tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
My foot is recovering. I can walk on it now without crutches (for the most part). And no more thrombosis injections, huzzah.

CI was...interesting. People (ok, Yosh) kept wanting to shuffle me from one CI to another because they thought thez needed more/less people. ("But my FOOT, Yosh!") Either way I was kind of useless...the Ford people and the other locals pretty much got everything taken care of.

I did get to learn some nifty circus juggling skills - I got the spinning-plates-on-sticks thing really easily! Irina was frustrated thatshe couldn't get it as quickly. It's all about moderation, and holding the stick. But it's fun. I walked up to the workroom with the spining plate asking if anyone wanted spun soup. At least I know a new parlour trick.

On the second CI day, besides taking a gazillion photos, I was having fun making a list of distinctive things people say and do. Some were a lot more obvious than others - I now have about half the group covered. I wonder what other people will come up with.


I actually managed to dance (and act homeless) on Celebration Day. I'm not entirely sure Nina realized that my foot was sprained,but no matter; I did vow to myself (after Los Angeles) never to miss a Celebration. It's too much fun. Especially Huddles! I swear, I'll be doing the Huddle in my sleep.

We did this exercise where groups were given snippets of music and come up with some sort of performance based on a theme. Ours had a song from Ragtime (something about being in America in Yiddish) and our theme was Immigration and Cultural Encounters...after what seemed like ages of talking, the group finally settled on a short pantomime involving chairs and not letting K sit on any of them. We were rather intimidated by the other two groups (we went frist but the other 2 were AWESOME) but Nina and Rob thought the chairs were a strong visual, so hmm.

A bunch of new people have been hired for the next Up with People Program - two Davids (one for communications, one for something else I don't really remember) and a bunch of the Road Staff - Dee Ann for curriculum development; Yoshimi, Anke, and Tom for admissions; Nina for show development; and Bob for a permanent position as manager for program managers (OK, that's not the actual title, but that's kind of the idea of what he's doing). It's great that they all have these new jobs, though that may mean (definitely in the case of Bob) that they won't travel anymore. Sigh.

Good news is that new jobs should be made available by April, so remind me to check the website then.

Host Family Day is more like a Personal Day, really. Woke up late for breakfast so have been snacking on chocolate instead.

Tomorrow - ERFURT! Hopefully with a host family that clicks better. Man, I want to go to a hair salon just for a shampoo.
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
ARGH! I had this long entry and then the connection DIED on me. Grr. Took me an hour on this crazy keyboard.

We did so much this city. Amnesty Belgium was pretty interesting - they had a nice office, pretty big and spacious. They had a cartoon on their fridge which said "Think Globally Act Locally Panic Internally" - ha! describes us well.

Our CI for this week was Life Philosophies - a look into different religions of the world. We first went to a Holding Camp – like a Concentration Camp except they send people out to Germany after a while. Our guide acted as a SS guard and treated us almost like the prisoners – it was painful seeing what the actual prisoners had to go through. I can’t even begin to imagine why anyone could think of such a thing. Nina was in our group and she understood the German that the guide/guard was randomly yelling at us (she IS German) so it seemed a bit more painful for her.

There was a bouquet of flowers at the Execution area – almost made me break down. I really needed physical contact afterwards. That was just harrowing.

We then went to a Hare Krishna center – complete contrast! Chanting and prayer and talk about light and actual food. For some of us it was a bit bizarre (we were expecting only lunch) but they were really nice. After that, some of us went to a Muslim community center and talked to a young man from Othman – it was funny and frank, though we did get into some sort of battle-of-the-sexes thing, mwaha.

Next day we went to a Free Thinking Humanists group, with a workshop about issues like manipulation and freedom. It did get a bit tense (I felt at some point they were being manipulative) but it was an engaging discussion. (The rest of the group were happy to get free beer!) We then went to a synagogue; a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and the closest I’ll ever get to understanding Judaism up close. Great experiences, all of them.

We all went to the Night Of The Proms – a major concert with both pop and classical music. Loads of big names were there – Belgian Idol Natalya, Ace of Base, Donna Summer, people from The Who, and of course various orchestras. SO MUCH FUN.

The Applied Education Dept planned Anti Discrimination week, and their main activity was providing different treatment to people based on what colour paper you got. Orange (which I got) was High Class, with special meals and random compliments during Morning Meetings (which was even funnier since I was coordinating Morning Meetings this week!) and candy and reserved seats. Pink was Middle Class, which got OK treatment. Yellow, the majority, was Lower Class, which were practically ignored. I figured out what was going on as soon as I got the paper – and when Bob shook my hand and gave me candy – and I just laughed my head off whenever the staff went all out to compliment us and pamper us. I wasn’t sure I particularly liked being “high class” since it was so lonely but it was really funny…

Celebration was MAD. And that was GOOD. I passed on the hat to Christie H and Brandy; and I got an award for my public speaking story thing in Utrecht, yay! Melissa’s parents are SO CUTE; Nina’s parents were really serious but I caught them sneaking a smile or two once in a while! Tom and Melissa (Melissa even more) had The Glow From Home ™ and now Nina will too. Awh!

I am a week behind on Nano and I am sure I have forgotten something in this entry, so feel free to ask me questions. And it’s 12:30 and I haven’t had anything to eat yet. HUNGRY!


Nov. 5th, 2005 06:09 pm
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
Utrecht has given me so much.

It has given me a chance to celebrate Eid with a new family of friends from all over the world.

It has given me perspective on my upbringing and my heritage.

It has given me brand new friends who look out for me even when I don't ask for it out loud.

It has given me the Leadership Hat.

It has given me bread, cheese, hummus, calendars, and tin cups.

It has given me a potrait of myself drawn by Ah Reum using only flowers, dirt, and leaves.

It has given me a chance to say how I feel about the city.

It has given me a chance to hear people respond.

It has given me a chance to take charge in something I truly enjoy.

It has given me a chance to work in a field I thought I wouldn't get a chance in.

It has given me the space to be a Honourary Intern.

It has given me a friendly host family.

It has given me a loft bed.

It has given me hugs.

It has given me free bus rides.

It has given me gorgeous autumn leaves in the afternoon sun.

It has given me a nature trail for ants.

It has given me the perfume of nature.

It has given me seashells in the forest.

It has given me encouragement.

It has given me a package from NaNoWriMo with a T-shirt and buttons.

It has given me chocolate in my initial.

It has given me the feeling of being counted.

It has given me freedom.

It has given me oh so much.
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
Just a few things first.

Celebration went awesome, though for some weird reason I still felt woozy during the Statistics. This after using Nina and Rob's tips. I don't get it, man.

I took over Natsuko's role as homeless person for the street scene. Apparently I rocked.

Nina and Christie H are leaving Monday morning for Uthrecht. I miss Nina already. It seems that we had just broken a barrier between us and now she'll disappear for a week. Sigh.

OK. I have something for all you readers.

Ask me all the questions you want.

They can be about WorldSmart, about Up With People, about my trip, about me, about whatever. But please, give me questions. Give me 5, give me 20, give me 205. Give me as many questions as you can concievably think of.

Every so often I'll go through the questions and answer them in here, so do check back.

But please, ask me anything! I promise I'll try my best to answer you.


Oct. 5th, 2005 06:29 am
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
I conducted a brass band. I got lost amongst strip clubs. I placed magical signs up on pillars. I ate eel. I played on taiko drums. I got lost again. I was a fish that became a dragon and went to heaven. I potted flowers. I was on Japanese news live. I spoke in Malay to a crowd of shoppers. I did the Chicken Dance. I did all sorts of dances.

All this in just one day.

Something interesting (in the Chinese sense of the word) happened to me yesterday night. I was taking the train to Nagaokakyo back to my host family, and I was in the Ladies Only compartment. One stop before mine, a guy came into our compartment. He sat there and looked intently at all the women remaining. I was standing; he was looking at me up and down a few times. We got off at the same station, and I was so afraid of him following me that I just ran out of the station - missing my host mum in the process. I didn't want him near me.

Today, while boarding the Ladies Only compartment, once again we were joined by a guy. No action taken; no police or anything. It felt so much more unsafe compared to the normal compartments because you (well, I) start to wonder about the guy: can he read? Is there a reason he's here? Can't he tell he's in the wrong place? What does he want from us? It's seriously creepy. I think I'll just go with the normal compartments from now on; at least you know what the men are there for.

We had the local news crew come film us today - some got picked for personal interviews, the rest of us just waved and greeted. It was live so I wonder if anyone eventually noticed us. We were potting plants and hanging them up (with some funky messages of hope and love written by us) on the pillars in the shopping street. Apparently it'll be there for ages. Yay for glamourbombing.

Some of us did recordings of a special message for shoppers in our language. I did mine in Malay; man have I forgotten the language. It took me a while to get simple words like "membeli-belah" out. We had to give out flyers and flower seeds for an event organized by an environmental NGO our group is working with this week; Danni and some others were super successful, while I just gave up halfway and gave the rest to Elizabeth. I'm sure there's some code word in Japanese that I'm missing.

Yoga shocked me today; he told me that I complain a lot about Malaysia and my faith. It's really odd because I'm not the sort to condemn other things (well perhaps my school but that's another story). I'm in a dilemma now; what did I say? When did "not for me" become "it sucks"? It's strange. huh.

We had a mini-Celebration today, with performances from a junior high school brass band, us (a way shortened version of our Whisks plus a fashion show and the Chicken Dance), a women's group, and a taiko drum group. The Taiko drum girls were really funny; they learnt the Chicken Dance and One To One very quickly! They're cool. We had flashing light rings today but the battery on mine was dead.

Speaking of the brass band - they had offered one UWP person to be a guest conductor for one song. I volunteered (well I had to play Scissors Paper Stone/Jan Kem Po with Peder to get it) and it was quite something. At first I looked at the kids and they looked at me because neither of us could figure out who starts first. With some prodding (in Japanese) from their teacher, I managed to do it. Fun! Not really as trancey as the Drum Circle but still cool.

I miss the Huddle.

And now I'm back. And I'm way sleepy. But I'm starting to like Osaka. It's fun.

Whisk W00t

Aug. 20th, 2005 10:30 pm
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)

I got kicked out of the Expo Dance (bah) - Eston got so confused about me not being there during rehearsal that he kicked himself out too, heh.

But YAY! We ROCK! They showed photos of us...I looked like such a dork...and they had statistics and rhythms and songs and dances and slideshows and all sorts of funky stuff. We rock man, we rock.

I actually cried when they were showing the Dare You To Move Global video. That's when it hit me; why we were here. Oh God. We finally did it.

I'm a bit emotional; 3 weeks of work and it went by so quickly! Oh man. but woo! We did it!

I became the Hug Committee and went around hugging the staff. I had Rie with me but she disappeared after a while. Oh well.

On Monday, we travel to Albuquerque. I need to pack, and get ready to be the bus team. And welcome Joyce.

Oh, what a great start.


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