Natalie Cataldo
Natalie Cataldo
Thailand 2018 - 2019
Sawadee Ka! My name is Natalie Cataldo, and I am in Thailand serving as a grant writer for the Wildflower Home in Chiang Mai and the Good Shepherd Youth Center in Chiang Rai. The sister organizations provide free long-term housing, education, recovery programs, and legal assistance for young women and single mothers who have sought help from dishonorable treatment (i.e. racial discrimination, domestic violence, etc.). I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to work with these organizations! Read More About Natalie →

See you soon, Thailand!

Hello all!

Hope you are doing well. I am back in Georgia helping my parents  move out of their home and settle into a place in Atlanta (little guys just graduated from college and are going out into the big world!).  I moved back home from Nashville a week ago today, and I leave for Thailand in exactly two weeks from today. It’s a wild time of change for us all, and I have only been able to grasp this transition in small moments every so often.  Being home and visiting all of the places/people that shaped me as a young girl has been encouraging and motivating in the days leading up to my departure. I keep seeing flashes of my younger self (as corny as that sounds) and the dreams that I had heading into college. My time at Belmont was much more formative than I ever could have envisioned; all aspects of life were heightened in the past four years. Or maybe I became more capable of recognizing them (I should do a quick lil shoutout to the Enneagram, Cristi Williams, Hillsboro Young Life and Midtown Fellowship Church – 12 South location). Regardless, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last four years, especially in the last two.

I came to Belmont knowing about the Lumos Travel Award, and to this day I cannot get over how wonderful of an opportunity it is for Belmont students. Throughout college, unexpected things happened – good and bad – that made the direction towards this trip sort of fuzzy, and at times I wondered if applying for the Lumos Award was something I should move towards. In the end, I am thankful for how things played out.  It’s cool to see that the “big-girl dream” of mine to live in another country for a longer period of time has come true, despite obstacles or times of uncertainty. To have the time to serve the organizations and help them with their mission makes my heart feel full. I cannot wait to be a friend to these girls at both organizations!

I want to say a quick thank you to some of the people who may be reading this, because they helped in some way during the application process for the Lumos Award:

– Iris Chiang, Lauren Deklava, Ishpreet Batra, and Madison Barefield: For the meetings, random questions texted to you, and wisdom you granted me.. THANK YOU! Your patience and time devoted to helping me was an incredible and undeserved gift! 

– Thandi and the Lumos Committee:  Thank you for believing in my project proposal and taking a chance on me! You have given me a great example of giving others kindness and love through assistance. 

– My family:  Thank you, thank you for reading over my application constantly for about two months last year. I don’t think I’ve seen a google doc filled with more highlights, questions, and corrections. You guys keep me humble. And you are my biggest blessing.

– Big Red and my friends: I love you! Thank you for encouraging and celebrating me!!

I’m pretty much ready to leave for Thailand except for wanting to be with my friends and family for a little longer. I’ve bought everything I need, may need, and just don’t need at all for this trip. This Thursday I’ll have my last vaccine done and my sweet mom is coming in case I need a good slap in the face to prevent me from passing out (shoutout to  Maty for coming with me last time and standing ready). We are going to get ice cream afterwards. These days are bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter.

I’ll be settled in Thailand the next time I write a post. Bye y’all! See y’all! Love y’all!

 

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