Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DREAM ACT ---graduation

First off I just wanted to say:

Congratulations to all the dreamers who have just graduated!!! Congratulations on all of your hard work. Keep your heads up! Hope is out there!!!

I'm passing along the word that there the United We Dream Coalition and Dreamactivist.org groups will be holding a National DREAM Act Graduation ceremony in Washington D.C. on June 23rd. The event will be attended by over 500 students from across the country. Also, representatives from Microsoft and College Board will be in attendance and will hand out Activism Awards to students who have proved outstanding leadership. Right after the Graduation ends, we will be visiting the offices of legislators to urge them to support the DREAM Act.

In addition to the National DREAM Act Graduation, many organizations from across the U.S. will also be holding their own Graduations in solidarity with the one in D.C. The events will be held in North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Indiana, and California.

I'm really excited about all the movement out there. I really feel like this is it. and i'm not trying to echarle la sal*fingers crossed*

here's a website for more info. i'm pressed for time though, so i gotta go. but check it out. support it and get the word out!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saliendo de la mala racha

So it's almost been two months since I stopped by and typed anything. The truth is 1. I got so busy 2. Even though excuse #1 sucks I began thinking about what I could possibly write that anybody could care to read about. It's not as if I have anything to say. Despite my half-assed attempts to become a journalist, I don't consider myself a writer. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing meaningful nor provocative to say. I'm more of an internal processor. I keep thinks to myself too.

If there haven't been enough clues, I struggle with bouts of depression. I'm really not writing this to earn pity or sympathy from anyone. I'm trying to draw it out physically in front of myself so I can make sense of why I'm so fuckin ungrateful sometimes. Last year I started wondering whether medication would be the answer. But I usually don't even take tylenol for a headache and I didn't want to give in to something I was certain I could overcome mentally. Clearly I have a lot of mental work to do.

Today is indeed a bad day, a trough day. I don't know why. Even though, yeah, it's stress period with dead week and finals (it's not the first time, this is my third year. I'm pretty used to it). I dunno. I just kind of fell in a slum. Wishing there was something to be happy about, something to be excited about.

I don't know yet but there's an 80 percent chance that I'm interning with Telemundo this summer. I'm gonna confirm this tomorrow for sure. (scratch that, I feel like it's a 60 percent). I mean I toured the studio with the person who'd be my supervisor and she introduced me to everyone as "our summer intern," and then she asked me what hours I would be available. So I figured it's in the bag. But the realist/pessimist in me doesn't want to count on it. That's something to be excited about I guess. I'll be studying in Washington DC next semester (as abroad as I can go. Though the family is freaked about me flying). I'll be taking night classes and interning at either a news source company, with lobbyists, a think tank, or for an interest group. The East Coast. I've never been there. Boston. Philadelphia. New York. That's something to be excited about. So then what the hell's wrong?

I don't know. I really don't know. I don't want to be stupid and attribute it to the "fulana is now in a relationship with sutano" announcement on facebook, even though deep down it's a spine in my side. Remember the best friend who wasn't talking to me? Yeah she avoided me cus she didn't want to tell me she was dating the guy I told her I had crushed on during the Arizona trip. The guy she told me "was really nice, really cute, not my type, but a nice guy. You deserve a nice guy. Go for it." Funny. I felt we hit it off pretty well in AZ. We were in the same Spanish class coming back. I was excited. Maybe there was a chance. Yeah well I thought wrong. Explains why you avoid me for the next five weeks after I find out from third parties and facebook of all fuckin venues that you guys are dating. Thanks for the heads up. Thanks for telling him about our tensions and telling him I was crushing on him too. Now the guy thinks I'm a bitch cus I'm not talking to my "best friend" cus she nabbed the guy I had my heart set on. Not true. Mijo, no eres el unico. Things were weird before you came along. You were just the litmus test.

It happened a month and a half ago. I should be over it right? I try. I'm over the guy. I don't like him. He doesn't talk to me AT ALL anymore, despite us having the same Spanish class. Life goes on. And it does. The same boring uneventful life. I don't know what I'm waiting for. Something exciting like I've mentioned probably 1,834 times. And the worst feeling is that I know I should be grateful but for some unfortunate reason I can't get myself to feel better. Knowing very well that people are dying in the Sudan, Sri Lanka, Israel, and all the other shit that goes on in the world. But I can't lift the damn spirits.

Step 1. Call Telemundo tomorrow and confirm.
Step 2. Finish final projects and papers
Step 3. I usually don't think that far ahead. I'll figure this out after I call Telemundo. I'm sure once a get an affirmative answer (if indeed I do) the spirits will be a little brighter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Two ways of dreaming

During my time in Arizona I was plagued with thinking about the future and vocation stuff, while simultaneously my heart strings were being pulled by the kids and the reservation conditions. As I wrote earlier, I spent every night in despair and frustration. As an immersion trip on behalf of the school, our group reflected every night about our daily experience and interactions with the Navajo people. I felt so close to the students in our group from school that at one point I just wanted to come out and tell them everything that was going on in my head. "Hey I wanna stay here and help these kids after I graduate but I have no idea what the eff I'm doing after I graduate because . . . " But I didn't. I only told them half of what was going on. All the frustration at their conditions. I also pointed out how I feared that we were going to leave in a couple of days and things were going to stay the same. The people would still be fucked. And that in my personal view our stay there meant nothing. And I was frustrated because I wanted to leave knowing that we helped them somehow, but the reality was that we weren't doing anything. Their education process had already been screwed around with so much the damage couldn't be repaired in five days. I told them that instead of tutoring them and coming up with half-assed lesson plans that I felt compelled to do something else. I wanted to ask them about their lives, and about their dreams, and what was going to happen after the eight grade, after high school. I wanted to leave them feeling that they had to go on, that they needed to leave that reservation. And that it was possible and I was behind them 100%. I had tried having this conversation earlier with one of the girls I was tutoring with in the same class room and she just gave me a blank stare and said, "I came here to tutor, not to have a heart-to-heart."

I totally stirred the pot by pointing out the futility of our presence. The girl who worked with me in the classroom (who enjoyed the experience so much because she dreams of being a teacher and we were placed in a classroom of kids who had no teacher, but rather different subs each day, so she relished in coming up with lesson plans) wigged out. She was furious. She felt attacked. Crying, ranting, and banging the table she wailed, "How can you say we're not doing anything?"

"We're showing them that learning is fun, we're making them smile. How can you say that! If that's true then what am I doing all this shit for?!" (she threw her flash cards violently on the table; we were preparing a jeopardy game for the kids).

Yeah maybe we were making them smile. Maybe they were gonna have a fun time playing jeopardy. But here's a news flash: we leave and they still can't read, divide or multiply. You're no fucking Gandhi.

Even my best friend was thoroughly disappointed by my attitude. You can't think like that, she said. You can change the world, but it's not gonna happen in one day. (Yeah, I know, but I didn't feel there were any signs of a contribution to these people from us). The rest of the group squirmed in their seats, looking sheepishly at each other, at the ground, at the clock. silence. awkward coughing. Then I spoke up and took everything back. I said I was sorry for being such a downer and I didn't mean to offend anyone, that was simply the way I felt. For the next couple of days I noticed a few group members avoid me or talk to me differently. Even my best friend turned away from me. She was detached, there was such a tangible disconnection. It was the weirdest thing ever.

The day after I found out the dream act was introduced and after praying in the sweat lodge, I was ecstatic. I cried in joy. My cell phone had no reception so I couldn't call home. The only other person I ran to slapped me in the face, figuratively. I excused myself from the classroom and got her out of her classroom. "Girl, they introduced the dream act! This is great! I can't believe it, I prayed so hard for this in the sweat!" (She's in the same boat) Then came the blow. She cocked her head to the side and squinted at me like if I were standing far away. Girl there's other things to pray for. I prayed for my family. For their health. There are other things. I didn't understand. First of all, how could you think I don't care for my family? Of course I prayed for them, I prayed for my poor tired father who drives three hours to and from work as early as 4am. I prayed for my mother who's abused and derided at work. I prayed for the frustration that eats at my brother for his situation. And I prayed for the success of my incredibly smart sister (the "anchor baby"), I gave thanks for everything and prayed for forgiveness as well. I didn't understand. Why wasn't she happy? After that I cried harder, but it was no longer from the joy, it was from the pain of not being understood. The whole week I was dealing with the despair of feeling incompetent, and here, now, there was this small ray of light that shone, and there were other things that mattered? (Yeah, there were but at the moment, this was it). At that moment (our last day at the boarding school) I decided to close myself up. I swore I wouldn't talk to anyone on the ride home, the 16 hour drive. I'd keep the frustration and despair, and the little joy in the end to myself. And so I didn' talk. Not to her, not to anyone. I came back wanting to be by myself, just thinking, reflecting, sorting out these issues with myself and with God. Soon after I got calls and text messages, facebook messages, she even came to my dorm and left me notes. Nothing. I didn't want to talk to her. Not just her, to anyone. I avoided other friends who I knew would ask about my trip to Arizona. But I couldn't do it. I felt like a jerk by the end of the week, but I didn't feel like I could talk to her the same. I called her over on Friday and told her I didn't want to talk, I just wanted her to listen to me. And I excused myself in the beginning, I wasn't asking for an apology, an explanation, or anything from her. I just wanted her to listen. So I let it all out. Everything. My dreams, my fears, my frustrations. And she sat quietly and teared up.

In the end she apologized said she never meant to make me feel like what I cared for didn't matter. But she said she was done getting excited about the Dream Act. That had all happened during high school for her. But with each rejection, she pushed out even thinking about immigration. "That's my way of surviving, I don't think about immigration. I know that con papeles o sin papeles I'm gonna change the world. I know that."

And it's a great way of thinking. I can't recite the rest of her spiel. but it was more or less inspirational. And I thought, yeah you're right. I lived 16 years without knowing and I got pretty far. Why wouldn't I now? I know I got it in me. That wasn't me, on that week in Arizona. I understood afterward. I would achieve nothing by wallowing in desperation. I know I could do this. Somehow I will find a way to pay for nursing school. And I will do Doctors without Borders, and I will travel the world and help earthquake victims, and victims of civil wars in Africa. She helped wake me up. This time it was a good slap in the face. Although the disconnection after my lashing out during our reflection merited an explication which I did not receive.

And I have to say that for the first time in a long time, I feel happy. Classes this quarter are great. My parents are doing good. My sister is doing good. We're all alive and healthy. I just celebrated my brother's 27th birthday. I don't feel lonely. Things are good right now. However things with the best friend are weird. It's really awkward right now. I've tried texting, facebooking, and calling to no avail. I went to see her and inquire after her sister spent the night in the ER. But it was still weird. I tried to show her that I care and that of course I'm still here. But is she?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A little bit of home

As I walked to class this morning, the rosary dangling from the "facilities" golf cart vehicle's rear view mirror provoked a smile, as I recognized Don Guadalupe's ride. He was emptying the dumpster, part of his morning work ritual.

In a school where I was literally the only brunette in my speech class of 27 students, it gets a little daunting to go so long without seeing any traces of the culture you grew up in. One of the greatest feelings I get from being a minority here (besides feeling exotic for my raven locks) is a connection to the employees. It just feels so nice to say "buenos dias" and get a response back. The employees love you for it too. And seeing them work so hard at their jobs, is like seeing my parents. It's like I see my mom everyday. And with more reason I smile bigger and chat it up with Do~na Graciela the cashier and Christian the bus boy; hearing about their migration experiences, family back home, their vacation during spring break, missing some home cook food and berating the Ole stand at the cafeteria which makes its enchiladas with shredded yellow cheese(!)

They spend all day laboring and rarely receive a "please" and "thank you." I notice as I wait in line to pay for my food, no one ever greets the cashier. No trace of acknowledgment from these hijos de papi. I walk up to the register and before I pull my money out:"Hola Do~na Graciela, que tal como esta?" Our eyes meet and our smiles match.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The real deal

I think we can all stand to gain something from Native American spirituality. I guess any kind of spirituality does a human good. Whether you believe in a higher being or not. Being in touch with yourself and your soul in a sense, that's something that really contributes to who you are and in the end, to the world.

In Arizona I was able to experience a sweat lodge. And I remember being annoyed right before we did the sweat when I was speaking to my mother and told her about the itinerary and she replied with, "you don't even belief in that stuff, you're not spiritual." And the truth is I'm not. I'm not in touch with myself or with God. I feel estranged. And this estrangement has been by choice. Until I can change my selfish ways and be truly grateful, then I guess I can be spiritual. But I'm on a spiritual journey. I'm trying to get there anyway. That's kind of why I need a week of isolation. To think about why I'm so damn angry all the time.

Anyway during the sweat I prayed for everyone I know and even those I don't know as I'm accustomed to doing. And I prayed for forgiveness and for guidance on this spiritual journey. But I also prayed for a solution to the situation. I specifically prayed for the DREAM. And I can't honestly evaluate how honest that prayer was. In the moment I felt like it was part of the "show" kind of a "go-along" thing. Everyone else was praying, so I did too. I've never prayed aloud, but I guess I felt the need to. But now I can say that it was real. That it is real. That prayer exists everyday since then and it's real.

After the sweat on Tuesday the 24th of March, with no access to a newspaper or television or cellphone, I heard the news on Friday. The DREAM ACT was introduced on the 26th. An I thought, "This is it." I didn't necessarily think "My prayers are answered." But I thought "Boom! This is it. This is our chance." This is God's way of saying, "here's to you kid." Although it's extremely early and it will be a difficult journey, I have faith. I want to. And I am trying my best to. Yeah, it's early, yeah the economy sucks and people might fear that giving us residency will essentially be giving away good jobs. But like I told a friend, and for once I'm being totally naive and unrealistic, faith has cured cancer (all those people who touch the pope and then come clean???). We need faith. Go ahead laugh. Bash me. Whatever. I didn't think Obama'd win. (If Bush stole the election twice, why couldn't McCain do it?)Go figure.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It really could be worse

Rather than partying it up in Cancun (for other obvious reasons) or getting wild in Miami, spring break consisted of dust storms, freezing temperatures, and feeling frustrated over the quality of education at Tuba City Boarding School in Arizona. I was so stoked to learn about the Navajo nation and finally meet some of the real Americans. (I'm not even sure it's politically correct to call them Americans because the continent wasn't named "America" when they were residing in it). I have read up a bit on the struggles and transgressions, not to mention genocide of the Native Americans. Basically I knew que estaban jodidos. But it was something else being there and witnessing the conditions.

I could have told you that we didn't need to drive 780 miles to Tuba City, AZ to know that they were living on a piece of shit land. That's what all reservations are: piece of shit land. But in my mind, the land didn't look that bad. It wasn't exactly cardboard houses but might as well. I didn't actually step in one. But just little tiny homes, out in the middle of noman's land amidst red dirt and crazy weather. (I thought Arizona, i packed tanks and shorts. Well it snowed twice when we were there!) Funny, after everything they've endured and not even Mother Earth could spare them sunshine. I don't know if it was an attempt to compensate for everything else, but the boarding school was pretty state of the art. All these crazy modern projectors, flat screen TVs and gadgets.

Tuba City Boarding School is run by the BIA--the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In other words it's run by the government in an attempt to monitor and keep the Natives suppressed. And yeah it's conspiracy but I'm gonna come right out and say it: I think providing the kids with underqualified teachers and a poor education is part of the plan. Part of the plan to get rid of them that is. Or to keep them where they are and have them slowly die off. Maybe I've read to many radical American Indian activist biographies and historical accounts. But it was just unbelievable to see the kind of education these kids were getting. You had eight graders who couldn't read or do math. And the elementary teachers yelling at kids to "keep both hands on the desk so that I can see them at all times." What about the PE teacher who had third graders "drop down and give her 15" if they didn't grasp their knees and keep their head down while sitting on their bum during roll call. Then she had them stand at "attention" and at "ease." What the eff? These are kids. KIDS. Insane. It was insane. When I gathered a group of 8 kids who had gotten the vocab exercise all wrong to explain to them exercise the teacher yelled at them to sit back in their desk. No wonder these kids can't read. Or how about these eighth graders in a social studies (gov/econ) class who had gone a month without a teacher? Because apparently the school needed a certified teacher to head a reading class and so they took these kids' teacher and never replaced her. They get a different sub everyday and assignments from a book (i.e., read pgs 134-145 and answer questions 1-6). One month and no teacher. Of course all they do is goof off and fool around.

It all makes sense after learning that the school founded in in the early 1800s was established to rid these kids of their roots: chopping of their hair, talking them away from their families, and punishing them for speaking their language. It was all part of the plan to serve the man.

I really can't explain why I have such empathy or such deep feelings for these people (empathy is probably the wrong word since I cannot relate to the feelings of genocide and eradication). But when I was there, for the first time in my life I considered teaching. NEVER, never had I wanted to be a teacher. But when I saw how much those kids needed some quality education, it moved me. I wanted to stay or at least to come back. But since it is a government run school I knew I couldn't do anything. Not yet anyway.

I spent the week in despair. In despair for the kids' situation and in despair as I sit in the sidelines unable to do anything. And this triggered thinking about my future. And I ABHOR thinking about the future. Because I know that any dreams and hopes are deferred. I spent every night with my jaw clenched and my muscles tense in anger knowing we would be there for a few days and leave and these kids still couldn't read, knowing many of them would end up in welding, construction, or juvie. Mad because godammit how stupid is to be hindered from helping someone out? Stupid. So stupid. I'm at a loss for words. I thought about my dreams. Being a part of medicins sans frontiers (doctors without borders) and about going to med school (or nursing school first) but then I thought about how to pay for nursing school, and then I thought about jobs, and then it was this whole avalanche of despair and frustration. And it just made me angrier. But here a week later, after a week of social isolation from friends, I'm feeling a tad bit better. I usually avoid these feelings by not contemplating the future and thinking about the paper I have to turn in on Monday instead. Living it day by day. Trying to give thanks for each day. And that's the way it should be really. But after the good news last week. The days seem a little brighter.

A happy conundrum

Apologies, I'm so disappointed with myself, I've had quite a dry spell. Over one month and no new stuff. I just got caught up in sleeping an average of 4 hours everyday, balancing papers, this radio stuff, and projects, then finals came around and ugh. . . it was a never ending story for about a month.

anyway great news--- (i never would have guessed) I almost got straight As (in my eyes I got straight As: 4 As and an A-)! I realize this is kind of childish to announce, but I'm just so proud of myself for doing such a great job during such a turbulent quarter.

But moving on, even greater news: I got called back for an interview for an internship with the communications/marketing department for Radio Disney in San Carlos. Of course nothing is set yet, I'm just glad to have an interview. But then I got thinking (and this is going way too far, kind of like counting the eggs before you buy the chicken kind of thing) if I got it, (and not just this position, but essentially any internship) what would I do in terms of this whole social security stuff? I guess it depends if it's paid or not. Truthfully, the way I see it, I'd just do like I've done in the past, use the one I got at la Tropicana Whether it was paid or not. Some people I know have actually told their employers, but I feel like that's way too big of a risk. But then with the DREAM Act being introduced (more reactions on this bill introduction in the near future) would that put me in danger in any way of being "fixed?" Hmm. . . I don't know, anyone have two cents on this?