tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
Today, while some others are wild water rafting, I got to see a different side of Colorado; one that is steeped in history, back in time.

We first went to the party shop for costumes but that was closed. Bah. So we went to the Denver Cathedral instead. Pope John Paul II once did a World Youth Day event there, so it's quite famous. The cathedral was full of stained glass paintings of scenes of the bibles and saints, with markers of names of donors or people in memoriam. There were giant thrones, and a huge choir organ on the balcony. Very, very big. And yet apparently this isn't the biggest church out there.

I got to learn some things about Christian customs and history, and how it tied in with British culture. It was very interesting to hear how the Flockheart's family used to practise their religion way back when...and whether they practice it now...

We then went to Tattered Cover, one of the most well-known bookstores in Colorado. A multi-storey building with a coffeeshop (The Three Broomsticks!) and a restaurant on the top floor and books in between. The shelves - half-empty; books are selling fast I suppose - had old-style manuscript writing as labels. There was quite a variety, and I was spoilt for choice; I was looking for a book to read while on the road, but I couldn't decide which one to buy. And they weren't dirt-cheap either, so it had to be something worth my money. I found a book on feminist activism, which was about US$14, and I took out my wallet to look for money...

...and I only had about US$15 left.

I knew for sure that I had a few hundred dollars with me, and that I haven't spent them all. But they weren't in the secret wallet at home, and they weren't here. Where could have my money gone to?

Freaked out on the concept of having to live on US$15 for 6 weeks (even if I did have a credit card), I ended up not buying anything.

We went to the Wiltshire (I think) Inn to meet Angela, a friend from NaNoWriMo, and her mother Mau. Her mum's actually from KL so it was like meeting someone from back home. Angela just had her wisdom teeth pulled out, so she didn't say much; Derek, Val, and Mau spent the day talking about cultures, politics, and silly slang words. We had quite a posh dinner, mainly fish-based; I had a bowl of seafood in tomato broth. Like tom yam without the lemon grass.

It was quite fun to meet someone from online (we are not crazy stalkers with nefarious plans!) and the Inn was quite a sight in itself; founded in the 1920s, it had a very Old English charm, with antiques and paintings and such. Like a part of history. Rather reminded me of why I enjoyed Scotland so much.

We got home and I ransacked my room looking for the money. I found it in my underwear drawer, and remember hiding it there after being in a rush to leave the house. Oh thank goodness. Moral of the story: if you're hiding something, remember where you hid it.

Tomorrow we go to Boulder for tea and scavenger hunts. And I'll know for sure if I need to practice more dances again. Eep.
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
1. If you have any good mainstream or ethnic Malaysian or Bangladeshi music (especially dikir barat vids in WMV since they're so hard to find), please email them to me at divabat@gmail.com - either the files themselves or links to the files uploaded on something like YouSendIt. I've got requests for Sheila Majid & Siti Nurhaliza, and I've found people who are fans of Manbai-ish music and Bollywood-style music, so anything along those lines would be great.

2. If you are in the Denver, Colorado, USA area this month, we are having our first WorldSmart Celebration:

Date: Saturday 20th August 2005
Time: 7 pm onwards
Venue: Northglenn Community Center

More details provided as they come.

Come by and enjoy a great show, learn about all our different cultures, and meet people from as far away as Kenya and Ecuador. And of course Bangladesh and Malaysia, though that would be the same person really.

3. I'm doing a scrapbook page about me for the Crew Bio Scrapbook they're making, and I thought it would be funny if you could give me a one-line description of me for decoration. Kinda like an ultra-condensed testimonial of sorts. So do give your best lines - you can give more than one.

4. Jessica Lan(g)don, a sweet perky girl from South Dakota who's in our crew, is a REALLY GOOD SINGER. Seriously; she's even had the Denver MAYOR ask her to sing for church. Now that's something. So if you go to the celebrations, you'll be able to see (and perhaps hear) her.

5. If you want an information card (and perhaps packet) from WorldSmart, email me your name and address to divabat@gmail.com and we'll mail something over. It's completely confidential and optional.

6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINA!

Thank you for your attention; in appreciation, here are the Up With People tracks for your listening pleasure. (UWP/WS crew, if you don't want them up here, please let me know and I'll graciously take them down. They probably won't last too long though, since they're in WMA format and on MegaUpload.)

Rhythm Of The World
One To One
Room For Everyone
Unspoken Words
Up With People
Can We Sing A Song Of Peace
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
Today was a bit of a tense day.

In the morning we had the Stereotypes activity, where mahjong papers with the names of the countries represented are put up, and people walk around writing their perceptions of the country.

Not many people wrote stuff about Malaysia and Bangladesh - both papers had some "talk fast and loud" comments, which I suspect has more to do with me than anything else. And no, Mahatma Ghandi is NOT Bangladeshi. I was surprised that people thought Malaysia had good governance, after hearing the complaints in the country about the government, and someone wrote "Kjak Rtak", whose meaning I haven't the slightest idea of. Huh. Generally, though, people weren't too surprised at the reaction - they've heard it all before.

What was tense was the discussion at the end of the day about the Capitol visit and guest speaker the day before. Katie had talked about the offensive language the guest speaker was using (e.g. referring to prostitutes as "recycled women") and Marcelle replied that basically we give meaning to words, we should try to understand what their intentions were and whether or not they meant to offend. Katie was upset (she thought she was being lectured - she kinda had a point) and Noelle and Brandi were crying too because Marcelle had mentioned how "nigger" was inoffensive in Brazil but "black" was, and that touched a nerve. It led to a discussion on ethnocentrism (basing things on your own culture) vs. ethnorelativism (basing things on the other culture), and how we should be more conscious of potential triggers.

I personally thought that while everyone had a point, there was still a level of ethnocentrism int he comments. "This is bad because it's bad in my culture therefore it should be bad in yours". It's a definite learning curve and I think all of us will have to learn how to relate to each other without needing to push their buttons. I wonder how they'd survive in a culture which would be offended at their notion of being offended - "You think our culture is WRONG? You think you're BETTER than me?!" - that'd be something.

Thankfully the day wasn't all that stressful. We had our first major Whisk Prep - we were taught the chorus of one of the songs, and also the moves to a few dances. One of them was really complicated - you really need to get the rhythm down right. The other was simpler, but it all depended on your partner and group and if they mess up, you mess up too. There was so much thigh-clapping that my thighs are now bruised...red spots everywhere.

I've handed in my Internship application, and tomorrow there's going to be auditions for singing, dancing, and public speaking (and photography though I'm not too interested in pursuing that fulltime). Let's see how that goes.

Also - I made fried rice for my host family today! It was a bit different; garlic paste, Bombay onions, brown basmati rice, baby carrots, no oyster sauce. I thought it was a bit off, but they loved it, so hey.

Does anyone have any remedies for bruises?
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
1. Denver's really pretty. However, it also makes me really sleepy for some reason.

2. The only thing I had for "lunch" on arrival day were baby carrots in dip, small pretzels, and some Cheetos.

3. I'm already pairing up people in the group (in my head). Only one pair so far, and het, but hey - OTPs are fun.

4. Huning from China was supposed to be on my flight but she was nowhere to be seen. Turns out she missed her flight due to the sheer chaos in the checkin area. She couldn't take the second flight out because it was full with people who were pushed over from the downsized first flight. She only got here sometime in the evening.

5. There was a soccer ball in the hall where we were - around evening, a bunch of the girls decided to hold their own soccer match. Indoors. Quite fun, that.

6. There was a Yathzee and Ludo game set on one of the tables. Chris was trying to teach us how to play Yathzee but none of us got it. Yoga taught us Ludo (I was already familiar with it because I grew up playing it) and we ended up playing that instead.

7. I was messing around with the Yathzee dice holder and got all sixes.

8. While playing Ludo, Chris and Yoga dominated the game while me and Brianne were stuck - you needed to throw a six to start and neither of us had managed that for a few rounds. After a hwile both of us were throwing sixes like crazy and we caught up pretty quickly!

9. I was so sleepy (I didn't sleep much in LA) that I actually too a nap on the table when I was there. When I woke up, Katie had arrived. She was the first person there I hugged, since we were chatting a lot online. She's pretty, and quite hyper, heh.

10. Katie brought along a whole digital video camera set - professional quality. She was demonstrating to us how it worked. I got to use it to record the soccer match going on behind us.

11. The van that brought us to the training center was decorated with silly slogans outside and streamers inside.

12. Part of the Welcome Packet included a pen that doubled as a bubble wand.

13. They were showing videos and photos of previous semesters, and one photo was of two students - one dressed as a leprechaun, the other as a fairy. Between this, #12, and #11, I am convinced that the WorldSmart people are secretly glamourbombers.

14. My host family is Scottish-English. Derek & Valerie Flockhart. They came to the US about 10+ years ago. Valerie wasn't home yet because she was in London for her father's operation and her brother's silver wedding anniversary. She'll be back on Monday.

15, They have two children: Andrew, who's 23, and Mhairi (pronounced Varie) who is a few years older. Mhairi's married and lives nearby; Andrew's moving back home.

16. Andrew's a trumpeter - currently he's playing music for musicals (Wizard of Oz this week!) at the theater. He also used to do karate. And he has an awesome book collection. Clearly he rules, or something.

17. They have two dogs, Sam and Simon. Sam is very manja - affectionate. Simon gets jealous very easily. They're very big, and they scared me the first time I saw them (they were jumping all over me) but we're used to each other now.

18. They occasionally have hummingbirds, foxes, squirrels, and coyotes coming to visit.

19. There's a swing outside the house. Whee!

20. Derek is an inventor of sorts - he works in telecommunications. There are patent certificates all over the office wall. And he's very interested in geneaology. There's an extemsive family tree in the living room and he runs a family tree website.

21. We went to Estes Park today - PRETTY! We went up about 9000 feet but my chest couldn't take it so we went back down. The effect it had on my circulation was interesting, to say the least.

22. They've hosted Up With People kids last semester - one from Texas and one from Brazil. Apparently the Brazillian was a real socialite and went out all night.

23. I must be really boring compared to them because I've just been sleeping the past few days.

24. My parents keep calling everyone they can get a hold of just to get to me. Mum and Dad? CHILL.

25. The WorldSmart crew seem to think Malaysia's this really hightech country after seeing my PDA. Not many people are familiar with the device. They were especially overawed when I showed them that it was a camera too. Man, I am a geek, but I can't possibly be THAT geeky...

26. I haven't had time to write in my actual journal (or heck this one) because I'm either sleepy or busy.

27. We had giant turkey sandwiches for dinner last night. People here eat a lot.

28. I have run out of things to report, so if you want to know more, ask!

EDIT: I could have left this till later, but I just found this out and it was so cool that I had to add this in:

29. One of the host families is a gay male couple.

OK, officially, WorldSmart rocks.

In Denver

Jul. 30th, 2005 08:38 pm
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
The adventure has started! I'm rather sleepy at the moment, so this will be kept short. Apologies in advance for any incoherencies.

The flight to Denver from LA was chaotic. EasyCheckIn wasn't that easy (thank goodness I had a credit card, otherwise I would have been in a bigger bind. As it is, I was to juggle between papers and bags, and my luggage had a mind of its own. United Airlines also suddenly decided that they would downsize the plane, which meant that much of the people were shoved off to another flight later in the day. No way was I giving up my seat now just so I could fly first-class later.

The staff at United were very friendly though. And their biscoff was nice.

I was one of the first to arrive that day...I helped hang around the airport looking for people. The staff are cheery and friendly; nice people. And for you Malaysian Idol fans - one of them is a CARBON COPY of Vick the 3rd Place guy. Seriously.

Most of the WorldSmart crew are here already. We've pretty much made our friends - Katie the documentarian with a digital video camera with her at all times (Victor, you have nothing on her), Brianne the energetic friendly redhead, Noelle from NY, and Chris the UBER COOL MEXICAN CHICA WHO IS NOW MY BEST FRIEND. Well, maybe. We've got two uber-tall people (Andrea and Parker), quite a number of shy ones, a few boisterous ones like myself...mixed bag. There's more coming in the next few days, so yeah, more remains to be seen.

They had an interesting way of linking us to the host families. They gave the host familes and us a passcode ("hostcode") and they'll need to intepret the hostcode in some way they know how. My hostcode was "table tennis"; my host dad took a flat ping pong racquet and taped golf balls to one side. Heh.

I am staying for the next 2-3 weeks in Denver with a Scottish/English family who have been here 22 years. They have two kids in their 20s; one's married, the other's a musician. Their house is GORGEOUS. They also have 2 large dogs (Sam the golden retriever, Simon the boxer mix) which scare me somewhat because they're so big and boisterous.

The host mum is in London due to a family emergency; she'll be back on Monday. The host dad is really sweet. I may meet their host son, Andrew, soon.

I'm feeling sleepy, and it's hard to type on an ergonomic keyboard, so I'll write more later, Feel free to ask questions.

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