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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Staging in Philly

This is going to be a short post.  I just wanted to announce to the world that I went to staging in Philadelphia today and I have never, NEVER felt so comfortable in a group of total strangers.  Everyone has such interesting stories.  And everyone is so friendly!  It sort of feels like freshman orientation all over again, except less awkward because we're older and awesomer and we can go out to bars together.

Rwanda tomorrow.  Aaaah!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A (Brief) Story of Stuff

Well, I forgot to bring postage stamps.  I'm not sure I'd be able to use U.S. stamps in Rwanda anyway.

I'm currently in Boston visiting my brother, Silas, at Olin College.  I've gone from Seattle to my parents' house in California to here and I've been packing and repacking and shedding stuff along the way.  Initially I was excited to pack for Rwanda - it was the first thing I'd done that made my commitment seem real - but I've since become completely disillusioned with the whole process of gathering STUFF.  People have so much stuff.  I had no idea how much stuff I had until I had until I had to part with most of it.  I'm down to about 70 lbs. of stuff that will come with me to Africa, and while I only packed things I thought I'd need or sorely miss, it still feels like way too much and I'm tempted to abandon all of it at Jefferson Airport.

For anyone interested, here's a rough list of what I'm bringing:

- Some dress shirts, skirts and slacks for working in
- Long-sleeve and short-sleeve cotton tee shirts
- A couple pairs of cut-offs for biking in
- Two pairs of jeans
- Sports bras, cotton bras, cotton socks and about a dozen pairs of cotton underwear
- My Chacos
- Two pairs of comfortable dress shoes and one pair of hiking shoes
- Fleece and a waterproof jacket
- Some cotton scarves and bandanas
- A handful of office supplies
- A water filter bottle (gift from Dad)
- A small transistor radio (also a gift from Dad)
- Some cookware for camping, because it's compact/nonstick
- A compact sleeping bag
- Sheets and a towel
- My Swiss army knife and Leatherman multitool
- Deodorant and conditioner, since those are apparently hard to find in Rwanda
- Solar-powered flashlight (yet another gift from Dad - thanks Dad)
- This netbook
- My camera
- A money belt and my wallet
- Photos of people I left in Seattle
- My iPod (I figured it will at least be useful on the plane ride over)
- Earplugs and a sleep mask
- A small backup med kit I put together myself, containing things like Benadryl, ibuprofen, Neosporin, cold meds, bandages and lip balm
- Several half-pound bags of my favorite cooking spices
- A Kinyarwanda translation book, a French-English dictionary, a book on English grammar, and a few novels I've been intending to read for years but haven't yet

I hope someone finds this list and uses it for something, whether it's what to bring or what not to bring.  I'm sure I'll end up reporting on which of these things I actually end up using.

Oh, and for the record, I'm also taking a pair of flannel pajama pants I stole from my roommate and I'm already glad I have them.  Thanks, Tyler!