The Noise of Laughter Fills “Noises Off”

While many students take weekends off from school and learning opportunities, LEAP students took this Saturday to grow culturally by going to dinner together and attending a play in Houston. We began the evening by dining at a small cafe near our main entertainment for the evening: Cafe Express. The Cafe Express provided us with an abundance of choices ranging from flavorful salads to decadent pastas. I enjoyed their Harvest Salad, which included fresh spinach, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, feta cheese and delicious strawberry vinaigrette dressing. While conversing about the beginning of school and classes, we got our fill of salads and pastas before the play. It was a wonderful choice as our meal before we headed down to Playhouse 1960 for the showing of “Noises Off”.

Playhouse 1960 is a non-profit community theatre that was founded in 1973 and has since been providing their community with memorable theatre productions.  “Noises Off” was very much a memorable play. The first act made it very clear to the audience that it was a play within a play, and when everyone was focused on watching the stage, we were caught off guard when we heard the voice of the director, Lloyd Dallas, shout from behind our backs. Act One is the actor’s disorganized dress rehearsal, which presented us with ditzy actors missing lines, prop malfunctions and confusion coming from the stage.

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It delivered abundant laughter in the audience. The intermission gave everyone a chance to catch their breath from the laughter.

Interestingly, the intermission also gave us the chance to see the stage machinations in action.  Unlike most theaters, much of the scenery changing occurred with open curtains.

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Act Two was a behind the scenes look at the matinee performance of “Nothing On”. This act showed the entangled romantic relationships among the cast, which led to many on-stage missteps and misspoken lines. While all of the other characters were caught in their romantic turmoil, Selsdon Mowbray (the burglar with a fondness for alcohol) provided plenty of comedic relief along with the comical actions that were taking place back stage. This act was filled with behind-the-scenes whispering and misunderstandings among the cast while they performed their play. The act ended with a cliffhanger with the announcement of a pregnancy, which left us wanting to know more.

In Act Three, the actors are on their last show of the tour. With all of the relationship mishaps between the actors, we could see the growing tensions. The tensions were resolved with the more rational actors trying their best to tie up the play. Once the play had reached a point of no return, it ended with a quick confusing wedding ceremony. The entirety of “Noises Off” had us laughing until the end.

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Afterwards we were even able to have our group picture taken with the entire cast!

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Goodbye Girl: Saying Farewell to DC

The story of the Princess in DC comes to a close, but not before embarking on new learning adventures.

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Beginning with a tour of the Coastal Guard’s Headquarters, courtesy of Ademide, where she briefly discussed the history of the buildings and introduced me to several of her co-workers. Later that afternoon, I toured the Capitol, it was a privilege to see the Senate Gallery along with the old Supreme Court Chamber and the exhibition hall.

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That evening, Ademide and I enjoyed delightful cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes and ended the day with a visit to the Marine Corps War Memorial.

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Throughout the week, I attended a press club panel at the National Press Building hosted by the Rabaa Story Foundation in commemoration of the second anniversary of the Rabaa Massacre. There I had the opportunity to hear stories from a couple witnesses of the Massacre and learn about the conditions in Egypt since the tragic occurrence.

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In the week, I had the privilege to assist Nancy with a speech for a UN official to be delivered to the President of Nigeria.

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I also visited The Library of Congress where among other galleries…

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I had the opportunity to see Thomas Jefferson’s collection of books and admire the breathtaking architecture of this building.

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Afterwards I headed to the Supreme Court, where I was greeted by a statue of John Marshall as I walked in!

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I had the opportunity to actually see the court! It was so exciting to be in this building.

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Continuing the last two weeks of my stay in DC, I visited the National Archives.

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This was an extraordinary experience where I was able to see The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence along with other very interesting documents that have created history!

After visiting the National Archives, I continued towards the Smithsonian Castle, but stopped at the National Sculpture Garden and the Butterfly Habitat Garden on the way.

Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Castle is a marvelous structure which contains much of the history behind the Smithsonian Museums. After learning about the Smithsonian Museums, I visited the Hirshhorn Museum and came across some interesting pieces.

Following the Hirshorn Museum, I met Ademide for dinner at Ted’s Bulletin.

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We enjoyed breakfast for dinner at this lovely family restaurant, and had homemade pop-tarts for dessert. We said our goodbyes as she dropped me off at the Washington Monument where the adventure continued.

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At the Washington Monument, I met with one of Ademide’s friends Ifa, who I had never met, and then I had two tickets to give away to go to the top of the Washington Monument. After asking a handful of people, I finally gave them away one of which decided to join us. So Ifa, Kevin, and I, three complete strangers at the time, ventured to the top of the Washington Monument together. Getting to know each other along the way and enjoying the stunning sight from the top as well as learning about the history of the building. But the adventure of the newly founded friends didn’t end there, we ended the night with some exploring of the city led by the two natives.

I also accompanied Nancy to give a presentation at the Leadership Institute regarding Fundraising and an all-day Fundraising Bootcamp which was a great learning experience for me. After a long day of fundraising, I had a delightful farewell dinner with Nancy at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, and enjoyed a delicious dessert.

Continuing the week, I had the opportunity to reunite with camp friends that were in town for a couple of days and had dinner with them at Mehak an Indian restaurant in Chinatown which I loved, and will definitely be having again!

I also had the opportunity to visit the National Cathedral, which took 83 years to build! It was an impressive building.

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Followed by a walk along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Georgetown.

Georgetown

The adventure ended with a late night stroll through the National Mall reminiscing on the adventures of the last several weeks, and sitting in front of the reflecting pool facing the Washington Monument admiring it for quite some time. On this peaceful summer night, I felt incredibly grateful to be in this beautiful city.

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Thank you Professor Yawn, Nancy Bocskor, Chuck Jones and Ademide for making this possible.

 

DC, Dinosaurs, Diamonds: A Princess in the Capital

Once upon a time there was this young lady, a princess actually, she ventured through the streets of D.C. amazed by all the sites. This princess, Jazmin, lived with Ademide Adedokun, an insightful and generous young lady whom Jazmin became rather fond of. The Princess also interned for wonder woman…but really! Wonder woman did it all! This meant that Princess Jazmin had the opportunity to learn it all. How exciting! She was eager to learn! The first week of adventures flew by so quickly, but the story of the Princess in D.C. continues…

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This weeks’ adventure begins at Thomas Jefferson’s Memorial which was breathtaking! The structure is massive and oversees the Tidal Basin.

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                      Jefferson Memorial

After gazing at the Jefferson Memorial, I continued along the Tidal Basin towards the Roosevelt Memorial. This is the most unusual of the memorials I have seen thus far. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial offers a historical pathway of FDR’s presidency, allowing us to seemingly walk through his presidency.

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Then continued to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, an impressive structure emerging from the mountains.

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Afterwards I headed back towards the Lincoln Memorial, to see some of the memorials I had missed in my excitement, the first time around. Now, I saw the DC War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and ending with the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial.

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Throughout the week, I had the pleasure of observing Nancy (Wonder Woman) speak to a group of accomplished Japanese women on the subject of Women in Politics. This group of women were eager to learn from her. They seemed truly grateful to be there and even sent us off with several Japanese tokens! Having the opportunity to meet with these women and see Nancy in action was a pleasure! A bonus was then taking a tour of beautiful churches.

During this week, I also had the opportunity to visit two of The Smithsonian Museums, American History and Natural History. The collections in both of these museums are astonishing.

In the American History Museum, among my favorite collections is the 30×42 inch original Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag, from 1813 that inspired Francis Key to compose the Nation Anthem. Another of my favorites is The First Lady Collection, exhibiting beautiful gowns worn by the First Ladies.

First_Lady_Dress

The National Museum of Natural History also contained spectacular collections. Here, I was able to explore and venture into each of the numerous galleries. Some of my favorites were The Last American Dinosaur…

Dinasaur

the Mummies…

Mummy

and the Hope Diamond.

Hope_Diamond

To end this eventful and exciting second week of adventures, Ademide Adedokun along with a group of her friends and I enjoyed a beautiful Sunday at a winery in Clifton, Virginia. This was my first time in a winery! During our visit, we were able to engage in a wine tasting and learn about the various wines we were tasting. It was a great experience.

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But, the story of the Princess in D.C. is to be continued…

 

Sayonara Savannah: Day Six of Deep South Tour

We began our last day in Savannah embarking on an adventure. We went on a dolphin tour through the Savannah River and Atlantic Ocean. It was a sunny day, perfect weather for a boat ride.

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Our tour took us past Tybee Island and into the Atlantic Ocean.

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The view of Tybee Island from the ocean was nice. We encountered a shrimping boat that attracted many pelicans and dolphins.

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The majority of the dolphins we saw today gathered around the boat because they feed off anything the shrimpers throw back into the ocean. My personal favorite was a baby and momma dolphin swimming together!

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The Southern Legislative Conference provided us with lunch on our dolphin tour. We had packed sandwiches, chips, fruit, and a cookie for dessert. It was an okay lunch with a great view.

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We learned much in the process.  For example, the US government has established several “bird islands,” where birds can go to nest.  Predators’ populations are controlled and care is taken to ensure that birds have a natural habitat.

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The tour also highlighted several forts, energy plants, and bordering states.

As the tour came to a conclusion, it started raining. Fortunately, we dodged any serious storms. The tour was perfect way to begin our last day in Savannah, however we still had a long day ahead of us.

After briefly freshening up, we headed out to the Liquid Sand Glass Gallery to look at the glass art.

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We browsed the store and a couple of us bought glass nail filers that we’re pretty excited about. On our way back to the car, we stopped at a nifty shop right next door that sold many natural products such as soaps, seasonings, and oils.

After some shopping, we visited the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low…

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…and, a few blocks away, her carriage house, where she founded the Girl Scouts of America.

Girl_Scout_Founding_Rosales_Tyra_Chapa_Galvan_WebMegan and Alex tried to get into the Girl Scouts photo with us, but they weren’t Girl Scouts, so we wouldn’t let them be in the picture.  Well, they were in the picture, but not in any official capacity.  The photographer captured them sulking in the background.

We also took another look at the Andrew Low House (Juliette Gordon Low’s Father in Law).

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After taking photos, we made our way to Forsyth Park to see the famous Savannah water fountain that was built in 1858.

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The fountain is striking from a distance…

Forsyth_Fountain_6_Web…and from up close…

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While at the fountain we took some selfies, group photos and tried to capture the beauty of the fountain.

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Forsyth Park was laid out in the 1840’s so we really enjoyed the giant Oak trees covered in Spanish moss.

Bonaventure_Cemetery_Spanish_Moss_WebWe also took a look at the Confederate War Monument in the Park, one of many veterans memorials in Savannah.

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By the time we were done “modeling” for the camera at the fountain, we were all ready for Leopold’s Ice Cream. Leopold’s Ice Cream was founded in 1919 by three immigrant brothers from Greece and has been visited by many including Johnny Mercer, the famed lyricist.

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We each tried Leopold’s famous Ice cream sandwiches. They were absolutely delectable!

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Before wrapping up our time in Savannah with the State Dinner, we made a pit stop at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. Bonaventure Cemetery is where Savannah native, Johnny Mercer is buried. Johnny Mercer is relevant to the state of Georgia for many reasons. He was a thriving lyricist with over 850 songs and founder of Capitol records.

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He wrote a hit song called Moon River and today he still makes profits from his music. The cemetery overlooks the Moon River, so while there we snapped some photos of us and the famous river.

Moon_River_WebFor many years, the Bonaventure Cemetery was the home of “The Bird Girl,” a statue featured on the best-selling  book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”  Because of the success of that movie, however, visitors flocked to the cemetery, and the sculpture was moved to Jepson Art Center.

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The visit to the cemetery was interesting. While leaving flowers at gravesites is popular, we saw rocks on tombstones at this particular one. We couldn’t figure out what they represented, but they were different and some rocks were beautiful. Because we were running short on time, we didn’t spend as much time as we would have liked to, but nevertheless we enjoyed our time learning about Mr. Mercer and Moon River.

Following a few more photographs of local scenes…

TomoChiChis_Grave_Web…and street performers…

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Every evening, the conference has hosted a reception for socializing and networking. Each night, the receptions have been fun and memorable. This evening, the final night of the Southern Legislative Conference, we attended the State Dinner, which featured presentations and speeches by elected officials and entertainment. The dinner theme was “Georgia on my mind.” All the details of the décor reflected Georgia and its signature items, such as peaches and cotton.

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We were pleasantly surprised when the LSC staff asked the four SHSU students to represent Texas in the flag parade.

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While elected officials represented most of the 15 states attending, Texas was represented by four college students!

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Alex, Megan, Karla, Kaitlyn Represent TX at SLC

Following the parade, the Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston welcomed the conference attendees and thanked everyone for their dedication to the conference.

Dinner began where we enjoyed the filet mignon and peach glazed chicken among sweet tea and southern style sides.

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Our table consisted of our group and Mr. & Mrs. Hickman. Mr. Hickman is the Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Finance Committee in the Virginia Capitol. Both Mr. and Ms. Hickman were knowledgeable and very welcoming, they offered interesting history facts about their hometown of Richmond, Virginia and travel tips for when we have the opportunity to visit Virginia. Our dinner conversation was pleasant and we were happy to have met them.

For entertainment, Jeff Foxworthy delivered hilarious comedy material, which everyone enjoyed.

State_Dinner_Foxworthy_WebAlthough most of his set was new material, he closed with some redneck jokes, including:

  • If your matching salad bowls all say, “Cool Whip,” you might be a redneck.
  • If your son’s name is Dale, Jr., but your name isn’t Dale, you might be a redneck.

Comedy was an amusing way to end dinner.

Comedy did not end the evening, however.  That honor fell to Sheila Raye Charles, the daughter of the late Ray Charles.  She sang some new materials, some covers of various artists (including Maroon 5) and covers of songs made famous by her father.

Just before we left, Ms. Hickman, introduced us to her friend and Virginia State Senator, Barbara Favola.

LEAP Center Students and Senator Favola
          LEAP Center Students                 and Senator Favola

Senator Favola offered her advice and experiences on how to pursue a career path in politics one day. She was very knowledgeable and gave us some insight to her career. Throughout our Tour of the Deep South, it has been interesting to learn about how state legislatures differ from Texas’s. Thank you to Ms. Hickman for introducing us to Senator Favola!

After a few final pictures, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our early morning departure and next full day of sightseeing in Alabama and Mississippi. Reflecting back on our time in Savannah, we have learned a lot about the rich history of the city and immensely enjoyed all the sightseeing. Thankful for the opportunity to attend the Southern Legislative Conference, we are sad to leave the beautiful city of Savannah…

Girls Contemplate Leaving Savannah, GA
Girls Contemplate Leaving Savannah, GA

…but excited about visiting more cities in our Tour of the Deep South!