Being a Brown Girl in Nude Heels

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I started writing this blog post nearly two years ago. I’m continuing it now. Almost two years ago in June,  I took my first ever teaching course with the first professor to tell me to call him by his first name. After four years of undergraduate study I took the best class I had ever taken my first month of graduate school. My teaching cohort spent that month huddled in circles, crumpling up life stories, paired against each other defending our sides on various issues and growing close to one another as a teaching cohort. Of everything that teaching has given me, one of the biggest gifts was that summer with that cohort.

Of the lessons I learned in that classroom management class, the first that hit was: Privilege is having band aids match your skin.

Or in my case, my lack of privilege is wearing nude heels that stick out against my dark skin. It’s always feeling like you don’t just quite fit in and worrying that you never will. I first grew up in a predominately black and hispanic neighborhood. I was generally accepted by my peers and felt proud of being an Indian. I was surprised to find that when I moved to a high-school that was made of 99% whites students, it wasn’t as cool to be “Indian”. In fact, many people didn’t even know what it meant to be an Indian.

I spend a lot of time completely unaware of issues of race and class. It was always underlying every event and circumstance but I never knew what to call that feeling of knowing that my peers looked and grew up differently than me, despite the fact that we attended the same school.

Learning that bandaids didn’t match the skin was at first upsetting. But that summer opened me up to a whole new world in which I learned that when we become aware of a problem, we can do something about it.

I eventually found “nude” heels that matched my skin color. But I first needed to be aware that the shoes I had on before weren’t quite right.

 

The Story of the Supposed Missing Kid- or the Lost Sheep (PYFA Vacation Bible School)

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It’s the last day of PYFA and I’m leading children’s ministry. We’re almost done for the day when a frantic mother comes up to me and tells me her kid is missing and more importantly that this is my responsibility. (Spoiler Alert: He was with his father and brother)

You can imagine what happened next. Our volunteers stopped everything and, much like the parable of the lost sheep or the lost coin or the parodical son, we left everything behind for that one out of 80 kids we lost. (I might add we actually didn’t lose him) In that moment it was our responsibility that drove us to search for this ‘missing’ kid, but sitting with my mother she reminds me of how we serve a God who with a much greater love, not responsibility, searches for that one lost sheep. Thinking back I can’t imagine the love and pain God feels for us because he sees beyond our physical circumstance and knows who is truly lost is the crowds. He sees you and I and He, with great urgency, searches for his lost sheep.

Our supposed lost kid was with his father and brother- safe and sound. And I honestly never felt so happy to learn that a child was with his parents! I imagine how great God’s joy is when we choose to follow him and that he chooses to look for us when we’re not his responsibility- he does everything because of love.

This Sunday there is no “Sari Sunday” post. To be honest with you, before deciding to teach, I never imagined myself in children’s ministry; I’m now a Special Education Resident and will be a full time teacher next year at a high school. If anything, my passion is to work with teens, and managing large groups of young kids always seemed as a daunting, if not impossible, task.

When I thought I lost a kid I was filled with feelings of panic, sadness and doubt. This is my future career, isn’t it? But today I learned a lesson of how much it hurts to lose that one sheep in just a VBS. I worry about this VBS when I hardly think of one’s eternity. 

Luke 15: 4-7 

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the [b]open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The art of discipline

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Discipline.  This is one of the hardest things in the world to attain.  The above picture is a shout out to one of my closest friends Christine.  She’s studying in a very intensive six year program and I know she reads my blog, every post even.  Keep going love because at the end of the day you work for what you really want.

Something that I’ve been struggling with especially over these last couple of months has been my lack of discipline.  I sincerely have no idea what has been going through my mind lately!  Even those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed it.  In many ways I’ve kind of just dropped off of the face of the earth.

I was worried about my spiritual growth.  I was worried about what would happen when I started taking classes that demanded more of my time.  I’ve learned that at the end of the day, everything comes down to discipline.  It’s so easy to fall prey to procrastination and wasted time but I urge you not to do so.

There are 14 weeks in a semester, that’s not a lot of time.  If you want to pursue a deeper relationship with God, learn more in your classes and work towards finding your true purpose- you need to put in the time.

Even with something like developing a relationship with God, discipline is the only way to get to know our father.  Pursue him, spend time with him.  Make it a conscious effort and part of your everyday to make God your priority.  I’m going to try to do this and hopefully there will be a visible difference.  No, there will be a visible difference in me.

One thing that really pushes my competitive side was a quote that said something along the lines of, “one day while you slept and did nothing, someone else was working and when you meet that person- they will beat you.”  In terms of our relationship with God, it’s not a competition.  But God deserves our time for no other reason than the fact that he is God.  You become like the things you worship.  And you worship the things you give priority and time to in your life.

Hebrews 12:11

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

College Tips: Commuter Students

It’s that time of the year again and this time I’m a sophomore so I’ll have the opportunity to actually impart knowledge on some of you freshies out there!

First a little background on my college situation.  I go to a commuter college in the city and had lived at these new dorms at my college.  Even these were normally 30 minutes away from “campus” and I’ve had the experience of doing my 1-2 hour commute from home over the summer.  I thought it would be fun to just share some tips I wish someone told me coming into college and maybe help some of you freshies who may have been scared for college like I once was.
Please feel free to comment with questions, I almost always respond and actually love giving advice for things like this.  Now unto the tips!

Avoid Private Loans

I cannot explain to you how shocked I was when I realized how much 6% interest on my loan for my dorms cost me already.  As well as how shocked I was to read an article in the Wall Street Journal about this women so crippled by loans and unable to get a job in her desired career that she was putting off having children.  What? I’m happy that my college is cheap enough where I don’t need to take out a loan but if you need to do so, avoid private loans and look into financial aid, government grants, scholarships and public loans fast.  You don’t want the weight of college loans stopping you from living your life once you actually graduate.

Carry a lightweight laptop or an ipad

I never understood those people who commuted and dragged 15 inch laptops to school.  Your back will break.  I carry around an 11 inch Macbook air and barley feel it.  Plus having a laptop that is lightweight is an easy way to carry a ton of information in one tiny place.  I’d recommend an ipad if you want to avoid carry anything at all.  If you buy a stencil you’ll be able to actually write notes for classes like math on your ipad.

Additionally you can always buy gadgets that will give your ipad a keyboard making it easier for classes you may need to write lots of essays or papers for.  If you don’t feel comfortable shelling out a minimum of $1000 for a Mac, turn to a smaller size HP.  An 11 inch HP actually isn’t that heavy and netbooks can be very cheap and lightweight.  That’s what I’d like to call the best of both worlds.

Join a InterVarsity club/organization!

Some of the best friends I’ve made in college have either lived with me at the dorms or were in a club with me.  And considering if you’re commuting, your classes can be really difficult to make friends in at times.  Most of the time in commuter schools people are racing from class to class.  Clubs are a great way to meet people with similar interests to you and form some sort of community.  And if you’re in the RIGHT clubs, sometimes your eligible for early registration depending on your college.

Find ways to enjoy your commute

On average my commute is and hour and a half.  That means I spend 3 hours each day just traveling.  If you’re spending that much time traveling enjoy it as much as you can.  I started listening to podcasts, catching up on sleep on the train, reading and even doing some homework.  I’ve come to the point that sometimes I enjoy going home alone because I want the time of solitude and peace to either prepare myself for a long day of school or unwind and relax before hitting the hay.  I’m literally one of the those people who spend all day in school.  I just think it’s easier to get work done and fun to see who I can run into once I’m there.

Take an average of 15 credits or 5 classes

Any more or less and you’ll be either really bored or struggling.  I took 16 credits first semester and was fine so I thought taking 18 credits would be a great idea.  I ended up feeling really stressed and doing a lot of things really poorly instead of a few things really well.  Also keep in mind most people want to graduate in 4 years.  So if you’re one of these people, be on top of your stuff and make sure your taking enough credits in the right classes.

Be Organized

Depending on your college, sometimes you really are just a number.  Your professor won’t be making sure you hand everything in time, that’s up to you.  You ultimately do as well as you’re willing to do.

Stand Out

Make it a point to talk to your professors either at the beginning or end of class, better yet both.  There will be a time when you’ll need a letter of recommendation and with the number of faces your professor sees on a daily basis you’ll really want to stand out.  Back in high school I didn’t have to think twice when I needed a letter from a teacher.  But there’s already been a time where I’ve needed a letter of recommendation and needed to really scratch my brain for a professor who I knew would remember be.  Don’t be placed in a situation where you can’t think of anyone.

So that’s really all I can think of right now.  And just a very brief list at that, if you think you’d be interested in a post about faith in college please let me know.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about writing.  And if you’d like me to touch base on other aspects, again let me know.

Have a great and blessed day!

Neeners

Day 28: Something that stresses you out

I find the timing of this post really funny, I have just a week before my math final and it is STRESSING ME OUT!  I think that all finals in general stress me out, but more so its the anticipation and fear.  Really that’s what anything in life really comes down to, fear.

I’m afraid of going for my final and realizing I know nothing.  I’m afraid of finding out whether or not I failed.  And waiting on these things turns me green with anticipation and STRESS!  Oh the stress.

The thing is, fear is crippling.  Fear can hold us back in so many different ways.  When I think back on this week, I’ve turned down at least 4 people I really wanted to spend time with because even if I procrastinate, I feel guilty having fun the week before my final.

It’s really stupid because I end up doing nothing all day anyway.  I just don’t want to allow myself the enjoyment of the company of my friends.

I remember going for my last math final and being so stressed out right before.  The final ended up being CRAZY easy and I passed with flying colors.  But right before I felt like I was going to puke.  All this anticipation was leading up to this one moment and when this moment came I didn’t really know what to do.

Because getting my final wasn’t really an awe inspiring moment.  I got my test, started and finished it like I would any other test.  Only difference was I actually really knew my stuff this time around.

It stresses me out that blackboard isn’t showing my final exam prep videos and that less and less time is there for me to study.  But it’s not until this stress really motivates me that I actually stop messing around and focus.  So I guess in many ways stress can be a really great thing.  It’s an amazing motivator for so many different reasons.

Arranged Marriages: they do exist

An article I wrote a very long time ago in high school, let me know what you think!

When you think about arranged marriages what exactly comes to mind?  Some may imagine a young girl forced into marriage with an older man with no say or consent in the matter, but in many cases this is now untrue.  Danielle Limeri, a junior, is completely against arranged marriages “I don’t think it’s right that people think they have the ability to decide others futures for them. Marriage should be about committing to the one you love because you know you want to be with them forever. Not because your parents decided it for you.”  Junior Jacie Schneider holds a similar view as well, “its not love so it’s not real, marriage is for love nothing else”

For the purpose of this article many people included are from different areas found in Long Island, Sherin George, a junior at John F Kennedy High School in Plainview is one who holds a different view about arranged marriages “In my culture, arranged marriages are prevalent and have their upsides and their downsides.  But, I think that it is important to say that today, arranged marriage is under YOUR control.”  Christine Verghese a junior at Deer Park High School holds a similar view “That doesn’t mean, the child must accept or be forced into marriage, without their own opinion. Rather the parent and the child must accept the newest addition to the family.”

For the first marriages, 41% of people end up divorcing, meaning that a little less than half of all marriages end in divorce while the divorce rate among arrangedmarriages, only holds around 4%.  How exactly is it that something that is deemed “not real marriage” lasting longer than marriages that begin with love?  It may come down to how families are largely involved in arranged marriages.  Susan Mathew a freshman at Molly College understands how important family can be when deciding who your life partner is  “I feel Arranged marriages by parents have gotten so much more different than it was a long time ago….It is when parents find someone they feel is suitable for you, but ultimately the decision is your own…you truly learn to love someone for who they are. It is something that is honored in our culture, obedience to your parents, and to God. It also shows that you are honoring your parents decisions.”

Verghese parents have been married for many years and she believes this in part because of their arranged marriage “My parents relationship is still growing strong. It’s not to say it’s perfect, no marriage is. There are ups and downs, meltdowns but they each forgive each other…There is no option of divorce, thus they must always reconcile, and I AM thankful for that….”  Mathew holds a similar view “”My parents have a good relationship, a kind that others would envy, they are best friends who tell each other everything, have an unconditional love for each other and for their children though they may have some disagreements they know how to get along…”  George had listened to her own father’s insight into the topic upon many occasions as well “My father, his marriage being arranged, once told me, ‘When you meet someone and fall in love, by the time you get married you know each other, and the love is leveled, whereas from the moment I met my wife, I began loving her, and it grew day after day, and it still is.’ “

This modern and altered form of arranged marriage is compared to speed dating by George “I like to compare it to “speed dating.” When getting married, you have total say on who it is you will be married to, you have total say in how much time you want to get to know this person, and you have the total authority to call this wedding off. In a way, its just an easy way of meeting someone new, and finding out if this guy or girl is the one for you.”

Joshua Joseph a senior at The Bronx High School of Science believes that arranged marriages can be good but is now growing ineffective among many levels “Arranged Marriages work when one or both members of the marriage focus and prioritize the family first. However, in our society we often focus on ourselves so this system could never work.  Arranged Marriages wouldn’t work for most people living in Western Civilization.”

Many people hold a similar view to junior Brittany Georgalas “Arranged Marriages are ridiculous….”, but knowing that Mathew’s parents have been married for 19 years, and Joseph’s parents for 26 years and counting, maybe something about it really isn’t all that ridiculous.

How much can you learn in 2 hours twice a week?

Being a freshman in college I am constantly surrounded by information: newspaper articles, lectures, textbook pages and word of mouth.  But in this sea of information, how much information actually means something?  Right now I plan on majoring in marketing and I find myself surprised by how different learning something in class and experiencing something hands on can feel.  I came into college hoping that I would be able to find out what I’m really meant to do, but so many times I feel like I’m wasting my time in school.  Almost always I find myself sitting in class and thinking about how much of this information means something.  When signing up for classes, I’ve always wanted the harder professor, even at the expense of my grade and time.  Now as I work as a marketing intern for Kevin Davis productions and I find myself surprised by how different marketing is from learning about marking in a textbook.  This is the difference between looking at theories bound within a book, and using these same theories.

I first found out about this internship opportunity from a friend of mine and I find it absolutely crazy.  I am currently working on promoting a Christian musical that will be on the Broadway district.  The musical is called “The Ticket” and is centered on a group of Christians who win the lottery and how this impacts them. Not only am I able to use so many things I’ve learned in school, but I’m helping a ministry in a way too.  I’ve always felt like going in business (one passion of mine) would prevent me from going into another (ministry), but it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Deciding to go to college wasn’t really a decision for me, as I immediately knew from a young age that this would be the path I would follow.  But without realizing it I signed off the next 4 or potentially more (graduate school?) years of my life to lectures, papers and examinations.  And so many times I find myself wanting to take the easy way out with easy professors, and just get out.  But I also worry about how much I actually lose in doing this.  I may be able to graduate with a decent degree and look for a job, but what does this piece of paper saying I learn something mean if I learned nothing?

The first thing that felt really weird to me was that doing work felt really fun.  I always associated work with pain and the idea of having fun at work seemed a little off.  And I mean fun by the fact that when I was sitting in on a seminar about “Social Media”, I was almost in a trance.  This is how the world around us connects and I can be a part of this equation in one-way or form.  This wasn’t like my Business 1000 lecture Friday mornings where I learned that the quality of the product must always meet the expectations via a clipart image of baby crying on a slideshow. What I’m doing right now isn’t imaginary or pretend and its weird to come to grips with the idea that it will soon be tangible.  Somehow doing something in real life instead of simulating doing something motivates me so much more.

I remember also feeling weird because I’m so used to using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in one particular way, my personal social media.  It feels like a bird’s eye view approaching the same situation but as a marketer.  For one thing, I had no idea how many tools websites like Facebook have for companies.  You know how many visits you get, what posts are well received and the demographics of your audience.  All these things I never even knew was able for me to see as a Marketer prior to working as an intern.  I always looked at Facebook as this major time suck on all my time, never realizing how often I am marketed to.  I love the idea that I can be starting up a Facebook page for “The Ticket” and having my friends telling me to get off Facebook and do my work, not realizing I’m actually doing it.

This other part of my feels really afraid and apprehensive because taking what I’ve learned and using it in practice is scary.  I’m used to typing notes on my MacBook on my tiny table in a lecture hall.  I’m not used to actually implementing the processes I’ve learned about and seeing what works and what really doesn’t.  But at the same time I can’t wait to create a plan for something I’m passionate about, like “The Ticket”, and know my time is being used well.  Over the course of the next few months I will transition from a regular student to a commuter student and start doing something that I love.  I’m doing something important and I love it.