Saturday, November 28, 2009

Second to last semester flying by!

Wow. I am almost through my second-to-last semester here at Penn Law! My how time flies!

Ronald's initial visa petition was approved on August 12, and he has now submitted his checklist stating that he has all the paperwork he needs to proceed. Hopefully he will be scheduled for an interview soon. I can't wait to get him here!

I've been pretty busy this semester, I have two clients in the clinic (and two wonderful clinic partners to work with). I've also been planning a Symposium for the Journal of International Law with my Symposium Co-Editor, Joanna. This year's Symposium is Afro-descendants and Indigenous Peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean: Legal Rights and Realities. I am very excited about the program.

I planned (and performed in) a Penn Law talent show earlier this semester. We had six acts, and it was a fun night. I belly danced, and we had several musical acts (including Azerbaijani music) and an amazing baton routine. I am took a course through the School of Social Policy and Practice Non-Profit Leadership Program for my Leadership in Social Change Fellowship, it was amazing! I met lots of great people, including Kushinga, a lawyer from Zimbabwe. She is going to help me learn Shona. It was very different from law courses, but I learned a lot and am ready to jump into my practicum next semester. All I need to do now is find an organization to partner with...

The job search is slow and a little painful, but I remain hopeful that I will be gainfully employed by the time I graduate. There haven't been a lot of job postings for third year students, but hopefully things will pick up after the new year. Keep your fingers crossed for an economic rebound!

Gordon is doing very well. I have been guilt feeding him, and he is gaining back his "indoor cat" weight. The vet does not approve. He is sleeping on my arms as I type this.

Well, I'd better get to work, lots to be done before the end of the semester!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Time flies when you are having an AWESOME summer

Only two more weeks of work this summer! I can't believe I've been working for eight weeks already. It has been a wonderful summer; I love the work I've been doing, the people at the firm are great, there have been tons of fun events, and I have been to a multitude of fancy restaurants for lunches. This summer has confirmed that I made the right choice in going to law school. I get so excited when I come up with legal arguments or find cases to support our position. It was a little embarrassing at first, but I am learning to embrace my legal nerditude. I think I'm going to like this "being a lawyer" thing.

The firm picnic was last weekend, it was a great time. It was held at a farm with a train, amusement park, petting zoo, and tasty food. We'll be going sailing next week and our trip to Portland was great. The train broke down on the way home, so we sat outside Vancouver, Washington for 4 hours with no AC while Amtrak sent down a new engine to tow us to Seattle. Other than that, we lived in the lap of luxury.

The partner who heads the Immigration Group is letting me help with an asylum case and is helping me navigate the process for Ronald's visa. She is a lot of fun, very helpful, and she puts up with all my questions. I have been quite confused by some of the information on the USCIS website, but I think they do that on purpose. On July 16 the processing times posted were as of May 31 and they said they were processing applications received on December 30. So it may be that they are ahead of schedule, but that seems too much to hope for. The application is still waiting patiently at the Vermont Service Center.

Gordon is having a great summer, he's been running around outside all day, and is finally making friends with Mousse, my roommate's dog. He spent the first few weeks in the closet, but now he sleeps on Mousse's bed in the living room when he's not out gallivanting around. We'll be in Bozeman from August 5 to the 22, so he'll get to see his friends there and check out his old stomping grounds. He's going to be very upset when we get back to the apartment in Philadelphia, but hopefully he'll get over it.

While we are in Bozeman, I will be doing lots of wedding planning AND meeting Miss Christina James Bratsky. I can't wait. She is sooooo friggin' adorable!! I can't believe she'll be 4 months old by the time I meet her. Here are some of the photos I took off of Erin's Facebook profile (I hope she doesn't mind):

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer in Seattle

Time flies! I can't believe how quickly the end of the semester, finals, an awesome visit from my mom, a trek to Seattle and the first five weeks of my summer job have gone! It seems I am always playing catch-up with this blog. The end of school went as well as could be expected; it was busy, busy, busy! My mom came to visit the Saturday after finals ended, and we had a great time. We went to David's Bridal and tried on dresses with Maisha, it was a fun time.

Then we went to New York and got fabric for my wedding dress! I am very excited, it will be awesome. We met up with Nick and Kayt for dinner, and then took the bus back to Philadelphia. We visited the fabric district in Philly, too. Mom helped me get ready for the summer in Seattle, and we had a great time gallivanting around Philadelphia. The week went too fast, as usual.

After mom went back to Bozeman, Gordon and I packed up and left for Seattle. We got a direct flight from Philadelphia to Seattle and were picked up at the airport by a friend of a friend. The place I am staying is great, right near the bus with a big yard and lots of flowering bushes. Gordon took a while to warm up to Moose, my roommate's dog. They now seem to get along pretty well. Gordon has realized that Moose doesn't want to hurt him and tolerates him most of the time. Gordon has been going outside and exploring the neighborhood. I think he is enjoying his summer.

I am already halfway through my summer at Lane Powell. The attorneys I work with are great, the work has been really interesting, and I am having a wonderful time. I've been working on all different types of issues, mostly relating to litigation. I've even played on the firm softball team a few times. I am not good, but I try, and they don't hold my lack of sporting ability against me :) On Tuesday we are taking a trip to the Portland office to visit the attorneys there. It should be a lot of fun.

I am looking forward to the next five weeks of work and to heading back to Bozeman to visit for a few weeks. I am going to meet Christina, Erin and David's daughter! Mom and I will do some wedding planning, and then it'll be back to Philadelphia for my third and final year of law school (!) I hope I get another update posted before then, but given my past record, I am not making any promises.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time marches on...

With Winston and Ruvimbo

Erin and David's beautiful baby girl, Christina James Bratsky was born on April 7!!! Her mother says she is the best baby ever. I would expect nothing less. I am hoping to be able to meet CJ in August.

March was a great month! I went to visit Ronald in Botswana for spring break and meet some of his family and friends. I met his aunts (who are his mothers in his cultural tradition) Lily and Pamela, and his cousins Winston and Ruvimbo. The last night I was there Aunt Lily made a wonderful traditional dinner and I got a cooking lesson. One week was not enough, but it was so nice to see Ronald, be back in Gaborone, and have a bit of a break.

As soon as I returned to Philadelphia, I submitted our fiance visa application! It has now been a month, so hopefully things will get resolved in the next five or six months. We will have a small civil ceremony when he gets here, then our wedding will be in Bozeman on August 14, 2010! That is two weeks after the bar exam, so it will be a busy summer.

I've been busy with events and class since the break. We held the third annual Penn Law Idol and raised $200 to benefit the Black Law Student Association (BLSA)'s spring break service trip to South Africa and People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression, and Poverty (PASSOP) a South African non-profit that helps refugees from Zimbabwe in South Africa. We picked new board members for IHRA and EJF for next year, and I've been working with my fellow Symposium Editor on possible topics for next year's Journal of International Law Symposium.

I've been sick for the last three weeks, starting with a sore throat, headaches, bodyaches, fever, and congestion. Then I developed pink eye and a nagging cough. I feel mostly well, but I am still coughing and my throat is still sore, so I am going back to the doctor again today, just in case. Today is the last day of class; finals are looming. I can't believe I am almost done with my second year of law school--crazy!

Mom is coming to visit after finals and we are going to go to New York to look for fabric for my wedding dress! We are going to Mood, the store they shop at on Project Runway! Then I am off to Seattle for the summer. I am looking forward to being back in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sorry for the silence

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted! Sorry about that. Here is what has been happening since the last post:

December: Ronald was told by immigration in Botswana that the committee that decides on work visas would not be meeting again until the new year and everyone who had a pending application would have to wait outside the country. This meant he was being sent back to Zimbabwe for an undetermined time. Because of the cholera outbreak and dire financial situation in Zimbabwe, he decided it was too dangerous for me to visit him there. So, my trip was canceled and I spent Christmas in Bozeman, instead. It was nice to be home, but I was very worried about Ronald. Thankfully, he was back in Botswana after a few days, safe and sound.

January: Back in Philadelphia, back at school. I am taking Antitrust, Refugee Law, and Conflicts of Law. These have all been great classes so far. The first draft of my comment on human rights and the power sharing agreement in Zimbabwe was due, so I did a lot of research into the history and current conditions in my future home country as Ronald used to call it.

February: I was chosen to be one of two Symposium Editors for the Journal of International Law for next year. I performed in the Vagina Monologues and we raised over $1,000 for an organization that helps victims of domestic violence in Philadelphia. The annual Equal Justice Foundation auction was a great success, raising money to support students doing unpaid public interest work over the summer. We also hosted "the father of human rights study in China" for a wonderful talk on criminal justice. I finished out the month with a visit to York County Prison to interview a detainee who is seeking asylum for my Refugee Law class.

My time is up for now, I promise to write about March soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Last day of class

I am sitting in my very last class of the semester. I am four finals and one paper away from being halfway done with law school! Weird. Lots has happened since my last post. As soon as I got out of my class I had a message offering me a job! What a relief... The never ending story has an end after all.

In other news, it seems I may be married within the next month or so! Ronald and I had been planning on getting married in August, but decided it would be better to have the ceremony while I am there over the holidays because the paperwork to get him a visa to live here takes several months.

Other than these few bits of interesting news, I am mostly just plodding along, reading, cat sitting, being attacked by Gordon and watching more TV than I should. I will write more soon about wedding plans, meeting Sven and Emily in Newark, and a cousin convention. Here is a picture of Gordon perched on a tub of books slated to live in the back of the closet:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cranky and in need of a nap!

It is that time of the semester: too much to do and too little time! I have planned two events (with a great deal of help) in the last week, Thursday will be my fifth interview in two weeks, my reading is piling up, and I only seem to be able to muster enough energy to stare blankly at the wall. In addition, my bank is trying to take advantage of me and finals are looming on the not-too-distant horizon... Enough whining. I have been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately, which I know is counter-productive and makes me WAY less fun to hang out with. So, we can move on to the positives:

I have some AMAZING people in my life! From my parents, who never fail to make me feel better, to Maisha, who drove me on a long expedition into the middle of nowhere to satisfy my Red Robbin craving, to Gordon, who always knows when I am in dire need of a snuggle, to the people in the Career Planning and Public Interest offices, who are cheering me on in my job search, and the friends who answer the phone and listen while I rant, I am a lucky girl. Then, of course, there is Ronald. What a lovely human being he is! He is so supportive and loving. I am counting the days until I arrive in Africa for Christmas vacation (36!). It has been difficult the last month or so to get through via telephone, but I discovered I can use Skype to send text messages.

While the job search is exhausting and frustrating, I am amazed at the number of positive responses I have received from e-mailing out my resume and transcript. Things could be worse! Perhaps by the end of all of this I will be better than a mediocre interviewer. I have never really liked selling myself, so this has been a beneficial experience. I keep telling myself that. I know when it is all over I will be better able to appreciate that. I'm waiting...

The last two IHRA events were also very successful, last Thursday we co-sponsored a documentary screening with Lambda Law about the right to marry as a basic human right. The passage of Proposition 8 in California is very disturbing to me. I have always believed that consenting adults should be allowed to marry, but lately the whole issue has become much more personal to me. 50 years ago there were states which would consider my marrying Ronald a crime. I hope it doesn't take another 50 years for the LGTB community to have their rights recognized.
We also had a great lecture on Legal Aid in Xinjiang province as part of out Human Rights in China speaker series. It was very interesting to learn about the types of cases being handled by legal aid and the legal system in China. The event was well-attended, and I hope that momentum continues for our events next semester.

Mom asked for some pictures of Gordon. I haven't gotten the new ones on my computer yet, so here are some older ones to tide her over.