Sunday, September 26, 2010

This Is My Life

First of all Happy Birthday on the 24th Mom!

Not much to report from the PC this week. Very busy schedule. We worked Monday-Wed. And then I had Thursday and Friday off, I didn't really do much with my days off, I was so exhausted from the trauma of surviving the first 3 days of the week. Tuesday I took a first aid class. That’s 30 pumps to 2 rescue breaths people who need a CPR refresher.

I had a group this week that was a special needs group of about 9 kids. They had behavioral issues, didn't listen very well... and were not very physically coordinated. It was challenging to say the least. I was shrill by the end of each day, my own voice started to annoy me. But I survived! And I think the kids had a good time for the most part as well.

The last two days have been pretty light, we had a large youth group camp in and they are always great kids. We ran a few blitz sessions mixed in with site work.

We have taken to calling the paint we use around the Centre as "Splodge" because it’s this muddy red color and it is way to clumpy and oozy to be called paint. So during my SW boxes I have done a fair amount of splodging to the fences surrounding the Centre, and that is much better than weeding all the time.

On Friday night a bunch of us ventured to "Frankie and Benny's", which is marketed as a "New York- Italian Restaurant." The food was actually quite good. I would definitely go back. I think they do exist in America but I have never seen one. It was like somewhere between an Applebee's and Red Robin, with an Italian bent.

As we were leaving the car park and waiting for our driver (who was Joel) to open the mini-bus (Yes, any large excursions from the Centre we take a mini-bus... it looks like a big white bus for handicap children, I felt very silly the first few times I went in it until I realized what a cheap convenient form of transportation it is). Anyway so we were just all laughing in the parking lot when we were set on by a group of crazy "Chavs" (description of the awesomeness of a British Chav after the jump) who started to try and fight us and eventually ended up punching three of our guys in the face... No one really fought back we were more just trying to escape into the mini-bus. When asked why they didnt fight back Ed just said "I was in a mini-bus, how was I do fight a bunch of drunk chavs from inside a mini-bus, really." They then chased the mini-bus as we drove away and threw beer cans at it. It was all very dramatic. I, however shamed about it because I found it all ridiculously hilarious. I couldn't believe these chubby white little gang bangers were actually trying to fight us when we were just minding our own business outside a mini-bus for Pete’s sake! And then when they started to punch people I really thought it was ridiculous and started laughing all of the harder! Woops, I doubt I made it any better. We did get away thankfully. But unfortunately we have some rather dramatic people working at the centre... oh excuse me... no, I mean 'socially responsible' people who decided we needed to then dial 999 (our 911) and then head over to the Kidderminster police station to make statements. After an hour waiting for the police to arrive at their own station in order for us to tell them about a few 16 year old gang bangers claiming that car park as their own... some of us non-punched ones got a ride back to the Centre (given we had to work the next morning... that was our excuse anyway) And let those who got punched stay and give their statements.

Last night instead of going to the pub a few of us has a rousing game of Cranium in Ontario. I was on a team with Dane and Ed. And let me say, Cranium is pretty fun to play with a foreigner. One of the things I had to draw for them to guess was the expression "talk to the hand". So Dane in her adorable Danish started to say, "Shout to the hand... what is this shout to the hand!?" and I would look at Ed and he would translate it into English and be "Oh talk to the hand!" (That might be a bad example but it was pretty funny.)

On Friday Ed and I went on a very awesome exploration/ run/ walk/ hike around our nearby countryside. We ran down some country roads to town, we were going to go the the gym because it was cold and wet but when we got to the gym, surprise of all surprises, it was closed! (Its always closed). It should seriously be called (2 Hour Fitness!) Because its open for at best like 2 random hours of the day. So we wanted to get a yummy sandwich from the Crusty Cob bakery but we couldn't justify it yet so we decided to try and run/ walk/ hike all the way up to what we thought was this impressive house of one of the surrounding hills. In order to get there we ran through this huge field of sheep, which was fun sheep are way less scary than cows to run by. A couple scary barking dogs, one was just cute the other was scary. And a big field of cows that was seriously freaky... mostly because cows always look mad and they are really really big. When we finally got up to this house/ thing whatever. It was a water shed building situation, standing out in the middle of a wheat field. It actually looked very ominous and scary. It was built in 1902, and seriously when I saw that I thought "Ah! Its so new... lame!" (Though I know in Oregon that would be one step away from ancient) . Anyway it was a great adventure, and when we got back to the village safe and sound we really did feel like we had earned our sandwiches.

Lucy Ed and I are going to try our hand and Mexican food again tonight.
Love to anyone who reads this.
-American in Shropshire

Sunday, September 19, 2010

St. Mary's History Made, and a Nearby Village Crawl

I witnessed history tonight. St. Mary's Church, the Anglican church in the village held their first Sunday night "modern" service tonight. The church wasbuilt in the 12th Century. And Accept for the whole Henry the VIII switch I doubt the church has much changed since then in the form of how the services are conducted. Litany and all that... organ music with hymns and such. Time to mix it up id say (I have no idea why this is blue and underlined).

I have never worshiped/ listened to a message in such a beautiful space where I could understand what was going on. I have been to Mass in The Vatican's St. Peters and Venice's St Marks, but I couldn't understand what was going on, and it was catholic... so even if it had been in English I would have been a little lost.

Anyway I thought the service went really well and I look forward to many more in the future!

Yesterday, Ed Lucy and I went to check out two nearby villages. One called Bridgnorth, and another called Bewedly.

Bridgnorth is fantastic. The old/ pretty part of it is tucked on top of a huge sandstone hill. The town was bumpin with tourists and a market yesterday it was great. I read some old info boards while we were walking around and it said it was an pop
ular holiday destination for hundreds of years. There is a river that runs in the valley below high town and in low town was where all the laborers lived and worked, while the wealthy got to control everything from up above.
There is a very cool hill/way railway thing that carry's people up the hill (we didn't take it becau
se we parked at the top). But it was very
charming. There were also
these great long stair cases, and supposedly mules where used up until the middle of the 20th century to get goods up to high town and you can see the mule cart ruts on the stair cases.

There was a very lovely church in Bridgnorth called St. Leonard's. We walked around it for a little while, the light inside was very lovely. And someone decided to play the Organ while we were in it so that was fun as well.

After that we went on to Bewedly for lunch and just lounged around there. They have a nice river walk and when it is sunny it is very lovely.

I am off to bed now. Long week a head. woot.

How to Make Blogging Not a Chore...

I haven't figured it out yet. I still hate to do it. Probably because I hardly know how. How to make it cute and fun and worth my time.

Otherwise it feels like its awkward public diary like thing. That people may or may not find completely random and dull.
Its getting colder here but the leaves haven't started to change yet.
I love fall, it is my favorite season by far. It makes me think of cozy yet bright and sunny days. Soccer practice when I was little, the excitement of starting school. And of course, more importantly the fantasticness of a great football game.
Also pumpkin patches. Who doesn't love a good pumpkin patch.

It will be interesting to see how our Fall/ Harvest celebrations differ from the Britons. Well for one I know it is never referred to as "Fall" but "Autumn" of course. But my friend Lucy said "I like it when you say Fall Kari, because thats what the leaves do." So at least they get it right?

More than anything about Fall is just the way the air feels and smells I think. I am sure that has a lot to do with the trees and the changing of temperature. So I hope the feeling is the same here as it is at home. When I lived in Rome there really was no fall. Mostly I think because it is in a warmer climate and we were in the middle of a city so there were barely any trees. But going from Summer to Winter with no warm up act was a bit harsh I found.

Have to run down to the village to play some badminton. Cheerio

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day? Never heard of it....

So this is an English thing I am not particularly a fan of.

I believe they probably have almost just as many 3 day weekends aka government sponsored holidays, as we do in the states. But instead of giving them great names aka reasons for revelry. They are just happy to call them "bank holidays". Ok we get it. The banks are closed. But are you just happy to have monday off because its a bank holiday without a proper reason. I think that is pretty silly.

I did not have a Labor Day weekend because I had to work today. But last weekend was a "bank holiday" weekend here.. (and no I didn't get it off then either). But when I asked me fellow Britons why it was a holiday... what was the reason... they were just like.... "Its just a bank holiday weekend I dont know." Talk about a let down.

Today was good. Better than the awful Thursday and Friday last week which defined a new set of humility in my sort life of 23 years. We passed our hard core ropes skills exam today.
We had to set up a climb, and an abseil. Abseil someone down then prossuck down after them on the safety lin
e. And also tie off a grigri. Good stuff in all.

I finished the book "Fair Stood the Wind for France." It was amazing. It needs to be made into a major motion picture as far as I am concerned. Well done book store man. It is about a British pilot who is shot down in Occupied France. And the fight of the girl and her family who finds him. It is a love story. And It is a testament to the people of France and their bravery in resistance during WWII that they are rarely acclaimed for. I loved it.

I have converted my friends Ed and Lucy to become ardent Huskie football fans. They will shout "Go Huskies" randomly throughout the day. It makes me very happy.

We went to the KA tonight for Wanja's 21st Birthday. Its amazing how not a big deal that major American milestone is over here because they can drink much younger. I had a delish glass of KA white wine and a half pint of Carling that was very nice.

Now I am off to bed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pioneer Centre: Living in the Ultimate Bubble

Hey there,

The end of another workweek in England. Quite a hectic week here at the centre. We had two large groups in and there were many sessions to observe and assist on.
Right now I am lying out on the grass in the sunshine in front of High Ropes, as we have just finished up for the day.

I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little bit about the people that I am working with here. Pioneer is truly living in a small bubble. I thought I knew what that was like when I was in college but this is like a totally different level. Because not only do you work with the same people all day long (sometimes 10 hour days). You also hang out with those same people on your breaks and after work, and on top of that.... you live together. You share meal times, you share bathrooms you share pretty much everything. Oh an also... we are stuck out her middle of rural Shropshire without cars. So you can imagine we don't really get out that much.
In our training they tried to kind of let us in on the fact that those people that are givers. Who are happy to do that little bit extra even if others aren't pulling their own weight, thrive here. If you expect things to be done for you, or everything to be fare all of the time, you will eventually just end up bitter and hate it. I am pretty sure its 50/50 with people here by the time they leave. I hope I develop better serving/giving personality traits because I am not going to claim to be naturally talented at it ha-ha. And unlike the apprentices, I am here as a volunteer. C
ompletely by choice. They are really not doing much for me except allowing me to live in England, as I have always wanted to. I could tequnically leave at any time. So I hope that realization that I can get out of this experience what I choose to put into it will help me this year when things get tricky.

So anyway back to the people.
There are some very annoying people here that I find personally very challenging to be polite to. The thing about being annoyed all of the time (or whenever those certain people are around) is that it is totally exhausting. And it makes you feel pretty horrible. But for some reason that doesn't serve to make those people any less annoying. It is something I am really struggling with.
Of course I don't appeal to everyone either. Shocking I know... ok not really. I can come on a bit strong and as a bit of a know it all. It’s not my fault I am ridiculously clever right?! (jokes). But for serious I know of a few people who aren’t particularly keen on me. But they mostly consist of emo young boys I really would have nothing to talk about even if they did like me so it’s all well and good.

The centre is a very international place. In fact I don’t believe I have ever been around such a wide variety of people from different nations. When I lived in Rome I mostly hung out with.... you guessed it. Americans!
There are two main groups that work here at the Centre. The "house team" who take care of everything from the food, to the rooms, bed changing, washing etc. (I don't know how they do it every day its such hard work). And the "Activities Team", which I am a member of, we run all of the "activities" the guests participate in while they are here.

The house team is largely comprised of young people from different countries. While the activities team is made up of "apprentices" who are all English/ Scottish/ or Welsh, and "volunteers" (me) who are from different countries but speak English relatively well.
The other internationals on the activities besides me are, one Danish girl (Anne, my former roommate), Martin (German), Monja (girl) (German), Wanja (German), a
nd Soren (German). You can see there are a lot of Germans here. The guy Germans are referred to as... you guessed it... "The Germans", nicknames here are intensely creative as you can tell :).

The house team has several Hungarians, on it supposedly there were so many at one time the Activities team referred to them as the Hungarian Mafia. Most of them look and sound exactly as you would think Hungarians would. They are big, tall, dark, and slightly ominous sounding.

There are two or three from South Korea, one from Kazakhstan, a couple from Slovakia, and a few from Brazil. It’s funny because they seem to come in clumps. There are a few from each country but rarely is there just one.

Interesting fact, the Germans that are here had to pay on organization back home to find them a year of service in order to avoid joining the army for a year. Because in Germany (if you are a guy) you have to either serve for a year in the army, or do a year of service. (Funny, I didn't Germany was aloud to have an army anymore)? Jokes, jokes! But yeah, I wish Americans had to do that. Maybe we would all be a little less self/wealth centered. Probably not, but it couldn't hurt.

I Mexican food with Ed and Lucy the other night. It was fantastic, and they loved it. We went to Tescos to get the food and I found attempting to make proper Mexican in England very frustrating. They don't sell regular sour cream, only sour cream and chive. Which is way more like something you dip carrots in than for Mexican. And when I asked for cilantro, they guy who worked there said "Is that a type of shampoo?" Uhm no. So yeah no cilantro. Also the avocados they sold there were like tiny green bricks. So sad. But we managed to make some chicken burritos and they were quite wonderful.

I also watched "Remember the Titans" with a bunch of people that don’t understand how American football works. They kept asking questions like " Do your really have cheerleaders?!" And "What does a jock mean?" and "Why are all of the white people mad?" It was pretty hilarious. It made me miss high school a little. And it made me very sad that I am going to miss out on Huskie football season this year so sad :(. Jake Locker's last year!

Anyway I would keep typing but I am pretty tired so I am going to stop now.