Posts tagged ‘Heart’

May 5, 2011

Do something

Via Google

Since I was a child, my mother always told me to change the world. Alright, maybe she didn’t quite put it that way. Instead, she would always say: “if you don’t like it, then do something about it.” Well mom, it stuck. I heard you all those years ago and I still hear you now. Loud and clear. And you thought I wasn’t listening. You thought I threw your advice out like the stale milk you used to pour down the sink. You should never ever have worried. I know it’s what mothers do but come on now……I’m your son.

No one understands that fact better than you. When I started keeping a blog about how we all could make the world a better place, I was channeling you. When I tell any of my students to stand up for what is right, it is your voice that I hear. The recycling idea, the Catalyst idea, soccer for the kids at Minnie Street……you, you and yup……you. Perhaps it was the fact that you were always so generous, thinking of everyone else and yourself last. Or that you single-handedly fought to bring our family to the United States, all five of us. It definitely could have been that you never let failure define you. You achieved a Ph.D. with 4 kids and a husband, kept trying your hand in entrepreneurship despite some false starts and rebounded from tragedy after tragedy.

With mothers’ day quickly approaching, you’re on my mind. Then again like I already pointed out, you’ve been on my mind all along. I am going to do something thoughtful for you on Sunday but my biggest way of paying you the respect you deserve is by continuing to take your advice and “do something” about what’s wrong. After all, I am your son.

March 2, 2011

Inspired by Solutions

In the media. From my friends. A random conversation I just happen to hear while passing by. Often, I hear comments about “those” immigrants in our communities.

Why don’t they want to learn English?
Don’t they know they’re in America?
If I lived in another country I’d learn the language!

We have a serious problem here, and it’s not that immigrants don’t speak English. The problem is with our attitude. First, it is void of any true experience with the group that is being stereotyped. Every single immigrant has a name, a story, and a struggle that, more often than not, dispels the myths our society has constructed about these communities. And even more, we’re complaining about a situation and doing nothing to be a part of the solution.

This year I signed up to volunteer as an English instructor at a local community center down the street from my house. I was feeling guilty. Hundreds in my community do not speak English, yet I had never lent a helping hand. Worse, I’d been galavanting around the world trying to help those in need abroad without giving the needs of my neighbors a second thought.

While training to become an instructor, I met a man named Bill who has committed his life to helping immigrants in our communities learn English. He doesn’t call it ESL or TEFL or TESOL or even just simply “Teaching English”. Rather, he is committed to challenging the English speaking population to SHARE their English. His classes have a ratio of one English speaker to one English learner. They are wild, funny, enjoyable, dynamic. He has an army of volunteers who are willing to put aside their stereotypes to be a part of the solution instead of just complaining. And people learn English because of it!

More than giving back to the community, more than helping people create a better life for themselves by giving them the skill of speaking English, Bill is helping every day Americans set aside their stereotypes by giving them opportunities to interact with REAL communities, REAL situations, and REAL lives.

I want to live like that!

Bill’s example of a life dedicated to change makes me ask myself a difficult question: How can I be a solution to the problems I complain about?

August 27, 2010

To Reblog or not to reblog

ALIM2603

Image by Scuola Yoga Camerino

It is 3:39 am so I cannot be held responsible if this comes out incoherent and full of mistakes. I figure I’d start out with that disclaimer so you can’t say that you weren’t warned.

For those of you that use wordpress as your blogging platform, you might have heard of the “new reblog” feature. This feature allows you to repost something that you found on another person’s blog, with your own comments to boot. Personally, I thought this was a great idea and have reblogged a post before. However, not everyone agrees.

I read through her post (and most of the comments) and I decided that I agreed with her. WordPress has not given people the option of “opting out” of these reblog posts leaving them at the mercy of others. I may not mind being reblogged or reblogging others but what about those that do? So I decided to stick to the old school way of just linking posts I liked.

Why am I writing about this now? I’m glad you asked (just play along). I started this blog over two years ago. I cared about my idea then but I wasn’t as focused as I should have been. Recently, I had a renaissance of sorts and attacked this with new enthusiasm.

Part of doing that involves getting the word out and learning from blogs that get a lot of traffic. I have been enjoying reading the “freshly pressed” blogs daily on wordpress. That was where I found this post that I simply had to share. I can relate to it because that is what I am trying to do everyday. I find encouragement in seeing other people trying to do the same.

August 18, 2010

Adversity Wrapped in Hope

The past few days, we had some pretty atrocious weather here in Chillán. At night, I would lay in bed bundled up in my sleeping bag and with the wind howling at the window beside me and the rain rattling the roof above me, I found myself thinking about the families, who lost their homes in the earthquake and now live in temporary shelters, referred to by Chileans as “mediaguas.” I thought about my complaints of being cold or inconvenienced during our time here and suddenly it all paled in comparison to the plight of these people.

Angry clouds promising the threat of rain rolled in on Sunday, while I stood over a pot of boiling hot chocolate. After stirring the hot chocolate to perfection, we poured it into thermoses to deliver to families in mediaguas along with the chocolate chip cookies and brownies that we had spent baking and packaging the day before.

Rain tapped on my hood as I stood at the front door of the first home. We knocked on the front door and suddenly every insecurity that I’d been intentionally ignoring rushed to the front of my mind like the cold wind blowing at my back. “What would they think of these gringas showing up at their door? Would they understand my Spanish? Would they be blessed by our gift or would they find it impractical and possibly even insulting- the door opened and we were immediately invited in to take shelter from the weather.

I stepped into their home and all my fears melted away with the warmth of their greeting. Like typical Chileans, they proceeded to offer us food and drink. I couldn’t help laughing at the irony. The plan was to bless them, not the other way around. Overall, everyone seemed to be receptive. Most families were pretty open about their circumstances. One family in particular, a single mom with her aging mother and ten year old daughter, touched our hearts though.

With every family, the children were always eager to immediately try a chocolate chip cookie or brownie, but despite repeated encouragement, this little girl continued to decline. I could see it in her eyes. She didn’t want some sweet that would soon leave her yet again in want. She wanted something more.

As her mom was sharing about the hardships of caring for her family, while having no job for the past few months, the little girl began to cry. Feeling the weight of the burden this family was carrying, tears streamed down my cheeks. Trying hard to keep from sobbing, I wondered, “What am I doing here? Who am I kidding? We can’t fix these people’s problems.”

One of our friends, who came with us, circled everyone around the three of them and began to pray. I’ve been wrestling with God a lot these days and lately I’ve been finding prayer with other people to be a bit strange and often uncomfortable, but in this moment it couldn’t have felt more right. When our friend finished praying, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Though the burden was still there, it now felt lighter and a sense of peace was greater.

At that moment, I realized what this little girl wanted and every one of these families we visited are in need of is hope. I wish I could rescue them from their problems, but I can’t even rescue myself from my own. I think I know someone else, who can though. Someone, who often for reasons I never seem to understand, doesn’t always rescue us from our troubles. Yet I can’t deny the grace I’ve always seen given in the midst of those troubles or the times that I or others have clearly been rescued from unwanted circumstances. Some days it’s harder than others to believe that Jesus Christ is our only hope, but I guess it wouldn’t be faith if it was easy.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23 (Holy Bible, English Standard Version).

August 12, 2010

La belleza de la humanidad

It’s been a week since we arrived here in Chile and I still can’t seem to believe that I’m actually here.  Memories flood my mind with every familiar sight, smell, and sound.  Friendly faces greet me with warm hugs and kisses asking, “Te acuerdas de mí?  Me acuerdo de ti!”  (Do you remember me?  I remember you!)  To be honest, there are some individuals that I don’t remember, but I have never forgotten the Chilean people as a whole.

Anyone, who knows me today, knows that I have a border-line obnoxious love for Latinos.  However, this wasn’t always the case.  In fact, the first time I came to Chile, I didn’t really want to be here – for many reasons that would take far too much time and detail to explain, but my heart just wasn’t here.  I didn’t completely hate my experience, but I clearly remember counting down the days until we finally got to leave.

Sitting in the Santiago airport waiting to board our flight back to the US, I remember staring out at the massive Andes before me wondering whether I had squandered my time.  In that moment, as clear as the marvelous view before me, I heard God say, “Yes, this is a sight to remember, but you will soon behold it again.”

Ever since my feet left the land of Chile in 2005, my growing passion for the country has confirmed the common saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Never in a million years, would I have wished the devastation of the February earthquake on my dear brothers and sisters, but in a way, I’m thankful that it motivated me to return.  My love for Chileans is so strong that I can’t help, but let it overflow.

When I was asked to contribute to the roundtable during my time here, I wondered, “What could I possibly have to contribute?  I’m just a crazy white girl with an unexplainable infatuation with Latinos.”  However, in the presence of my Chilean friends these last few days, I’ve been humbled by both their strength and contentment despite the many adversities of this year.  In only a few days, I’ve already been challenged to consider what really matters in life.

I am reminded of a quote from Mark Twain, which is my mission statement for traveling. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  For those of you, who may never make it to this beautiful country and those, who still may, it is with this new perspective during this experience that I intend to share my thoughts with you – thoughts not merely about Chileans, but about the beauty of humanity.

August 12, 2010

Billionaires’ pledge

I have been excited by something that I found out about recently. Apparently, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are going to be giving a major portion of their wealth away. Not only are they doing this, but they’re bringing a few of their peers with them.

Their goal is to convince every billionaire in the country to pledge at least 50% of their loot to charity. George Lucas, Barry Diller, Ted Turner and Michael Bloomberg are some of the people who are on board with them. To date, 38 others have joined them. You can find a current list of them here

Buffet has pledged 99% of his treasure. Figuring the remaining 1% would satisfy him and his family, he had this to say about his gift;

Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day… The dollars these people drop into a collection plate or give to United Way mean forgone movies, dinners out, or other personal pleasures. In contrast, my family and I will give up nothing we need or want by fulfilling this 99% pledge… Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends

Personally, I am challenged by such generosity as well as encouraged. Challenged in the sense that he is doing so much and encouraged by the fact that people like him are in tune with suffering around the world. Bill Gates insists that when the richest people in the world know just how the poor live, they’d be willing to help. “If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.”

Should these men succeed, they’d raise just about 600 billion dollars. Imagine the possibilities…..

August 6, 2010

The Vision redux

It has been over two years now since this blog was started based on an idea. My plan was to have the blog and my idea evolve over time. What has happened though is that I have evolved and the idea hasn’t grown much. This was made clear to me last weekend. I was talking to a friend of mine about her passion and she was struggling to put it into words. It wasn’t that she didn’t know what it was, she absolutely knew and understood. It was just that important to her that she wanted to do it justice in explaining it. Like all intelligent people, she turned around and asked me about my passion and it was time for me to struggle. The issue wasn’t only that I struggled to articulate my thoughts. I just realized that I was still trying to tell it from a two year old perspective.

As previously mentioned, I have evolved since then. I spent a lot of the time getting my feet under me. I couldn’t handle carrying this along as well. I started to wonder if this wasn’t just a naive, fantastic dream. Then recently, I had a renaissance of sorts. I was discussing things with another friend and I realized that the fire still burned inside me. I had gotten involved in various other things that ended up turning out successful. As a result, I was re-energized and believing again.

I am still trying to gather a group of dedicated, intelligent people who will come alongside me. This is important to me because my perspective isn’t broad enough. I have issues that I feel strongly about and other equally important ones that I don’t. By having them with me, I always seem to catch their passion like a fever. Also, more of us can do more together than we can do by ourselves. So two years later, the idea remains, find people who feel strongly about things and are willing to do something about it. Then partner with them and see where it leads.

January 26, 2008

The Round Table Organization

There has been so much going on its hard to keep abreast of everything including this spot. This is not to say that it has been neglected thus far. Not at all.

Here are some of the things we’ve been working on:

The Round Table Organization is finally a reality. As of now there are only a few of us so I am not going to go through incorporation and so on as of yet. We’ll see how far it goes and how much it grows. Like I said before, the goal is to do what is right in this country. This is of course is a very broad concept and that is on purpose. There are gaping holes that need to be dealt with and our goal is to do our best.

How are we going to go about this? Thats where you come in. You are welcome to join us. Every tuesday, we’ll pick a new topic as the focus of the week. We’ll blog on it and put some stats up and why you should care. Then we’ll open up the floor to suggestions. The purpose of this is to get intelligent ideas that we can find ways to act on. We don’t believe in just waiting for the government to solve problems. There are things that we can do and it is time to start doing them.

January 19, 2008

Why there needs to be change

Some say that America has lost its brain. I’d like to submit that we have lost our hearts. Sure, one could pull out statistic after statistic to show that we are getting lower test scores, our teenagers are disconnected from the real world, college students don’t even know the basic tenets of history and grammar anymore, etc. but that isn’t what is wrong here.

The real problem I believe can be summed up in one phrase; “we just don’t care anymore”. Notice I said we. I am including myself in this conversation. We have buried our heads in the sand of circumstance and refuse to see what is going on around us.

To illustrate this point, consider this; a majority of the population especially young people do not believe that any politician is honest or is trying to serve the people. Let that sink in for a second. Then remember that this is a democracy. This is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We’ve taken the people out of the equation and now its a bunch of politicians just doing their thing.

This same apathy can be seen in our everyday life and not just in politics. Yeah katrina was bad but the government ought to have done something about it. Yeah there is racism still left in the world but someone ought to do something about it. And so on. That someone is me. I want to do something about our problems.

But I need you. I need your honesty. I need your help. I need your heart. I want you to care. I want you to ask the right questions with me. I want you to pick me up when I am down. I want you to feel with me for the homeless guy on the street corner. I want you to feel for the little boy in the hood whose hopes are going to be dashed because he has no avenue to survive. Change needs to happen because the way things are going now isn’t going to cut it and its up to us to do something about it. I can’t do it alone and neither can you. So join me.