Career/Professional

Third Work Anniversary and 10 Things I’ve Learned

I moved to the Washington D.C. area three years ago this week and as of today, I have been working for U.S. Wheat Associates for three years.

Woah. I know it’s super cliche to say, but some days it feels like I just arrived and other days I feel like I’ve been here much longer.

This experience has become a dream and a goal that I didn’t realize I had until the moment I saw the job announcement in a Facebook group (hey Julia!) But as I’ve shared many times before, a few hours later I was on the phone with parents telling them about this job and big move that I suddenly felt so strongly needed to be mine. And, EXACTLY two months later I was walking into the office for my first day on the job.

I laugh now, because I quickly realized that I didn’t quite understand what my job all entailed and what the organization did.  The phrase “fake it till you make it” became my real motto. Those first couple of months were harder than any class I ever took but that feeling I had when I first learned about the job continued to stay with me, and remains with me today. I know that my place in the work force and in the agriculture industry is working on behalf of farmers, and using my words and skills to help them do their job.

In three years, this job has taken me to three countries (and Guam) and on many, many domestic trips. I’ve learned about how complex wheat is and met people from around the world who depend on and prefer the high quality wheat that U.S. wheat farmers grow. I’ve learned about crop production, wheat breeding, international markets, transportation, the immense variety of end products that are made from wheat, export market promotion and how it all affects each other. And I’ve learned about the many areas of trade policy that affect wheat exports, including negotiations and barriers. All that said, there is still so much more to learn, but that part excites me. Most important to me though, is the farmers I’ve met over the past three years. I know these people, I’ve visited their farms and met their families. I respect their hard work and seen how they strive to improve their business and their product. They are humble — both when they make mistakes and when they should be proud of their progress. They care about their communities and the world around them. Personally, its important to me to feel like I have a sense of purpose when I am going to and work each day. And these farmers give me that purpose.

As a young professional, there are certainly ups and downs to figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t, what you want your career to look like and how to get there. Trust me, I am far from having it all together, but I have been lucky to have so many mentors and others who support my career. If we were having coffee together, there is a lot more that I could share about what I’ve learned so far, but since we’re not, here are 10 general pieces of advice I’d like to share:

  1. Ask questions. Sure, some questions are indeed, dumb. But what’s worse is not asking the question at all. Not only does it prevent you from learning, but it prevents others from improving as bosses and leaders, and sets a bad precedent for effective communication.
  2. Don’t work through lunch. Sometimes it is inevitable, but it is important to step away, give your brain a break and your legs a stretch. Make it a habit. (This one is really tough for me!)
  3.  Practice grace. You will make mistakes. Big embarrassing mistakes. And others will disappoint you with their mistakes. I think the only way to get past mistakes is to take a deep breath, own it and determine how to not make the mistake again. In others, identify why you respect them and consider what factors may have led to the mistake. Then give yourself and them, a dose of grace. Life will go on, I promise.
  4. Invest in good shoes. Nobody has time for sore feet, but at 5’2″ I can attest that there is such a thing as comfy heels. But I also know that I shouldn’t wear them if I need to hike it a longer distance. Figure out what works for your style and invest in it. You’ll save your wallet and your feet in the long run. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way.
  5. Learn how to write professional emails. Even if you don’t like to write or consider yourself a poor writer, there is no excuse for poorly written emails, no matter what your job is. Yes, people do notice. Luckily, there are many resources out there and asking your boss or superiors for help improving those skills will show them initiative, which is always a good thing.
  6. Don’t shy away from what makes you uncomfortable. No, I am not suggesting anything that is unsafe or negative. What I mean is that pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone helps us grow our skills and our minds. So listen to the argument that you don’t agree with, don’t pass on a task because you don’t know how to do it and don’t back down if you feel strongly about an idea or decision. Staying where you are comfortable does no favors to your career or those you represent or work for.
  7. Find people who will go to bat for you. When I hear from others complaining about their superiors or something in their work place, I am reminded of how thankful I am to know that I have people in my corner. Good bosses and colleagues alike, understand that in order to see productivity and results in the work place, they need to respect your values and support your goals and needs. They will go to bat for you if necessary.
  8. Become a life-long learner. Read, discuss, participate. Seek out opportunities to learn something new or improve your skills. Everyone is replaceable and most industries are constantly changing at a quick pace, so if your job doesn’t spark curiosity and a desire to become better, you might want to fix that or move on, because otherwise you’ll get left behind.
  9. Create a space that fuels your creativity and work flow. I am a strong believer in the importance of having and maintaining a work space that is positive, and aligns with your style, responsibilities, comfort and needs. I think this is crucial for productivity, focus and overall health. If you are spending 40+ hours a week in this space, why should it be anything less?
  10. Not every season is exciting, and that’s OK. I know there are a lot of studies and facts out there about how young professionals today are not staying in one place nearly as long as the generations who came before them. Sometimes the latter will call it lazy or having no sense of loyalty, while many of the young professionals themselves either grow bored or eager to see what else is out there. I think from time to time, both views are wrong and right. However, I think the root is that my generation is used to having more options, has been pushed to “exceed expectations” and like I mentioned for myself above, need to feel like their work has a sense of purpose. So, when a job rolls into a season that is lacking in someway, it is easy to think that it is time to jump ship. I’m not saying that you should completely ignore that feeling, but just sit on it a while and maybe spend that time determining if this season is just cyclical or if there is something you can do to improve it. Yes, I love my job overall, but its not realistic for someone to say that they love it every single day.

Thanks for the adventure so far wheat family.

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 23

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my not-so-glam 20-something life. See past posts HERE}

New Blog Look

If you haven’t noticed, things are looking a bit different around here. Recently I have been wanting to freshen up my blog with a white-based background and decided to follow that with a bit of a simpler overall look. I am making a few other updates here and there… but I tend to be a bit indecisive so those are happening as I go.

While I love blogging, it often takes the back burner when life gets a bit busy, which makes habit building a bit of a challenge. But I am doing some planning for some posts and series that are not just focused on my “So There’s That” series or my travel (which is all I’ve blogged about for most of 2017) so stay tuned!

Promotion

I’m not shy about sharing that I love my job working for U.S. wheat farmers, so it was nice to receive a promotion!

You can read about it here… unless you are my Mom and in case, I’m pretty sure I’ve already made the fridge 🙂

 4th of July Holiday Weekend

Independence Day is my favorite holiday and this year my (4-day!!!) holiday weekend did not disappoint.


On Friday, I headed out to Mt. Vernon with some Kansas friends. This ticketed event had all sorts of colonial demonstrations, including dancing, which we all somehow got sucked into trying. There was also foods and drinks to purchase, a live band and of course fireworks!

I’m pretty sure there are few things more American than watching fireworks on the back lawn of George Washington’s crib. I would highly recommend this to people next year. Tickets were $30 dollars, which is actually pretty reasonable for events in this area.

Saturday morning was spent at brunch at SEI in Chinatown, where I failed to take any group photos, partially because I was drooling over these quinoa french toast that I ordered. Don’t worry, they still were made with wheat, but the quinoa added a great crunch! Brunch may have turned into a mini-wheat lesson for the group after I asked the manager about the french toast… #sorrynotsorry #wheatie

Saturday night was spent back with the Kansan’s at Red, White and Brew, a drinking festival down by the waterfront.

This guy had to work all weekend so Monday was spent relaxing.


I wrapped up the weekend on Tuesday with BBQ with friends and sparklers.

Annapolis

This past weekend I had to travel to my work summer board meeting, but instead of hoping on a plane, I just had to make a short drive to Annapolis. Visiting here has been toward the top of my to-do list since moving to the area so I head over early to check things out, and I may have had a tag along 🙂


Not that I thought it was going to be anything otherwise, but the main downtown area near the harbor is adorable!

We explored, walked down by the harbor and the U.S. Naval Academy (I need to visit again so I can go on a tour) and tried out a few stops.



The Maryland State House was just a block or two over from where we were so we swung by. There is SO MUCH U.S. history associated with this little building and it’s so pretty!



We rounded out the day with crabs #wheninmaryland! This guy grew up on “picking” crabs (taking them a part), so he (patiently I would add) taught me how to do it myself.

Summer Board Meeting

It’s rare that our staff stops and takes a picture like this. Although our team is MUCH bigger than this (and stretches around the globe), I am thankful to work alongside these people.

This gentleman below represents everything that makes me passionate about agriculture and the reason why I never want to work for anyone but farmers. Leonard has actively served on the USW Board of Directors for 21 years and this summer board meeting marked the end. I remember before my first board meeting 2.5 years ago, my boss was chatting about some of the farmer board members I would be meeting, and finally he said, “and then there is Uncle Leonard.”

Leonard has a one of kind personality that makes you feel like you’ve known him your whole life. In just two words I would describe him as funny and kind, two of the things that I respect most in people. But what has stuck out to me about Leonard, is his ability really listen and take in the discussions around him, while so many others are only focused on what they are going to say next. When Leonard does respond, it tends to be with more patience and thought.

At the end of the meeting, Leonard reflected on his year’s on the farm and on the board. I considered sharing the whole thing (I take the meeting minutes so I do have it!) but here is the bit of it that stood out to me:

“In our world of farming, we take over some land or lose some land, but our main goal whenever we take over new land is to make it better than when we got it. That’s how we gauge ourselves on whether or not we are successful … I have said yes to four different governors to sit on this board, and it has allowed me to discover this passion I have for wheat. It has helped me define who I am back at home to my neighbors, because I am Mr. Wheat back home. I think it is very rare how other people’s choices allow you to discover your passion.”

Thanks Leonard, we sure are going to miss you!

Big 12 Schools as Harry Potter Characters

I’d say most of these are pretty darn accurate and the descriptions are pretty funny.

https://www.cowboysrideforfree.com/2017/6/28/15883470/big-12-schools-as-harry-potter-characters

My People

This little note speaks to me in leaps and bounds, and after sharing it on social media and receiving quite a few comments, apparently it does for a lot of people. I think I have learned many times over that you just can’t be everything for everyone and on the flip side, some people are only in your life a “season” and that’s completely OK. But that makes it so much more important to INVEST in those core people around you who just really “get it” and let your crazy fly, whether they are near, or in my case for most, are far away.

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.


Why does it all of a sudden look like baby Wes is NOT a baby anymore?!

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.


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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 22

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}

Colorado

During the last week of May, I was in Estes Park, Colorado for a work trip. My mom tagged along and we tacked on a few days for a mini-vacay, which included a great hike to Gem Lake.

Girl Time

Lately the girls from my young adults bible study have been making lots of plans together. Earlier in June, a few of us did the Billy Goat Trail near Great Falls, which was a bit more challenging than I expected… but such a beautiful day to be outside and chat with these girls who have added such a positive light to my life lately.

This last weekend we had a laid back girls night hosted at my place and then spent another afternoon at Quattro Goombas Winery for wine slushies (insert all of the heart eye emoji’s here) and awesome pizza. The location also has a brewery and a great outdoor space.

Kansas – National Festival of Breads

Earlier in June, I made a quick work trip to Kansas for the National Festival of Breads. Yes, it was a awesome as its name sounds. The festival is hosted each year by Kansas Wheat, and brings together eight finalists (that competed against hundreds!) to compete for the title. The festival also features a small trade show, a demonstration stage, a kid’s interactive section, a BBQ, live music and more. I spent the day of the festival taking pictures and enjoy a “few” samples! This event is a great way to showcase the diversity of bread and the quality of U.S. wheat.

Obviously since I was in Kansas, I made the most of my down time by catching up with friends that I don’t get to see nearly enough.

So many of my favorite things wrapped up in one. If you visit Manhattan and appreciate a good wheat beer, you NEED to try 1863 Wheat at Tallgrass Brewery!


College friends turned commodity colleagues.


Considering I just saw Leah, Ryan and Robin a month ago in Colorado,  I was so happy that they made the drive from Topeka (on Father’s Day nonetheless) to see me again. It doesn’t look like it but I swear Miss Robin was happy to see me…

Kansas Wheat Harvest

During my trip to Kansas in I spent a day out on a farm in central Kansas that was in the middle of wheat harvest. In my mind there are few things more beautiful than a wheat harvest. I took lots of great pictures and shared them in a separate blog post.

Ed Sheeran Carpool Karoke

To know me is to know my obsession with all things Ed Sheeran. So really when you combine that with my obsession with James Corden (Craig!!) then basically you know that dreams really do come true.

I have probably watched this at least 6 times now.

Happy Birthday Jancz

My sister Janci turned 23 last week!

True Friendship

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.


Pictures from home make me happy, especially when they include my sister and my favorite little guy Wesley. (Also, super jealous she got to hang with him for the day.)




Sugarloaf Mountain Winery is so picturesque, and their wine is pretty good! Enjoyed a lazy Saturday afternoon there.


Eastern Market finds.

Missed out on getting a group picture, but my work took an afternoon for an outing and enjoyed a Nationals game together.

These adult coloring postcards are my new favorite stress reliever.


My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Agriculture, Kansas, Photography

{2017} Kansas Wheat Harvest

“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” -Thomas Jefferson

I have heard this quote many times before, but since I came across it again a few weeks ago, it has really stuck with me.

Happiness, yes. Tom was certainly right about that one.

No matter what is going on during my day, month or season, so much of who I am is rooted in agriculture and the happiness that it brings me is an anchor that I can rely on. I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I strongly believe that a job and your life’s work shouldn’t just be an 8 to 5 that pays the bills.

Over the past couple of days I have been back in Kansas to attend the National Festival of Breads (more on that in a future blogpost), and I had the chance to accompany the Kansas Wheat Commission and their baking contest finalists on a farm tour during the start of wheat harvest.

Everyone knows my happy place is in the Blue Mountains, but I think a Kansas farm with dirt beneath me and blue skies above comes in close second.

In my mind there are few things more beautiful than amber waves of grain, and that afternoon was just the medicine that I didn’t know I needed.

Thanks to the Kejr family for hosting us.

Enjoy!

Cheers!

Career/Professional, Photography, Travel Journal

Travel Journal: Estes Park, Colorado

Seeing as I leave later today for another quick work trip, I figured I better get my act together and get something about my trip to Colorado up here! Because trust me, my lack of timeliness is not a reflection on the trip.

Every two years, my organization hosts a world staff conference that brings together all of our 15 overseas offices, along with our two here in the U.S. Two years ago (really!?) we traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, and this year our conference was in Estes Park, Colorado! Even though I grew up in Oregon and lived in Kansas for eight years, I actually have never spent any significant time Colorado, aside from the airport of course and passing through on a long road trip. Our conference was hosted at the famous, historical Stanley Hotel, which might be familiar to some because it was the inspiration for Stephen King’s book, The Shining, and a few other movies were filmed there, including Dumb and Dumber.

I’ve said this a few times before, but I really do love the organization that I work for and being able to get together and connect with our staff from around the world helps remind me why my job is more than just an 8 to 5. My co-workers are very passionate about the wheat industry and the people in it. They are intelligent, kind, supportive and… hilarious. I am a better professional, and person because of them.

One fun addition to this trip was that my mom tagged along!

My organization also values family and unique experiences, so I was able to invite my mom along to join us in Estes Park. While I was in meetings she enjoyed a spa day and lots of time outside, which was great opportunity for her to just relax because she had just wrapped her own busy couple of weeks at work. After I wrapped up with my conference we stayed an extra few days for a mini mother-daughter vacay.

Though I did take a lot of photos during the conference, I’m not sharing any of them here because I don’t think its the right platform, but if you want to see those then head over to our Facebook page HERE.

It snowed in Estes Park a few days before we arrived, so I had to pull out a few winter pieces that I had already packed away for the summer. Thankfully, by the time we arrived most of it had melted and the weather didn’t end up being quite as cold as we expected.

I loved getting to introduce my mom to my co-workers and our wheat farmers!

View from the front porch of The Stanley Hotel.

The “downtown” main strip was adorable, full of t-shirt shops, candy stores and YEAR-ROUND CHRISTMAS STORES.

Mom made me go in one. If you know me personally, you know I’m the Grinch in my family and being in that store was just too much for me.

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On our first full day after the conference we hiked up to Gem Lake. A few of my co-workers did the hike earlier in the week and mentioned that even though the distance was pretty short, that the hike itself should not be underestimated. The walk from the hotel to the trail head was 1.7 miles and the hike itself was also 1.7 miles. The altitude was definitely a bit a challenge from time to time, even on the walk up to the trail head but after a while we both felt a bit more leveled out. The trail wasn’t too difficult to maneuver until the last quarter mile or so where it got more rocky. But it was all still a bit steeper and slower than we first thought. It wasn’t until AFTER the hike that we learned that the 1.7 miles climbs 1,000 ft, so that explained a lot. But it was so much fun to enjoy the views, chat and just spend that time with my mom.

She’s going to LOVE that shared that. #sorrynotsorry

Gem Lake… which is more like a pond 🙂

So growing up in Oregon, I know that you’re not really supposed to feed the wildlife, but we didn’t go up there planning too. Another hiker near us had her granola bar snatched right out of her hands by a squirrel and when she got up to leave she left of with a few nuts she had leftover, so by then we were already too entertained and curious about how close they would get to us.

They got REALLY close.

Even after we were out of nuts the two squirrels kept come back to us to double check. One even tried to gnaw on my mom’s phone!

This isn’t zoomed in. It was sitting on my backpack which was sitting right next to me.

 

“Paul Bunyan’s Boot”

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We returned back to Denver the day before our flights out and I was able to catch up (very) briefly with two of my best friends!

Kayla is one of my best friends from high school and lives in the Denver area for school right now.

This little one is no stranger to the blog. Baby Robin and her parents, Leah and Ryan just happened to be visiting family in the Denver area and made a little time for a visit!

Cheers!

Career/Professional, Photography, Travel Journal

Travel Journal: USW South Asia Board Team to Thailand and the Philippines

Sawasdee Ka!

(Hello!)

If you know me personally or follow along on social media, you know that I just returned from three weeks in Thailand and the Philippines!

The initial reason for the trip was for work, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tack on a vacation to the end.

Every year, U.S. Wheat Associates (my employer) invites farmers (selected by state wheat commissions) to participate in teams that travel overseas to follow their wheat and offer the opportunity to learn from customers about the wheat quality characteristics needed in those markets. I served as the staff team leader for three great farmers: Denise from Montana, Clint from South Dakota and Dustin from North Dakota. Once we were over there we were joined by various members of our overseas staff as we visited multiple flour mills and end-product manufacturers, as well as a baking school and bakery fair.

Overall, I am incredibly thankful and excited that it was (FINALLY) my turn to lead a team. The wheat industry is complex and fascinating, and in the almost two years that I have been in this job, it has become an industry that I am proud to represent. And while I am continually learning new things everyday, nothing beats getting out of the office and learning by seeing and experiencing the industry from the perspective of the customers who buy and use U.S. wheat.

I am also thankful for the time I had getting to know my team of farmers. I have said many times (especially here on the blog) that I firmly believe that farming is one of the most honorable professions there is and that I consider it a privilege to have a career in agriculture and use my words on their behalf. When the day-to-day of my job gets stressful or I get discouraged, it is the farmers that I get to know and their stories that help bring things back into perspective for me. Denise, Clint and Dustin were wonderful representatives for their fellow U.S. wheat farmers and I enjoyed getting to share this experience with them.

To read the full story on my work trip visit HERE —> “U.S. Wheat Farmers Get the Chance to See How Overseas Customers Value Their Crop.”

AND if you want to see more pictures than what I’ve included here on my blog, you can find those on the USW Facebook page HERE.

I took A LOT of pictures that I want to share from the entire trip, so today I am featuring the time I spent with the board team and then over the course of the next week I am going to share posts on my vacation with my grandparents and great aunt.

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Before heading over to Asia, the team met for a briefing that USW West Coast Office in Portland, OR, where they also visited the Wheat Marking Center and  the United Grains terminal.

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We arrived in Bangkok late on Saturday night and had most of the day Sunday to adjust to the time change a bit and be tourists.

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We visited two temples, Wat Pho, which is home to the “Reclining Buddha”, and Wat Arun. I did take a lot of photos around the temples but since I also visited the temples again with my family, I am going to share those in a separate upcoming blog post.

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On Monday, we visited the United Flour Mills (UFM) Baking School. USW has had a collaborative relationship with the school since 1982, where we host preeminent bakery training courses every year. I have heard so much about the work that happens there so I was excited to be visiting.

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UFM also has grocery stores, so after visiting the baking school we swung by. For the most part it was your typical grocery store, with the exception of a few things that I didn’t recognize, but I was amazed by the produce! There was quite a bit more packaging, versus fruit and veggies being just out in the open air and it was all amazing quality. And these were hands down the most beautiful strawberries I have ever seen!

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Japanese noodles… which I loved so much that I took my family back to the  same spot a week later and ordered the same thing.

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On the second day, the team visited a cookie and cracker manufacturer. I was excited to learn a little more about the marketing side of the business and about consumer trends. This visit was also a great example of the technical service that USW does. One of our baking consultants actually worked with the company on developing two of the products above that got to try.

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We also had a tour through their plant. All of the different assembly lines and processes were so cool!

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We were visiting on Valentine’s Day, so one of the companies gave us these small cakes. And I ate the whole thing for dinner. #noshame

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Before we had to leave for the airport in Bangkok we made a impromptu side visit to this world market grocery store which is touted as “one of the 25 grocery stores you should visit before you die.” Tally for the bucket list that I didn’t even know I needed. It was a pretty cool.

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We then traveled to Manila in the Republic of the Philippines. Our first day we traveled two hours down to Botangas to visit the country’s #1 flour mill and were privy to this amazing view. The drive there and back was obviously long, but it gave us a great opportunity to really see the countryside.

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The final day in Philippines and on the trip was spent at the 9th International Exhibition of Bakery, Confectionery and Foodservice Equipment, known as “Bakery Fair 2017.”

Bottomline: It was seriously cool.

And the party started early in the morning before I had a cup of coffee.

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USW’s booth got a lot of great attention. This piece was amazing!

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As was all of the “cakes” on display. You know there are times when I think of myself as artistic… this was not one of those moments.

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These are my co-workers, Matt, Joe and Roy that work overseas in South Asia. I was so thankful to get to know them a bit better. They are my colleagues but they are also mentors, friends and examples of hard work. Most importantly they LOVE their jobs and it shows in a every way.
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In the afternoon we had just a little bit of time to play tourist so Joe took us to Intramuros or the “Walled City” in the heart of Manila.

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Sometimes I struggle to explain all that my organization does (because sometimes I don’t see the entire scope of it) so hopefully this shares a bit of insight into wheat export market promotion.

Stay tuned throughout the next week for temples, elephants and postcard worthy beach scenes…. the picture sharing has just begun.

Cheers!

Career/Professional, Photography, Travel Journal

Travel Journal: Tumon Bay, Guam

Hey hey!

I finally got through the pictures from my work trip to Guam. October has been so busy, it feels like my trip was months ago instead of weeks.

At the beginning of October, I traveled to Guam for my organization’s North Asia Marketing Conference. This conference is hosted for flour millers wheat buyers from Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and gives them the opportunity to hear about the new wheat crop and emerging market factors. Read more about the conference in my article, “Wheat Buyers Conference Reflects Loyalty and Customer Preference.” 

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I really didn’t know much about Guam before I was asked to go on this trip except that it was a U.S. territory located in the Western Pacific (part of the Mariana Islands). But as I told different people where I was going, most gave me a blank stare, so it is safe to say that it is not a place very high on most radars.  It’s a small island, only 210 sq. miles, with a population of 161,785. Guam’s indigenous people are known as Chamorros, who settled the island 4,000 years ago. If you have heard of Guam, it might be in reference to World War II. Hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was caputured by the Japanese and occupied for thirty months until the U.S. recaptured it. I won’t give you an entire overview but I learned more about Guam HERE and HERE, and of course Wikipedia threw in a few credible facts.

Even though I love to travel, I haven’t done much international travel — and yes, I am definitley counting this as an international trip, even though technically it isn’t. This was only my second time in sitting in first class and I’m pretty sure I have been ruined. I can’t even imagine that much travel in the coach. My first flight was 3 hours, followed by two more 8 hour flights, so my total travel time was about 23 hours, including layovers. Overall it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, but again I’m saying that while I remember how comfy it was to stretch out my legs and being waited on. #spoiled

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Guam is currently in its monsoon/rainy season, but fortunately we were lucky and didn’t have much rain at all. Though it was REALLY humid… worse than any humidity I’ve ever experienced in DC or Kansas. I got up early two of the mornings to enjoy the view and take pictures and spent most of the trying to keep my lens from fogging up.

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This was seriously gross.

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Guam is 14 hours ahead of DC and on the other side of the International Dateline, so I spend most of the trip pretty confused about what day it was. I left DC on a Friday and arrived in Guam on Saturday day evening local time. The conference didn’t start until Monday, so we had the first full day to ourselves, which helped immensely with the jet lag. I took the free time to enjoy swimming in the bay, which was SO WARM AND CLEAR! I’m not a huge fan of swimming but I would go everyday if it was like this.

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Monday and Tuesday were full of speakers. Aside from taking pictures and social media coverage, I also did a few video interviews which are going to be compiled later for a few features.

The conference ended with a great dinner and traditional show. I am so thankful that my job allows me to explore new places and that I work with so many people who put so much of themselves into their work.

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NOW, on the the pretty pictures…

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Unfortunately, I could not avoid being pulled up on stage for dancing, and as you can see I haven’t prioritized getting a copy of that video to share…

Guam was beautiful, and though it was a quick trip, I had a great time and it was nice to explore a new place, especially one that was warm as we head into winter here in DC.

Cheers!