Dominique and I just got back from a great trip to NYC! After a fabulous few days, our plane landed in Austin almost a year to the day I turned in my Peace Corps application. We spent a lot of time just walking around soaking up the city, sitting in parks people watching and drinking coffee, and eating, eating, eating. It was what I needed. Our friends, Chris and Daniel, live up off 171st St. (near Columbia) so every place we went was quite a trek from where we were staying, but oh it was so nice to have a free place to stay! We went to Chinatown and saw where Mary and I got on the Chinatown bus back to Philly after our long day in the city, we sat in Central Park and went to Strawberry Fields, at one point we sat on a bench that was in the median on Broadway and were chased away by a rat that was hanging out in the flowerbed behind us... ewwwwwww.
One of my favorite things was getting tickets to see a film at the Tribeca Film Festival. We had bought tickets to see the documentary winner, a movie about Andy Warhol and his life in New York, but after getting on the subway at 8 am on Saturday morning and making it to the Tribeca area after about an hour of traveling, we found out that that movie had been moved to an evening slot. They had decided to show the runner up, "We are Together (Thina Simunye)".. a documentary about a children's orphanage in South Africa. Most of the children taken in by "Grandma" (the woman who at one time was an HIV/AIDS counselor for women) had nowhere to go... their parents and siblings had for one reason or another been unable to care for them (some had died of AIDS). A guy from England (who turned out to be the director) spent a summer volunteering with them, made connections with the kids, and went home changed so much, he decided to make a documentary to tell their story and follow the making of a CD (of the children singing traditional Zulu songs). It turns out the CD has been finished (I'm ordering my copy today) and so far they have made enough money off of it to renovate the orphanage completely and to make room for even more children. Now all proceeds are going towards the educational funds of the children... Grandma wants them to stay with her as long as they need to in order to complete their schooling.. and schooling isn't free. Every time they sang in the movie I got goosebumps and teared up, it was that moving. At the end of the movie there was a question and answer session with the producer (where I found out a lot of the information I've passed on in this email) and he informed us that the children were in NYC and that they were going to be performing at the family street festival Dominique and I had planned on going to. We saw them sing live and it was incredible. At the end of their performance, they each walked up to the microphone, introduced themselves, and stated what they wanted to be when they grew up. The answers? A social worker, a policeman, an actress, the president of South Africa (yep, a young woman said that), and a singer were among them. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen.
And then the story gets even more interesting.... yesterday I got my invitation for the Peace Corps and I have been invited to go to South Africa. There's a chance that I will be placed in the very same area that the Agape orphanage is in (if so, I will so be visiting!). I'm going to call them today or tomorrow and accept.... once I accept I must fill out passport and visa paperwork, read through my handbook, and quit my job!!!! According to the information I got, I will be leaving July 16th for an East Coast city and some orientation, and then on the 19th I'll be flying out for my host country. July 19th-September 13th (Bronnie's 21st birthday) I'll be in training, living with a host family, and then right after that I start my 2 years of service. Woohoo! I'm excited... I think it's going to be awesome.