church, the “make do with what you’ve got” attitude is definitely prevalent there.¬†

The other thing that will seep into my work here in Bexley is a never-ending drive to better myself and my surroundings.¬† Although much of the area I visited is extremely impoverished, those who have had the opportunity to receive an education aren’t merely satisfied with basic levels – they want to go as far as they can.¬† I expect to model that attitude for my Bexley students.¬† As I share my newfound knowledge of Africa with students here, I hope that they in turn will gain an appreciation for all that they have and all the opportunities that await them in their future.

This piece by Amanda Kaiser, ASL interpreter at Cassingham Elementary School in Bexley, was originally published in This Week in Bexley.

Butterflies

I’m not a highly credentialed human being.¬† I’m not the best in my field.¬† I’m not the most knowledgeable.¬† What I do have is a passion for people.¬† I’m intrigued by the inner workings of people’s minds.¬† I try not to be¬†quick to judge and try to be¬†the quickest at seeing other perspectives and understanding you and why you do what you do.¬† I may not agree with you, but I want to understand.¬† I love figuring out why people do what they do – the psychological intrigue of human behavior, if you will.

I love the elderly and children.¬† I narrow that down by focusing on children because, ultimately – when working with the grandmas and the grandpas¬†of the world, there is a changing of the guard.¬† My heart isn’t equipped to handle many changes in that regard, so I have children as my focus.¬† Granted, occasionally one of the children is called¬†to heaven prematurely, by our standards, but it’s less frequent and I handle occasions better than frequencies.¬† Specifically within that realm of serving children, incorporating my knowledge base of interpreting – I, for now, am choosing to serve deaf children.

After my visit to Ghana I’m determined to make a change in the world.¬† I never much agreed with globalization and becoming one entity because we all have our own identity; to me our individuality is a sacred thing.¬† Recently, a tid¬†bit of wisdom – we’re all cut from the same cloth, just a different pattern – possibly a different dye job, still the same cloth.¬† With that in mind, why don’t we want to help EVERYONE!?¬† I have a constant inner struggle because I want to help the world but, at the same time, don’t want to abandon my backyard.¬† I am constantly thinking; I never understand when my husband says he’s not thinking anything – how can you think nothing! (A perspective I’m still trying to understand is his¬†– never said I was perfect at seeing things from others views – just that I like it and it’s a challenge!)

Anyway, I’m always thinking – it’s annoying when you’re trying to sleep.¬† So, my recent thoughts turned toward an obsession to help others worldwide with the education of¬†deaf children while serving the children in my own country.¬† My conclusion is this: I want to start an organization that allows deaf schools all over the world to be¬†paired up with each other allowing for a symbiotic¬†relationship to take place.¬† If there is a school like the one I visited in Ghana that lacks resources and knowledge – their sister school can offer support, guidance, and ideas.¬† The sister school, in turn, can become aware and in tune with another culture.¬† We could foster a love of people and the variety of cultures by becoming one.¬† Sounds like a paradoxical conundrum, but it’s possible.

My challenges would be technology, cultural sensitivity, recruiting willing volunteers, variances on the ideas and attitudes towards educating the deaf, the simple task of setting it up.

I’m excited because the local paper wants to do an article on my experiences.¬† Possibly, the “newsletter” VIEWS will run an article as well.¬† Who knows, maybe I could conduct a workshop about thinking internationally – Interpreting: An International Perspective – the possibilities are endless.¬† Only my imagination, and willpower to succeed, …and drive will limit me.

My sister and I recently decided there are so many thinkers in the world – but what brings you to the next level is becoming a doer.¬† We promised each other to be a doer.¬† There aren’t many doers because it is a hard thing to formulate an idea, make a plan, carry through – and not worry, or embrace failure.¬† The worst thing that can happen is that you fail.¬† Which is worse, the possibility of failing or never having the courage to try?

The reason I called this post “butterflies” is because of a conversation I just had, about an hour ago, with my mom about something she referred to “The Butterfly Effect.”¬† I Wikied¬†it.¬† I didn’t dive too much into it, but mom based her comment off¬†of my observation that¬†went something like this:¬†¬†it’s amazing to me how intricately¬†woven each of our lives are.¬†¬† There was a man who was inspired¬†to write a story that became a screen play that became a movie called Mr. Holland’s Opus.¬† There was a man who was inspired to become a band director who was motivated¬†enough to take his band to California where they saw a movie called Mr. Holland’s Opus.¬† There was a woman who was inspired¬†to serve a school in Cape Coast, Ghana that contacted a nationally known interpreting organization, RID, to spread awareness of the school for the deaf in Cape Coast.¬† There was a woman who was inspired¬†to become an interpreter who was in a commercial about the interpreting program at Columbus State Community College.¬† There was a mother and a father who moved their children across the country – where one of their daughters went to school and was in the band that saw the movie that was an inspired masterpiece.¬† This daughter moved across (the other way) the country, saw¬†the commercial – became an interpreter.¬† This daughter read about an organization that served people in Ghana that was started¬†out of an inspiration to make the world a better place.¬† If any one of those events hadn’t happened, there would be a hole in the tapestry of life that has been woven – that I am helping to weave. A¬†work that you are adding your beautifully individual pattern of dyed¬†cloth to.