I haven't written anything in quite awhile, mostly because while blogging from Tanzania seemed like a wonderful communication tool, blogging about my daily life in the States seemed self-absorbed and uninteresting. At the request of loyal readers (who knew?!) I'm updating this anyway. While the title is no longer accurate in a literal sense, a part of my heart is still in Africa, and the updates via Facebook from friends there make me want to return. Hopefully in September I will have a chance to do just that.
My plan is to return to sub-Saharan Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer in September to teach science at a secondary school and implement community public health projects. Hopefully, I will have more details reasonably soon.
Already this year, I've been fortunate to have many opportunities to travel around Arizona as well as to Puerto Penasco, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. I loved being able to spend time with family and hope to make another trip to the Pacific Northwest this summer.
I am once again living in Tucson and am enjoying the opportunity to work from home. I have a two month, part-time joint contract from the General Board of Global Missions and the General Board of Church and Society. Both of these are entities within the United Methodist Church, based in NYC and DC, respectively. I'm thrilled to be able to work on projects related to AIDS and family planning with progressive spiritual people who have a true grasp of health care needs around the world.
I'm also involved in several volunteer projects, both familiar and new. I'm serving on a regional AIDS Task Force through the United Methodist Church, the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network's Education Committee and the planning committee for an annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial Service in Tucson. On Monday evenings, I volunteer at a free medical clinic in South Tucson, and on Thursdays I volunteer at a free clinic in Agua Prieta, Sonora. My Spanish skills and medical knowledge are improving, though not quickly enough! I recently connected with the Tucson chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program and am excited to work with them on a grassroots campaign for a single-payer health care system.
I have also agreed to coordinate social justice and community service projects for young adults in the AZ/NV region of the United Methodist Church and am currently working on two such projects which will take place in June, related to immigration and homelessness.
My awareness of Native American struggles for justice has been greatly heightened in the past eight months or so, and I am becoming more and more involved, particularly with regard to Leonard Peltier's struggle for freedom.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend an Arizona List luncheon where Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D, NY) was speaking. Her recently published book Rumors of our Progress have been Greatly Exaggerated, highlights past and current struggles for women's equality.
Beyond that, I'm picking up house-sitting and babysitting jobs to make ends meet, networking whenever and wherever possible, and enjoying the comforts of life in the U.S. I'm embracing the contradictions within my life: social justice work with and for the impoverished... followed by a Starbucks run; marching to protest the civil rights violations of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to be a voice for the voiceless... followed by a swim and dinner at the Hilton. What can I say?
I'm very fortunate to have so many opportunities to be involved in work that I'm passionate about and to have so much control over my schedule. Life is good!