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)
Yesterday we went around Boulder - the same area we went to during the weekend. We first went to the Celestial Seasonings tea factory, one of the more well-known tea companies in the country. I kind of had the impression that they were more about the advertising than the tea though. The tea tasted ok, and I bought a tea sampler and some honey sticks (yum). Hopefully they'd go over well. I wanted to get some Jelly Belly jellybeans but they weren't cheap and I decided to wait till later.

We then had pizza for lunch - the ironic thing was that it was in a place (Old Chicago) that was known for its beer. We're not allowed to drink much. I'm surprised no one started ordering kegs.

We then went on a scavenger hunt around Boulder. Instead of looking for stuff all the time, we had to answer various questions and do random things. The poor police station, Info Booth, and NCAR were inundated by our questions and phonecalls...hats off to them for going beyond their duty to help us!

(I think the library people were fed up with us though. Meep.)

We had a talk from someone about gangs and subcultures, and when she came in, she brought in books about Satanism. At first I thought "Oh no! She's going to be all panicky and spread rumours and hysteria worse than the Black Metal scare!" but actually she was rather calm about it. Danni brought up the point about Satanism being more about accepting the dark side of human nature and not about Satan worship - THANK YOU DANNI - and she acknowledged that, which was good. She did touch on the other subcultures, such as Paganism and Goths and such, but not much; therein still lies confusion.

Danni, Baljit, Ana, Melissa, and I had pretty interesting conversations about a lot of things. Religious beliefs, how our local government deals with them, being homesick (or not), plans for the future, stage fright...all kinds. It was great to have these conversations out; it helped us learn more about ourselves. Ana, like me, is a bit of a nomad - we don't like to settle down in one place. Yay!

We were supposed to know who won the scavenger hunt (and the icecream) today, but that didn't happen. Oops.

Nanu is here! I became her buddy for the day and showed her around. Her luggage was still stuck in Nepal, the poor girl. She got a bit confused - who wouldn't be? - and she still needs to catch up, but I think she'll do well.

We called Joyce live on Skype from Taiwan - quite fun, that! She's now in the finals and we'll know how it goes in about 3 to 4 days. We may also have a girl from Russia coming in but that's really on the periphery.

More intership stuff (yay binders!) - I and Peder have been assigned to set up the Admissions booth during the Whisks. We may also man the booths later, after our Whisks.

Speaking of Whisks - Nina hasn't posted up the list of who does what, but she will tomorrow. And apparently, she didn't know what to do with me. First she put me in movement and dance (I STILL do not know why), and then she heard me do backup vocals for the WorldSmart Band and now she wants me to do vocals instead. And possibly rhythm. Now rhythm I can understand (I rock the percussions, yo) but vocals? Of all the things...

I don't know if this means I have multiple talents or if I have no talent whatsoever.

We had some more activities - one involved finding out what we all had in common. That got chaotic pretty quickly (especially when there was a competition between Chris & Peder vs The Rest Of Us). The other activity was Take A Stand...a sentence is read out, and you stand at a certain side of the room depending on your side and opinion.

The one that affected me the most was the one on same-sex marriage. I'm pro-same-sex-marriage partly because I believe love is love and no one should be stopped from marrying each other with consent and respect between them, but also because I myself am pansexual - I fall in love and am attracted to people regardless of gender. I could see myself with a wife instead of a husband someday. However, there were people that were against same-sex marriage. That didn't upset me. What upset me was that some of the people on that side were people I had really bonded with during the program.

How will they feel about me now that we know how we stand on things? Will they still accept me? Will they avoid me? What will override their choice - their beliefs, or their relationship with me so far? I've had close friendships break apart because of some part of my life that my ex-friends could not accept. I've had family relationships disturbed because there was a part of me they couldn't accept. What of now? Do I really know them? Will they ostracize me? Will I end up ostracizing them?

Speaking of family. I know my parents read this journal and I'm sure they're near to a heart attack at this moment. I just want to say this: Mum and Dad, this is who I am. I am not harming myself or anyone else. Keep whatever beliefs you have if you want. I only wish for you to accept me as who I am, without judgement or condemnation. This is me.

Sigh. I'm already getting "notes" about safety and stuff just because of what I wrote in the last entry. IT'S ALL OKAY. I just wonder how they'll react to this one.

Neshat and Brandy (who were on the other side) told me that they'd still accept me regardless, which was good to hear. Neshat even gave me a hug because she thought I was brave for speaking up about it (thank you). However, it is from the people that I was most worried about that I have not heard a thing. How now?

Things are strange.

Tomorrow - Community Impact! Our group will be fixing up a computer lab. And perhaps we'll know who won the icecream.
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?

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