super cao nguyen.

Some of us may never have the opportunity to travel abroad to enjoy international cuisines. Fortunately, in a world of increasing globalization, food is no longer isolated to its place of origin and can spread across all borders.

Super Cao Nguyen is located in the heart of the Asian District of Oklahoma City. It is the largest international grocer in Oklahoma City and was opened by Vietnamese refugees, Tri and Kim Luong. While the shelves here are filled with many Vietnamese kitchen staples, foods from all over the world can be found here.

After living and traveling overseas, I am not a stranger to the sights and sounds of international markets. While I currently don’t have a car, I enjoyed venturing away from my typical grocery store routine to check out more varied and seemingly fresher food options.

Super Cao Nguyen opens at 9am on weekdays. At opening time, employees are seen going through their normal routines of spray washing, stocking shelves, and prepping ready-to-go meals for the day. As you walk through the doors, you are greeted with the aromatic scents of incenses and a bright display of floral arrangments and traditional festive decor.

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I love signs like this that straight up, tell it like it is. The meat department cuts fresh fish and meat daily. Fresh salmon steaks on this particular day were $6.99 per pound.

In Mandarin, this dish is called zongzi. Zongzi is a traditional Chinese rice dish made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. Throughout Asia, there are different variations of this dish.

I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying different foods, although I like to try international foods with someone with ties to a particular region (so I know if the food is actually good).

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I was on the hunt for two items, but only I found one. The first was purple sweet potatoes, which I could not find this time. The second was the matcha green tea Kit-Kat bars. Which I gladly purchased a bag of, because no shopping trip is complete without sweets.

❤ Krystal

pumpkin spice nice cream

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It’s PSL season, y’all.

While I am thankful to be back in the US where I can witness each season change, I am not quite ready to give up my summer favorites such as fresh berries and the most quintessential treat of the summer…ice cream.

I’m finally catching on to this new wave of nice cream. (I think I will be saying this for awhile to all the trends I missed out on from 2016 until now). By the way, I am not bringing bell-bottoms back. Props to those of you who are. I can’t. I just can’t.

Anyhow, nice cream is a great rendition on ice cream, if you couldn’t guess that much. While, I have nothing against ice cream, I don’t have a car, and ice cream doesn’t travel well from my local store to my house by foot.

Nice cream is simple and you will be amazed by 1) how easy it is to make,  2) the taste 3) and  the texture.

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Want to make your own pumpkin spice nice cream?

2 bananas*, peeled, chopped and frozen
1/2 – 3/4 c of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice (I made my own)
1/2 c of milk (you can use plant-based or dairy)
1 oz of cold brew coffee (because cold brew is the most millennial thing to do)

Add all ingredients to your blender or food processor, and scrape down the sides when needed. You should end up with a beautiful, soft serve consistency.

*You want ripe bananas, but not “banana bread” ripe. Use bananas that have some brown spots, but are still firm.

Note: Peel your bananas before freezing.

I think next time I will add my cold brew affogato-style.

Enjoy.

❤ Krystal

i’m home.

I hope you haven’t taken my absence from Moving Wright Along too personal.

On May 24, 2018, I said my “see you laters,” to friends, family, and colleagues in my village in Namibia. It’s crazy to believe that two years of my life came and went just like that. I can vividly remember my first night in my community. I sat down on my bed in my new home and had an “oh sh*t” moment. What had I done? To say I am so happy to have completed my Peace Corps service is an understatement because there were many times and many reasons I wanted to book the next flight home.

After a “treat yo self” mini vacay in Johannesburg, South Africa (I hope to post about that soon), on May 29, I hauled 80 pounds of my most valuable Namibian possessions and traveled 8,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean, back to Philly. Ironically, where my entire Peace Corps journey began.

I surprised my family by arriving a week earlier than they expected. That was FUN!

As you can imagine, Moving Wright Along will no longer be a place where I talk about my Peace Corps service. I will, however, archive my Peace Corps service posts for y’all (once I figure out how to do that and not clutter this space).

As many of you know, I have been accepted into the Nutrition and Food Science Graduate Program at UCO. In a few short weeks, I will begin the final leg of my journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian. While I have taken a longer route than most it was the (w)right one. (You see what I did!)

I can’t wait to share my graduate school life with you on Moving Wright Along, as well as all my Trader Joe’s and Aldi hauls on IG. I considered starting a new blog and site for my nutrition journey, but I have branded myself with my blog, and letsbehonest… it’s a pretty good name.

So, if you are interested in hearing me talk about food, food, and more food, please stick around and share my blog with friends and family.

❤ Krystal

close of service conference.

The Close of Service (COS) Conference was held March 12 – 16, 2018 in Windhoek. COS Conference gives volunteers an opportunity to review their Peace Corps experience, figure out how to document skills and experience gained during service, prepare for re-integration to the States (or wherever they may go), and of course, celebrate the accomplishment of completing 2 years of service.

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The week began with medical and language testing. Each volunteer has an annual dental exam and cleaning as well as a physical exam. This time around, our medical exam included a collection of stool samples to check for parasites. Peace Corps Volunteers get very comfortable about discussion bowel movements or the lack thereof. For some, this was quite a feat to accomplish in a mere 4 days. Luckily, I passed.

Besides a stubborn ringworm and the leftover Holi powder in my ears from our Holi celebration in early-March, I will be leaving Namibia in good health, a few pounds lighter and with a nice Namibian glow, which I jokingly said, “it’s the light at the end of the tunnel radiating off of me.”

I mostly try to avoid taking my Language Proficiency Interview (LPI). Learning Oshikwanyama has not been my favorite part of service. My friend, Ndamona, tutored me for a few months preceding my LPI, in the end, I’m leaving Namibia at an intermediate proficiency level and I am fine with that.

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It is customary for the COSing group to present a gift or token of our appreciation to the Peace Corps staff. In the past, groups have presented items such as memory books, custom-made rugs, and other hand-crafted items.

Our group decided to build a cornhole set complete with handmade beanbags made with traditional materials. Our idea was to present a gift which staff and volunteers could both enjoy while helping to create a stronger partnership and culture at Peace Corps Namibia.

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As my time in Namibia nears the end, I continue to reflect on the last two years: accomplishments, challenges, and growth.

I am positive about the future, and can’t wait to share what’s in store for Moving Wright Along.

❤ Krystal

styled by namibia.

I have enjoyed being immersed in the beautiful, bold, bright world of shitenges.

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Shitenges or kitenges are fabrics similar to sarongs worn mostly by women. Shitenges are commonly designed into garments such as dresses and tops, or even worn alone as head wraps. Shitenges are sold by the meter and can cost as little as N$10 (a little less than a US dollar) per meter, although more popular or “waxy” prints can cost N$70+ (~$5.40 US) per meter. Most of these prints are made in other African countries, so prices can be a tad higher to account for importing.

Many local tailors can put a needle to work without the use of patterns. All of the outfits below were made from a simple WhatsApp picture I sent to the tailor (excluding the dashiki print top.)

Tailors have styled me for weddings, everyday wear and Peace Corps events. The most expensive custom-made outfit cost me about N$450 (~$35 USD) and the least expensive was about N$80 (~$6 USD). Also, check out my Wambo earrings made by the ladies at Work of Our Hands, a non-profit based in Okahandja which focuses on empowering women through employment opportunities. Check out their IG page and better yet, support them.

I loved falling in love with Namibia and the styles of this country which I will miss when I move back to the States.

The pink striped print is called “odelela”. It’s traditional Wambo print and is worn mostly at celebrations…everything else is just me embracing the beauty of this country.

❤ Krystal

i am a confident young woman.

When it’s that time of the month, I don’t have to worry about having proper hygienic products to manage my period.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality of every woman.

In Namibia, some women without access to proper feminine products will use mattress filling, newspapers, and even leaves during menstruation. Although I haven’t encountered any women that have used any of these methods, it happens. Culture and economic constraints lead to poor menstrual hygiene management. But, most importantly, some young women miss school because they don’t have access to pads during their periods.

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SisterPADS is an NGO based in Windhoek. They provide cost-effective, eco-friendly, washable and re-usable sanitary pads which aim to improve girls’ menstrual health hygiene and welfare.

In early March, my counterparts, Ileni and Patrina, a fellow volunteer, Rachael, and I held a girls empowerment workshop in my community.

60 SisterPAD kits were donated to girls in my community who have difficulty acquiring pads due to financial hardships. We wanted to conduct a workshop not only focusing on menstruation, but to educate girls about sexual health, HIV/AIDS, hygiene and sanitation, reproductive health, and how to care for the reusable pads they received at the end of the workshop.

I am a confident young woman.
I am in control of my own body.
I am in control of my own health.
I am in control of my sexual health.
I am educated about my sexual health.
I make my own decisions about my own health.
I make my own decisions about sex.

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I really enjoyed seeing my counterparts shine during this workshop. They covered the topics of sexual reproductive health with the utmost sensitivity, empathy, and care.

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To conclude the workshop, Rachael guided the participants through a self-esteem activity. The each wrote down what makes each of them unique and how their qualities contribute positively to the world around them.

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Body changes are normal. A young woman should not be afraid of these changes. With SisterPADS, these girls will be able to hygienically and safely manage their periods, but they will also miss fewer days of school.

❤ Krystal

taking a look back

I was selected along with 16 current volunteers to serve as a RV (Resource Volunteer) during PST (Pre-Service Training) for G47. Last week, I attended GTOT (General Training of Trainers), in preparation for the incoming group of business and health volunteers next week.

I am still coming to grips with the fact that my time as a volunteer is coming to an end. I am experiencing many feelings of sadness and denial. And feelings that I could’ve done more.

I promise this is not a sad, sappy post. I wanted to share two things in this post:

My invitation letter & My aspiration statement

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I remember receiving my invitation letter while I was sitting at the WIC office during my community nutrition rotation. Minutes before, I had gotten off the phone with my Dietetic Technician advisor and financial aid office. Due to an administrative error, they had dropped me out of my courses. My advisor was worried and called me that morning wondering why I had dropped courses more than halfway through my last semester. I called the financial aid office to clear things up, which was not easy. When I received my letter, there was a mixture of excitement and frustration. Robin Cooley, my preceptor and one of my references, celebrated with me. Receiving this invitation, solidified the reality of the Peace Corps for me.

My aspiration statement was written after reflecting on my time interning at Brookside Assisted Living during my clinical nutrition rotation. Ms. B, which I found out later, lived in my neighborhood, helped change my perspective on life and death, and how each of us has the ability to do something.

I challenge each volunteer currently serving, coming to the end of service, or even about to begin service to take a look back at your invitation and your aspiration statement. 27 months of service is not easy. Heck, 6 months of service is not easy. While service may play out much different than you expected, looking back can provide the chance to see more of what your country of service has taught you and less of what you taught them.

❤ Krystal