Archive | September, 2013

Out of Place

25 Sep

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September 2013

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” John F. Kennedy

Every Tuesday to Thursday I assist a man in a wheelchair named Kerr. Kerr is many things. He is a teacher, he is patient, he is forgiving, he is caring, he is strong, he is understanding, he is a friend, he is a brother, he is a son.

As a teacher he has taught me to not assume that I know what is best for the other person. To slow down and give options to people to have them decide what they would want.

A small example would be asking where someone would like to sit at a table, rather than just picking a seat. Even if you think you know the answer, opening up to another, showing them that respect shows that you value them.

Try it one time and see the effect on the other person. Their smile will be warming. Or they might be confused, why are you being so nice all of a sudden? (haha)

Kerr also is in a wheelchair, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and uses AAC to communicate. His favourite way to communicate is through blinking to say yes or no.

Yesterday, Kerr and I went to an Adult Literacy program at the North York Library to see if we could volunteer there in the future.

I met a woman there that was so nice because she was actually really rude.

Her voice was speaking nicely and softly, but her attitude was saying I am going to talk down to your level so you can understand these complicated thoughts that I have.

After about a ten-minute conversation about the program and volunteering where she mentioned many times that the person needed to be literate, and articulate to be in this program. And me explaining that I would be with Kerr the whole time that he is volunteering with this program.

She asked me something to think about –“How you will be valuable to the student.” As if she was saying, I don’t think you will be valuable in this program and you need to realize that.

How are people with different abilities valuable to a student?!?! Please read my L’Arche Compassion for my views on that. I could expand to a whole other essay.

But I am trying to set up this story for this next thought.

Placements. Where are we placed? Where are we allowed to be? When you read over the next words try to think where society places them.

Minorities

People with different abilities

Transgendered

Hipsters

Academics

Women

Men

Christians

Smokers

Bankers

The Wealthy

The Poor

There are so many different roles and with these roles, society places us in different categories.

There are many examples of when one role, one label takes over our whole identity and we are not allowed to be more than that.

When often we are so much more than that.

A disabled person who cannot talk, helping an immigrant to learn to read

A hermaphrodite who is an Olympic runner

A poor person not being allowed in a rich store (Oprah)

An African American as President

A prostitute who is a lawyer

Do you notice yourself putting these roles on others?

Do you notice putting these roles on yourself?

Are you limiting yourself from doing something because you think that is not your place?

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death”

Leonardo da Vinci

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Breath of Life

16 Sep

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September 2013

Last night I had the best feeling. The best feeling/best sleep I have had in a while.

I read this poem:

There are two kids of intelligence: One acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teachers ays, collecting information from the traditional sciences as well as from the new sciences

 

With such intelligence you rise in the world. You get ranked ahead or behind others in regard to your competence in retaining information. You stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more marks on your preserving tablets. 

 

There is another kind of tablet, one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness in the centre of the chest. This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid, and it doesn’t move from outside to inside through the conduits of plumbing-learning. 

 

This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out. 

 

~Rumi

I took five minutes, breathing in and out. Finding this space, this space of inherited knowledge, of the light from within that fills me with joy. Breathing in oxygen that gave me life.

And I was still… in such a warm glow of completeness I didn’t want it to end. A place where everything was all right, where my worries didn’t come to bother me, where I felt love for myself and those around me. It was truly magically.

Dear First Year Students

9 Sep

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed seeing all of you last night.

I live close to the University of Toronto, surrounded by Frat Houses and late last night I got to witness some amazing things.

Here are a four of events I loved so much!

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1. Paint Party Man. I loved the guy that was walking down the street covered in different colours of paint. What party did you come from? Was that part of a Frat initiation? Do you need any help getting those colours out of your clothes? Was it planned or spontaneous? Was there even a paint party or were you just painting your room?

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2. Love Birds. The guy and girl couple walking down the street. How long will you stay together? Did you meet tonight? What conversations did you have that made you think, yeah, he is worth my time. Are you going to your place or his?

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3. Fancy Ladies. The girls dressed up coming from a Frat house. They all looked so lovely, and awkward at the same time. Trying to play it off like they always wear these clothes, even though a few parts of the outfit do not match, and they look just a bit uncomfortable.

Ladies, you all look beautiful, and trust me, it is a good thing you girls are going home together. Although those frat boys might seem so cool right now, you are saving yourself having to fake that you enjoyed it.

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4. Boyz to Men. The two guys walking together to the frat house, double-checking the address to make sure this was the right place, taking a deep breath before they went into to house. I could see them gathering up their strength so that they complete the mission in front of them- seem cool, and attract a lady.

Ten Things I learned in Korea

9 Sep

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From February to August of 2012 I thought English in Busan, Korea. 

It was a great time and this is a humorous account of what I learned while in Korea.  

10. Paris Baguette is not that good.

I know some of you will not like that I say this, but it is not that good. Time and time again, I have given Paris Baguette a chance to redeem itself, I too was very excited that there was a Paris B. close to my house. However, there is a reason why you do not see any French people in Korea, they are still pissed off about the “bakery” being named after them.

9. Korean culture is LEGEND (wait for it) DARY 

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I know I have just scratched the surface and will never really understand it all. But from what I have learned, I have a newfound awe for Koreans and their way of life.

I hope to bring home the kindness and respect that I have learned from watching other Koreans interact.

It will take a while for me to stop using two hands for everything and bowing, but I honestly don’t mind.

8. Rock, Paper, Scissors can be a hilarious and dangerous game

Here is a video….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-XjtG9PU3o

7. Value of Education

Connecting with culture- I would like to highlight this one specifically. I admire the amount of respect Koreans show towards each other and themselves, in their work, school and relationships. We learned at the beginning of training how much money went into education in Korea, BUT it did not hit me how that affects a society until I lived it. Imagine if America put that much value in…. education…. in teachers…. in students. If that happened imagine all the improvements that would happen… I bet you a certain someone would not have been elected twice for office.

6. How to be the best charade player EVER

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This picture was taken the first time Kelly, Aimee and Cindy tried Makkoli. As you can see in their expressive faces they too …had to learn how to communicate in a country where you do not know the language. Through body language, gestures, and miming, somehow we all found a way to express ourselves.        

5. How to avoid awkward stares at a Jimjilbang

Since this only affects a few of you courageous females to enter a Jimjilbang…if you want to know the details, send me an email.

4. Koreans are not as open about Poop conversations as I previously was told.

When trying to start a conversation with my co teacher about how someone recently found out another form that poop can take…particularly the liquid type…That…Conversation… Got… Awkward. And that’s all I have to say about that.

3. How to think on your feet

When those lesson plans aren’t working… when the kids are confused or apathetic or when you forgot to make a lesson plan, quick thinking and decision-making skills definitely come in handy.

2. The Wire is amazing and EVERYONE should watch it.

The amount of leisure time I had was amazing and this allowed me to educate my self in many different ways I did not have time for otherwise.

Lastly, the number one thing I learned in Korea is…

1. The best way to face a challenge is through laughter.

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Poem

6 Sep

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(notice in the photo.. this was a time when all of us did not have cell phones and had to scavenger hunt for a pay phone.)

October 2006

Peace become a hum in me

Liberate, spread, cool, calm, stillness

 

But in this rush

We all are hushed

 

What is the time?

I need to make a dime

 

What are we working for?

We are money making bores

 

Hour after hour, day after day

Thought pulling me outward

Sky, tree, green, air

Money pulling me inward

 

Life is not fair

Nor will it ever be

 

We must fight to be free

Language controls our being

Be a threat to societies thinking

 

What you own ends up owning you

 

Consume or be consumed?

No, I’ll consume the consumer

 

Overwhelmed with thought

When will this stop?

 

Create in any way you can

Whatever it is, there will be fans

 

In these moments there is joy

Don’t forget to enjoy.

Great Things are to Come.

6 Sep

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October 2006

It is hard to think that I have changed. That I am a different person than when I was little, that the years have passed me and now I am here. It seems like I’m so busy getting to the next level that I don’t stop to think what level I am at right now. My life is just an extension of itself. There are great things for me to do, written in the stars and I forget that.

I forgot until yesterday what my destination is meant to be. I need to claim that destiny, this life is my own, I control who I am and what I do and I love myself.

I love life and I do what I want to do.

No fear.

In my dream I went up to some flowers and with in one step of them, they all bloomed in my face, openly and brightly, they embraced me, I just needed to find them.