Not My Student

I have a student who speaks badly about women, swears when he shouldn’t, and reacts poorly to perceived criticism and the consequences of his actions.

I ask him casually in the hall how his day is going and he keeps walking without even looking in my direction. I sit down next to him in class to check in and I have to say his name half a dozen times before he begrudgingly acknowledges me. I try to have productive, relationship-building conversations, and he actively shuts me out.

Then he grabs some chalk and writes insulting messages on the chalk boards.

And then he gets pissed off and storms out when he gets in trouble.

But he’s still my student.

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You can’t spell “inaugurate” without “argue”

My feelings are strong, and mixed, and I’ve yet to fully process the significance of a Trump presidency and the impact it’ll have on me, my friends, my family, and my kids.

But no matter how long my mind whirs and spits out warnings and error messages, it doesn’t change the fact that tomorrow the 45th President of the United States will take office–and whether we love him, hate him, or ignore him, that fact cannot be changed.

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BOY

BOY

By which I mean it’s the beginning of the year. I’ve moved to a new city–with all the hassles that come from being the good tenant who follows those disastrous ones you see on HGTV who left the place a god-forsaken wreck–and I’ve begun a new job.

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Honest Applications

I was once told the best way to lose your job is to lie on your resume, so this weekend at the Teach for America 25th Anniversary Summit, when people asked why I chose to join the Milwaukee 2016 Corps, I couldn’t do anything but tell them the truth.

And the trust is that I didn’t choose Milwaukee at all.

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Lies My English Teachers Taught Me

For the past week I’ve been in Mexico with my fiance Harel. It’s been delightful spending time with him, but also stressful since money issues always tend to creep up on us (making it even more important that we reach our GoFundMe goals).

Today I’m not talking about money, though, but rather language.

Part of our financial strains are due to Harel’s recently transitioning from one job to another. He’s completed his TKT English certification course, and while he takes the certification test on August 8, in his new job he’ll be teaching English to business professionals. So on Tuesday, I was able to join Harel in a workshop his new job provided on the proper place for a native language when teaching a second language. While I’m not a teacher of language, I am a student of Spanish, and listening to a dozen teachers discuss differences between Spanish and English, my mind tried to take these challenges and generalize them.

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The First Rainbow

Long before rainbow colors signified the LGBT community for me, they signified Reading Rainbow: a children’s program I watched growing up that helped inspire me to read. I remember watching as they turned the pages, illustrations seamlessly becoming animations, and always wanting to get these books to read myself.

I never did, but just knowing about them made me eager to read–made me look forward to library trips and the discovery and adventure awaiting inside each and every book.

I grew up and Reading Rainbow was replaced by other shows, my interest in children’s books replaced by young adult series, and I never thought about that iconic theme song that still brings me back to my youth. Then, not so long ago, I stumbled across this Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow back to kids everywhere.

Immediately I became a backer.

But there’s still more to do, more children to help Reading Rainbow inspire. I would not have become the person I am today if not for the books I’ve read, and I might not have read anything if shows like Reading Rainbow hadn’t encouraged me to read and made books as much fun as any action figure or play set. Reading is the foundation of all learning, and to help our country–to help the world–be all that it can be, we must help our children learn to love reading. And I believe Reading Rainbow can help us achieve this goal.

Will you please help us change the world, one child at a time?

Click here to make a $5 (US) donation, or here to visit the campaign’s Kickstarter page.

When you back Reading Rainbow, let me know! As a campaign volunteer, they’d like a tally of how many backers I recruit, but more so I want thank each of you individually..

Throwing Eggs on the Floor

Part of N.C. State’s motto is being globally engaged but locally responsive. For most students this probably remains an abstract concept, fuzzy words that don’t mean much from one day to the next, but for those in the Alternative Service Break program, it’s engrained in every trip: Not only do we have a service project in diverse parts of the world, both domestically and abroad, we also have a service project in our local community.

Last year, before my team went to Belize to build a drying rack with cacao farmers, we spent one weekend helping rebuild a house with Habitat for Humanity. The work with hammers and nails was certainly invaluable experience to get us started.

This year’s service project no doubt has prepared me just the same for Alaska.

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World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day. Today I’m commemorating the occasion in a mostly silent, academic way–the personal side of observance, though somewhere, feels absent. I have some poetry I’ve been meaning to share, some poetry I still need to build up some courage to share, but I’ll get there.

So today I’m writing a paper. It’s due in twelve hours and I haven’t even started it.

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Production Lines

We all know the saying that we are each greater than the sum of our parts, but I like to expand this by saying I am greater than the product of the factors in my life. It’s funny because of the mathematical parallelism between sums and products, but it also changes the focus from the internal to the external.

When I think of the parts that make me up, I think of the roles I fill and the things I am. I’m a writer, a brother, a friend, a leader. I was homeschooled, graduated from a community college, and now I’m attending an awesome university. But when taken together, I am greater than any one of these things.

When I think of the factors that have brought me here, I think of the outside forces that have shaped me: My parents are divorced, I’ve grown up depending on government assistance, and I’ve only been able to make it through school because of the challenges I’ve overcome. Yet I am greater than each of these things, and I am greater than merely taking them all together.

It’s hard to say which came first–the outside challenges or the changes inside–but all of these elements have brought me here and made me who I am, and because of the extraordinary opportunities I’ve been given, I’ve finally realized where I want to go in life.

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Cacao Kapow!

Coffee and chocolate. For me it’s been a love/hate relationship, and yet it seems coffee and chocolate are staples of the Alternative Spring Break trip I’m going on in March. It’s a comical story–but it has grave consequences.

Then again, I might just be full of beans.

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