Sonoma Academy – Alumni Advancement

I’m excited to update everyone on a recent project of mine – the Taylor Mountain Alumni Association! I was approached earlier this year by Seav Banus – an alum of SA as well as a former teammate of mine. Seav founded the Alumni Advancement Committee 5 years ago in an effort to grow alumni engagement. He asked for my help in creating a more coherent, centralized engagement effort. With this in mind, and with inspiration from CMC’s Res Publica society, we conceived of the Taylor Mountain Alumni Society which was formally launched during the Alumni Bash in November 2017. The society aims to connect interested young alumni through various events and communication channels while at the same time raising money to make sure anyone can experience the wonderful community we all share in common. See below for the handout distributed during the alumni bash:TMAS One Pager_PDF


Santa Rosa Fire Update

Thanks to the hard work of the Bennett Valley Fire Department and the numerous other first responders who provided mutual aid, I am thrilled to say that our house was spared by the Adobe/Nuns Fire. It is hard to put into words the gratitude my family feels for those who provided air support, dug ditches, and otherwise put their lives on the line to save the home we cherish so much. It has been a long and exhausting week (and we are still evacuated) but I am grateful for the friends and family who provided shelter and support and for my community which stood together to provide aid to those most in need.
Countless families were not as fortunate as mine; the fire has taken 3,500 homes in Santa Rosa alone with this figure growing daily. As is almost always the case, this disaster will affect those families that were already struggling the most and that have now lost their homes and/or their livelihoods. Recovery is both imminent and ongoing, but will also span months if not years. For those who have asked and for those that are able, I’ve compiled a list of ways you can help:




Medium Term:



Support local politicians who advocate for affordable housing, healthcare, and environmental regulation

More info here: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/7512190-181/how-to-help-volunteer-donate?artslide=0

We’re not out of the woods yet and there is so much work to do; our first responders have done their part now let’s do ours.




Sonoma Academy Opening Convocation Speech


Clare and I were recently asked to give the opening convocation speech at my high school. It was an exciting event, not only because the speech occurred roughly 12 hours after my return from Romania, but because it was a continuation of my recent involvement with the school. Furthermore, it was an fun to share this experience with my sister and all the incoming freshman whose seats I was in over 10 years ago (!!!). The focus of our speech was informed by recent events as well as Clare’s and my relationship. We spoke of the differences we experienced in high school (and continue to face today) and how, in learning to appreciate those differences, we grew both individually and collectively. Cheesy I know but it was a high school convocation speech!

Note: the most difficult aspect of this speech by far was writing it as a dialogue. The only speeches that could serve as inspiration were award show nominations.

Full text below:

Speakers: Julian & Clare Mackie

Date: 8/21/17

Julian: Good morning & welcome to the first day of school!

Clare: Thank you to Janet and to the board for their invitation to speak today

J: And Congratulations to the class of 2018 on your last first day of high school

C: and to the class of 2021 on your first, first day of high school

J: This is my twin sister Clare

C: And this is my twin brother Julian

J: Janet asked us here today to share a bit about our experience at Sonoma Academy and give you some tips to take with you for the upcoming year.

C: The more we talked about it, the more we realized how different our experiences were

J: See, as much as we have in common, we certainly have a lot of differences

C: At SA, Julian was the competitive one. If he wasn’t in the gym or on the field, he was racing his friends to lunch or up the stairs

J: Clare was less competitive. But whatever she may have lacked in the gym…

C: I would point out that I played for 3-time NCS winning team!

J: Regardless… she made up for in her commitment to pushing her boundaries — in chorus, in physics, in Nicaragua and Thailand.

C: Julian was also the mouthy one. You couldn’t go to a community meeting without hearing him hold forth..

J: Clare was the compassionate one. Always serving as a mentor, or a tutor, or a listening ear.

J: While competitive in sports, I initially lacked focus on academics….it was quite a shock when Marco pulled me up by my collar and told me that I not only could but WOULD do better….or else!  And I did.

C:and I had never felt confident in schoolwork, and was pretty terrified my freshman year. Amazing teachers and Margie Pugh supported my growth; I learned persistence and how to ask for help, and I graduated confident that I could be a successful student.

C: Since SA, Julian has focused on public affairs and business. He lives in San Francisco and is usually travelling for work.

J: And Clare is pursuing her love of psychology and education. Now she lives in Boulder, Colorado, does a lot of exploring and hiking,s  and works in the engineering department of the university.

C: When we arrived to our first day of school…

J: To a campus that, by the way,  looked nothing like this…

C: We arrived as the Mackie twins.

J: But 7 years after graduation, our paths couldn’t look any more different.

C: Yet, our relationship has never been better.

J: What SA taught us was the importance of self-exploration. Of finding our own values and goals. Pursuing our own paths.

C: At the same time, we learned to have appreciation for those with different goals

J: It was the teachers, many of whom we see today, and the staff, that set this example – to be ourselves, but not to reject “different ness”.

C: People like Brandon, and Kerry who  taught me to find my own voice. To be ultimately proud of my own insightfulness and sensitivity.

J: And it was people like Doug who taught me to look outside this community and to identify with those in far off places like Romania or Liberia.

C: Today, we would like to issue a challenge — to all of you:

J: Rigorously pursue your own identity but do so with real appreciation  for those around you.  Be curious and open in building your own community.

C: When you leave SA you may go any number of directions, but the person you become and the values you develop will remain central for life.

J: This principle of being true to yourself and accepting of others is relevant not only in how you treat your teachers or classmates, but also how you approach and communicate with those outside of this school community

C: In the news it’s easy to see how often the world is defined as  black and white: Republican vs. Democrat. We vs. them.

J: It could be easy to define yourself with these same labels but the truth is that, now, and for years to come, your identity, your beliefs, even your friends, are fluid.

C: Practice empathy with those in your classes as they explore their ideas and , their beliefs, and their friends.

J: Challenge yourself to do the same. To push your own boundaries. To explore new ideas. To meet new people.

C: Take pride in the diversity of this community and the community that surrounds you.

J: Take pride in adding to that diversity. To the discussion in the classroom. To community meetings.

C: Create new clubs. New publications. New exploratory sessions.

J: And if you find yourself doubting yourself, or your confidence wavers, as it surely will, realize that you are surrounded at all times by teachers, mentors, friends that are here to support you in this journey.

C: We have a more particular challenge for each class.

J: To First Years, give yourself permission to be a new person at this school. Challenge yourselves to meet all sorts of new people and to explore new ideas. High school is going to be some of the best four years of your life and I hope you live it up.

C: To Sophomores, you’ve already begun to feel comfortable in this community. Push yourself to try new things. You are supported here, and what you may see as a failure is really a step towards success and finding out more about yourself.

J: To Juniors, as you begin to look past SA, to college or otherwise, reflect on this community. Seek out other spaces, other communities that emulate not only your own values, but also the values of diversity, inclusion, and self-expression.

C: And to seniors, recognize that you are the leaders of this community. Lead by example but also take the time to truly appreciate the peers you have spent the last four years with and the uniqueness of this community.

J: Thank you all again for welcoming us back

C: And best of luck this school year!


A Defense and Criticism of Daniels’ Just Health

Executive Summary
Debates about the Affordable Care Act are usually related to the technicalities of its implementation, petty politics, and occasionally, more fundamental claims about the role of government. This latter claim usually centers on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, or as been the case in recent divisive court cases, certain religious aspects of the legislation. Rarely, however, is this debate focused on the fundamental role of health in our society. Does health have moral importance? Is healthcare a good that the government should guarantee? If so, how should we view health in comparison to other goods like income? Is health intrinsically important or is it merely instrumental to goods such as opportunity? The answers to these questions seem as though they should hold a more principal role in the healthcare debate. However, few philosophers have even attempted to incorporate health into a coherent system of justice in a way that provides a compelling argument for a moral obligation to provide healthcare.

Norm Daniels, in his book Just Health, attempts to do just this. Daniels aims to incorporate the concept of health into the system of justice presented by John Rawls. Daniels’ claim focuses on Rawls’ concept of Fair Equality of Opportunity.  Fair Equality of Opportunity, in a grossly simplified way, states that individuals should have an equal chance of succeeding as those born with similar talents and motivations, regardless of the socioeconomic status they were born into. Rawls uses this principle to advocate for the importance of education as a way of protecting equality of opportunity. In Just Health, Daniels argues that we should view healthcare in a similar manner as Rawls views education.

If Daniels can make an effective claim that the government should provide a base level of healthcare, as it does with education, there would be a very compelling for some level of universal healthcare. The problem, as several philosophy scholars pointed out, is that the concept of health is too large a concept to fit neatly into Rawls’ conception of Fair Equality of Opportunity. Namely, viewing healthcare through the lens of opportunity forces us to discount the importance of diseases and disabilities incurred at birth as well as care for the elderly and those with a terminal illness. Furthermore, if we view health as a good analogous to a good such as income, we are forced to accept certain tradeoffs and an overall level of inequality in health that may prove unattractive to many.

Though Daniels theory accurately expands Rawls conception of health to include the social determinants of health and therefore to expand Fair Equality of Opportunity to include health, it falls short of answering the fundamental questions about the importance of health. Understanding Daniels’ argument, and how it falls short, is hopefully an important step in finally conceiving of a compelling presentation for public healthcare as a claim of justice.




Study Abroad, Uncategorized

Finding my Voice Again

There were four stages of my departure from India: the first, when I said goodbye to my friends in Jaipur, the second, when my parents arrived for Christmas (thus ending my “abroad” lifestyle), then, my arrival home (with the fortunate opportunity of experiencing my culture shock alongside my family), and lastly, my arrival in Claremont. Each of these were significant in their own way- they each provided unique learning opportunities and various perspectives for reflection. The start of the school year, and the madness that has ensued, has so far been the most overwhelming, and in many ways, most telling of all these experiences. One aspect of this was the overwhelming number of friends I reunited with, meetings I needed to schedule, and internship deadlines I immediately faced. Some of the most basic aspects of college even became foreign- the massive buffets, the luxurious facilities (yes I said it,) even the sheer number of people who seemed remarkably similar to myself in age, race, and even personality. Many of these stressors have also proven to be the best comforts: my friends, a busy schedule, peers willing to debate and connect on an intellectual level, even the ability to exercise every day. Of all these things, one aspect of CMC that has brought me tremendous satisfaction in the last two weeks –even more than I expected- is the ability to contribute and involve myself so immensely in the CMC community.

When I was abroad I always felt like an outsider, dependent on others to survive. I was in India as a student, my role was to absorb, to accept the wealth of knowledge and hospitality bestowed upon me by the incredible Indians I was surrounded by. To some this may sound amazing- in many ways the role is unique to a young traveler like myself- but this role often makes me feel anxious. My personality is to contribute, to get involved, to give back; although I love the opportunity to travel, I feel best when I can act in those ways. Claremont gives us all an incredible chance to get involved- to spread ourselves thin, to be leaders (if we chose), and hopefully, and most of all, to be a part of a community where we can offer our diversity of interests, talents, and ambitions.

Now before this dives to into the KLI-esque leadership cheese fest, I do think its worth reflecting on these opportunities as the privileges they really are. As I have readjusted to the extreme materialism of the US, the fact that this privilege stood out to me really says something. Sure, many people in a country like India would be jealous of our sports cars, our fancy electronics, and our stylish clothes. But I think the real value lies in our voices. Whether we chose to use them or not, we are each granted a wonderful opportunity to use our voices in ways that many people in India could never imagine. Our freedom to get involved with different interests, to advance in areas we find interesting, even to constructively criticize our peers, these should all be considered in our wealth of opportunities at CMC.

What this also helped me realize is how important it is to recognize the voices that are being quieted even in Claremont. This privilege is an exceedingly important aspect of CMC’s culture and any force that exists to suppress it- whether it race, sexual orientation, nationality, or even political position- should be acknowledged. I for one am extremely grateful for the incredible opportunities I have to use my voice and to contribute to things I believe in but I also recognize the factors that exist that grant me this privilege. As I continue to understand this dynamic and continue to take full advantage of the opportunities I have, I see some responsibility in ensuring that CMC continues to strive to be more open and welcoming to those whose voices may have been overshadowed in the past.

photo (1)


A Day in the Life of a Chai Addict


*I wrote this post before departing on a recent excursion to North India. A summary of my time there will be posted this weekend!

My mother brought up the fact that I have yet to communicate my daily schedule to anyone. I think about daily routine often- I love establishing a routine in my life and feel that it usually defines the state of my life. If I have an awesome daily routine, usually my life couldn’t be better. If I can’t find any rhythm in my life, usually I can’t find any rhythm in my thoughts and so on. It is hard to communicate how hectic, stimulating, and draining my daily schedule in Jaipur is. Everything I do here seems to be 10 times as draining it would be at home. Even though I have about a hundredth of the workload and I’m definitely more sedentary, I am so much more exhausted than I am at college. I have tried to outline my schedule, as well as some of the details, but it’s hard to communicate the moments and reflections that define my day. That being said…I have tried my best to present a day in the life of me:


6:00 am: Often times I wake up at 6:00 to Skype Sam or my family. Because of our schedules and the time difference, when I Skype Sam inevitably one of us has to wake up early before school.


6:30 am: My normal wake up time- I usually wake up early so I have some time to relax and catch my bearings before the start of a crazy day. I sleep in a large bed in a crowded room. A third of the room is dedicated to a Hindi shrine, surrounded by pictures and sculptures of an idol. The rest of my room, similar to other parts of my house, is crowded by art, pictures of the family, stacks of books, and (mostly religious) trinkets from around the world. Although the younger people hurriedly rushing around the house may be Westernernized, my host parents are determined to maintain a traditional, indigenous feel to their house. Waking up in the atmosphere is always a calming reintroduction to the Indian world I seem to escape during my sleep.


6:30-8:00 am: Sometimes I shower in the morning- vis a vis a classic bucket-shower set-up- but sometimes this is just too much to ask of myself. Most mornings I enjoy a hot pot of Chai[1] and sit with my host father talking about a large range of topics- from the dangers of our modern celebrity culture, to current Indian and American political issues, to things like national identity, modernity, and even Rawls. At some point I excuse myself to eat breakfast. Breakfast is a bowl of cornflakes, a number of bananas, and toast if I would like it. Usually this breakfast isn’t enough so I find myself consuming mass amounts of bananas and peanut butter during the school day.


8:00 am: To get anywhere in Jaipur I have to take an autorickshaw. Rickshaws are three wheeled, tin, golf cart- looking vehicles. They seem to have the engine equivalent of a John Deere but the handling of a Porsche. All of them are decked out with various religious signs or initials or other symbols to identify the driver. All the drivers in Jaipur seem to know each other and, as our rickshaw driver has demonstrated, there are often several generations of rickshaw drivers in a family. My rickshaw driver is named Manjing Sing (no guarantees on the spelling) and he is the man. He is energetic, encouraging, extremely helpful, and always a welcome start to my day. I’ve learned a lot about his story and his family and can honestly say he will be one of the people I remember most from my time here. SIT has set up a system in which one rickshaw driver picks up a number of students every morning and delivers them to the program center. I am one of the furthest away from the center so I am picked up around 8:00 and pick up two other girls on my program before arriving at our program center a little before 8:30.


8:30 am- 1:00 pm: The SIT program center is located in the nicest neighborhood in Jaipur in a converted house. There are no signs or indicators and to any walker-by, the building is just a large white house. There is one large classroom in the center along with one other small class room. There is a small library, a basement with a place to rest and a number of computers, a balcony where we eat lunch, a badminton court, and offices for the faculty and staff. We also have a table covered with fruit, crackers, filtered water, and tea/coffee. After our first block of classes we have a “Chai Break” where I gulp down about three cups of Chai as well as a snack that the cooking staff provides. I usually opt for a banana with peanut butter, however the snack are always excellent and are never te same. We generally have two classes a day. Often we have 2 hours of Hindi followed by a lecture before lunch, however, the schedule never seems to repeat itself. We have two teachers who attempt in vain to teach us Hindi; otherwise a lecturer leads our class (they are usually a local professor or government official.) I have just finished a class called Development Approaches and Distributive Justice (DADJ) in which we learned about the recent history of development, various themes pertaining to development, and a number of alternative development theories. Once a week I have a class called Field Methods and Ethics in which we learn basic researching methods that will help us during our Independent Study Project. We are just about to start a class called Shaping Sustainable Social Change that will fashioned similarly to DADJ. Although I’ve definitely struggled through Hindi class, the other classes have been extremely interesting and challenging. The speakers we have heard have all been incredibly articulate, passionate, and informed. Yesterday, in Delhi, we had our final class of the year, led by the author of Churning the Earth: The story of a Globalized India. He explained the political system he had developed labeled Radical Ecological Democracy (RED), which was a solution to the issues facing (mainly) rural, marginalized populations. It was indeed radical as it incorporated various ideas from modern day anarchist movement, the localization movement, and even communist notion of the end-state and economic equity. Whether I agreed with all the speakers or not, being exposed to radical new ideas and approaches has been an integral part of my time and the way. Being challenged in my classes in how I view the philosophical and political systems that I take for granted has been a very fulfilling exercise.


1:00 pm: When 1:00 rolls around I am SO ready for Lunch and the staff always delivers. We all make our make our way upstairs where we are treated to a number of Indian dishes (usually Dal or paneer or cauliflower,) a stack of warm chapattis. Along with fresh made yogurt and vegetables, the lunch never fails to satisfy. We sit out on the balcony and discuss our plans for the day, our thoughts on the day’s speaker, or just trade stories from our home-stay. After some time to relax and a banana for dessert its time to decide what to do with the rest of my day.


1:45- 4:30 pm: The second half of the day is always different. Sometimes we have a class, sometimes we have an excursion brief or a workshop for our ISP. Sometimes we plan adventures to a city landmark or nearby café. Recently I spent this time interviewing people for my ISP (see previous post), which was actually an exhausting exercise. Usually we end up spending this time doing our homework or planning our ISP. People spread-out throughout the center and our work is constantly interrupted by laughing or Bollywood music.


4:30pm: At the end of the day we are picked up by Manjing Sing. This should really say 4:00pm to 5:30pm because there is no predicting when he might show up. He always inevitably asks, “am I late,” which always seems like such a bizarre question to me because it seems so irrelevant. Maybe he learned that phrase or idea from a past American student, because he sure as hell doesn’t understand what it means. The drive home is even more hectic than the drive to school. We dodge the families, rickshaws, scooters, and carts of food that block the road. Last week Manjing Sing decided he would treat us, not once, but twice to a delicious Papaya Shake at a road-side stand. My pre-trip doctor would have probably scorned us, but we had heard rumors about this place and I have yet to feel any adverse effects (no guarantees on updates..)


5:30 pm: I usually arrive home to a thermos full of Chai and an onslaught of questions from my host father regarding his recent social network push. I have recently redone his facebook, set-up a facebook fan page, updated his linked-in, taught him how to use tumblr and twitter, and expect to have several more projects upon my return. If I can escape from that, and am not too tired, then I make my way to the gym. I found this gym totally by chance but I really love it. It was founded in the beginning of August by an eager (and very fit) Indian man name Johnson. All the equipment is brand new and he’s always open to my suggestions for new accessories. The trainers are all super friendly and are definitely incredibly entertained by my presence there. I put on some music and use the time as quasi-mediation- a time to unwind, escape the mind-fuck of chaos that surrounds me, and focus on nothing but picking up heavy things. I’m always exhausted when I finished but I love my slow walk back to Jawahar Nagar (the name of my neighborhood) as I can enjoy the nighttime, the people crowding the streets, the entrepreneurs making their final pitches at the end of a long day, and the various animals that make their way to the streets. The city goes to sleep early, and my curfew is even earlier, so this 10-minute walk is one of my few chances to catch a glimpse of the city at night- a time of the day that has always captivated me.


7:30 pm: When I get home my food is on the table. Everyone in my family eats at different times so the food is placed on the tables on various plates and the chapatti in an insulated container. Usually there are always two or three dishes per night. One is normally Dal or a similar dish, and the other is paneer, Okra, potatoes, or some form of soy. I have remained vegetarian here so I’m normally pretty hungry by 7 and warm chapatti is always the right fix.


8:00-11:30 pm: I spend the rest of the night reading a book, doing class readings, completing Hindi homework, or perusing the internet. This time of the day is always essential to me as it lets me finally relax, connect to the world, and reflect on the day. I read a lot here and love it. Its so nice to explore my own interests and the downtime at the end of the day is usually my time to do so. Sometimes I skype Sam or my family during this time, occasionally I watch a movie, and often I spend some time discussing current events with my host father or connecting with my 14 year-old host brother.


11:30 pm: By this time (or recently later) I am absolutely exhausted. I try to give myself time to read before bed. Once I shut the door, change into my pajamas, and close my book/computer, I fall asleep immediately- getting much needed rest before another hectic day in India.

[1] “Chai” in India is different then how we think of it in the US. Chai is the direct translation of tea in Hindi so we when we say “Chai Tea,” …you get the point. Here, what they just call Chai is usually black tea. What is unique is that they make it by boiling a combination of milk, water, and sugar and then add tea. They drain the pot and poor the tea. I drink about 15 cups of this a day- the addiction is real. 


Update After Liberia

I returned from Liberia over two weeks ago and wanted to take this chance to communicate with everybody about my year so far, as well as ask for some support in finding my next step. With nearly four months until I begin college, I am now turning my attention towards finding a job/internship that capitalizes on the themes of my year and serves as a fulfilling end to the wonderful journey I’ve had. It was the support of my friends and family that made this year possible and I hope to rely on your input once again. I hope you will find this summary of the past months of interest.

The first part of my journey was to San Miguel de Allende, a town in central Mexico. I had spent some time there as a child and was introduced to it again through Cristina, a friend of a friend of my family. Through her I was able to connect with an organization outside of San Miguel focused on a community of ranchers who live off the land. Towards the end of September I began my time as a ranch-hand, living in a compound shared by the main ranch-hand and his family. I was able to live a truly beautiful and simple life, without electricity, but filled with hard work, and encompassed by beautiful surroundings. I work up early, had breakfast of coffee and fresh milk, and rode my horse to duties such as building fences, or harvesting crops. I spent nights surrounded by candles, reading, learning Spanish, and bonding with the family.

During the weekends I would catch a ride into town to relax, watch playoff baseball, and experience the wonderful town of San Miguel. During these times I stayed with Cristina who connected me to San Miguel, and quickly she became a friend and guardian. It was during one of those weekends that I met a man who was working on a Rosewood hotel development in town. We became friends and he asked me if I wanted to be his assistant. I made a spontaneous decision to cut my time at the ranch short, and go to work full-time at the hotel. I was grateful that Cristina agreed to let me stay at her house for the rest of my stay there.

The project was a 67-room, 3-restaurant hotel, and the housing development that surrounded it. I was hired as assistant to the hotel project manager; my job consisted of on-site management, meetings with the contractors and the operators, office work (spreadsheets, organizing punch lists, and reviewing contractor’s project proposals,) and various other errands. Although a construction site in Mexico was not what I envisioned for my gap year, the experience turned out to be incredibly satisfying and instructive. I was working in a fast paced, high-pressure environment, with high expectations, and was able to adapt quickly and be successful. Not only was I able to learn a tremendous amount, I was able to single out strengths of mine and use them to succeed at a high level, outside the familiar environment of school and without my normal support system.

The town of San Miguel itself became, as it does for so many people, a place filled with incredibly interesting, loving people, who took me in like family. It was a great place to begin my journey, to learn from the fascinating people there, and to learn about myself. I eventually turned down an offer to stay through the end of January, when the hotel was set to open (after receiving great coverage from Travel and Leisure), to return home for Christmas and carry out my planned Africa itinerary.

My time in Liberia is very hard to abridge in a few paragraphs, and I don’t think I will be able to fully grasp the whole journey within my mind for quite some time. The experience offered me the chance to wholly immerse myself in an incredibly complex and unfamiliar culture. I stayed with a family introduced to me by two of my high school teachers who had stayed in Liberia for a summer. My host was the District Superintendent of the Monrovia Methodist Church and I learned extensively about his beliefs, issues in this region, and the leadership programs he conducts. I also spent some time with the Carter Center; giving me an opportunity to see the vast impact NGO’s have on this country. This experience ranged from sitting in on a pilot meeting for implementing freedom of speech at the highest levels of government, to a meeting at the Ministry of Health about developments in mental health.

The best job experience was my work with the community development branch of the Methodist Church. The program, CODEVPRO, builds water wells and public schools in rural areas throughout the country. It is funded by foreign donors but completely run by Liberians. I not only had an invaluable opportunity to see their work, the communities involved, and the potential of the projects, but this involvement also ignited my own interest in community organizing and development. I have always been interested in politics, but my focus on this more tangible work with local communities really emerged from the Liberian experience. I now have a personal desire to do that work in the United States.

The most important experience of my Liberia trip was undoubtedly my daily life with my host family. I lived in a neighborhood called New Georgia, in a house with nine people and three bedrooms. The house was always filled with people and it was these people who took me in as their “white son,” and taught me everything I know about Liberia. I learned extensively about the country, their culture, and their history. I grew extremely close with the family and not only learned much from them, I was able to be a mentor for some people in the community. I became a part of the neighborhood and therefore a member of the basketball courts, churches, and families of the community. Everybody was immensely pleased when they were able to meet my own family, as my parents and older brother visited me for over a week. Hosting my parents was an incredibly fulfilling experience because it was my first opportunity to share my Liberian life with somebody similar to myself in background. The adventures and discussions with my family will forever be one of the greatest memories of my journey and has helped me through my return to Santa Rosa.

It is hard to believe that after more than three months my time in Liberia is over. As I adjust to life back home I hope to continue the path of my year so far. I’ve concluded that I’d like my summer to include one more opportunity that would be fulfilling and would round out the experiences of this past year. Ideally this third situation would be in the U.S., probably in a city, and would last 6-8 weeks during June and July, before I head off to Claremont in August. This year has been fabulous, and I am optimistic about finding a next step. I am so grateful to friends and family for the practical and personal support. This year has been one of the best of my life. Deferring admission was a wonderful choice, and with luck and loving friends, turned into an extraordinary growth experience. I look forward to starting school in September and possibly seeing some of you this summer!

I am open to all suggestions and look forward to hearing from you. With great appreciation…