March 27, 2011 - 6:50 PM
Last year, I took an art class where we were basically taught that every idea we have ever had was cliché. All term, we were faced with having to find obscure ways of representing things in order to avoid the evil cliché. We were given the task of making abstract collages to represent assigned topics, such as sonorous space, self-portrait, and rapidity. Since this class, I have been unable to get myself to say certain phrases or discuss particular themes without this superfluous sense of doom for being too cliché. Now holding this curse, I will always be able to look back and smile at memories I obtained in the one of a kind environment of a liberal arts university. And now, on to my cliché blog post.
Tomorrow begins the last term of my undergraduate career EVER! It is so surreal and I'm not sure that the true meaning of this will even hit me until I'm walking up to receive my diploma. After five years, so much has happened - memories made, papers written, debt accrued! It is going to be a pretty tough term to finish this experience out.
First, there is, surprise, the thesis. I have a personal goal of having a near finalized draft of it completed by April 20. This gives me one month before my defense date to receive feedback and polish it the most I can. By May 20 at roughly 11:30am, I will be completed with my honors thesis. It is all going to happen so fast! Then I will have to work on getting my finalized copy all printed and ready for binding by the Honors College to put in the library.
In addition to my thesis, I am taking three classes this term. The first is my final term of American Sign Language, the second is the PPPM capstone class called Practicing Leadership and Change, and the third is another PPPM course called Deliberative Democracy. Although all of my classes sound pretty interesting, I think it is going to be hard to fight through the senioritis and other stresses to do the best I can in them.
A tad less school related is, well, my future. What am I doing after the university bubble pops? I will keep you updated on how that works out.
Now, excuse me, but I must end this post, as I'd like to enjoy the last few hours of my last spring break. Oh, how the bittersweet taunts me.
March 26, 2011 - 3:00 PM
I'm not really a dog person, I swear. I just happen to be in love with one and she with me. In addition, this relationship has led me to a place of great understanding and respect for the dog to person bond. Therefore, when I see a dog, I do not so much swoon for the animal, but for its meaningful place in this often chaotic dance of life. To someone, that dog must mean what Scooby means to me.
I just concluded my last spring break as an undergraduate. Oh, how I will miss these sweet scheduled blocks of vacation time. It felt nice to leave Eugene for a bit and head home to California. Upon arrival, I was joyfully met by one of my favorite parts about coming home - Scooby.
As usual, one of my first "to do's" when home was to take a trip to the beach with my dog. I checked the weather forecast and decided to go for it, as the following few hours seemed like the only time throughout the week that had no expected showers. I took an old pink sheet from my twin-sized bed in the dorms freshman year and tucked it around the backseat of my car. All the while, Scooby sat patiently beside the open door. When finished, I stood and looked down at her as my mind raced with all the stresses of school and the future and she just wagged her tail. I gave a pat to the seat of the car and she immediately hopped right in.
It was one of those gray sky days where you feel it might just be best to hide out from the world for a while. No one wants to hang out with an angsty college senior. Well, except Scooby that is. I was having a hard time smiling on this particular day and just couldn't seem to get my cheer going. That all changed, of course.
Give me the Pacific Ocean and a faithful hound any day and I will be at peace. The moment I got out of my car and felt the brisk, salty ocean air hit my face and fill my lungs, I just felt differently. Scooby did her usual burst of barky excitement as she leapt from my car. She quickly quieted and proceeded to begin smelling the world as we both trekked toward the ocean.
This particular beach we were at has a long expanse of sand before you reach the water. I think it adds a sense of epic adventure to the usual beach trip. You must keep walking through the sands and winds until you can reach the ultimate healing touch of the Pacific Ocean waves. The tireless journey makes the moment of touching the water all the more cherished. I might just also have a rather active imagination.
Anyway, Scooby and I journeyed across the sand. Occasionally we'd jog; often we'd twirl in circles and skip through the wind. All the while, Scooby stuck by my side. We were just two friends, doing what we always do. When Scooby and I began this ritual years ago, she used to run so fast I couldn't keep up. She'd always stop and let me catch up though. As the years have passed, Scooby's sprints have become more like power walks. The college years have brought quite a bit of change to Scooby's and my life.
Once Scooby and I finished our trot through the sand, Scooby took her place at the edge of water. Never a fan of getting wet, Scooby chooses to sit on the last dry part of the sand while I run towards the sea with fervent passion. The first wave to hit my bare feet made me temporarily lose my breath. The Pacific Ocean may be beautiful, but it sure is cold. I kept walking until the water came up to the tops of my knees and then I just stood there with my arms out, listening to the ocean and breathing in its healing magic. I can't think of a place in the world I love more than where the ocean meets the land. My prior inability to smile was replaced with an inability to not smile.
I glanced back and Scooby was still in her spot. Her head was lifted into the air and her nose twitched back and forth and she picked up the smells of the ocean breeze. We hung out for a while before our slow stroll back to the car. By this point, Scooby's aging bones looked at the short jump into the backseat as more of a Mt. Everest and so I picked up my forty-pound friend and set her back on the pink sheet.
I'm not really a dog person, I swear. It's just that I couldn't imagine my life and my trips back home without a certain one in it.
March 13, 2011 - 5:45 PM
This is my second year helping secure in-kind donations for an annual event held in Eugene called Project Homeless Connect (PHC). PHC is a one-day event held at the Lane County Fairgrounds that brings critical services to homeless residents in our community. It provides everything form pet care and bike repair to dental and medical services. It is truly one of the most inspiring events I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. It is amazing to see over 300 service providers and over 500 community volunteers under one roof, helping over 1,400 homeless individuals and families. It gives me goosebumps to see this type of selfless giving in our community.
The event relies heavily on in-kind donations from community members. These donations include items such as sleeping bags, tents, jackets, socks, hats, scarves, and toiletries. These items are handed out to homeless guests at the event and are incredibly important to the people who show up. This year has been particularly difficult in obtaining these needed in-kind donations.
I was very happy this year to be able to coordinate with the UO Residence Hall Association (RHA) to obtain some of these donations. RHA set up donation bins in the two main lobby areas in the residence halls. They had volunteers table the donation bins and were able to draw in support from UO students this way. I am very appreciative for their interest and support of this important community event. I think it is so wonderful when the University can reach out beyond the campus bubble and help the Eugene community at large.
PHC this year will be happening on March 17. If you would like to donate any of the above-mentioned items, they can be dropped off at any St. Vincent de Paul location. You just have to make sure to specify them for PHC. Donations can also be dropped off during the afternoon on March 16 at the Lane County Fairgrounds. Monetary donations and volunteer opportunities can be found on the PHC website: http://homelessconnect.org
I'd like to thank RHA again for organizing their donation drive and encourage everyone in the Lane County community to get involved in this important event in any way that they can.
March 12, 2011 - 3:00 PM
This episode of Blog Blast from the Past comes from March 10, 2010 and was originally titled, "Mission Driven Fundraising." It was about a PPPM class I was taking at the time for my Nonprofit Administration minor. The class was called Nonprofit Resource Development - a.k.a. fundraising. I had mildly dreaded the topic since I had originally had very daunting images of the subject in my head. However, I ended up really enjoying it. I learned how fun fundraising can be and about what it takes to be an effective fundraiser. I explain one of my most profound realizations in this text from the original post:
"The main point for me that made fundraising not so bad was the fact that supposedly, you are doing it for a cause that you truly believe in. If you are honestly invested in the mission of your organization, then you are able to see why the fundraising is so important. It becomes less of a droning task and more of an exciting journey to advance the guiding principles and vision of your organization."
After my experience this summer interning for The Carter Center in the development department, I could not stand by this lesson more. Last summer, I was able to put some of what I had learned in this class to use in a real-world setting. Though it was exciting and a wonderful opportunity, I did become acutely aware of the fact that my interests and ideals didn't completely align with the mission of The Carter Center and that this made it hard for me to fully immerse myself in the organization. That being said, I greatly appreciate and respect the incredible work The Carter Center does around the world. I think they are an amazing organization with incredible, dedicated staff members. However, my interests are more domestically focused. In particular, I'm interested in ending homelessness within the United States. I have a hard time pouring my everything into work to help other countries when there is still so much within our own that we have been neglectful of and have not created solutions for. It was hard for me to truly get into fundraising for international programs with my internship at The Carter Center when everyday I walked to work, I would walk past homeless, mentally ill people trying to survive on the streets of Atlanta.
All this being said, I had the chance to meet over lunch with some of the staff members in the development department and elsewhere in the organization and talk to them about the work they do. I could tell that for them this work was perfect. They could fully immerse themselves in what they were fundraising for because their beliefs aligned with the organization's mission. They were honestly invested in the organization's work. It was a wonderful experience getting to see this and being able to solidify what I had learned about the importance of believing in the nonprofit you choose to work for.
I am excited to take these lessons with me after I graduate this June.
March 6, 2011 - 6:15 PM
As an extra credit option this term in my sign language class, we had the opportunity to attend one of many events throughout the term that involve the Deaf community. One of these is a monthly Silent Coffee that happens the first Friday of every month at Eugene Coffee Company. This past Friday, a classmate and I decided to attend this event. At first, we weren't really sure what to expect and were a little nervous that our signing wasn't good enough to communicate with a room of fluent Deaf signers. However, once we got there, all of our fears went away and it turned out to be a very positive experience!
Eugene Coffee Company is not a large place. Therefore, it made the atmosphere even livelier when we waked into the building to find a crowded, yet quiet room filled with animation. I had to smile when I saw the little kids running around and signing to their parents and friends. They were completely adorable! All of the workers at the coffee shop were also well adapted to the change in language. When I ordered my coffee, I was able to sign with the woman about what I wanted. It was neat that there was such great access available there to the Deaf community.
Everyone was very friendly as well. I recognized some of the people there from a performance that had been put on in my ASL class by a local Deaf choir. I was able to walk up to them and introduce myself and talk with them a bit. I realized that I have learned a lot more sign language than I thought I had when I was put into this environment where that was the type of communication I needed to use. I was also able to rely on fingerspelling techniques when I didn't know the sign for something I wanted to say. Fluent signers were very nice as well and would slow down their signing and fingerspelling for me so that I was able to catch it better.
At the end of the night, our teacher from ASL class showed up, so we were able to go sign with him a bit as well and share our experience. It was neat to get to chat with him out of class and I think he enjoyed seeing us there as well.
At closing, the workers flashed the lights to alert everyone that they would be closing soon. When we all left the building, it was neat because for a while, everyone still stood outside under the one available light and just kept signing to each other. I remembered this book we had read last year in the first-year sign language series called Train Go Sorry. In it, there is a scene where after a place closes, the Deaf group stands outside under a light for hours longer, just signing and talking with each other. The book explained this with the fact that hearing culture creates so many barriers for the Deaf community. So, when they are able to get together and be in this comfortable environment, it is hard for them to want it to end.
I met a lot of inspiring and fun members of Eugene's Deaf community on Friday and I definitely want to try and go to more events now. It was wonderful to break down that initial fear of not being able to communicate and then getting to meet a bunch of people while practicing my signing.