Week One as a Roadie!

You would think that after being involved with an organization for over four years, you would have a good grip on all the projects going on; I definitely learned a lesson in humility this week on just how much I still had to learn about the company I now work for, Invisible Children.  I am thrilled to now share some of that with you, but first let me tell you about living in a house in San Diego with 60 other full-time volunteers!

I arrived in beautiful, always 72 and sunny San Diego (it truly is!) last Sunday and had 60 new names and faces to memorize, as well as having to adjust to living out of a suitcase and in a room with 14 other guys; I had more space when I lived in my college dorm! It’s a good challenge though and it’s only for another 3 weeks which I will then be living out of a van and sleeping in stranger’s homes for 10 weeks.  The Roadie/Intern house is a 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath house at the top of a hill in La Mesa, CA and fits 60 people quite snuggly.  Our landlord and neighbors are saints who have a ton of grace and understanding, thankful that its only this packed for one month.

My teammates that I will be on the road with are Dale, Tracy, and Jaymie, plus Sunday and Lawrence, our two Ugandan teammates who will arrive next week along with 20 other Ugandan advocates.  We have already formed a great bond and are thankful that we are all Christians and will be able to come to one another for prayer and devotions (most, but not all roadies are Christian). We have been attending a local church together along with many other roadies.

The western sunsets have been remarkably beautiful, especially with the hills in the foreground.  I am really loving the geography here.  The mountains here are such a drastic contrast to the soggy plains of most of Florida.  Because of the surrounding hills, our house actually reminds me so much of the house in Freetown, Sierra Leone that I stayed in during my trip in 2007. We have also had a chance to take the trolly (!!!) to downtown San Diego and see the bay as well as a trip yesterday to Ocean Beach. (Click on panorama below for larger view of my new backyard!)

Tuesday was our first official day as full-time unpaid volunteers of Invisible Children, which started off with a most remarkable and inspiring welcome message from founder Jason “Radical” Russell.  We were also introduced to all of the department heads and their staff.  It’s crazy because in having been an advocate on the ground in Orlando for several years, I met about 9 sets of roadies; what’s more is that many of the current staff had been Deep South roadies at one time or another that visited Orlando.  In fact, off the top of my head I can count 6 former Deep South roadies who are still working for Invisible Children, just not necessarily as roadies.

Our training has been quite rigorous but we have all been sponges ready to soak it all in.  Like I said, I have been blown away by how little I knew before this week; or let me rephrase that: I was surprised at how much more that there was to learn about the history of the war, the programs of the company, and the direction it is headed. So much care is taken to ensure that all of the Ugandan programs are developed and implemented by Ugandan experts, not Americans. I will spare you the lessons on all our programs and such for now, but I hope to do some future blogs that will break down each program into more detail.  Schools for Schools is the program that we will be mostly focused on this semester, but we also have the Legacy Scholarship Program, MEND, Conservation Cotton Initiative, and a few others.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my first week, and I can't wait to tell you more as things progress!


August 16, 2010 at 5:48 AM Lauren Van Fleet said...

I'm so excited for you, my love! We are praying for you in "soggy Florida" :). Miss you!

August 16, 2010 at 2:00 PM Jenna Ricci said...

When you began to explain the beauty that is San Diego, I almost second guessed my decision to remain in FL HAHA just kidding. I am a little jealous though, I will not lie. BUT I am so happy for you. Can't wait to read more about your adventures! Miss ya bro.

August 21, 2010 at 1:38 PM David and Laura said...

Hats off to you for sharing a room with 14 guys! Nothing like bro-time, ALL the time. Bet it permanently smells like a fart, with a hint of BE-O in the air. LOVE IT!