Gaining Wisdom by Losing Wisdom

One of my dogs, Lillie, giving me love on my first night after surgery.

One of my dogs, Lillie, giving me love on my first night after surgery.

This semester was a rollercoaster full of thrills and challenges, and I’m proud to say that I survived and received my first 4.0! Now that the semester is over, I’m so happy to be home for a little while. Once finals were over last week, I went in for my first surgery ever. I got my wisdom teeth removed and it sure led to an interesting weekend. For not knowing how I was going to react to anything since it was my first time, I was anxious to see how it turned out. Luckily, my only complication was a bad reaction to the pain medication. It left me really, really sick until it got out of my system. Being stuck in bed for a couple days gave me some time to think, making me realize that there have been many life lessons I’ve learned through this semester, giving me much insight into what life is all about. Check out some of the things I’ve learned.

There is so much out there to explore.
My intercultural class, combined with my volunteer shifts at Ronald McDonald House, afforded me the opportunity to work with so many people from all walks of life that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. Through my field work, I helped a Somali woman prepare for her naturalization test, a Chinese father and daughter strengthen their bond, a Vietnamese woman simply practice her conversation skills, an Uzbekistan woman share her love of American reality television, and an Iraqi man transition into a new culture. Every session was incredible and unique, as I was always encountering a new situation and having to adapt to different cultures, and I am incredibly thankful for this experience.

Doing good creates good.

I am the first recipient of the Dan R. Ison scholarship. I was able to meet with him today and give him and his family some Christmas goodies!

I am the first recipient of the Dan R. Ison scholarship. I was able to meet with him today and give him and his family some Christmas goodies!

This holiday season has been full of warm feelings for me. I volunteered my December shift at Ronald McDonald House and loved getting to help out the families. Also, my hard work truly paid off as I got my first 4.0 this semester, despite an 18-hour courseload, my internship, and my extracurricular activities. My internship even asked me to stay through next semester, so I will have been there over a year! I gave Christmas cards to my teachers, thanking them for such a great semester, and also sent more out to other deserving people. In fact, I got to meet with my scholarship donor, Mr. Dan Ison, today and bring him and his family a Christmas card and some of my homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Especially at this time of year, it’s important to me to show those around me that I truly care for them.

It’s always nice to be with your family.
Sometimes I find myself so caught up with college life that I get overwhelmed, and it’s nice to know that my family is always willing to welcome me home with open arms.  I love living in the Phi Mu suite with a bunch of great girls, but sometimes it’s nice to just go home and be with my family. I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the help and support they have given me not only though this semester, but in the past week as I have been healing from the surgery. To me, Christmas isn’t really about the tree, or presents, but getting to spend much-cherished time with my loved ones.

Well, that just about wraps up my blog post! (Haha, get it, wrap, like Christmas presents? ;) ) My agenda for next semester is to continue to intern at the Foundation, to enjoy some fun classes, like Marketing and Writing for New Media, and to plan for some awesome Phi Mu events. Stay tuned!

Song of the day: Take Back The City by Snow Patrol. It’s been stuck in my head today!

Bellarmine is Everywhere…

…in the absolute best sense possible. Let me share with you a little story: I was doing my monthly volunteer shift at the Ronald McDonald House yesterday, and once I had gotten settled in and got to introduce myself to the other volunteers and relief managers, I found out one of my fellow volunteers was a Bellarmine alum. Her eyes lit up when she heard I was from Bellarmine and I loved getting to talk to her about campus and how things have changed since she was a student.

After deep cleaning some rooms and starting to sanitize the common rooms, I noticed some fun music coming from the second floor kitchen, all to realize there were several more current Bellarmine students baking for one of their service projects! It was nice to see so many people, both current and former Bellarmine students, giving back at the Ronald McDonald House.

Being in the city of Louisville, it’s not uncommon to meet some Bellarmine graduates wherever I go, but I’m always impressed with whom I meet. These alumnae aren’t your run-of-the-mill people: they are professional, dignified, and always willing to help their neighbor. Whether it’s someone I’ve gotten to work with or simply exchange conversation in a Starbucks line, I’m always impressed. Bellarmine works to prepare us to be a class of our own, and that is what I’m truly thankful for. Without my connections with the faculty and staff at Bellarmine, along with the skills I have been given through class, I wouldn’t have my internship today, or my volunteer experience, or the path to a career that I’m working hard to obtain.

Thanks, Bellarmine, for all that you do. :)

Song of the day: Cruise by Florida Georgia Line. This song has been pretty popular in the Suite, so I wanted to share!

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.

Ronald McDonald House - Greater Louisville

Ronald McDonald House – Greater Louisville

“To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand” – That is the first line of my sorority, Phi Mu’s, creed, and also a line that I have strived to incorporate into my daily life. Last summer, I became the first recipient of a special Communications scholarship called the Dan R. Ison Scholarship, and the only requirement to hold this wonderful scholarship is to participate in volunteer service. I did a couple volunteer projects throughout this past school year, but I wanted to make sure that my donors felt like they were truly getting their money’s worth in my volunteer efforts. I wanted to make them proud in knowing that I was the right candidate. In order to do that, and also hold the line of my creed true, I decided to become a shift volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Louisville. Yesterday, I had my first (of two) shadow shifts before I become an official volunteer there. Let me tell you the story of how it went:

After fifteen minutes of driving around 1st Street downtown, frantically trying to find dinner before my shift, I gave up and walked in to the Ronald McDonald House a bit earlier than I was needed to. I ended up talking with the evening manager, trying to find a vending machine or something to keep me full during my shift, and was told that dinner was going to be served in a couple minutes and could help myself. I was thrilled to hear that, so made my way through the building – I had never been there before – and found myself wandering in the kitchen. This house is filled with wonderful stories.

I was able to speak with one of the ladies who was preparing dinner… come to find out, the group of women who were making last night’s dinner come in and participate in the “Adopt-A-Meal” program and cook dinner for the RMHC guests three Wednesdays a month! And, they had been doing this for 14 years! The lady I spoke with told me that once you start volunteering at RMHC, you get “hooked” and never want to leave. And surprisingly enough, I could definitely agree with her. She encouraged me to get dinner and sit with one of the families dining there, so I thought “why not?” The best way to immerse yourself in something new is to dive right in.

And I sure dove right on in: I was able to sit with a family who had a preteen daughter going through chemotherapy and didn’t have any hair on her head. I am lucky and blessed to say that I have not had to encounter many severely ill children in my lifetime, except for my six-year-old cousin Isaac who lost the battle to brain cancer five years ago. That was very rough to see, but taught me so much. Since then, this situation was the most recent time. It was definitely a moving experience that I didn’t prepare myself for. I found myself nervous… coming from someone who can start up a conversation with nearly anyone, I was anxious to start a conversation for fear of making them upset- that was the last thing I wanted to do. I know that ill children are just the same as any other child, but I could see how certain questions like “How are you doing?” may lead to a very sad answer. Being able to interact with the family has definitely motivated me to continue to help those families as much as I can.

After eating dinner, I was given a tour of the house and was able to shadow one of the volunteers as she did her evening duties, like cleaning up the rooms, making sure everything is fully stocked, and doing laundry. It was so nice to see how a community can come together to help those who are in need. The rooms are set up like hotel rooms and house visitors normally stay for 1-6 days, often because they are from a far distance away and have an early morning appointment. It was heart-warming to see how I can help those who I’m sure are exhausted from a long day at the hospital and just want to feel at home. RMHC does that exactly; it is such a comforting and welcoming place and gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling because you know you’re truly making a difference.

I’m looking forward to setting up my second (and last!) shadow session before I become a true and registered Shift Volunteer. I will be participating in at least one 3-hour shift a month, every month of the year. Just from being there once, I want to do as much as I can to help… it just draws you in! You never know, maybe I will get hooked :) If you are interested in joining me as a volunteer, feel free to check out their Volunteer page and see which option best fits your interests. There are a multitude of things you can do.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned to hear about my next shadow session!

Hope you all are having a relaxing summer- I finished The Hunger Games in two days and it was absolutely amazing. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to start the series… I couldn’t put the book down!

Song of the day: I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz (P.S. Totally just realized I put the same song on two different blog posts… oops!)