Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My Chicago Surprise

Hi everyone! I hope all is well with you.

I am back in Iowa now from my trip to Washington DC and I wanted to share with you the "surprise" Kristin had planned for me yesterday.

Kristin told me when we left Washington DC yesterday that she had a surprise for me when we reached Chicago. It was REALLY hard to be patient on the entire plane ride from Washington to Chicago! But, it was worth the wait.

When we got to Chicago, I thought we were going to get on another plane and fly to Moline. But Kristin told me we were going to meet a group of her friends at the airport and then DRIVE home. I didn't think that was much of a surprise. But then Kristin told me that the group was coming from Kosovo.

That's when I remembered that I met someone who works in Kosovo on one of my other trips to Washington DC. Kristin reminded me that her name is Liz Shropshire and she runs a music training program in Kosovo. Last summer Keith and Kristin and a big group of people from Muscatine went to Kosovo to visit Liz and her students. So this summer Liz is bringing a group of her students to Muscatine for a few weeks. I think that's pretty cool!

So, I waited with Keith and Kristin in the business lounge for a few hours for the Kosovo group's plane to arrive. Kristin even bought me a bear to play with while I was waiting.

After waiting for a few hours, we walked a REALLY long way to the gate where the Kosovo group's plane was going to park at. I could tell Keith and Kristin were really excited when the plane arrived. They both gave big hugs to Liz and all of her students. I can't remember their names but they are all very nice. Here is a picture of the Kosovo group right after they arrived.

I don't know much about Kosovo but Kristin told me there was a war there several years ago and that the war made her students (and all of the children in Kosovo) very sad. So Liz went to to Kosovo to teach them music and help make them happy again. I think that was a really nice thing for Liz to do.

I think I am going to have to learn more about Kosovo now that I have met Liz's students.

Unfortunately, not all of the Kosovo group's luggage arrived so we had to wait while Liz filled out paperwork for the delayed luggage. Then, Kristin, Keith and the entire Kosovo group got into 3 vans and we drove to Muscatine.

We stopped for food along the way and all of Liz's students wanted to eat at McDonald's. Kristin told me there isn't a McDonald's in Kosovo. Can you believe that? I can't imagine living in a place and not have a McDonald's!

Here I am having McDonald's with Liz's students.

All of Liz's students speak English but sometimes I couldn't understand anything they were saying. Kristin says that's because the main language in Kosovo is Albanian. I had no idea! Kristin says they speak both English and I was probably hearing them speak Albanian. Maybe I should learn to speak Albanian.

We didn't get to Muscatine until 1AM (but I did sleep in the van). So I am very tired today. But I want to thank Kristin and Keith for taking me to Washington. And, I want to thank them for introducing me to their friends from Kosovo.

Until my next adventure....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Surprise...I am in Washington DC!

Hi everyone. I am SO excited to be writing to you from Washington DC.

Kristin asked me on Saturday if I wanted to go with her and Keith to the nation's capital for a "quick" trip. Of course I said YES!

We left Moline on Sunday morning and flew to Chicago. We then got on another plane and flew to Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. I've actually been to this airport before so I recognized it right away. How cool is that?

Keith and Kristin are here to meet with people who are helping the Stanley Foundation with a big meeting later this year. So yesterday (Monday) we went to this BIG building called the Reagan Center. Guess what? It is named in honor of President Ronald Reagan. I had no idea!

Anyway, Keith and Kristin were very busy most of the morning talking to people about their big meeting. They were also taking pictures so they could show their friends at the foundation. So, they didn't have time to take a photo of me. :(

But, as soon as the meeting was over Kristin told me we were going to see their friend Simon Marks at his office. I was really excited because I got to play TV anchor at Simon's office when I was in DC with Keith and Kristin earlier this year.

I thought we would take a cab but Keith and Kristin decided to take the Metro. Then I was REALLY excited. Do you remember me telling you about the Metro on my other trips? It's a FAST underground train system. I LOVE to ride the Metro. It is so much fun!

I played TV anchor while Keith and Kristin talked to Simon for awhile. Then we took the Metro back to our hotel so Keith and Kristin could get ready for dinner. I thought we were just going to eat somewhere near the hotel but Keith and Kristin got very dressed up. That's when Kristin told me we were going to an awards ceremony at a place called The National Press Club.

WOW! Kristin says their radio program Security Check won another award and they were going to the dinner to pick up the award.

There were LOTS of people at the award dinner. And I was really surprised but I even knew someone in the room! It was my friend Michael from the Chicago Tribune. Michael is one of Kristin's journalist friends from our trip to Egypt. How cool is that?!

The dinner was very nice and Keith and Kristin talked to lots of people who looked very important. Here you can see me with Kristin and the award.

Outside of the room where we had dinner, there is a wall FULL of award plaques. Because Keith and Kristin's radio program won an award, the foundation is now listed on the broadcast plaque for an award called "The Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence." Whew! That's a really long name for an award!

I don't recognize any of the people who are also listed on the plaque but Keith told me they are all very famous journalists. I think it is awesome that the foundation is listed on a plaque with famous journalists (even if I don't know who they are), don't you?

After the dinner, Keith and Kristin decided to take me to the White House. It is only a few blocks from the National Press Club. I was SO excited. Do you remember Kristin and Keith took me to see the White House earlier this year? And, do you remember know who lives in the White House? ('s the President of the United States).

The White House was dark but Kristin managed to take a picture of me. How cool! Now I have a photo in front of the White House during the day AND at night.

I need to get going now. Keith and Kristin are headed to the airport. We are flying to Chicago today and then headed back to Muscatine. But, Kristin tells me she has a big surprise for me when we get to Chicago. I wonder what it is? I can't wait to find out.

Until next time.....