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#Qatar2022 Adventures

January 17th, 2014
Flight from Doha -> Washington D.C. -> Syracuse

Next Stop: Doha, Qatar!! #FrankieDiaries #EdventuresInQatar

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I am still struggling to accept what happened in the past three weeks, having been in a coma on this plane for the past 10 hours definitely does not help. I guess I will try to clear things up as I talk & verbalize my feelings:

As you might or might have not known, I was volunteering in South Africa over winter break. It was definitely the most life-changing 2 weeks of my life. After saying bye to the volunteers and the kids, I headed to Doha, Qatar for the 2022 Women’s Soccer Challenge competition.

Just to give you some background information, Qatar is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and they sent out a brief, through EdVentures Partners to 33 selected US and Canadian universities, to encourage Qatari girls between the ages of 6 and 17, to play football (soccer). At the same time, the research and strategy need to take the Qatari cultural sensitivities into consideration, as well as the Qatar 2030 National Vision, which ranges from human to economic development for Qatar.

When I received this brief back in September 2013, I really considered requesting for another brief. Really, though, where was I gonna start to do any kind of research? How can I possibly assemble the right information for this “Impossible Brief,” as I called it throughout the semester?

Time flew by, and the team had a lot of bumps along the road. As a 5-person team consisting all seniors with no faculty supervision and minimum resources, I couldn’t even imagine being in Qatar. Even though I was impressed by our first round of submission, I had no faith in placing as one of the top 3 finalists at the time…until December 22nd, the day before we were supposed to find out about the top 3 finalists, when I received an email from the EdVentures Partners Account Manager asking me to confirm the team’s availability to travel to Qatar IF we were in the top 3. This email was such a surprise as I was on the couch and drinking wine. I immediately called my teammates, telling them that we had been placed in the top 5 and the final notification would come in the next day.

The next 27 hours were torture! While the email, sent at 9pm, said that the decision would be made in the next 24 hours, it wasn’t till 11pm the next day that I received the only email (so far) that had made me scream so loud in public. I could not get off of my phone because I was too busy calling my teammates, my parents, and posting on every social media outlet possible.

When I was flying to Doha on Qatar Airways, I guess I did not really take the time to fully accept this opportunity I was fortunate enough to have to go explore yet another country. It was not until when I landed and was transported from the airport to the W Hotel in a BMW that I had fully realized how amazing this was. All paid for hotel, meals, transportation, and most importantly an opportunity to see such a fascinating country before the world sees it in 2022.

With about 90% of the nation’s population living in its capital, Doha, you can clearly see how rapid the country is evolving. While the central business district area is filled with skyscrapers, areas around the central business area are all under construction with amazing future plans such as the Qatar National Museum.

The Doha skyline view from dinner tonight. I'm spoiled. #PrincessDiaries #EdventuresInQatar #Qatar2022

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Eating lunch at 360 on top of The Torch, Doha at the Aspire Academy, having dinner on a boat on the Persian Gulf, and going on a desert safari, Doha was nothing but a paradise to me. Everyday was so planned out with three-meal courses for lunch & dinner, three hours apart starting after a breakfast buffet. Q22 stands for gaining 22 pounds in Qatar!

Carrie Bradshaw may take Abu Dhabi, but real princesses take #Doha. #PrincessDiaries #EdventuresInQatar #Qatar2022

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While the fun parts are very fun, we went to Doha for the Q22 Women’s Soccer Challenge advertising competition. During the week, we would get home from all the fun activities at 10pm and would start working on perfecting the presentation until 1 or 2am while we would have to wake up at 7 for another day of activities.

Lunch at The Torch, the tallest building in Doha, Qatar. #EdventuresInQatar #PrincessDiaries

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The @aspirezoneqa Dome seen from The Torch Doha. #EdventuresInQatar #PrincessDiaries

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No sleep + stress + trying to have fun = recipe for the most memorable week I’ve ever had in my life. By the time presentation day came, the team and I had already passed the point of being nervous. Between ironing my shirt and pants, having lunch with the judges and some professors who will be sitting in the audience, and having last run-throughs, I couldn’t find time to be nervous about standing on a stage and giving a pitch to an audience of supposedly 100 people.

The overall experience is indescribable. I can’t seem to find the appropriate vocab in my brain to properly describe the scenery I saw while I was there… I truly had one of the most amazing weeks of my life. Many people have asked me if I personally believe that Qatar is ready to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup…the amount of resources and energy the Qatari government puts into investing the growth of the country as well as its citizens is truly astonishing. One does not simply envision where Qatar will be in 2022, so my answer is yes; if Qatar can’t do it, I don’t believe any other country can.

The Museum of Islamic Art, same designer of @NewhouseSU I. #EdventuresInQatar #PrincessDiaries

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Even sunsets are better here in Doha. #EdventuresInQatar #Qatar2022

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Doha, I will come back. Watch me. #Qatar2022 #EdventuresInQatar

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Thanks to these lovely people for taking @syracuseu team all the way to FIRST PLACE HERE AT #Qatar2022!!!!

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school starts today…blah

#PrincessDiaries

ps. I tweeted out that last picture the second we found out that we had won the competition…little did I know that it became the “official” picture that was included in all of the press releases. If I had known, I would have photoshopped my face a little. ugh.

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Volunteering Finale – Positive Influence

As tears run down my face on the drive away from Ikhayalethemba, I began to wonder about my life and my purpose here in South Africa. When I first signed up for this opportunity, I was determined to expand my horizon and my perspective; little did I know that my entire life’s been changed forever.

There’s this one kid whom I grew extremely close to in the past 2 weeks. We will call him Nick. He was not behaving well this morning when we were doing “circle time” where we sit around in a circle and sing songs together, so I refused to read books to him. Oh, the things I’d give up for another chance to read Franklin stories or have him sit in my lap and sing Tiny Tim the Turtle.

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How do I just move on to the rest of my life without seeing these angels who’ve been my entire life for these past two weeks? How do I persuade myself to not drop everything I have and just stay here with these kids forever because I’ve grown to love them so much? How do I continue to go on with my days without hearing their innocent laughters throughout Ikhayalethemba?

I know I shouldn’t focus on the things that I will lose, but accepting the fact that I literally will not be able to see these kids’ angelic smiles again is a knife to my heart.

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I looked back as they waved goodbye. Because we are not allowed to take pictures of the children, I want to try as hard as I can to remember their faces forever.

However, I can’t begin to hope for the same for them. At the end of the day, it’s not my face or my name that I want them to remember. It’s the colors that we’ve learned, the alphabets and the numbers, and how to write their names that will really advance them with their lives. I just hope that I have made a positive influence on their lives; that would be the most rewarding thing in the world.

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xoxo,

#PrincessDiaries

ps. I had butterfly face paint on while I was crying on the ride home. I looked so ridiculous. 

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Volunteering Pt. 3 – Weekend in Cape Town

January 5th, 2013

Cape Town, South Africa

Oh My God. Just got home from such an amazing weekend in Cape Town. I’m going to try to break down this huge journal into three parts: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:

January 3rd

The ride to Cape Town was only about 45 minutes long, but I still managed to fall asleep, haha! We stayed at a hostel called Ashanti, which is basically a hipster/youngnians’ dream hotel. It has high ceilings, fun décor, and an amazing bar. Even though my friends and I did not get to stay in the same room (because it is THAT popular!), I still enjoyed my stay very, very much.

We walked down by the Companies Garden to downtown Cape Town, and stopped by a really nice bar called Twenky’s Bar. Our afternoon plans of exploring Cape Town were stopped by liquor drinks, food, and free wi-fi.

Downtown Cape Town isn’t that big, but there are tons of places to explore and to walk. Time flew by when we were there, so we headed back to the hostel to freshen up for fancy dinner plans.

Mama Africa was super amazingly delicious!

I tried the lamb curry, which was actually the very first thing I saw on the menu, and I definitely would get it again and again if I ever go back! Live music, great décor, and friendly staff, Mama Africa was an amazing restaurant located right on Long Street. With a big, big dinner and a few liquor drinks after having played with the kids in the morning, Bry went back to the hostel to chill out at the bar before passing out.

January 4th

We walked around downtown Cape Town some more before meeting up with other volunteers who are staying at another hostel. We went to the Greenmarket where there’s a lot of bracelets and other souvenirs to choose from. As first time tourists here, we did not know how to bargain with the people on the price. I bought a bracelet that was 40 Rand, but later I saw another market selling it for 20. 40 Rand is about 4 dollars in the U.S., so I am not super bummed, but I wish I had fought harder haha! I hope he enjoyed the extra 20 Rand…

At noon, the paragliding company called and said that the mist had gone and we’re going to fly!! We took a cab to Signal Hill, and the entire ride there, my heart was pounding like crazy. I hate heights, and I hate losing control of where I am, so I honestly don’t even know why I signed up for paragliding. When the first out of four volunteers went up, my heart was pounding even faster (I’m surprised I didn’t get a heart attack!!)!! However, once we went up into the air, I felt like nothing else mattered. The world was so small compared to the ocean and the mountains, and I felt so free for once. However, the wind was so strong that I could not keep my eyes open. I couldn’t stop crying either, so in all of the pictures that were taken while we were up there, I looked like a mess – that’s why they will only be in my iPhoto and not shared anywhere else.

In the afternoon, we took a cab to Waterfront, a recently developed area (from what I saw) close to city center. The craft market and the food market were absolutely amazing! I can’t believe I thought I would survive with only $100 here in Cape Town for 2 weeks. I bought another bracelet there and some souvenir for friends and family. South African art and craft absolutely amaze me – while I think what I saw was really stereotypical and touristy, it was definitely one of the best parts of my weekend. The art is just breathe-taking as the color use is so different yet so fascinating.

January 5th

Sunday fun-day, we went on a tour with Bazbus, and we toured Seal Island, Cape Point, and Cape of Good Hope with them (along with a 5K bike ride but we will not talk about how that one time Bryan carried his bike uphill and fell on his a*s right when he was finishing up).

If you want to look at the amazingly beautiful pictures, which we both know that you do, go check out my Instagram: @bchou1234!!!

Okay free wi-fi is up now. Bye.

xoxo

(OMG Qatar in 5 days)

#PrincessDiaries 

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Volunteering Pt. 2 – I’m in love with South Africa

December 31st, 2013

Ikhayalethemba

 

Second day at the orphanage is also the very last day of 2013!!

 

Every morning, we always start with Circle Time, where we bring all the kids into a classroom and sing for about an hour. Some children could barely speak English but could sing all the songs perfectly. All of the songs involve some sort of dancing, and the faces on these kids when they did all the moves correctly were just pure joy and pride.

 

The “teachas” decided that we would go with the “flying” theme this week, so we made paper kites with the children today. I have about three kids in my class, and they are always so energetic. “Teacha! Teacha! Me! Me!” They couldn’t sit down and draw on their papers because they were so excited about absolutely everything, so I took the Disney princess stickers out, and oh my God did they love them. They all went crazy for the princesses! We decorated their papers with some more coloring and some stickers (even though they mostly put the stickers on their faces… it was soooo cute!), and I started making the kites for them. They were so confused at first then the kites were just laying on the ground, but when the breeze came and the kites went up, their faced turned into bright happiness as if nothing else in the world mattered to them at the moment. They stared at the kites as they kept on going up, and all of a sudden they started screaming “TEACHA! TEACHA! LOOK AT ME!” as they ran down the field showing off their kites to all of the other volunteers.

 

They appreciated such a simple and small thing in life to an extent that I could have never imagined, so why m I here craving for free wifi right now?

 

Traveling on a backpack and a small suitcase, I started to realize that my perspective has been changed… I wonder what life would have been like if I had been brought up at this orphanage, and one of the children was brought up by my parents? I haven’t done anything else but simply staying alive for the past 22 years to deserve an iPad Air for my birthday, so why am I living in such a different world than these kids? Why do I get to eat a hamburger whenever I want to yet these kids are surviving off of people’s donations?

 

I will never be able to answer these questions.

 

*breaths deeply*

#PrincessDiaries

 

Ps. went absolutely #WhiteGirlWasted for New Year’s Eve & kissed a 70-year-old lady at the bar last night. Wha?