Back to School – An Update

This scenic photo taken on the UW campus near Red Square in the early dawn hours.

Faithful readers may be asking, “where’ve you been, Yiling?” All over. Here is a list:

– Mount Adams at 9,000 feet elevation, getting altitude sickness, then waking up feeling extra grateful to be past it. Hooray!
– Just outside the faux Bavarian town of Leavenworth, bouldering for the first time
– Cheering on my spouse and his good friends who scaled Mount Rainier successfully.
– developing personal projects to help build community via food systems
– next to a camp stove in the mountains, getting Kris to (gamely) try my dehydrated meal experiments
– celebrating life events with friends and family, from births, to weddings, hooray!
– getting lots of practice in interviewing with a wide variety of food-adjacent and non-food-adjacent groups
– on a stand up paddle board from my home puddle of Green Lake, to Lake Wenatchee to the east, and  communing with seaplanes, old friends, family and beavers, offering ad hoc lessons to willing friends.
– on my first organized bike ride, the Saint Paul Classic
– experiencing a subtle shift in my world from seeing a total solar eclipse

Now after years out of school, I’m back on a university campus. Nothing quite like that first few weeks of school in September for a kid who loved school! I was excited to start a new role a few weeks ago, serving as Communications & Outreach Coordinator for the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington. I even get to help support an exciting project in undergrad programming there*. Feels like I’ve landed in a place I’ve been aiming for, hooray! Special thanks to Kristoffer Jonson, all my friends and family for their amazing support in my hectic search, and all the folks at the University of Washington willing to give a chance to some one who’s not an alumni of the UW to join their community.

Somewhat relatedly…

On School Lunch

Growing up in Minnesota with immigrant parents, school lunch was one main introductory source to “American” food in the 1980s. I had no idea why some kids were ever excited for soggy strips of something resembling bread, covered in syrup, until I was a college student and my boyfriend Kris fried up homemade french toast, a completely different experience barely resembling the school lunch version of my childhood.

On the other hand, the school kept peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids who ran out of lunch money. I remember being thrilled when I ran out of school lunch and got this delicious backup meal I’d never get at home. It was gooey, and savory and sweet all at once, sticking delightfully to the roof of your mouth! Plus, I could actually eat it in the 15 minutes i got for lunch, since they lined us up alphabetically and with a last name of Wong, i waited in line for the first 15 minutes of lunch. I think I’m going to go fix a PB & J for myself right now. What’s more American than peanut butter?

For an insightful exploration on the history of school lunches, here and abroad, check out Gastropod’s episode on this topic: Gastropod: Lunch Gets Schooled


*P.S.  Stay tuned for one other project I’ve got on the burner with my friend Sarah Yee.

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