Posted in inspiration, personal, self-actualization, world

Foreign

The word foreign can sound foreign or strange in itself. The meaning is the same in all all languages. It essentially translates to that which is different or country or language that is different from one’s own. Depending on where you are from, the word can also have different connotations that go along with it.

國外 外国人 
विदेशी  
ngoại quốc
farang

Maybe I’m foreign in my own skin. I am in love with being in new places, but never feel like I am where I need to be. Mostly because I haven’t yet found the place where I feel needed. My value of myself has not diminished with this fact, however, it leads me to think about what constitutes being foreign.

We’re all people and even though I might live miles away from a teacher in Asia, I know they also have to deal with students in a classroom. They also must create a plan to organize themselves. Now, that’s just a fantasy because these are ideals that I hope are similar but I know are not. What is similar is not always apparent because language gets in the way of making people think they are not able to communicate with those that are different.

Everyone (any age) should be trying to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd. Be unique, do something different. Try a new food, talk to people in your community from Asia or South America. Your culture can be modified to include different perspectives and ideas. It requires modifying your mindset somewhat as well.

It might be hard to admit but we all have biases. We all have things that we will not admit make us feel differently than other things do. Maybe the person reading this is already beginning to think of their inert biases at this moment.

Foreign is not being able to recognize that what’s different is there and not knowing whether that thing is bad or good. Foreign is not being able to understand why you want to try something different, go someplace new, or even create new experiences.

It’s a feeling, it’s a moment. It’s ongoing, because we’re all foreign people in a foreign land.

Cover/featured image via Giphy (original source taken down)

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Posted in life, media, world

History repeats (and repeats and repeats)

In a different time, in a different era, the world still sought out peace. No one had the answers then and no one has the answers now.

54 years ago a nation decided they might have found a way to deal with the problems that were plaguing them. At least for the time being, at least so that everyone would take their gaze off America. At least so that things could be normal for a time.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was and still is a landmark civil rights law in the United States. It was monumental in the way in which it specified how civil rights should be applied based on race, religion, color, sex, or national origin. Powers were weak at first but grew more supportive as years went by and supplements were made. It was initially proposed by President John F. Kennedy asking for legislation to be made which gives all Americans the rights to places and things that are open to the public already (hotels, restaurants). Please keep in mind that, especially in the South, Jim Crow laws were really still being enforced until 1965. A lot of places were still segregated, including public schools.

Anyway, since the bill was filibustered in the Senate in President Kennedy’s time, it was President Lyndon B. Johnson that pushed it forward and signed it into law on July 2, 1964. A quote that might speak to the political climate of the time: “The bill divided and engendered a long-term change in the demographic support of support of both parties.” Things were heating up, for sure not everyone liked the bill. Some were sure it would lead to things they were not comfortable with such as desegregation and the possibility of infringing on the right to segregate based on race. So, yes there were numerous concerns and a multitude of race concerns that this bill was not addressing at the core.

On the topic of segregation today we are great. On the topic of racial discrimination and iniquity, we are scores better than during this time. However, today people think deeper. People worry more about how they will be perceived by someone of another race, gender or class in their workplace and in public. If you’re black, we’re talking about the police here. If you’re Hispanic, you worry about your safety and home being taken away from you as well as your family. If you’re Muslim, you worry when there is a terrorist attack that they might just be Muslim even though you try to remember that America is supposed to be passed that, right?

No answers. Cold shoulders. Locked out Senate. Mismanaged White House.

Still searching, still hoping that the phrase “history repeats itself” means nothing anymore.

Posted in media, society, world

On failing to live out a surmountable goal

(also read this on this occasion).

They say you’ve reached the main location of promise. Of discovery. Of eternal bliss. It’s the place between forgiveness and dissent. No country is really there yet but we can hope to get there sometime soon. We can dream that we have achieved greatness by ignoring the needs of the most responsible or upright citizens. Who is to say that anyone has ignored anyone. Suffice to say, it’s not a “war.” It’s a battle, if it was a real war there would be more ships cruising along in the clouds with blood splattering everywhere feeling all revolutionary. Oh wait. Guess that already happened, we’re just waiting for the last moments of sanity to come crashing down.

***

I think that in the current year, 2018, it is a good time to be raw. Let’s get honest about what we as a society expect. We can’t fully appreciate what we have and the opportunities we have if we always take them for granted. What is real equality and have we reached it? Are women equal? Are people equal?

The answer to all these things is a firm no. There might not be any balance to be found there either. If there is then it will be found at a later time. At a time when we are are living our last moments on Earth is when we stop caring because we know that it doesn’t matter what efforts we made, what matters is how the next group tries to fix the problems. We try to raise up a generation that will care about the environment, social causes, human rights, and equality. However, we also want children to have a mind to think for themselves. To be able to know what they want, but also be smart enough to know the difference between right and wrong. The things that are right are seldom made as an example to do again, while we stress the wrongs even as they continue to occur. For example: It’s wrong to punch or hit so it is “wrong.” What about helping a stranger or donating money to a local charity? Those are the “right” that we don’t talk about unless it’s in one of those “people on the street” videos that many seem to love doing.

Anyway, on this day remember what you have. Remember what others do not have. Always be grateful. What can you do more of? You can be the change you want to see, by giving back your time. You can start a chain reaction by simply creating connections with people who are not like you or those your social circle does not associate with. Step outside your comfort zone and realize that people, regardless of skin color, age, gender, ethnicity, background, or social status are all just people.

“How about this weather?” seems lame but in this case try it and see where it takes you. I hope you have many scintillating conversations with all kinds of people this year.

 

[image attribution: Ebony Magazine, 1955 (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons]

Posted in goals, life, world, writing

Things are happening.

Oh hi there.

It’s been five months since this blog has been updated. That’s way too long. Not really sure how that happened, but yeah there it is. Five months. Whoo, so much has happened.

****

To start with, I am teaching English abroad. I am living in a different country. I am immersed in a local culture that five months prior I really knew nothing about. Life is so crazy. I have made so many new friends and learned so much about life. Things that I took for granted before are greatly missed. I miss people from home, foods and the reminder that I am not alone. Those are the kinds of things that keep me up at night.

I teach kindergarten and grade 2 to children who barely speak English or really none at all. It’s a challenge working to meet them on their level. To try to make them understand me and what I am trying to teach them. At the same time, it’s a joy that is unparalleled to anything else I’ve done. Sometimes I wake up and can’t believe I do what I do. Can’t believe that I take the time to create a lesson, can’t believe that I am teaching in a country so far away from home, can’t believe that I am living and going to work in another country. Some things are similar (Mondays suck no matter what country you’re in) and others are different. If it wasn’t for technology allowing me to talk to family back home, I would be sad all the time honestly. Social media keeps me locked in, but I’ve become more out of tune with the news cycle. I just don’t follow it as regularly as I used to. I’ve stepped out of that political news bubble and it feels very freeing.

I make myself feel stronger by knowing that it doesn’t have to all be about me. It’s about the kids. That’s the job I came to do and it comes first. Of course, it doesn’t take precedence though over a life well-lived. What I mean by that is, I came to teach sure but also to explore and travel and see things. That is what I try to do when I have the chance. To go someplace new, discover a new place and meet new people along the way as well. It’s all relative, but it keeps me grounded knowing that I have come so far already. Knowing that as of late, I am keeping myself fairly healthy with the new foods I have found and consume. I also know that the support system I have in place works because it is strong and built to make me want to keep doing this.

Getting out of bed each day, I tell myself that I’ll do some “organizing” today. It doesn’t always happen. The one thing that I wanted to do in that organizing list was write. Just write. Nothing fancy, no planning. No order. In a place that is bright, perhaps in a nearby park that I enjoy going to. It’s important to find solace in the things that give us joy when we are feeling alone and know that no one else can understand us. I can’t make friends easily, but I am working on it. I could have gone out today, explored or walked. I did not. Instead, I let myself breathe into the temptation to do nothing. To just relax. I do this often though (mostly because teaching a class of 42 is hard and grueling work) and I want to do more. To see more. But, I also know its ok to not want to. It’s ok to want to push yourself to try though.

 

IMG_2305
a hot and popular dish where I am (if you know what it is comment below).

 

I tried. I succeeded. It’s a process and it’s still going strong.

Posted in world

The good in humanity

I’m currently wondering what happened to human decency.

Is it still there? I’m trying to find it but struggling. People say that know what it takes to be a good person but very seldom are people actually being a good person. It’s a messed up world we live in and its not getting any better.

It might take a lot to restore your faith in humanity. Or it could only take pictures of cute pandas. Either way, you are a world citizen. You are permeating the idea that humanity is hopeless by not spreading the faith. Spreading the idea that hate is alive. It is, no doubt about that but what good does the little good in humanity there is even accomplish? It might do very little, true and have little impact but who cares?  Yes, you should care but what about doing things for the purpose of simply doing them? We don’t do that enough anymore. We don’t think simple things like that matter anyway. They might not, but denying someone good humanity is like denying food to a hungry puppy. It will only make you sadder.

I could get more political or revolutionary about this but I won’t. I won’t do tirades here. This is a place of positivity. So I will give you a way to feel happy about the things in your world. The world that, like it or not, you are a part of. You should get involved in it, but if you will not at this current moment then alright. I’ll let it be. Humanity can always be restored in our minds until we remember that it cannot because humans are inherently all-powerful. So much power is never a good thing.

35 heartwarming photos to restore your faith in humanity.

simple acts to restore your faith in humanity.

 

Small things can be big things if you let them be. Large moments can become even larger depending on what you view as important. Don’t let yourself get carried away with thinking all humans are bad though.

Stay hopeful.

(cover image source).

Posted in changes, world

Not a consolation prize

It has been just over a week now that the United States has elected a new (and horrendous) president. He is in control. He has the power to destroy with his executive actions, all of which have long-term consequences. I wish I could say that it’s a great time to be American but alas it is not.

**

To those wondering what they are going to do in the next few months, hold tight to your own beliefs. Hold strong to the fact that there are people who want you to succeed. Ignore those that tell your otherwise no matter how much it hurts.

And I know it’s hard. It’s jarring to have to be afraid. When you came to this country for a better life and for greater opportunities. What does one do when those very opportunities are being taken away? Being relegated to nothing in favor of opportunity for the wealthy. Gone are the ideals of hard work and working for what you have it seems. Now, it seems that those that have a dream should re-think that dream. Re-tool it so that they can take part in the effort to take back their dream from the dream snatchers.

I won’t give you this blog post and say have a nice day, I’ll give you resources for allowing you to speak up:

Contact your local State Representative.

Tips for calling from a former congressional staffer.

Organize a protest!

Coping with the New America.

One thing you can be sure of is that you don’t belong in someone’s “box.” You’re not anyone’s prize to be won or trash to take out. There should be no compromise for you existing.

 

(cover image source).

Posted in Community, world

Give back (aka volunteer somewhere!)

Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t give back more. That I don’t do more for my community. Shouldn’t I be doing more. I feel like I should be doing more. It’s hard to do more when you feel so busy. Or maybe that’s what we like to tell ourselves.

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(gif source).

I volunteer in plenty of places. More than I did when I was in high school for sure. I didn’t volunteer at all then. Maybe its part of growing up or something that you want to do more I’m not sure, but I want to do my part for sure. This includes matters of the environment, policy and community development. I care about communities that I live in and want everyone to have a strong shot at getting their goals accomplished. It’s strange for me to say it, but I want things to be great for everyone. America is already a great place and no one needs to hear that they are worthless and part of a money-making machine to get America and themselves rich again. If you know who I’m talking about then you also have a role to play in your community.

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(gif source).

The first step is to know what you can do. Where are the local food banks? Do they need any extra help? What about senior centers? Childcare centers. There is any easy way to do this with the site Volunteer Match that will note your location and send you emails about things you can do in your area. Sometimes there are many things, other times not so much. But, this does discount other volunteer organizations not included. So check with your local United Way chapter as well.

Next, figure out what you are really able to commit to doing. And contact the necessary people. Meet in person if needed. Work it out so that you can get involved in some way if it is something you want to be a part of. Don’t hold back on reaching out again because people forget that you are interested, you’re only a volunteer anyway. But you still matter!

Find a local event to volunteer at and just go! This can be a 5k, a blood drive, a book drive-anything as long as it gets you out there with others. If you are able to recruit friends then all the better, but if this is an organized event do not simply bring along a bunch of friends with you without asking if it okay to bring extra hands (one or two extra people might be fine, but other people in the community might already signed up to help on that day).

The main idea is to get yourself involved with a community event or organization that will allow you to help them in a way that is non-binding (in that you are not an employer).

Whatever way you do it, be kind to all regardless of where they come from and what they do because I know you have your faults too.