Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fun Pics from Thurgood Marshall!

Boyz in da Hood!! Back row: Salaat (baby face!), Ibrahim (born in Kenya..WUT???), Mohamud (self-professed class clown). Front Row: Sergio & Arturo (He lent me Diary of a Wimpy Kid to read & I translated for his mom for parent-teacher conferences).
Moves Like Michael Jackson. I just love this one cuz Mohamud has the crotch grab down pat.  

"Take a picture of us racing, Miss April!!"

L to R: Russell (he gives the BEST hugs & is allergic to peanuts), Eden (sweetie!!), Amiria (she likes MATH!), Olga (from Guatemala 'n' we chat in Espanol sometimes), Felisha, Kiana, Anaiya (smartypants!)

Girl Power! Girls who participated in the Global Reading Challenge! The sign says, "Anaiya's team won but our team came in a tie for second"

My favorite picture!!! Back row: Jordan (straight-A student), Jose (super focused but has the cutest dimples ever!), Martin (hilarious kid!), Eden, Au (encourages me to watch Lady Gaga music videos), Amina (highest reading level EVER!), Anaiya (she's going places), Amiria (always is wearing Ugg boots!), Olga
Second row: Arturo, Sergio, Felisha, Abdi (dude, this kid cracks me up!)
w/ blue basketball: Ibrahim

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Seeking Permanency

Definitely time for a post. Thinking so much about various things that I cannot fall asleep! Some things I have been pondering lately:

Do politics really matter? Feeling as if my policy class is pulling back the veil that reveals the Wizard of Oz to be nothing more than a man! Starting to see how corrupt and broken the political system is and how ignorant and deceived we are on a daily basis!! More and more I'm seeing that it all comes down to: POWER, MONEY and SELF-INTEREST.. Tomorrow I am going to Olympia with a classmate to advocate for immigrants and refugees. I think the best part of political advocacy is the sheer number of people that show up to rallys like these. It's so encouraging to know that there are people in the U.S. who actually give a damn. That's the best part--meeting people who care!! Not sure if what we're doing (rallying/advocating) is actually making a difference, but whatever; I have a good time being around passionate people!

Why is Valentine's Day such a big deal? Seems like for single girls Valentine's Day is, like, the WORST DAY EVER. I dunno, I just don't feel that bad about myself for being single anymore. Whereas in high school I was insecure and considered myself "unlikeable" because I did not catch the attention of a guy, I'm pretty indifferent now. I think the coolest thing I can celebrate as a single woman on Valentine's Day is the crazy amount of awesome friends that God has given me. I think about friends I've had for a LONG time (Rachel R.!) and ones I've known for a couple years (Hillary & Faith) and new ones I met just this year (Brittany from the BASW program) and I feel so thankful! And, like, damn, we've got the rest of our lives to be married (if we end up married, that is), so I say, live it up while we can!!! :)

Totes defs missing Mexico.. I'm really missing the families and children in San Miguel de Allende! I have had SO MANY wonderful experiences becoming a part of different communities through volunteer work (Consejo, Villa Esperanza, Casa de los Amigos, Hogar de los Angeles) but the saddest thing is that they all eventually had to end! I had to say goodbye and sometimes I wonder about clients I was particularly fond of.

For example, at Consejo I really connected with an older man named Carlos*, who grew up in Texas but now lives in an apt near Lake City. He's pretty coherent, although sometimes I wondered a bit at what he was trying to tell me--he was mandated to get mental health treatment in order to receive public assistance for housing and food. Anyway, his gift was in art--he did portraits and all sorts of things with nothing more than a crappy set of crayons and colored pencils. I would sit with him and watch him draw and he would tell me about different things he'd bought recently and refurbished, or things he'd like to get for his apartment.

Or I think about Villa Esperanza & the family of Tania* and her three sons Victor*, Alejandro* and Cristofer*. The stereotypical single mother of color with three kids is usually pitied by liberals because she's up against so many barriers, blahblahblah. Well, of course. Tania's a survisor of sexual abuse, English is her second language, etc. But that was one of the strongest families I have EVER seen. I mean, the LOVE, they had for each other was so beautiful! The oldest, Victor, looked after his lil' bros and even his mom! It was obvious the boys all loved and respected Tania... I did not pity that family. They moved out of the transitional housing right  before I finished volunteering and I wonder where they are now.

At Casa de los Amigos I think of Ceferino*. This boy was a prophet full of wisdom and insight and compassion--mature beyond his years (he's only 16!). He came from Honduras, riding trains north through Mexico to get to the U.S. His family back home is super poor and all he wants to do is learn, make money to send home. I mean, damn, he's in this children's prison, not knowing whether he'll be deported or what have you, and he's so focused! I mean, sure, there were days where I could tell the weight of it all was getting to him--that he was thinking and contemplating despair. But jeez, he just fought so much through it all. He took the GED, took every opportunity possible to learn and practice English, was almost always in his room reading.. He was basically the dad of that unit, looking after the other boys and was the first to use his own savings to purchase a parting gift when a kid got adopted or deported. Last I knew he was placed in a group home with other U.S. naturalized homeless youth and seemed to be mostly thriving, although his court case was still pending. He called me the other day, but I never got back to him. I realized too late that giving out my personal cell phone number was breaching professional boundaries.. I wonder, though, where he is and how he's doing.

And at Hogar de los Angeles--so many that I left behind! So many incredible families.. I miss those women and their children terribly! I miss Mexico.. I was thinking about how the woman across the street who ran a bakery let me get sweet bread when I was short 3 pesos, trusting that I'd pay her back later. I don't know, little things... I was moved by that because it'd never happen here in the U.S.

*Changing names although I'm pretty sure I'm already violating HIPA privacy & disclosure codes, w/e

All this goes to say that I am yearning to be in a long-term community because that is was I really, really enjoy. I want to be somewhere where I don't have to think about saying goodbye, because I'll be sticking around. Like for at least a year, but preferrably two or three. I want to put down roots in the community I'm going to be serving, because I want to show them that I care enough to stay with them. It's such an incredible experience meeting and knowing the poor, being a part of their lives. There is nothing really like it at all.

Until then.. I keep dreaming.