An Intro to Shilla, Peru

I said I’d share about my Peru trip all along the way, and several months later I’m sitting down to do my first post. Sorry! Internet and free time were not plentiful. I have no excuse for once I got back to the states but better late then never?

There are so many memories and moments to share. First I wanted to talk about the site we worked in: Shilla, Peru.

Shilla was a 15 minute ride from our hotel in Carhuaz. It was way up in the mountains and every morning we got a stunning view of snow-capped Mt Huazcaran. Every single day we oooooh’ed and aaaahhh’ed over it on the drive there and several times throughout the work day.

Shilla is pretty remote and up in the mountains. Our work site, specifically, was too high up for the truck with our equipment. So we took it up on our shoulders from our host family’s home.

Our host family was made up of parents Celestino and Señora Norma plus their four sons.

Shilla is full of very hard-working “campesinos,” rural people who tend to their fields all day by hand–no tractors, power tools are to be found. A neighbor was using pre-made bricks and looked almost out of place with the modern materials.

Women wore traditional outfits with lots of layers–it reminded me of Colorado in that the high temperatures and low humidity made it cold at night and hot in the sun during the day. Only in Shilla the layers weren’t shed throughout the day. These women often were the ones in the campos (crop fields). Growing papas (potatoes), maize, cilantro, and quinoa. They worked until sundown and then had little light to travel by–making it difficult for the women to gather for the women’s organization at Sonja’s house.

In  Shilla everyone says hello. You make sure to say the time-appropriate greeting as you pass people on the road. The site had never hosted gringo volunteers before so I’m sure seeing us hauling bamboo bundles up the mountain with pathetic ‘omg this hurts, what is this incline?’ look on our faces was a pretty humorous sight for the locals.

Our host family brought us into their home with open hearts and showed us true humility, work ethic and compassion. As brief a time we spent with them, they made a lasting impression on all of us.

GHI Peru blog

The GHI team of undergrads I traveled to Peru with was so special–each surprising me with their amazing attitudes, maturity and collaborative energy that I totally didn’t expect from a cohort of people 5-6 years younger.

peru team

One of the many ways they out-did me in responsibility was maintaining a blog about the project. Three cheers to Nina and Tori who led the way.

Read up on our project at the GHI Peru page.

Q&A for Bike Commuters

rules of the road, bikers

It’s good to know your rights as a cyclist. Mostly to win arguments in casual encounters with friends or not-so-friendly neighbors on the road. And that might be the most rewarding kind of knowledge exercise anyway.

In all seriousness, knowing how bike laws are structured for your safety helps you feel confident in sharing the road. Following the rules keeps everyone safer and sets the right example for potential new bikers on the road.

Do I have to ride in the road?

A thousand times, yes. Bicycle riders, except small children, are prohibited from riding on sidewalks in Columbus. It might seem like a safer place to bike, but with the mix of pedestrians, pets and other commuters by wheels, traffic is nowhere near as predictable on the sidewalk as it is on the road.

Am I fast enough for riding in the road? Won’t I be impeding traffic?

You ride at your own speed. The law for reasonable speed is applied for an appropriate pace for your vehicle. Just like other vehicles (horse drawn, for example) have different ‘reasonable’ speeds, you’re only expected to go as fast as a biker should, not with the flow of car traffic. When you’re on a bike in the road, you are traffic, and thus not impeding traffic for going slower than a motor vehicle’s speed.

Where in the road should I be positioned?

The law states that bikers shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. Practicable, not possible.

– i.e. you do NOT have to hug the line.

  • Maybe there’s debris, or a pothole, or you just want to be more visible. Giving yourself a few feet of room is A-okay.
  • The new 3 foot law requires drivers to allow space between you when passing. Commercial drivers need to allow 5 feet of passing space.

What equipment do I need to stay legal?

The law states that every bicycle when in use shall be equipped with the following:

(1)  A front white light

(2)  A red reflector on the rear

(3)  A red rear light in addition to the red reflector

  • If the red lamp performs as a reflector in that it is visible as specified in division (A)(2) of this section, the red lamp may serve as the reflector and a separate reflector is not required.
  • Additional lamps and reflectors may be used in addition to those required, except that red lamps and red reflectors shall not be used on the front of the bicycle and white lamps and white reflectors shall not be used on the rear of the bicycle.

(4)  Every bicycle shall be equipped with an adequate brake when used on a street or highway.

Other laws you should know:

Riding side-by-side is legal (law says no more than two abreast), of course it’s a good idea to be courteous and ride single file when in traffic.

You should signal for turns and stops, even sudden slowing just as a car would, if you can. It is not always required. For example, when you need both hands for braking or otherwise controlling the bike, signaling is not mandatory.

And for the lady bikers out there, a silly/ingenious cycle hack video, Penny in Yo Pants:

Penny In Yo Pants from Johanna Holtan on Vimeo.


All of this I learned at the annual Women’s Bike Summit from a local bike attorney. He blogs on current cases and translates legalese with his own notes on how the laws are applied in practice, at

Yes, You Can Help

plush uterus

I’m leaving for Peru in less than a week! If you’re still looking for ways to help, consider these:

Education materials on sexual and reproductive health
( in Spanish would be the most helpful )

  • educational boards of reproductive systems,
  • menstrual cycle visual aids,
  • pregnancy process materials,
  • demo kit of birth control methods, etc.judy blume book

Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” (in English and/or Spanish)

  • This book will  be used as an educational/discussion tool around menstruation for pre-teen and teen girls at Shilla primary and secondary school, and in the context of English classes. It allows for  participatory discussion about menstrual popular culture with an intercultural approach and in a fun context.

Kale seeds

  • for community organic garden and school garden

English Language Learning materials

  • to donate to the primary and secondary schools in Shilla

If you live in Columbus and want to donate something, let me know! I’ll pick them up from you this weekend.

and Cash, of course

Some of these are pretty specific so another option, for dwellers of Columbus or any city, is to donate money. Project needs will undoubtably arise once we are on site. Also, some things make sense to buy there, due to travel limitations, and also because learning materials obtained locally will have better cultural relevance to the learners than something we might bring over. Any donations collected will go straight to the community, not the volunteers’ expenses. So pitch in and help us boost our effectiveness.

Solpayki (thank you)!

ODEE Yoga: Tips for Beginners

The Wellness Innovators are excited to announce the pilot of a new wellness offering at ODEE: lunchtime yoga.

The first session of our pilot takes place May , 12 – 1 pm.

I’ve been practicing for a while now so you might consider me biased, but yoga has done some magic things for my mental and physical health.

One chapter of Ohio State’s cultural history was the adoption of the “Be Here Now” mantra, and whether you’ve been through these trainings or not, any yogi could speak to the value of being present in your personal and professional lives.

Before things get too ‘far out,’ let me provide some quick tips for beginner yogis:


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Mirroring without Over-Sharing (tips for iOS and Mac)

The new Digital Union location in Stillman Hall has a wireless display setup so you can deliver your content seamlessly by mirroring your laptop, tablet, even your smartphone. No more rushing out of the office, packing up your equipment, worrying about dongles and adapters and doo-hickys so everything connects.

Mirroring is often preferred over using a room’s pre-installed hardware, because it better preserves your formatting. Here are a couple of tips for presenting from your own device:

1. Presenting only your presentation:

Everything is synced these days. Applications are designed to be readily available to you. Desktop popups let you know there’s a message to respond to, a task delivered, a phone call to return. Mobile notifications send coupons you just can’t miss, meeting reminders, a friend in your vicinity, you name it.

These alerts, when managed selectively, can be helpful.








During a presentation, they can be annoying. Even weird, depending on the situation.









For this reason, Do Not Disturb is your friend.

It’s the moon icon on your iOS device. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to activate and deactivate.

















On your laptop, go to Notifications under System Preferences or through your menu bar’s Notification Center.


My default was set to Do Not Disturb when mirroring to TVs and projectors.









2. Protecting your password:

Now you’re presenting, completely on your game. Say you’re presenting from your iPhone.








Someone asks a great question to which you respond thoroughly and intelligently. It takes a minute, and your device goes to sleep.












What to do? Politely ask everyone to look away? Type in your password quickly, hoping no one is paying much attention?







I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, you can swipe up and access the Control Center to turn off AirPlay before entering your password.









Of course, if you prep ahead of time, you can change your settings so it takes longer to fall asleep in the first place. But this is a good feature to know, just in case.

Have you ever over-shared when mirroring for a presentation? Do tell.

Happy presenting!

Grammar Neurotics at Ohio State, Rejoice!

Ohio State recently made the switch to Associated Press style. The AP Stylebook is the holy text in journalism school, so anyone coming from a news writing background was surely giddy over this announcement.

The best part is, Ohio State has its own digital AP Stylebook, at It includes the writer’s rules of the road, with supplemental tips tailored for Ohio State:

In writing style, things change. I love how social context makes language malleable and that AP style reflects that. The problem was, buying a new AP Stylebook every year was a serious pain (I finally recycled my 2008 print copy yesterday).

In the online stylebook, next to OSU pointers, are notes on when things have been updated. This comes in handy for someone like me who’s been out of the game for a few years. When I’m wrong I can at least redeem myself and say “ah! It was two words when I learned AP Style…”

So, next time you find yourself in one of the most dreaded office conflicts:

“Shouldn’t you spell that out?”

“Is it Blackberrys or BlackBerries?”

“Isn’t it a Master’s of Arts Degree?”

Just look to the stylebook. Breaking editorial stalemates since 1953.