Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meet and Greet in D.C.

(Pictured Here: Me with Rwanda's amb. to the U.S.)

I got into D.C. last night; registered at the hotel; checked-in with the Peace Corps; got a quick dinner with Rick; and then went to bed. Busy night!

Today I got to know the rest of the group. There are 34 of us (7 males, 27 females; 2 married couples; everyone is in their 20s or early 30s) and everyone is REALLY fun and interesting. This morning we had some preliminary training that outlined the policies and procedures of the Peace Corps, then we went to a "Meet and Greet" in the afternoon at Peace Corps HQ. Pictured here are photos of me at the event. I was able to snag pictures with the Director of the Peace Corps and the Rwandan ambassador to the U.S! The Peace Corps Director had some AWESOME stories and the Rwandan ambassador and his second in command had some GREAT advice. I was nervous to talk with them at first, but, in true Emmett fashion, I lightened the mood by telling a couple of worked! Humor transcends cultures, I'm tellin' ya!

Tomorrow is the BIG day! In the morning we get tons of vaccinations. In the afternoon, however, we get to start traveling the world. The next entry I post should be full of pictures of Brussels, Kigali, and Butare. I cannot post many of them on this blog, BUT if you have stumbled onto this blog and want to see the pictures, then feel free to send me a facebook friend request...granted you have facebook. Facebook allows me to create better photo albums, so I am using that application. Soooo...check my facebook page soon!

Anyways, all is well; I'm really excited, but I miss you all. More to come...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thank You

Thank you for coming out!

I know it was VERY cold (well below zero, I think) and my directions to the pub were...well...pretty poor, BUT for those of you that braved the weather and the labyrinth of stores and bars that is the Bolingbrook Promenade...THANK YOU! It meant a great deal to me that you came out to see me off.

Seriously, preparing for this trip has really shown me how blessed I am. I have a loving, supportive family and my network of friends is full of great men and women that challenge me to be a better person. I am truly rich. Thanks again, everyone, and God Bless!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Learning as I go

Okay, so I am learning as I go here. A member of the Peace Corps Rwanda team has graciously posted a list of blog/website regulations that I must abide by during my tour of service.

I can leave the flag of Rwanda up here, but some other stuff had to go. I'm not taking any chances on this, friends; I am sure you understand. Keep the questions coming and I'll do my best to answer them in future blog posts or through applications I add.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Taurus: Yearly Overview

As of today, it has been exactly one year since I was interviewed for the Peace Corps and was nominated for service in sub-Saharan Africa. This past year has provided great learning experiences, BUT I am sure 2008 will pale in comparison to the years I have ahead of me. Let's see what this next year has in store for me, shall we?

(Okay, so I'm NOT big into these things (horoscopes); HOWEVER, I cannot help but read them when they are advertised on yahoo's main page. As usual, it speaks in VERY general terms...but it sounds cool. I wanted to post this so at the end of 2009 I could revisit this entry and see how well yahoo's crystal ball was working...I added a few comments too...sorry if I spoil the entry by doing so, but I couldn't resist...this thing was too serious by itself...I had to rip into it a bit.)

Year 2009 Overview

It's time to celebrate yourself, Taurus (*muffled giggling*)! You are pouring yourself into your life's mission and rejuvenating yourself with abundant thinking, which attracts great things to you. You're diligently creating a public arena where opportunities will emerge for you to be a teacher or messenger. Engagements for speaking, writing and sharing your thoughts will open up. Other people will be inspired by your enthusiasm and insight, and will support you in accomplishing your goals.

Taurus's excitement radiates more than ever this year, bringing with it a magnificent energy the world has been lacking. As you embrace the power of your heart and spirit, you are allowing yourself to transform and align with a universal energy source. You discover the space for your creativity to flow and abundantly bring the truth of your being into the world (*do hippies write these things or what?*). Your focus on your connection with a higher purpose brings out the best in you and refines your self-expression.

You appreciate all the expansive shifts that are taking place in your life, and you are learning to break up routines and old patterns of rigidity. This allows you a new level of awareness and acceptance of your ultimate purpose. Pay attention to what has heart and meaning. Express your truth and you will advance. You will find avenues to bring your talents and belief systems to philanthropic endeavors. By the end of the year, you will be able to slow down a bit and find more time to enjoy the new you that you have created.

Year 2009 Career

You will be moving overseas this year. Any worry or anxiety you may feel will be overshadowed by your excitement. This new adventure will be filled with many perilous dangers. Have no fear! You will soon build the time machine you have always wanted, but, ironically, never had the time to build. You will then be able to travel to the year that the candy "Jujyfruits" was created and inappropriately rename them. This will not make you a millionaire, BUT preventing Skynet from becoming self-aware and taking over the world will! (*Okay, I made this paragraph up just now...who says I can't write for "The Onion"?!*)

(*I think Tony Robbins wrote this next paragraph*) You will discover new ways to regenerate your finances this year, as you let go of blocks and fears that are holding you back. Rethink your belief that you have to work hard for money (*note to self: if this is true, then punch dad in the face for lying to you for over 20 years*); as you evolve spiritually, you will find that this thinking no longer serves you. As you step into your creative flow, work and finances become much easier for you. You realize that you're able to manifest a dependable income when you just allow your talents to flow. As you learn to do what excites you, your enthusiasm will overflow and new opportunities will come your way. Trust that your ideas will tap into profitable avenues. When you stop placing restrictions on yourself, you will be able to move ahead and gain amazing benefits.

You enjoy giving outwardly and being in the public eye, and your life-long pursuit of developing your creative talents now has a new venue for manifestation (*note to self: research comedy clubs in Rwanda and begin booking your tour dates*). As you embrace your power, opportunities open up for public speaking, writing, performing and sharing visionary ideas with others. Through your work, you will most likely be helping people to achieve their own creative connection and a higher purpose in life. Your integrity and energy is shifting, and others are inspired by your wholeness and beauty.

The fruits of your work relationships will increase by leaps and bounds this year. Any endeavors you undertake will be very profitable, expansive and satisfying. As you open up to the creative avenues before you, you will earn bountifully, so surrender to the blissful adventure of walking down a satisfying career path! (*BOOYAKASHA!*)

Okay, I promise the next blog entry will deal more with Rwanda...I promise, I promise, I promise...maybe.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Lists

I received my staging papers on Monday of this week. I fly into Washington D.C. at the end of the month. I spend a day and a half in D.C. completing MORE paperwork and getting MORE shots (Hurray!). Though I am NOT looking forward to the flight (I HATE flying) or the paperwork and the shots, I AM looking forward to meeting the "Peace Corps Rwanda" team.

Later that week, I take a seven hour flight from D.C. into Brussels. After a brief sparring session with Jean-Claude Van Damme (*Pictured Above: Van Damme accepts Emmett's challenge at a press conference*), I get on another flight (this one is eight hours) that departs from Brussels to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. I spend a couple of days in Kigali and then I drive about 2.5 hours Southwest to the city of Butare. Once at Butare, I begin my ten week pre-service training - six days a week, eight-ten hours each day. When I complete my training, then I am sworn in as a volunteer and I receive my official assignment.

Anywaaaaaaays...estimated total flight time for Emmett during the last week of January:
17 hours!

Can you believe it?! Grooooooooooooooss!

I wish I could tell you more, but that is really all I know right now. HOWEVER, I did finally get my packing list, so that is cool. In honor of receiving this coveted piece of paperwork, I would like to dedicate this blog entry entirely to lists...check this entry every so often because I will be adding to it as my journey continues!

What I have packed thus far and What I need to pack:

Yeah, I feel like packing isn't going to be all that bad. I can bring 80 lbs of gear, but I hear that I can buy most of what I need in Rwanda. Sooooooo...yeah, that is kinda what I plan on doing...we will see how that works out for me...anywaaaaaaaaays...

What I will miss (in no particular order of importance):

-Family and friends, of course
-All the service agencies, non profits, schools, churches, etc. I have worked with and all the awesome, hardworking people I have met working there...especially at the House
-Playing Game Cube with Trevor at the House
-Teaching Rikiesha magic tricks and jokes at the House
-Heart-to-heart discussions with dad, Kevin, Rick, and Rick
-Taking Lisa out to dinner
-My mother's cooking; especially her baking
-Playing tennis
-Eating the animals my dad and brothers kill on their hunting excursions...yeah, I'm not a big fan of guns, but the fork suits me just fine!
-Going to mass with my family on Sundays
-Long, hot showers
-Playing bags
-Tailgating before Chicago White Sox games
-Speaking poor English
-Having four distinct seasons, especially the FALL (my favorite season ever)
-My car radio, which has been broken since like August...I blame Lisa only because she was there when it crapped out and it totally couldn't be MY fault...yeesh, thanks a ton, Lisa!
-Checking my email and FACEBOOK...hourly...and "You Tube" (granted I don't have much computer access)
-Playing Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" on "Rock Band" with the guys, then being accused by John of breaking his "Rock Band" instruments
-Playing "Rock Band" on the drums...then breaking them...ha!
-Wednesday night pub quiz at "The Auld Dubliner"
-Sending people mob wars invitations on facebook KNOWING they are not going to join my mob
-Tricking people into believing my wild, ridiculous stories and seeing how good I am at getting people to believe know what I'm talking about...
-Annoying my friends by yelling out "flavor flaaaaaaaaaaave!" and/or "booyakasha" when I enter a room, win a game, or whenever the mood strikes me
-Getting my butt kicked in pool by Rick every Monday...I am soooooo glad we never put money on those games...and P.S. I KNOW you let me win those few times too! Be ready when I get back!
-Short jokes about me; especially those of Emily and Kevin ...J's are pretty funny too...ha!
-Telling people to "prove it" after they make a statement or claim about something...I have to thank J for getting me started on that one
(Example: Person: "I had the best cup of coffee today." Me (or J): "Prove it")
-Being on the same darts team with Johnny, destroying the competition for hours on end, and being total jerks about winning the entire night! Hahahaha! I want 1,000 points next game, Johnny!
-Movies at Hollywood Blvd.
-Watching The Three Stooges and Svengoolie with my youngest brother
-Getting early breakfasts with Jeff. Though I was late to half of them, they were awesome
-Playing video games with my brothers...we must have beaten all three "Halos" like one million times each by now
-Poker nights
-Coursework at The Second City on Thursday nights...and the improv show that follows

What I won't miss (in no particular order of importance; they all suck equally):

-The nickname "Butters"! Somehow I "earned" that name within the past 18 months. Ah applesauce, I hate that name!
-Chicago Winters
-Paying for gas, oil changes, my car loan, and pretty much any expense that is car related
-Working evenings and weekends, though I will probably have to do that in Rwanda too
-Spam (the meat and the junk email...again, if I have computer access, then all bets are off)

What I am looking forward to (again, in no order of importance):

-The change of scenery
-Wearing summer/spring clothing all the time
-Meeting new people
-The challenges that will come with the work I am doing
-Using my French
-Possibly getting a tan that will last all year...this may turn into a burn that will last all year...we'll see
-Catching and training my first butler monkey; there will be one at first, but he'll train others
-Writing letters home; receiving letters from home
-Getting MUCH more exercise
-Tasting new foods and drinks
-Trying my hand at photography and writing
-Haggling with store owners
-Telling people to "Prove it" in Kinyarwandan and French
-Learning about Rwandan humor and telling jokes in the native tongue
-Improving on my character flaws and strengthening my better attributes; being completely out of my element and observing my behavior, in general

What I am not looking forward to (you get it by now):

-Bug bites
-Sweating all the time; at least in the beginning
-The plane rides
-Getting sick...I'm sure my body will need to acclimate for the first couple weeks/months
-Missing everyone and their important life events

Meh, that's all I got for now...I am sure I missed a bunch of things on these lists...I will add to this entry as the weeks continue...Moreover, I promise my next entry will have more to do with the country of Rwanda too...and I will try not to make it into a history lesson, I promise.

Keep me posted and I'll do the same...more to come...