It’s not a thing of the past.

It’s been a while…

…its been TOO long.

I have thought the blog needed some love.

 

The new school year has started.  To our friends, the Poland trip is a thing of hte past.  But to us, our Poland family, its still alive and well in each of us today. 

I have greatly missed the company of my Poland family since the ending of last semester.  I have missed the community we shared and the bond that we had.  And I was suprised to feel that same bond and emotion when we were reunited this past week.  If this next thought even makes sence… I was glad to feel the sorrow again. [okay… let me explain that one… we were presenting our Pledge of Resistence to a group after this years Freshman Convocation cerimony, and I began to cry.  I was filled with sorrow.  But the gladness… that comes from the fact that I have not forgotten what I have seen and what I have felt and experienced.  The trip to Poland may have been an event of the past, but its definitally still felt in the present!]

I am overly excited for the freshman that get to travel to Africa this next Spring.  I am hoping that they will be insprired as we were inspired.  I am praying they will experience the change within themselves that went on with us.  I know that they are going to come back next spring ready to change the world!  And I can’t wait to meet them and share in that same feeling.  The Army of Resistance will have new family members!  We will have new faces, and new hearts, and new ideas.  We get to grow- and we get to see them grow!

 

So what exactally am I trying to say here?  That we were not, are not, and will not stand idly by.  And that we are excited to welcome the new members of the Readership Ambassador family in the next few months!

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

We Are the Preamble

Tonight I gave what is presumably the last “Poland Presentation” I will ever give.

Wes and I went to the Amarillo Widows and Widowers Club, and at first I was a bit nervous because it’s been so long since I’ve presented about the experience, and, well…it’s been a while since the actual experience itself.

 

But not having seen the pictures and said the words for so long made them mean more now. I found myself thinking new thoughts about everything we saw and reaffirming old ones.

 

And I know that since we’ve returned, we’ve been kind of annoying.

We’ve made a lot of corny and obscure comments, and we’ve gone around preaching and lamenting about discrimination and injustice nonstop. And none of us ever meant to condescend or alienate in our words. It’s just that, and I see it now, though we may have said things that were vague or condescending or even cheesy, they were words that were true and believed to be true by all of us.

You can’t walk out of those gates and not feel extremely humbled and overwhelmed and guilty and confused and passionate and changed.

 

And it’s easy to be apathetic. It’s so easy. Setting out to change the world involves so much pressure, because…well…what if you end up changing it for the worst?

 

I’m sort of afraid of that. A part of me wants to stay safe and not risk causing a negative ripple effect. A part of me wants to be content with taking a stand against discrimination in my own quiet corner of the world. I don’t know what strength I have. I don’t know what ability I have. But our resistance pledge, one that may be a little corny to some, the words that say “To refuse apathy is to resist…” reminded me. They reminded me.

 

And, you know, every time I have presented, the part which always impacts me the most is witnessing the reactions of the audience. It’s not about what I say, it’s about what they see and what they hear.

Whether it’s young kids who still feel like they too can change the world if only they’ll try or older adults who have seen the world and witness it change first hand, the questions they pose and the insights they provide always teach me so much more than I could ever teach them in any of the “Poland Presentations.” I learn from them, and I love that.

 

I still can’t believe that I, I who am truly infinitesimal in the great grand scheme of the universe, I was picked by these amazing minds to visit one of the most sacred and haunting grounds in history.

It was, and is, an amazing journey.

I truly, truly hope, as selflessly as I can, that we did all that we could. That we honored the community, the hands that built this program, and most importantly, the millions and millions of people… people…who should have never suffered what they did.

 

I am filled with nothing but thanks. Even if I never leave my small corner of the world, I am filled with thanks. Wherever God may send me, my heart will always be stirred by what I saw and hope to never see again.

 

May the next do more than the last.

 

We are the preamble…let our actions that follow be the real resistance pledge.

 

-Eva Harder, the Girl from Seminole…who went to Poland

Published in: on July 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm  Comments (1)  

a step into my textbook

this is a blog that i started some time ago…. some info is a little out dated… like I went to houston in April. Sorry for any confusion!…..

There are moments in my life when I wonder if I am really reaching out to others. 

As apart of this journey, we have been inspired [and I guess semi-required] to make presentations.  I flew home to Houston this past weekend to do just that.  I spoke with a 5th grade class of about 70-80 students Thursday morning, to a group of 10 family and friends Thursday night, and a range of students during 5 class periods at my high school Friday.  And it wasnt until I recieved the bag a thank you letters from the 5th graders that I really felt that I had reached out to these children.  I was excited to hear that the students had so many questions for me.  A few of the students wrote apologies in their thank yous for asking so many questions.  I thought the questions were great, especially coming from 5th graders.  They were really able to relate what had gone on to what they see within their school.  That gossip and bullying and people thinking they were better than others- was really what the root of it all was.   

 A thought that I have had while making presentations here in the Amarillo area…. When we show the picture of the gate to the entrance to Auschwitz… “work makes free,” i have commented a few times [while trying to explain what it felt like] that it was like I had stepping into my textbook.  so many times we read our educational material, and just kind of place it outside of our world.  But we WERE THERE!  We did walk under that gate and into the camp.  We lived a chapter of a textbook.  Everything we learned that day could be found in a textbook- but we weren’t sitting in a classroom, being lectured to.  We were walking the barbed wire side walks- we were touching the glass which housed the hair and the shoes.  We were in the barracks.  We were walking the ground- so holy.

Little did we know- we were being changed.  We were becoming the people we are today- and I think that we are still changing- from this experiene. 

This is what we have experienced.  Lets look ahead into the future: every year, the readership program will advance [become better than it was the year before- getting kinks out and all that].  So- we have filled this blog with our words this year…. just think what will come of this program… in 10 years!  This university has the best yet to come.  Its going to be gorious, and I hope to be apart of it!
~Mandi

Published in: on May 20, 2008 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Propaganda

Today my grandma told me about an email she had sent me. My grandmother is one of those grandmothers that have to send every chain letter they recieve for fear of [insert something terrible here] happening. She said I would really like it because it was about the holocaust.

I would like it?

She said that I would like it because it contains pictures from the holocaust featuring piles of dead bodies.

I like these things?!

So tonight I checked my email, and yes, I read my grandmother’s email, and yes, the pictures were horrendous. But this is not why I am so overwhelmingly pissed! The reason I am so vivid is because of the message the email was trying to convey. The email had the very true message of how we should not forget, but then it goes on to say that “the UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it ‘offended’ the Muslim population which claim it never happened…Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be ‘a myth,’ it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.”

Since when does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak for all Muslims!!! Do the crusaders of old or the Spanish conquistadors or the early colonizers of America or pedophilic priests speak for all Christians?! Does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak for all Iranians? Does President George W. Bush speak for all Americans?! Just because one Muslim extremist says the Holocaust didn’t happen doesn’t mean all Muslims believe that! One of my best friends is Muslim, and not an “Americanized” Muslim either (she lives in Turkey, a Middle Eastern country with the national religion being Islam), and she KNOWS the holocaust is not “a myth.”

Don’t people realize that this very kind of propaganda is what started the holocaust! Hitler turned everyone against the Jews and now people are trying to do the same thing to the Muslims. What I hate is this isn’t the first email I’ve read with this theme of “us versus them.” My aunt sent me an email a while back explaining just how Muslims are terrorists and that we should not complain about the high airport security. Don’t people know that like Judaism and Christianity, Islam is a religion based on the foundation of Love? Just like there are extremists for Islam there are extremists for Christianity (or any religion for that matter).

It saddens me that these students in the UK have fallen for the propagana of Mahmoud Ahmadinehad and that the UK is taking out The Holocaust from the curriculum, but we must not fall for the propaganda our own government and media is feeding us. We need to be intellectual activists and speak truth to power.

-Brant

Published in: on May 5, 2008 at 11:31 pm  Comments (1)  

In response to David’s blog

So, I was just going to comment on David’s blog, but then I got a little over zealous and couldn’t stop typing….so….I ended up blogging against my will :)

David!
I’m really sad this semester is almost over. It’s been, truly, the most amazing four months of my life. The conglomeration of my classes, my professors, the friends I’ve made, the faculty I’ve gotten to know, Speech, the Prairie, the chance to study abroad in Italy next Fall…and … what else happened this semester? …



Right!
I got a really great pair of shoes!
Oh, yeah, and I took a trip to Poland.
And that, as we all know, was extraordinary in every sense of the word. I could throw in adjectives like life-changing, eye-opening, astounding, amazing, unforgettable, indescribable, but no need for redundandcy, right?
This semester has been beyond a gift, and I’m so sad it’s over. I truly wish I could hit rewind just to breathe it all in again.
Hey. Wait. We’re a pretty ambitious group…we’ve done some studies on reliving the past…we could make a machine that would allow us to relive this amazing semester over again, couldn’t we?

National No Shoes Day.

Displace Me.

Relive Semester.

Yep. That sounds like a great new project.

-Eva…again

Published in: on April 25, 2008 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Homecoming Story

Okay, so everyone has wanted to know what really happened to me when we landed in Chicago coming back from Munich, Germany.  Sorry it took me a long time to post this.  I needed a lot of time to work on this because it is super long and I haven’t blogged in a long time.  So you might as well get some snacks before you begin reading this.  Anyway, it’s a real funny story because everything that happened that Friday night and Saturday morning, I experienced a lot of new things and moments where I question if it was coincidental.  Okay, here it goes…..

            So I did not feel sick whatsoever while I was in Poland.  Every chance I got I would call or email my mom to let her know that I was okay, because me becoming very ill while in Poland was the biggest fear she had while I was gone.  That being said, if there is one thing that I would never want, it would be for my mom to be scared, worried, depressed, or hurting (This includes my dad, brother, and the rest of my family.  It’s just that my mom does what every mom does best and that’s worry about their children.)  I’ll also admit that I am a big “Mama’s Boy”J.

            Anyway, so once the day came to leave Poland, I was anxious to see the beautiful faces of my family once I get home.  We flew from Krakow, Poland to Munich, Germany.  I can’t remember much of the flight because I fell asleep before the plane even left the ground.  I believe I speak for everyone as well because we all stayed up very late the night before to pack and get everything prepared to leave.

            Getting back to subject…We arrived in Munich and I felt so good, especially after getting caught up on my sleep.  After a few hours of waiting, we finally boarded our next flight to Chicago.  Knowing that this flight was going to be about 10-12 hours, everyone was dreading it so much.  Even so, I still felt physically fine.  About 8 hours into our flight, I began feeling a little dizzy, so I went to the restroom to wet my face and walk around for a little bit.  Nothing changed.  I could feel myself becoming weaker, but I just figured it was from being on the plane for so long.  It didn’t make things any better once it was announced that our landing would be delayed due to snowy conditions in Chicago.  I just wanted to get off that plane.

            We finally arrived.  I remember thinking at this point how funny it was that even though Chicago is miles and miles from Hereford, I have never felt so close to home.  That’s because I used to think San Antonio was far from home.  Anyway, once we arrived, we walked toward baggage claim.  At this point, I became so weak that I began slouching, but I still tried to maintain a positive and strong attitude because I didn’t want to make it seem like a big deal.  Then, it finally hit me.  We were waiting by baggage claim for our luggage, and I became so dizzy and weak that I just had to sit down.  Soon, an unbearable pain struck my stomach.  I was very cold, but I remember Kendra asking me if I was hot because I began sweating badly.  My body was then becoming so numb, that I couldn’t control the cramping of my hands.  I would try to extend my fingers, but I couldn’t.  They just stayed in a fist.  We then knew it was the effects of dehydration, so Kendra gave me bottled water to drink.  Even so, the pain was too much that I then had to lie down.  I was very embarrassed that I had to be seen this way in front of everyone, but the whole group’s support and care made me feel so much better.  It was almost like my mother was there taking care of me.  It’s funny how I can remember our first meeting as a group.  I did not know any of my Readership WT Ambassadors.  It only took a handful of Mondays, 10 days in Poland, and already we have grown to love and care for each other like brothers and sisters.  It’s a very beautiful thing.  I’m very fortunate to witness and be a part of this miracle of angels.

            After a few intervals of sipping water, paramedics showed up.  They had me use the oxygen mask and asked me a few questions.  Then they asked me, “Do you want us to transport you to the hospital?”  So much shot through my head when that question was asked.  I remember thinking that if I go to the hospital I won’t leave Chicago until Saturday morning.  I will also have to call my mom and let her know that I’m in the hospital, and that would be bad because I know how worried and scared she can get.  If I fight through it and don’t go to the hospital, I can get home early and get checked-out and treated in Hereford.  I then decided to fight through it and stay with the whole group.  Also, the water seemed to make me feel a little better.  Just one more flight, a bus ride, and then I’m home-free.  I honestly thought at that point I would make it through okay.

            After the paramedics left, I still had to go though security.  Russell and Kendra helped me to my feet, but I had no energy to even stand up.  So one of the girls who worked there at the airport, Ashley, was nice enough to get me in a wheelchair and push me through the crowds of people that filled the airport (Not to mention that this is the Chicago Airport, one of the busiest airports in the whole country.  Spring break didn’t make things any better either.).  It was a good thing we found Ashley because she knew her way around the enormous airport and got us through the crowds of people.

            Once we finally arrived at our gate, I stayed sitting in the wheelchair.  My whole body soon shot with pain.  I had a huge headache, my body was numb, I was shivering, I couldn’t control my hands, and it felt like my chest was caving in.  Russell and Kendra kept giving me water and orange juice for energy, but the pain was too much that the water and orange juice seemed useless now.  At this point, I knew I had to go to the hospital.

            After a short while, they laid me down on the floor.  Everyone was very generous to help me with a pillow and jackets to keep me warm.  I kept trying to drink water, but now the pain disabled me from even taking anything in.  After a few minutes, the pain in my stomach became an urge to throw everything up.  I quickly moved all the pillows and jackets out of the way and threw up everything I had in me.  Embarrassed as I was, Kendra was very sweet to humor me and keep me in spirits by saying, “Hey well at least that takes care of your stomach pain.”  Something was still very wrong.  The pain in my stomach became worse.  I threw up again, but this time it was blood.  This really scared me.  Seeing my own blood caused me to blackout for a short time because everything in my site faded to where I couldn’t see anything, but I was able to hear what was going on around me.  I could hear Russell call paramedics and everyone else worry, which saddened me because I didn’t mean to scare anybody.

            Once paramedics arrived, I was put in an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.  I remember Kendra telling me that it wasn’t a long drive to the hospital, but gosh it seemed forever.  We arrived at the hospital, where I was then rushed to the ER.  After I was settled in, the most coincidental thing happened.  The nurse asked a series of questions of my medical background, but as she asked me where I was from and I replied, “Hereford, Texas,” she looked at me in disbelief.  Then she asked for my address.  As I replied my address to her, total amazement came across her face.  “My grandparents actually live a few houses down from you!”  I couldn’t believe it, but get this…her and another doctor told me that they had two patients from Hereford earlier during the week of Spring break.  What are the odds of that?!  Russell joked around with me by saying, “Now they’re definitely going to take good care of you!”

            After all the testing for other possible illnesses, they left me alone to rest.  It took a very long time to fall asleep because of the pain that still continued in my stomach.  After a while, I finally dozed off.

            After a good hour and 30 minutes, I finally woke up feeling back to normal.  Russell stayed with me in the ER while Kendra went to get us a hotel for the night and to find a way for us to fly home the next day.  Finally recovering and able to know what is going on, Russell and I talked about the whole craziness that just happened in the past couple of hours.  Then, it was time…the moment I had to call my mom and tell her that I was in the hospital.  Russell called her, told the whole situation, and let her know that I was okay and safely recovering.  Then as he gave the phone to me, I could just feel my mom’s worry travel through the phone.  I reassured her that I was okay and to not worry because Russell and Kendra were taking great care of me.  Even so, I could still hear the fear coming from her voice.  I remember thinking, “Gosh, what luck I have!  I was fine throughout the entire trip, but I just had to get sick right before our last flight to Dallas.”

            After two full bags of fluids, they finally released me and cleared me to fly the next day.  Russell and I got a cab and finally left the hospital to the hotel.  Once we arrived, I was amazed with the hotel.  I couldn’t believe Kendra and Russell went through the trouble of getting a really high-class Hyatt just for the night.  I would have been fine staying in a Motel 6 or something really cheap.  As we checked-in and got our room keys, we went to our rooms.  I was also surprised that Kendra and Russell got me a whole room to myself (I cannot brag enough of how awesome Kendra and Russell are.).  As I walked in my room, I was struck with awe.  It was almost like I experienced another cultural shock.  I just got back from Poland, where I stayed in a dorm with a twin size bed, a table, two wooden chairs, a closet, and a small window to look outside (That’s because I didn’t have much of a view, just the back alley of the medical school.).  I was stranded from cell phones, TV, computers, ice, internet, and more.  I walked in my room and I had a refrigerator with drinks and snacks, TV, internet, a working desk, soft-carpet floor, an iHome deck, a queen sized bed with about five pillows, and a wall-sized window to view the city.  It felt so wrong and awkward to room there for the night.  I honestly felt like I was committing a sin.  As I put my stuff down to relax, I sat on my bed and turned on the TV.  It was weird to be watching the NCAA basketball tournament, the Weather Channel, and the current news.  After about ten minutes, I just had to turn it off because it just felt wrong.  I quickly got comfortable and fell asleep after this whole chaotic day.  It was about 1am.

            Saturday morning quickly came as Russell woke me up at 7am.  I remember asking Russell if everyone else made it home safe.  He said that everyone arrived in Canyon at 6:30am.  At that point I thought, “Aww man, I should be home by now.”  I finally got up and got showered so we could leave to the airport (Gosh and that shower felt so refreshing, especially after a full day of flying and being ill.).  Before we left the Hyatt, Russell treated me with a Gatorade and fruit to keep hydrated and fueled.  We loaded a shuttle bus and drove to the airport.  The airport was just as busy as it was the night before.  I’d say it took us a good hour just to get our tickets and go through security.  Oh and within that hour of waiting in line, we found out that you can mix a Labrador with a poodle.  We came across a lady with an Australian Labradoodle…yeah, something that really struck our attention.  Anyway, after security we picked up some quick breakfast and boarded our plane to Dallas Fort Worth.

            Once we arrived, we picked up a cab and drove to Dallas Love Field.  At this point, it felt like I was going through another cultural shock because of the weather.  It was warm and beautiful!  After being in Poland’s cold and cloudy weather, I guess I got used to that already.  Russell, Kendra, and I felt so good to finally be on Texas ground and to feel that sunny 75 degree weather.  Once we arrived at the Love Field Airport, we had time to eat lunch at a Chili’s.  I thought about a lot of things while we were eating there.  While we ate, we were watching the NCAA basketball tournament on TV.  As I have mentioned before, it was so weird to watch TV again.  I almost didn’t want to watch because it felt so wrong, in which Russell and Kendra agreed.  As we were finally served, I noticed all the small things.  Kendra was not served first, nor was she first asked about her order.  I also noticed that our food was quickly made and didn’t have a significant place on the plate.  That’s when I began to miss the beautiful culture of Poland.  Even so, I was great to eat American food again, especially Chili’s.  After our lunch, we finally began our final stretch…next stop, Amarillo, Texas.

            Once we arrived, relief filled my entire body.  Knowing that my family was waiting for me, a big smile shot through my face as I exited the plane.  I walked through the airport and immediately noticed their beautiful faces: My mom, my dad, and my brother.  So many emotions were going through me as I finally embraced them.  My mom looked so happy to see me feeling better and back home safe.  When she finally got to meet Russell and Kendra, she embraced them with so much love because of all they had done for me.  I told Russell and Kendra “bye” and “thank you,” as I finally left with my family to good ol’ little Hereford, Texas.

            Well…that’s my homecoming story.  I still find it kind of funny that all of this happened to me.  Now that I think about it, my whole story ended perfectly.  I’m glad how all of this happened.  You may ask, “What are you talking about?”  Well, I experienced a lot of emotions and thoughts before, during, and after the trip.

            The day before we left for Poland (3/11) was a very special day for me.  After I finally finished all my midterms, assignments, and quizzes, I finally felt stress free.  Now I can finally enjoy this time I have and just soak in everything about this trip.  After our “Send-off Reception,” I drove to Best Buy to buy some soothing music (my thinking music) by Explosions in the Sky.  After that, I drove all the way out in the country to my old house 14 miles north of Hereford.  This is a very special place to me because this house was where I spent my entire childhood.  No sounds of cars passing by, no houses close by, no distractions, and no paved roads.  Just the open wheat fields, the sweet touch of the wind, the music from the birds, my footsteps in the dirt roads, the clouds in the sky, and my childhood memories that were made there.  I decided to come here to let my inner-child come out of me, but also to find my special stone.

            One thing we were told was to bring a stone that really means something to us because we were to leave our stone at the memorial in Birkenau and at the “Wall of Death” in Auschwitz I.

            So as I walked around the fields and my old house, I found my two rocks.  As the sun began to set, I knew it was time for me to return to Canyon to finish my packing.  But…I decided to stay and watch the sunset for a while because I felt like it symbolized something.  I saw that beautiful Texas Panhandle sunset as a symbol of closure.  I saw it as a closing of my old-self.  In the past, I have studied many tragic events and looked up discrimination that continues to exist among the world.  I was well informed, but I was never truly aware.  I knew when I looked into that sunset; I was to come back as a changed and aware person.  This sent me chills because I knew this trip was going to be a trip I would never forget.

            When we arrived in Munich, the first thing everyone saw was a beautiful sunrise.  We even have great photos of it.  As soon as I looked into that sunrise, I knew it was put in front of us as a symbol of rebirth.  We were to be in Poland, a country totally different than the U.S.  More so, we were to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, the death camps where about one and a half million men, women, and children were killed.  We all knew this happened, but to actually be there was a reality.  I think this entire trip was a true reflection of where my head is at.  This changed our way of treating others, talking, thinking, and acting.  More so, it changed our lives forever.

            Ironically, on the drive back to Hereford from the Amarillo airport, the sun began to set over the plains.  “An end to the Holocaust experience, but a new beginning for the ‘Agents of Change’” I thought, as I stared into that sunset, and smiled.

 

-Ricky Mariscal

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 3:19 pm  Comments (2)  

Update!!!!

I know I haven’t blogged in a long time so I think it’s about time!  :D  Well, it has been a almost a month since we were in Poland.  I am STILL telling my story to people and they keep on asking.  It is just amazing and sometimes I am speechless because some of my pictures make me emotional while explaining them.

On Monday (April 14th), we sat in class having a conversation.  We all were remembering Poland and specific times, events, special/funny moments, pictures, and much more.  I remember we were all talking at once and then someone came up with a thought about our trip.  It was one of those thoughts that everyone heard and just paused to listen.  After she finished saying what she had to say, the room was silent.  As Amanda said, it was not an awkward silence but a moment where we were all together mentally.  I’m sure people have had that strange silence where everyone just looks at each other and doesn’t know what to say, and this wasn’t one of those moments.  This is just something that only the “Poland people” could understand.  Maybe you have been in moments like that with some at some point in your life.

As far as presentations go, I’m actually pretty busy with it.  I’m surprised at how many schools and people want us to go speak to them about our experience.  So far I have presented at Westover Jr. High and at the Harrington String Quartet.  Some of us are scheduled to speak at River Road, Palo Duro, Travis, and I’m waiting on a call from Randall High (which is where I graduated from).  We also have an event coming up on Monday and Tuesday.  Monday is the Town Hall “get together” with the people that made our trip possible.  On Tuesday, we have a group of 8th graders coming in from a small town (I’ll be sure to get the name asap) and they are touring our school.  After the tour, some of us will be speaking to them.  I’m sure we have had more requests such as Pampa and other small towns, but as far as I know, there are no dates set up.

Have you heard about what happend in Florida with the 16 year old girl?  Well if you haven’t, there were 8 teens (6 girls and 2 boys) that beat the 16 year old.  The teens ranged from 14-18 years old.  To make a long story short, the teens lured her into a house, beat her unconcious, and when she woke up they beat her some more.  She ended up having hearing loss in her left ear and her eyesite in her left eye is partially gone.  Now the teens are being tried as adults and facing some major punishments.  If you need more information just look it up!  :D  Well, I brought that story up because it goes back to what we are trying to get across to our youngsters.  When we spoke out at Westover there were the typical “brats” that always interrupted and I’m almost positive they were the bullies.  The bullying is what can cause another thing like the Holocaust to happen again.  Relating back to the story, the teens supposadly beat this girl because of things on myspace.  How ridiculous is that?  This bullying stuff has to stop!  Our army (WT Readership Ambassadors) will definately try hard to fix this, but it will take some time.  We will not give up; because every speech, conversation, and act of kindness will spread, and hopefully it will reach the ones who really need change in their life.

Well, that’s about it for now!!  IT’S TIME TO EAT!!  haha!!  :D

*Desiree’*

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

The End

1st Year of College

Summer is almost here! I cannot wait to go back home and well, EAT! I cannot wait to see my family and my friends from Azle. This semester has gone by so fast that it seems as though I haven’t accomplished much.  It really saddens me that it is nearly over and that next semester will be nothing like this one.

1st Semester

[August]             

On August 24th at 11:00 AM I pulled out of my drive way and began my journey to West Texas A&M. This was one of the hardest days of my life because I was leaving a lot of my friends and most importantly my family. I have two little brothers and a cousin who are only in the grades, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and second grade. I also have two sisters who are in the third grade and a senior in high school. As I was pulling out I began to think about everything I was going to miss in their lives, especially the young ones. [Seven hours later] I finally arrived in Canyon, Texas. I entered the Jones-Parking-Lot and I parked and sat in my Explorer while I contemplated whether to go inside or just drive back home. After about an hour of sitting I stepped out of my car and slowly but surely entered Jones Hall. I was greeted and I filled out all the paper work that was required and then I finally began to unpack my car and officially moved into my room on the seventh floor. I was ready to go back home already.

[September]

                My uncle died. This was a really hard part throughout the semester. I went back home for a weekend to hopefully see him because I knew he was sick and didn’t have much time. I went home and he passed away that same weekend. I came back to Canyon without telling my family goodbye, I was really upset and I didn’t know how to express any feelings. My birthday was also in September, it was the first birthday when nobody around me wished me a happy birthday. The only people who remembered were my friends and my family. That was also a sad day. The rest of the month went by, sadly and it felt as though it would never end. I was ready to go back home still.

[October]

                Midterms were approaching. Could life get any worse? Actually, no, not this time. Sometime in October I decided to check my WT Email, just because I had this feeling that something big was about to happen. I checked it and I read the first words of the many that would forever change my life, “On behalf of the Essay Contest Committee, I would like to congratulate you on being chosen as a semi-finalist for the Poland trip.” I was beyond excited, but kind of unsure of it, I didn’t know if it was real or not. I decided to take a nap and hopefully wake up to reality. I took a nap and then woke up a few hours later to check my email again. Nope, it was most definitely real; the email from Wes was still there.  A few weeks went by after that first email; those weeks included an interview with like 10 professors and peer leaders and finally a one-on-one meeting with Dr. Lowery-Hart. At this meeting he congratulated me and told me I was off to Poland! I was ready to go home, actually I had a flight to catch that afternoon. LOL

[November and December]

                These months went by fast just because the end of the semester was upon us. I was super excited about the upcoming semester and about going home. I was ready to go home again and I did during the Thanksgiving holiday and for a whole month during the winter holiday. I was HOME!

2nd Semester

[January]

                The long-awaiting countdown has begun for the semester! I was back in Canyon and for the first time looking forward to this semester. I was ready to begin all the work that needed to be accomplished before heading to Poland. I went back home four days after I came back to Canyon to pick up my passport in Fort Worth. I came back and everything just flew by.

[February]

                Nothing really interesting happened…

[March]

                Okay, so I go home a lot, but for good reasons. I went back home for a weekend so that I could go to the mall, because Amarillo doesn’t really have one. I said my goodbyes to my family and headed back to Canyon, where I would soon be boarding many planes to Poland. Before I knew it we were in Poland, and before I could blink we were back in Canyon again. After our trip to Poland we had many presentations and some speeches that most of us have taken part of.

[April]

                The first presentation I was part of was at Westover Middle School in Amarillo. Our goal was to make the kids realize that “hate” is wrong and that it shouldn’t be something to even mess with.  After all these presentations I realized that I use the word “hate” every day of my life, sometimes more than once or twice. Even if I really don’t hate something I will say it anyway, like math for instance. I absolutely don’t like math at all. Anytime that I look at my algebra book I think to myself, “Man, I really hate math.” I feel bad for saying this word, which is why I have cut back and seriously thought about why I use this word. The truth is, I really don’t hate anything or anybody and this makes me feel a lot better. We, the readership ambassadors have been talking a lot about changing the world, or at least to start with, our school. Last week, some of the ambassadors took part in “No Shoes Day,” a whole day where none of them wore shoes in honor of the 40% of people in the world that don’t have shoes. Two nights ago I, along with Brant, Eva, and Lindsey took part in “Displace Me ’08.” The purpose of this event was simply to raise awareness of the 1.7 million displaced people of Uganda due to the last 21 years of war. During this seventeen hour camp out, the people that took part in this wrote letters to some congress men, senators, and the president of the US to encourage them to help achieve our main goal, which was to raise awareness. Education is very powerful and it is something that cannot be taken away from anyone. I believe that educating people is the first step in ending the war, because “We believe every war has an end.”

[May – Not here yet, but my plans are…]

Stress, finals, saying goodbye, and leaving! The end of the semester is in a few days. Last semester, all I could think about was about going back home and wanting to be with my friends back home because I really didn’t know anybody. It is almost May and I feel as though time is only a glimpse of what life really has to offer. I have been spending a lot of time with friends that I have made, not just the ambassadors but also the ones outside this amazing group. I cannot wait to be back home, but I can already tell you that I am going to miss almost everything about WT during this long summer.

[Today]

                I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know if this is going to be my last blog, or if I can find some time and blog again, but whatever the case is, I would like to say that, “It was worth it!” This entire semester has been a gift from God and it can never be taken away. I will never forget the faces I’ve met along with their personalities, the places I’ve visited, and most importantly the lessons I’ve learned.

 

Goodbye and Good Luck,

DAVID MERAZ

THE END

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 3:02 pm  Comments (2)  

Kudos

First off, I just want to simply say how proud I am of everyone. I was reading some of the latest blogs, and what everyone is saying is simply amazing.

Honestly, I don’t even think that it’s what they’re saying but it’s that they’re saying anything at all.

My entire life, I’ve been better than my circumstances. I went to a high school where thought simply was not prevalent; good grades were, but actual thought did not exist.

 

And, having been back for about a month now, I’ve been hit with how many people just don’t think about things; there’s no independent or unrefined thought. There’s regurgitation and robotic simulations of thought.

 

But reading these blogs is so refreshing, and I’m reminded how I was so incredibly privileged to spend ten days with thirty great, great thinkers.

 

But as I said, we’ve been back for almost a month now, and I just want to leave again. It’s like ever since we’ve been back there has been something brewing inside of me. It’s like I so desperately want to write but the words won’t form, and I want to talk but I can’t seem to harness these miles and miles of endless thoughts into sounds. It’s like I’m just thinking all the time and I don’t have enough time to get them all articulated.

 

And it’s weird stuff, too. I haven’t been with the racist comments as much, I guess because most of my friends are so open-minded that I haven’t had to deal with that certain ignorance, but it’s been the little things getting to me. For instance, I went to Wal-Mart today and I noticed this entire rack of Hannah Montana paraphernalia. One product even read “Look like Hannah Montana!”

This is absurd!

Absurd

Absurd

ABSURD!

Why is there so much precedence put on weightless things like that?

 

And then, the other night I was driving back from Amarillo, and I noticed a billboard that spelled out the word “vaccines” in baby blocks, and I was struck by how absurd advertising in America is.

 

Things like this have been everywhere for me, and I don’t have the words to write (and right) them all.

 

Going to Poland gave me so much perspective, in large and in minute detail. Not just about racism or genocide, but also about priorities and ambition.

 

I came back doubtless, and now my ambition is clouded, and that’s silly. That’s really, really silly.

 

I wish time wasn’t such a violent thief. I wish I could go back and learn more, remember more, soak in more.

 

But, in short, I’ve been feeling frustrated and clouded, and reading these blogs really helps put things back into perspective.

Thanks guys.
~Eva

 

 

Published in: on April 17, 2008 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Crazy But Not Alone

My roommate was telling me how he was listening to these girls at work talk about fair trade products and how he thought of me. I love how I am now being associated with social justice! Today in class we were talking about just how we have been changed and I think we all agree that we have all become units of change, but we’re having trouble becoming catalysts for change. This was one of the biggest things that hit me arriving back from Poland. I came back inspired with all this enthusiasm to change the world, but it seemed people weren’t sharing my enthusiasm. I remember the day we arrived back, I was eating at Chili’s with my mom and sister, and when they would ask me questions about Poland, I would answer back with things that were to come. I was spilling out all these ideas for having a street performer day to raise money for various human rights organizations like Save Darfur or International Justice Mission. Their blank stares hit me like a bag of bricks.

Some other comments made in class concerned how weird it now is to hang out with our other, pre-existing friends. I was eating dinner with some friends from high school and felt so disconnected from them. They didn’t understand to avoid using words like “hate” or “gay”. I was walking after class with one of my best friends, whom I once considered one of the funniest people I know, and I know longer found his jokes funny but racist and in bad taste. I was looking at Dr. Anderson’s photos on my computer, and was tearing up when pictures of the camps started popping up, when my roommate walks in, talking on his cell phone, and says to me, “You’re still Poland sick!” He doesn’t understand. None of these people understand. For me Poland doesn’t represent a free trip. It doesn’t even represent the country. The word “Poland”, for me represents an experience 23 students had that changed them forever. “Poland” represents the desire for social change. “Poland” is a synonym for resistance or to resist.

This is why we are doing this insane amount of presentations. This is why we won’t stop talking about Poland. We can’t shut up! I remember when Eva made the heavy realization of how easy it was for us to walk in and out of the camps, when the prisoners did not have it so easy. Now I’m beginning to realize though, that it wasn’t as simple walking out of the gates as we initially thought. We have these images burned into our minds now, and while people would rather not hear about the holocaust, we refuse to shut up. We refuse to stand idly by. We are rebelling against our own indifference. We are resisting the norms of our society and choosing to live more unconventional lives. We are displacing ourselves to represent the 1.6 million people displaced in Northern Uganda and we are walking barefoot to represent the 40% of people who don’t have shoes. We are resisting everyday in small ways and big ways; in the way that we talk and the way that we treat others. This is our task, it is the price we paid for entering the camps. Our burden is the normality of the world and our burden is heavy, but we are 23, and we are strong!

…And people are beginning to listen, though many are not. People are being converted to our way of thinking. Along with the warm spring weather, and the blooms in the trees, is a wind of change in the air. The most radical thing we can do is educate people and that is just what we are doing. We are intellectual activists. Hate is contagious but so is love, and although love is the slower of the two it is the most powerful.

So you see we are catalysts for change. We are all crazy, but so were all the other great catalysts for change.

Dr. Martin Luther King? Crazy.

Mother Teresa? Crazy.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi? Crazy.

WT Readership Ambassadors? Insane!

We are all crazy! Crazy because of the books we choose to read, because of the news that we choose to watch and the news that we choose to filter. We are crazy because we choose to associate ourselves with other crazy people. We are crazy because we can’t and won’t stop talking. Whether it is to our friends or some random lady that develops the photos at Wal-Mart, we will not remain silent. Dave Eggers sums us up through the voice of Valentino Achak Deng in the novel What is the What:

“Whatever I do, however I find a way to live, I will tell these stories. I have spoken to every person I have encountered…because to do anything else would be something less than human. I speak to these people, and I speak to you because I cannot help it. It gives me strength, almost unbelievable strength to know that you are there. I covet your eyes, your ears, the collapsible space between us. How blessed are we to have each other? I am alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with our words. I will fill today, tomorrow, every day until I am taken back to God. All the while I will know that you are there. How can I pretend that you do not exist? It would be almost as impossible as you pretending that I do not exist.”

We all have our own voices. For some it is writing, some speaking, for others it is music and art. We are growing, we are no longer 23. Every time we tell our stories, we are changing the world, even if only one person hears our message of refusing to stand idly by. We are gaining in numbers. We are crazy but not alone.

-Brant

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 4:32 pm  Comments (1)  
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