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I'm updating this from the Apple store at a mall in LA.

The person next to me is updating his LJ - I'm just not sure what his username is. Has an underscore in it, that's all I know. Hello Mysterious Apple Store LJer.

I tried calling my best friend Spidey from a payphone but she didn't recognize my voice. Gah. Woman, it's me, not some random stranger. I'll probably call her later tonight and see if she actually remembers me...

I bought quite a lot at Hot Topic. It's my birthday soon, I have an excuse. They have GORGEOUS things - clothes, accessories, and these really lovely pair of velvet dress shoes. They're wide too, great for my weirdly-shaped feet. Unfortunately their biggest size was one size too small for me. I compromised by getting a similar (but not velvety) pair which were in my size - I just need to break in them a while but they should be great for the Whisks.

I have a tiara now. Woo.

Tomorrow - Japan! Oh goodness. 11 hours on the plane. I wonder who I'll be seated with.

By the way, thanks for your concern. I'm feeling better, just tense muscles. Oh for a spa.
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Of all the time to get sick, it had to be yesterday during the Celebration.

I was onstage with 4 other people doing country statistics - halfway through, I felt dizzy and about to faint. I hung on to Marina (who didn't quite understand what I was doing till later) and as soon as we got offstage I went to the dressing room - and cried. My head was completely spinning and I was worried I'd get a panic attack again.

Elizabeth, Reuben, Brianne, and some others looked out for me, asked if I was OK...Hiroko and Yoko brought me out back to the staff room for me to lie down. By the time I reached the staff room the show was nearly over. Marco came by and gave me some Coke; Krista, Yoshimi, and Dee Ann also came to see me and got me some bread. They remembered my weekly ritual of staff hugs and gave me hugs this time - Angel Hugs, since they were dressed up as Charlie's Angels this morning.

The staff came in and out, seeing if I was OK (some didn't know I was there) - Tom entertained me with silly faces, and he and Melissa told me stories about their past experiences.

Tom sat next to me on the sofa to hug me, and he had to bend down because I was lying down - just at that moment, Laurence stepped in, and all of us went "AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!" - so much for compromising position! Laurence didn't even know it was me; he thought Tom had just found some random girl. Meep.

It was rather chaotic in the staff room because they were shipping stuff to Japan that night. (There especially was chaos around Ana's battery!) Everything went by a lot quicker than I expected. The staff came around for hugs, which was good...didn't want to miss my ritual.

Some students came by as well - Yoga helped me get my stuff and Reuben really looked out for me. Thank you.

There was an alumni named Tiare who actually looked for me. She chatted with me for a while and told me about the Bach Flower Remedies; this wasn't the first time I've been recommended them so I'll go and check them out.

Sigh...of all the days...and it was my favourite theater. Had so much fun that morning, with a Hollywood panel and Dress Up Day and a crazy Danish Luggage Story. I ws so looking forward to performing...but then dizziness had to hit...

I wasn't the only one ill. Jessica was throwing up and Reuben and Aya were both a bit off (Aya took the day off; Reuben still gave his all). I hope it's nothing too serious.

Hypnotic

Sep. 15th, 2005 09:57 am
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Yesterday was hypnotic at best.

First we went to the LA Food Bank, a distribution center for food to NGOs around the LA area. They collect food (bulk donations, food drives, etc), sort them out, and send them over to various NGOs that need them - shelters, churches, schools, soup kitchens, so on and so forth.

Our task there was to form an assembly line and package food for senior citizens. I was in the milk section, the last section before the weighing...somehow managed to get a rhythm of put-milk-in-open-box-take-milk-out-put-milk-in, though I did get some help from Yoga, Jessica, Laurence, and Chris (otherwise I would just be behind schedule).

It was ironic that we had giant (28 inch) pizzas and desserts for lunch, and that so many of us (myself included) were complaining of hunger while in the assembly line...and yet there's so many people out there that barely have any food at all. And yet they still survive. Amazing.

After an extremely soporific bus drive, we were at the REMO Drum Circle - they do drum circles for community building and leadership and healing (and a ton of other circles). No one needed to be told what to do; they just got a drum and went on it.

It was AMAZING. The energy in the room, being lost in the music, coming together to create rhythms. At some point we were asked to go in the middle and lead the group...I went in, and I felt like I was the music, I was the drums, I was the circle. I wasn't myself anymore; I was the group, split amongst everyone. I was shaking when I came back.

I'm not sure anyone wanted to leave...

We (Me, Baljit, Sammi, Che-Ri, Neshat, Cristy, Reuben, K) walked around City Walk - even bumped into Tom & Melissa and Anke & Laurence. During lunch we talked about relationships, and played games of "who will you marry" - silly stuff. We even married off Reuben and K, har.

There were quite a bit of rumours about people pairing off in the group, most of which I was very skeptikal of (Eston and Miho? Come on, I was her roommate in San Diego and there was nothing about Eston mentioned) - though now the group knows of my crush on Nina. (well she is TEH AWESOME)

And now everyone else knows because I've written it online. I know at least one staff member reads this. Meep, hi...

I had the weirdest series of dreams last night. WorldSmart came to Bangladesh...McDonalds is sponsoring a year of a free WorldSmart trip and some of us were shortlisted for an interview...what was weird about it was that I kept trying to wake up, but I just woke up in another dream. It went on and on like a Russian doll. I was scared stiff when I woke up for real; I couldn't tell what was real anymore.

Hypnotic, definitely.
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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.
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Just very quickly -

I'm in San Diego right now, rooming with Miho from Japan. (Yay!)

We got a gay couple this week - Tim, one of the Local Organizing Committee members, and his partner Randy. (w00t!)

I'm not sure our new bus driver knows what he's doing; he can be a bit condescending at times. (Boo!)

Nina apparently has a crush on Viggo Mortesen. (adoi...)

My stomach is not adjusting well to this change of food. (Ow...)

I have emails from my two WorldSmart buddies from last seemster - Keaunis of the US and Manuela from Germany. (Huzzah!)

That's all.

Phoenix

Aug. 30th, 2005 10:08 pm
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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.
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The WorldSmart Celebrations in Albuquerque were...well, chaotic at best.

The place really looked like what I expected a theater to be - with props and sets and backstages and loads of others. It's rather messy because they're renovating it for a new play, but it was livable. Heck, there was even a giant set on the stage itself and we had to work around that. Try doing fast dances when there is a staircase blocking your way...

Helped set up the booths outside. There was a coffee bar that we hijacked for Stone Soup things. They have new displays now so it's kinda cool.

We had a discussion that morning, stemming from the Parker's Gone incident, about the frustrations we had about the program. Basically it boiled down to people having such vastly different expectations and conceptions of the program and experienced cognitive dissonance when they came here. People came here for different reasons, and it is hard (and almost futile) to cater to everyone's expectations.

Some of the ideas given were really good - extra project time, longer days to hang out with each other - hopefully they'd come to fruition.

We were promised a lot more people to show up here than in Denver. However, the audience was half-empty. So many people from the presentations and universities and wherever else that promised to come never showed up. You could tell that this affected everyone else; Chris barely had any energy, we messed up cues, the videos were strange. It was very, very odd.

Speaking of Chris - he got the appreciation folder this time round. The look on his face...awww...

I've started a little tradition: the Weekly Hug Crew (or Heart Committee as Laurence has named it). Basically, from now on, after every Whisk I'm going after the staff to give them a hug. I did that last week and I did it this week to great success. I just need more people to join me.

There's a bit of a love triangle going round here. Well sort of. Noelle and K were playing this game of associating people with colours - red, pink, yellow, and white. Whoever you chose for each colour represented what you felt about the person. Red means love; pink, a crush; yellow, friendship; white, admiration. They kept telling us to pick people in the crew of the other gender but that took longer than just choosing people, guy or girl...

OK, back to the love triangle.

We got Hiroko to play the game and she chose Atsushi for pink. We then got Nina and she too chose Atsushi for pink. Which means, supposedly, that both Hiroko and Nina had a crush on Atsushi. (Poor Hiroko was laughing and blushing like mad.) Right at that very moment, Atsushi shows up, and in the midst of his extreme confusion, we played the game with him.

Atsushi chose Nina for red. Love.

Soon after, Nina showed up, and the following ensued:

Me: Nina, you won the crush contest.
Nina: (confused) Why, weirdest combination?
Me: No, because Atsushi chose you for love.
Nina: (looks lovestruck) Aaawww... (blows Atsushi a kiss)
Atsushi: : (looks very confused and embarassed)
Rest Of Us: : (laughing our heads off)

I am so tempted to write fanfiction of this group now.

(Actually, I was thinking of using this experience as a base for this year's NaNoWriMo. I just need some semblance of plot, and some way to not get killed by the rest of the group.)

Monday, we move for Phoenix. And I need to update that Things I've Eaten list.

By the way, for those of you in Malaysia - can someone check The Star on Sunday (Aug 28th) and see if my article has showed up in the BRATs/Merdeka section? Thank you!
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We had our first full (well, full-ish) rehearsal for the Whisks today. Went pretty ok...I'm going to be the first person on stage, for the Rhythm parts, so that'll be cool.

I kept crashing into Eston during the Expo Dance, since he won't move from his spot even though we all do...bah. Hopefully he'll move and I won't crash into him so much!

I'm going to be multitasking on Whisk Day:

- Greeter
- Setup for Admissions
- Training for vocals (and possible future mic groups)
- Rhythm Leader 1 for "Rhythm Of The World"
- Expo Dance
- African Dance
- Circle Dance
- First person in row for Work Dance
- Third person to go nuts for the Celebration
- Host Entertaining for the visitors
- and tons of other group songs and dances and such

I'm really excited but also a bit bleh because I'm just getting used to Denver and now we have to go. We'll be heading next to Albuquerque (and Santa Fe maybe) - a large part of the week will involve visiting Native American resevations and exploring their cultures, so that would be quite interesting.

Some links for you:

Gaby's Site
Yoga's Site

I just realized that Che-Ri and I never got around to talking to Anka about the bus groups. Will need to meet her on Saturday about that. Or maybe I can email her. But eep!

Just a reminder:

Saturday 20th August 2005
D.L. Parsons Theatre
Northglenn Community Centre
Doors open 7 pm
Free For All


So come! Or invite people to come. And support us!
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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.)
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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.
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For the past 5 to 10 minutes I've been practising the dance for Unspoken Words. It's really complicated; precise moves executed at the split second, loads of complex turns that I keep stumbling on, one move I swear I've forgotten. My feet (the right one especially) is aching and I'm frustrated that I can't seem to get this right.

As it is, I've also got the Expo Dance, and all the other random dances, to learn and perfect. I don't have the music for the rest of them, so it's a bit difficult, and I keep crashing into lamps whenever I practice those. But I'm trying.

Maybe I'm just moody because it's That Time Of The Month and my hormones have once again gone haywire. Or maybe I'm tired. But I just can't seem to get these dances right, and it's stressing me. It's the first time since I got here that I'm feeling stressed, and I'm a bit worried really.

There has to be a reason why I'm in the dance team to begin with. From what I gather, they look mainly at your interest and comfort level, followed by talent and experience. I enjoy dancing, I'm comfortable with dancing on stage or in public or wherever. Not shy. But this isn't just random dancing; this is serious, coordinated, steps-and-all dance. The last time I did that sort of dance was two years ago and that was for about four months. I'm not a pro. Everyone else is getting it but I'm stuck.

But yet - I've been slotted into the dance workshop. Sure, no guarantees that I'll actually be performing any of these, but it's a step closer. And there has to be a reason why I'm here and not in, say, something as blatantly obvious as public speaking. Do JC, Hiroko, Nina, and the rest want me to challenge myself? Do they really think I can actually do this? Do they think I have potential? Why am I here?

There has to be a reason for me doing this, besides "oh we couldn't figure out where to put you so let's slot you in randomly". Has to be. I can't give up, not now. I have to still keep on working. Even if I haven't the slightest clue why I'm doing this, or whether I really will be doing this on the Celebrations anyway.

Today we went around downtown Boulder - there was an Asian fair going on. Malaysia and Bangladesh weren't represented; oddly, Madagascar was. I found two metaphysical shops there - one mainly based on books and print material, another on herbs and tools and such. I bought a Bat's Head Root, which apparently make your wishes come true; I just got it because of the whole bat connection. And some faerie dust (glitter) as well. They gave me an engraved blessing candle for free, which was cool. I know the prices probably weren't worth it, but hey, it's something interesting at least. Especially in a shop with a parrot-relative named Romeo who thinks he's a lion.

I just hope the Bat Head's Root will grant my wishes of actually getting these dances right. Please let all this effort be worth it.

I went back to the WorldSmart YahooGroup and saw the photos people put up...it's interesting to revisit them after seeing the actual people in comparison. Especially the photo of the staff; before, it was just a set of random faces. Now it's actual people, with voices and ideas and dreams.

Speaking of the staff: they seem to be really physical at times. Pats on the back and shoulder, high fives, winks, "hello baby" (apparently something Tom tells everyone). I don't know if they're just being really friendly or if they're flirting with me. (It's amusing, at least)

I'll probably be off making some air bandung now; we found some rose syrup at the World Market (yet another place without representation from Malaysia or Bangladesh). It has lime in it, so it'll be a very interesting taste and experience.

At least something to sweeten my mind for now.

(Oh yeah and another thing: does anyone know where else I can promote this? I'd like to have some more people reading this, just to meet new folk and have someone to chat with about the whole thing. Thanks.)
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So we had our first actual dance workshop today. Two dances: the crazy hiphop dance, and a contemporary jazz abstractish dance for Unspoken Words. I'm getting there (I'm not stumbling as much) but there's till some kinks to be sorted out.

On Monday we'll learn who does what for the first Whisk next Saturday...hopefully it'll be good!

I bruised my hand this time - the webbing between my index finger and my thumb. Was drumming the wall too hard. Ow. Remedies, anyone?

Why was I drumming the wall? There was an open-mic thing today, and I was part of the WorldSmart Band that was developing this new song. We didn't have all the lyrics, so it was a lot of "dadadaaa da daaaaaaa" stuff, and I wanted to make myself useful so I became the percussionist. It's a bit interesting to use the walls as a drum...

People have really awesome talents here. I feel a bit like a fraud sometimes; everyone's so amazing, what do I have to offer? Why am I here? What right do I have to be here? But I got inspired too for future open mics - perhaps a Rabinrath Tagore poetry recital (Bengali, English, Malay?), or a reading of a passage of Velveteen Rabbit that is really touching, or some ulek mayang stuff. Let's see.

I wish I had the brains to initiate the dikir barat earlier. Might have had some willing subjects. Problem is, it's hard to explain the concept with nothing to show...

We had our first intern meetings today - ours was just tossing ideas, and sharing silly stories about people's reaction to WorldSmart. Diana's friends were worried that this was some sort of a prostitution ring and told her that if she didn't call in a week they were going to send Interpol after her...har...

I'm trying to get them to set up (or let me set up) a WorldSmart Blog. We already have the newsletter, but that's not immediate and isn't very interactive. The blog would be a lot more interactive for everyone, with instant postings and discussions and places to upload stuff. Some way to connect with us.

I should have conceived this as a Special Project, true. Damn my extremely delayed-reaction brain.

We're supposed to have dinner with a friend on Sunday but she's not well so we're on standby. Hopefully she gets better.

Nanu's coming on Monday yay!

If there's any WorldSmart crew reading this - hello! Do keep reading and do comment if you can. The facility's filters actualy block LiveJournal, so I can't show them this blog then and there, but I placed the address in my Me Page and maybe someone can jot it down and visit.

Gee, I'm extremely sleepy today. Slept at midnight, woke up naturally at 5:50. Not even dawn yet. And now the sun is setting. Perhaps I should rest.
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My photos are on Imagestation, but I haven't quite figured out how to make them public without other people needing to register. Anyone have ideas? I figure there's some sort of a toggle but I haven't figured that out yet.

I'm now an intern with External Relations! These are the PR and admissions side of WorldSmart. I may be getting a special project related to the WorldSmart website; I'll only know tomorrow.

A few days ago we had mini auditions to see our talent and comfort level with singing, public speaking, and dance, as well as a short discussion on photography. The dance we did was extremely complicated and I messed up a lot; I did OK on singing, and I did pretty well on singing. These auditions were to put us in groups for the Whisk performances - dance, vocals, MCing, sign language and pantomime, and something else which I don't remember now.

I thought I would be a shoo-in for MCing, since I talk a lot and keep volunteering to try out. I figured I could have a chance in sign language since I picked it up quite easily. Vocals were so-so. I had no confidence in my dance chances, since I messed up big time and was so supremely uncoordinated. I'd love to perform on stage, even dance; I just thought I won't have the chance.

Today we find out which workshop we're in. What do I get? Dance.

Clearly Nina had too much beer on her birthday. Or something like that (tm Reuben and some other folk).

I love you Nina and I still want to dance please don't kill me eep!

It isn't a guarantee that I will perform, only that we get concentrated training in it. I'd still love to perform; it's such an exhilirating thrill being on stage, such an absolute high. It would be a bit disappointing for me if that doesn't happen...but oh well...

Such is the peril of a self-confessed attention seeker, ha.

Speaking of Reuben - he's in the Singapore news! Lucky guy. He got media attention, and a 50% scholarship. I tried for both and got neither. Bah.

Still have plenty of work to do. I'm in the Bus Team for North America (yet another surprise) so I'll be entertaining everyone on the bus ride, kind of. And there's the other Me Page and Country Pages to do. And a Country Presentation for Malaysia's National Day. And a fashion show. And who knows what else.

I have gone mad indeed.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
There's been quite a number of news articles that have compared Up With People to American Idol:

St. Paul Pioneer Press:
It was surreal moments like that — a little more subversive, a little less "Up with People" — that made this year's "AI" concert more than just a guilty pleasure.

Hollywood Reporter:
While such Up With People-style entertainment might not be in huge demand these days, it's crucial here because onstage individually, with virtually no production around them, most of these recent amateurs do not have the skill or presence to carry 15,000-seat arenas. Nor should they be expected to.

Toronto Sun (about Idol 2):
It was all good, clean, preppy fun, like seeing the Up With People Players work a Super Bowl half-time show. In 1978. In the Retro Dome.

E! Online (about Kelly Clarkson and Idol 1 finals):
Then, doing their best Up with People impression, the 10 finalists sang a medley of songs they had performed throughout the competition.

When fandoms collide, indeed.

Mhairi, the girl of the family, came by to visit during the weekend with her husband Chris. She's cool, and quite funny. The whole family's addicted to Sudoku and they're getting Mhairi to try it too. Har.

Chris liked stir-fry so Val cooked some stir-fry beef and broccoli. She was following it from a Weight Watchers cookbook but it was nothing like how I knew stirfry so I was trying to give some tips on how to make it more authentic. I'm surprised she didn't shoo me out of the kitchen. The American instructions just make it too complicated (marinating for an HOUR? Taking out, then putting it back in again?) but it's all simple really.

Their soya sauce is really salty. Seriously SALTY.

I have a new phone charger! We went to Best Buy to get one. And they seriously have EVERY ELECTRONIC GADGET KNOWN TO HUMANKIND. I have never seen a shop quite like that before. They have every part for everything - and they all look rather nifty. Even my new phone charger looked different, like some sort of alien pod or something. At least it works (and it was a lot cheaper than I expected), so that's great.

They refer to the Barnes and Nobles nearby as "The Library". These are my kind of people.

Speaking of books - Derek a.k.a. Host Dad has a very interesting hobby. For the past 13 years, he has been watching the Books Bestsellers List in the papers, and had kept an extensive chart of all the books that are listed - complete with rankings. He says it's to find new reading material; well, he's got 2222+ books to choose from. I don't know if that's dedication or insanity.

On the subject of Brand New American (or British) Food Tried In Denver - add quiche to the list. It's some sort of savoury pie-ish pastry with eggs and cheese and meat. (Ours was meatless since I don't eat pork) It's REALLY yummy. The cheese and the eggs separate so there's this really interesting effect. Add some sausage and pepper and it'd be my kind of meal.

Today we went to the Denver Nature & Science Museum. I'm a science museum nut; I insist on visiting one everywhere I go. This one focuses more on nature - geology, wildlife, that sort of thing. There was a nifty space exhibit, a Native American exhibit that gave me the chills, and a Health exhibit where apparently if you complete enough checkstations, you get a health profile of yourself. I've grown an inch (or that could be my shoes), gained 5 kilos (that's odd), and am decidedly unfit, since I was already exhausted part-way through the 3-minute stair walk.

There were exhibits where you got to choose (virtual) food to eat; I remember one exhibit was a breakfast shopping game, and they asked if I wanted chocolate chip cookies. I said Yes, and it adminished me for making an unhealthy choice. Oh come on, I deserve a treat. There was one exhibit styled like a Chinese restaurant (two more were Mexican and Italian restaurants) and for every food item you chose, it'll tell you the nutritional information. When I chose a regular Egg Drop Soup, it said "If you have no problems with MSG - spice is nice!". For goodness sake. MSG is NOT a SPICE. It's a FLAVOUR ENHANCER. Get it right.

Tomorrow we'll find out what internships we'll get. I have decided to do internships - I chose External Relations, Performing Arts, and News Crew. We'll also probably find out if we're going to be dancing, singing, or speaking publicly for the WorldSmart Celebrations.

Squee.
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)
This will yet again be a short entry, as I have a headache.

We had a fieldtrip today. University of Colorado - Denver, and the Colorado State Capitol. The UCD trip was to learn more about the Direct Instruction component - college classes. There are classes in Intercultural Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Leadership, and Conflict Resolution. Those taking Direct Instruction would get indepth classes 3 hours a week; the rest of us get a general class once a week, and some other instructional activities.

Let me derail here to explain all this Direct Instruction and "rest of us" stuff.

In the WorldSmart program, we have 3 hours a week for Project Time. In Project Time, you can do one of the following:

* Direct Instruction college classes (usually for credit)
* Special Projects - design your own project
* Internships - there's plenty - Performing Arts, Event Management, Extrenal Relations, News Crew, Operations, Research Assistance, Regional Learning, and so on and so forth

Originally I had signed on for the DI classes mainly for credit. Yesterday they had a Professional Development fair detailing all the different internships - and they all sound interesting! You could work behind-the-scenes of the WorldSmart Celebrations (or WSCs, or "Whiscs", which I'm now referring to as "Whisks"), talk to the mayors of the city to introduce the program, do media interviews, update the WorldSmart website, plan community service events, go to a city in advance and work with the Local Organizing Committee...so much stuff. And I was conflicted. Do the class, or do the internship?

I don't even know if I'll get any credit honoured for this program. I'll only know when I get back. Our college is so disorganized sometimes and after Curtin's snafu I don't think they'd honour it. And the internships have more to do with what I want to do in my life (especially the media and performing arts - I've already expressed interest in the website). I'd rather not go through the trouble of papers and assignments and studying - things I came here to avoid - only to regret it and have it all go to waste.

I talked to my dads (Real Dad and Host Dad) about it, and they both said I could - and should - do the internships. After today's presentations, my resolve is stronger; the classes sound interesting, yes, but they're mainly theory and I'm more interested in practical matters. I'll still have class exposure, even if it's not as long, and I am always free to take a day off and join a class instead if I want to. They'll even write a letter to my college with information about what I did if I request it. So hey, best of all worlds.

I'm applying for the following internships:

* External Relations - divided into two: one deals with admissions and helping potential students enrol in the program, and the other is public relations works - meeting mayors and NGOs, doing media interviews, writing press releases, and managing the WorldSmart website. It should be obvious why I'm applying for this.

* Performing Arts - works behind the scenes of the Whisks, from show planning to preparation to performer prep to performance to post-performance (and all other Ps and letters of the alphabet). Stage crew basically.

* News Crew - not really an internship but a special project. Basically, research the current news and special events and keep everyone updated on what's going on around us while we're travelling. Google ahoy!

I'll also sign on for two Operations-related special projects; the Bus Team, which basically helps out with organizing the bus travel from city to city, and the City Coordination team, who do the morning meetings and make announcements. They're small stuff so it shouldn't be too much work.

I hope I don't drive myself nuts with all this. I probably will, though.

OK! back to the field trip. So after the presentation on classes, we had a historian come in and talk about Denver using a slide presentation. Basically photos and pictures of various parts of Denver history. Denver was a town known for its mining; many people came over the years to mine for gold and silver. Not everyone was successful. It's also one of the highest cities in the US - over a mile over sea level. And the city of Denver was named to basically impress someone in Congress who resigned right before the naming. Right then.

Apparently a few people weren't too happy with his presentation, but I personally was neutral about it. At least it wasn't dry.

We then walked to 16th Street, the shopping area (think Singapore's Orchard Road). I wanted to try falafel and didn't have the time. We were all looking for places to eat - it was FULL everywhere - and we went to a food court instead. Katie, Christy, and Brandi all had Korean food; Cris had salad; and I had meatloaf. Tastes like undercooked hamburger. They also had GIANT baked potatoes (I seriously never thought potatoes could get that large) - with butter, they taste a lot better than the ones at Kenny Rogers that we had on my farewell gathering. The one at Kenny Rogers (in Berjaya Times Square) tasted like flour; this tasted like potato. Yum.

I left everyone alone to get to the post office - 23 cents local, 70 cents international for postcards - and it was quite a long line. By the time I was done, I was rushing to the Capitol for our tour, but it was SO HOT that I got exhausted and decided to go for the later tour. I met up with Ana and Krista, and we moved to under a tree, where we talked about airlines and visas and such. Gaby, Hiroko, Nina, Melissa, Miho (whose name I can NEVER get right) and Cris joined us later. Whee picnic! Almost...

Our tour began at 2:30, and we were led around by Kelly Rose, a very cheery college student. There was a tapestry with the women of Colorado (the only male was Harvey the rabbit, a character in a Pulitzer-winning play written by one of the women in the tapestry), the House ans Senate offices, endless brass and stianed glass, and cannonballs from the Civil War that were now staircase fixtures, meant to be rubbed for good luck. (The brass on those things were pretty much worn off)

Fun fact: The dome's gilded with gold. Denver has a hail problem. Last time, during hail, people would place pans on the drain to catch the hail and the gold that got chipped off from the dome, Now the dome has sealant, so that doesn't happen; also, there are filters on the drains to catch any loose gold dust.

Fun fact 2: Colorado has a state symbol for everything. Including state fossil - the stegosaurus.

Everyone, save for me, Yoga, and Diana, went back to 16th Street for shopping. And then it started to rain heavily. Nice timing. Diana liked Manbai's "Kau Ilhamku"; I just realized that Reshmonu's "Hey Waley" had random Tamil & Hindi at the end, which would amuse Cris greatly since she's into Indian music. Yoga's got requests for Sheila Majid and Siti Nurhaliza.

I need more free downloadable Malaysian MP3s, man.

Katie shared some of her rhymes with me. She writes socio-politcal raps (which kind of work better as poetry, but hey, different strokes and all). It's very different from anything else I've heard; perhaps with some tweaking of the rhythm, and some music, it'll all come together. Twas funny, because we were talking about the raps before entering the bus, and then on the bus there was a talk radio discussion about Korea and the Axis of Evil. Ha.

The water coolers at the facility have cone-shaped glasses. Apparently this is a common American thing.

I just heard from Ivy, my BRATs editor - they were planning a National Day BRATs supplement with writings from youths about their thoughts about Malaysia. I suggested an article about the foreign perspective of Malaysia, and she gave me the go-ahead. Tomorrow there's the Stereotypes activity, which does something similar, so it will be interesting.

My PDA is sending out alerts one hour early. I wonder why.

OK, so this wasn't a "short" entry really. It could be longer but I'm short on details at the moment. Feel free to ask questions, and check out the WorldSmart photo set!

Catch you later.

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