Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Every Bunny...

This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but it makes me smile, so enjoy!

Also... Happy Birthday, Momma!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Walk Two Moons

I am an avid reader. From the time I could reach a bookshelf, I was snatching books off of them. One of the best books I remember reading was Sharon Creech's "Walk Two Moons" about a young girl trying to find herself in the aftermath of her mother's death. It is one of my favorite books for many reasons, including the quotes that can be gleaned from the pages.

One in particular that stood out to me was an Indian proverb: “Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”Sharon Creech herself has said that she took the title of the book from that proverb, which could be a reason that it resonates so deeply with me. It's a good thing to remember too. You shouldn't judge a man unless you know all the details of what is going on in their life. If someone is having a bad day, it might be because of something happening at home, or another personal matter. Should you rightfully judge someone when you don't understand the circumstances behind what they are doing or saying?

I think that I have been pondering this quote more lately because I am here on the Navajo Nation and I am experiencing so many things that I could never have comprehended unless I was here. I heard stories about poverty and alcoholism and abuse. And, to be honest, you see it out here. But when you meet the people here and you can put a face to what happens, the horror stories go to the back of your mind and you embrace your life and those around you. I was prepared to believe all the stereotypes I was told, maybe not in such detail, but I was still coming with the idea that I was going to encounter bad things.The bad has been minimal. The outpouring of love has been so much greater. 

Another quote that stands out in my mind is: “In a course of a lifetime, what does it matter?” Throughout life, we are all going to encounter different things, some good some bad. In the course of a lifetime, are some of those things really going to matter?

The other week, two of my friends and I went to Taco Bell to get dinner. While we are sitting and waiting for our food, an obviously intoxicated man comes up to us and asks us to buy him food. When we walked in, he was sitting there eating a meal, so he had eaten recently. We declined to buy him food, stating, truthfully, that we didn't have any additional money to give him. The man became angry and raised his voice, calling us racist and discriminatory. He said we denied him food because we were white and he was Navajo and told us that we weren't welcome and kept repeating, "Welcome to Navajoland" over and over in his rants. One of my friends went to get the manager and he walked away. He returned about thirty seconds later, holding his belongings and slammed a can down on the table and told us he was going to leave his stuff there until we bought him food. I told him that he needed to leave or I would call the police, and my friend returned with the manager who had to physically escort him out.

I think what was hardest about this situation was there was a group of young Navajo men sitting at the table behind us who watched the entire proceedings and did nothing to help us or stop the man. I wasn't scared of the man, more angry that he was so invasive of my area and so nasty in his manner. But, I was really disappointed that there was a group of people who sat by and watched us get harassed without stepping up to stop it. 

This is uncommon, let me assure you. This was the first time I had such a direct encounter with a drunk man, and the first time I had really been accused of something based off of my race. (Another minor incident not of importance happened a few months back.)

The point I am trying to make is that the man who was drunk and accused my friends and I of being racist has not walked two moons in my moccasins (or ballet flats). He doesn't know who I am or why I am here. He saw a part of a picture and made assumptions that were not only false but hurtful. It hurt to be spotlighted because of my race. I have no more choice in being white than he has of being Navajo. But, the bigger thing is that in the course of a lifetime, will this really matter? Probably not. Yes, his words stung, and yes, they were false, but I know that I am not racist and neither are my friends. I know that I have as much right to go to that Taco Bell as anyone else, and that if I cannot or chose not to give someone money, that does not make me a bad person.

But it is certainly an interesting concept to think about. In my remaining time here, I am going to try and walk in the moccasins of the people surrounding me, and learn who they are as individuals, not as a collective group.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cabrini Compliments

A few months ago, I received a friend request from someone styling themselves "Cabrini Compliments". I looked at the page and waited a few days to accept a friend request to see what the idea behind an anonymous moniker was. It is probably the best idea ever created on that campus!

Cabrini Compliments was created by a student at school, actually, one of my good friends (lips sealed) to embrace the community spirit at Cabrini, to encourage the students and staff to compliment each other on things both large and small. The mission statement of this project is:

Cabrini Compliments is a social project that aims to spread joy to the Cabrini Community. Simply inbox a compliment or a message of appreciation that you may have about a member of the Cabrini community, and have it published here anonymously. So if there is something nice you have to say about someone but don't feel comfortable saying it to their face, inbox away. Your name will be kept anonymous. Keep in mind that hateful or rude remarks will be completely disregarded.

 It's immensely popular and the student behind it puts in a lot of work to keep the page updated. It hasn't been quiet a single day since it was created. I am incredibly proud of my friend for creating this project, for spreading not only happiness to our small school community, but for also spreading love and compassion. Everyone wants to hear the good attributes about themselves, and they should. Cabrini Compliments does just that. 

I have sent in a few compliments, and received my first one today which split my face with grin so large I looked like the Cheshire cat (an earnest one though!). It feels good to be acknowledged, to reinforce the idea that you are important to someone else. My compliment made my day, and probably, my week. My compliment: 

First off, I miss you and am so proud of how far you have gone in one year! You are an inspiration to me and many people wanting to become teachers. Next, you are beautiful inside and out. If there was only one way to describe you, it'd have to be unbelievably incredible. I know you're on an amazing adventure right now, but know that Cabrini isn't the same without your wit and smile to brighten up the day. You're such an incredible person with an infectious laugh and are always there for support your friends through any tough times. You know just what to say no matter the situation and often go out of your way to help others. You are missed and I hope all your dreams and then some come true because you deserve it!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Irish Tea

The Founding Mother of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine MacAuley, was a fan of tea time. Everyone who came to visit her did not leave without drinking at least one cup of tea. When Sr. Jeanne came from Omaha to visit us during our fall retreat, she brought Irish Tea for each of the houses.

Last night, feeling overwhelmed with a lot of feelings, and with an upset stomach, I made myself a cup of Irish tea, which was followed by a second cup, and then a third. Each time, I put half a packed of sweetener in the cup with some milk. It was comforting. It was soothing. I had the trailer to myself, which is an unusual occurrence, I had my book and a pillow on the couch, and I had some much needed time to just be me.

I talked with my mom for over an hour last night and was able to think things through a lot today about what I had posted earlier this week. I had been getting myself so caught up in what I was going to do next year, what direction I needed to be headed in that I was losing sight of what was happening in the here and now.

Looking into the numerous organizations and graduate schools that are out there, I have concluded that I am unsure of what I want to do next. There are so many possibilities and if I rush the decision to find something to do next year, I could be making a huge mistake. I've decided that I am not applying to any programs for the upcoming year...I know I want to go to grad school, but I want to change my focus. I already have a degree in education, which has served me pretty well thus far. But, what could I do with a different degree that would keep me in the realm of education? What if I considered being a guidance counselor or going into administration? I know that the education world is where I belong, but I want the next career move I make to be one that I will be satisfied with in the long run.

Although the classroom will always hold my heart.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Next Step

While I love being out here in the Navajo Nation and I love my students and what I do, I am also realistic to the limitations I am faced with as a volunteer. I don't make a lot of money...and it's hard sometimes. I realize that it is a commitment that I signed up for, and I am not complaining about that, but it is something that I have to sit back and think about sometimes.

I am 22 years old. I graduated from college a year ago. I want to build a career, one that is strong and that I am proud of. Which leads me to thinking about what the next step will be for me. While I have enjoyed my time with MVC, reality tells me that I cannot re-commit with them. It's too much of a financial strain with student loans knocking on my door. I am in an industry that is not highly valued right now. Yes, I am a history teacher. A pretty good history teacher. But, there are thousands of good history teachers out there. What makes me stand apart from them?

I realized that I didn't join volunteer organization because I was desperate to do something. I joined because I felt like I could make a difference. And I know that where ever I go next, I will continue to try and make a difference. When it comes down to it, I don't want to be famous. I don't want to be hailed as a hero, fawned over, or glorified. But what I do want is to know that I have made a difference somewhere. My students will leave my classroom knowing more than when they went in, and that is awesome. Some of my students have already been accepted into college, and my heart feels like it is going to burst with pride every time another acceptance letter is received.

So, I've decided that my volunteer service will never end, regardless of how soon I find a "real" job with a legitimate paycheck. I have been thinking and praying about what to do after this year, and I have discovered a number of graduate programs that would allow me to get a tuition-free Master's degree with a commitment of service to underprivileged schools. It's something that I have to look into deeper, and think about, and talk to my family about.

If I have learned anything this year, it is that I love my job. I picked the right profession, and although I will never get rich or famous, the sense of satisfaction I have is enough to sustain.