Tag Archive : life

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I’m learning- absorbing everything new and different, slightly disturbing, awesome, scary…Every day I am reminded that we can have beautiful moments with people without speaking, without knowing each others language. We can look in someone’s eyes and see them smiling, without needing to hear the words that describe their happiness. Every day I am once again blown away by the similarities among people all over the world. I may not know how to speak to you, but we both know what a smile means.

We both know what tears mean. We both know what embarrassment feels like. We both feel sadness at times. Both feel excited when good fortune arises, when we receive something we’ve wanted for a long time. We both feel.  We may react to stimuli differently, but we both react. Feelings, emotions run through every body whether that body is in the United States or in China or in Italy or wherever. And within those emotions we find common ground, we find connection. Not always within language.

Words can only do so much. But what if I don’t want you to talk to me, what if all I really want is a hug. What if all I want is a smile, a hand to hold, a person to dance with? What if I want the comfort  of your presence, or reassurance through facial expressions? Can you give that to me through words? Every day I am motivated by the answer to that question. I will build a connection with my students, because I know that connection is built upon so much more than language.

11739571_511115402376544_194161524_nI’m tempted to say that Taiwanese students are shy. But shy is an understatement. I feel like there is no word in the English language to describe their overall behavior, behavior that seems to be instilled in them from the moment they open their eyes as a baby. They demonstrate a shyness that is not just indicative of an awkward teenage phase. This trait is bred not just in students but in the entire culture. Adults, kids, teenagers…everyone, with the exception of a few people who we would describe as confident but docile in the U.S.

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In the classroom I do whatever I can to help the students feel comfortable talking, but a lot of times I’m left feeling frustrated an confused. The feeling of “talking to a brick wall” comes to mind. But I know they are just scared. I keep having to remind myself that they aren’t used to talking back to the teacher; education in Taiwan seems to promote teachers lecturing the students, while the students sit there and listen, mute. They have been taught to respect- and fear- the teacher. And not to talk back. So how do I make them un-learn these tendencies?? It’s not going to happen.

All I can do is try to get them to see me as a friend- a friend who knows English and plays games with them.

 

The first day: lost my phone, but I got to ride on the back of a moped through the streets on Tainan to retrieve it. Hardly anyone speaks English in Tainan. I’ve resorted to pointing and smiling I’m order to get food/ whatever I need. A lot of locals seem to stare at my group and I, almost as if they’ve never seen a white person walk this earth. I expected this response somewhat, because that’s what I experienced in Singapore. 
 
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Yesterday I started my orientation for teaching english. Today I’m expected to perform my first pilot lesson in front of a classroom, even though I’ve never taught a class of any kind before. I feel like I’m going to be pushed to all my uncomfortable limits this summer, whether I like it or not. 

So far, the locals are polite and the food is yummy. A few nights ago, our group of teachers went to the night market, which was visually fascinating.  

Tons of vendors in every  direction, bright lights illuminating delicious food, kids laughing, people on mopeds flying by…these are just a few of the sights and sounds.  

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The humidity had me delusional and dehydrated the first day I arrived. The hotness here sticks to my body and never releases itself, even indoors. I know I’ll get used to it. One thing I don’t think I will get used to, however, is squating on the ground to pee. 

This place is awesome, and there is so much left to explore.

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In one week, I leave for Taipei, Taiwan. I’ll be teaching English to students involved in a program called World Passport. For two months I will live in and around Taipei. I’m excited but also partially frightened by the news I’ve heard regarding the weather in Taiwan. I mean, 3-4 typhoons per summer? Should I just walk myself out now…? Lol aside from the horrifying article that told me Taiwan is the 4th most dangerous place to live in the world, everything else I’ve heard is positive about the environment and the people. (Apparently) cheap food, polite locals, beautiful mountains. 

But for real, I have no idea what to expect. That’s what makes this experience potentially  challenging, thrilling, surprising, reawarding, and completely awesome. Travelling is unpredictable and that’s precisely why I love it: It provides me with a new breed of happiness from an unexpected source. In awe of new people, new scenery, new ideas, I thrive in new joy. I relish in the depths of learning, of a mind absorbing all that is foreign and frightening but also beautifully different. Here, in this state of mind, I am my best self.

1) Mel’s Cafe- Charlottesville, Virginia. Well-priced, southern soul food that has my mouth watering at the thought of going back there.

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2) Badou- Chicago, Illinios. Amazing Seneglese dishes that are delicious and affordable. The owners are from Senegal and  are genuinely nice people who work EXtremely  hard. They deserve every penny I paid for my meal.

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3) Dad’s Kitchen- Sacramento, California. Humongous Burgers.

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4) Goodfella’s- Atlanta, Georgia. Philly Cheesesteak. That is all.

5) The Chatterbox- Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’d go again just for the atmosphere. There’s every board game imaginable there- and you can play while you eat.

chatterbox-st-paul 6) Lil’ Frankies- Manhattan, New York. The best Italian food/ bar atmosphere combination I’ve ever witnessed.

thumb_600 8) al di la Trattoria- Brooklyn, New York. A delicate, romantic setting matched with perfect Italian food. The risotto was my favorite. This may be the most expensive restaurant I dined at (considering I was a homeless person wandering the states), but the prices were still not too bad.

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Near the Museum of Modern Art

January 29, 2014

I’m currently on the train, headed towards Atlanta. In New York, I met up with a Couchsurfer from Dubai. His name was Ahmed. He moved to Manhattan two days prior to get his masters in Business.

The first day we met, we walked throughout Central Park. After an hour or so of walking, we sat down on the cold concrete steps in front of a fountain surrounded by ice sculptures. I began explaining to him why I wanted to  visit Tucson- for the Rock and Gem Show. I told him a street fair came to Eugene last year and I bought an amethyst for the hell of it.  I had an inspiring conversation with the owner of the gem booth. The owner had informed me of the Rock and Gem Show; he swore I should attend before I die. I told the owner, “I’ll see you there!” in the same way I tell my sister, in Italy, that I’ll see her tomorrow.  Just a silly promise, an empty promise. But I have the choice to act on it, and that’s what I’m doing.

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From the top of the Rockefeller Center

Mid sentence, Ahmed interrupted me. “I”m sorry,” he said, “I can’t help myself,” and suddenly brought his face towards mine to kiss me deeply. This stranger… on couchsurfing…who I just met an hour ago. I  thought our conversation was going well but that was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t even get the vibe that he liked me. Life is unpredictable.  I broke away and offered a confused smile.”Wow,” I said.

I get mixed feelings about Ahmed because he has a default form of expression. It doesn’t fluctuate much. It’s hard to know what he’s thinking when there is a lack of emotion behind his words. I don’t know how much I like him because I don’t know how much I understand him. But apparently he’s my boyfriend right now-  ha!  When  I went with my last host to see Isabella’s comedy show, she spoke about how important it is to choose the correct tone and emotion behind what we say.

“Where are you?” and “WHERE ARE YOU?!” make me feel two entirely different ways.

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JP Morgan Museum

I may have an inclination that we’re not compatible with each other- but it is really nice to, for once, attempt to maintain a relationship. And when the other person has such strong, intense feeling for me… Why enter into a relationships I’m unsure about? Why not? I guess I don’t know why not yet.

1) Not everyone wants to secretly stab you in the middle of the night.

2) Whether rich or poor, Christian or Atheistic, people have a unique perspective that is valuable.

3) Couchsurfers want to help you, even when you don’t want to help yourself. And it’s okay to accept that help.

4) Some hosts have cat hair covering their bathroom towels, and it can cover your face if you don’t think fast enough…:(

5) If you use your better judgement, but still allow yourself to trust others, you will find a gold mine of happiness.

6) Hosts on couch-surfing  may in fact try to seduce you, in which case you should pepper spray da fuck outta there.

7) Some of the kindest people are those who I haven’t even met yet; Always keep an open mind for letting others see who you really are.

8) If you show people who you really are, then they have the opportunity to accept who you really are.

9) That moment when you’re confronted with a point of view that frightens you, try to replace that fear with peaceful acceptance; that point of view has been reaffirmed several times over- and the person you’re in disagreement with is just as convinced they’re right as you are convinced that you’re right.

10) Take risks, but try not to die

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Sometimes I am so focused on exploring places I’ve never been that I forget to appreciate the one I’ve called home for the last 22 years: Oregon. I took this photo about 60 miles east of Eugene. Although I’ve lived in this state for a while, there still remain rivers I’ve never listened to, mountains I’ve never laid eyes upon, and, perhaps most importantly, people I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting.

Amid the familiarity, there are perspectives I can take which haven’t been taken before. 

As long as I am capable of changing my veiwpoint, I am capable of changing my reality- of surroundings, and of life.

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The railways parting downtown Chicago. My gaze extends past buildings, past the sky, and into the depths of the universe. Within this cosmic arena, on this tiny Earth, there is a collection of atoms organized in a certain way that allows a body to form and grow– to think for itself and think about itself. To contemplate its own existence. And to appreciate its own existence.