Duke TIP 2015

Lido Beach

Lido Beach

After the horror of last summer working with Duke Summer Session, (Duke Sucky Session more like), I was more than a little apprehensive about my position as Program Assistant for Duke TIP Field Studies in Florida. After a few flights, and having to navigate through the Atlanta International Airport, I finally landed in Sarasota. I tried not to have high expectations in terms of how enjoyable this experience would be. I told myself I could have an overbearing supervisor, gossiping coworkers, and terribly behaved students. “You’re here to work, not make friends. Do your job.” I told myself for the first few days. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything to worry about. My supervisor and coworkers turned out to be genuinely nice people, each with their own strengths and interests that served the program well. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be a part of a functioning, albeit sometimes chaotically functioning, team who didn’t place blame on others, but worked together to solve problems. After the first week, I stopped bracing myself against the potential negative job politics and really started to make friends and figure out what on earth my position was.

Our dance theme was something about sand and beaches obviously.

My position was new and very flexible; we were basically making it up as we went along. I was used to being an administrator, making decisions, and doing everything myself. It was difficult at first to transition to being an assistant. A lot of what I did as the assistant assigned to residence life was programming and supplies runs. Even though I didn’t have a set list of tasks every day, there was always something I could do or help with. I got to go on a few really great field trips to aquariums and museums. We spotted wild dolphins and manatees and counted turtle nests. We even went for a boat ride on the Sarastota Bay and caught (then released) some puffer fish. It was amazing and I actually learned a lot. Also, DISNEY WORLD EPCOT!

I had fun captioning Renaissance art at the Ringling Museum.

at EPCOT with some staff! Man, that was a long day; my feet are still aching.

I really enjoyed attending and running programs as well. We had field day complete with an epic water balloon fight, a dance, and a kickball tournament. One of the first programs I helped with was painting, which was really fun because so many of our students are very talented artists. One student painted the Waffle House sign because “it inspired him”. I called him “waffle house” for the duration of the program. I still don’t know what his real name was. I also did some henna tattoos for students and staff, which was really fun and a great opportunity to get some practice.

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own "TIPsters"

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own “TIPsters”

fun henna tattoos!

fun henna tattoos!

I had a couple days off and had the chance to go to Siesta Key beach, which is the number one beach in the USA. It was super crowded, but the water was perfect and we had frozen daiquiris! #treatyoself2015 Such a great day.

at Siesta Key!

at Siesta Key!

On the last night after the students left, most of the staff went down to Lido Beach and had a few beers. It was so much fun hanging out and talking without any program responsibilities left. Well, I think I had one too many beers because I had the brilliant idea of skinny dipping in the ocean after it got dark. I didn’t think to bring my swimsuit, so I ran into the waves with my shorts and bra on. It was so ridiculously fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I got back on shore, and finally found my shirt, I reached into the back pocket of my soaked denim jeans and found my brand new iPhone 6 chillin’ in its “life proof” case. Yeah, it has never recovered, even after two days in rice. So now I’m using my four year old iPhone 4 that has a stylish cracked screen and a whopping 8GB of zero space until I get paid later this month. #mylifeisbeck Did I mention my debt card AND my license was also lost at sea? I was seriously off the grid for a few days. I didn’t know how I was going to get on my flights back home the next day without my ID. It felt like the start of a really good urban adventure novel. If it wasn’t for my new friends asking questions and letting me borrow their phones, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get home safely.

Duke TIP family!

Duke TIP family!

I’m still waiting for my duplicate license, so I’ve been stuck at home all week and just returned to my day job at Starbucks today. Lucky for me, I have this handsome feline to keep me company all day.

Seriously, how can you not fall in love with Gigi?

How can you not fall in love with Gigi?

I’m definitely applying for Duke TIP next year.

Beck

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A Long Expected Engagement Party

This past weekend, I helped host my sister and her fiancé’s engagement party. It was a lot of work to say the least, but I had so much fun!!! I can’t help but show off for you all since most of the décor I made myself or with the help of my family. Enjoy the pics!

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We used my mother’s engagement sari as a tablecloth, protected by a plastic tablecloth on top. I think it went well with the centerpieces. We bought vases and mason jars from the Habitat for Humanity Restore and spray painted the bottoms gold. Then we used small tea cups and fresh flowers to complete the look.

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I made the banner by cutting 5×8” letters out of magazine paper then pasting them onto black cardstock for added strength. I laminated them to make them water proof and then taped them onto twine. I used mini clothes pins as fasteners too!

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I bought wooden letters from Michaels and glued torn book pages onto them to make these initials of the couple. The ampersand I spray painted with leftover gold paint. This was our drink table outside before moving the party inside because of weather.

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I printed these photos at Walmart for less than $10 and strung them up with more twine and mini clothes pins. It was so easy!

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Sarah and I made strawberry mini cupcakes by adding fresh chopped strawberries to a yellow cupcake mix. Then we made cream cheese frosting and topped them with these cute toothpick toppers, again homemade!

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We bought some balloons from Party City and made tricolor bundles for a walkway as an entrance to the party. We thought the trellis was the best place to enter the backyard.

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We may not have been able to eat outside, but we were able to use the lights as a beautiful photo backdrop!

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No backyard party is complete without a bonfire and s’mores! : )

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Sarah’s friends!

Me giving a toast, my first ever.

This party helped me realize just how much I enjoy party planning and hosting. I hope everyone had fun! Special thanks to our friend and fixture, Quoc, for taking photos! ; )

Bonus pic: Gigi being weird.

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Multiple people told me this weekend I should be an event planner. I do love design and spending money, especially other people’s money. What do you think? :)

Beck

Tatted Up

Readers, I forgot to mention that I got a tattoo last week! My sisters and I wanted to do something together that signified our commitment to each other. We may have been brought together by family, but we are choosing to stay together because we love each other.

Being apart from my eldest sister this past year has been really difficult for all of us. We had to get to know one another all over again during the past two weeks, but ultimately we are stronger in our relationship because of the challenges we faced together.

It took us forever to come to a consensus about what we wanted, how it would look, and where to place it. All of us had to compromise, but it was important that we all got the same thing. We decided on a lotus blossom for a number of reasons: (1) it’s the national flower of India, (2) it’s a symbol for purity, beauty, and flexibility, and (3) it’s really pretty. :)

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We went to a place called Tattoo Bills in Charlotte, NC. They were really nice and accommodating. I highly recommend them! We decided to go in age order, so I went last. Before my experience, a lot of people told me that getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt all that much. A lot of people are liers! It hurt SO MUCH. It was like getting deeply scratched by a cat with really long nails. The memory of that pain will haunt me. Luckily, it didn’t take more than 10 minutes. It’s strange that permanently altering your appearance should take that little time and be such an easy process…you know, besides the excruciating pain.

I’m kind of a badass now, cause I’m tatted up. ;)

Beck

How to be Homeless in College

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I was stranded at my friends apartment last week while NC was in the middle of a snow storm. This reminded me of last semester when I was staying there almost every week because I had no other place to go. I learned a lot about how to go without last semester. Becoming homeless is a process that makes you realize exactly what you do and do not need to live. It’s a painful process.

I started the semester in a small apartment attached to a house nearby campus. The rent wasn’t bad and I had just gotten a job as a barista at the local B&N cafe. After about a month, I moved out because my landlady didn’t want me to keep my cat in her house, and I wanted to live with my cat (don’t judge me).

At the beginning of October, I moved into a house with a student couple, their evil cat, smelly dog, and loud chicken. (Yes, I did say chicken.) I settled in and then…I lost my job. Apparently, my availability was not working for them, even though I told them I could work anytime I wasn’t in class. With no job to pay rent and a new landlord asking for a deposit, I found myself, at the end of the month, moving for the third time that semester…home.

My Mom lives in Raleigh, about an hour from campus, and I had a full schedule with seven classes. I was so scared and I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had no choice but to keep going. For weeks, I woke up at 5:30am so I could drive the hour commute and be on time for my 8am class (and I’m not a morning person in the least). To save gas, I asked my friends if I could alternate sleeping on their couch, but I didn’t want to be a burden, so most of the time I slept in the library or took naps in my car.

I had a system. I would go home every Tuesday and Thursday night to get more clothes and food. I would shower in the gym locker room and do laundry on the weekends when I could stay home. I would work in the library and then drive home to sleep in my room with no bed. And I would student teach and try to finish my projects on time. Part of me knew this meant I wouldn’t be passing all my classes, but I’m nothing if not stubborn, and I thought I was strong enough to do it all.

Okay, so technically I wasn’t homeless, but I was constantly moving between my car, my friends’ apartments and public spaces like the library and gym. I felt homeless, and that anxiety really affected me and my ability to work. I learned how to get through the day by getting “free” coffee from faculty lounges and attending school events with free food. I ate a lot of pizza that semester.

Having no where to go makes one anxious and alone, and I very quickly fell apart. Every single one of my professors emailed me or “had the talk” with me about my low performance (some more than once). What could I say? “Sorry I didn’t finish the paper, Professor, I was busy trying to find somewhere to sleep last night.” I felt tired all the time and it wasn’t from the mountains of work I stayed up doing. I knew I needed to do something about my living situation and fast.

That’s when I remembered that I had been adopted recently. My church has a program that allows families in the church to “adopt” college students so they can get a home-cooked meal, and have a place to stay if they can’t go home for breaks. I emailed my “family” and asked if they knew of anyone that had an extra room to be rented out until May. I received a quick response offering a room in their own house for the year. It felt weird accepting help from people who were essentially strangers, but I wasn’t in a position to say no, and a 30 minute commute is better than an hour commute, so I said yes. I’ve been living here ever since. I won’t say it wasn’t awkward, really awkward, at first, but God has put me in a good home and I’m so grateful that He has provided a place for me to live during my senior year. I hope I can do the same for someone else one day.

What my adopted family did by taking me in reminds me of this passage in Matthew 25.35-40 (NIV)

‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I was a stranger and they invited me in, and that’s pretty awesome.

Beck