American University Alternative Break: Manual

During my time as Student Coordinator for Alternative Break at American University (a program that plans service-learning trips), I realized a major gap in the success of the program. Many students were interested in attending the trips but not very interested in remaining involved in the program once they returned. We called this aspect: reorientation.

In order to close this gap and create a more cohesive program, I combined my passion for service-learning with my communications skills to create a Reorientation Manual. This manual walks Student Leaders through the Reorientation Process and gives them practical resources to encourage their participants to remain involved.

To ensure that students would use this resource, I re-formatted the 20-page document into a Google Drive folder divided into sections so everything was easy to find and accessible.

The manual proved successful as almost every single trip this year (eight out of 10 trips) planned and executed a reorientation event compared to only three out of 14 trips that did so last year.

Also, due to the success at our school, this manual will now be used Nation-Wide across other universities Alternative Break programs.

Here is a glimpse into the manual ,

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American University Alternative Break: Event Planning

During my time as a Student Coordinator for Alternative Break at American University (a program that plans service-learning trips), I was responsible for the marketing of our annual event – Active Citizen Day. A day-long conference to train students on activism and hear from trip participants about their experiences.

The marketing plan for Active Citizen Day was simple, meet students where they are. I created an invitation with all the information that a student would need in one place. Conclusion: college students are lazy, you can’t expect them to seek out information.

First, I sent the invitation to an email list that I created of relevant professors, community members and interested students. I also posted these invitations all over campus and gave them to professors to handout during class. Lastly, I made a Facebook event page where students could be reminded of the event and be updated with new information like panelists, food vendors (the important stuff) and guest speakers.

Here were the invitations,

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Boys Town DC: Public Relations Portfolio

For my Public Relations Portfolio class we were assigned a nonprofit client to work with throughout the year. We assisted in whatever communications needs they requested.

Our client was Boys Town DC.

The first ask was to create a logo for their 25th anniversary using their National Brand Guidelines. Here is what I created,

Washington, DC

Second, I was on the graphics team where we were asked to create compelling graphics for a week-long event on the American University campus. The goal was to raise money and spread awareness for Boys Town DC. We succeeded – raising over $2,000 from college students.

This is some of what I contributed,

Handouts to pass out in coffee shops and in dining halls across campus.

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Social media posts about each event that was happening, all were shared on Twitter and Facebook.pr-portfolio-midterm.jpg

Overall: The biggest success was the idea of making physical handouts that were distributed across campus. Students at American University are inundated with social media posts about events so bringing our information to students – exactly where they were was crucial. Many students knew about Boys Town DC from strictly seeing the handouts rather than from our social media coverage.

The biggest hurdle to overcome was the nonprofits strict National Guidelines. We were restricted about what colors, fonts and images we could use. However, we managed to create content that was appealing to college students while pleasing the client.

 

 

 

 

 

Girls Empowering Girls

The first time I realized there was a holiday dedicated to the mere celebrate of women was when I was 10 years-old in Johannesburg, South Africa. I went to a local museum and was handed a white rose from the security guard. It’s my lucky day he told me. My face lit up with equal amounts of enthusiasm, confusion and honor. Lucky to be a woman, he said. What a remarkable sentence to tell a 10-year old.

Today, on March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day. We root loudly for the women who birthed us, raised us and empowered us. We also use this day as a reminder to root for ourselves too.

One of the greatest glimpses of life is to see women supporting each other. With no traces of envy. It’s a simple pleasure to watch women unapologetically root for each other in the most authentic fashion. Because your friend’s successes will never take away from your own. There is room on the pedestal of life for all of us.

It’s easy to live this life for yourself. It’s easy to aimlessly go throughout your day only keeping you in mind. But it’s another thing to constantly be the person that thinks of others first. To have generosity and kindness seep into every relationship and interaction. Today’s an opportunity to spread some love to others, to other women.

Today, I challenge you to do one of the following:

  • Text a woman you admire and tell her why.
  • Educate yourself on a remarkable woman in history you’ve never heard of before.
  • Compliment a woman you don’t know.
  • Hold the door open for a woman.
  • Go out of your way to schedule one-on-one time with a girlfriend. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them what they’re passionate about. Pull out the champagne and celebrate whatever tiny victory they have had lately.
  • Shop at a women-owned business. Washington, DC, here’s your list.
  • Surprise your best girlfriend with a gift and a note. A simple reminder that what they’re doing is beautiful and is right.
  • Try, for just one day, to have everything you say about other women be positive. Even if everyone around is saying otherwise.

Now, it’s time to celebrate.

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That’s all for now.

XOXO,

B

Travel Diary: New York City

I ran away to New York City this past weekend. And somehow, after living in Washington, DC for almost 4-years, I have never actually been to the big apple. I went once when I was 10-years-old but that doesn’t really count because all I was interested in was seeing was the American Girl store.

So, this weekend, the plan was to simply wander. My all-time favorite way to see a city. We wandered aimlessly from Chelsea to 5th Avenue to Soho. And we ate. A lot. We wandered around the Chelsea Market, drank spiked hot chocolate at a rooftop bar, skipped on the High Line, danced to live street music and ate Joe’s Pizza in the rain.

There wasn’t any reservations or plans. We just wandered.

*drum roll please*

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Here is my first ever Travel Diary. A hodgepodge of pictures, suggestions, Snapchats. Hopefully, the first of many.

 

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Washington Square Arch.

 

 

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Flat Iron.

 

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The coziest, most beautiful cafe called Maman. They even have Oprah’s favorite cookie here.

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More of Maman.

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Cha Cha Match. It’s worth the hype. And it’s cute. And the Matcha is good.

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Ordered an oat milk matcha latte with honey. Mmmmhm honey.

 

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Greasy New York Pizza from Joe’s.

 

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Joe’s Pizza with a side of rosé.

 

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The High Line.

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The High Line. An old train track turned into a park.

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Views from the High Line.

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I’ll most definitely be back soon New York.

That’s all for now,

XOXO,

B

It’s Time to Slow Down

In search of some creative agency and a chance to finally slow down, I ran away to New York City this weekend. Which may seem ironic to go to THE city of all cities to find slowness but nonetheless, I found it and I held on to it with every fiber of my being.

 

 

Admits wandering the city with absolutely no reservations, incredibly long meals and being tucked away in my friend’s apartment while it poured down rain, I was present. My mental state was craving to just slow down. To be in an environment where everyone was at peace with doing nothing. No to-do lists, no alarms, no pressure, no rants about what needed to get done. Just people invested in who and what was in front of them. 

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It’s sooooooo easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all, I mean how is it already March this week? Someone, please tell me what happened in February? I feel as if I was robbed of it.

Our culture feeds off being busy. We have romanticized the idea of running out of minutes in a day. We’ve glamorized the #nosleep life. And somewhere along the way we’ve convinced ourselves that the more you have on your calendar, the more accomplished you are.

And I am here to call bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

I want to bring back the art of slowing down. Make it a trend. Put it on Pinterest. Print it on t-shirts. Turn it into a hashtag.

#timetoslowdown

#slowingdownissexy

As a 20-something of the western world and as a college student, I have become inundated with the narrative that we are supposed to be on our “grind” right now. That being consumed with something at all hours is normal if not expected. That to work as many hours as humanly possible means we’ll reach “success” faster.

But I firmly believe that that’s a major fault or oversight of my generation and of my peers. We’ve been consumed with this idea that being busy is right. And being slow and having a relaxed schedule is lazy.

But we’ve forgotten that it’s in those moments where you have nothing planned and simply invested with what is right in front of you that life’s most remarkable moments happen. That happiness is found.

It’s not romantic to respond ‘busy’ when people want to spend time with you. And it surely is not romantic to consume yourself with school/work/internship/stuff that you forget to take care of your own mental wellbeing.

No homework assignment, no internship, no extracurricular activity is worth sacrificing your mental health let alone your ability to be present.

We’ve become obsessed with going and going and going that we forgot how to just be still.

We look at time as an opportunity to squeeze in as much as possible yet forget to evaluate the quality of how we spend our time.

And even if we are “out here grinding” (as the kids say these days), it is up to us to be intentional about seeking out those moments of stillness, of being present.

I need to remember to give myself permission to say no to extracurriculars, to extra meetings, to extra responsibilities. And instead, say yes to the things and people who make me excited about life. 

My goal for myself is to intentionally seek out the,

  • Three hour long dinners over life talks and red wine
  • Drinking my morning coffee out of an actual mug on my porch instead out of a to-go cup
  • Meditating
  • A full nights sleep
  • Long day-hikes with my best friends
  • Weekend adventures and long car rides
  • Sunset and sunrise viewing parties
  • Night walks to digest the day

I want to find the small moments of joy and just be. And maybe even shed a to-do list or two. It’ll all get done in time. This life is so short and is never a guarantee, it’d be a disservice to be too busy to enjoy it.

Don’t let busy win. Let’s make slowing down go viral.

 

That’s all for now,

XOXO,

B

 

 

February Intentions – Love Yourself

January is always a hard one. I mean yes, it’s alllllllll about starting over, about starting the year fresh and that’s amazing…But with all that good stuff comes a whole lot of pressure, the pressure to start the new year just right, to start the new year perfect. It’s (let’s be honest) a little bit overwhelming.

And if you’re anything like me, you might have let that pressure win in January. The holiday celebrations lasted a little bit longer than anticipated. Sooo many dang celebrations. I moved back to Washington, DC and let the busyness of life take over all aspects. I was busy packing. Busy unpacking. Busy starting new classes. Busy reconnecting with friends. I made excuses (to myself) for not going to yoga. And maybe forgot to workout for a week or two or maybe even longer. Oops. Like I said, I was busy.

There was a lot happening that life simply got the best of me. And before I knew it I was too focused on my to-do list that I forgot about my new year intentions.

And that’s okay. Because now we have February. 28 days to make up for the past 31.

And that’s why I like February. I l-o-v-e the month of February. It’s cute. And I’m a sucker for cute. It’s an entire 28-days filled with overpriced chocolate and Hallmark love stories. It’s a month full of cliches and more importantly, it’s a month where the pressure to be perfect, where the pressure to adhere to all your unrealistic resolutions don’t exist.

My mantra for February is to love my body and love myself, intentionally, ambitious, enthusiastically and confidently.

And my intentions follow that manta because consistency is the golden ticket to this thing that we call life,

February Intentions

  • Give your body some love and eliminate food that doesn’t serve you (sorry dairy, it’s time for a break unless you’re in the form of fancy cheese because cheese plates are love for the soul)
  • Turn off electronics at 10 pm (go to sleep earlier, get your zzz’s)
  • Drink more water
  • Go to one new spot in DC once a week, even if you go alone (make a list and start crossing off places you’ve always wanted to go)
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself
  • Trust your gut but also love your gut (start taking probiotics)
  • Write. Write. Write. (post weekly on the blog)
  • Practice yoga 3x/week

Keeping it simple this month. Sometimes you just need simple reminders to get yourself back on track. So, let’s all commit to treating ourselves right this month without all the “new year, new me” pressure.

That’s all for now,

 

XOXO,

B

The Not So Pretty Guide to Self-Care

Self-care or self-love isn’t always pretty.

I mean yes it’s pretty to take a bath on Sunday morning, drinking a matcha latte. Just like it’s pretty to read Rupi Kaur, eating an acai bowl sipping green tea. It’s pretty to eat cinnamon rolls in bed, popping champagne before noon. It’s pretty to stay in on a Friday night binge watching This is Us.

 

 

I do it. I love it. And I have no shame. You probably do it too.

We call it self-care (which it is) and we feel pretty damn good about it. We give ourselves a pat on the back. And no, there is nothing wrong with that.

But self-care is a little more than just Lush bath bombs and Anthropologie candles. It’s more than the aesthetically pleasing aspects of life. (**cue the big huge sigh)

So, let’s be real for a second. Just me and you.

Let’s finally talk about the self-care that doesn’t make the Instagram. Or the to-do lists. Or doesn’t actually take place because it’s not always fun or cute or exciting.

Self-love is facing the uncomfortable parts of life sometimes. The parts of growing up that we all love to ignore. The part that feels like dirty laundry; hidden, tucked away and sometimes ignored for days (weeks) at a time

The gynecology appointments, the dentist check-ups.

Doing your own taxes, learning to do your own taxes.

Removing your makeup before bed.

Packing your lunch the night before.

Spend time working to better your friendships. Don’t let them slip away so easily.

Getting yourself out of a toxic relationship. Or toxic friendship.

That’s really what self-care is all about. It’s about putting yourself first.

Refilling your prescriptions. Flossing your teeth. Consistently.

Finally not punishing your body by working out and instead finding a workout you *actually* enjoy.

Washing your sheets every other week. Separating your colors from your whites.

That’s self-care too.

What about that pap smear? That test (us ladies) are supposed to get after we turn 21-years old? Let’s schedule that appointment today.

Taking a break from alcohol because we all need a break from alcohol sometimes. Whether you’re 35 or 21, we all could benefit from taking a week or two or three off.

Drinking eight glasses of water a day.

Practicing consistency. In all parts of life.

Getting tested. The tests that everyone likes to joke about but no likes to actually partake in. The tests that we all like to pretend we don’t need because we’re invincible right? Let’s make those appointments too.

That’s all self-care.

And don’t get me wrong. I love to buy myself a $5 bouquet of light pink roses from Safeway and put a face mask on. But we need more than that. Self-love is about loving yourself which means taking care of ourselves. It’s not always pretty but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve it.

 

That’s all for now,

XOXO,

B

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