Thursday, December 02, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

Merrily We Roll Along

It's funny but it seems like my life at the moment consists of waiting, then hearing something, then waiting some more. I went and had a meeting with Mister Doctor today about my final Russian classes for next semester. I'm going to be taking Russian Civ and Russian Lit in English. I'm pretty sure that a good chunk of Civ is going to be in English too. Fail. While we were chatting, Mister Doctor wanted to know if I was interested in possibly taking Advanced Translation Practice as well next semester. Apparently Tanya, my prof for Business translation this semester, told him that I was a really good translator. To be honest, Business Translation is my most pleasant surprise of the semester.

I've been avoiding translation classes since I came here. I had decided that translation was boring and I didn't want to do it. Hence the reason I was going to be an International Relations major and so on and so forth. I got into this business class though and found out that I seriously enjoy it. The only translating I'd done before was English to Russian which I wasn't so good at, and literary. Just for the record, literary translation is horrible. You have to stop and think about every word and what exactly the author meant and was trying to convey and blah blah blah. Compared to that, Business translation is pretty amazing. You read a text, you understand it and then you basically summarize it. Oh, and you make it sound good in English.

Tanya had told me that I was doing a really good job on the texts we'd been working on, and I believed her, but then to have her mention it it Mister Doctor was a compliment. Since taking business Russian, I'm kind of considering coming back to SPU in a few years to work on a Masters in translation. But I digress.

So Mister Doctor encouraged me to take Advanced Translation. Which I would love to do. I don't particularly care for some of the projects and things that we do in Bus. Trans. but I really enjoy the translations. They keep my mind occupied. I found out that Advanced Translation covers Business, Medical, Technological and Law translation. Which sounds really fun. My only problem is time. In order to complete my lovely Degree and Certificate, I'm already taking 15 credit hours next semester. Plus, I work like 14 hours a week. I'm not sure that I want to have to deal with a class that doesn't really count for anything other than fun. But at the same time I would love to take it and get more practice in. So, I'm thinking that I'm going to audit the class. That way, if I miss a class because of something, or don't turn in a translation or something, it won't really affect my grade or GPA or anything. Planning on e-mailing Mister Doctor to find out for sure if this would be a possible option.

In other news, I heard back about the FSOT. I didn't pass. Big surprise there. I was slightly disappointed, but it wasn't devastating. I would have been surprised if I had passed. The part I did the worst on? Experience. There's a section that asks questions about your skills and I just didn't have the skills for it. Which is okay. I'll go gain some more life experience and then try it again.

Ironically, the day after I heard about the FSOT, I heard back from WWW. Oh and I heard from the Missionary in Peter that I'd e-mailed. WWW was giving me information about registering for the class. I need to e-mail them and ask about that since I obviously won't be in Texas to take the class. Should probably figure out what my next step is. Joel, the missionary, said that there might be a possibility of working there. He also sent me a couple of mission reports and his biography. I was really super excited to read about the work that was going on there. Am going to have to e-mail him back when I get a chance.

Unfortunately, that chance might not come for a few days. I'm extremely busy and stressed. In addition to my daily homework, I have two papers I'm supposed to be writing. I have to turn in a proposal for one of these papers on the 17th. Not only that, but the weekends, which are when I would generally work on this stuff, are pretty much booked up until Thanksgiving which means it's going to be rough going. Thankfully though they clear out after and I'll be able to hopefully get the papers themselves written before the end of the semester. Oh my. I cannot wait to get out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Subconscious Exposition

I've been having a lot of dreams about Russia and Russia related things the past two nights. Russia's been on my mind a lot. I want to go back one way or another. I don't think permanently, but I do want to go back. Two nights ago, I dreamed that I went back to Yakutsk and was speaking Russian with some of my old classmates I met there. Last night I was in St. Petersburg and was working with a group of school children. We were playing this jumping game, and there were some other Americans there. This dream was mostly in English. I'm so ready to go...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spiritual Biography

I grew up in the church and was baptized when I was 11. Both my father and grandfather are elders. Church has always been a major part of my family's life, so I was in Bible class on a regular basis and I enjoyed it a lot. From the time I was little, it was important to me to do what God wanted and wanted to please Him, so my actions reflected that. This doesn't mean, however, that I haven't had my ups and downs.

When I was little, I could not wait to go to church camp. I watched the kids go every year and couldn't wait to be among their ranks. From third grade, I went every year and had a blast. It was great to be in a place with kids my age who believed the same things I did. Church camp also brought me closer to God. I remember one year, when I was in middle school, I started the week off and wasn't really into it. I felt far away from God, and that my faith was suffering. The first night I prayed before going to bed, asking God for stronger faith. I'll never forget how he answered.

During the middle and high school weeks of camp, the girls always did secret sister. This particular year, I made a little beaded necklace for my secret sister at craft time and wrote her a note explaining the meaning of the beads I'd chosen. I didn't really think much of it when I sent it off, I felt like it wasn't a big deal. That night she decided to get baptized and I found out that part of the reason she'd made the decision was because of the note I'd sent her. My world was rocked and I was humbled. It amazed me that God could use someone as insignificant as me, as simple as a note I had spent fifteen minutes on to change someone's life. I learned that even when I feel like my faith is failing, it still can have the power to move mountains, and I understood that you never know where you've planted seeds.

Just before I started high school, our congregation hired a youth minister. Before Matt and Stacy came, we were a group of kids around the same age who happened to go to church together. After their arrival, we became a youth group. They brought us together and we became a family. We spent a lot of time together worshiping, singing and just being teenagers. It was a time that is embedded in my memory as one of learning and growing. Through our mission trips, youth rallies and bonding, I discovered how important it was to be with other believers. It was comforting to know that no matter what happened, no matter how I'd messed up or whatever problem I was having, I could go to my brothers and sisters in the youth group and they would love on me, support me and pray for me. It was an awesome feeling! It was at this point I understood that it takes a lot of different people to make a congregation. We came from extremely diverse backgrounds; some of us had grown up in strong church, others of us hadn't. We were from all different social sectors at school, yet we found friendship through the common bond of Jesus Christ.Unfortunately, this solidarity did not last. There was some shuffling of leadership in our congregation and Matt became our pulpit minister. High school progressed and we began to drift apart.

High school is a rough time for a lot of young people. There are many temptations and life can be confusing. We were caught between childhood and adulthood and sometimes we acted out, trying to deal with things. In our teen Bible class on Sunday mornings, we began to talk a lot about some of the issues facing us as high school students. People in our youth group began to struggle with these issues. Not only that, but even the adults in our church were struggling with these same issues. I began to see the world with more adult eyes and I became jaded.

From the pulpit we were told to be better people and in Bible class the teens were warned about drinking, smoking and sex. Yet I felt like all of this talking didn't matter. People were still going to do exactly what they wanted. So what was the point?. I felt like the church was full of hypocrites. People who just sat in a pew on Sunday morning and did whatever they wanted the rest of the week. I felt a lack of sincerity and it made me wonder why I had ever bothered to try to follow God. I was tired of being the good girl. Everyone else was going out and doing these things so why couldn't I? I was tired of trying.

Looking back on it, I realize that I was just as wrong as anyone else in that congregation. I was being extremely judgmental with the same kind of contempt the Pharisee held for the tax collector. So while I thought I was so much better than everyone around me, I was still wrong. At the time though, I couldn't see it and I began to withdraw. I stopped caring about worshiping and only went to church because my parents expected it and because that's what we did in my family. This low point continued until about half-way through my exchange year to Russia.

While still in high school, I decided that I was going to spend ten months in Russia as an exchange student after I graduated. When I arrived, I didn't even bother to find a church family; I decided that I didn't want to deal with it. Instead, I just focused on being in Russia. A funny thing happened though. My exchange was extremely difficult and while I wasn't really paying attention to God, there were points when it seemed like He was definitely paying attention to me. There were times when it felt like He was just reminding me that He was always there and even though I was alone in a foreign country, I was never completely alone. I'm not sure when exactly the change came. It wasn't one of those sudden epiphanies, rather it was a gradual thing. There is a point where things began to turn around.

I am an avid reader and had brought several books in English on exchange, I finished them all about halfway through my exchange. I missed English so much that I was desperate for something, anything, to read. The only thing I had left was my Bible. So one day I sat down, opened to 1st Kings and started reading. I was hooked. I had read bits and pieces of the Bible before, but not in huge chunks like this. The more I read, the more I learned and the more I learned, the closer I felt to God. It was around this time that I realized I missed being with other people who believed in God. I wasn't sure what to do though. There were two Orthodox churches, a Catholic church and an Apostolic church in my city, but I wasn't sure I felt comfortable at any of these.

A few days after this realization, I was sitting in my social studies class and my teacher was talking about all the different types of religions and groups in the city. She mentioned Orthodox, Catholic and then Baptist. After this last group, I didn't hear anything else for the rest of the lesson. I knew slightly more about Baptists than I did about the other churches in my city. I knew they were somewhat similar to what I believed, at least in the states, and that was enough for me. After class, I asked her about it and she put me in touch with a girl at my school whose father was the pastor at the church. We met, I found out where the building was, and I decided to go the following Sunday. The first morning I went, one of the songs we sang was Amazing Grace as soon as I realized it, I started crying because even though the song was in a different language and the people were strangers, we had a common belief in God. I had come home.

In Russia I had some of the greatest spiritual growth I've ever experienced. I came to realize that it didn't matter whether other people in my congregation were worshiping God, didn't matter what was in their hearts. I realized that it isn't my place to judge and that I needed to make sure that I was right with God and a true follower of him. It was also at this point that my relationship with Him became my own. Sure, I had a relationship with Him before, but in Russia I realized that if I were going to be a Christian it wouldn't be because of my parents, my family or my friends. It had to be because I was making that choice.

There are other events in my life that God has used to strengthen me, conversations with strangers, attending a state university and friends who have offered counsel, but the events I have related here are the ones that have made the biggest impact on my spiritually. While they were extremely difficult at the time, and often I didn't know exactly why I was going through them, In retrospect I can see how they have strengthened my life and relationship with God. I pray that He gives me more such opportunities.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winkie Marching Song

You know which song I'm talking about. The one in the Wizard of Oz where they guys are marching around the Witch's castle going "Oh ee oh YO oh..." That's how I'm feeling right now. The drudgery of school is killing me. I'm so ready to be done with it. I usually feel this way in the early spring when the weather changes, but I'm feeling it now. Crud. This probably means that I am going to be going insane come spring. I've been having a hard time focusing and getting my schoolwork done. I had a couple tests that I just didn't study for and then kicked myself mentally when I got them back and saw how poorly I'd done.

You may have noticed the layout change. I felt like it was time since my life is going to be changing again. Perhaps it's a little early, but oh well. I'll probably be continuing to tweak it the next few weeks or months as I get time.

I've started applying for things, testing the waters, fun stuff like that. I took the Foreign Service Officer Test just for fun. It was probably the most low-key "standardized test" I've ever taken. Why? Well, because what happens if I don't pass? Nothing. Life goes on and I've got a backup plan so it's no big deal. I kind of enjoyed taking it to see what it was like.

In other news, I've got things rolling for WorldWide Witness. Two weeks ago I turned in my application and chose my references. One reference told me that they'd gotten a hold of her and she filled out the reference form for me which makes me happy. The other thing I had to do as part of the application process is write a three page spiritual biography which outlines things that have made a major impact on me spiritually. I'm mostly done with it, just have to finish it up and edit it. Keep a look-out for it because I'll probably be putting it into a blog post once I get it done.

It's kind of funny but the only thing I don't feel like procrastinating is stuff for that program.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Masha In Wonderland

I'm jealous of one of my exchange friend. Over the summer, she went on a Critical Language Scholarship to Ufa, Russia. She is now doing a year in Moscow. She started a blog for her time in Ufa and is continuing it throughout her stay in Moscow. I definitely recommend checking out Masha In Wonderland

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Lost

So I feel overwhelmed. I mean, more so than just the usual rush of college life and dealing with the everyday stresses of that. My problem is that in the back of my mind is always this nagging thing. Something poking and prodding at me, reminding me that this is the end of my safe little haven. I have applied for May graduation. I will soon be leaving SPU behind. What does that mean? It means I'm going to be entering the real world. I don't feel ready.

I feel kind of like I did when I was getting ready to end my exchange year. That panicky thought that everything was about to drastically change and who knew if it would ever be the same again. It's not quite the same as the raw terror of going back to a culture that was supposed to be mine but no longer felt that way. But it's still this feeling that life is sneaking up on me and I don't feel ready to handle it. My entire life and education has prepared me for the time when I could go forth and become a productive member of society. The only problem is that I'm not quite sure how to do that. I feel like I have no plan. Feel like life is a little crazy.

So what's my solution?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Train Ride

This semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have two Russian classes back to back. A translation class for Business texts and then Modern Writers which is a lit class. As a result I end up hearing/speaking/thinking Russian for a block of about three hours twice a week. Why is this significant? Well, because I get Russian in such concentrated blocks it has caused one or two interesting dreams. By that, I mean bilingual dreams.

Last night, I had a dream that I was on a Russian train with a friend of mine. We were trying to get to Yakutsk, but were going the other way instead. Toward Moscow. About halfway through the dream I started just speaking Russian to him, even though he doesn't understand it. (In the dream or in real life) He wanted to drive from Moscow to Yakutsk in a car and I kept telling him that there were no roads. I also asked him about his passport and he didn't know where it was so we were searching for it. All of this took place in Russian. In very fluent Russian. It was super exciting!

I'm getting ready to apply for World Wide Witness, that missions program. Will be updating more as that process continues. Until then, catch you later!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Progress and Productivity

Well, I've had a rather productive day. I'm not working this summer because of various family commitments and I don't have a car. This resulted in me spending several weeks sitting around doing nothing and dying of boredrom. When I woke up this morning, I decided that I am going to make more of an effort to be productive. I'd say I'm off to a good start.

The last day or two, I've been requesting information from a lot of grad schools. Getting my list of places I'm thinking about applying to together. My list so far is as follows:

- Eastern Mennonite University

- Nova Southeastern University

- Arcadia University

These programs all have focus on the International aspects of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution and they all have aspects to the program that I really like. These are all top choices for me, but the more I find out about the program at Eastern Mennonite, the more I like it. I would say that EMU is probably my top choice. I actually called them today to request that they send me more information and I told the girl I talked to that it would be really great if they would have someone call me to follow up. I have some questions that only a grad admissions person would know the answer to.

It's also important that I make sure I can get my admission deferred. I've officially decided to take a year and do mission work with World Wide Witness. I'm not nearly as excited about that as Grad school. I think because my exchange year was hard, and I'm a little bit nervous about going back overseas. But I did e-mail the guy I'd talked to about the program several weeks ago, letting him know that I wanted to go and asking about starting the application process. Anyway, I don't want to have to be doing paperwork and trying to apply to grad school from overseas. I did that with my undergrad and it was not a fun experience. So if I get it all taken care of and get it deferred, I'll be all ready to come back in a year and go right back to school.

Heh. I'm noticing a pattern in my life. Graduate from High School, take a year and go to Russia. Graduate from undergrad, Take a year and go to Russia. Life is a funny thing isn't it?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Chance

I had the weirdest series of events happen the last few days. It started with my Brother revealing some interesting information, continued with me breaking up with a guy I'd kind of been dating and because of these two events I ended a several year long quest. You see, since my exchange year (and during) I've been interested in doing mission work in Russia. But it never seemed to work out. I wanted something longer, like a year or two, but everyone I talked to didn't travel to Russia or the program wasn't long enough or they worked independently and so on and so forth. And then the other night I was just kind of hanging out and I was like "Well, maybe I'll see if there's anything new on the missions front. " And wouldn't you know it, after a search of not very long (Especially considering how hard I've been looking the last few years) I stumbled upon World Wide Witness.

Just for fun I called about it, but the director of the program wasn't in. So I left a message with someone in a completely different department and to my extreme astonishment I got a call back this morning. It was a very interesting conversation. Involving talk of Ukraine and St. Petersburg. And also the potential for me to go on a mission trip before grad school. I don't have the details worked out. It's still kind of a hazy idea. Something I need to pray about. But just the idea of being able to use what I learned in Russia the first time in a missionary setting excites me.

I've been thinking a lot about exchange today as a result of this phone call. July 14th marks the beginning of my third year back. I read through all my exchange blog posts this evening. They made me laugh and they made me cry and they made me remember. And I realized that there were so many good things to exchange. It's like I've spent the last couple of years burying it so I wouldn't have to think about it so it wouldn't hurt and re-reading my posts reminded me of what it felt like to be an exchange student. How it felt to be part of a place and a thing like that. I've decided that I'm going to start re-reading my paper journals because they go into a lot more detail than the blog. I'm so glad that I kept them. Oh, and I think I'm going to write a letter that's several years overdue...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Falling In Love

It's not quite been a year since my last post. I don't know why I haven't written in so long. I think part of it was that I felt like I didn't really have anything to write about and part of it was that I was working on writing some other things. I've had this pressing, nagging desire to make a new blog entry for probably a week or so and just haven't done it. So what better time to do it than when I should be working on two Russian presentations and a ten page paper. All of which are due the latter half of next week. Fun fun.

Anyway, something very important happened to me last fall and something else very important happened several weeks ago. I think that's why I suddenly feel the need to write again. Namely, I fell in love. You see, ever since I got back from exchange and started on my career at SPU, I've been looking for direction in my life. Before I left for Russia, I figured that direction was in Translation. Ha. No. It didn't take me long to figure out how much I hate translating things. It's horrible. Moving on, what else did I want to do? Well obviously something with Russian since I worked so hard to learn it. So we'll make that my major. But what can you really do with a Russian major? Let's be honest, not much. So what did I do? Well I like politics and want to work for the government so International Relations is where it's at right? Um no. I discovered that I strongly dislike politics and theory, although political movements fascinate me. I think it's the social people thing.

So I dropped the IR major and continued to take my Russian. I decided that last fall I was going to take classes that sounded interesting and go from there. I made one of the best decisions of my life. I took a class about Conflict Management. SPU has a CM major due in part to it's little historical incident. (Which by the way, we well be celebrating...oops..."commemorating" in a few days) I had a friend tell me the Conflict Management class was good. I took it and oh my word I fell in love! I looked forward to that class every day we had it. I didn't mind doing the readings for it or the homework because it was fascinating and didn't seem like work. It was just fun. I would go out to eat with my parents and tell them all about the stuff I was learning and they would comment about how they could tell that this stuff was lighting up my brain. Reflective Listening, Mediation all of it lit up my brain. But the thing that lit up my brain the most was Nonviolence. It fascinated me, the way that people throughout history have used nonviolent techniques to effect social change, and how well it actually works. Yes, I'm talking Gandhi, Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr. And others who you've probably never even heard of.

Right then and there I decided that I wanted to devote my life to the CM department and eventually go out into the world to combat violence. Or something like that. I still didn't have a clear picture. So I declared CM as my second major. Who cared if it would keep me at Kent another three years.

Then another funny thing happened several weeks ago. A friend came from Colorado to spend her spring break at SPU. She had attended here a semester because of the CM program. She's the one who had told me about it. Because of her, I knew that it exsisted. We were talking about graduating and going out into the world. And I was telling her how I was getting tired of being here, but my majors were going to keep me here several more years. I was like "Yeah, If I were just doing Russian I could graduate next May. But what can you do with a Russian major?" Besides, my passion was Conflict Management. My random observation got me to thinking though. What if I did graduate next May?

I tried to put the thoughts aside but they kept coming back. I started thinking about grad school. Grad school was always something I thought I might do, maybe, down the road some time in the future. But then it hit me. If I got my major in Russian, I could graduate from SPU next May and go to grad school. Within three years I could come out with a Master's in Peace studies whereas if I stayed at SPU I would only have two BAs in the same amount of time. This seemed like the way to go. So I started researching like crazy, and talked to the head of the CM dept among others. Suddenly I found myself with a lot to do in a rather short period of time.

I'm really excited though. I feel like Grad school is the way to go. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have a direction of sorts in my life. A direction I'm really excited to be going. I don't know where it's going to take me career-wise but I know that I want to do something with Nonviolence and CM on an international level.

I think part of the reason for this post is not just a general update, but also to let you know that once again this Blog is evolving. From High School through Rotary to College, and now it's on to Grad School. I feel like more of my posts are going to be focusing on this in the future. Wish me luck! :)