It’s funny how one trip can change so much. Sitting here, about 1 week since we got back Greece, all I can think is how excited we are for our next adventure. Previous to this trip, it had been almost 5 months since we had taken an international trip. I can only assume that for most people that’s plenty of time, but for us it was like trying to hold our breaths for 5 months. We need trips like a fish needs water. It’s a part of who we are now, and it makes for an exciting life.
Skala Eressos is perhaps the coolest place in the Mediterranean and one of the most beautiful beach towns in Greece as well. The birthplace of the poetess Sappho, and a Mecca-in-waiting for International lesbians, it is also a popular family destination, not to mention a favorite place for honeymooners and a popular weekend beach destination for the islanders. So we decided to explore ourselves!
As a flight attendant, you would think that travel to exotic destinations and international locales would be a given. Sadly, as our latest trip has shown, not all flight attendants travel for fun. My wife runs a small tour agency that caters to flight attendants called Crew Travelers, and we are currently in the middle of our trip to Lesvos, Greece. So far it has been an amazing experience getting to know all the flight attendants. I feel like flight attendants are consistently the coolest people you can meet.
“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” -John F. Kennedy
To celebrate the anniversary of Peace Corps this March, I decided to take you on a stroll with me down memory lane- or in my case, a dirt road leading into my village of Bare, Cameroon…Where is that? You may ask yourself. I did when I read my invitation. West Africa… picture the arm pit of Africa on the map. Voila.
- Bienvenue chez la blanche! Let’s start with the moto ride into my town, Baré!
- Here’s a tour of the house I lived in!
- And this is where I would hang out on Market Day!
- This is Baré High School where I taught English (singing their favorite song)!
- I’ll show you how to catch a bush taxi!
- My FAVORITE meal there is Okra soup, made by Unity!
- I spent a lot of time with Teems in Nkongsamba.
- I visited Monkey Island!
- I participated in a Women’s Group with Sintia! See them dance and sing here!
- And this is Franck, my Cameroonian son!
- I sang a lot, and enjoyed performing with SOP Angel Velarde (Excuse Franck’s cough! LOL)! I even performed at a cabaret in the capital, Yaoundé!
- I visited with many friends over palm wine, or matango!
- I celebrated many successful projects, like the Bandzuidjong water well (where I was honored with a title!) and CEBEC School Development (this is me making a speech, which is very Cameroonian.)
I hope you enjoyed my video tour! Peace Corps was important to the person that I am today, and could not imagine my life without having had the experience!
When Amanda Servis told me she’d like to celebrate Lucky Locks Beauty Bar’s one year anniversary by giving back to the Mosaic community, we went to work! We collected donations from around the community and invited everyone who could join the party. I knew that we had to go bigger this time. Invites were sent out, communications were communicated, I created an online volunteer signup form, and background checks were checked!
Today, it all came together. We held our second Makeover event for the women and children of Mosaic Family Services in Dallas. I’ve been trying to think of my favorite moment throughout the day, but there are just so many.
Before we could even finish setting up, a few ladies came over to check it out, and became excited when they saw clothing they liked. All the ladies jumped in, “Yes, girl, take it!”… “That color would look SO good on you!!”…“Don’t forget to get some shoes!” Their faces lit up over and over again.
We took turns passing around and bouncing children while their mothers were getting pampered with new hairstyles and manicures. Many children were very happy to receive their very own crayons and coloring book! Some of them took them and retreated to their rooms quickly, while others stayed out with us and colored alongside their siblings. Christina organized the donations, and together we rinsed the dishes and put them in their appropriate places. Women talked and laughed in between pizza and Rebecca’s variety of baked goodies! There was a lot of love, light and laughter in that room.
To make for an even more perfect day, weather was just lovely! I had a lot of fun watching Sarah Gibson do silly things to get the babies to smile for her camera! She worked it like a charm! As families posed for their photographs, I wondered how long, or if they had ever had a professional photograph taken of them. The mothers seemed the happiest of all.
One woman and her daughter received a haircut, and at the end of the day, she expressed her heartfelt gratitude in her native Russian language. We gathered around her and listened intently. We didn’t need words to connect with her, or to feel the emotion in her crackling voice. Standing next to her was her daughter, smiling contently with fresh, new bangs. She thanked us with such grace and feeling. All I could do was reach out and hug her, “You’re welcome and Thank You.”
This beautiful day was made possible by 12 incredible volunteers: 7 Stylists (Lucky Locks Beauty Bar & The Bearded Lady), 2 Coordinators (Christina Clark & Tara Menendez), 1 manicurist AND baker (Rebecca Brooks, and OMG that pumpkin peanut butter fudge was delicious!), 1 Fashion Assistant (Amber Walters Frisbie at Lularoe), 1 photographer (Sarah Gibson- Indigo Bird Photography), and 1 tech wizard (Angel Menendez- AZ Technology Solutions)! Special thanks to Diana at La Di Da for the generous clothing donation! This event would also not be possible without Le Ta, Mosaic‘s Director of Development!
T’was the night of the gala for Mosaic
A lovely autumn night
To, despite the horrors of this world,
To celebrate what is so right.
One group of people
Each one doing the best that they can
Coming together for a grander purpose
To love, to give, to give thanks, to take a stand.
The night was as shiny as
The people who light up the way
For so many others in need
Of a new life, a brighter day.
A sweet reminder,
That, while the need is still great,
Love will always prevail.
T’was the perfect night to celebrate.
As written by Le Ta, Director of Development, Mosaic Family Services:
The Mosaic gala is an annual celebration of the work that Mosaic has accomplished and the people who make that work possible. It’s a chance to gather with friends and celebrate the resiliency of victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.
On October 20, 2016, the gala honored Councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates with the 2016 Champion of Human Rights Award. Jennifer’s extraordinary work with the Domestic Violence Task Force and Public Safety Committee continues to bring awareness to human rights abuses and empowers the clients we serve. Mosaic’s work would not be possible without her.
Emceed by Steve Kemble, party guests enjoyed dinner by Stock & Barrel, cocktails, an exciting silent auction, a raffle drawing, casino, amazing swag bags (SoulCycle Preston Hollow, Stock & Barrel, Nothing Bundt Cakes) and live entertainment by DJ Lamont Carlis. Step & Repeat Photos: How Very Photo (Wesley Holmes).
"We relish news of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to somebody too." – Helen Hayes
Create change in your travels! In the last few years, my idea of "home" has taken many forms. When I became a flight attendant, my world view grew larger, and the more I traveled, the more that home warped into wherever I find myself, living, breathing, enjoying the moment. I became a citizen of the sky, which also meant that routine on the ground was thrown out the window. I began looking for ways to create change in my everyday life, through my travels, and eventually creating something of a routine of my own. Below are six ways to give back in your travels. No matter where you are, no matter how much money you have, YOU are totally capable of creating change in the world. My hope is to encourage you to create change from wherever you're standing.
“We relish news of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to somebody too.” – Helen Hayes
Create change in your travels! In the last few years, my idea of “home” has taken many forms. When I became a flight attendant, my world view grew larger, and the more I traveled, the more that home warped into wherever I find myself, living, breathing, enjoying the moment. I became a citizen of the sky, which also meant that routine on the ground was thrown out the window. I began looking for ways to create change in my every day life, through my travels, and eventually creating something of a routine of my own. Below are a few ways to give back in your travels. No matter where you are, no matter how much money you have, YOU are totally capable of creating change in the world. My hope is to encourage you to create change from wherever you’re standing.
- Donate to a local shelter.
Collect your hotel amenities and pens, throw them into your bag, and store them in a box until it’s full! Someone needs those! I partnered with Mosaic Family Services in Dallas, but there are many shelters around the nation full of struggling families who would be most grateful for your contribution!
- Fight Human Trafficking with TraffickCam.
U.S. Department of State estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 persons are brought into the United States each year for labor or sexual exploitation. By uploading photos of your hotel room, you can help in the rescue of these persons. Your photos will be used to determine where perpetrators of sex trafficking are committing their crimes. Download the TraffickCam App!
- Turn Someone’s Day Around.
Write a kind note to someone, compliment someone, send someone a photo you took of them, or share a song with someone who may enjoy it. This one may be fairly obvious, but I still wanted to include it here. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind, and yet it can mean so much to someone else, just to know that you’re thinking of them. Hannah Jones has compiled a great list of ideas, and spotlights stories of kindness at her website, Kindness is Beauty.
- Support The Little Man.
Add small businesses to Google Maps and write reviews for the local venues you visit!This helps to support the local economy, gets the word out about small businesses, and helps those local entrepreneurs to thrive! My husband is now a Local Guide because of how many reviews he’s written- Pretty cool, right?!
- Create New Friendships.
If peace is understanding, then by simply introducing one culture to another culture, you’re expanding their mind, helping them grow, and in understanding why we do the things we do, we begin to grow empathy in others. This is not a new idea. When John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps, the second and third goals were to help promote a better understanding of Americans as well as of other peoples on the part of Americans. In the same way one friend might introduce his friend to another, introducing a group of people to another may just be the way to promote peace, understanding and harmony!
I hope that this post inspires you to go forth and make the world a better place, no matter where you are in it. You don’t need money, nor a routine on the ground, to create change while you are traveling! I would love to add to this list, so please send me more ideas!
Packing your bags again? In my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Flight Attendant and Tour Guide, I've learned a few travel hacks that I must share with all of you! These tips will change your life!