Ahhh, yes….Winter Break!

First quarter of grad school…check! It felt so good to end 2012 with a successful first quarter under my belt. We had a nice long break from Thanksgiving to after New Years, so I decided to take advantage and go on some trips. First stop, Panama. It has been a little over a year since I completed my Peace Corp service there so it was amazing to go back. I felt nervous to visit my community, but the minute I arrived it was like I had never left. I love how a place that is so foreign in many ways, still feels like home. It was nice to see the projects we worked on and reflect on how they have evolved. I mainly worked on a community tourism project with a women’s group and they had fully completed the hostel we started which was amazing to see. I even got to stay in it and have the full experience! On the other hand, it was frustrating that some barriers we worked on were still there and that the main leader of the group had left. Overall, I was able to enjoy the success we had achieved together and there was a lot of reminiscing. Leaving the community, I felt even more sure of my path in school and re-invigorated to continue.

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A few of my favorite “meridre” (women) making my favorite lunch.

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I am actually in a photo for once. Me and the kids of my “family”

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A few from the top floor of the hostel looking out over the community and the Caribbean.

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Of course, I also got in some relaxing beach time on the Pacific side of the country. Playa Cambutal.

All in all it was a great trip and I ended it with a road trip to the beach with a great friend. We played frisbee, read and just relaxed. I was the perfect way to decompress from school and the stress of finals. But all vacations must come to an end eventually, right? As I look at this beach photo it is snowing outside here in Denver. The first week of classes is almost over and I am taking a deep breath and trying to get my head in the game. I am excited for my classes and an independent study I am doing with my microfinance professor. There are a lot of things brewing for the New Year and I say bring it on.

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Winter arrives in Denver

Winter arrives in Denver

Winter has arrived here on campus…at least for a day or two. The weather here hasn’t quite made up its mind yet about what season it is, so I am relishing in the few snow days we have had so far. The quarter is officially over and I don’t know where the time has gone. The last five weeks have been blur of projects, papers and work…with a day or two for some Halloween fun thrown in for good measure. Thanksgiving is now a few days away and I still have two finals to go. It is a struggle to dig deep and remember the excitement I felt for my classes just a few weeks ago. But as I sit down at my computer to finish up my final papers, I remind myself I didn’t work this hard all quarter to give up now and that helps pull me through….that and a nice big cup of coffee! While I am ready for a nice long mental break, looking ahead to January makes me excited about doing it all over again.

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Back in the swing of things

I am a student again. A backpack carrying-bike riding-coffee drinking-student. It is a little strange, but it feels right. Deciding to go to grad school, doing my applications, getting admitted and committing my life to being a student for the next year and a half was no easy task. But I am here and it feels like it was meant to be. So far, I love Denver and feel very at home. Everyone told me how genuinely nice Deverites were and it is true! I have been enjoying exploring the city, seeing the Rockies everyday and feeling fall start to creep into the air.

Here at the Josef Korbel School, it is officially the start of week 3! When you only have 10 weeks in a quarter, week 3 sounds like almost half way through. I was on a quarter system as an undergrad so you would think I would be used to the pace, but it always sneaks up on you. So far, I am enjoying all of my classes…even my Saturday Statistics class. In addition to Stats, I am also taking Non-Profit Management: Budgeting and Finance and Microfinance. My non-profit professor is the CFO of a local NGO called Water for People and my microfinance professor is a consultant who has a lot of valuable experience working in the field. As working professionals, their perspectives have been invaluable and they both organize very interactive classes with lots of guest speakers, group activities and lectures. So far, the readings have also been relevant and interesting.

I also work at the Office of Graduate Admissions, so it has been nice to have an excuse to stop thinking about class and homework for a few hours during the week and talk with prospective students. So far, balancing work, school, homework and personal time is going smoothly. Lets hope I can keep it up! Please feel free to respond with questions about international administration, Peace Corp, Josef Korbel School, Denver….anything!

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