Friday, October 23, 2009

A Day at the Beach…

After a very busy, fun, and frustrating week I needed a break – and got one with a day at the beach.

This week started with an awesome Leaders in Residence class. This is a course I teach for residential students on understanding leadership on a personal level. This week we started with a case study examining the current situation in Honduras. The students were asked to analyze the major players (individuals, governments, and organizations) and identify leadership traits and styles that we have been studying. The second part of the activity involved them discussing what leadership style is needed in the situation, or what style they would bring. The conversation started rough as none of my students knew about the situation in Honduras – or where Honduras was located. After giving some brief history I gave them six news articles to read that looked at the situation from different perspective and explored different aspects of the conflict. The students ended up getting really into it and were able to draw a lot of connections to our class discussions and they actually learned something!

Added into the business of the week was a Bachelorette Party/Hen Night/Henna Night program for the other female RHD Timika. It was a great program that combined American, British and Middle Eastern/Asian pre-wedding traditions. Timika is an American marrying a Brit and most of our residents are Middle Eastern or Asian (Pakistani and Indian). The residents loved it! They all dressed up and came to have fun. We played a few PG “American” games and did traditional wedding henna. It was a long night, but so worth it!

Another fun part of the week was CDA training. I led a few team builders (toxic waste – a classic, and bouncing chickens… a new one for me). The bouncing chicken activity was a lot of fun to watch, but also led to some great discussions about how we approach our work with our residents and how we engage with each other. Following the team building we got to roast S’mores!

There ends the positive from the week; the rest of the week was full of frustration. I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday that created a downward spiral into full on homesickness. The doctor was very late for the appointment and then rushed my appointment into 10 minutes and did not even listen to what I came to discuss with him. He told me the tests he was going to order – which were not related to my previously diagnosed condition or related to adjusting my medications. I had to write down the tests I needed, and the tests I wanted so that I could find out if my meds were right. Later that day I got a call from the doctor telling me that I was right and he needed to run the tests I wrote down (duh…) and then said I had to come back right away to get them done (trip number two). The next morning I had to go back for fasting blood work and to get the doctor to sign a form – but the doctor did not come in that day. So the next morning consisted of a meeting with the doctor to get the form signed and to try and get a referral to another doctor (which he would not give). I was so frustrated that all I could do is cry. This at least got his attention and he started to listen to me. After I get all the blood work back I will adjust my meds and find a new doctor.

By the end of the week I was beyond frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and sad. I realized I have not really built any strong friendships yet and am not sure where to go to meet people. My solution to this was to join a group from work that was going clubbing. The only problem is that I forgot that I hate clubbing… not a good way to get over being homesick when you can’t dance, sweat too much, and have no one to dance with.

By Friday morning I needed a change. Luckily Karen had invited me to join a group who was going up north to a great beach. It was exactly what a good doctor would order. A group of about 10 piled into 4 SUVs and drove to a beach about an hour out from Doha. There was a little bit of off roading to get there, but that made it even better. Most everyone knows I don’t like water, so it will not surprise you to hear that I spent the day in my bathing suit away from the water, but enjoying the sand and the view. It was relaxing and I was able to get to know some people better. I am still working to build strong relationships in Doha and this trip really helped me feel like I am starting to connect with people. I hope I can spend every weekend like this!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oktoberfest Doha style…

You might be thinking, “Oktoberfest – Doha… no way.” You would be wrong. One of the hotels put on a great event with an imported German band and all. The cost of the ticket got you into the event and access to a buffet of German food. Once in you were able to purchase German beer, at a high price, but it was good. To be honest, the German soft pretzels made the night!

A memorable moment from the night was when a member of the band played an amazing German song on a beer bong (for real, he just added a trumpet mouth piece). This song got everyone in the large tent watching in awe! It also inspired a man at a close table to show his talent of balancing 4 large liter glasses of beer on his head while walking!!!!!!!!! Crazy…

All in all it was a fun night out in Doha.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meet my staff…

One of the best parts of my life in Doha is my amazing staff of CDAs (Community Development Advisors). Let me introduce you to them.

From left to right:

Amal is a strong willed, independent, mature leader. She is a senior at CMU and is considering going into student affairs. She typically has the same facial expression, so I have to ask her if she is happy – thankfully she almost always says yes! I am learning a lot from Amal and am so glad she is willing to teach me. She grew up in UAE, but is Omani. Her mother is Nigerian and her father is Omani. She has an amazing story.

Carla is a creative, free spirited, kind student. She is a junior at VCU with a talent for fashion design. She comes into every situation with a smile and empathetic eyes. She has a difficult building whose residents typically do not get involved. She does not let this frustrate her and she keeps planning great opportunities for her women. Carla grew up in Qatar but is originally from the Philippines.

Zahra is a soft spoken, but articulate, ambitious young woman. She is in her second year of pre-med and will begin medical school next year at Cornell. She is extremely intelligent, but she would never tell you that. She also has a difficult mix of residents who are mostly upper level medical students who just don’t have time to get involved. She had found a way to connect with residents personally and brings joy to her role as a CDA. Zahra is from Pakistan.

Dianna is a ball of energy that you feel enter the room before you even see her. She is always laughing and is truly happy with who she is and what she is doing. She is a second year students at Georgetown and is always excited to talk about what she is learning in class. She is younger than most of her residents, yet she has created an atmosphere were they trust, look up to her, and enjoy coming to her events. Dianna grew up in Saudi Arabia, but was born in the US to Chinese parents. She has this unique identity and seems to meld into all cultures at one time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good friends, good food, good fun...

Following the end of Ramadan there has been a lot of socializing! Amazingly, this has even included eating while the sun is out, in public – and – dare I say it… alcohol (shhh).

The first celebration was a great night cooking out with new friends and colleagues in Dave and Karen’s back yard. It is amazing that we felt like it was a “cool” night, but it was still in the mid 80’s past 9 PM. I cannot believe I have adjusted to the point where a day in the low 90’s is cool. I am missing fall back in the Midwest, but I am starting to enjoy fall in the Mid-East.

The next day 25 amazing people went to a wonderful brunch at the Marriott Hotel. Bottomless champagne and a buffet with amazing food choices was a perfect way to spend the day. We spend about 4 hours eating, drinking, and talking. My favorite part was the fact that the meal was a break from Arabic food. I love Arabic food (well – not lamb), but after Arabic food for every meal during my vacation, I needed a break. The buffet had good Japanese food, Mexican food and other choices that are rare in Doha. This was the first social event I have been too where I felt like one of the group, and not an invited guest. It is great to finally feeling like this is my home, and that I am starting to make friends.

Sadly one of the reasons I took this job has changed. Kevin, the main individual who recruited and hired me has taken an amazing opportunity and another institution. While I am sad I will not be able to work with him, his leaving has provided many opportunities to bid him farewell. Even this event meant to say goodbye brought fun and connections with amazing people.

While there are moments I feel homesick (especially when thinking about my nephew August), overall I have never been so confident and happy. I know this opportunity came at the right point in my life, and I know I am loving it! I can’t wait to get to know everyone better.

Aunt Annie!

A little over a week ago I became an Aunt! Sarah and Mike had a beautiful baby boy August Donovan Kuhnell, 6 pounds 13 ounces, 19 and ¾ inches. He is the cutest little baby ever – and I am not at all biased.

While I am beyond excited to be an Aunt, it is also making me a little homesick. I love getting the updates from family (and the pictures), but it reminds me what I am missing and what I gave up to have this amazing experience living abroad. Don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t get updates and pictures regularly it would be so much worse. I knew moving abroad would come with both positive and negative aspects. I am lucky that so far the positive has greatly out weighed the negative. Having a new nephew I have not seen in person is the one negative that no amount of positive can make up for. I know Augie will never know that I was not there for the first few months of his life, but I know I am missing some really amazing family moments.

The good news is Christmas is really close and I will meet him then!!! Until then PICTURES!