word of the day.

I have a pen pal currently teaching in Korea - some of you may know her as Emily Darling.
I was delighted to find a letter from her in my mailbox this morning, and this post is a result.
She's warned me of the 'Wanderlust disease,' which leads to a dramatically increased desire to travel.
Emily wisely pointed out that through travelling, experiencing new cultures, and meeting people from around the world, your eyes are opened to how creative God is.

wan.der.lust [ won der luhst]
- noun
- a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.


the miniature earth.

my dear Aunt Jenny sent me an email with a link to "The Miniature Earth," as posted on YouTube. It takes a closer look at poverty worldwide, a message that definitely resonates with those of us participating in Beyond Borders placements this summer. Have a look, and count your blessings... we have so MUCH to be thankful for!


all the small things.

sometimes the little things turn out to be the bigger things, right? today I had the opportunity to check in with Lisa, who is our go-to girl at Intercordia Canada (one of the partner organizations of Beyond Borders). Lisa has played a huge role in assigning our individual volunteer placements over the fall, along with our professor Scott Kline at St. Jerome's. She has been an amazing help and resource this far (and so has Scott).
It was reassuring to meet with her over Starbucks (mmm... coffee... ) as I'm swept up in the minor details that keep piling higher and higher in preparation for this trip. 'Minor' details include renewing my passport, double checking if I need a particular visa while in Ternopil, whether or not any additional vaccinations or immunizations are necessary, and of course - the ongoing fundraising efforts! Lisa is a calming presence amidst all of this chaos and busyness, and her help and support is greatly appreciated. Merci beaucoup. Or... as they might say in Ukraine, 'Dyakuju!' (... Дякую)


being fully present.

The other day I came across some quotes that I had copied from Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom. I'm posting them here because the ideals of these quotes fit amazingly well with the concepts that shape the Beyond Borders program.

"...the way you get meaning into your life is to
devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you,
and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

"The truth is, you don't get satisfaction from
those things. You know what really gives you satisfaction? ...Offering others
what you have to give."

"Once you start running, it's hard to slow
yourself down. Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little
community of those you love and who love you."

"I believe in being fully present."

Being fully present is advice that has been repeated to us in the Beyond Borders program again, and again, and again. We have centred class discussions around this ideal as we worked through Albert Camus' The Plague, have gained advice from past participants as they shared their experiences with us, and have heard this at the seminars we attended last fall. It embraces the entire experience we will be embarking on as a whole: the good, the bad, and the ugly too.

As we settle into our placements, we are going to enter entirely new communities and will have to find a way to become integrated into them. We'll have to leave the communities and support networks that we have built over the years here at home, and attempt to forge new connections with our host families and the people we will be working with daily. The quotes from Tuesdays With Morrie highlight relationships, communities, connections. These things will be oh so valuable this summer as we head overseas!

Our placements are not necessarily going to be perfect experiences. We will be out of our natural 'element,' that is the point of the program. We will be stretched beyond our limits, and likely grow in ways that we never expected. We are diving into unfamiliar countries, cultures, and atmospheres - I'm not going to lie, I'm overwhelmed by all of these things. I've wondered about the host family that I will be living with, the language that I am struggling to learn, and what food I will be eating. I've wondered about the children that I will probably become very attached to, and how will I find my way around Ternopil (especially if I am unable to clearly communicate)? ...These are only a few examples of the 'what ifs?' floating around my head, and I'm scared. However, I'm also incredibly excited (and thankful) to have this opportunity, and I really do hope to make the most of the whole experience... through the ups and downs of it all.

In our first class this term, Joanne (our professor) reassured us. Frustration is a great thing, because through frustration, you really learn. If you are not frustrated, you are not learning - you already know what you are doing. You are comfortable. When frustrated, you are growing, stretching, learning. And that is kind of exciting...


Як сказати українською ...?

how do you say (fill in any common English word, phrase, question!) in Ukrainian? at this point in time -- I have absolutely no idea. My thoughtful mother gave me a wonderfully appropriate Christmas gift a few weeks ago: a Ukrainian phrasebook. (Thanks Momma!)

the only thing that I have memorized this far is Добрий день.
it might as well be written in an Asian font, as most of those symbols/letters are from an entirely different alphabet (Cyrillic)! any guess as to what this phrase even means?!
...I'll save you both time and confusion, and spit it right out: Добрий день means "Good day/afternoon," and is pronounced d0-bry den'.

I'm thinking flashcards may be my new best friend as I attempt to learn Українська (Ukrainian). Any tips?


...bare bones

first things first. my name is Jen, and I will be spending the summer of 2009 in Ternopil, Ukraine. for three months, I will be working in an orphanage along with another UW student (Jessica Vorsteveld).

I've been given this opportunity through the Beyond Borders program run through St. Jerome's University (a Catholic school at UW), in partnership with Intercordia Canada.

this is where I will be recording my experiences - partly for a class project (RS 383), and more importantly, to invite others on the journey that I will be embarking on this summer! I am hoping that this blog will become more than an assignment, and that it will enable me to stay connected to family and friends while I am away.