Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the thick of it

A little distracted while writing a 10 page paper for my infectious disease class today.

"...Dengue fever has been documented to be endemic in more than 100 countries..."

"..Control of Aedes mosquito breeding sites is the primary means of prevention of dengue..."

School! I have 17 credits and those faces are about how I feel sometimes. But I'm learning so much and I love it. I always thought I was a good writer until I took English 315 - Technical Writing. It is proving very helpful for writing a good resume and cover letter as well as research papers.

I was once asked to speak to the youth of my ward about success. This was the summer before my junior year, the year I spent taking classes and applying for the dietetics program to which I was not accepted. In preparing to speak I had to ask myself what I believed success to be. And I am happy to say my definition of success has not changed since then.

So what is success? I believe success is effectively using the talents and experiences God has given you in order to help others. That implies not comparing yourself to anyone else or their definition of success. I was not accepted into the dietetics program--the dietetics program did not suit me. Public Health suits me. There are interests and abilities I have had my entire life that are finding fulfillment in this major.

A different person will have a different experience with success. Greg Mortensen, author of Three Cups of Tea, has succeeded in building schools in remote mountain villages of Pakistan, providing education for girls who otherwise would have none. I feel that this book epitomizes some things my generation values and defines as successful - helping humanity. But reading this inspiring story causes me to think - could I do that? Have I been that helpful to humanity? The answer is no - I cannot build schools in Pakistan.

But as I began reading this book it quickly became clear to me that it was the experiences and interests Greg Morten had that prepared him to do what he did. Three specific things stuck out to me:

1)He was raised in Africa - he had a broad world view, languages came easy to him, etc.
2)He was trained to be a medic in the military (he formed a relationship with the mountain villagers by giving them medical care)
3)He is an avid high-altitude climber. (this is why he found this village - he had attempted to summit K-2)

That said, how could I compare myself to him?

So what experiences have I had that would lead me to be able to give to humanity? I think a lot of that remains to be seen. But one thing that comes to mind is that I have PKU - I enjoy speaking about it and encouraging mothers of children who have it. Every time I do that I think, "I am so blessed to have this. I am able to help these people because I am part of an obscure population of people born with phenylketonuria."

I believe we all have unique things about us that allow us to be successful in our own sphere of influence. As Pres. Uchtdorf says in his talk, Lift Where You Stand, each of us "stands at a unique place and has an important task that only he [or she] can perform."

Sunday, January 2, 2011


My family went to China for Christmas.

My Dad speaks Mandarin and he has been working In Shanghai this fall so we all went out to visit him for Christmas break. We stayed in an "apart-hotel" where we ate breakfast every morning, and maids cleaned during the day. We mostly toured Shanghai, but one of the most memorable parts was our visit to Guilin, a gorgeous rural area a three hour flight south of Shanghai. I took lots of pictures throughout the trip and observed many of differences in the culture. The language barrier really prevented me from connecting to the people of course, and we really didn't talk to any nationals except those we were paying for food, souvenirs, or transportation. But this short experience abroad was one I will never forget.

21 DECEMBER 2010
Guilin is crazy. Looks like the whole thing is under construction. The floor Mom and Dad's hotel room is on in our hotel reeks. There are lots of bad smells in the streets.

SEVEN STAR SCENIC SPOT (a big beautiful park)

We walked through the busy streets and under bridges and over the river to get there. We're finally figuring out how to walk through the streets without getting hit. See, in China, road rules aren't really regarded, but somehow it works! You just proceed with caution. Honking your horn is not considered rude, its just a way of saying, "I'm passing you," or, "I'm going, watch out."

Guilin Sunset:

On this trip I kind of realized what an American pansy I am. I always thought I would love to go abroad and "rough it," so to speak. But at first I found it stressful not knowing if there would be toilet paper provided in the public restrooms. In Guilin there were bad smells and the beds were hard. Throughout the trip it wasn't always easy to find a PKU-friendly meal either. The language barrier made it difficult to communicate my needs, and the culture isn't as accepting of special orders.

I finally know what "culture shock," feels like. Although I can't really describe it. Its kind of like cognitive dissonance. You see something totally different and you fee like in order to truly accept it you would have to change the way you think.


There were lots of bamboo rafts on the Lixiang River

Trying to sell his wares to the people aboard our tour boat:


Jenni and I shared a raft.

We got to pet the water buffalo

We got double checked in the airport for this.

It was a beautiful ride.

23 DECEMBER 2010
Wow. Today.
This morning was slow as we didn't have any plans. But it was nice. What we ended up doing was renting bicycles and getting a tour from a local. This is Guilin's low season, so there are hardly any other white people around. We rode out of the town along the river and through the farm land. I took tons of pictures of course.

I've always been drawn to farmland - aesthetically, ideologically. This felt different though. It was kind of a reality check for me that this was these people's livelihood. They had almost nothing - but the have the land and bounteous crops. God is no respecter of persons after all. The rain falls upon the rich and the poor. Something told me these people were a lot happier and healthier than poverty line Americans who work two jobs and eat fast food every day.

We ate lunch at this Country Cafe.

The vegetables were from the garden we walked past when we came in. While we waited for our meals we saw them fishing and killing a chicken. It took two hours for our orders to come out. This was FRESH food!

I had a BEAUTIFUL bowl of vegetable soup.

More to come but for now....

30 DECEMBER 2010
Well, I'm back in the San Fransisco airport with Marianne. We're definitely back in America, I have see no less that two men wearing skirts...maybe that's just because we're in California. I had avocado sushi and seaweed salad for lunch! Yum! I think one of the things I missed most about America while I was in China was the Japanese food.