Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Open for Business

The Resource Room opened for the first time last night, and the turn-out was great! We checked out over fifty books and had an average of twenty-five people in the room at all times.

It was fun because a lot of people brought their laptops and things and sat at our tables to work, which was something I didn't expect. Our little slice of peaceful has officially become a study spot/home/homey place for others, and that makes me happy.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

. . .

“It is not easy … to wait. Waiting is what the hunter does, and the poet and the slugger. He waits for the moment of inevitability and fate and then he swings, or shoots, or takes up the pen to put down a line. They don’t teach us to wait in America; they teach us to grab. But waiting is what we do when we are looking for something beautiful, when we are looking for an end to our sorrow. Nothing is infinite in life, not even sorrow. You just have to wait."

- Cary Tennis

From the Dining Hall to 1300

An informal tour of a small portion of Temple's campus (a.k.a. the path I take home from the dining hall every day), courtesy of me.

That building on the right is very multipurpose.
The first level is full of a bunch of random stores,
including an optometrist, nail salon, movie rental
place, a coffee shop called Saxby's, and a bar that
apparently has the best wings ever.

A beautiful church mixed in with all the modern
architecture. There are quite a few buildings like
this around here, and I want to explore them all
before I leave. I also really wish I had a good
camera with me so that I could take awesome pictures
of them. Ah well, such is life.

Temple's cool school of business. I have zero idea
of the rigor of their program, but I think that those
giant letters are A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

Almost home! When I was getting directions to the cafeteria for
the first time, I was told to leave the dorm, hang a left, and then
follow the red brick road once I come to it. Can't say that the
directions were very good, but the road was definitely easy to find.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Corps Member Move-In Day

Yesterday (Sunday) was move-in day for corps members, and it felt very strange to have over 650 new people swoop down on 1300 (what we call the residence hall here).

The Resource Room, my little haven/place of work for the last couple weeks, remains untouched as of yet, thank goodness. We don't open until Tuesday evening, so for now we still have some peace and quiet. Not so much for the other areas of 1300 though.

It's funny because most of us OCs almost resent the intrusion of the corps members. Of course, we know that's a silly reaction, because they are the entire reason we are here in the first place, which is to create an environment where upcoming corps members can most effectively learn to become teachers. But we've just gotten so used to the small number of us working and living together that it almost feels like the corps members are taking over our home. Which of course isn't true in the least bit.

I'm on the fence, personally. I resent the individuals who come in and expect us to cater to their every need, without so much as a please or thank-you. I'm trying not to take their criticism personally (since they really don't understand just how hard we've been working for their arrival).

But I also welcome their arrival because I'm excited to meet lots of new people. I can't wait to see what things will be like around here once we all settle into some semblance of a routine.

At Registration, it was all hands on deck:

Checking in the new corps members and explaining how their
Temple student ID cards worked... I had that shpeel memorized.
I could probably say it in my sleep.

From the left: OCs-- Geales, Kelcey (works in the Resource
Room with me), myself, and Jessica (the OC who was in charge
of making sure the entire day ran smoothly... huge task!)

More OCs (and Lindsey on the right-- not an OC), handing
out pre-paid gym memberships and ethernet cords.

Steve, an Operations Director (OD), and Ashley, another OC...
They were giving people their name tags and other basics.

Megan, Stephan, and Marquita (more OCs), giving out name tags also.

Oh, That Dance?

So we had that dance "competition" on Saturday, and it was a blast. Of course, we were all crazy nervous (for really no reason) as we sat there waiting for other teams to perform. Cristina, bless her heart, was bouncing-on-the-edge-of-her-chair nervous... I think mostly nervous that the other teams would have better dance numbers or songs than us. Of course, sitting next to all that nervous energy was enough to make me anxious too (not to mention the fact that I'm really not a big fan of performing in front of people anymore. Talking, yes. Dancing, not so much).

Every school team (made up of all the advisors that will help corps members at that specific school) had to perform a song/dance number, so that meant watching nine groups perform before we got to go. It was fun to see everyone's song choices (and the varying levels of ... preparedness of each team), but it was not so much fun sitting and waiting, knowing you are performing last.

But of course we all remembered our lines and we got a standing ovation of sorts (mostly because our "conductor" was a very charismatic person), so I think it went well. Either way, it was pretty fun.

Waiting for the meeting to start... Our costumes were all-black
clothes, and then we wore our red lanyards around our heads. I
think we were trying for the gangster look, but I personally think
we all looked more like ninja turtles.

Here's the email we got the night before containing the lyrics to our song:


(To “I Want It That Way”, by Backstreet Boys)

Under-table solos: yeahhahhh

OC s Together:



ODs Together:



All together:



W&R: Amelia Bedelia’s in the Resource Room

IT: Rep the tech team

We’ll fix your laptop real soon!

CC: E-blast it!

Com team keeps the brand clean!

All together:


Nice to meet you!

RO: Call Rez if you clog toilets!

TSE: Transportation!

Missing your bus is no sweat!


OO: OOT has more scissors than you’ll ever dream!

All together:


*Song Change* (to “Seasons of Love,” from Rent)

All Together:

3 million 25 thousand 4 hundred seconds

3 million 25 thousand acronyms here.

3 million 25 thousand 4 hundred seconds

How do we measure Student Achievement?

Group 1: In signage, in bus rides, in lock-outs, in data trackers

Group 2: In lanyards, in KIPs, in laughter and strife

All Together:

In 3 million 25 thousand 400 seconds

How do you measure Institute Life?

Boys: REMIX!

*Song Change* (To: “Youre a Jerk”)

Group 1: You gonna teach!

Group 2: I know.

(repeated 3 more times)


Music ends: YOU CAN DO IT! OPs CAN HELP!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I finished the bulletin board a couple days ago but forgot to put up a final picture. It's all ready for corps members and some good healthy competition.*

*Corps members and staff members can drop one bead per day into their school team milk jar, and the team with the highest percentage of participation over the course of Institute gets a pizza party for lunch (instead of brown bag lunch).

Dance Practice

The Operations Team (Operations Coordinators and Operations Directors) are competing in this little dance competition tomorrow during the lunch hour against other staff teams (I'm guessing against Corps Member Adviser teams, etc), so we spent about an hour or so tonight after work practicing our little routine. Apparently the Ops Team blew everyone away last year, so there's lots of (informal, all-in-good-fun) pressure to follow up this year with another great number.

While not exactly the way I'd love to be spending my evening (I was previously planning more along the lines of getting some sleep), it was fun to dance and sing to the Backstreet Boys' song, "I Want It That Way." Except that instead of the normal words, we changed it to a bunch of inside jokes and such about the Operations Team, as well as added a little snippet of "Seasons of Love" (from Rent) for spice.

Friday, June 25, 2010


I recently discovered that there has been a talent hidden inside me just waiting for an opportunity like this internship to really come out and shine. I like to call this skill wogging.

wo·gging (wôg'ĭng): v .
1. to jog and waddle at the same time: The girl was wogging down the hall.

Today I noticed this previously undetected skill when I realized that over the course of the time I've been here, my jogging has morphed into a jog/waddle. This is due to the fact that I still cannot manage to get out of my room early enough to be on time for anything and therefore find myself always rushing around. But what's really unique about this situation is that now, I'm wearing uncomfortable shoes and a tight pencil skirt. Hence the speed waddle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Resource Room Complete!

We finally finished creating the Resource Room, and it looks AMAZING.

This evening we gave tours of our little oasis to a bunch of operations and instructional staff (so they can encourage the corps members they advise to visit the Resource Room), and it was funny how different the room automatically felt with other people in there.

Because aside from the occasional Resource Room Specialists (teachers who'll be in the room once it opens, helping and giving advice to corps members), it has just been the four of us for the entire last week, chatting and sharing personal stories for hours on end as we unpack, set up, and make signs.

And because it has been just us for so long (at least it seems really long) we've created a nice little spot for ourselves. A little haven, so to speak. But now we have to share it, which feels weird. But sort of exciting at the same time. I was ready for people to see our amazing room and admire how much work we put into it.

It's really interesting though, because it felt strange-- and rather disappointing-- to show our room, which took four people over five days of hard work to create, to a bunch of people who had absolutely no idea how much time and effort had gone into making that room look like it does now. The people walking through smiled and nodded and looked at the books, but they had no concept of how hard it was to make all those signs or organize those books logically. And that last part might seem easy, but it's not. Especially when the team from the previous year left us with a less-than-clear picture of how to unpack everything and as a result, hundreds of books were out of order and had to be resorted.

My frustration honestly made me stop and think about all those other jobs out there in the world that I take for granted. I started wondering just how much time and energy other people's jobs really take, and even just that thought (coupled with the experiences from this last week) definitely makes me appreciate other people (in general) more now.

More pictures of the Resource Room to come!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Resource Room Bulletin Board

Today it was my job to put up the bulletin board by the door for our Resource Room (RR). Half of the board is for our incentives program, which is in place to encourage corps members to visit the RR to get resources for their classrooms (part of their training is teaching summer school every day).

Basically, I am in charge of the incentives system. This particular program is a contest for corps members, in which the team that has the highest percentage of team members visit the RR over the course of the institute gets a free pizza party. Apparently it was a big hit last year (who doesn't like free pizza?), so we are doing it again this year.

The bulletin board was a blast to make. I always have a lot of fun when I get to create things, so that's been great. But the best part of the entire project is that I've discovered this amazing thing called spray glue-- the glue is sprayed out of an aerosol can.

If you spray directly onto the paper, the glue makes a permanent bond. Normal stuff. But get this-- if you spray lightly (from much further away), the light dusting of glue makes a more temporary adhesive bond (more like tacky), so you can put things like paper on the walls now and then get it off seven weeks later merely with goo-gone.

I can't wait to try that at home!


By the end of the day...

It's not entirely done yet, but I just thought I'd show you what I was up to today. There's still much to be done tomorrow, both on the bulletin board and in the Resource Room in general, but it's fun work so I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Story of My Day (in Bruises)

I had quite an eventful day today. My shins, arms, hands, and hips can attest to this, as they are now entirely black and blue. Okay, that's an exaggeration. But I do have black bruises and blue pen ink all over.

The backstory is that on Sunday, my team (Workshops and Resources) moved over 300 heavy boxes full of textbooks and reading books from the hallway outside into our Resource Room, and today we finished unpacking them all.

I'll tell the story of my day in bruises...

Quarter-size deep bruise on left hip - This morning we all had to wake up earlier than usual to be at the Liacouras Center (a new building that I've never been to before) to attend an introductory meeting for all the new staff members that had just arrived the day before. We had to be in professional dress, because I guess they wanted us to look official and all as we sat in the back and watched the proceedings. We didn't really do anything. But I digress.

We had to be there at 8 am, which really means 7:52-ish, and as I'd never been to this particular venue before, I'd planned the night before to leave my room at about 7:40-ish. This would give me enough time to get directions from the security guard downstairs about where I was going (I already had a general idea, but just needed to know which specific building it was).

Setting my alarm for 6:30 am (as I needed to shower in the morning), I slipped under my covers and fell into one of those deliciously deep sleeps that can only come after a long day's work of stooping over to pick up and set down hundreds and hundreds of children's books.

I think I remember my alarm going off in the morning. I know I got out of bed, hit the snooze (or so I thought), and crawled back into bed.

Just another five minutes, I thought in an exhausted haze.

The next thing I remember is that I was definitely dreaming about eating a ginormous delicious hamburger (what is this telling me?) when my brain, mid-bite, thinks to itself, This is kind-of a long dream. That snooze alarm should be going off soon. I wonder what time it is.

And just like that, I wake up. It's a little too light outside. I panic and shoot out of bed. The clock reads 7:36. GAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

I have less than ten minutes to be walking out of my bedroom fully dressed in professional clothing. And I cannnnnnnot be late to this meeting.

I've never gotten ready faster in my life. On the bright side, now I know that, while not entirely desirable, it is technically physically possible for me to get ready to leave the house in ten minutes. I feel oddly accomplished.

On the down side, as I was leaving I ran into the bathroom doorknob. Hard. Hence, deep and rather painful bruise on left hip.

Unnoticeable bruise on right forearm - This one happened because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. My excuse is that I was too busy making new friends.

Let's see... I was laughing uncontrollably (personal note: knowing my loud laugh, maybe not the way to make new friends) because we were sharing funny embarrassing moments from when we first started dating. Sometimes when I laugh, it's rather violent. Anyway, I ran into yet another door knob-- this time in our hallway. You could hear the thunk distinctly, and I hit it with such force that I ricocheted off. With such grace and poise, it's a shame I wasn't born in the Victorian Era. But hey, at least I'm being friendly, right?

Bruise on right shin - It's impossible to organize books while standing up, because you're constantly stooping over uncomfortably low to get the books out of the box on the floor. It starts to really hurt your lower back after a while. So because my job for the last two days has consisted of basically the exact same movements over and over for hours on end (taking books out of boxes and not much else), I have since perfected the art of unpacking. Because on a side note, I'd really like to not have back problems when I'm an old lady, as that would interfere with my skydiving plans.

Anyway, the art of unpacking starts with first sitting down and making myself comfortable (usually one leg under, one leg out). Then I open the box and begin to pull out the books, stacking them in a pile or two beside the box.

Usually all the books I unpack look pretty interesting, and it's a constant struggle to not slow my pace and let myself flip through a book or two as I go. If I did that, we'd never get done. When we started, I told myself that I couldn't look through any of the books until the Resource Room was completely unpacked (or I was off shift).

Well, I forgot that little personal rule when it came to unpacking and stacking the large high school history textbooks. They were so much fun to look through that I forgot everything and became almost mesmerized by the pictures and stories.

I guess I got so caught up in admiring some very well-done watercolor illustrations of Christopher Columbus' ships that I failed to notice I was piling that book stack just a liiiiitle too high. Of course, the pile was teetering and I continued to add books to the top. And then it collapsed. Right onto my outstretched leg.

Banged-Up Knees - No bruises have surfaced on my knees as of yet, but I'm sure they'll be there tomorrow. All the Operations Coordinators did room sweeps today, where we split up into groups of two and checked every single room in the entire dorm building to make sure they all had working lights, toilets that didn't spit or splash, and enough beds, desks, and phones.

The corps members (over 600 of them) will be moving into Temple next weekend to start their training to become teachers, and we had to make sure that their living quarters were peaceful and working properly so that they can focus on learning how to teach. Fine with me. Room checks were fun, because my partner and I had a fascinating conversation about educational reform while we worked.

While checking the rooms for working fixtures and furniture, we also taped the names of the corps members in each room to the doors so they'll know where they live when they get here (and they'll know the names of their friends). To make things most efficient, we dragged a little fold-up chair around with us that held tons of pieces of tape. This way, it took us less time to put up each paper because the tape was already ready to go. No fumble time needed. Well, no fumble time with the tape roll needed. I guess I was just having a super clumsy day today or something, because I kept hitting my knees on the chair as I carried it around with me.

Blue ink smudges all over (so not really a bruise, but contributing to the black and blue effect) - I have blue ink all over my hands, especially on my fingertips, which are for the most part, entirely dark blue. There is also a long ink line on my left bicep and a couple smudges on my right knee. I have zero idea how those last two got there. But the ink on my hands can be directly blamed for an exploding pen about halfway through unpacking boxes today.

We were short on scissors and didn't have box cutters, so I was using a pen to stab at the packing tape on the boxes. Stab holes with left hand, rip open lid with right hand. Stab holes, rip lid. Stab, rip, stab, rip. I had a pretty good system going. Very effective.

That is, until the tip broke after a particularly violent stab, getting ink all over my finger tips. I then, like a brilliant one, decided that I could still use the pen, sans the writing tip. So I kept using the pen. Maybe I'll blame it on being engrossed in the conversation we were having about educational equality (a popular topic around here), because when I looked down again at what I was doing, there was now blue ink all over my fingers, hands, and wrists. Nice.

I still don't know how I got ink on my knee.

All the boxes we unpacked today.

During the unpacking process

Stay tuned!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Organizing My Life

I just completed my fourth day on the job, so there's lots to fill y'all in on. I'll start from the beginning...

I got into Philly (no one here says the full name-- takes too long) on Thursday night at 7:30 pm, but because of miscommunications, etc, I didn't get on the airport transportation van to take me to Temple University (where the Institute is located) until 8:30 pm. So it felt like quite a late night to be getting in.

But despite the hour, the van driver was really nice, and after we dropped off the last fellow passenger and headed to the university, he went above and beyond his call of duty to explain everything about Philly to me, including what I had to see while I was here, the authentic places to eat a real Philly cheesesteak, and where to not walk after dark alone. All super helpful stuff. And once at the dorms, he refused to drive away and leave me there until we were sure I was in the right spot (which I really appreciated).

Once inside, I checked in (one of the very last OCs to arrive) and then headed up to my room. My very own room!

Out of the nineteen Operations Coordinators (OCs) working there this summer, only four or so of us get our own rooms. The rest have roommates (and share a living space with another room of two). At first I was disappointed to be all alone, figuring that I'd feel rather left out and lonesome at the end of the hall, but then I realized that there are countless benefits to having my own room. Sure, it forces me to not hole myself up in here and go be social in order to make good friends, but it also lets me escape from everyone after a long day of work. And since all of us do practically everything together (especially in these first couple weeks), I will have plenty of time over the course of the program to get to know everyone veeeery well. Probably too well.

But this is such a great group of people, and I am really excited that I get to work with so many driven, talented people for a month and a half. Maybe some of their awesomeness will rub off on me. For example, in comparison to these guys, I actually feel quite disorganized. I used to pride myself on my organization and my friend Madison thinks I'm the most organized person in the world. But I'm nothing in comparison to Teach For America staff members. These guys are intense. I love it.

We have these things called Daily Action Plans, which is basically an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper completely covered with both a day planner on the left (dividing the day into little pieces, down to the half hour) and an elaborate set of boxes on the right (for various To Do lists). All this on one page.

We are given a template to go off of and then encouraged to rename boxes and reformat as much as necessary to make the action plan our own. To give you an idea of what my typical daily action plan looks like, my boxes (for To Do lists) have such titles as: High Priority Tasks, Priority Tasks, Two Minute Tasks, Personal, For ____ (left blank for someone's name), For Molly (my manager), For OCs (my fellow team members), Inspiration (a tiny box for doodles, quotes and whatever else inspires me), and Notes (for random things that can't be categorized).

So efficient and so organized. Every single thing that I have to accomplish in one day is broken down into numerous lists to make things easier. They also stress that whatever I put on my plan is an action-able item (specific and concise), one that avoids lofty or vague language. For example, I can't put down something like "Set up the Resource Room." It needs to be something more specific like "Move all boxes to appropriate carrels," "Unpack boxes," and then "Organize books." Or something like that. The more specific the better.

And it makes sense. Like they said when they were explaining the action plan process to us, the reason projects don't get done is not because of a lack of time available but because of a lack of clarity on what specifically needs to get done, and in what specific order, for things to get accomplished.

Again, love it. I feel like I've come home. These people are my kind of people.

Side Note/Fun Fact: A fellow OC told me today that psychological studies have shown that if a person is dealing with a confusing or complex issue in their life, they are supposed to stop worrying, etc, and organize their bedroom or something like that. I guess the physical act of organizing a space helps trigger in the brain whatever is needed to categorize and organize the larger life problem they are dealing with. Sounds good to me!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

. . .

"Every day do something
that will inch you closer
to a better tomorrow."

- Doug Firebaugh

And now I'm in Philly...

And so, after all that traveling, I have finally settled into Philadelphia for the remainder (for the most part) of the summer.

The Breakdown of What I'm Doing Here....
What: Internship
Where: Philadelphia, PA
Organization: Teach For America
Program: Philadelphia Institute (summer program that trains upcoming area corps members)

My Job Title: Operations Coordinator (OC) -- one of 19
OC Job Description: working behind-scenes to ensure Philly Institute runs smoothly
My OC Team: Workshops and Resources
My Specific Duties: I plan special events and help man the Resource Room

Friday, June 18, 2010

Last Day in San Francisco

Wednesday was my last day in San Francisco. We went to the DeYoung Museum, where we were thirty minutes too late to get into the visiting Impressionism Exhibit (they close that museum too early). So we just walked around the rest of museum for a bit, which was actually pretty small. But there were some cool things, like...

... the famous gumball picture.


An awesome miniature cathedral (about as high as my waste,
perhaps) made entirely out of thousands of deconstructed
guns. Talk about making a statement.

After the kinda failed attempt to go to the DeYoung Museum, we went down to the Fisherman's Warf area. People had told us that it wasn't much to see and just a big tourist trap, but we didn't really have anything else on our list of things to do, so we went anyway. Those people were right. It was a huge tourist trap.

Oh well. At least we went. I got some neat pictures of the ocean and all (and challenged myself to take pictures that make the area look interesting). And we got to do some more walking around. Good for the heart.

We ended the evening with an absolutely delicious dinner at this awesome Vietnamese restaurant, where we spent over two hours eating Chilean sea bass wrapped in banana leaves, blackened cod, and the best green beans I've ever eaten.

It was the best ending to a great vacation in a beautiful city. I definitely want to go back and visit again.

Napa Valley Excursion

On Tuesday, John and I rented a car (since he doesn't have one in S.F.) and we drove out to Napa Valley for the day. Before we left the San Francisco area though, our first stop of the day was the Mt. Tamalpais State Park (in Sausalito, across the bay). There we took a fun little one-hour hike (which was the perfect amount of time-- 30 minutes in on the trail and 30 minutes out... long enough to see everything but still like the place when you leave).

And I look lots of pictures. Again.

You can't really tell, but there is an ocean between those
hills, which is pretty awesome. In California, you can have both!

The woods there are beautiful. Everything is green, wildflowers are everywhere, and there is moss growing over all of it.

After our little hike, we hopped back in the car and drove about an hour to Napa Valley. Armed with an old navigator and a little brochure of various wineries, we were on a mission to find a winery with free wine tastings (key word here is free). We found one!

V. Sattui Winery

It was actually a very touristy little place, built as a tourist spot rather than starting as an authentic winery. But it was still really fun. The building resembled an old Tuscan villa, and beneath it was the wine cellar, a damp, warmly lit area full of giant barrels of wine and lots of fun facts/information about the winery's history and the history of wine in California in general.

There was this beautiful courtyard to the side of the villa,
on the way to the wine cellar below.
I'm sure there is many a wedding held in this place.

The wine cellar

Our delicious wine-tasting adventure... If I'd had the money,
I would have purchased a bottle or two.

After our wine tasting, we bought a baguette and some
delicious spreadable cheese (can't remember the name,
but it was exotic, I promise) and ate lunch on their lawn
under a giant leafy tree. It was so peaceful.

A familiar sight in these parts.

Some more roses... I couldn't help taking pictures of them.
The roses here are ginormous and exquisite. Love, love, love.

About Me

... A few thoughts to pass the time...