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Sweet tea, Fried okra, Memphis BBQ, and Baklava

Last week I got to spend three days on fieldwork in northern Mississippi.  As most of you know, a large part of my job is traveling around the country visiting college campuses to promote BFW and our Offering of Letters campaign as well as support the great work campuses are doing!  While I find the travel tiring, it's also one of my favorite parts of the job.  It also allows me to see parts of this country I've never had the opportunity to visit before, which is cool!

I've never been to Mississippi and up to this point; we haven't had a lot of connection with campuses there.  MS is important to our campaign this year because Sen. Thad Cochran is the chair of the appropriations committee - that's the committee that decides how much money gets allocated to all the poverty focused development assistance programs.

So last Tuesday, my colleague, Suzanne Berman (Bread's Southeast Faith Outreach Organizer for the ONE Camapign) and I flew into Memphis, TN.  The next morning we drove into MS - we had three campus stops on this trip: Ole Miss, MS State, and Rust College.  Wednesday was a good day, but it's our Thursday that I'm going to spend time talking about -largely because I think it was a record for me, 9 meetings in one day!!!!  (But first, I have to tell you about the awesome soul food I ate on Wednesday in Oxford, MS; rice and beans, jalapeno corn bread, fried okra, sweet potato casserole, and washed it all down with some sweet tea - yum!!!!!!  And if I could have made my stomach bigger, I would have also ordered cheese grits!)

 

Thursday morning, Suz and I wake up at 7:00 am from our cheap, on-campus dorm housing at MS State University.  We drag ourselves across campus to the coffee shop after first waking up the RA on duty because we had no towels for our shower (!).  Our first meeting started at 9 am, but we had to be there at 8:45.  It should have been a 3 minute drive from campus, but we got lost just trying to get off the campus!!!  The thing I love about the south is that everyone is willing to help.  We called the guy who organized our first meeting and he helped guide us out of the campus! ;-)  (We actually also had to call someone to help guide us the night before when we first arrived on campus - it's a very confusing campus to drive on....really!)

So a typical meeting for us includes time to talk about BFW, our Offering of Letters Campaign, ONE, and how campuses engage with us as well as hearing about the activities/ministries currently happening at the campus.  So within our 9 meetings on Thursday we met with 9 campus ministers, a social work professor and student, a sociology professor and PhD candidate, a program coordinator for a local United Methodist church, the associate director of Student Life, a class of 90 geography students, a couple students connected with campus ministry and an AWESOME local ONE activist.  No sweat! ;o)

Well, the day did require a large amount of caffeine and chocolate-covered espresso beans to be consumed!  Have you ever had those espresso beans?  They’re addictive!  This day may have been a little more jam-packed that most days, but it was a great day!  When I think back, I am amazed at the variety of people we were able to meet that day.  It’s wonderful to see how the work of BFW and ONE can cross into so many aspects of life and in particular campus life!  By the end of the day we were exhausted, but we even managed to be in bed by 10:30 pm – not too bad!

Beyond the awesome meetings, food was a big theme for me for this trip.  I not only ate that yummy soul food, I also had middle eastern and Italian, more chocolate-covered espresso beans and topped it all off with Memphis BBQ before our flight home!  It was good! :o)  So in case you were ever wondering what I do while traveling, this gives you an idea…I talk, listen and eat (and occasionally get lost)!

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