Friday, October 31, 2014

Maasalama, Kuwait!

It's gone too quickly! I don't want to leave!
Kuwait has been very, very good to me. I've had an absolutely amazing time...and have 15000 words of notes to transform into a "short" book about the Kuwait Dive Team! (We'll see if I manage to keep the word count low!)

The last few days, I have:

Explored the ruins of a partially sunken ship.

Raised the Kuwaiti flag on a degrading oil island to draw attention to the need to maintain it to avoid environmental harm.

Made a new friend. (Sadly, I don't think British Customs will let me bring the camel home. My flatmate probably wouldn't be thrilled either.)

 Driven a boat for the first time.

Met and learned from many adorable Kuwaiti children. One of them sang "Do, a Deer" from "The Sound of Music" with me!

Ate at Taco Bell. (There isn't a Taco Bell in London. It was silly, but exciting.)

Saw the plans for a freshwater lake for migratory birds in an expanded nature reserve.

And's time to go home. :(
Kuwait, I will miss you! Thank you for an AMAZING five days!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kuwaiti Update

Hello, everyone! Briefly, both because I'm having too much fun doing things to write it all up in blog form and because I don't want to spoil the book:

I am having an AMAZING time. Absolutely gorgeous views, and incredibly people doing wonderful things.

Since Sunday, I have:
-Toured Kuwait's Grand Mosque;
-Snorkeled in the Gulf;
-Learned how to scuba dive;
-Dived for oysters;
-Swam with eels;
-Salvaged rubbish from the reef;
-Salvaged an old fridge floating around the water;
-Released baby octopi back to the ocean;
-Replaced the rope on a mooring buoy to prevent anchor damage;
-Helped teach 180 Kuwaiti schoolkids about marine conservation and cleaned the beach with them.

So...that's all cool.

:)   :)   :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

And she's off!

For those of you who don't know: I'm going to Kuwait! Queuing for the plane at Heathrow now. 
I was honoured to be invited by the Kuwait Dive Team to come visit them, observe and take part in their activities, and write a book in English on them. 
The Team is an amazing group of volunteers who dive off the coasts of Kuwait to keep the coral reefs healthy. They lift rubbish off the seabed - including entires yachts, sunken military waste, and the like. They also run educational programmes around the country, running mobile beach clean-ups where students to learn about recycling and reintroduce fish species to the ecosystem. The team has some great social media out there - check out
But much of their stuff is in Arabic.
Enter Becca! I'm going to go spend a week with them, frantically taking notes on all of the amazing work I see. And then it's writing time!
They'll do a self-printing in Kuwait...but we are hoping to formally publish in the US or UK somewhere. If anyone has ins to a publishing house who would want to run an amazing spread on great work happening in the Gulf, let me know!
For I fly!!


Off I ran to Cardiff, the capital of Wales, for Thursday and Friday. 
In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Marshall Scholars (the first class arrived in 1953), the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission is hosting a series of lectures throughout the year. We will be visiting each of the four capital cities of the UK and hearing distinguished Marshall Scholars from a variety of disciplines. The first was Professor Douglas Melton from Harvard, working on stem cell research in preventing and curing degenerative diseases. Thursday night, a good-sized group of us stayed at a really cool hostel in order to enjoy a night out in lovely Cardiff, including a dinner in a beautiful glass-walled restaurant overlooking the Bay. Our hostel came with free breakfast and a mini-pool set. Grand fun. 
And...there we were in Cardiff. Which just happens to be the home of the "Doctor Who" Interactive Experience and Museum. Which just happened to reopen on Friday with the new adventure starring Peter Capaldi after regeneration. The Teller was there live and everything. It was incredibly delightful. A fellow Whovian Marshall and I were joined by another mate for geeky shenanigans. 
So that was, altogether, not a miserable two days. ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Picnic time!

I am refusing to give way to the threat of fall/winter-like weather. Yesterday I picked up takeaway from my favourite Thai joint near King's Cross and took it to mates at King's. We wandered to the Victoria Embankment Gardens and luncheoned outside...with only a wee bit of shivering. 
The sky is not even pretending to be blue today, though. Our outdoor days may be coming to a quick and decisive end. 
Sadly, October in the UK does not mean the riot of colour it does in Michigan. At least not in London! Facebook is becoming a graphic fix for me. Pumpkins and leaves and ghosts, oh my!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oxford Pop

My stint in London semi-permanently didn't last very long.
I'm pulling into Oxford via coach now...and will be here for a whopping three hours. Nothing like Sunday morning business meetings to make the weekend!
The 2014 Class of Marshall Scholars have elected their secretary. Since the 2011, 2013, and 2014 secretaries are all based in Oxford, I lose on the location game and it makes lots of sense to come to them. So here I be. 
Conveniently, I've arranged a meeting to plan the Jerusalem Youth Chorus' activities in Oxford during their tour as well. Making the trip a wee bit more worthwhile! Not that the coach ride to Oxford isn't worth it in and of itself...ha!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ahh, London

It is slowly sinking in that I actually live in London. 
For the first six-plus weeks, I was in and out of town so much - trotting off to Edinburgh, Norwich, Oxford, Cambridge - that I'm not sure my brain actually grasped the basic reality that I was living in London, instead of that being just another of the cities I was visiting. 
But the morning routine, and this particular neighbourhood, and meetings at uni are all starting to become properly normal. And I think, perhaps, I can now say with no small amount of shame/hesitation/irony...I'm an adopted Londoner. 

Oh glory.