My name is Brenna Elizabeth Engel Alexander and I initiated my extensive blogging career about a 27 hours ago. I hail from a small town in Southern California named Wrightwood- home to 3,000 mountain folk, the occasional bear, and no stop lights. Some might recognize my town as home to Mountain High Ski Resort which, as many Wrightwoodians proudly proclaim, has hosted the likes of Adam Sandler and Olympic snowboarder Sean White- though the Flaming Tomato was surprisingly underwhelmed by our humble abode. My mother and father, married less than a mile from where we live now, did a pretty good job of raising me and my brother Evan, who is always first to admit that I shall forever remain the stronger, faster, smarter, and ultimately more likeable child… (I kid, I kid). Though I go to school in Berkeley, California, home is where I live with this trio, as well as the 3 dogs and 4 cats my parents continue to feed.
Raised by a social worker and a psychologist, I arrived at the University of California, Berkeley determined not to major in psychology. That didn’t last long. I’ve got one more semester before at Cal, where I am majoring in psych with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice. Between sleeping through classes, I have spent much time at school as a photographer for the Daily Californian (the university newspaper) and working with the Suitcase Clinic, a student run organization which works to connect homeless individuals in the Bay Area with resources and professional attention. Having played softball my entire life, I decided to try my hand at ultimate frisbee, and though it went better than Chem 1A, I have found I much prefer running, swimming, hiking- or getting lost in pretty places. Last winter I was also able to travel with UC Berkeley Hillel to Israel, an incredible country where I was fortunate enough stay with wonderful family in Jerusalem.
If you’ve read bit of my previous posts, you already know that I’m about to arrive in Phnom Penh, Cambodia! As mentioned in an earlier, this trip is part of the course work for my minor at Cal. In Phnom Penh I will be working with an NGO named WOMEN’S Organization of Modern Economics and Nursing to assist in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. For seven weeks I will help lead safe sex classes and counseling for diagnosed individuals alongside my roommate and travel partner Christopher Buoy whose family is originally from Cambodia. Though my Khmer is limited (I know over 11 words…), I am thrilled to live and work in a country I have spent so much time learning about. I am hoping that this experience may shed some light on my goals to work abroad as a psychologist and social advocate, as this is my first experience living outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time. I have no doubt that experience will challenge me in new ways and cannot wait to get my feet on the ground!
That’s it for now, stay tuned for my first encounter with Southeast Asia and other more general ponderings! Thanks for checking in!