Reflecting/Last Photos

Hi everyone, thanks so much for reading my blog posts and following me on my journey to California. Sorry for the wait, I have been extremely busy getting back from my trip and putting together all my photos for you guys.

My last week in Arcata was amazing, and I think I will show you the pictures first.

These are just a few pictures highlighting what I did in my last week in Arcata. I think the most interesting thing I did was climb a 300ft cliff!

I also visited the Redwoods forest, which I think deserves a gallery of its own:

It was such an amazing experience, being in a forest full of quiet serenity and some of the tallest trees in the country! I learned a lot there about the history of the Redwoods Forest and the indigenous people who built communities in the area.

I also had the opportunity to continue my writing and attend spoken word events! I got to see an amazing group of woman named Xicana Revolt who are poets on tour.

I ended my time in Arcata volunteering and getting my last few hours in at Food for People. While I was there, I was also able to speak to some clients at Food for People who spoke Spanish, which was a great accomplishment for me.

It was a bittersweet goodbye, for I made many friendships and learned a lot from the people around me. I felt very welcomed and honored by them, when they included my picture on their instagram and their flyer! (Pictured above)

Thankfully, my flight back home was much easier than on the way there. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to accomplish my goals of utilizing my Quaker values through my volunteering, my writing, and in the space around me. I am also grateful for the experiences I have had there, and I know they have made me a stronger volunteer, writer and person.

Thanks again! Adios.

A Seaming Reflection

This is my final entry. I am finally done with my graduation dress! The white garment is completed, invisible zipper and all. It took a great deal of work and little bit of struggling.

The objectives of my project were to learn how to sew, make my dress, and explore my new ‘hometown.’ In terms of these goals, my project was a success. I made my dress, learned how to sew complex garments, and learned the streets of Wayne. Walking in and out of town everyday and learning how to place darts and seams contributed to the main accomplishment of this project.

This project challenged my own ideas around (my simple) sewing and gave me a new set of skills to apply to my garment making. I used to think that sewing was an incredibly difficult venture and was borderline impossible to learn. By working with some else and making my graduation dress, I began to understand that garment construction is not as hard as it may seem. I guess this could apply to nearly any hobby you wish to try or something new in general: it’s not always as hard as you may think.

Sewing is something that I am really excited about and intend to do more of. As of recently, I haven’t taken up a lot of craft (getting ready to go back to school), but I am truly interested in pursuing this further.

One of the best parts of my project is wandering around Wayne and seeing all that is had to offer. Whether it was getting lunch at Vinnie’s Pizza or stopping by the local thrift shop, spending time in the town was very fun. I look forward to exploring it more.

All and all, my senior project has been a lovely time and I was surprised by how much I could learn from making one dress. This project was about my own improvement, but I cannot reflect on this experience without thanking those who helped me. I would like to that Haley from the Christine Shirley Design Studio. My dress would not have turned out as nice as it did without her help.

Almost done!

I apologize for the long period of time between this post and the last, I had to book a couple extra sessions at the sewing studio (Christine Shirley). I left off with the bodice portion of the dress is completed. Now, it is time to create and attach the skirt.

The skirt is made up of two rectangles sewn into a loop. In this case, there are four different rectangles (two from the lining, two from the outer fabric). In order to add a lining to the skirt, I basted a rectangle of the lining and outer fabric together. After doing that for both sides, I sewing the rectangles together on the edges. In doing this, I added pockets. The pockets were probably the easiest part, you can add them to nearly any garment. with side seams.

After sewing the skirt together, it was time to attach the skirt to the bodice. to do this, I gathered the skirt to fit the waist and sewed a straight stitch to attach. It was surprisingly difficult to get the bodice and skirt to lie flat, but after a lot of adjusting and some help (thanks Haley), it came together.

At this point I am almost done, I still need to attach the zipper and finish hemming the skirt. Which I will hopeful do tomorrow.

Ponce – Dia 8, 9, y 10

March 11th – we spent the majority of today traveling to Ponce, AKA La Perla del Sur, but we did stop a few times for food and other activities, like visiting the Carite Rainforest to swim at Charco Azul.

We headed to lunch at a “lechonera” after exploring there. It was a very meat-heavy restaurant, much to my vegetarian dismay and my carnivore comrades’ delight. There was also an incredible cafe there were all the coffee lovers indulged in some caffeine to power us through the rest of the day.

We arrived at our hotel in Ponce shortly after, where our day essentially ended.

March 12 – We began our day quite early today, leaving for breakfast at 6:40 am before heading to Escuela Leopoldo Drew at 7:15. There, we spent time with elementary students, interacting with kids of all different ages and helping the teachers if necessary. All of the Westtown students loved spending time with such positive, intelligent, and welcoming children, and we were certainly sad to leave!

After a quick lunch in the Plaza of Ponce, we left for the Cristo Pobre House, a house and mini-farm run by Juan de Dios designed to provide a home for those in need of one. We pulled weeds out from under tomato and papaya plants (there were a lot of them!) before leaving for dinner and then the hotel.

To end the day, we went to see Captain Marvel (highly recommend) in theaters before heading back to the hotel to prepare for the following day.

March 13th – we woke up early to drive to the Tanamá National Forest in Utuado for ziplining and other fun forest activities. We began by hiking to a fairly remote spot where a thousand-foot cave is located with a river running through it. We could only fit so many group members in the cave at a time, so some of us hung back and swam in the river while the other kayaked in the cave.

We had lunch before ziplining, which was a blast. There were four different lines that snaked down the mountain (which we eventually had to hike back up) that were quite long and allowed you to build up a significant amount of speed. While wonderful, the day was fairly exhausting, so it’s safe to say that we were all ready to board the guagua and rest once we finished.


Day 9, 10, 11, & 12 – Vini, Vidi, Vici

Wow! Just wow! I cannot put into words how amazing the last 4 days of our trip were in Rome. The blend of old and new was astonishing, and we all were in absolute awe by it all. Our first day we spent in the heart of the city. In the morning we visited the original Roman Forum. It was great to place a picture in place of all that we have read about it in Latin! To see the magnificent palace on the Paletine Hill and look over everything was absolutely fantastic! From there we moved on to the awe-inspiring Coliseum! It was bigger and better than any of us ever imagined! In the evening we saw a really incredible church that is built on several ancient buildings. On the street level was a modern church, underneath was a medieval church, and underneath that was a Roman villa! It was so cool! On day 10, we explored the religious life of Rome, including the Vatican and the Vatican Museums. Saint Peter’s Basilica was absolutely stunning! It was very interesting to see the tombs of the popes as well, and to read about their lives. The art in the Vatican Museums may have been the most amazing and beautiful we have ever seen! The Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, and so many others were absolutely breathtaking, and then to see the masterpiece of The Sistine Chapel? Just wow! On day 11, we explored the Capitoline Museums in the morning. We saw some of the most beautiful art ever! And to even up that, we went to the Borghese Museum filled with stunning masterpieces! To see some of the most famous sculptures ever was astounding! From Bernini’s Apollo & Daphne to his Pluto & Proserpina, all of them were breathtaking! Our last day was fantastic! We spent the morning exploring the ancient villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was a massive complex, and made how we live look terrible. In the afternoon we explored the beautiful Renaissance Villa D’Este. Its lush gardens and grand fountains were a pleasant and relaxing finish to our long 2 week journey in Italy. And now, as I type this, we are waiting in Rome’s airport, and we would love to extend our thanks to The Paideia Institute for creating this fantastic journey for us!

-JD ’19

Service, Shows, and Shenanigans

Hi all, I’m back to update you on my service trip in Northern CA. I last left off on last Tuesday, a day before my service began.

Now that I have had 2 full days of service at Food for People, I’m happy to share my experience with you. To sum up the experience so far, it’s been a lot of hard labor and work.

Food For People mission statement (3/6/19)

On my first day, I started off by meeting the staff and other volunteers at the Food Bank. (Most of them were super cool college students from the nearby university). Afterwards, I was asked to do a number of tasks– sort the pantry, clean and bag produce, weigh bags to be shipped to homeless shelters and senior centers.

The tail end of crating 300 POUNDS of carrots (3/6/19)
More produce sorting for senior citizens (3/6/19)
A quick glance at the food pantry (3/6/19)
Their warehouse (3/6/19)

Wednesday was a long day, filled with a lot of sorting, cleaning and sweeping. Thursday was a nice break, and Friday I went back for more service. I spent the whole day there, and there was a huge “Potato project”. Food for People got a donation from a nearby potato farm and received about 1000 pounds (yes, one thousand) of potatoes, and they needed the volunteers to clean them off and sort them.

Here is some of the aftermath of 1000 pounds of potato sorting/crating. (3/8/19)

After that long day of service on Friday, I attended a fun event for International Women’s Day! It was at the nearby Arcata playhouse where they had many women come sing, speak and laugh with other women who came to attend. It was a great experience to be surrounded by other strong women of northern CA and see how they use their feminism and intersectionality in their community.

Some singing (3/8/19)

The next day I spent some time exploring! On Saturday, I went to the nearby Eureka bay and saw some beautiful dunes. (We didn’t stay too long because of how rainy) Afterwards, we travelled up to a smaller redwoods forest, filled with absolute beauty! I’m looking forward to going to the real redwoods next weekend, when it is sunnier.

Small dunes and a happy Bess (3/9/19)
The beautiful redwoods (3/9/19)
A rare Trillium !
Cool shot of the trees (3/9/19)
Banana Slug! (3/9/19)
A carved Redwood stump (3/9/19)

That night, I went to a dance competition concert in Eureka, where the family I am staying with had a friend in the competition. It was a beautiful theater and a great show! The dancers were so beautiful and talented.

The next day was a beautiful sunny day, and we took a hike on the dunes and went to a Pacific beach! I haven’t been to the Pacific in a while, so it was nice to dip my feet in the cold water.

Thanks for checking out my projects progress and reading about all the work and fun I’m having! I’ll make sure to come up with a few more posts before my project ends in a couple weeks. Have a good week!

Food Scapes Caribe pt 2 – Dia 7

We headed back to Luquillo today to continue our work with Carlos on his farm. Before the day’s work began, we did a bit of yoga to stretch and center ourselves.

Our work consisted of retrieving and organizing pots thrown into the rainforest by Hurricane Maria, planting platanos in the field, and planting cilantro and sunflowers in the greenhouse. We took a break for lunch (vegan sloppy joes) and card games before Carlos took us on some of the rainforest trails as a thank you for our work.

We then said goodbye to Carlos and left for the hotel to pack for our departure to Ponce tomorrow. Should be good!


Day 5, 6, 7, & 8 – The Full Circle

Everyone who has ever taken a Latin class, especially at Westtown, has talked at length about the eruption of Vesuvius, the city of Pompeii, and the Sibyl of Vergil’s Aeneid. Over the last 4 days we have spent around the Bay of Naples, we have excitedly been able to finally see all that we have spent so much time reading and talking about. Early morning day 5, our Ferry landed in Naples and after a short breakfast we got right to work. First we went to the National Museum in Naples to see some beautiful works of art including a famous sculpture of Hercules, a magnificent mural of Alexander the Great, the Tyrannicides, and so much more! In the afternoon, we has the chance to see the ancient ruins of Herculaneum preserved by the 79 eruption of Vesuvius. After years of studying this, it was other-worldly to actually walk the same streets as ancient romans. It was absolutely incredible! The next morning, we got to hike Mount Vesuvius! The view from the peak was unlike any other, surpassing anything I have ever seen before! And that afternoon we got to see the legendary city of Pompeii itself! As someone who has taken Latin for the last 6 years, it was greater than I ever imagined! You could even see the areas worn down in the streets by Roman wagon wheels thousands of years ago. And for anyone who has taken Intro to Latin, we got to see the house of the legendary Caecilius himself (an insider Westtown Latin joke)! Day 7 was a nice relaxing day that we all needed. We spent the morning visiting a museum in Misenum which had some very difficult Latin inscriptions to read, in the afternoon we took a nice leisurely walk around a beautiful lake which is supposedly the entrance to the underworld, and in the evening we got to sit on he beach reading Latin passages from the Aeneid. A wonderful day, but what was really special is we had the chance to picnic at Teacher Dan’s family home in the Neapolitan area! We had some of the freshest mozzarella you could possibly find, and spent the early afternoon napping in the warm sunlight. A truly perfect day! Our last day we spent the morning exploring the archeological site of the legendary Sibyl’s cave who took Aeneas to the underworld. We explored the eery darkness below and the beautiful fortress above. You could even see people riding chariots on the beach in the distance! Never thought we would see that! Our time around the Bay of Naples has really taken our Latin journey full circle. And now, as I write this, we are on the bus to Rome, excited for what lies ahead but sad that we are nearing the end of our journey.

-JD ’19

La Perla y Food Scapes Caribe- Dia 5 y 6

March 8th – We left Fajardo relatively early today to arrive at La Perla, a small coastal community that sits outside the walls of San Juan, before it became too hot. We worked in the community garden and greenhouse, pulling weeds, creating compost, and painting railings.

We enjoyed a large lunch at a house of a kind La Perla community member’s before heading to a grocery store in Old San Juan to purchase sandwich-making materials. After gathering the necessary ingredients, we headed to a lovely park to construct said sandwiches, which we were planning on handing out to those in San Juan who needed dinner that evening.

Once we finished building and packaging the sandwiches, we set out in the guagua to find those who wanted them. We became increasingly popular as night set in, and we happily gave away at least half of the sandwiches. We left for dinner after about an hour and half before heading back to the hotel.

March 9th – Today we set out for Food Scapes Caribe Farm, where we would be spending the entire day. The farm, located in the mountains of Luquillo, is entirely organic and very environmentally friendly. Carlos, who owns and runs the farm, had us pulling weeds out from under plantano plants (watch out for red ants), repotting oregano, and clearing trails before we stopped for lunch.

We returned to work after our (completely vegan!!!) meal, finishing what we had started in the morning. We had some time before dinner after this second shift, so we played some games, of both the board and physical variety.

After dinner (again, entirely vegan) and games, we headed back to the hotel. We will be spending tomorrow there as well, and I believe we’re all looking forward to it!


Sewing, sewing, and more sewing

I have begun to sew my dress at the Christine Shirley Sewing and Design Studio. I have made lessons for the week and will be walking into town (and back) every morning. I am working with Haley Newman to create my graduation garment.

I am using the fabric that I had picked out at JoAnn’s, and will be using a pattern from Butterick (B6453). The dress will consist of a princess seam bodice with a gathered rectangle skirt. Though, there are a couple alterations.

On the first day, Haley and I looked over the pattern and decided the gathered skirt had far too much fabric and would be too heavy. So we reduced it to half of the original pattern. Instead of a facing (as the pattern calls for), I will be doing a lining out of a thin broadcloth.

After deciding what changes we would be making, the first step was to cut out everything. This was surprisingly difficult. The broadcloth was a piece of cake; any simple cotton will cut nicely. However, for the outer fabric, an embroidered eyelet cotton, was like cutting through concrete.

After cutting through all of that fabric, I sewed together the bodice with a standard seam allowance. I did this with both the lining and outer fabric which I then basted together along the top. I used a Heavy Duty Singer sewing machine (and will continue to do so throughout the project.

Princess seams are very difficult, but I had a lot of help which made things much easier (Thanks Haley!). After sewing the bodice, I needed to press the seams. In order to iron and press a princess seam, I would highly suggest a tailors ham (basically a stiff rounded pillow); it helps when ironing a curve by creating a round plane. From the bodice, I will move onto the skirt and the finishing. Wish me luck!