Thursday, January 01, 2015

Holiday Letter 2014

Hello Friends -

Before 2014 fades away into the past I wanted to send out my greetings and updates. As always, I've been a busy bee. Most notably after taking the plunge last year and grudgingly starting an Executive Master in Public Administration degree program at NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, I ended up loving it so much that I decided to go full time and really take advantage of the opportunity. These classes seem even more interesting than undergrad now that I have a lifetime of experience under my belt. It helps connect so many different dots! Plus I guess I'm just that geeky that I am enjoying immersing myself in a deep culture of learning and discussion.
I continue to keep busy civically. I have been helping a local immigrant services organization, CIANA, develop its marketing, fundraising and events. I am trying to get a better sense about the issues in my own neighborhood by joining our new Participatory Budgeting Committee. Our city councilperson has set aside a million dollars and we work with the community to figure out how to spend it. It's an interesting way to learn more deeply about the nuts and bolts of how local government really works. (And since our national government is kind of grim these days, it feels more productive to focus locally.) Recently I have also been very moved by the #blacklivesmatter movement. I have been marching, attending teach-ins and trainings and trying to figure out how to bring positive change out of the ashes of Ferguson. There seems to be an opening to talk about racism and white privilege in a more honest way. There are many ideas percolating on many levels. For example, I am on the Diversity Committee at NYU Wagner and we are trying to address how to broaden the curriculum and administrative policy to be more inclusive.

As you all expect by now, I continue to travel as much as I can. In January, I went to Tennessee to learn more about American history and music. In March, I went to Cuba for a third time. This time I went as part of an NYU class, which was a fascinating way to learn more about history and current events. Now I'm even more ready for the changes Obama just proposed! In May, I spent a week in Arizona and Nogales, Mexico volunteering with social justice groups associated with migrant and border issues. It was very interesting to get such a different perspective on immigration. Then in September, I headed to Iowa for a reunion for all the staff who worked for Senator Tom Harkin over his 40 years in office. What an amazing experience it was to work for Harkin and then to still be a Harkinista all these years later! His retirement is a big loss for America. Lastly, I continued to follow the street art scene. I scoured the streets of NYC and made trips to BaltimorePhiladelphiaMiami and LA. If you are interested in seeing more, you can follow me on Instagram at @streetartisallaround. And lastly I am writing this from an Internet cafe in Bangkok as I begin a trip to Burma and Vietnam during my winter break from school.

My life has taken many unexpected turns to get me here. It's not what I expected,but it's certainly filled with interesting experiences. 

I hope you have also found paths that bring you joy and fulfillment. 

PS. Sorry if the Facebook photo albums don't work.  I'm having multiple challenges with this Bangkok computer.

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