At the beginning of this summer I thought I was going to have a lot of time off to do tons of sedentary (but necessary) things like, say, watch every episode of Adventure Time, or, sleep for multiple days in a row. However, it turned out to be the exact opposite- and while I am a little sad I still haven’t got to enjoy a nice Adventure Time marathon on Netflix in a while, I have been having the time of my life.
This past week was really busy and crazy but also extremely fun and eye-opening and worth it. On early Sunday morning, me and some of my friends from LA decided to road trip up to Lake Tahoe and go camping for a few days. At first, I was hesitant to go because I didn’t believe the 8 hour drive up to Northern California would be worth it- I mean, I can go camping just about anywhere and get the same experience, right? WRONG. Tahoe was so beautiful and so worth the road trip (and hey, a road trip is pretty fun in and of itself).
The second day, we hiked 9 MILES with a 4,000 foot elevation gain all the way to the tippy top of Mount Tallac. Although we struggled the whole way up, the amazing view from the top was well, well worth it.
And on the third day, we took it easy before our long road trip back to LA and hiked a short mile to a breathtaking site at Fallen Leaf Lake that I swear should be used as a default screensaver on all the latest technological devices.
And the pictures I took do not give this absolutely gorgeous place justice. At the end of the trip, I couldn’t believe I had doubted going! Being a first-timer to Northern California and to Tahoe- I’d have to say although my heart will always be in Southern California, I guess the other half of the state is pretty cool and amazing, too. I mean, it IS still California.
BUT- my week isn’t over yet. After getting back home on Tuesday night, I unloaded all my smelly camping clothes from my backpack, took a shower after being sweaty and dirty for the past few days, and completely switched gears and repacked my backpack with my nicest business-casual attire. On Wednesday I traveled to my next stop all the way on the East Coast AKA the other side of the country- Washington, DC for a Teach For America Rising Leaders Fellowship Summit (where I stayed in a hotel and not a tent)!
I had an absolutely amazing time in DC for the summit. As a Teach For America Rising Leaders Fellow, I (and other super awesome and inspiring fellows from all over the country) create a plan to help fight educational inequity. Then I get paired with a mentor in my area that will provide me with help along the way as I’m enacting my plan. At the summit we got to meet and network with some people doing really amazing things in the education world and I, being super interested in everything education-related, was thrilled. The fellows also shared our plans with each other and helped one another create action steps to determine exactly what we needed to do to either get our projects started or to keep them going. These few days were so motivating and inspiring, I cannot even begin to explain how lucky and determined I felt throughout the whole trip (kind of like I can’t explain how awesome Tahoe was through just the pictures, haha).
Anyway, I had a super fun few days. On Wednesday, I traveled and slept. The 6-hour flight/ layover and 3-hour time difference didn’t allot for much else.
On Thursday, I woke up early and met one of my sorority sisters who just happens to live in DC (sorority sisters/ UCLA students really are, literally, everywhere) for breakfast which was awesome because since she knew the area, she knew where to take me and we got amazingly delicious home-made bakery pop-tarts that, like Tahoe and the conference, cannot be given justice through words or pictures- everyone just NEEDS to try them if they are ever in DC. After, I visited the Capitol building since it was nearby and felt like a tourist.
Then I headed back to the hotel to check-in to the conference, where we heard some great motivational welcome speeches and went to dinner in groups to different places around DC, where I tried Mediterranean food for the first time!
On Friday, we had a super long day! In the morning we broke off into groups and did site visits to various education-related places around DC- I got to visit the coolest charter school called CentroNia. I won’t go too much into detail about the place on here, but every person who is interested in education and schools NEEDS to check this amazing place out. Then we did some workshops and had dinner in different places around DC again, and met up as a group after to visit all of the monuments at night! They were, of course, beautiful and unreal and breathtaking. Here’s a picture I took of the Lincoln Memorial!
On Saturday, we did some closing workshops, listened so some more motivating and inspiring speakers and said our goodbyes. Although most people had flights they had to catch soon after the conference, me and a couple other fellows from California decided to squeeze in one last tourist-y adventure to Georgetown Cupcakes before we went to the airport. Let’s just say, I now understand why this place gets its own television show. My classic red velvet cupcake was everything I wanted and more to end this lovely week of new places, adventure, and self-discovery.