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

All this in just one day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I miss the Huddle.

And now I'm back. And I'm way sleepy. But I'm starting to like Osaka. It's fun.
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I don't know when we suddenly had the habit of having "the-future-of-WorldSmart" talks just before our Whisks.

Yesterday Tommy Spaulding, CEO of WorldSmart/Up With People, came to see us to do just that. It got rather passionate and heated and there are still many things left unsaid. It was a talk much needed, but perhaps the timing was rather unfortunate. Nina especially was drained since the Celebrations (a.k.a. Whisks) have been a bone of contention with all the WorldSmart crew (mainly that no one had clued them in on it) - poor girl.

Where is everyone?! Our audience gets smaller and smaller, even though the auditoriums get bigger and bigger. People, please really boosts our morale when we have at least a reasonably-filled audience space.

I managed to talk to Bob about the issues I had with the program, about not being sure where I stand amongst the rest. It was quite an interesting talk...he told me that I was one of the most appreciated people in the program, that I was known for being reliable and energetic and the person to go to when there is a project. He told me not to worry so much about making people uncomfortable (i.e. don't compare myself to Parker, which I was doing for a while) but yet told me that there are ways to change if need be and I have all the tools to do that. That was really refreshing and I'm glad I got to talk to someone about it, especially someone who is fair and just and still compassionate. Thanks Bob.

Neshat bought me a pencil from the Grand Canyon (I didn't go because I was resting) because I saved her a seat on the bus all the time. Reuben gave me a hug and said "thanks for everything". Nina and JC were talking about the new Whisk Programs (YAY!) and how I had provided the kick and inspiration for them - then Eston chimed in with applause and said "Go Tiara!". That was cool.

One piece of advice to all: Never, NEVER say you speak for a group of people ever. Especially if the group is so diverse.

Hey people!
(Hey what?)
Hey people!
(Hey what?)
Let me see you get funky!
(No way!)
Let me see you get down!
D-O-W-N, D-O-W-N
D-O-W-N, that's the way to get down!
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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!

Whisk W00t

Aug. 20th, 2005 10:30 pm
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I got kicked out of the Expo Dance (bah) - Eston got so confused about me not being there during rehearsal that he kicked himself out too, heh.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, what a great start.
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We just came back from a pizza party hosted by Andy and Rick, Danni and Chris's host dads (the gay couple). It was loads of fun - loads of drinks and snacks, us singing our heads off on karaoke (Nina would cringe if she heard us), chats and hugs and kisses and all sorts of fun stuff.

I was the Party Faerie - I went there with my brand new blue Faerie Wings! Bought them today from the party store. They had some cool costumes (including some BatWoman - or DivaBat - getups) but they were either too large or too expensive. These faerie wings were inexpensive and just nice for my luggage.

I need to pack, ack.

I had an orchid that fell off a tree...but it fell off my ear too. Sigh. Thank you, Orchid, for granting me with your gift for a while.

I didn't drink a drop of alcohol and I was the drunkest one there.

Tomorrow, we perform. For the first time. EEE! Wish us luck!

Edit: Almost forgot a few things.


2. Our group didn't win the ice cream.

3. Congrats Dina! She was a friend of mine since primary school and was runner-up in last year's Malaysian Idol. She just won a gold & silver medal for the World Championship of Performing Arts in Los Angeles - the first Malaysian in about 6 years to win. Yay!
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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!
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.)
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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'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.

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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 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 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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