Thank you David Bonderman!

Because of Mr. Bonderman's generosity, I have been given the opportunity to travel the world and learn about culture. As a Bonderman Travel Fellow I plan on traveling through Western and Eastern Europe, East Africa, Northern India and Southeast Asia. I am excited to experience new and amazing things that will better enable me to empower and inspire the next generation of young students.

ALSO!!! If you are interested in following the nasty development of my beard and can follow it at

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hungarian Horntail


Harry Potter has faced many challenges in his over-dramatic, but inspiring, life. I'd argue that one of his toughest challenges came during the first task of the Triwizard Tournament, when he was matched up against a Hungarian Horntail. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hungarian Horntails, these are a breed of dragon native to Hungary. Most wizards would say that they are the most dangerous of all dragons...but Harry came out on top! How does this apply to my life right now?? Well, I feel as though I was met with a challenge in Hungary last night, and I came out on top!

Here's the story:
Yesterday I took a night train from Prague to Budapest to save money and time. The train left from Prague at 23:11 and was scheduled to arrive in Budapest at 8:20 this morning. I got to the train station about an hour before departure so that I could brush my teeth, get my book ready and have my choice of seats. Everything was going perfectly! I found an empty compartment with bench seats and no armrest (the seats were long enough to fully extend my legs and wide enough to lay very comfortably)!

At midnight, I started to fall asleep, but a random conversation with my mom popped into my head. I remember her asking, "How do you secure all of your luggage when you're on night trains so nobody steals your stuff?" I told her that I've never really had any problems with my luggage so I don't worry about it too much. But for some reason, on the train I was a little more paranoid than usual. So, I used my handy dandy combination lock and all of the buckles on both of my back packs to securely fasten each of them to the overhead luggage rack (it took me about five minutes to free the bags from my own security system this morning). I fell asleep with a clear conscious.

But, periodically throughout the night, various conductors woke me up to ask for my ticket and make sure I wasn't riding the train for free. Then, at around 3 am, a conductor busted into my compartment and demanded my ticket. I showed him my Eurail Pass, but he started scolding me because it isn't valid in Slovakia and my train went 130 km through Slovakia at one point. I dealt with it and fell right back to sleep. But then, at around 4 am I woke up and saw another man standing over me in the dark. I thought it was another conductor, so I sprang to my feet and looked at him...he definitely wasn't a conductor and he was holding my jeans and my jacket. I approached him and he backed up into the corner of the compartment. I took back my stuff and kicked him out of the room. Then, looking at my bags, I noticed that he definitely tried to pull my smaller pack off the rack. My security system was successful!

I stayed awake for the rest of the night and two different thieves came into my room to rob me while I was laying down. Good thing I wasn't asleep because I scared them off pretty good. It was definitely nerve racking. I can't believe that there were at least three people on my train stealing things from sleeping passengers!!! Crazy!

Thank goodness, nothing of mine was stolen and now I know what to look for. I guess you could say I'm reading for the second task in the Triwizard Tournament.

And thanks mommy for haunting my thoughts :)