Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Summer Filled with Blessings

It's my LAST week...

I can't believe it. My time here has been WONDERFUL and I wouldn't have traded this for anything. I'll be sure to post up some pictures of the FIRST-EVER MTC REUNION that took place last weekend. It was a huge success!

One of my BEST FRIENDS, Twilla, is here this weekend (I'm taking her to the airport tomorrow). We've had a great time. She worked with the Sunflower County Freedom Project last summer, so she came to see them (and to see me, of course! HAHA). We spent the night in Sunflower last night and made the trip back to Oxford this morning.

Five more days... and I'll be on my way back to NC. I would hate to say that I'm "homesick" but I'm beginning to think that I just might be... at least a little. I am so excited about getting back home and seeing all of my friends and family.

I'm heading out Friday evening and I'm going to spend a little time in Memphis. I'm going to visit Joel Harris (a 2nd year in the program) and his wife. They're going to take me to a Redbirds baseball game on Friday night and to the Civil Rights Museum on Saturday morning. I am very excited!

I'll continue my journey home after the museum trip. The plan is to just drive, drive, drive until I get tired. I'll stop and get a hotel room for Saturday night if need be and continue with my journey on Sunday morning. The trip is a 12-hour drive and last time I had company, so we'll see how this goes. HAHA I LOVE driving, but this is going to be quite a lonely trip. I know that just the excitement of knowing I'm on the way home, will be enough to get me through.



I LOVE the Mississippi Teacher Corps program and now know that no other Teacher training program can compare. Not only is the program itself well organized and working toward a great goal of changing the lives of the children in Mississippi, but there are some GREAT people here. I've created friendships with some amazing people that I hope will last. We HAVE to keep in touch.

Mr. Guest, Dr. McConnell, Dr. Webb (Ben, Germ, and Whit).... THANK YOU SO MUCH. I have enjoyed working with each of you and we have truly been a team. You have not only helped me improve my "people skills" and working habits, but you have taught me a few "life lessons" and I appreciate it.

Class of 2005, I LOVE YA'LL!!!! I feel that I am a part of you. You are all very special and have taken me in as one of you. I hope and pray for the very best and KNOW that you are READY to begin changing lives in August. You've got it!! Just believe in yourselves and everything will be just fine.

I may be back in the spring!! I'm pretty excited about that! If so, just call me "Recruiter Girl for MTC"!!! :) The offer is pretty hard not to pass up!

Well, I hope to blog again before I go. Just know that I've had an awesome time and appreciate EVERYTHING that EVERYONE has done for me.

MISSISSIPPI... you just won't know until you try!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ask Not For a Light Load...

Wow... the end is drawing near. Yeah, I have 2 and a half weeks left, but still, that's not long at all. The first-ever teacher corps reunion is this weekend! I have been right in the midst of all of the planning, organizing, phone calling and emailing. Busy, Busy, Busy! I feel that we have worked hard on it and it will be a huge success. With this, hopefully it will continue for years to come.

I had a surprise visitor today! Carmen (who goes to school with me at Carolina) stopped by my office!!! I was so excited to see her! She is here in Mississippi working with the Sunflower County Freedom Project. I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the program for myself a couple of weekends ago and believe me, it is amazing. It is an academic based program in Sunflower County. The kids who are involved are respectful, disciplined, and by far, some of the brightest children I have ever met. The quote of the week (which was Week Three of the summer program) was this:

"Ask not for a light load, but for a strong back."

Think about it.

Freedom Project doesn't work to just hand life's lessons to the students. Instead, the students work hard and learn concepts for themselves.

From mathematics... to Tae Kwon Do....

I mean, come on, they take bathroom breaks and study THERE (That's truly an ideal time to get some kind of reading done... Might as well study this week's vocabulary words on the wall of the bathroom stall) There's no time to waste... no pun intended. *wink*
The program is wonderful and they are accomplishing a terrific goal (along with Teacher Corps): changing the lives of young people for the better, even if it means doing it one at a time. I enjoyed my stay in Sunflower! You know, that is exactly why I came here for the summer... to take advantage of all of the opportunities. Period. Life is all about getting out and trying new things... why not? The only thing that could ever go wrong is the realization that something just isn't for you. At that point in time, you haven't lost anything and you've learned something new about yourself. During my stay here, I've learned that I don't like sushi! AT ALL! That was the worst taste I have ever had in my mouth! HAHA But hey, some people love it and I just may have been one of those people... but I would have never known, if I didn't try.
So, hopefully the reunion will go well! Oh, and one of my BESTEST FRIENDS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD is coming to visit next Thursday. Twilla worked with the Freedom Project last summer and will be here to visit the staff and students. I'm excited. We'll get a chance to hang out! The Freedom Project is here at Ole Miss for the last two weeks of their summer portion of the program. How exciting! traveling two hours away from a home that most of them have never been away from... what an experience.
Still loving Mississippi... can't believe I only have two weeks left... (you never know, there's a possibility that I may be back... quite soon *smile*... I'll have to fill you in later... I'm quite excited about that also!)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Holiday Weekend Filled With...


My highlight for this post is going to have to be my July 4th holiday break. I left early on June 30th in order to make it home in time to surprise my daddy at work (A HUGE THANK YOU to Meredith for waking up at 5am to accompany me to Memphis and driving my car back to campus!!!). His birthday was on July 1st and I just knew he would take off work on his birthday. Therefore, my sister and I worked hard to get a plan together. We knew he would be there at his job on the 30th at some point, so we made it happen. He had NO CLUE I was coming home and it was wonderful! We had actually tricked him into thinking that they were driving down here to MS to see me for the 4th, so he was all messed up! :) I really think I made his birthday!! We had such a good time. It felt so good to be home. I guess you can say I had gotten just a little homesick so it was great seeing my Mommy, Daddy, and my sister!!! I also went to Chapel Hill while I was there to see my linesisters, roommates, and to get some other things done there at school. I don't know, I mean, I'm enjoying my time here, but there's just no place that will ever be like home and the people there.

On Sunday morning, I flew to Florida to see a special someone. ;) I spent the 3rd-5th with Shaun in Palatka, FL. He invited me to visit for the 4th. His family had a cookout, so we thought it would be a good time to get together. I enjoyed myself SO much. I had told Shaun that I wanted to go to the beach while I was there, so we went at like 10pm the first night I was there! It was so cool. People were out there with fireworks and everything. We had a good time, except for the fact that the mosquitoes ate us up!

All in all, I had a wonderful time over my holiday break. It felt good to see my family and friends. I think I needed that break more than I thought.

So, on the 5th when my plane came in, Keila and Torsheta were there to meet me! Thank ya'll so much! I have made some great friends and know already that I'll miss Teacher Corps so much when I leave. Wow, only like 3 weeks left. We're on the last half of the summer portion of the program. Time is flying. But I guess that's what happens when you're having a good time.

Oh, and to make the week even better... on my first day back to work (on Wednesday), David Molina surprised me with a box of Dove Mint Chocolate Serenade cookies from him and Sarah!! I LOVE MINT!! I was so excited. :) They are so good. I'm trying to save the few that I have left just because they are so tasty! LOL Gotta have some for later. sum it up, SURPRISE DADDY!!, I loved being at home with my family, enjoyed spending time with my boo, and I thank God for a fun, but safe trip!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mr. Barrack's house in Yazoo City, MS! We had a wonderful trip and truly enjoyed every minute of it! Posted by Hello

MOMMY LOOK AT ME!!! I helped!! (and you thought I never did anything in the kitchen) HAHA!! Posted by Hello

From left to right: Mr. Barrack, Meredith, and Tiffany... behind the camera: ME!! :) This is one of the freezers where the vegetables are stored. Posted by Hello

This is a field of sweet corn on Mr. Barrack's farm... We actually had some for dinner! It was GOOD! Posted by Hello

This was my view from the back seat... We're on our way to Mr. Bart Barrack's vegetable farm!! What a wonderful view!!! I heard that the Delta was FLAT, but somehow it was still amazing to see it for myself. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Weekend on the Barrack's Farm

This weekend was great! It was "A Weekend with the Second Years". I traveled to the Delta and spent Saturday and Sunday on a vegetable farm in Yazoo City. Talk about COUNTRY!!! :) On Saturday afternoon, Tiffany, Meredith and I left around 2pm and headed for Yazoo City (which is approximately 2 and a half hours away from Oxford). Tiffany drove, Meredith was "Directions and Radio Girl" (lol) and I was chillin in the back seat. Over the course of our stay with Mr. Bart Barrack, we had two homecooked meals, rode 4-wheelers, and visited many of the communities between Yazoo City and Belzoni.

Mr. Barrack lives on his family's vegetable farm, which as been in their family for many years. The house itself was built in 1940. I wonder if he gets lonely out there by himself at times, but it is definitely a beautiful place.

The shocking thing about this trip was to see the communities. We rode through the towns of Midnight, Isola, and Silver City. I had always heard about how blacks and whites would live right in the same community, but still be separate. I saw this for my own eyes. On one side of the small towns, no one lived there but blacks... make a right turn onto the very next block and it seems like you are in a new world.

I'm continuing to enjoy this experience. I'm doing something new everyday, which is why I'm having such a good time.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Good ole Dorm Check-In! This is me, checking my room for any damages! Who wants to get charged for something they didn't do? Not I!!  Posted by Hello

Here's my Honda... What a wonderful car! It brought me all of the way here, with not one single problem! Lord, please let it make it back! :) Posted by Hello

My sister, Samantha, helped me out with the driving!! 3 hours out of 12... it made a difference! LOL  Posted by Hello

My Dad kept me company on the way down here!! Yay! We made it! :) Posted by Hello

Attitude and Hard Work Certainly Go a Long Way

What a way to end the work week! :) Today was pretty laid back. I went in to work around 8:15am. I worked on some things for the upcoming MTC reunion and a few other smaller things in the office. I was able to hear feedback from two of my bosses, which is always helpful. I'll just say that when you put forth an effort, it does not go unnoticed. It's amazing how it makes you feel when someone has taken a few moments out of their busy day to give you a "pat on the back". It means a lot. I am one that works hard at whatever I do, whatever it may be. First of all, because if my name is on something, I definitely want it to be something that others see in a positive light. "Oh Ginny, the intern from NC who was lazy and never did anything." Who wants that?!? I always have to keep in mind the position I am in. Yes, this is a summer internship for the Teacher Corps, but it is not set in stone. Programs have budgets and money is needed everywhere. Why should they think about incorporating an internship next year if I do not give this my all and make it well worth it for those who are running it? So, with that in mind, I am definitely trying to make the most of this experience. From assisting with student teaching to helping Ben with whatever needs to be done in the office, I'm a busy one this summer... and loving it!

Lunch was scheduled at Old Taylor's Grocery at 11:30am. I will definitely have to take a photo of this place and post it up here for those who have never seen it. It is truly one of those places where I, as an African-American female, could probably not have even stepped foot in not too long ago. It was wild. I can't even explain how it felt being there. The food was great and I appreciated the trip there. So much history lived in in the walls of that one little building. Experiences like that... are the things that I'm enjoying the most about this whole trip.

Teacher Corps is a family experience... The people involved in this program are all working toward a common goal and that is important. Everyone shares a love for making a difference in the lives of children and that shines through. The first year teachers have the second years to go to for anything. The professors, directors, program coordinators, teachers and everyone else work hard to help anyone they can. I even feel like I'm part of the family myself. I can already tell that I will miss the people so much here when I leave in July.

This is the kind of job everyone ultimately needs to have, whatever field it may be in. A job/career that you just LOVE. Even though I may hit snooze on my alarm clock a few times every morning (Keila, my roommate, can account for this... shoot, we both do it..HAHA), it is definitely not because I dread going to student teach at Oxford Middle (Monday-Wednesday mornings) or working in my office (Thursday & Friday). I guess I just love sleep!

This whole "Blog" thing is new to me, but it is pretty cool. I sent the link to my friends and family and now they are able to check me out. How Wonderful!!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

You never know until you try!!

I made it through my first week in Oxford, Mississippi! I'm LOVING it. It's amazing how you hear such awful stories about a place, worry about what to expect when you actually get there, and then start to fall in love with it the moment you step foot on the ground. My new life motto is, "You never know until you try!" What if I had listened to the many stories I heard? What if I decided not to come? I would have missed out on SO much. Yes, there is A LOT of history here in Mississippi that truly has affected the way things are still today, but as Dr. Mullins said during Orientation a few days ago, "You love [Mississippi] not because of [the history], but despite."

The drive down here was about 12 hours and it was wonderful... only because I had the best company a girl could have had. My dad and my younger sister rode with me!! We left Clayton, NC (my hometown) around 8:30am last Saturday morning and arrived in Memphis, TN around 9:00pm. We stayed there at the airport at the Radisson for the night, which was quite interesting. This hotel actually had a basement floor and guess who lucked up and had to stay down there for the night?!? US!! It was crucial!! It wasn't all fancy and fixed up like the other, "regular floors". We opened the door to the room, which was a normal hotel room, locked it, and didn't go anywhere else for the night! Talk about being scared of even going outside! It was too funny!! We called my mom (who was at home in Clayton and had made the reservations) and she was crackin' up!! Good times... :)

The next morning we woke up and drove another hour and about 20 minutes to Oxford, Mississippi. We had arrived in time for me to check-in, move my luggage into my room, grab something to eat, and head back to Memphis for my dad and sister to catch their flight home. I am living on campus at Ole Miss in Stewart Hall. The campus is beautiful and I'm finding my way around quite well. Okay, so we got something to eat at Subway and hopped back in the car and headed for the airport. The time had come for me to say goodbye to my family and begin my summer all alone in Mississippi. It was hard saying goodbye because I wish they could stay there with me for at least a while longer. I got my hugs and kisses and I was on my way back to Oxford. I called my mom and told her that my dad and sister were on the plane and that I would call later to make sure they made it home.

Okay, so my family made it home safely, I finally unpacked and rode around Oxford for a while. My director, Ben Guest was in the lobby of the guy's dorm (Brown) at 5pm, so I went over to meet him. It was great to finally be able to put a face with a name. We had been in contact via email and telephone for a couple of months, so I had been looking forward to actually meeting him. Some of the first year teachers of the program had arrived that day (Sunday) also, so we went out to eat at Applebee's. It was nice to hear the stories of where they came from and how they came about the Teacher Corps program. Later that night I met my roommate, Keila, who is my soror from Howard. How wonderful!!

Monday morning I met with Ben to talk about the internship, how things will go, and to get my office key. Yep! I have an office!! :) Orientation began on Tuesday and I sat in on everything. I learned a lot about the program itself and history of Mississippi. Most of the teachers will be teaching in the Delta, so it was great to hear about how it is there and hopefully I'll be able to visit some of the school placements this summer.

All in all, I'm absolutely loving this program. It blows my mind how much of a difference one teacher can make in the lives of even only a few students. As Ben says... This program works to change the lives of children, even if it means doing it one by one. I'm very happy that I applied for this internship (Thank you Whitney Webb for talking to me at Carolina's Career Fair! Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you!). This is definitely a summer that I will never forget!

I miss home, my family, linesisters, and friends SO much. Thank God for the internet! :) I'm able to keep in touch with everyone!

I'm taking the Praxis II in Biology next weekend. Pray for me! If I pass it now, I won't have to worry about it when I apply to the program in the fall. If I am able to actually do this program next year, I would like to teach biology and in order to do that, I have to pass that exam before I'd start teaching.

From student teaching to working in my office, I'm getting all kinds of experience. Let's see what week 2 has in store!!

This is me! Posted by Hello