The Power of the Pencil

Based on the title, you might think this post is about writing, but it’s not.

I first learned the real power of the pencil a few years ago while I was teaching on a small island in Korea. One of my friends organized a fundraising event for an orphanage in India. As part of the fundraiser, she encouraged her fellow English teachers to create a lesson about the children in the orphanage, share it with their students, and then hold a “Bring a Pencil to School” day.

You see, the children in Jeju, who sit in wired classrooms with abundant materials and supplies, who carelessly throw partially used pencils in the trash, have no inkling what it’s like for students in other parts of the world who live without such luxuries.

The idea behind the fundraiser was this: One small act, like a child donating a pencil, could have a greater positive impact on the world. And it worked. The fundraiser was a huge success. The orphanage in India received loads of pencils as well as a sizable monetary donation from the Jeju expat community. More importantly, it raised awareness and gave everyone involved, children and adults alike, a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation.

Recently, this beautiful idea has touched other parts of the world as well. A former member of the Jeju community, who is now living and teaching in Hong Kong, decided to hold another donation day. But this time, the pencils were sent to Bangladesh where I had the privilege of delivering them to an elementary school in a small village.

Now, most of the students at this particular school aren’t orphans, but their learning conditions are incredibly basic, and their families are very poor, so purchasing even one pencil can be a burden. But thanks to one teacher and her class in Hong Kong, that burden has been relieved, and an entire school of Bangladeshi children are positively beaming with joy.

See how powerful a simple pencil can be?

Now it’s your turn! Please share your ideas about small acts with big impact.


Daily Prompt: This Is Your Life

It’s funny when you get a glimpse of yourself through others’ eyes.
Sometimes it’s disappointing. Sometimes it’s better than you hoped.

Recently, I was lucky enough to experience the latter when my friend Susan, creator of Travel Junkette, asked if she could feature me on her travel blog. She’s a creative, talented and inspiring person, so I was honored by the invitation and happily agreed to be a part of her new project.

She sent me a bunch of questions; I sent her a bunch of answers. Then, a couple of months later … voila … (part of) my life story was shared with (part of) the world. You can read it here, if you’d like.

Seasonal Worker

Travel Junkette is looking for more seasonal workers to feature. If you or someone you know would like to contribute, email traveljunkette(at)gmail(dot)com.

As the Daily Prompt says, “If you could read a book containing all that has happened and will ever happen in your life, would you? If you choose to read it, you must read it cover to cover.”

I’d have to say, “No.”

With the help of Susan’s great questions, I now have a written summary of the biggest leaps I’ve taken thus far in my life, and I’m really thankful to have it, but my favorite thing about life is the mystery and the limitless possibility that lies in the unknown.

Yes, sometimes life is frustrating and it’s easy to become discouraged and impatient, but for me, there’s always hope. I always have faith that the future holds great discoveries and lessons and opportunities for growth. Even the trying times are valuable and beautiful in retrospect. Knowing about those experiences ahead of time would ruin the surprise. It would be like watching the end of the movie in the middle.

What fun is that?

That said, I just read this lovely post with a different perspective worth reading.

Thanksgiving in January

I’ve been sporadically blogging for almost two years now. In the beginning, most of my readers were friends and family, but in the past six months, I’ve slowly started becoming part of the greater blogging community, which means I’m spending at least as much time—probably more—reading and learning about other people as I am writing about myself. And it’s been so much fun! There are so many interesting people out there with so many amazing stories, talents and ideas.

veryinspiringblogger1Last September, to my surprise, I received my very first blogging award–Very Inspiring Blogger–courtesy of the The Retiring Sort. Please check out the TRS blog for some truly inspiring posts.

I can’t tell you how delighted I was when I got the notification! My acceptance of the award is ridiculously delayed, but my appreciation of it is heartfelt and sincere.

versatileblogger11In December, I was again surprised and delighted to receive another award, The Versatile Blogger, from Lasesana.

Her blog covers a variety of topics from Spanish lessons to cycling to cooking. Talk about versatile! You can spend days wandering around her site … and you should!

So now it’s time to pause for a moment and share my gratitude with my fellow bloggers … and spread the love.

As part of the acceptance process, I must share seven random things about myself and nominate 15 bloggers for the awards.

Below, you’ll find 30 bloggers (15 for each award) whose musings most certainly deserve recognition (of course, there are many, many more), but only seven random things about me … I can’t come up with 14!

Random Me

  1. If we had a contest about who had the most impressive, ridiculous, interesting bicycle stories, I would totally win.
  2. In college, I learned how to play the sitar (but couldn’t play one now).
  3. I suck at math.
  4. I LOVE flip flops.
  5. I once spent three days jumping into the Olympic training pool in Park City, Utah—with a snowboard strapped to my feet.
  6. The first sentence I learned in Bangla was “Mosha ami pochando kori na!” which means,I don’t like mosquitoes!”
  7. I’m usually pretty smart, but sometimes I’m a complete airhead.

Very Inspiring Blogger Nominees

The following bloggers are inspiring (at least to me) for many reasons. I admire the paths they have chosen in their lives and their willingness to share them, their various talents, and their ability to help me see the world from a different perspective.

  1. Life Out of the Box
  2. A Word in Your Ear
  3. Steve McCurry’s Blog
  4. Izzy Lynch
  5. Brian Cooney’s Photography Blog
  6. Traveller Soul
  7. This Man’s Journey
  8. Everywhere Once
  9. Serenity Spell
  10. Cee’s Photography
  11. Adventures of Andrea
  12. Dreamlife Moments
  13. Trading Places
  14. Hot Milk for Breakfast
  15. Ken Thinks Aloud

The Versatile Blogger Nominees

The following blogs are a great source of ideas, tips, inspiration and sometimes just plain random or humorous rants to make your daily reading a little more interesting. Check them out!

  1. Wayfaring Teacher
  2. Taste for Adventure
  3. 3rdculturechildren
  4. Native to the Place
  5. Bolt in the Blue
  6. Joy and Woe
  7. Alice through the Macro Lens
  8. Fabulous 50’s
  9. Tom Reeder’s Blog
  10. Sometimes Interesting
  11. You Monsters Are People
  12. Trash Backwards
  13. Yoga Spy
  14. Zeebra Designs and Destinations
  15. Stolen Goods (Maybe this nomination will encourage her to start writing again!)

Award Acceptance Rules

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and share a link to their blog.
  2. Attach the award icon to your site.
  3. Share seven random things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers.
  5. Inform the nominees and explain how to accept the award.

Thanks again SO MUCH for the awards!

Happy reading and happy blogging everyone!