Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's been a while...

Well, It has happened, as expected... I failed to keep focused on this activity known as blogging. I have good reasoning though! I've been very busy with work, life and traveling. So, while it's been a long break from my blogging, at least there will be a lot to talk about... right?

Where do I start? Work is going well, it keeps me very busy and on my toes, which is expected when you are a director of two halls of male college students. Nothing bad, just a lot of helping the young men learn and grow from mistakes. Not all of my interactions are learning experiences for them though. Each student I encounter has a story, a very unique and interesting story. I never get bored meeting with my students and discussing where they grew up or where their family lives now, what their parents do or what they plan to do after college... it's truly invigorating.

Outside of managing the facility and health concerns of my two halls, being available for student questions and hearing conduct issues, I also advise Residence Hall Council which is a group of students who are elected by their peers into an advocacy board dedicated to improving the lives of residential students. This little aspect of my job is perhaps one of my favorite parts, but also the most challenging. The executive board of RHC are all first year pre-medical students at Cornell University except for the vice president, who is a student at Carnige Mellon University. They are all amazing young men and I enjoy getting to work with them. One of the members is from Saudi Arabia, one is from Kenya, one is from Pakistan, one is from Syria and one is from Egypt (I think) but grew up in Canada. Outside of the executive board, there are many ambassadors from each campus that come to meetings and help us address issues for the halls. Last month, RHC did a campus-wide program called "November Nightmare" which was my nightmare because I had to hold the program together as this group of freshman tried to program for their first time. It was a success, however, and we had around 100 students attend. It was such a blast to see the international students experience "halloween" activities and decorations for the first time. Bobbing for apples was a spectacle (they didn't believe me after I explained how to do it) and the donut on a string eating contest was another highlight of that evening's events. Currently RHC is gearing up for next semester and setting goals for issues they want to tackle.

Outside of work my life is good. I've attended an Air Supply concert, went sand duning, snorkeling, attended the Sony Ericsson Woman's Tennis Championship and started seeing a girl... ok so the last part deserves a little more explanation then the rest huh?

I started seeing Lindsay about 2 months ago. Lindsay is from a small city in Louisiana named DeRidder (spelling?) and she did her undergraduate and master's degree at Texas A&M. Strangely enough, her degrees are essentially the same ones I have (Undergraduate in Political Science and Masters in Higher Education). She works in Qatar Foundation campus life and works with a campus programming board to put on programs serving all campuses and students. Her job entails a lot more than that, but basically, she's pretty busy and really good at what she does. We met when I moved here but we never really hung out until recently. After a few times of hanging out, I guess she started to like me (I liked her too) but I didn't know she liked me until one of our colleagues hit me upside the head and made me aware of the obvious signals that she was giving that she wanted to be more than friends... I'm bad at picking those signals up. Anyway, I asked her out to dinner on September 9th and we hit it off pretty well. We've been on two trips together, one to Prague for a conference she was attending (so I got to be on vacation while she worked) and recently we just went to Syria with another couple. Lindsay makes me extremely happy and I'm glad I found her. However, I have to let her go for 2 weeks during Christmas vacation... oh well, that's what phones are for right?

So I mentioned that I traveled to Prague and Syria. Both were amazing experiences but I enjoyed Prague a lot more than Syria. Syria was full of history and culture, the people were very friendly, except the one who asked me if I was from Canada and I replied "no" and he then replied "no body is perfect"... haha. However, Syria is very poor and the cities are in very bad shape. In the countryside, Syria is beautiful, absolutely amazing, just stay away from the cities. I started to ask some questions and do my research on Syria and find out a little more about this strange country. From the students I've talked to and the tour guide we had on our trip, I concluded that the country has had some bad leadership and even though it is a "democracy" the same family has been "elected" term after term. What's even fishier is that the current president was the second son of the last president and when his older brother was killed in a car accident, he was asked to come back to syria and run for president... and one... (he was in the UK studying to be a doctor). It's quite clear that the political system there is corrupt and this is what is holding that country back. Never have I seen a democracy where the picture of the president hangs in every restaurant, store and hotel... something is not right there.

Prague was the total opposite. The city was well kept, beautiful and lively. The weather was cold (a welcomed change from Doha heat) and most of all... there was PORK! Never would I have thought that I would crave pork, bacon, pepperoni etc.. until I moved to Doha where it is Haram (bad) to eat pork. Lindsay, I and our friends who came along on the trip ate pork for every meal... I also ran every day to counter this bad life-style change. Regardless, the food, the people, the city and the weather were amazing in Prague. While I won't bore you with details, I can say that the three highlights of the trip were 1. Seeing King Wencialis' tomb, 2. Seeing Madeline Albright 5 feet away from me in the hotel and 3. getting to hold hands with Lindsay outside since we can't do that in Doha. =)

Speaking of Lindsay, I need to go watch her last softball game here in a few minutes, her team is undefeated this year and she's really excited. I'm more excited for the tortilla soup she made for dinner.

Keep watching for more posts!