Newness 

Reporting live from T4 Tufts Uni. 

“COLLEGE ahhhh” so this is what is it huh? Alllllright. 

Welcome to Tufts. A community of brilliant child adults working together or separately to eventually do something with their lives. Go bos! Being at college has been awesomely interesting so far. New people, a million and a half clubs, genius professors- just about everything you could wish for in a university experience. My good friend often sends me links about how to succeed in your first year. Helpful tips like wear flip flops in the shower and go to class.    I’ve been reading it religiously…. On the other hand, my friend who’s also a college senior sent me her cover letter for her FULLTIME job application yesterday. Um, real adult life? 

Gap year freshmen are like those kids who loose their baby teeth really late (aka me). At age nine, you definitely have a different mindset on losing your teeth than the seven year olds. You feel kinda late to the no teeth party. But then when all of the younger kids start talking about the tooth fairy you can’t help but get overly excited. I am so excited about being here and having an extensive amount of opportunity at my finger tips. Insanely lucky in fact that this college education thing was even in my deck of cards. It’s just so weird. Good weird. Definitely good weird. It’s just that taste of real life that a lot of people get from taking time off before starting Uni. It makes you feel the edges of the bubble that is most American colleges. Of course, wishing time away is a crime against a law I set in stone for myself. So I’m just gonna keep feeling it out. I bet after my 3 exams next week, I might feel like I got a visit from the tooth fairy. 

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Hasta Prontito Madrid

To a city of life, love, and color- a poignant adios. Madrid, I’m so sad to leave you and all of your wonders. You’ve been so good to me. But, I’ll surely see you again soon.

I feel like I’20160508_155324818_iOSve had an alter-ego for nine months and I am finally having to let her go. My experience here doesn’t feel real. The time went by like time should at a perfect pace, but now I can’t help but ask where it went. It’s strange because no one really knows what my time here was. What my experience really was. Sure, in logistics, it’s obvious. Gap year in Spain, work in foster home, Spanish food, abroad friends, travel, travel, travel. But I cannot even wrap my head around how much this experience has meant to me- how much it has made me a real person.

What does that even mean? To be a real person. Well, the pillars of Spanish culture have taught me how to accept, conquer hardships, and just live my life with ease. To me, that’s just it. The first pillar is to take things slow. The people here enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. Believe it or not, they don’t even think to bring you a check after a meal until you ask. From sitting around those terrace tables with my beautiful friends for hours after dinner, I’ve learned how to relax. I’ve learned how to enjoy the moment, love the past, and have passionate hope and excitement for the future. That is aprovechando. Another pillar of Spanish culture is to eat everything on your plate. And why wouldn’t you? Spanish food is riquísimo. Eating everything on my plate now means that I cannot take anything for granted. I am beyond lucky to have what I have. I’ve worked for nine months with girls who have horror stories from their childhoods, and they are much stronger than me even at only seven or eleven years old. They might be locas at times, but they’re learning every day that they cannot take anything they’re given for granted. Even if it’s that puré that no one really likes, we still have to eat it all. It’s not fair for us to take advantage of our beautiful world and the people in it. If we do, we won’t be able to appreciate the beauty of each experience to its fullest. The last pillar that has been so incredibly evident to me in my time here is the importance of family. Spanish families are big, mushy pits of love and besitos. Of course, I didn’t have my biological family by my side here in Madrid. But really, a family is just a network of people who are there to love and support you- people who you care about. So, I’ve learned in my time here that you can make family anywhere. From flat mates, to random Spaniards on ski trips, to adopted kind-of host moms, to foster children- anyone can be your family. You might even find someone who’s literally you but a few years older and like 20°cooler (@Lauren). Now, I have a family who knows me so much differently than my blood relatives because of a completely different setting.  A family that I can love with my whole heart Spanish style because of the experiences we’ve shared in the beautiful Madrid. Gracias Dios for Spanish culture that so educated me on living life.

Now that the time is up and I’ll be on a flight tomorrow at 12:45 Central European time, I have to take my own advice and hold back the sadness (also I have to pack too… oops). Back to chickenwing land and eventually, real school..ugh. Adios to a city I cannot wait to come back to and friends- family that I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to tell my kids about all my cool Euro experiences when I’m an old lame mom…..(sorry mom- I’m kCirculo-de-Bellas-Artes-roof-top-terrace-terrazaidding.. moms aren’t lame 😉

My heart belongs to you more than I ever thought it would, Madrid. Hasta prontito.

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Hygge+Growing Pains= Height

1001189This jacket is my bear. My bear was bought for 16 euro on a sunny Sunday morning to the music of the bustling Rastro market. The Rastro is a flea market where everything from hammers to artisan pottery to bear jackets are sold. Every Sunday in Madrid, the streets of Tirso de Molina and La Latina are filled with Europe’s finest strolling up and down the crowded calles. You can find anything your heart desires for a relatively reasonable price. But back to my bear.

Madrid’s city symbol is a bear leaning up against a tree because Madrid used to have tons of bears roaming around its fields and forests. Other than the enormous statue in the center of the city that everyone uses as a meeting spot before going out, you’d never really know to care. For me, after I brought my new jacket home to Calle Los Mesejo, my roommates immediately began calling it the bear. It definitely had something to do with the fact that it is absolutely giant, fuzzy, and black. For me, it symbolizes my back and forth love affair with Madrid. When I am wearing my bear I am the warmest and coziest I can be. There’s a word in Danish, hygge, that goes far beyond our definition of cozy. It’s cozy X10. That’s how bear makes me feel. But, that is not always how Madrid has made feel. There have been many days throughout the year where I have longed for the warmth of my bed in Buffalo- the comfort of my childhood home and family. Madrid was foreign. My friends weren’t here. I only half understood the language. Work in the foster home challenged me every day. I felt far, far away from hygge. But then I would realize, that is the challenge of growing.

Madrid - Puerto del Sol
Madrid – Puerto del Sol
Do you remember laying in bed when you were little suffering from evil growing pains?  The aching and the soreness that seemed like it would never ever end. But then one day, you’d look in the mirror and think… wow, maybe I have gotten a little taller. Or grandma would measure you against the growth chart and there would be a huge gap from your last spurt. Right now, I am looking in the mirror with my life measuring me, and I cannot help but see that I really have grown. It’s all the obvious things… I’m more confident. I can speak with much more fluency in Spanish. I feel needed and useful at work. I can travel Europe with ease. I maneuver my way around an enormous city all alone. I went from high school SAT prep to Europe adapted, adult social work in real time.  At the beginning, they asked us how we wanted to change and grow from this year. My BS answer was always “I want to be fluent in Spanish.” I didn’t know what to say because I just wanted to experience it without a plan. Traveling as much as I did had a huge impact on my growth. Mostly, however, it was the social situations in Madrid and the work with the girls that gave me growing pains and, in turn, the height.

Moving to a new country, making friends and adapting to completely new work environment were crucial but hard.  For both of these challenges, I was incredibly fortunate to have my bear, but mostly Eva, the seven year old girl in the foster home. Because of scheduling, she is one I tend to spend the most time with. Before this September, she had never been to school, the doctors,  or the dentist. Her father passed away from an overdose February 2015, and she was left  an orphan because no one knows where her mother is. She didn’t know how to read. She’d never done a math problem. She was a seven year old four year old. This year, Eva has become my best friend. We have both grown so much this year, and we’ve been able to do it together. We learned to read in Spanish together. When I teach her something, she teaches me something. We love dancing around to flamenco music and drawing princesses. We can talk about almost anything and we love to go on the swings. She has brought out my inner kid every single day while still shocking me with her natural maturity and sassy intellect. She is soo bright, hilarious and innocently pure. She made my transition through my growing pains bearable on the days that I really struggled. And I think I helped make her transition into living in a foster home and education a bit smoother. I am so lucky to have made a best friend as beautifully as I have with Eva.

Leaving Spain in two and a half weeks doesn’t seem real. I am going to miss Eva and all of the girls so so much. I am going to miss being hygge in my apartment with my roommates who are now my family. I am going to miss everything about Madrid and yet am so incredibly thankful for this experience. And even though the growing pains hurt like hell some days, I have a lot of height to show for it. I am so lucky to have spent time in this city, in my bear.

 

 

 

 

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America’s Lack of Language

Composition of human brain model and world map
Composition of human brain model and world map

It is simple fact that being fluent in a second language improves our abilities but that we [as Americans] are lagging behind in speaking foreign tongues. Our primary school systems do not allow for the development of languages other than English. Most Americans fail miserably when tested against Europeans in the practice of foreign language. Every day that our children are neglected of proper cultural education and language exposure, other children across the globe are ten steps ahead toward their futures. Nationwide, the American government needs to install compulsory language requirements into our education system that allow our children, our students, to learn to fluently speak another language.

With foreign language as a tool, our children will be able to function socially and compete economically on a global scale. Study upon study from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language tell us that academic performance, aptitude for understanding of others, and cognitive thinking are all tremendously improved by those students who become fluent in another language. Scoring better, particularly in vocabulary, reading and math, students who study a foreign language tend to have much more success testing. The memorization involved in retaining a second language aids in processing and strategic thinking.  In addition, children gain the general understanding that throughout the world, people of various cultures think in different ways. “Speaking different languages means you get different frames, different metaphors, and also you’re learning the culture of the language so you get not only different words, but different types of words,” George Lakoff, University of California at Berkeley professor of cognitive science and linguistics, explains.  This means that our children would go into the world with more open minds allowing them to build more meaningful relationships.  It is also true that there is great improvement in cognitive thinking. Children who become fluent in a foreign language can more effectively focus on important information in front of them and justly perceive their surroundings.  This, in turn, allows them to reason and retain incredibly well. Grades and test scores go up. Interest in travel and exploration ensues. Problem solving and intuitive thinking allow for success. How can we be so blindly stripping our children, the children of the American people, of these opportunities? Can we be so bold as to cut funding to this crucial area of study, for no other than reason than to give more to the stuFT_15.07.13_foreignLanguage_mapdy of math?! We need to convince our political leaders that our children deserve the right to be taught foreign language and to be taught it well.

In comparison with Europe, we are severely lacking. Most European children are required to begin studying their f​irst f​oreign language between ages six and nine and are required to study a s​econd​ language for at least one year before university. To compare, our country has no compulsory language requirement across all fifty states3. According to a European Union survey in 2005, half of European citizens are bilingual4 while it’s said that only twenty-five percent of American’s can even hold a basic conversation in a foreign language5. We are lead to believe that America prevails- that we are competitive in every subject matter with our global peers. It is quite clear that our children are not being given the sufficient opportunity to become fluent in comparison with the children of Europe. The generation of Americans to come will rely on foreigners to speak English. They will leave the responsibility to speak a common tongue to their international colleagues and friends. It will put them at a disadvantage and leave them feeling cultureless and lost. Europeans, specifically, will surpass our children in other fields of study as well because they will have developed their brains more significantly during their study of foreign languages. Can we change this downward spiral of the American Disadvantage?

Foreign language fluency is crucial to becoming a global citizen. With modern day connectivity due to technology, Americans cannot afford to lack language. It is time that we realize the importance of teaching language well in schools from an early age. A call is needed for an end to the disadvantage Americans have when we travel and when we work abroad- an end to the lack of language.

1 “Studies Supporting Increased Academic Achievement ­ actfl.” 2012. 27 Apr. 2016 <h​ttp://www.actfl.org/advocacy/discover­languages/advocacy/discover­languages/what­the­research­shows/ studies­supporting>​
2 “For a Better Brain, Learn Another Language – The Atlantic.” 2014. 27 Apr. 2016 <h​ttp://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/more-languages-better-brain/381193/>​

3 “Learning a foreign language a ‘must’ in Europe, not so in …” 2015. 27 Apr. 2016 <h​ttp://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/13/learning-a-foreign-language-a-must-in-europe-not-so-in-am erica/>​
4 “Europeans and their languages – Europa.eu.” 2012. 27 Apr. 2016 <h​ttp://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_386_en.pdf>​
5 “America’s Foreign Language Deficit – Forbes.” 2012. 27 Apr. 2016 <h​ttp://www.forbes.com/sites/collegeprose/2012/08/27/americas-foreign-language-deficit/​>

1+4 Bridge Year Reflection Class 

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Dog Bless Dani Luz

  An open letter to my random roommate on my random gap year who just happens to have been the best possible person to be my best friend through this year.

IMG_7931Mexican tortillas don’t make themselves. Did you know when you cook beans you have to remove the small rocks from the packaging so you don’t crack your teeth? Also, there are probably 59 ways to cut/eat an avocado. Oh my dog, bless Dani Luz.

Dear Daniela,

This week, with you in the warm weather of New Mexico, has allowed me to realize just how lucky I am to have you as my roommate & mejor amiga in Madrid. After seven months, side by side cada dia, I can’t thank you enough for your positivity and creativity. You brighten every day through your unlimited openness and happiness. From your obsession with fruit to your hyperactive dancing, you are so yourself- it’s inspiring. There is no one I’d rather have run around with the last seven months than you.IMG_7925

We have had an experience unlike that of any one else on our program because we have shared so much of our time. I wake up every morning and you’re there. We’ve discovered Madrid together. We’ve discovered our hogar, Montoya, together. I think in a lot of ways, we’ve discovered ourselves together too. We’re so lucky to have become as close as sisters on this incredible adventure. Because we really are like sisters now. We goof off and have an innumerable amount of inside jokes. We bicker about the silliest things and then just laugh it off. We work in a pretty difficult and serious environment, but we try to lift each other’s spirits and confidence at every chance we get. And then we come home to our little flat in southern Madrid, to our little piso family and laugh ourselves into our crazy dream lands. So thank you.

IMG_7932Thanks for being my adopted hermana. Someone I can tell anything to. Thank you for inspiring me with your love of travel, reading, and adventure. Thanks for picking out my outfits for me when I’m in a rush. For making me tortillas. Thanks for teaching me Spanish. For inspiring me with your love of yoga. Thanks for seeing Europe with me and sharing your stories and experiences with me. Thank you for teaching me what is good Mexican food and what’s just not. Thanks for fending off Leyre for me when I’m too tired. For being a team with me at work. Thank you for letting me borrow your books. For helping me keep our room semi clean. Thanks for sprinting to the metro with me even if it’s actually on the other side. Thanks for letting me use your coloring book and watching movies with me. Thank you for being my partner in laughing, loving and learning through this year. I’m really glad I saved you from getting run over those 106 times. You really              should start to look both ways… we won’t be room mates forever.

Lots of love, tacos, and reese’s cups. (Actually can you bring some back for me…). Enjoy your time with your family and hasta ahora!

– Dam-e-lineIMG_7927

 

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Poof. GONE.

“Banzan was walking through a meat market and he heard someone ask the butcher for his best piece of meat. The butcher told the man, ‘Everything in my shop is the best. You cannot find a piece of meat that is not the best.’ After hearing this statement Banzan *causally* reached enlightenment, for he was Buddhist. He understood that there really is no best and worst. There is simply the judgement of what is. And judgements have no meaning because it is impossible to judge energy. Energy just is.”

Think about your meaning of life. Everyone’s is different. Grab your favorite memories of your best friend out of your brain files and squeeze the juice of emotion out of them. What do you feel? Consider the idea of life and death. Consider being poof. GONE. Does that scare you? Maybe you have a personal legend which determines why you’re alive. The love, the sorrow, the action, the simplicity, the draw. Inspiration? 

Now, grasp those ideas, feelings and consider why. Why do our emotions lead us to believe certain truths? How do societal boundaries influence those truths? It is fact that we as an intellectual species have bound ourselves to rules of society. We have created and thought them up through years and years of life. We have evolved them too. But then again simple fact is that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Just as it cannot be judged. And why does that fact matter? 
In my mind it matters because the society we’ve sculpted sets limits to our abilities. We refuse to live in a high energy state. We ride on a wave of what is right and what is wrong. We’re terrified of the gray areas. Is the way we perceive the way it is simply because it is? I know it has clearly been influenced by human nature. And it’s indeed possible to derive all human action and thought from that of our instincts. But does that mean our societal bounds cannot truly change? Are they limited? Could we revolutionize the way we function if we accepted the fact that energy cannot be judged? 

I truly am sorry for all of the questions. Most of them are not meant to be rhetorical. I told one of my friends recently as we were talking about the upcoming American election that I like to observe. There are many people who rush into change because they’re excited. Because why not? They have scientific evidence that change is possible. Poof. And in some cases- aka moving to Spain for 9 months basically out of the blue- I am all for it. But I also like to observe. 

The reason I like to observe is that people go through daily life seeking to improve. To reach the limit of their happiness, to strive for future goals. To live a life they can be proud of and that can allow others to look up to them. If you use the election as an example, you can easily see that. Bernie strives to counter every single word that flies like fire out of Trump’s mouth. Hillary sees that that is working for Bernie- so naturally she starts to imitate. Trump bullies and bullies until he feels all of his supporters (who must also be bullies or bought out) carrying him on their backs. The simple instincts are to survive and to reproduce. These presidential candidates that are supposed to represent our American societal structure tear at the limbs of our dreams. They’re hoping that they can blind us by pulling us deep enough into the coma that is American materialism and greed. They yank and yank. With every speech, they’re promising the improvements, the happiness and the goals humans strive for every day. But all the candidates want- according to the very biased media that has soaked my brain in the acid of dirty journalism- is to go down in history.

Why? Because our society tells us that that is the imperial conquest of life. To be remembered. For what?? Materialism and frankly bullshit. So when we’re asking ourselves about if societal restraints can really be revolutionized- when we’re wondering why we’re so afraid of gray- I’m just saying… Energy cannot be judged. And energy is all there is. It is what it is and it’s all that matters. Because energy is never poof. GONE. 

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A Connections and Divergences Essay

1+4

A Connections and Divergences Essay for the Tufts 1+4 fellows that is definitely not what it is supposed to be, but  is what it is.


“Set the Scene” they say…

VENTILLAA big bustling city with a world below it. I am in the metro. My train flashes past the dark walls that lie below the century (or more) old architecture of Madrid. The Franco apartment buildings appear when my eyes become unblinded by the light. A brownish brick with green awnings, side the five story rectangles. Little edifices in the city, little edifices made of brickies. And they’re all made out of brickies and they all look just the same. I trot down the speckled concrete to Eva’s school. Her “profe”, in naranja like pants, yells “EVAA” and she comes skipping out. We giggle and sing our way to Montoya, the home, floating on our dreams together. Then comes Leyre, the second youngest girl in the foster home, with her wild eyes and sassy style, crashing into our dreamland to shake us back to reality. Number 16 of Carmen Montoya Street, we’re in Atico A. Juan Carlos, the educator in the home, is pitter padding around taking notes about learning and changing computer passwords. When along come Lucia and Carmen on their big blue bus, and with messy hair they drift into their deberes. Yaiza, one of the eldest, is already home because she knows how to appear. Ana is en route with Dani Luz, another volunteer, since Ana takes too long eating bocadillos with her friends on the way. I think this can be nothing like their lives over there in the hot summer of Brazil or the tropical Nicaragua. We buzz around like bees in a hive- zipping, zapping, zipping, zapping-back and forth-side to side. Our favorite words are ducha, dance, deberes. Our favorite phrase is “YOU ARE CRAAAZY,” but only when we say it like a Russian abuela. We work, we talk, we laugh, we eat, we live, we share, we dream. Five hours forget we’re there, and they tell us it’s time to go home. I tell Carmen Montoya buenas noches and I head for Ventilla, the metro station. Back to the brilliantly laid out universe under the city I explore by day. To Los Mesejo to chitter with my roommates. To my gray bed with my colorful dreams.  To wonder or wonder not what my fellow fellows with their fellowships are wondering. What was their day like? Do they ever encounter Russian abuelas? Do they say Oh My Dog? I wish our wifi was better.

JUSTIN

“Reflect and Compare” they say…

Right now, León, Nicaragua is 33ºC. Right now, Santa Catarina, Brazil is 31ºC. Madrid is 9ºC.  Right now, it is 10:55 in León. Right now, it is 13:56 in Santa Catarina. It is 17:57 in Madrid.

Three cities, three time zones, fifteen jumbos. To be completely honest, the majority of my information about the lives of the fellow fellows is resourced from this application called Snapchat. You simply take a photo of your present moment, hit “Add to my story” and voila – I experience your present that’s past.

  1. Reflect

I reflect a lot. There are so many ways to read that sentence. I reflect a lot. I reflect my hometown, my parents, the food I eat, the people I encounter. Everywhere I go and everyone I meet rubs off on me a little. As a result, I reflect those places, things, and people. In my opinion, that can be said for anyone or anything on the earth. I reflect a lot. In the sense that I think, ponder, and challenge my experiences. I think about my surroundings, the people I meet, the words I exchange, the eyes I look into, the doors I walk through, and the objectivity of the weather. I ponder the meaning of actions, how I can improve myself, why I am living in Spain, and how I can relate to a seven year old orphan who speaks no more than ten English words. I challenge my experiences comparatively to those of my peers, my elders, my family, and my own expectations. I reflect a lot.

Alchemist
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

After six months in Spain, I have cumulatively reflected a lot. At the beginning, I reflected on how much being away from my home and my life there made me appreciate it all a little more. I thought about how important it is for us as humans to learn other languages, even if it is just the universal language of love. Without some type of communication between cultures, without some type of effort on both sides of the equation, we would never be able to collaboratively amount to anything. I experimented with ideas of travel and knowledge. I wondered about history and future. That was at the beginning.

Then, when the beginning switched to the middle, I could speak Spanish. It was a magical moment that granted me the ability to connect with my life around me. I started to reflect on the lives of my girls at Montoya. I thought about their historias, their parents, my relationship with each of them. I pondered the ways I could really impact their lives. What could I tell them to help them in their futures? Well one was definitely that boys aren’t worth precious thoughts and minutes that could be spent with a book or with your mom. I told them to wait to think about boys until they’re at least twenty two (I’m not quite there yet) because Michelle Obama didn’t pay attention to boys either. She seems pretty happy and successful. I trust her because she eats the right nutrients everyday. Those people are trustworthy. Another was experimenting ways to help Lucia work through her slow processing and dyslexia. I held her shoulder. I reflected on the way she snapped to attention. I tried to understand through research and questions how I could be most helpful to these girls as we move through these nine months together.

But after the beginning and the middle, I am here. It’s the middle of the third 500 meters of a 2k. Row. Row. Row. Maintain the present. I reflect, now, on the present. Which is past and present in the same. So I think about my fingers hitting the keypad. I think about how my stomach is a bit hungry and how I smell pizza. I think about the Velpers currently supporting the crowd funding app Velping that I am working on. I think about my cheeks being a little bit warm but my nose being like ice. The moment. Row. Row. Row. Row.MLE

2. Compare

Daniel, in Brazil, wrote about hiking the other day in his blog. He was reflecting on how he has analytically assimilated into his year, into his home in Brazil. He is doing work. He presents business plans for entrepreneurs. He dressed like a girl for Carnival. He was beautiful. He is beautifully serving, in my opinion, he is beautifully growing. Like us. Abigail in Nicaragua has simple stories with eloquence. She is a writer in my mind, and I saw her afternoon antics with Emerson’s smile on a bike the other day. Emerson is my Voices BFF, and he seems to enjoy his home in the tropics. They painted a mural for Las Tias, and it took them three nine hour days. Aberdeen and Zoe send vibes of passion and tranquil through our phones with their images of the Brazilian waterfalls, passion for protecting our planet, and living for the betterment of society. Gabe is there too. He is hanging with the monkeys so that humans stop harming them. He is excellent at at his work. It’s an important and difficult job, but he’s gotten very tan doing it. SAMURAIIsabel lives in a paradise too. She smiles and wins a lot of samurai. We are similar because she works every day with children who need her and because she wins a lot of samurai. David!!! David smiles too and it is the brightest smile I have EVER seen. He sent us t-shirts from his home in Nicaragua and he makes us all so happy. He is very professional in Nica but I’m not quite sure at what does his profession aim. His wifi is very bad I think. He is so beautifully David though. Steven has super cool socks that he took to Rio. He is so mighty, we miss him. He’s saving the environment while looking Xtremely cool. Elaine too. She is in Nica understanding the challenge of serving abroad and having so much fun while doing it. Writing like a pro, loving her home, she says to us all, “Buenas! All is good. Take your time. Find your place. You’ll love it here.”

The four of us, Dani Luz, Gongga XxX, Justin MeJJJJia and I, are all good. Reflecting, dancing, playing piano, serving, trying, learning and speaking Spanish from our home in Madrid. 13 Los Mesejo comparing our incomparable experiences- knowing we are all ok. Well, better than ok. We’re living. We miss you!

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.59.16 PM


 

 

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98 Nights

  “I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”

-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5 

Six months of my present, lived.  And to the point, look at what a happy present I’m living in. In our minds the present is a moving picture. But it’s only an instant and then we have a new present. I think that’s why we rush ourselves so much. We want a new, better, new, better present now. But its not worth it because then we lose the present present, which is incredibly wide and overwhelmingly deep. You can come to this conclusion about the vastness of the present by thinking of what your first grade teacher is doing right now. That present, I would assume, is greatly different than yours. And that fact in itself is beautiful. It shows how much of the present is ours. Stretch your arms up above your head. Feel the movement. This is the present. You can feel it, touch it, smell it, taste it. You can believe in it and you can love or hate it. You can keep it. And the way you treat it determines who you are. 

This year has given me a sense of time like I never knew before. I’m human meaning I have every present moment that exists at my fingertips. Every moment that has existed, does exist, or will exist is here in this present. This year I have had moments where I wished time away. I have had moments where I paused time in my head to grip the experience. I didn’t realize how much life can change when you live completely in the moment. It’s incredible. It’s so happy. It is so so much more fulfilling. There doesn’t even have to be a fast or a slow. Just an awareness that the measurement of time, which human beings created, is constantly moving. That shouldn’t be pressuring though. Because what happens, happens and frankly most of the time it’s out of our control. 

At the beginning, I was lost in my work in a sense that I was just going through the motions. I preconceived, I worried, I missed. It’s the way we are taught by society to live over the years. The girls taught me that through patience and appreciation I can access every present moment’s magnitude by simply being. They are children so that is natural for them. They don’t contemplate they just live. It’s beautiful. It’s simple. I’ve found that by acknowledging movement, health, material, and culture in every moment it’s easy to just be- to just experience. I’m so grateful for this year’s gift of real presents. 

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Word Yak. 

We’re getting close to the 100 day count down of our European adventure. I think I’m going to try a style of blogging I’d like to call Word Yak (like word vomit but with a Canadian twist). Here it goes. 

I’m on the metro. I kind of hate the metro. The system in Madrid is good. The people seem sad though. Maybe it’s just me. The girls are good. Loud. Leyre is mean to me. That’s how she is though so it’s ok. I am going to be sad to leave Eva and the others. I had a mini taco for lunch. I met a girl from Tufts who’s studying here. Lydia, our peer leader from Tufts is here. She’s awesome. She made me realize how well we’re doing. Online what we’re doing doesn’t seem hard. It’s hard. I miss my family. My sister is having a tough time. I have dreams about going home to be with my family. It makes me sad. But I’m happy here. I love to travel. I love to play with the girls. I love to meet new people. I love to speak Spanish. Spanish class is on Tuesdays and Thursday’s. My teachers name is Carmen. She has tiny legs. A lot of girls in Spain have tiny legs. I wonder if it is genetic. I went skiing in Switzerland. It has always been a dream. It was hard though. My legs were sore. Having sore legs is one of the things I appreciate. I love to spin. We have spinning classes at my gym and they’re like being at a club. The music is so loud and we turn off the lights. We work so hard but it’s so fun. Sometimes on the metro we play games. Like the one from pitch perfect where you have to pick up on a word and continues with a different song. My roommates are awesome. They always make me laugh. I’m going to miss living with them. I can’t wait until they come to Buffalo and see what I was talking about all this time. Adler’s friends from Florence hate Buffalo because we talk about it so much. I think being away from home increases the pride. I watched the Super Bowl in Cork, Ireland. It went until four am. I ate nachos but I missed Buffalo dip. But here I eat bocadillos with jamòn serrano y queso. It’s a different life here. It’s a big city here. I don’t know anyone. I can do whatever I want. That doesn’t change who I am though. That’s something that surprised me. I don’t feel changed at all. I thought I would. Maybe when I get home I’ll feel changed. But I don’t think people do change. They are who they are. Being who you are is innate. That makes me hurt for the people who have to hide who they are. But that’s for another blog. I miss going to Serve the City a lot. We’ve been traveling and they’ve been traveling. I’m going on Friday. I can’t wait to see Mungo, Warren’s pug. She is tiny and black. Word yaking is fun. Simple sentences are fun. This is how I speak in Spanish a lot because it’s so basic. I need to speak Spanish more. I am doing well with it though. I miss French class. I miss school. I’m weird. I study economics for fun cause I’m bored. I hope my other fellow’s are ok. I cannot wait to see them in June. I love doing service work. A man in Ireland said “that is very noble of you” sarcastically. It made me frustrated. I’m not doing this for credit. I just wanted an experience. I love my girls. I think helping them helps me in more ways than it might help them. I’m not them so I don’t know. I just love them. And my roommates. I’m getting sappy. I’m going to stop. Welcome to my brain. 

Format copied from Aberdeen Bird’s last blog post. Thx girlfriend. 😉 

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