January 27, 2008

Old Wisdom

I would like to get into the habit of writing every night so that when I get into the Peace Corps it is a habit that I can continue. I will, no doubt, have trouble getting regular access to the internet but I will always be able to type on my computer or write in a journal no matter where I am. I am sure I will have a lot I want to share and tons of experiences I will want to remember.

I came across this blog by Salomon who is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia right now. He is an M18, which is the group that got to Mongolia in May 2007, and he had this quote on one of his first entries. I really like it:

Go to the people, Live with the people. Learn from them, Love them.
Start with what they know. Build on what they have.
But with the best leaders, when the work is done
The people all say, “We have done it ourselves.”
- Lao Tsu (China) 700 B.C.

Peace Corps in a nutshell?

January 24, 2008

Free Tax Filing

Last year I filed my federal and state taxes and got both my tax refunds within a week, all for free. I'll be doing the same thing this year and thought I should tell you guys about it here as well. If you have earned less than $30,000 last year and you live in NC (or a few other states), you can use TurboTax Freedom Edition. Most websites offer you free federal filing but charge you between $12.95 and $19.99 for state filing. TurboTax Freedom is the only place I have found that allows you to do your state filing for free. So if you're a student like me and didn't earn too much last year, don't worry about filing out paperwork or paying someone online to file. Just try TurboTax Freedom and collect those tax refunds lickity split!

January 21, 2008

Babies and Puppies

It must be hard to have a kid and watch them grow up. Maybe like having a puppy and watching it grow into a big dog? You can't help but look at it and think, "Aww, I remember when you were just born and you were just so tiny! Now look at you, all grown up..."

We all know that babies grow up, but adjusting to that can be hard. Maybe it requires one to constantly reflect on the moment and appreciate what is happening, not just think back to when things were great in the past. After all, this is tomorrow's past. What great things are happening right now?

January 19, 2008

Outer Mongolia, Here I Come

Early Friday morning, after a night of wonderful snowfall here in Hickory, I was interviewed by a very sweet reporter from the Observer News Enterprise named Gina Lindsey. We talked together for about an hour and she wrote a wonderful article about my future adventures in the Peace Corps which she titled Outer Mongolia, Here I Come. It was featured in their Saturday edition yesterday and she said she would also like a follow-up interview when I get to Mongolia, so I bet that will be fun!

If you would like, you can read the article on the Observer News Enterprise's website or as a PDF. Let me know what you guys think after you read it!

Update! I didn't realize this when I read the article online, but it was the front page article! Here is a picture of the weekend edition. Cool huh?

January 18, 2008


As the number of views on my YouTube invitation video climb I know people are watching it, but I must say I was surprised when I received this e-mail from my Placement Officer at Peace Corps Headquarters yesterday:


Well it finally trickled down to me. Your You Tube video is extremely touching. The entire Placement staff here at PC headquarters is watching it (some are chocked up even) and saying how cool it is. You made our day! I really hope you enjoy your time and are a productive volunteer. I’m glad to see you are genuinely excited about serving in Mongolia and wish you the best of luck. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions/concerns.


I replied and told him I was glad that the staff found in enjoyable and motivating (not to mention that I was quite surprised it had made it all the way to them!). What they are doing really does make a difference in the lives of thousands of volunteers, I guess one of his invitees just happened to videotape it this time.

January 16, 2008

Radio Interview

I had a great time this morning interviewing with Hal Row on WHKY. I didn’t realize it beforehand, but he had me on for half of his two-hour program! We had a ton of laughs both during the show and during the commercial breaks. I definitely plan on going back, or calling in while I’m in Peace Corps, which he asked me to do.

Mostly we talked about what Peace Corps is, how it works, what attracted me to the organization and what I think my time in Mongolia will be like. I think it is a very nice summary of what I know up to now. Here I have included the entire program (without commercials) in my Peace Corps Updates and you can also download it by clicking here. I hope you like it!

January 15, 2008

On The Radio

This Wednesday morning at 8am, I will be on WHKY talking with the radio host Hal Row about my upcoming service in the Peace Corps. I wanted to let you all know so that you could listen in if you want to. If you are in the Hickory area you can turn to 1290 AM and listen the old-fashioned way or you can click on WHKY's website and listen to the streaming audio there. I will try to get a recording posted up afterward if I can. It should be interesting!

P.S. You can call in to (828) 327-WHKY while I'm on and ask questions!

January 14, 2008


Phoebe, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, asked me a few days ago what got me interested in Peace Corps. It's a pretty common question, and certainly a good one, but as I started answering her I got to thinking about how much support I have gotten from the Peace Corps community and how much that has helped me in making my decision to join the organization. Let me see if I can share it here in numbers:
  1. I started talking about Peace Corps with Zoe, who was very supportive
  2. We went together to a National Peace Corps Association meeting in Raleigh where I met the Assistant Director, spoke with four Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and met the founder of the Exploris Museum who was also a Peace Corps Volunteer
  3. I called Peace Corps' toll-free number, spoke with a representative and got the e-mail of a very helpful RPCV who was in currently in medical school
  4. I went to a Peace Corps Recruiting Session at NC State and met 1 recruiter and 3 RPCVs who I asked questions
  5. I went to another Open House at Fayetteville State and met 1 recruiter
  6. I went to Costa Rica and met 1 Country Director, 1 Volunteer Coordinator and 4 current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) who I asked questions to for months
  7. I talked with Anna Marie who introduced me to Shawn who was in Peace Corps in the South Pacific
  8. I talked with one Campbell grad who is now in Africa
  9. I met my interviewer at NC State who answered tons of my questions
  10. I was invited to Kyrgyzstan and e-mailed back and forth with 4 volunteers
  11. I was invited to Turkmenistan and messaged back and forth with 6 volunteers
  12. I was invited to Mongolia and messaged back and forth with 4 volunteers
  13. After accepting to Mongolia I have been messaged by 6 volunteers, e-mailed 4 different ones myself and had questions answered by 4 others entirely
  14. All told, after about two years of Peace Corps interest, I have been surrounded by a community of over 40 volunteers who have helped me tremendously and almost half of those are from Mongolia alone in the last month!

I know that was a long list, but that's my point. Every step of the way I have been able to talk with someone, e-mail someone, or meet in person with someone who knows exactly what I am going through. I have never had anything like that before, in Boy Scouts, in college, preparing for medical school, etc. After only a few weeks of knowing that Mongolia is my destination country, I have had dozens of my questions answered and tons and tons of advice shared with my from volunteers who are there or have been there. Some of them I e-mailed myself and some of them messaged me on their own entirely writing things like: "Hi, we heard you were coming to Mongolia, congratulations!", "We really look forward to meeting you!", and "Let me know if you have any questions!" All week I have been thinking about how incredible that is to me. I literally feel overwhelmed by the helpfulness and kindness of the Peace Corps Volunteers I have been able to meet. Overwhelmed in a good way though, definitely - like seeing a bunch of people you really like all in one place. I have told you each thank you many times, but I guess I wanted to write this to say thanks again. I hope to be as good a Volunteer as I have seen in all of you and I appreciate your support and your kindness very much. Bayarllaa. (Thank you in Mongolian)

January 12, 2008

Run Deep

Photographed by nicolas valentin
Ever heard the saying, "Smooth waters run deep" or "Still waters run deep"? My mom used to tell me that when I was younger and I liked it. It made me think of my last name which was chosen because it meant "clear waters" or "calm stream" in Swedish. Generally I think the saying can refer to the deepness of a person, their complexity, their philosophy and their contentedness. In my experience, those people who have strong believes and think deeply also enjoy a consistent level of happiness in their lives. They have ups and downs, but usually they remain pretty happy almost all of the time. I think about the quote every now and then, but I saw it today on 43things.com and I think this may have been its source. Thanks Shakespeare.

“Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.”
- William Shakespeare

January 11, 2008


It has come to my attention that Peace Corps is careful about what is placed online by Volunteers. I already have a disclaimer on the bottoms of both my website and blog stating that all included thoughts are my own and not the views of the United States Peace Corps, as this is required by the organization, but beyond that I will also be taking measures to not post any entries or pictures that could be harmful in any way to the organization.

However, I will be more candid in my personal e-mail messages, private blog posts and private pictures on Flickr regarding my time in Peace Corps. So, if you would like to hear and see what it is really like for me in Peace Corps be sure to add yourself to my mailing list and add me as a friend on Flickr as well. That way you will see my press release-like entries here and my more personal experiences as well. Just thought I would give you the heads up!

January 9, 2008


"Congratulations! You've got some work to do..." I am excited, I won't lie, but Peace Corps gave me plenty to do right when I got my invitation a few weeks ago. I had to turn in my passport, fill out my Mongolian visa, answer a few questions for my aspiration statement and send in an updated résumé all within two weeks. Unofficially, I also needed to make a video and some journal entries too, so that took the rest of my time. It's all done now though, so I thought I would post it all up so you all could appreciate the sheer volume of my answers! Nah, if you don't want to look, I don't blame you.

On a side note, I received my iPod Touch last Thursday night and I love it! For all of you out there who are considering getting one, you won't be disappointed. I have all kinds of iPhone applications on it which are ridiculous (like Google Maps, Notes, Mail, Nintendo, and others) and it has been working great.

As an extra plus the case it came in featured John Lennon on the front with the song Imagine playing on the screen. I love that song and applaud Apple for their classy choice of a cover. The second journal entry I ever posted on this blog was simply the lyrics of Imagine. Before I opened the box I thought about the song, especially the line "Imagine all the people living life in peace." I imagine I'll think about that a lot in Peace Corps. Now for those lyrics, "Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can..."



  • Teacher in Elementary, Middle and High School
  • Subjects Including: AP Biology, Spanish, Science, Math, Theater

  • RA for Honors, International and Graduate Students
  • Inducted into Resident Assistant Hall of Fame
  • Outstanding Resident Assistant of the Semester

CAMPBELL CIRCLE K (2003 - 2007)
  • Volunteered over 1000 hours of community service
  • President Emeritus
  • Carolinas District Outstanding President of the Year
  • President (Increased membership by 200%)
  • Haunted Trail Service Project Founder/Coordinator
    • Raises over $2000 for charity every year
  • Vice President, Website Developer
  • Co-Founder of Campbell Circle K (Chapter)

  • President (Created New Officer/Committee Structure)
  • Director of Communications
  • Society Member, Website Developer
  • Honorary Member

  • Volunteered in National Children’s Hospital (60 hrs)
  • Shadowed two EBAIS Community Clinics (10 hrs)
  • Intermediate Fluency in Spanish at ICLC (80 classroom hrs)
  • Visited with five Peace Corps Volunteers at HQ
  • Spoke with citizens impacted by Peace Corps work

  • Dr. Patrick Morgante (Family Medicine, D.O.) 40 Hours
  • Mr. Travis Miller (Frye Regional, V.P.) 15 Hours
  • Dr. Sam Bang (Family Medicine, D.O.) 25 Hours
  • Dr. Jim Hodges (Family Medicine, M.D.) 25 Hours
  • Dr. Steve Cataline (Chiropractic, D.C.) 35 Hours
  • Dr. Dale Menard (Neurology, M.D.) 35 Hours

  • Awarded Eagle Scout Rank
  • Completed Project COPE Program
  • Patrol Leader / Asst. Senior Patrol Leader


  • Bachelor’s of Science with Honors in Pre-Med / Biology
  • Campbell Honors Program Graduate
  • Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Finalist
  • Carolinas District Kiwanis International Scholarship
  • Lynch Endowed Scholar
  • Presidential Scholar (All Four Years)
  • President’s List (All Four Years)


  • Basic Biology (4 hrs), General Chemistry (8), Cell Biology (4), Philosophy (3), Organic Chemistry (8), Physics (8), Biological Research (4), Biomedical Ethics (2), Public Speaking (3), Human Diversity (3), Zoology (4), Nutrition (3), Genetics (4), Ecology (4), General Psychology (3), Spanish (6), Tropical Medicine (4), World Religions (3), Cross Cultural Medical Seminar (1) & Biochemistry (4)

  • Completed 3-Month Training

  • Certified in CPR & First Aid
  • Clinical Experience at Harnett Manor
  • Clinical Experience at Frye Regional
  • Completed 3-Month Training and Certification

  • Completed Adult Volunteer Training


SPANISH (1999 - Present)
  • Intermediate Fluency (Level 6 of 9) in Costa Rica
    • Two month stay in country, living with host family, volunteering in National Children’s Hospital and taking morning courses with four students to one teacher
  • Completed Spanish 102, 201 at Campbell University
  • Completed Spanish I – Spanish VI at Fred T. Foard High School

  • I enjoy writing in my journal, going on outdoor adventures with friends whenever I can, playing all kinds of sports, exploring the field of photography, reading good books, talking about philosophy, reading Calvin and Hobbes, playing with animals, making oatmeal cookies, watching the show Lost and enjoying quality movies.

Aspiration Statement

**To read more about my Peace Corps service, please visit advancehumanity.com/peacecorps**

The professional attributes that you plan to use, and what aspirations you hope to fulfill, during your Peace Corps service.

I plan to use my knowledge and personal experience within the American and Costa Rican medical systems while in Mongolia, including my knowledge as a Biology major, my extensive shadowing of doctors in a variety of disciplines and environments and my personal experience as a nursing assistant and health volunteer. I also expect to utilize my public speaking and teaching experience: I have given speeches to crowds of as small as 25 people and as large as 5,000 people as well as taught in a variety of classes as a substitute teacher in elementary school, middle school, and high school and as a seminar teacher in college.

I aspire to learn more about international development as a whole and understand how the Peace Corps, United States governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations function. I also hope to serve as an exemplary Peace Corps Volunteer and later serve in Peace Corps Response as a RPCV.

Your strategies for working effectively with host country partners to meet expressed needs.

I believe in seeking first to understand and then be understood. I believe this will be especially helpful in Peace Corps. Understanding my neighbors, colleagues and supervisors in Mongolia will mean listening very carefully to their needs and challenges as they understand them, watching as they demonstrate current conditions and future opportunities and making a point of asking meaningful questions of them whenever I have the opportunity. I plan to be open-minded, patient and respectful as I seek to understand their situation. Once I believe I understand and others around me agree with my interpretation, I hope to be able share solutions that I can imagine would be effective including solutions I have learned about through Peace Corps training. Working together while communicating openly about our goals as we move forward will bring about lasting change. I believe it is essential for people to own the solutions to their challenges and be personally invested in them. I am a partner in each solution, not a dictator, and the projects we create together should be sustainable by the Mongolian people long after I am gone.

Your strategies for adapting to a new culture with respect to your own cultural background.

It has been exciting for me to experience new cultures, whether it was through studying abroad in Costa Rica or serving as a Resident Assistant with several international students who had just come to America to study. When I have talked with adults and children in both those environments, what I have always felt was that they wanted to be understood and respected regarding their culture and their beliefs. As I adapt in a new environment, I try hard to stay strong in my principles and beliefs: kindness, compassion, honesty, helpfulness, cheerfulness, and others. I also try to explain myself well and reflect on what I believe is my worldview. Whether in America or not, I have found that my worldview changes and grows and I think that is part of having a reflective life. Through writing in my journal, talking with my friends and family through letters and occasional e-mails, talking with other Peace Corps Volunteers and sharing my thoughts with close host national friends in Mongolia, I think I can keep a strong sense of who I am while also growing into a stronger, more mature and more worldly self at the same time.

The skills and knowledge you hope to gain during pre-service training to best serve your future community and project.

Language training is invaluable. I agree with Nelson Mandela when he says, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” I would add that you must know the first in order to speak the second. I plan to study very hard and advance as much as possible in the Mongolian language during Pre-Service Language Training.

I also hope to learn about the Mongolian Health System structure at the hospital, clinic, public health and community level. I would like to learn relevant medical terminology used in Mongolia, speak with a variety of health professionals about their thoughts on the health care system and also speak to average citizens (including members of my host family) about their impressions of health care in Mongolia. If possible, I would also like to get tips from native health care professionals about what average citizens are most responsive to in regards to preventative health.

Also I would like to hear a history of effective health programs over the last twenty years and understand what made those programs effective.

How you think Peace Corps service will influence your personal and professional aspirations after your service ends.

Personally, I think Peace Corps will give me insight into my place in the world. It will challenge my concepts of service to mankind, the importance of family, the necessity of technology, the definition of materialism and the nature of change. Mongolia in particular will most definitely change my definition of the word ‘cold’. I think my limits of comfort, patience, personal space, adventure and creativity will be stretched and I will return to America with a better understanding of who I want to be.

Professionally, I have always wanted to better understand the world around me, learn about international development, get experience with international organizations like the United Nations and find meaningful ways to serving my country and world. I believe Peace Corps can help me do all of things unlike any other program. My future after Peace Corps may include me working as a United Nations Volunteer, studying as an International Development graduate student, training as Medical Doctor, working within the United States government or serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. I’m not sure yet, but I do know that my service in Peace Corps is going to greatly influence that and Peace Corps Mongolia is exactly where I want to be.

January 6, 2008


I am lucky to have always had very good friends in my life. As I was brushing my teeth this morning I was thinking back to when Jessica and I had a competition to see who could brush their teeth for the longest. We were in 1st grade I think. Jessica won at around 8 minutes. Afterward my mom pointed out that that was a very healthy competition to have, at which point it probably became less cool to us, but looking back I think it was pretty awesome that we did that. We also challenged each other with multiplication tables and general knowledge (like our area codes and so forth) around 2nd and 3rd grade. More than likely, that's why I can multiply huge numbers in my head and still remember my area code from back then (32935). Then I was thinking to just last night when Jonathan, Michael, Elias and I just sat around while Jonathan read out facts from a 2005 World Record book. We tried to guess which movie grossest the most money ever made, which mammal weighs the most in the world, which planet is the hottest, who was the actor with the highest grossing films ever and on and on. This lasted for probably two or three hours. Then we played MarioKart and had a lot of fun competing and then anti-competing by trying to kill Michael (who was best) and make sure Jonathan won (who said we'll play one more game if I win) so that we could keep playing. I'm glad to have had friends in my life who offer great support and healthy competition. Oh, and the answers by the way were Titantic, Blue Whale, Mercury, and Harrison Ford.

January 3, 2008

Giving Simply

Christmas and other events in my life brought about a unique observation a week or so ago. Giving, such as handing a gift to someone, is a special thing. In it's most simple form it means, "I want you to have this." That's it. Other forms include, "I want you to have this, plus can you give me something too?", "I want you to have this, but only use it how I tell you to," "I want you to have this, but only if you appreciate it," and on and on. I'm not sure about the prevalence of one form over another, but I can tell you that I've run into dozens and dozens of gifts that weren't simple. When that's the case, I really don't think it should be called 'a gift'. A more appropriate label might be 'an obligation'. I prefer the gifts, both in giving and receiving.

January 1, 2008


Last year I chose the theme Discover for my year and I was very pleased with it. It helped me stay focused and look out for new opportunities, explore things I hadn't tried before and appreciate things that came my way. This year I am going with Endeavor. I know there is a lot to come as I embark upon a very significant journey this May into Peace Corps in Mongolia, but there are also daily and monthly adventures I am able to plan and enjoy with my close friends and family all the time. I hope that I can remain open-minded and ready to discover whatever life has for me. As Helen Keller said,

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."