A Little Bit of Lately + Some Pretty Big News

Up until a couple of weeks ago, it had been a longgg time since I published a new post… and it has been even longer since I gave any kind of update on what the heck has been going on in my non-travel related life lately. Lemme tell ya, it’s A LOT… which I guess is why I’ve been a bit absent around here.

Soooo, first things first…

I’VE GOT SOME PRETTY BIG NEWS.

Remember this? - This video was my application submission for a project called Faces2Hearts… andddd GUESS WHAT!? - I GOT IT!

WHAT IS FACES2HEARTS?

Faces2Hearts is a project organized by the European Commission Department for International Cooperation and Development (or EuropeAid for short). The first edition of this project focused primarily on writing, whereas this year’s edition shifts the focus to film.

20 vloggers from around the world were selected and paired up to travel to one of 10 countries. This year’s destinations include Argentina, Bhutan, Cape Verde, Jamaica, Myanmar, Namibia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

For one month, the duos will visit EU sponsored projects throughout the country, and document and share how these projects are impacting local communities and changing people’s lives for the better.

Soooo yeah… pretty freakin’ huge news!

I feel so happy and humbled (and still kinda in a state of disbelief) to be a part of this year’s team and this life-changing adventure…

…and I can’t believe it’s one that I ALMOST missed out on.

IMG_6098.jpg

STORY TIME!

As you can imagine, the voting/waiting/selection period was an emotional rollercoaster in and of itself.

On May 31st, bright and early in the morning, an Instagram post on EuropeAid’s account announced that the shortlist had been published and the public voting period had begun. I immediately headed to their website where I then scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled through dozens of candidates.

The further I scrolled the more my stomach dropped, and each time I pressed “see more,” I felt a teensy glimmer of hope… followed by more scrolling and more queasy stomach action.

Anyway, after pressing that little button THREE (aka way too many times), I FINALLY saw my picture and realized I had made the cut. I had been chosen to represent Sweden! Even now, I can recall the feeling so vividly - a mixture of relief, excitement, and sheer JOY. I was BUZZING in every sense of the word. But the emotional rollercoaster didn’t end there… cause, where’s the fun in that!?

Later that day, (courtesy of someone who shall remain nameless) an accusation surfaced suggesting I’d lied about my nationality on my application.

Fair enough… Yes, I am representing Sweden, but… no, I’m definitely not Swedish.

In the name of transparency, (and to clear things up for anyone else who might question my moral integrity/eligibility)…here’s the deal - I was born and raised in North Carolina, I’m a British/American dual citizen, and, currently, a resident of Sweden. I know, I know… it’s a lot (not to mention a freakin’ mouthful). Sometimes I feel like a female Jason Bourne or something.

In the end, turns out the accusation didn’t matter, but, at the time, it definitely made an already intense emotional rollercoaster feel even more dramatic. Among my many emotions was a feeling of sheer annoyance that someone would deliberately go out of their way to try to sabotage such a major opportunity… but the annoyance was greatly outweighed by happy, excited feels, and overshadowed by an insane out-pouring of love and support from my humans.

During the 24 hour voting period, family, friends, ex coworkers and teachers, and even people I've never met cast votes in my favor, shared posts, and sent their well wishes.

In the end, I received a total of 336 votes… and if that’s not the most ironic thing in the world then I don’t know what it is.

336 is Greensboro’s area code - a place filled with wonderful people that showed up for me in a big, beautiful way, and a town I’m proud to call home. I am so thankful to be a part of such a loving, supportive network, and am grateful for the reminder that you all have my back… (causeeee, when you’re doing life in a city where only a handful of people know your name, sometimes it’s easy to forget).

Sooo, after an intense few days of waiting, the ambassadors were finally announced… and I’m one of them!

After excitedly skimming the email and heading straight to the destination assignments, I discovered I would be travelling to Sierra Leone in 2020 with Esteban Novillo, a videographer from Spain… but first, the whole team would be meeting in Brussels for the European Development Days conference and a week of training that was only 10 days away - (more on all of that in my next post)!

Esteban and I won’t be heading to Sierra Leone until next March, but, for the Namibia team, the journey has already begun… As a matter of fact, it’s somehow halfway over!

Konrad and Sibongile have done an incredible job of taking things in stride as the first duo to hit the road. This is my favorite video they’ve produced so far!

To follow all of the adventures, subscribe to the Faces2Hearts on YouTube or visit their website.


So The moral of This story is…

Remember just before story time when I said I almost missed out on this opportunity? Well, it’s not because of an accusation or because of a number of votes… It’s because I almost didn’t apply.

I first heard about Faces2Hearts thanks to a Facebook Ad of all things… and after scrolling past the call for “Adventure Loving Storytellers” several times, I finally clicked the link to see what it was all about.

I swear I was SURE this thing was made for me. It is literally all of my interests and hobbies and passions rolled in to one amazing ambassador program.

There was just oneeee little problem. The application deadline was THE. NEXT. DAY.

…And just like that, the devil on my shoulder (megaphone in hand) was screaming sweet-nothings in my ear like, “PSHHHH one day to make a video!? And write a captivating shpeel about the importance of storytelling!? Fahgettaboudit, sister!!”

I don’t why the devil on my shoulder is a mob boss with a thick New York accent… but I do know that, for a second there, I almost did just “fahgettaboudit.”

I was FILLED - and I mean FILLEDDDD - with self-doubt. I thought there was no way I would actually be chosen for something like this… not with less than a day to put together a solid application.

But then… next thing ya know… there I was drop-kicking my shoulder devil back to Brooklyn, cancelling my classes for the following day, and resolving to spend the next 24 hours making the best freakin’ video of my life, “because I might not get it… but I’ll be damned if I don’t at least try.”

The next day, I went to the website to start filling in my application, and, by some miracle, the deadline HAD. BEEN. EXTENDED… So I did a little victory dance and proceeded to comb through countless memory cards, video files, and editing tutorials to cook up what is easily my favorite video to date.

If you’ve made it to the end of this story, let it serve as a friendly little reminder… to believe in yourself… to take chances and risks… to go for that dream job or school or guy… even if whatever it is feels totally out of reach (or if the deadline is only a day away).…*cue Annie soundtrack.*

DON’T WRITE YOURSELF OFF, KID.

That’s the moral. Never write yourself off…

…Not even when you find yourself sat in a Brussels conference room at THE European Commission feeling wayyyy out of your league… but I’ll tell ya all about training and the big ole case of imposter syndrome I fought off there in my next post.