Hello to friends on both sides of the Atlantic and to a special few afloat in the Pacific!
Here’s a small update about my life in the United States. It’s been one year since I walked across the stage in McEwan Hall and got wacked on the head by the hat made from John-Knox’s-but-also-not-John-Knox’s-pants-which-did/didn’t-get-sent-into-space (it’s a long story). I was awarded a Masters of Arts with Honours in History and Archaeology, First Class from the University of Edinburgh… and a lot has happened since.
In August, I started a masters program and was working part time at a local bike shop. I enjoyed my time, but ultimately decided what I wanted was in Scotland. So, I applied back at Edinburgh with the intention of starting the Architectural Conservation MSc this September.
In January and February, I had my first ever break from studying! I went to San Diego to see one of my dearest friends. I had tickets to four different concerts and was preparing to go back to Scotland in April for a short holiday.
Then in March, the United States was hit by the Global Coronavirus Pandemic. At the time of writing this, over 130,000 Americans have died. That’s 15,000 more dead Americans than the United States’ short involvement in the First World War.
Since I live with grandmother, my family has working from home and social distancing since 14 March. I cancelled my plans to return to Scotland in April to meet with the University and a few individuals to discuss potential research projects. My twenty-third birthday was celebrated in sunny quarantine and I’ve been drinking a lot of iced coffee on my porch.
During this time, I’ve watched doctors and nurses cry out for more supplies as mass graves are dug in New York. I’ve watched more Black Americans lose their lives at the hands of law enforcement. I’ve watched protests erupted across my country live on the television. I’ve watched statues glorifying Confederate slave holders get torn down by the descendants of the people they kidnapped and enslaved.
Which brings me now to, as my dear Anne Shirley would say, my own ‘bend in the road.’ Due to visa complications and travel restrictions I have had to defer my studies back at Edinburgh until next year.
But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit idle.
Instead, I’ve written to my local paper (here and here). I am volunteering for a candidate running for Federal office and have been using my time to phonebank. Soon I’ll be helping with remote voter registration for young people.
*GO NOW TO MAKE YOU ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE!! https://www.vote.org/*
Then starting this September, I’ve been selected to serve as Team Leader with AmeriCorps NCCC for the Southwest Region. AmeriCorps NCCC is a national civil service program supported through the Federal Government. It’s loosely inspired by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and is the domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps.
I’ll attend a month-long leadership training school in Colorado. Then, I’ll get my team and work on projects focusing on energy conservation, environmental stewardship, infrastructure improvements, disaster relief, and urban and rural development. There’s a even a chance that I will be trained as wildlife firefighter!
As I said to my dear friends when I had to break the news of my delayed return to Edinburgh: ‘When shit hits the fan, it’s good people doing good things that make it better.’
If I am in place to do something good, to do something to help, I will do it. Especially now, when I see so many people in my country hurting. As we near the Fourth of July, I am reminded of what Thomas Paine wrote in the American Crisis (1776):
‘These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.’
Or to echo the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:
“You are going to live in a dangerous world for quite a while I guess, but it’s going to be an interesting and adventurous one.”
“The individual is the spur to public action. We are the government. The basic power still lies in the hands of the citizens. But we must use it. That means that in every small unit of government, each individual citizen must feel his individual responsibility to do the best with his citizenship that he possibly can achieve.”
Not being able to get back to Edinburgh this September is not a setback. It is just a slight bend in the road. We’ve all been there and all we can do is continue to move forward. So, here I am! I am ready to transform Eleanor’s words to action with imagination, integrity, courage, and a high heart. ~Just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry.~
This blog is going to change speed starting in September. I hope you all stick around to read what I’m doing to make my country better.