Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the Bar, Guatemala, ALS Walk and a RAFFLE!

Its been a busy couple of months. Briefly, I took the bar exam, went to Guatemala for two weeks with DH for a Spanish immersion school, and registered for the ALS walk in November.

There's not much to say about the bar. It sucked. Big time. But *fingers crossed* its over and I won't have to take it again. I don't get results until the end of October, but I feel pretty good about it.

Guatemala was amazing. It was life-changing. It know that sounds cliche, but it was. Our school was full of amazing people, the family we stayed with was amazing and the city of Quetzaltenango, also called Xela, was absolutely amazing. We loved it. I mean, there are hazards to traveling, especially to a country like Guatemala. Both DH and I were sick briefly, both food-borne. We both tried really hard to only eat the things Americans are *supposed* to eat, but we got sick anyways. Luckily we did not get any infections or amoebas (parasites) and came home unscathed. Our Spanish improved immensely, and although I wish we could have stayed two more weeks, we were ready to come home when we did. I highly recommend the school we attended. They are incredibly professional, and while the school costs a little bit more than other schools in the area, they have an amazing staff and the school itself does a lot of good in the community.

But how did it change our lives? We came home knowing how absolutely blessed we are to live here, in the United States, and to have the families we have, the opportunities we have and to have the amazing friends that we have. Guatemalans were by far the most friendly and generous of people I have ever met. However, while the country is full of intelligent and hard-working people, various historical reasons have led to the country being not far beyond a third-world country. Unfortunately the United States has played a large part in the subjugation of native Guatemalans (the indigenous people) who make up a large portion of the population. Although, in thinking about that now, its not very different from the indigenous population here.

My life isn't perfect. I am still not permanently employed and this stresses me out beyond belief. And unfortunately, the line of work I want to pursue will never be highly compensated. But I have an amazingly supportive family and have had opportunities greater than probably everyone I met in Guatemala. I own more THINGS than probably anyone I met in Guatemala. The family we stayed with was middle class and had cell phones, television and a nice home and furniture. But we have so much MORE things at our home. And I'm not sure why we have so many more things. Its put me on a anti-clutter path lately. I have a lot of yarn, a lot of clothes, a lot of books and a lot of random other things. Now, I'm trying very hard to find new homes for the things I own, the ones I can do without. I have given away a lot of stuff and haven't yet felt deprived. After visiting Guatemala and seeing how little even middle-class people are HAPPY with, I don't think I could give enough away to match that. But I'm trying.

The pictures are available on my flickr site, which is in the sidebar of this blog. The bottom line is that I loved it and I wish that everyone I know could experience what we did. I loved it and I'm making tentative plans to return. I will have to wait until I am permanently employed, but I will be going back. And not just to work on my Spanish.

So in an attempt to give back, because I realize more than ever before how amazingly blessed my life is, I joined my good friend in her pledge to walk in the ALS Walk in November. ALS is a degenerative disease with little treatment and few options for those stricken with it. It is usually fatal within a few years of diagnosis, although Stephen Hawking has actually lived with ALS for 40 years. He is an outlier and it is very important that we support the ALS Association's work towards finding treatment and a cure.

I've already received some very generous donations, but $.91 of every $1 goes to research with this organization. For that reason, I want to try to increase the donations I am able to generate. I have opted out of the rewards program, so I will not receive anything for increasing my donations. However, I will be receiving a t-shirt :)

Here's the deal: For every $5 you donate to ALS via my page, you will be entered in a raffle for some yarny prizes. Don't knit? No problem. I will also have a completed knitted item to be raffled off. I am planning on three prizes. One will be commercial yarn, one will be handspun and one will be a knitted item. I may increase the prizes if I am able to get donations. I will post more information (including photographs) in a few days.

The raffle will be up until the end of October, as the walk is November 6. I receive an email when you make a donation so just let me know via comments if you want your donation to be considered part of the raffle. On October 31st I'll do a random number generator selection and notify the winners!

Thanks for considering a donation!

My ALS Page

Completed items:

An Owl for my best friend's Birthday. (Rav link)

A Citron for a friend!

A shawl I donated to Eastern European Russian Orphanages Project. This will actually go to a Gypsy woman in Romania.

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