Playing for Change

If you haven't heard of this group yet - check them out - Playing for Change. They travel around the world recording musicians singing the same song and then compile it together into one song. Their songs are messages of peace and are an attempt to bring together a global community of people for a more just and peaceful world. Got to love what they're doing!

General Updatedness

Yikes it's been awhile since the last post - time to fix that. I guess that goes to show that my senior year has been a bit hectic with wrapping projects up and starting the next step in this grand game of life. I graduated in December and have since been working at Penn State with two groups: AESEDA (The Alliance for Earth Science, Engineering, and Development in Africa) and CFS (The Center for Sustainability).

I recently helped organize a teacher's workshop with CFS designed to provide teachers with curriculum and materials revolving around zero energy homes. The curriculum will be fully completed this summer and will serve as a bridge between schools throughout the country and the Penn State Solar Decatholon Home: the MorningStar. For AESEDA, I have been developing a newsletter which highlights projects at Penn State focused on development work throughout Africa. Additionally, AESEDA is home to the Jamaica project which I have been involved with for the last 2 years, so I have been fortunate enough to continue my research and coordination work on that project. We are in the process of planning a hotel / tourist center on the site which will be used to educate both local Jamaicans and tourists alike about sustainability and how it relates to their personal lives. The hotel will give tourists the opportunity to stay in self-sustaining homes to demonstrate the practicality and possibility of sustainable designs. A biodiesel plant has been designed for the site and will soon be used to power vehicles to transport tourists to and from the site during their stay.

Although there's still lots on my plate, I have been happily kept busy over the past few months. But rest assured, life for Spud isn't slowing down any time too soon, I just decided to go to grad school this upcoming year in Sweden (off to the next adventure). I will be going to the Blekinge Institute of Technology for a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability. It is located on the southern shore of Sweden, so fortunately I won't have to endure too frigid of temperatures during the winter. So if you're looking for a vacation at some point next year and want to visit - let me know!

With lots of decisions to be made (and some already made), I have been trying to balance my focus on the past, present, and future. I find that at times I can get so focused on the next adventure, that I forget to stop and live in the moment. Perhaps the realization that college is ending, and friends are beginning to head off in new directions, has brought this thought to the forefront.

I came across an interesting quote the other day that made me stop and think more about this:

"God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road."
~Isak Dinesen

I wonder how often we expect god to lay the path out ahead of us for the future. We really don't like the mystery of not knowing what's to happen next, humans innately like control. But the future is one thing we have not been able to fully control, regardless of how much time we try to control it. I think our need for control (regardless over what) can be a big hurdle for trying to live things according to god's terms. Whether control is rooted in fear or selfishness, attempting to 'control' our life can really mess up god's larger plan. Now I don't think this gives us a free check to not take initiative on matters and simply sit back for the ride, but rather, giving up complete control allows us to be more focused on the plans which god has already set in motion around us in the present. Our desire to control leads us to constantly focus on the future, rather than the present (which at one point was the future we wanted so much control over).

I recently realized how perfectly orchestrated the past 4 years have been for me at Penn State - with regard to friends, projects, relationships, and personal growth. Now although there was a chunk of 'stuff' that I had some control over - the majority of these 4 years were entirely out of my control at many times, such as:
  • Being placed on a hallway freshman year with awesome friends who had similar passions and together were able to start up two clubs that brought the majority of our friends together.
  • Stumbling across professors with similar interests as mine that eventually lead to the Jamaica project and my current job at Penn State.
  • All of the relationships I've had at Penn State and the significance of what they have taught me about my goals and desires for my current relationship with Leah.
  • Numerous international trips which arose from random events.
As I think back on the last 4 years, its hard not to smile and dwell on some of the most memorable moments. The past 4 years has been an incredible blessing and important step in defining who I am and what god has planned for me. Although there has been the standard amount of difficult times mixed throughout - they no longer seem like a thorn stuck in the middle of a grand plan. Each have been used to teach new lessons, and expose me to new ways of thinking, all of which I am extremely grateful for - yet I find it hard to define my last 4 years solely by those moments. There has been something far greater at work, and my friends and relationships represent stepping stones along that path.

Time for the next 4 years, time for the next set of stories and lessons. I plan on keeping this blog updated more frequently over the next few years - especially as I head over seas again.

Like? Repost it...