Saturday, December 20, 2014

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work

Happy Holidays! It’s hard to believe this is the 11th edition of my annual holiday letter. I hope this one finds you and your loved ones happy, healthy and at peace.

I spent almost all of 2014 in Washington, DC. (Alert: Wanderlust warning is high.) You know, when I moved to Rwanda for a year in 2013 I was ready for culture shock, and there certainly was a lot to learn, but the real culture shock has been coming home and living in DC. It is pretty amazing what we all take for granted every day and I have a lot less patience than I did before for people complaining that their latte order is not quite right or their steak is closer to medium than medium-rare. Deal, people!

I spent the the first four months of 2014 looking for a job and really did not enjoy that, which I’ve documented here with a few tips and suggestions (mainly to avoid the process at all costs if you can help it).
Chilling in my backyard in DC in February
That search ended with my accepting a position at GlobalGiving! GlobalGiving is the first and largest global crowdfunding community for nonprofits and I’m excited to bring my years of working on the internet to the nonprofit field. Working at a nonprofit is very different than I ever could have imagined and feels in some ways like an even bigger culture shock than working at a youth village in Rwanda. What I love most about my job is that my efforts go towards supporting amazing community based organizations around the world like APOPO’s Hero Rats finding landmines and diagnosing TB in Tanzania, XS Project working to improve the lives of the trashpicker community in Jakarta, or the Warrior Canine Connection training adorable puppies to be service dogs for our veterans in need. (I can’t fail to mention my favorite ever project, a certain youth village in Rwanda.) These organizations are doing important work, and if I help them at all, everything I do is worth it.

Not a sponsored endorsement (I promise!) but if you are still thinking about annual giving, please check out our site. With more than 3000 individual projects fundraising, you are bound to find one that aligns with your interests and is doing amazing work. (Added bonus about my job: I get to bike to work most days, which I really enjoy and my route takes me past the Supreme Court, the Capitol and the White House.)

I’m so excited to share the biggest development of the year: last year’s holiday letter had a bit of  a cliffhanger. I told you about our how I was supporting some students from the school where I had worked in their search for university scholarships and our efforts studying for the TOEFL and ‘application boot camp’. In early 2014, while I was looking for a job I was also still editing essays and checking with universities to see if required documents had been received. I am so thrilled to tell you that for four of those students that effort has really paid off! This spring we learned that these students were awarded full MasterCard Scholarships: Innocent to McGill, Libia to UBC in Vancouver and Immaculee & Jeannine to Arizona State University. (Three more students from that same class have received scholarships this November though their efforts at Bridge2Rwanda. Congrats to Claude, Peace Grace and Pacifique!) In November, I went to ASU to check on Immaculee & Jeaninne and they are really adapting well and enjoying school.

Me at ASU visiting Immaculee & Jeaninne
Oh and I had a relatively minor toe surgery in February which had me off ultimate and running for about 6 months which, if you talked to me at all this year, you know I more than made up for by whining and whining and whining about it. It is all fine now and I’m back to running but mostly retired from disc. I did play Sectionals and Regionals this year with a wonderful bunch of ladies from Philly, Breakfast Club, and we won (the party).

Epic Halloween with Sussman. I'm mummified on the right.
In March, I saw my nieces Kate and Lindy both dance at the Rainbow Dance Company annual modern dance concert in Raleigh, NC. They are both doing well in life and in school. Kate has her driver’s license now, so stay off the roads if you are in the Raleigh area.
Lindy and Kate, aren't they cute?
I did make a few quick trips to NYC throughout the year for job interviews, to volunteer at the annual Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Gala Fundraiser and most recently to represent GlobalGiving and attend a panel at the UN on the psycho-social response to the Ebola epidemic. I really need to get up there more often.

Innocent and me at the ASYV Gala in NYC in May
In November, I spent #ThanksGambling14 with my extended family in Louisville, KY. In what has evolved into something of a tradition, my aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins all bundle up and head out to Churchill Downs and watch the races on Thanksgiving day. It was wonderful to see everyone. For Christmas, as usual, I’ll be in Raleigh to see my Mom, Sister, Brother-in-law and Kate & Lindy.

Looking forward to 2015, I’m planning to make some more college visits and hopefully get back to traveling internationally again. Please let me know if you pass through DC. (I’ve got a partial season ticket plan for the Wizards and I’m pretty excited about watching John Wall ball in the East this season.)

As always, I hope you enjoy my holiday letter and don't find it too obnoxious.  You can 'opt out' by sending an email asking to be removed from this distribution list. For those of you looking for more frequent updates, you can find me online at and @CourtneyMFK on Twitter.

Happy New Year!  May your 2015 be joyous and peaceful.

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