VICTORY FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT!!! Thanks to everyone who saw this petition on my site and acted. This news made my day!
VICTORY FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT!!! Thanks to everyone who saw this petition on my site and acted. This news made my day!
Oh Man!! So much has happened upon my return to the United States. The adjustment has been seriously cray cray at times, but I am starting to gain my bearings. I arrived the day after class had begun and was dealing with a bunch of emotions particularly related to leaving my new friends and family in Chile. However, thank God for Skype and Facebook as we have been keeping in touch daily through those mediums or simply via email.
I initially was not awarded another graduate assistantship from my department at the beginning of the fall semester last year. I was initially a little anxious about that, but as per usual, the Lord came through for me and I had little to no financial difficulties maintaining myself in Chile. I want to give a serious shout-out to my committee Chair (Dr. Sandmann), academic adviser and mentor. She recommended me for a position in the Office of Service-Learning on our campus. They had an untimely departure of another woman who took a faculty position at Spelman College in Atlanta (which was her alma mater). So win-win-win for everyone!! I interviewed with the director and my background and credentials fit perfectly with both our needs. I will be working with a community engagement program that is a cooperative venture on behalf of Clarke County School District (CCSD) and UGA. It is a pre-collegiate program to turn the students attention toward matriculation at a university (and of course we hope it to be UGA). The director also informed me that they would make space for me to incorporate my civic engagement scholarship as well. How very exciting!:)
So, as a result of getting this graduate assistantship opportunity I needed to pick up more credit ours (which the university pays for). I was also able to audit a Spanish conversation and composition course, which would have been next in the series of classes I would have taken had I continued in the Romans Language Department. My dream is to return to Chile to teach at a university part of the year and then do part of my academic professorship in the United States. Therefore, it was important that I don’t lose track of my Castellano Spanish more general and Spanish more specifically as I was no long in an immersion environment.
My first thought as always was to contact my old Profesor Clarke who he and his family have been so supportive of me and my efforts in Chile. I also contacted Professor Correa-Díaz who is a constant support to me as well here at UGA. I meet with Holley Smith who helped me select a class after explaining to her my situation and goals. She informed me about a weekly Spanish language table of folks who meet at The Globe restaurant in downtown Athens. Now get this… the woman who is the lead organizer of the table is Chilean!! Now you know only God orchestrates like that. :)
So I attended the first session this past Thursday and had the best time. I will continue with this in addition to my class to help prepare me for my career plans. Above is a picture of us from last Thursdays. The man’s name is IIKay and he is a true polyglot. Born in Germany to Turkish parents, he can speak French, German, and is now learning Spanish. I told him that Portuguese and French are my next language goals. The beautiful leader of our group is Ximena Gonzalez-Parada and she is a super-awesome person. I felt so at home and connected with her and we are now Facebook friends as well. I asked her for this picture to lead of the new season and transition of “The Chilean Chronicles Deuxième Partie”. I used Google translator to spell Part two in French. I hope it is correct. lol
So please keep following the blog and comment as you feel moved to do so.
This past week has been so relaxing for me. I arrived here from Talca on Tuesday, December 30th and was able to spend the New Year in Santiago. I was disappointed that many of my friends had to change plans and could not come visit with me here, but I knew they couldn’t from the outset. One thing I have come to love about Chilenos, is that they don’t want to disappoint the people they care about. So if you ask them to do something for you, they will like say, “¡Sipo!” and then struggle to figure out how to tell you that they have overcommitted themselves and cannot connect with you as hoped. It’s the funniest, because I tend to understand things happen, but they always seem to feel so awful. I so love my Chilean cariños.
So Saturday morning I woke up so refreshed and loved hearing the car horns beeping and people scurrying about the streets below from the vantage point of my patio window. I literally spent the first few days simply catching up on my sleep in my big soft and warm queen-sized bed. This last leg of my dissertation research was so intense. I needed to secure a total of 200 surveys from public and private university graduate level adult learners. I arrived to Chile with about only 40 surveys completed from the public universities and only 7 from the private. I arrived on October 2nd, and would need almost three-quarters move before my December departure from Talca. I literally received the last needed surveys on December 29th and by the 30th (my final research day in Talca) two more rolled in for good measure making my total completion rate 204.
I didn’t realize how tense I had been during the last leg of my dissertation research and visiting scholar experience here in Chile. I certainly think that the events surround the killing of Michael Brown and subsequent uprising in the US surrounding police brutality also contributed to a very stressful period during my time here. Nevertheless, my Chilean friends at the Universidad Católica del Maule came through for me, as always, to uplift me using encouraging words, “Chile es más tranquilo Lisa” and expressions (e.g., big hugs, empathetic smiles, and joyful laugher). That helped me get through a very difficult and reflective period as a black woman living abroad in another country watching my people suffer assault in such brutal ways. But there is a silver lining as a result of those tensions. I submitted a proposal for a special call for Chapters to a New York book publisher. The Editor was looking for scholars to respond to events in Ferguson, MO, and racism more generally in the United States and recommend how higher education could respond. My proposal was accepted, J so I have been spending my last few days in Chile writing and reflecting… it has been a very cleansing and liberating feeling to lend my voice and advocacy on behalf of what has become an unbearable phenomenon for black people in the US (i.e., police brutality and judicial injustice).
So, when my friends couldn’t make my party I decided to go knock on the doors of my neighbors. I’m an Aquarius and making friend actually come pretty easy for me. My daughter always laughs at me because she says I seem to make very close friendship connections wherever I go. It’s true!! J Ha ha So my neighbor Pablo—who is a law school student at the University of Chile—took me up on my offer. We enjoyed great food, Chilean wine, and talked racism and politics. It was a great and wonderful visit and we have promised to keep in touch via Skype as he wants to improve his English and I my Castellano Spanish. #WinWin.
So the day has finally arrived. January 5, 2015, and I am here in my hotel restaurant area waiting for my shuttle to arrive (in 6 hours ha ha). This day opened with mixed emotions as I am so happy to be seeing my family and friends again in the US; but I am also sad to be leaving the new “famifriends” I’ve developed here in Chile. In reality, I actually feel that I am only going on a business trip to the US as Chile truly has become mi otro país (my other country). The concierge said he considers me Chilena—In part because I always stay in the same apartamento when I come to live in Santiago—since I have a resident identification card.
They take really good care of me here and the owners also have long-term housing options that I plan to explore after graduation. My dream is to become a professor and teach part of the year in Chile and the other part in the United States. I also plan to continue working on my speaking abilities upon my US return. However, Chilean Spanish (Catellano) is a bit different and they seem to speak so fast here. It’s funny, I have kinda adjusted to the pace and now when I hear other Spanish speakers (Spaniards, Dominican, and Mexicans) the language seems so much slower and clearer for me to understand.
Well, that’s it for now in terms of the Chilean Chronicles Blog. I hope you have enjoyed this journey with me and stay tuned for my next iteration as a blogger and future scholar. Yeah, seems this writing thing is here to stay (including the errors and edits) and I am grateful to WordPress and this opportunity to improve my writing and vent my thoughts and feelings. ¡Que se vayan bien a todos! ❤ ~Lisa
GO DAWGS!! 🙂
I will certainly be blogging a more substantive post to denote the end of my journey and the final collection of all of my surveys and dissertation data. However, in the interim, above is a link provided to bloggers by WordPress. The link offers statistics about each blogger’s site activities for the year and some highlights from my site: The Chilean Chronicles.
Wow!! Blogging has been so helpful to me as an aspiring scholar and academic. Recently, I was selected to submit a chapter for a New York publishing company in a special volume being created to offer academic responses and remedies from the domain of higher education. The focus will be upon racial unrest in the United States more generally tapping into events following the uprising in Ferguson, New York, as well as, other racist induced incidents from around the US. This has been a surreal undertaking considering my unique positioning in relation to these events as a black woman living abroad in Chile for almost two years. Nevertheless, I am excited and honored to lend my voice (and writing) to the debates and hopefully provide some pedagogical strategies for employ in the fields of adult education and within the context of higher education and learning. Moreover, thanks to WordPress for putting together these stats and inspiring me to #KeepOnBlogging. 🙂
I haven’t blogged in a minute or two for a couple of reasons. The first being, the incredible emotional gut punch experiences by many Americans following the grand jury “non-indictment” of several alleged police brutality cases. Moreover, the continued killing and assault upon black women and children, at the hands of out of control police agents just become too overwhelming to process. The second obligation is the completion of my dissertation data collection as we approach the close of 2014. I used the water spiked GIF to represent my current research status. More specifically, after what appeared to be a whirlwind of incoming completed surveys, I am not down to needing the last 8 of 200. This was no small feat as my survey instrument is quite long (takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete). Nevertheless, the wealth of information possible by taking such a comprehensive approach to my dissertation research (i.e., Mixed Methods) is more than worth the wait. It always seems the last mile of a long journey presents as longer than it actually is in reality. Therefore, I have summoned patience (plus shaking the bushes of my contacts) in order to obtain my last needed surveys.
The fact is, we as human beings cannot remain in a continuously heightened state of emotional emergency and remain healthy. That does not mean that we do not continue to be vigilant with regards to Ferguson, et al., (I consider Ferguson a special tipping point), but we must find productive and healthy ways to manage our anger, our rage and disappointment at perceived injustices by fighting FOR justice!! So, I took some time away and visited my good friends María José and Cristian who live in Linares. I also got a chance to visit the students I have come to love at her school in Panimávida. That so rejuvenated my spirit. We took some great pictures, but I somehow lost my camera and María José lost her phone. It was unbelievable as it seemed bad news was trying to follow me on my mini vaca as well. However, I have become a master of turning lemons into lemonade and later realized that my Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet could also take pictures and recordings, so I was still able to get some nice pictures with the folks I’ve come to love and appreciate during my trip (see below).
So, on an even brighter note, how about the news about renewing the Cuba-US relations? I was really encouraged to learn of President Obama’s announcement, on yesterday, to mend the broken relations our countries have held for over 50 years. That news reenergized me regarding the need to have some patience, holding on to my faith, and believing that social justice is possible. Challenging the ugliness of racism toward blacks in the US (and abroad) can be quite taxing. However, forming multidimensional coalitions—by people of goodwill desiring to see a better day—can greatly help mitigate fighting alone such a formidable foe.
I refuse to let naysayers and negative circumstances steal my joy. Of course, there are a lot of awful things going on in the world and particularly in the United States relative to the condition of black and African American lives. Nevertheless, I have been extremely encouraged as people of goodwill ranging the gamut of ethic/racial classifications, have come together under themes of civic engagement and social justice. The emergence of twitter hashtags reflective of the complexity of thinking among US citizens desiring to respond in some way productive (e.g., #blacklivesmatter #crimingwhilewhite #Icantbreathe #handsupdontshoot), but not always exactly sure of what they can do is encouraging to see. More so, creating praxis where those willing souls are plugged in and allowed to make their contribution to the struggle for social justice is awesome sauce.
I believe that the end of 2014 will go down as a watershed moment in American history. More specifically, as it relates to social justice movements and democracy. It (desires for more substantive civic engagement) has been in the air for some time. If you were paying close attention, you could feel it, you could smell it, and now we all can watch it globally because of the instruments of social media and the internet. It is a surreal moment in North America (from my position in South America) as neoclassic economy has in many ways tried to strangle democracy; while at the same time, social media and an emerging North American civic engagement screams “Let me go, #ICantBreath”.
I am routing for the latter group. The #StruggleIsREal for me on two dimensions and I am fully engaged on both fronts. So on that note, I am going to end this blog post as I anxiously wait for the WiFi to be restored in our office and I can get back recruiting postgraduate adult student survey participants. I am kinda glad the internet was down for a short time, because blogging is so cathartic and just sitting and relaxing over a cup of Nescafé coffee while having a pleasant conversation with your officemates is a blessing and treat that I have come to greatly value and appreciate.
Hasta luego y nos vemos (desde mi blog) más tarde amigos. 🙂
I have been doing a “fun fruits” search while I’m in Chile and these are my latest experiences:
This is the chirimoya I purchased recently and ate today. I think it would taste better in combination with other foods/fruits. As a solo artist, I’d have to give it “jazz hands”, but not quite a thumbs down. Had too many seeds to negotiate and a strange consistency. Almost like a white fish. But it tasted okay.
This has been a tough week for me following the #Ferguson fiasco and non-indictment for trial of the officer who killed Michael Brown in Missouri. Not only has that particular non-indictment contributed to my sadness this week, but also what seems to be a national crisis in the United States of police brutality resulting in the death of black people groups in our country’s urban centers.
So, I decided to just go to the park and reflect on my thoughts and feelings this beautiful Sunday afternoon here in Talca, Chile. It warmed my heart when a group of teenagers approached me on their bicycles asking me to sign their petition for the city to create a bike park for them. Awwwww, ❤ that was just what I needed at that moment. An act of civic engagement by today’s youth (tear). Their interest in becoming involved in their community politically, was just the inspiration booster shot I needed today. So I pulled out my Chilean resident identification RUN number and happily signed their petition. It felt really, really, good to share in that experience with them today.
However, shortly thereafter entered the negative voice in my head. I began to wonder, if I were in the United States and this was a group of young white teenagers, would they have even felt comfortable approaching me? Moreover, if again in the United States and this was a group of young black teenagers approaching for the same purposes and I was a white woman sitting alone in the park; what would be the outcome? Would memetic imagery override reason and could said woman becomes in fear of her life? What if in the last scenario, everyone was living in a conceal-and-carry gun law state, and the park visitor (e.g., white person) pulled a gun out of her purse and starts shooting because she felt threatened by the black teenagers?
I know these hurt feelings that I hold are still very tender, and perhaps at some point (when justice prevails) my thoughts will return to “normal”. Maybe, such scenarios and questions will not dog my mind or make appeals in my head as normative (like they currently do).
So here is to seeing the rainbow after the storm, to being inspired by the political activism of the young Chilean teenagers I experienced today, to all those here that have just looked at me quietly and smiled in solidarity as #TheStruggleIsREal. To all of those types of people, I say thank you today. 🙂
Talk about a moment of feeling surreal. I arrived to my office in Chile, the next day after the devastating Monday, November 24th announcement that a convened grand jury panel decided that Officer Darren Wilson would face no charges relative to the brutal shooting death of an unarmed black teenager (Michael Brown), in Ferguson, MO. The night before, I remained glued to online stream of news reports (as I am not in the United States) surrounding the decision.
On that same evening, I learned that another young black 12 year old male child (Tamir Rice) was shot to death only two days before the announcement in Ferguson. That event occurred in my home state of Ohio in the city of Cleveland, were the child was again killed by a police officer. Reports are that it took under “two seconds” for officers to arrive to the scene at the park where the child was and gunned him down as he was in possession of what was ultimately a “toy gun”. This is particularly remarkable because firstly, Ohio is a state that has authorized conceal and carry laws permitting citizens to keep a firearm on their person, and secondly, released 911 operator recordings indicated that the weapon in question was likely a toy and not a real firearm. Nevertheless, today, that child is dead.
But that’s not even the part that was most surreal for me on that Tuesday afternoon. As I am trying to process the context of my reality as a Black North American woman, living in Chile, I walk into our offices to see on the conference room television my President, he is smiling and handing out Presidential Medals of Freedom to who I could identify as Stevie Wonder and for purposes relevant to Chile, Chilean-American writer Isabel Allende. Allende’s father was the first cousin to former President Salvador Allende who was ousted from his democratically elected post by a military coup under command of his successor Augusto Pinochet. You can search the history of that dark period in the life of many Chileans to understand how I draw analogies to the uproar expressed by protesters following last Monday’s perceived injustices regarding the Brown shooting.
As a scholar and researcher trained in Spiral Dynamics, I am so grateful for social media. Without that medium one would never be able to fully grasp the breath of the alternative realities people live in the United States and abroad as members of the African American and other race-based minority communities. I spent the good part of the evening on Tuesday attempting to explain to some of my white friends on Facebook why the protesters had legitimate grievances that included those who may have resorted to what they described as looting and violence. I believe my attempts to draw comparisons for them with the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party made some inroads for understanding. However, the reality is, some people simply cannot see the worldviews of those trapped in cycles of poverty, police brutality, and socioeconomic/political disenfranchisement. It is an incredible leap for them to go for I and me to us and we when it comes to people who are from cultural realities often very different from their own.
Seeing my President and Stevie Wonder–who has always be a very vocal celebrity icon in the civic rights struggle–standing together in our Nation’s White House sharing smiles, metals, and laughs with the daughter of a Chilean revolutionary who lost his life in pursuit of a vision for his country was almost too much for me to process on a day were emotions for blacks and African Americans were exploiting in urban centers all over the United States.
Notwithstanding, Chile is a much different place from that day back in 1973 when the coup d´etat occured. An effort lead by a grass roots marketing campaign, affectionately known here in Chile as “No“ (and depicted in a 2012 film starring Gael García Bernal), pushed back against Pinochet in 1990, and engaged the people of the country to exercise their democratic power to remove a sitting Pinochet and encourage a better vision of change for the county. But of course, the work here is not complete either as students and educators are protesting for changes to the educational systems (also the focus of my research) here in Chile, in order to make them more fair leading to expanded opportunities for increased social mobility for more Chilenos.
I remember having that same type of vision and energy of the Chilean and Ferguson protesters in 2008. I “Campaigned for Change” as a field organizer in the Obama campaign on what was said to have been one of the best political campaigning teams of the 21st century. I was excited, I knocked on doors, and I registered voters, talked face-to-face in peoples’ homes and places of business telling them it was our time, the working-class folks; I did the whole 9 yards and I ran it hard. When we won, I wept. I thought to myself finally, this energy was going to translate into a better day for black people, heck all people! We had high hopes. Never did I image that I would one day be blogging from another country and crying as I watched twitter feeds where a young man tweets:
deray mckesson retweeted
Lankers @MrLankee 2h2 hours ago
Mike Brown probably watched the Trayvon Martin murder like this could’ve been me. Then it was him. Who’s next?
That was not the change that I campaigned to “believe in”, and will not remain quiet about my disappointment. One of my Chilean friends gave me the most sympathetic look today and said to me with a timid smile, “Chile es más tranquilo Lisa.” And she is right, and I knew exactly what she meant and appreciated her empathy. However, I’m cool with things not being tranquilo (quiet/calm) for me personally; because in the United States for many black people who fall victim to police brutality, their lives are anything but tranquil and quiet. So, yes, let tranquilo be our ultimate goal for everyone. However, in the interim let civic engagement be exercised by American citizens holding that #BlackLivesMatter2 and let that thought and action ring loud and clear from my temporary position in South America all the way across the oceans to North America. There is much work to be done, so let’s get to work. What’s our next move?!