Last week, I set off on another two month summer adventure and may likely be MIA from this blog in the midst of everything. Here’s what I’ve planned…
Stop 1: Austin, Texas
Thanks to the big move to Kyrgyzstan in mid-August, my sister and I had the grand idea to meet up some place cool before then since she lives out in Charleston, South Carolina. Luckily, she picked Austin and I couldn’t have been more gung-ho. We just spent about 4 days in this liberal bubble of Texas and we relished checking out the street art, chowing down on tacos and BBQ, seeing friends, and hitting up San Antonio for a day to see the Alamo and stroll the Riverwalk there. One of the highlights was getting to go to a Buc-ee’s stop! If you haven’t heard of this Texas institution, please read the Yelp reviews here. They’re hilarious and right on the money.
Stop 2: St. Petersburg, Russia
Back in 2014, I traveled to Moscow. St. Petersburg, and then on to Sochi for the Olympics as part of my Master’s dissertation research. In Sochi, I met a few international Olympic volunteers who motivated me to pursue getting involved in the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup venture. This resulted in a trip to St. Petersburg to volunteer at the Russia 2018 World Cup Preliminary Draw for a week in the middle of other European travel that following 2015 summer. Why stop there? In mid-June, I’ll be returning to St. Petersburg to volunteer at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. St. Petersburg is one of four Russian cities hosting this World Cup warm-up tournament for the winners of various major tournaments worldwide. Here’s to hoping I’ll be back in Moscow in December for the final (pool) draw for the actual World Cup next summer.
Stop 3: Washington, D.C.
Very much looking forward to being back in a city I’m so familiar with! In April, I was selected as one of three facilitators/trainers/trip leaders for the US State Department-funded Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program. Implemented by the NPO, Legacy International, this program brings 36 US Riyadh Embassy-selected Saudi university students to the US to develop and foster leadership and entrepreneurial skills. We will also have a group of three American university students with us as Cultural Ambassadors to aid in their experience. The other globally-minded leaders and I will be leading a series of workshops, seminars, and city excursions before a group of these students head to either Pittsburgh, Austin, or Blacksburg, VA (Where those Hokies at?!) for a community immersion week. There, students will do a weekend homestay and get involved in the start-up communities. Finally, we’ll all return to DC for an Innovation Summit with Impact Hub and a plethora of international organizations for students to pitch their social enterprise projects. The student groups will aim to win funding in order to start building their projects back home in Saudi Arabia.
Stop 4: New Mexico
With time running out before my departure from the US, my parents and I opted to plan a trip to the Southwest to explore some cool national parks, such as Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands, while taking in vibrant cities like Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. I’m most excited about finding some hidden swimming holes and potentially visiting Roswell. After about a week road tripping around New Mexico, I’ll head back to the Seattle-Tacoma area for a couple more weeks prior to take-off for Kyrgyzstan!
Ideally, on the side, I’ll be prepping my American University of Central Asia course syllabi, working to find new projects and opportunities for Big Spoons, and serving up travel recs in the process via my social media accounts. Enjoy your summer, get some sunshine, refresh when you can, and I’ll be back towards the end of August!