From the city of angels – a new chapter begins

If you have been following me since the beginning of this blogging journey, you must recall that the intention of it was to be able to connect more with my community of friends,  acquaintances and random strangers with whom I have shared the road at one point in my nomadic life. While until now the blog has been a journal of my life in Thailand, I now open this new chapter, hoping to narrow the miles between all of us friends. You will find here random reflections, memories, recommendations of movies and books and more…

MILESTONES

Last week was one of many achievements, personal and professional. First, I logged my first official 1,000 miles on MapMyRun -the result of  19 months of using this program.  Shyly, since November 2012, I have only ran two half-marathons and several 5Ks. However, I feel proud to say that during this time I was able to run in six countries and more than 13 cities (including the not so runner-friendly Baku and Phnom Pehn), always in great company.

Team AOC takes over Baku

Team AOC takes over Baku – Azerbaijan

CHULA stadium Chulalongkorn University’s stadium – ThailandParis bombiers Bombiers de Paris – FranceSiem Reap runSiem Reap – Cambodia

 It has been phenomenal and I could not have done this without my Pasadena Pacers. To my coaches, friends and idols, to all of you that have surrounded me these past years and encouraged me to be stronger, faster and more disciplined: THANK YOU!

Pasadena Pacers

Pasadena Pacers (Find me!)

On the professional side, I marked my 10 year anniversary at work. This job has allowed me to grow immensely and to do incredible life-changing work where I can see the result of my efforts. There, I have had the privilege of serving refugees, asylees and their families while working side-by-side and learning from expert advocates in this field. First as a human rights analyst and most recently as a project coordinator I have been able to develop and nurture a program that through the provision of legal services, makes immigrant integration a priority. Having faced integration challenges as an immigrant myself, I see now how determinant that job interview was 11 years ago. Thanks to my clients, for inspiring me to be a better advocate and for teaching me so much. Infinite thanks to my mentors and my team, for allowing me to take our Project above and beyond.

I imagine these random mindful reflections might not be the most interesting chapters of my blog, but I wanted to share these tiny victories today* because it’s June 8th. And for me, it is a time to remember. 17 years ago, also a Sunday, I started dating Freddy. He has been the constant in my life and has helped me set my compass in the right direction and encouraged me to pursuit my dreams. I could not ask for a better partner for this mission.

F & C

F & C

 

(* written June 8, 2014)

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Last chapter “From Thailand”

On my last entry (“Enough?”),  I shared with you some reflections on our Cambodia field study. Since then, lots have happened leading to the closing of the Rotary World Peace Fellowship.

Graduation WPF Class 16

Class 16 of Rotary World Peace Fellows – Chulalongkorn University – Graduation ceremony

Indeed, the last month of the Fellowship was pretty packed, which -in retrospective- was not good for my blog, as I have left it unattended. Among many activities, it involved eleven different planes, dozens of hours in mini-vans and covered the following routes:

  • Bangkok – Phnom Pehn
  • Phnom Pehn – Pursat
  • Pursat – Siem Reap
  • Siem Reap – Bangkok
  • Bangkok – Mae Sot – Bangkok
  • Bangkok – Krabi – Bangkok
  • Bangkok – Taipei – Los Angeles

And just like that, three months went by. Sawadee ka to the Rotary Fellows, to the Peace Center, to Chula, to our host counselors, to CU House, Sky Train, Siam and so many more of my Bangkok companions. Thank you all for a wonderful, life changing experience!

And for the last Thailand Diaries post, I could not leave out the mandatory snorkeling picture, so during the last week in Thailand I got to explore part of the Southern beaches in very good company, as Freddy came to the rescue and helped me on the pilgrimage back to the US.

 

PitxisExploring Ko Phi PhiSnorkel in Ko Phi Phi

Today I am writing from the city of angels, almost two months since landing. I had anticipated the reintegration process to be challenging, especially the traffic situation here and having to drive to and from work every day. It has been something else. Above all, I feel blessed to have had this opportunity of seeing a new continent, meeting new people and living in a foreign country while learning something new every day. I have returned to my old routines, flavors and dynamics. I have met with friends, celebrated life and exchanged stories. I am ready for the next challenge!