Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Did Not Make the Cut

Given that I just packed 180 lbs+ (Ethiopian Air wasn’t too strict with its weight requirements) worth of clothing, toiletries, and food for my year in Rwanda, I think that a blog detailing my extensive packing list might get a little repetitive. So instead, I’m going to focus on what did NOT make the cut:

- Books. Way too heavy. One book is the equivalent of a week of clothing…so I’m instead going to rely on my Kindle and my audiobooks (plug for Audible?). Unfortunately, Isabelle Schless (there ya go. If anybody else would like an individual shout out in the blog, cook me dinner.) never provided me with a list of quality books worth reading, so I’m stuck with the kindle freebies (The Last Song: The Script), my mother’s past downloads (How to Raise a Puppy), and the shortest Audible downloads (Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, 7 minutes)…because I was a little too pressed for time to download anything of worth.
- My hairbrush and sunglasses. Forgotten at the hotel. Along with hair elastics. Am now planning on cutting my hair ~immediately after landing.
- Shorts. Not entirely socially acceptable in this conservative country. Also not entirely necessary. I’m going to be in the mountainous region where it is apparently 70 degrees (F) and gorgeous every single day. Even during the rainy season, it pours for half an hour each day and then is lovely sunlight again. The sun also rises/sets at 6am/6pm every single day of the year because it’s so close to the equator. Might go insane.
- Set of 5lb weights. They’ve served as great doorstops throughout the years, but now that weight matters…they did not make the cut.
- Camera. I know I knowwwwwwww. BUT I also know WHY I do not have a camera…and it is because I invested in 3 cameras in the past 4 years, and I think was lent 2 others…all of them have ended up lost or broken. Two of them in Africa. (You might remember my birthday blog from a year ago when I drunkenly tried to use my camera to seduce some hyenas to come closer to the viewing area.) So I have honestly just accepted that I am not good with cameras, and am hoping that I will be surrounded by more responsible people who will be willing to take pictures of me in amazing places. Or maybe I’ll just hire Jen Argote (there’s yours) to come be my personal photographer.
- Bud Light Lime. Let’s not talk about it. Not sure how I’m going to survive the year w/o my BL*squared (kinda like Little Lohse…but better), but I have packed vodka, gin, and whisky, so hopefully I’ll figure it out.
- European outlet adaptors. Oops.
- Anything that could remind me how to speak French...even though most people in Rwanda speak French as a second language. I am an obsessive saver of academic material. While cleaning out my room last week, I found my notes from my Freshman English class…and I only threw them out after I realized I also had SPS notes for Raisin in the Sun. However, I could not find a single French note or text on my entire bookshelf filled with materials from high school. I can only surmise that I was so excited to be done with French FOREVER after my junior year (sorry…fifth form…) that I threw away EVERYTHING. Silly choices. (Please note that while cleaning my room, I decided to get rid of everything Spanish…because that is a language that I CERTAINLY will not be revisiting.)
- Get Well Card signed by entire HHS football team. No idea why this would have/should have made the cut. But I mostly wanted to point out that I found it while cleaning my closet.
- More than 3 lbs of cheese. There just wasn’t the room for any more than that. And I’m a little scared the 3lb brick isn’t going to get me through the first week. (Hey…remember when I didn’t eat cheese? That was funny.)

Actually…now that I’m looking this over…I might be overly underprepared. Whoops…I guess that’s what happens when you prioritize saying goodbye and throwing/attending goodbye parties rather than packing. Not that I have any regrets…but…if you’re ever in the mood to make my day and send me a care package to make up for this unpreparedness, my address is:

Elizabeth Mitchell, 011-250-78224-68532
BP 69 Musanze
Northern Province, Rwanda

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Private Blog!

Wow…I think I feel as cool as Alex Howe. I have forced myself to have so many blog followers that I am forced to not only start a second blog (now have eligoesaroundtheworld and eligoestoafrica), but I also have to make them private. (Alex – how many twitter followers do you have? Are you more excited that Gawker wrote about you or that I wrote about you?)

There are a few realities to my newly private blog. The first is that I might want a different job someday. (Or even may want to keep this one.) And even though Elizabeth Mitchell, the actress that plays Juliet on Lost (still upset at that finale), has done a great job over the years pushing all mentions of “the real” Elizabeth Mitchell into the thousands on google…I’d rather there be no chances of my blog showing up in a search.

The second is that I’m not actually going to a fully democratic country. (Gee, I hope I made it private enough that I can say that nowww…) Even though I know I’m going to love Rwanda, the joy of my writing (and my personality!) is how unrestricted it is…so I want no reason to have to hold back.

The third is that I’ve reached this strange stage of my life where I no longer represent JUST ME…but I also represent an organization. Similarly, I know I’m going to love working for Wyman Worldwide, but the job of my writing is how unrestricted it is…so I want no reason to have to hold back.

So now just consider yourself now one of the elite few/many with access to my unrestricted/unrated/un…somethingelse… blog. I’ll work harder in the future to make it more entertaining.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just in case…

Just in case any of the Dartmouth grads out there forgot how useless Career Services can be…let me remind you. It’s completely useless.

Undergrad example: I once used the advice listed on their website and wrote an “explosive” resume for myself. This is a resume that includes extended descriptions for absolutely every activity you could list – so that you have everything on paper. I brought this unformatted, 3 page resume in to discuss which activities and descriptions were most important to include. In my rushed, 15 minute meeting, I was essentially told that I should extend the margins and use smaller font so that all 3 pages could fit onto one. Oh and I was told to use somewhat shorter descriptions. In a final plea at the end of the meeting to explain that “YES I KNOW A RESUME IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE 3 PAGES BUT I FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS ON YOUR WEBSITE”, the counselor suggested that I take out the bullet on being captain my lacrosse team. Because that doesn’t show leadership or teamwork or anything important.

More recent example: The harsh truth of my dream job is that it is unpaid. (Let’s not talk about what this means I can expect for the rest of my life.) Meaning I have to seek funding and grants in order to not spend every cent in my savings account. Most all of the grants I know about are for current Dartmouth undergrads. So, I swallowed my pride and decided to give Career Services another call. I was, of course, interrogated as to the reason for my appointment. And reminded that it’s corporate recruiting time for the sophomores, so I should respect that Career Services is very busy preparing the next generation of iBankers and I really shouldn’t get in the way if I know what’s good for Dartmouth.

I calmly explained that I just wanted a meeting to discuss options and resources for funding for an unpaid volunteer opportunity. Mostly, I was curious if there are federal databases that I should be using.

I was directed to the “Funding for Unpaid Internships” section of their website.

I informed them that I have already looked at this tab and found it most unhelpful so I was wondering if I could meet with somebody to discuss other options.

They asked me if I had met with the Tucker Foundation.

I informed them that Tucker funding is only for current undergrads.

They asked me if I had met with the Dickey Foundation.

I told them yes, but that the next funding deadline was not until February.

They asked me if I had met with the Rockefeller Center.

I again informed them that these grants are only for current undergrads.

They asked me if I had met with the Student Employment Office.

I asked them why I should.

They told me that I might be able to work while volunteering.

“Umm…maybe I didn’t explain this clearly enough. I’ve already graduated. And I’m going to be in Rwanda. And this is like a real job. Even if the SEO could find me a job in Rwanda, it wouldn’t pay me nearly enough and I wouldn’t have time to do it.”

They told me that since I was in Hanover I might as well go meet with them. And then they told me that it’s located in the basement of Thayer.

Thayer is under construction. There is no longer a basement of Thayer.

They did not know where the new office is located.

The ridiculousness concluded with them asking me to send them an email outlining why exactly I feel I need a meeting with a career advisor. Inevitably, they will ignore this email, or use it to re-inform me to go to the Funding for Unpaid Internships tab on their website.

So…to my unemployed friends out there (and there are 2 of you that have requested I mention you as often as possible…to protect the innocent, I will not name you…but you know who you are): this is why you are unemployed. I’m guessing that you tried to go to Career Services early on at Dartmouth, were shoved aside when they realized you weren’t aiming to make lots of money one day (except as a Greenwich housewife with a big library endowment maybe), and became forever discouraged with Career Services. And just in case you hoped it might have changed since…it has not.

If anybody has any suggestions for grants or funding, please let me know -- thanks!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Eating Meat

Some very important background info for those of you that don’t know me too well: I have very strange, unexplainable tendencies. For example, I wore the same shirt for every exam, paper, and game from sophomore year of high school through sophomore year of college…without ever washing it. (Yes…it was a little nasty when I would put it on to go to an exam and it was still damp from my game the night before.) Another “quirk” was my decision to stop eating meat as a New Year’s Resolution…followed by my decision to stop eating cheese as a “real life” resolution.

This decision honestly wasn’t triggered by much…I skimmed through a section of Superfreakonomics that explained how not eating meat was the best thing one could do for the environment. The point of the section was slightly to ridicule people who build “green homes” or other crazy things to decrease energy consumption…when really all they had to do was eat one less hamburger a week. Which would make sense, if I was an environmentalist of any form. I’m not really. This little section in the book only triggered me to think about it…which caused me to talk about it…which resulted in my peers/family making fun of me and saying that I would never do it…which forced me to do it.

So at 10pm on December 31 I treated myself (correction: my parents’ credit card treated me) to a double meal of a pulled pork sandwich and a full rack of ribs. And then at 4pm on June 13 (read: graduation day), I had my last Ritz cracker loaded with baked brie (Schless and I devoured about 4 pounds of brie that afternoon).

And so I entered the judgmental world of “vegetarians” (according to popular opinion…one is not a “vegetarian” unless they haven’t eaten meat for more than a year…and one is certainly not a “vegetarian” if every time she says she doesn’t eat meat she grimaces in disgust with herself and asks her dinner companions if she can just smell their steak, maybe soak her roll in its juices). I did just about everything right – I subscribed to the PETA newsletter, my mommy bought me a vegetarian cookbook that I opened just as many times as the other cookbooks she’s bought me – except for seek every reason possible to stop.

I really thought Rwanda would be that opportunity. When I met with Bill Wyman I asked him about it:

“So...I don’t eat meat or cheese…how much of an issue is that going to be in Rwanda?”

“Not an issue at all. There is no cheese and meat is a delicacy.”

“Yeah…but I wouldn’t like…want the cook to have to make anything special for me…I wouldn’t want to be a burden.”

“Oh you wouldn’t be a burden at all. Even when there are meat dishes at dinner, there are many other options.”

“But …say…I like accidentally eat meat.”

“That wouldn’t be possible. It’s such a delicacy that you would know if you’re eating meat.”

He obviously did not understand my goal of the conversation. So an hour later, I was lying to my friends:

“Mr. Wyman says that I should probably start eating meat and cheese again before going to Rwanda. Because I might accidentally eat it there and it would be terrible to see how my digestive system reacts to having meat and cheese for the first time in months when it’s already going to be busy fighting off so many other diseases and parasites and bad things. It sucks…I totally don’t want to break my New Years/Real Life Resolution…but I kind of have to eat meat now.”

Similarly, I don’t think they fell for it. But they were at least good sports and went along with it, saying that it made perfect sense why I would need to eat meat before going to a country where maybe only the top 5% of the population can even afford to eat meat. I would definitely accidentally come across it then. First meal: turkey, cheddar, and apple Panini at the Harpoon brewery. Second meal: bacon cheeseburger…I progressed quickly.

And now…I am *so excited* to celebrate America with a hotdog (or two or three) tomorrow!