college

Running with thirst busters to Sabino Canyon in Tucson, Arizona

sabino canyon

[Photo credit: Charles Miles on Flickr]

“What the… Did you see that, honey? Those two boys were running with large fountain drinks in their hands? They looked like high schoolers. I wonder why they’re in such a hurry that they have to run with their sodas! That’s so strange. Guess kids are different these days than when we were kids, huh honey?”

“Yes, honey, times are different now. Everyone’s always on the run nowadays.”

That’s the type of conversation that most likely occurred on Tuesday afternoon while my friend Andrew and I were running to Sabino Canyon.

On Monday, Andrew asked if I wanted to run a trail or two in Sabino Canyon this week since it was finals week and we had lots of free time. I replied with enthusiasm,

“Yeah! I miss running in the mountains! But neither of us have a car and I don’t have a bike?”

“That’s okay. I heard the bus runs close by so we could take it and then jog to the base.”

“Okay! I’ll figure it out and let you know.” I said, trying my best to hide my initial skepticism with this whole bus idea.

I figured out the bus routes and we headed out on our adventure Tuesday afternoon around 4.

After waiting for about 20 minutes at the bus stop near Del Taco on a street called Broadway, we hopped on and our journey began. We took the bus as close to Sabino Canyon as we could and managed to put ourselves approximately six miles from our destination.

We ran the six miles at slow pace- probably 10 min/mile pace and enjoyed the run there.

About a mile from the canyon, our mouths were as dry as the desert dust we decided to take a pit stop at the Circle K(local convenience store) and hydrate ourselves with Gatorade. Obviously we grabbed the largest drink size, which happened to be 44oz, filled up our cups, paid the 84 cents and jumped back on the road to finish our victory mile.

Even though we had these large 44oz styrofoam cups filled with green and orange Gatorade, we awkwardly ran with them and battled out the pain in our quads to finish the last 1609 meters.

Then we saw it. We saw this:

sabino canyon area

 

[Photo courtesy of Google Image Search]

“YES! We finally made it!” I yelled out feeling triumphant. Then we took a short break before disappearing onto the beautiful dirt trails of Sabino Canyon.

I inhaled the smell of mesquite and paloverde trees and let nature fill me with fresh air. Stones scattered on the surface of the trail made contact with my feet as we trailed along the paths. I love this feeling. The only thing I heard was the pounding of our feet as we zoomed in around around bushes, over beds of rocks and through arches of trees.

We ran for about 30 minutes before heading back to the entrance of the recreation area where Andrew’s parents met us to pick us up. I felt thankful we had chosen this time and day to run because his parents had just arrived to Tucson to move him out and were conveniently in the area. We headed back to the university and that concluded our adventure.

If you’re ever in Tucson, Arizona, I highly recommend checking out Sabino Canyon! It’s a beautiful area and there are multiple paths to choose from for hiking, running or biking 🙂 Feel free to share any thoughts or comments below!

Learning to Tango in Tucson

ice rink

[Photo Courtesy of Google Images]

Leading with your chest, you decide where to take your partner. Imagine you’re standing on an ice rink but without skates. You lead your partner across the ice by taking steps followed sliding your feet while keeping your chests at the same distance as you move. Your partner follows your every move and you glide to the beat as one.

Last night, I learned how to tango. The basics, to be specific and it was my first time every.

From what I’ve learned in my classes, Tango originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina before the 19th century. Depressed men wrote tango songs about their misery, melancholy, loss of dreams, loneliness, love for their mothers and other related topics. The dance itself is a ton of fun and today, exists all around the world.

I had witnessed tango live in Argentina many times and in one of my classes at my university but this was the first I was actually learning it.

I went with a few friends from U of A to a place called Maker House, which is, “a new collaborative artisan, maker, education, tech, and gathering space that opened in the Downtown Tucson Arts District Tech Corridor in the fall of 2013.” It’s super cool! The advisor for the Honors College Ambassadors invited us because he was guest leading the tango lesson and it was free! I brought mate and it was almost like we were back in Buenos Aires. 

I wanted to share this experience because I enjoyed learning to tango and thought you would too! It’s a prominent aspect of Argentine culture and anyone can learn it! Here’s a video teaching the basics, the same basics we learned last night!

Have you ever tangoed before? If not, are there any dances you have learned and would recommend? 🙂

You can’t leave every battle victorious but you can leave with something

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Whether you’re applying for a scholarship to study abroad, a job at a new company, or a position within a club or organization, the truth is you won’t always win. Yes, this advice sounds familiar since we’ve all heard it before but this is a positive friendly reminder that even though the results may not end in our favor, we’ll always leave with one thing: experience 🙂

Last week, I experienced rejection and was reminded of this lesson.

Near the end of February, I applied to a prestigious club for seniors devoted to preserving the welfare of my university. As expected, the process was an arduous one. On Thursday last week, they announced the 13 members selected for next year. Mine wasn’t one of them.

I left that evening feeling frustrated and disappointed. I thought everything had gone well. I thought I had a chance! I thought I would leave with that triumphant feeling one feels after battling for five thousand kilometers to cross the finish line before the other runners. Instead, I felt empty.

But then pace of my black dress shoes slowed as if they saw a red sign approaching. I stopped.

I thought to myself, “Wait, a second. I may not be leaving as a new member for next year but I am leaving with something and that something is experience.”

Thanks to this process, I now have more experience writing a personal statement, being interviewed, specifically by 13 people at once, mixing with other applicants and getting to know people. All of this experience will prepare for the next position or job or scholarship that I apply for in the future. It’s all about taking risks and learning from your mistakes!

The next time you consider applying for a job, a scholarship or to a club or organization, don’t hesitate and go for it! Even if the chances are against you and you don’t end up winning the battle, you won’t leave empty handed 🙂

Sharing Arizonian culture with SUSI exchange students from South America

joel vega y thomas de bolivia y peru

[Photo of Thomas on the left and Joel on the right from cultural presentation]

Tomorrow, Joel and Thomas, two new friends, along with 18 other exchange students from South America will head to the East Coast to and to Washington D.C. for two weeks after having spent the last three weeks learning about the culture in Arizona and attending classes here at the University of Arizona.

The 20 students are participating in a program called SUSI(Study of the U.S. Institutes) for Student Leaders. They come from Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay and range in age from 18-26. None of them knew each other before coming here and they all come from different places.  The programs are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with the purpose to “promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars.” The University of Arizona regular hosts these programs twice a year. The students visited Nogales, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and a few other parts of Arizona, I believe.

I happened to find the opportunity by chance during winter break when I received an email from one of the directors of the program here at the U of A who was looking for mentors. I remembered I had signed up for the Latin American Undergraduate email list and that was the reason the email landed in my inbox.

I received a spot as a mentor and was paired with Joel from Bolivia and Thomas from Peru for the three weeks that they spent here at the U of A.

We hung out together a few times in Tucson, maybe once or twice a week. I introduced them to friends here one night and brought them to my dorm one evening to show them what it’s like living on campus.

My favorite part was showing them around Phoenix last weekend. Since my car is broken, my dad let us drive his Polaris Ranger. I brought them to my high school and my elementary school and also around that neighborhood to show them where I grew up as a kid. I think they really enjoyed it because they could compare what they saw in movies to real life and see what an “American” high school and elementary school actually look like.

I also introduced them to Arizona burritos(an extremely delicious fast-food burrito from Federico’s), horchata(a sweet drink made of rice), AND Girl Scout cookies-specifically “Thin Mints” that take your tastebuds to heaven. My mouth waters just thinking about pulling one out of the freezer at home and munching on it-MMMM!

From participating in this program as a mentor, from my own experiences and from what I’ve learned at the university, I have realized that the media misrepresents the United States and other countries around the world, which is why first-hand cultural experience is so important and valuable. By learning about a culture for ourselves, we deconstruct the generalizations and presumptions that we hold within ourselves as a result of listening to the media, or one story.

I hope the U of A continues to host these types of exchange programs so I can contribute to improving the cultural experience for the students to come. I also recommend to anyone, student or non-student, to check out the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs website because there several ways to get involved with these programs or to even visit another country as the exchange student. It’s a great way to open up your mind and even learn a little bit more about your culture and yourself 🙂

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From a cold email to an internship in the heart of San Francisco

My journey with Verbling started almost two years ago when I sent this cold email, hoping to find a job working for this amazing language learning platform. Tomorrow, I set off for California to start my month-long internship with the company next week. I hope this blog post inspires you to let go of the fear of rejection or failure, and pursue a job related to your passions.

Screenshot 2013-05-15 at 11.29.16 PM

 

(Click to enlarge)

I had used the website a few times to practice my Spanish with people from Colombia, Mexico and Peru. I LOVED the idea of Verbling- connecting native speakers with language learners-and I wanted to be a part of the team. Not thinking twice, I quickly wrote up this email and sent it to a jobs link not knowing what exactly would happen. It wasn’t until January of 2012 when I received a response from one of the co-founders. By that time, I had completely forgotten about the email I had sent during the first semester of my last year in high school.

I couldn’t believe it. I thought certainly it was a mistake. One of the co-founders of Verbling, Jake, wanted to Skype with me, an average high school kid?

I replied back with more excitement than a little kid visiting Disneyland for the first time. After I Skyped him, he offered me a job as an administrator on the website. I didn’t sleep for the next two weeks.

Life seemed too good to be true. I felt giddy as can be at the fact that I was getting paid to work with the engineers and speak Spanish and English with people from all over the world. Right then, I knew I had the most awesome job in the world. I became so passionate about language learning and learning about other cultures. I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be and that my desire was to make this company succeed.

After a few months, I hired a few friends from high school, which grew into the administration team that I lead. We were a great team. There were 7 of us and we were fantastic. We made sure the site was working properly and kept the Verbling community safe for all the users.

Then in November, I moved up to start teaching English. I felt so grateful to be given the opportunity to teach. I fell in love with it and it hit me! Whatever I end up doing after I graduate from college, teaching will be involved. It’s such a rewarding experience to teach and inspire students who are thirsty for knowledge. Languages are my passion and my job allows me to earn money for sharing that passion. I feel extremely appreciative.

Tomorrow, I begin a new path in my voyage with such an amazing team-an internship right in the heart of San Francisco at Verbling. I will fly out of Phoenix and into Laguna Niguel to spend a day with my family before heading to San Francisco on Friday. On Monday, I will start my first day working as an intern at Verbling. I cannot explain the joy and excitement built up inside of me to be able to participate in the early stages of a company that will change language-learning education forever.  It wouldn’t even be possible with the generous monetary award I have been granted by the University of Arizona Honors College. After I return from Argentina, I will share my experience with others at the university because I want to give advice and tell stories that will encourage others to embark on similar journeys.

I decided to write this post because most people don’t know how I ended up where I am. They think I got lucky. However, that’s not the case. I took a leap of faith and sent a “cold email,” not knowing where it would lead and here I am- about to embark on a month-long learning experience in San Francisco. This is my story that I have created for myself. Now it’s time for you to create yours.