Category Archives: Introductory Writings

Hey there, Haiti!

In August of 2013 I was fresh of the plane from a short term trip to Haiti and ready to conquer the world, knowing of my desire to work internationally but clueless to what that would look like. In fact, I wasn’t really sure about this whole college thing but softball and my parents had me attending Belmont anyways. From the first moment I stepped on campus and heard a faculty member speak about Belmont leading students to find where their passions and the world’s needs meet, I had peace that this was where I was supposed to be for the next four years. Fast forward through declaring a Social Entrepreneurship major, many late nights in the library, an abundance of good times with beautiful souls, two summers in Haiti, countless hours spent on the softball field, and a lifetime of precious and transformative memories, the time has come for me to move beyond Belmont and into an exciting yet unknown world.

A sneak peak of the (literally) breathtaking walk/hike up to the community of Viello

A sneak peak of the (literally) breathtaking walk/hike up to the community of Viello

In a few short weeks, I will step off a plane in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and into two years of developing and starting a microfinance ministry for an organization transitioning from orphan care to orphan prevention in the rural villages of Haiti. While some moments I’m blindsided with sheer terror about what I’ve signed up for, I find peace in knowing that God is with me and has been using my time at Belmont to prepare me for the joy and challenges that lie ahead. At Belmont I’ve gotten to learn from some of the greatest entrepreneurship professors in the country about successfully researching, planning, starting, and operating a business; I’ve learned how to navigate and appreciate cross-cultural communication, world religions, and political climates; and most importantly, I’ve been poured into by some of the most beautiful and loving people to walk the face of the earth. Belmont’s preparation plus a little Haitian coffee plus an abundance of God’s amazing grace equals an exciting lifelong adventure that I cannot wait to begin upon, starting very soon with microfinance in Haiti!

Welcome to Bethlehem!: Five (and a Half) Days

Where to begin? I arrived in Bethlehem nearly six days ago, and yet it feels like I’ve been here for much, much longer. But I mean that in a positive way. I feel so different already from the girl who landed in Tel Aviv on Saturday morning, jet lagged, hair unkempt, face oily, feet swollen. I took a sherut from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem where I met my program director’s son, Tarek, at a partner organization of Wi’am. From there, we passed through one of the three checkpoints in the separation barrier (more on this subject in posts to come) and finally, after what felt like days of travel, I was in Bethlehem.

View from my patio, taken on Saturday when I arrived

View from my patio, taken on Saturday when I arrived

The following five and a half days (it is only 1 PM here today, on my sixth day!) have been comprised mainly of taking in information about the culture, about Wi’am and my roles there, of learning some essential Arabic phrases (“Shukran” meaning “Thank you” and “Kahweh” meaning “coffee” are my two go-to’s thus far), and beginning to hear from others about how the conflict affects their lives.
My program director and his family have welcomed me into their home and their family. I live downstairs from them, but I’m in their home every day. We’ve made meals together and played board games. They’ve shown me around town, including the best grocery stores and restaurants. They have also introduced me to locals in the community. I’m amazed at how quickly they have become like family to me.

Salmon, potatoes, onions, and garlic. We made this for lunch on Sunday!

Salmon, potatoes, onions, and garlic. We made this for lunch on Sunday!

My first day at Wi’am was only this past Monday, so I am still getting into the swing of things and finding exactly where I fit in the organization. Unfortunately, the Summer Camp I was going to help with ended the Friday before I arrived. The kids now come to Wi’am on Friday’s only. That means I will work in other areas of the center during the other weekdays. My first day with the kids will be this Friday!

This is Wi'am!

This is Wi’am!

One of the first big projects I am involved in is the set-up of the Youth Garden. We have made five raised beds where we will help the kids plant vegetables. Our hope is that the garden will encourage an appreciation for the environment and healthful eating. The benefits of this garden are also psychological, as we hope that by working in the garden, the children will feel both responsible for and proud of something they have created and helped sustain, leading to boosts in both self-esteem and autonomy.

Fellow volunteer, Steve, working in the garden. It was tough because the soil is very rocky.

Fellow volunteer, Steve, working in the garden. It was tough because the soil is very rocky.

Another initial project of mine is to create a new welcome video showcasing some of Wi’am’s programs for their website and Facebook profile. I’m so glad I can put my skills in video editing, developed during my time at my arts high school, Nashville School of the Arts, to use at Wi’am!

That is all for now. I have only been here for five (and a half!) days so it isn’t much. I’m sure by this time next week I will have more to say about my work and my life in Bethlehem.

Salaam xoxo



To Leave, Yet to Be Right at Home


To think, soon, I’ll be headed off on a plane headed for a place that I call my home, but that I don’t really remember all that well. It’s been eight or nine years since I was last in Oradea. I’m sure a lot will have changed, that I will see a lot of new things, and probably a lot of old things and be surprised by the change. But I’m soooo excited for it!! Everyone tells me that it will be a huge transition, warns of culture shock and all the rest of it, but I’m not sure that I buy that. People are people wherever in the world they may reside and whatever way that they may think about life; which really serves well to lead me to my next point, namely, that people being people, they still have struggles, hardships, and need someone who will unconditionally love them, care about them, and sacrifice for them. I do too. Everyone does. That’s what home is.

That is why I find it so important to really start at home when it comes to giving and helping, and expand out from there, because really, if I go and help elsewhere without first taking care of the home front, then I am neglecting my greatest and most important responsibility that I, in fact, am meant to take care of and know to take care of better than anyone else. I have been blessed with many opportunities to lead and serve in Tennessee, from activities with my church or nearby churches, to those through school organizations or even that I have personally organized, and I have taken them because I realize that my primary responsibility is to love those around me, realized through the love that my God has first shown me. Some may think that this idea of responsibility is one that conveys burden, but that is a narrow, incomplete view of the grandeur of such a thing. There is also the idea of love, when that which one ought to do is performed not by obligation, but due to convictions grounded in the depths of man’s soul, an idea which contains within the fullest realization of propriety and morality in understanding that obligation by command is only the failure of obligation by love, the understanding that honoring commands in joy is truly the highest honor man can gain, making the desire to love written on my fiery coal of a heart shine forth as the brilliant manifestation of everything I should strive for. And that was a long sentence.

Confession: in writing, there are two things I like to do: 1) Write really long sentences and 2) Not paragraph. Yes, paragraph should be verb. I just have this theory that combining a lot of ideas into one sentence helps to convey a fullness and depth ensuing from the lack of any separation except for possibly breathing and moments of deep thought as one processes several things at once and so makes really fantabulous connections. I believe this theory. I also really want you to understand my trip as understand my life, and thus my trip as I experience it, and I can tell you: I don’t live in paragraphs. There is not a neat, nice, clean stop—ok guys, I walked into Starbucks, new paragraph—no. I walk into Starbucks pondering the wonder of the cool breeze, the destiny of man, what in the world that lady has in her hair, the new topic covered in Physics course, and everything in life, consecutively, of course. There is a beautiful mesh and continuum that is really a fuller understanding of the nature of the art of loving what you have been given and being content in life. I also understand, however, that people like paragraphs. I also realize, hurt my heart though it may, that not everyone loves British literature as much as I do, and thus not everyone likes long sentences either. I know, shocker. It’ll pass, with time. Drink some tea. One thing that you might notice if you <3 English grammar is also that I like to have fun with words as well as English grammar. Call it artistic license. Call it humor. Call it a fullness of expression in the careful, thoughtful transmission of the wee emotions to properly convey the complexity of the experience. I will probably agree with you on all counts. In fact, in efforts to even further agree with the collective experience of the ages, I will probably go back and paragraph.

Truly though, I hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing this. I hope that you enjoy the heights of depth and the depths of the heights of my joy because what you read, and how you read it, and the way in which you understand how I have written this, will help you understand my journey. I have writing and pictures. Yet in these forms is an ocean of feelings, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, people, places, things, wonder, awe, respect, joy, love, and so many other things that I could never express to you if I had a million years to communicate with the express purpose of bringing you along with me. I also don’t want to overwhelm you too much. If I overwhelm you a little bit, that’s ok, because I am kind of overwhelmed as well by all of it, so you feel me. But check this, all of you wonderful Lumos people who in your kindness have condescended so to grace my blog: I know that you all get tired of reading and processing too, and you all have lives outside of this thread in the Internet world of flying photons, so I will probably, most likely, possibly, probably try to keep these at legible lengths. I really am, for your sakes. You know, most professors have a class dedicated to introducing the class, so consider that we are getting on the same page in today’s session on how to light up the world. By the way, smiles help. And I like puns. Beside the point, although we are talking about life.

I just thought that I should try to explain myself a little bit so you don’t feel like you are being thrown over the deep end, landing in the kiddie section and hurting yourself. I want you to feel like you are being thrown in the deep end with the full knowledge of how to swim so that you can truly experience the wonder of the light as it refracts off the surface and penetrates the medium while immersing yourself in the refreshing coolness of life. When I say things on this blog, I want you, reader, to understand that every word has had an immense amount of thought placed in its writing, and oftentimes is a metaphor for life. I also want you to understand that, excepting this past sentence, whenever I write things, especially those things about myself or related to me, I almost always am imagining it, not simply enunciated dramatically (and seriously: without sarcasm), but also in an accent as I am writing it. Just pick several: British, French, German, Italian, Russian, Southern, North African male, Indian, African-American lady, and many more—just make sure to have fun when you do it. One may disagree, but I think I am doing a better job of explaining the depths of myself in the depths of my joy and enthusiasm through this methodology of expression. It just spans cultures, sort of like what I am going to be doing here in Romania.

By knowing the Romanian language and culture, I will be able to love people in a way that they understand it, teach them English in a way that they comprehend it, help people in a way that they need it, and thus be of greatest use here where I am. Whether helping the orphan boy Daniel who lives at the Charis Foundation Center in Santion, Romania by helping him build a house for himself while teaching him English and just being his friend, by teaching English and music to children in an orphanage in Sanmartin and forming relationships with them over a period of 3 months, doing a similar work with a group of Romi children in Tileagd, assisting at one private nursing home in Dumbrava where one family takes care of 160 elderly in four houses by charity, the nursing home oftentimes being populated by residents kicked out of the state-run nursing homes because the state couldn’t afford to take care of them, and so on and so forth. There is a need here. For several years now I have taken care of needs at home in America, in Tennesse, where I grew up, but now I feel led to move on to my next home, and help there as well, because everyone needs love.

I don’t know what may lie ahead of me, though I’ve grown up on stories of place. It’s like I’m a dwarf from the Hobbit, looking towards the Misty Mountains, thinking deep deep deep thoughts of what hidden treasures may lie on the other side of this great mound of Earth. In fact, I am.


Call it pre-travel travel, traveling to traveled places from a long time ago in a land far far away. Call it leaving home, only to go home. I will be with my family in America as well as in Romania. I will get to give and help and serve and love people in Romania just as I did in America and thus I will get to give back to my people from the motherland as well. Really, I’ll still be home because my home has always been where my heart is and my heart is everywhere, with several focal points, of course, but still everywhere because where I can live out love is somewhere that I’d want to be and somewhere where I’d belong. I’m home, going home, and waiting to go home. Riddle me that. I’m not even sure how to express this, I’m just so excited, so enthused, so happy and thankful and grateful to be where I am right now as well as for this wonderful opportunity, thanks to Lumos, to love people.

So, subtle tribute to them,


and I am really looking forward to having you join me on this experience of a lifetime and hearing your thoughts as I overwhelm you with weird metaphors, abstract references, overly long sentences, and everything in life. Why? Because I find that the best things in life tend to be slightly overwhelming if you think about it a little. And this is pretty great. 🙂 So, grace and peace to you all, and here I come!!!



~David Gal-Chiş



I wanted to get one post in before leaving for Germany… but I didn’t. Still, I think this is a good way to begin my blog – a few thoughts about expectations of two important but different types: what readers can expect from this blog, and what I expect from this project. Since the ol’ writing skills are a bit rusty, let’s deal with the easy one first, that is, the first one, since that’s easy.

The posts here will be concise. Posts will be 400-600 words in length, unless some exceptional circumstance demands shorter or lengthier description. I like this limit because it encourages me, as a writer, to make every word count, and it allows you, as a reader, to enjoy my posts in roughly 5-10 minutes. I become a better writer, you become not-bored – everyone wins.

Posts will also be thoughtful and insightful. I will not be vomiting stream-of-consciousness blank verse poetry on my audience. I’ve got a whole personal journal for that, and even its single audience member often walks away feeling a bit foolish and confused. My hope is to use this blog to highlight interesting events, ideas, and encounters that happen during my stay in Germany. Many of those things will be German. Others won’t be German at all. But either way, when you come to this blog, you can expect well-polished, clear, and maybe even challenging posts.

Though I haven’t decided how far I’m going to take it, at least a few posts will include other forms of media. Songs, pictures, videos, maybe even a shameful weblog or two will accompany a few of posts. Generally, I’ll let my mood and my subject determine what I choose to use, but I’ll always try to use other media as a supplement, not as filler.

That’s what you, as a reader, can expect. Though I’m sure I’ll depart from these rules a few times, I’m going to try to stick by them. Now, the more interesting part – my expectations for the project.

I designed this trip to be almost the opposite of my first trip to Germany. One could say that, during my trip to Berlin last summer, I went as a tourist only. Being a tourist is great because you don’t have any real responsibilities. You spend most of your time with English-speakers, and even the foreigners you meet in bars or restaurants will speak English, so you don’t have to learn the native language. And since you rarely have a rigid, regular schedule, you can stay out late, get drunk (of course, never on a Belmont trip), sleep in, eat expensive food, and buy stupid shirts and mementos. Now, make no mistake: I enjoyed my touristy time in Berlin. But I wanted this trip to be different.

When I reflected on my trip to Berlin, I realized that when you travel as a tourist, you remain somewhat aloof to the country you’re visiting. That’s why this time I wanted to live with a German family in a smaller town, and spend a much longer period of time in Germany. Under these conditions, I’ll actually be able to acclimate myself to my surroundings. It will give me a chance to make Germany a part of me, and by learning the language and living “with the natives,” I’ll finally have the chance to see what it’s like to be a German.

So that is my expectation: to live with Germans, explore their country, learn their language, and see what Germany has to offer. And while I expect to learn a few things about myself and the country I come from, I don’t expect any dramatic or radical changes in my personality. I think too many people go abroad, hoping for some mysterious answer to all of their problems, hoping that if they have some wild adventure they’ll turn into someone new. But those people are tourists. They don’t understand themselves, and they never give themselves a chance to understand the country they’re in. I know this because I tried it once, and found it unsatisfying. So I suppose my secondary expectation is to see how much I really change over the course of my project.

So there you have it. Both types of expectations explained. Feel free to ask relevant questions or make relevant comments. However, I will be moderating comments, so if you want to see your comment on the post, make it earnest, heartfelt, or hilarious.

Until next time,


P.S. – Meet Scumbag Derek