My First Few Adventures! (And then some)

I did not expect to experience so many ‘adventures’ in only the first few days of my trip; so far this has been a great experience of travel and exploring the area!

The first ‘adventures’ were definitely the challenges it took to travel across the country. Originally, I had two flights booked leaving Saturday afternoon, and arriving Saturday night in Arcata. However, my first flight was delayed by 4 hours, and I missed my connecting flight at LAX. I was about to sleep in the airport until these nice strangers offered me their extra hotel room. I proceeded with caution, of course, but the offer turned out to be genuine, (and a kind one at that).

Outside my hotel room (3/2/19)

I stayed in a beautiful hotel room that night and then got on more flights the next day. Each of those were delayed by some time as well, so I ended up landing in Arcata almost 24 hours later than planned!

Landing in the Eureka/Arcata Airport (3/3/19)

I spent that night catching up with my family friends (who I am staying with) and getting some rest. The next day, I slept in, took a walk, and went to orientation at Food For People! Orientation was filled with important information about volunteers, where they are needed, the impact they have on the community, and so on. I was able to create a schedule with the director there, where I will be volunteering 3 out of 5 days in the week. Each day I will volunteer around 7 hours, mostly in the pantry and warehouse, (I will explain the work I do in later blog posts).

The Arcata/Eureka area is extremely interesting, where the population is a mix of hippies, southerners and indigenous people. There are many active Native American tribes in this area, and they also have many family owned businesses in the area! There is also a nearby playhouse and college town that I have discovered! I also found it interesting how the mix of the beach, the forest, the mountains and the palm trees all in one town makes for an odd yet picturesque place.

Taking a walk by the river (3/4/19)
An interesting mix of flora and fauna (3/4/19)
Driving around Eureka, where the food bank is. (3/4/19)

My second night, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the local Arcata playhouse. The playhouse is currently in a series of events for National Women’s History Month (!!!) and that night they were playing Roma, a new (and absolutely wonderful) Oscar nominated movie about home workers in Mexico during the political 1970s. Beforehand however, there was a discussion held where the playhouse brought in real house workers who were members of the community, and they shared their powerful stories. I felt very lucky and humbled for these strong women to share their stories with me.

Discussion before Roma at the Arcata Playhouse (3/4/19)
Female-Based artwork displayed at the playhouse (3/4/19)
More art (3/4/19)

Today, (3/5/19), I spent the day working on some writing in the lovely home I’m staying in since the rain and fog was coming down pretty hard. After relaxing for the day, I went to a spoken-word poetry cafe a few minutes away. If you know me, you know I love poetry. So much. I was lucky enough to get a seat in the crowded cafe, and I was also lucky enough that there was an open mic. After listening to many college students speaking, I really couldn’t help myself from participating as well. It gives me great joy to write and then perform it, and by the end of the night I felt extremely happy and accomplished! I did not get a video of my performance, as I was there on my own, but hopefully I will go next week with the new friends I made who go to Humboldt State College who will take a video for me!

A shot of a performer and my hot chocolate! (3/5/18)
The cafe’s SUPER cool bathroom (3/5/19)
A nervous Bess performing her spoken word poetry (3/5/19)
A happy Bess post last-minute poetry performance (3/5/19)

Tomorrow, I will start my volunteering at the food bank! I’m looking forward to the experiences I’ll have there in the coming days. I will make sure to keep you all updated on every adventure that crosses my path. Thanks for reading!


Pulling Out Weeds

Our train from Wilmington arrived in Washington D.C at 11am today. We walked eight blocks from Union Station to our hostel, heavy suitcases rolling behind and bags weighing down our shoulders. As soon as we arrived, Brad – the place owner- greeted us with a smile. William Penn House is not just a lovely and cozy community home tucked in a corner of Capitol Hill, the economic and political center of District of Columbia. It is also a Quaker hospitality center that sponsors programs and seminars on social justice and community service, targeting issues at the heart of Quaker values such as social and economic justice, sustainability and community building. Through the William Penn House network, our groups will connect with many non-profit organizations that address these concerns. Today, we spent a chunk of our time getting acquainted with two of them: Groundwork Anacostia and Capitol Hill Village.

Groundwork Anacostia DC- also called “the center for green urbanism” – is a part of Groundwork USA, a non-profit organization that works to renovate public lands through sustainable environment care and enhancement. Their hands-on programs have made tremendous improvements in the area’s landscape, fostering a much safer and healthier environment for the community. Groundwork reminds me of  another “green” NGO founded by Majora Carter  (she was a Shoemaker at Westtown last fall if you remember) called “Sustainable South Bronx” where she started green-collar job training programs that get workers out of their underemployment status, an approach that pairs together economic and environmental solutions. Even though they differ in their approach and vision, Groundwork also aims at building and improving community through tackling environmental issues.

Capitol Hill Village is a non-profit organization that takes advantage of volunteers in order to provide senior citizens the means to live comfortably in their own homes as they grow older. Today we helped clear out the weed-covered path in front of Capitol Hill Village building. As we raked through the dead leaves, the brown surface was gradually replaced with green shrubs. Little by little, our minds are also transforming, filling themselves with new realizations and understanding of the world around us.

During two weeks, how many “weeds” from our mind could we get rid of and replace them with budding life?