Points of Experience

It’s hard to admit it was last year when I last mentioned my trip to Belize in the spring (and I had to say it–the joke’s too good not to). On the bright side, with many thanks to my contributors, I’ve reached twelve percent of my fundraising goal! If you’re able to help, you can make a donation here. If you’re still not convinced, keep reading and hopefully I’ll change your mind.

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Accidental Beginnings

It all started very much by accident. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently pursuing the Visionary Leaders Certificate that N.C. State students can complete by accomplishing a number of tasks (I like to say tasks because it reminds me of Harry Potter, and that makes everything more fun). These are all simple enough–attend ten Leadership Development Seminars, prepare a portfolio of reflections on what you’ve learned and how you’ve applied it, write a page about your involvement on campus, and then defend your portfolio before a panel of judges more terrifying than a Hungarian Horntail (well, maybe not that bad)–but, wait, I forgot one.

Oh, yes. It’s the question that started everything. Community Service.

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Minority Report (or Something Like It)

I like to use different color Chanukah candles. One color might look nice and traditional, but two colors add more options–in fact, on the last night, using just two colors of candles, there are more than five hundred ways to arrange them! The possible patterns are overwhelming, and just imagine how much more endless they are considering there are more than two colors available and no two nights have the same number to arrange!

A little diversity makes the light shine brighter, doesn’t it? Some days I don’t think people realize how much small differences can make.

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America

I’ve mentioned more than I probably realize that lately I’ve felt remarkably lost. The irony is I’ve gone to a number of workshops, meetings, and speeches that have all talked about direction–and yet, at the moment, I feel very much like the zero vector: I have no direction and practically no dimension either.

If you’ve taken calculus or linear algebra, you can appreciate that.

If you haven’t–or even if you have–it’s only the starting point. There is much to follow, and much to learn from–and although it begins casually on campus, it ends with the words of America.

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Inner Bounds

It hasn’t even been a week since I’ve been back and it already feels like my trip to Cherokee was ages ago. This has been a long week in terms of assignments, and with NC Pride this weekend and classes grinding to a brief halt next week for fall break before I’m bombarded with another round of tests, I can’t but imagine this’ll be a long weekend. Indeed, like last weekend, I expect it will be over too quickly.

On Saturday night we all went to a buffet for some home-made southern cooking (and let me tell you, it was delicious). As we were leaving, it suddenly occurred to me that after morning came, we would be returning to the nonstop, chaotic world centered about N.C. State but extending throughout all Western civilization.

And when I realized that, I knew I’d miss being in Cherokee.

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Outside In

The tears of yesterday set aside, with reflections upon language and leadership already considered, I can speak perhaps of but two final topics–the first I shall address tonight, and the other tomorrow.

It’s another special day today actually. It is the fiftieth anniversary of Rachel Carson’s novel Silent Spring, the book that has been credited with the start of the modern environmental movement. Now, I’m not going to speak about the environmental movement today, but it will suffice for a wonderful starting point–and if before this you hadn’t heard of Rachel Carson, I encourage you to learn more about her.

After you read this, of course.

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Tears

When our second day began, we took a short walk from our motel to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian across the street. After pausing for pictures outside, we ventured into the unassuming building and gathered in a small room where we saw a creation story animated before us. From there, the world opened up.

I’d like to think it’s not the only thing opening up today.

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Lost in Translation

Yesterday I began talking about my trip this to Cherokee, North Carolina. It began in various forms more than a week ago and was influenced in many ways by events I had at first thought completely unrelated. When the trip began, we were all still just starting to get to know each other–and that’s where I’d like to pick up today.

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No Reservations

This past weekend was in a few words amazing. In many words, it was too great to mention in only one sitting.

It began with a flier I saw on the doors to my residence hall: Cherokee Diversity Trip! Apply Now! I just barely missed the information session (I came stumbling back from a long night of Parkour when I realized…oh, wait, there was something else happening tonight), but I ran to catch the last few minutes and then stayed a few minutes longer to (very gratefully) get filled in on the things I had missed.

That weekend, I wrote my application. I hadn’t made a wondrous first-impression (Parkour is exhausting, and sweat isn’t exactly flattering), but I hoped my words would say enough.

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Maximum Occupancy Approaching

When protests began in New York City on September 17, coinciding with Constitution Day, most people had no idea what they were there for, if they knew of them at all. Certainly their mission seemed disjointed and unclear, and at best the media portrayed merely a mass of people with little else except a slogan: Occupy Wall Street. Surely no one knew where the idea came from–or that its origins weren’t even American.

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