tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
We are in Hollywood!

Our facility, Wizards Dinner Theater, is AWESOME. Stars and moons and sparkliness everywhere. I cried seeing it; it's gorgeous. We're going to have the most brilliant Celebration in the history of Celebrations, I am sure of it.

I'm rooming with Baljit, Sammi, and Che-Ri this time round; I have the sofa. My choice. We have a guest house all to ourselves - though the Internet isn't working and I don't have much access, so don't expect much in the way of updates.

(This will be similar in Japan - Internet access isn't as common for individuals and some cities are a bit too far off to have cybercafes.)

Yesterday we held a Staff Appreciation Night, where some of us presented our thanks to the staff members. Eli came up with the idea and we all worked hard to keep it a secret! Reuben and K did hilarious impersonations of the staff, and Shinpei and Danni worked together on a song they wrote especially for staff. I even got to do a mini-Huddle at the end of it all. (I was also presenting to Dee Ann.) Fun!

It was an absolutely brilliant and amazing idea; everyone was so touched and honoured by it, staff and students alike. The most pivotal moment was when Yoko was presenting to Ana, but she got so choked up she couldn't speak; Ana just held her close and they embraced in silence for so long. It was just pure LOVE in the room at that point. No words needed to be said, really.

Absolutely beautiful.

Right now I am at the St Francis Center, a place that provides food & supplies to the homeless. We're rotating the Internet access amongst ourselves, so that's how you're getting this update. I've got quite some work to do online, and some people I'm expecting emails from, but oh well...

So far Los Angeles has been awesome. Let's keep it that way.


Aug. 30th, 2005 10:08 pm
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
I was partway through writing this entry but I closed the wrong window instead. Argh.

We are in Phoenix, Arizona. It's way too hot here and I'm feeling a bit sick. I'm starting to wish I did advance work in San Diego instead. How the heck our Swedish Peder survived Phoenix for an extra week I don't know.

We don't really have much time spent in the facilities this time round since we're doing so many projects. Our main facility is a house next to a church - empty and unused. Nina kept cracking jokes about renting the place. We had a cool welcoming package - frisbees, pencils, maps, and a fortune-teller-style schedule (which confused some people at first).

I got paired up with Joyce and we're staying with a family of radical-ish Christian Democrats - well, that's the best way to describe them. Those of you reading this who are Democrats (or at least not Republican) would find them interesting (we certainly have quite intriguing conversations on politics). We're staying in a retirement community ages away from anywhere - a contrast to the past two cities where everything was close by.

We've done a few community service projects already - and all on the same day. First we were at the Thomas J Pappas school for homeless children, and some of us were assigned to classes. Oh my god CHAOS. They were fun, but sometimes it's hard to even get their attention. It was funny when they were guessing stuff about me and they all thought I had a car and was married...har...

That afternoon we set up our mini World Expo at the same school. Our booth was the "Rest Of Asia" booth - Nanu was there writing names in Nepali while I started writing names in Jawi and letting people try on the baju kurung. That dress needs a dryclean one of these days.

There are quite a few "incriminating" photos - Reuben in my baju kurung; us doing the Chicken Dance multiple times; me, Tom, Peder, and Gaby doing a "group hug" while squeezing a giant blowup globe between ourselves to let the air out; Tom and Celle doing the same...if any of those show up at the Whisks people are going to die...

We then went to the UMOM centre for homeless families and were split into groups. My group did cooking (yay!) - we prepared dinner for the residents (macaroni that ran away from us many times, meat sauce, fruit salad, pudding) and for ourselves (cornbread, barbequed & friend chicken, potato scallops - the only thing we didn't cook, salad). It came out quite well actually! We also did quite a lot of envelope suffing and it was amazing how fast they all went once we had more people working together.

Internet acces is kinda sparse here, and this week is really tiring, so I may not update as much. I'm partly looking forward to moving on, if only because the weather and I don't get along. But I know I got to give this place a chance.
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
Well that was a very eventful day.

While everyone else was gone for CI (to clean up Hogares, a youth mental health facility), Cristy, Ana, Marco, and I were at the University of New Mexico for admissions stuff. We first did a presentation for a speech class, then we set up a booth at their Fair outside. That involved moving booths from here to there and then back...ow. But we got set up, and we had about 20+ people interested - including this super-productive woman who was so involved in Native American activities and was way too perfect for her own good. (Me and Ana: "WHOA")

Nina had an interesting point regarding her though, since she was the winner of Miss Indian/World - "If anyone's a Miss Something, you need to be skeptical of them since they always know how to give the right answer." Ha. We were all waiting for flaws...perhaps Nina's got a point there.

We got back from the admissions trip around the same time the CI people came back. (We hung out in the car for a while to listen to Coldplay and we were still early!) We took breaks to recuperate; while they did their wrap-up, I worked on the Admissions database. We then gathered in the hall for what we thought was check-in time, and received a very shocking announcement:

Parker's been dismissed from the group.

No one, save for Parker I suppose, really knew the specifics of why he was going. All we know is that he broke the guidelines a few times, and that the dismissal was partly his decision. It was very, very tense: those close to Parker (Laura especially) were crying their eyes out; his former housemates were confused since to them he had made tremendous progress; the rest of us didn't even know what to feel. It was all very emotional.

I wasn't too close to Parker so I wasn't too upset about him specifically going away. I did feel a little responsible though; I know people were uncomfortable around him - I was uncomfortable around him for a while too - but I didn't think it warranted a dismissal. Perhaps just a knock to the head and a reminder. But perhaps there was a reason he had to go.

I also felt guilty because I too have been told that I and my energy make people uncomfortable around me. The whole point of this thing was to be comfortable around each other, and obviously that's not happening if someone tells me that I make them uncomfortable. (I've been told that directly, so it's not speculation on my part.) I apologized to the group...it was the only thing I could do at that moment.

There was meant to be a discussion about where to go from here but everyone was too distraught to think clearly. We all went our separate ways. I meant to go back to the admissions work, just lose myself in the work and not think about anything else.

What ended up happening was me chatting to Staci (one of the event coordinators) about how we felt, especially about me feeling responsible for my part of the problem. She then told me that I shouldn't worry; apparently I have a reputation amongst the staff for being so energetic and enthusiastic and on top of things. This really surprised me; I didn't know I had such a rep. Then Jessica came around looking for me, and thanked me for cheering her up and motivating her with my energy. That really surprised me too.

Nina looked like she was in pieces - she's normally very strong, so seeing her cry and be upset was extremely heartbreaking. (Later I found out that it may be because Parker didn't even acknowledge her existence when making the goodbye rounds.) I went up to her and we hugged a few times...I apologized to her in case I did anything she didn't like, since I had a suspiscion that she didn't like me much; to my utter surprise (again) she held me close and told me I didn't need to apologize for anything; she appreciated my energy and perspective and I was fine being the way I am. We hugged a LOT.

There was a lot of hugging that day. (Bob especially needed a hug; he announced the dismissal and you could tell it was very hard for him.) When we got back, we four hung around the kitchen and talked more about what happened, what we felt about each other, clarified some things. It was a very enlightening and growing conversation; something much needed but rarely practiced. Baljit even told me that if anyone talks bad about me, she'd go after them...ha, that was funny.

I suppose for me I needed that day to happen. I was on top of the world with this trip but there's been times when I wonder if I'm doing the best I can, or if I'm just repeating the same patterns I went through in school. So to actually hear all these people come up to me, tell me I was needed and appreciated...that really affected me. That really helped me a lot. I know there's still a lot more to do, but it's great to hear that there are people who appreciate that I'm here, and that the people I thought hated me actually thought highly of me. Which is surprising, but great.

We can only grow from here. And sometimes, part of growing means letting others know that they are indeed growing along.
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
So we went to the Denver Children's Home today - a home for emotionally traumatized kids who went through the system (foster homes, jail, human services, whatever) and didn't quite fit in there. We were there to help fix up the library and the computer room - which involved testing tons of CPUs and monitors to see if they are working. Old computers too...Windows 95, 2000...some were even from the Department of Defence. Weird.

Andrew, the person facilitating the cleanup, was part of the Up With People alumni and worked with WorldSmart for a while. He was quite a nice guy, earnest and sincere. He even bought us drinks at the 7-11, though some of us felt a bit weird about that because we felt the money could have gone elsewhere. (I felt even weirder having lunch at the cafeteria...this was the kids' food, not ours...) We also got to talk about leadership back home, how emotionally traumatised children were treated back home, our plans and careers...interesting stuff.

Most of us felt pretty good about being there and seeing immediate results - we just wished we could do more, to see the faces on those kids' faces when they see the new cool rooms. One person, though, really disappointed me. She felt that because some of the kids there have perpetrated abuse, they should not be having these rooms, and that we were helping the wrong kind of people. They should know right from wrong, they keep coming back to the home, they should not be given priviledges. Some of us tried explaining to her that these people have different mindsets, that they have a very different sense of right and wrong, that there is a system im place so that they can only use it for good behaviour, that it's for educational purposes. But she won't listen.

She was the only one who didn't learn anything - her own admission. I don't want to be judgemental and intolerant, because that only makes me hypocritical. But at times like these...

The other groups worked in two places - The Spot, a center for homeless kids (they cooked, cleaned, and talked to the homeless people there) and back at the facility with the Niver Creek School, doing a curriculla on leadership. We saw the Niver Creek kids before we left for our stations; they looked a little bored. Hopefully they had a little more fun...

More meditation with Laurence. Yay!

We finally found out who's doing what for the Whisks! I'm doing two dances - the Expo Dance (a.k.a Crazy Hippo HipHop Dance) and the African Dance - and I'm one of the Rhythm Leaders, with my own lil shaker. Most surprising though was that I have also been thrown in the Mic Groups as one of the singers. And yet, no speaking role.

Huh. Well, OK then. At least I get to perform, yay!

Still need to practice though. Loads of rehearsals the next few days. And I need to pack!

(We still do not know who won the scavenger hunt though. Damn.)
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
1. We still do not know what internships we're getting.

2. I've been offered a special project but nothing's confirmed yet.

3. No one's applied to be technical interns. Poor Gaby.

4. We had a vocal teacher, Anna, come in to teach us the songs. Quite interesting. I had to go and volunteer to sing this super-strange alto-soprano harmony for one of the songs...urgh.

5. Quiche made by my host family is yummy. Quiche made by the Adams 12 facilty is not so yum. This is a shame, as usually their food is VERY yummy.

6. There was a burning smell in the room yesterday. No one could tell what it was.

7. We may have a new song, if Danni and the rest of us can figure out the lyrics.

8. If your name is Emily, Asha, Victor, Marzuki, or Patricia, and you know me well, check your postboxes.

9. Rob's out of the hospital...and then he went back in again. Tonsil trouble. Oh dear.

10. I made my profile page, and it looked crazy. However, it was the most decorated one of the lot so far, and it got a fair bit of attention.

11. The ballet/hip-hop dance is HARD AS HELL.

12. We had a photoshoot yesterday, with some of us in national costumes. It really looked like some sort of a Miss/MR Universe deal.

13. I went through about 3 or 4 costume changes yesterday.

14. Microphones can be really heavy if they're in a suitcase.

15. Neshat, Huning, and I were the Red Roses of the photoshoot because all our outfits had red roses on them.

16. Speaking of red - yesterday night most of us went to the Red Rocks Auditorium, a natural auditorium of sorts since it's made up of these huge red rock formations. We saw Savage Henry (quite good) and The Goonies (fun).

17. There were people at Red Rocks who obviously watched The Goonies and were cheering at certain points of the movie.

18. Tom and Melissa are together. Awww! They're not that obvious about it though, so when Tom told me about it I was quite surprised.

19. People like chanachur.

20. The gay couple, Andy and Rick, are holding their (what seems to be biannual) Pizza Party next Friday. Of course I will be bringing the chanachur.

21. We went up to the Hayman Fire Site today to set the equestarian trail. This involved placing rocks and planks, clearing grass, and collecting rocks. Ow.

22. I have claimed a mound of soil near the trail as Mount Tiara. There's even a giant Rosetta Stone-ish rock in it which is now mine.

23. The river is so PRETTY. I was brought there by the CUSP crew (semi-secretly, since everyone else was working) and it was quite a sight.

24. Udi's makes good lunches.

25. Someone had stuck a tiny US flag to one of the rocks formations near the river. This amused Ginger, my guide, greatly.

26. I was not used to manual labour, especially in high altitudes, and I had a hard time at first - at one point I accidentally dropped a plank Nina and I were holding because I was just too shaky.

27. Collecting rocks at the Rock Mountain (not the Rocky Mountains) was a bit better though.

28. We kept finding rocks for Stone Soup.

29. We're all rocked out.

30. Nina's found her calling - she lifts rocks (and people) from the ground. Whee!

31. Reuben is trying too hard to get an American accent. He's been going "absolutely" all day long.

32. ODV's a good band.

33. We saw a rainbow!

34. Tom went missing for a while and everyone in the staff was looking for him. I went in to search for him and found him running down the stairs. He didn't believe me at first when I told him everyone was looking for him.

35. While looking for Tom, a random person asked me if there was a UN Conference going on.


37. Salisbury Steak and mashed cauliflowers - yum.


39. EDIT: Grr. Flickr will only show the last 200 uploaded photos, which means a lot of the earlier stuff will go missing very soon. The only way I can get them back is if a get a Pro Account - and I am NOT paying $24.99 for something online. Anyone know a good free photo hosting & display service that does not hold my photos hostage?

And yet again, this isn't everything, so feel free to ask questions.


tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
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