It’s amazing how this absurd anti-dark skinned mentality is so prevalent across the globe. Whitening creams are huge in China and India, among both girls and guys. It’s an abhorrent practice from the cosmetic company’s part. They take as much advantage possible of these insecurities created by the media, sometime in the most detestable manner. Look at this ridiculous commercial from South Asia where the girl is self conscious of her tan hand!

There are many resources on the Internet that explain this screwy phenomenon. But I’m not in the mood to preach, solve problems or raise concerns. But perhaps inspire? Actually, I just want an excuse to play this song that actually sounds real good. I heard it play on the radio today when I was running to veggie-friendly Baja Fresh during lunch. It’s India Arie featuring Akon, “I am not my hair.” I know you’ll enjoy it.

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New_Year

I stopped making tangible new year resolutions only a few years ago. Because I often never fully accomplished these goals I set for myself (or in some cases, I couldn’t even remember them at year’s end).

I didn’t learn to speak Italian in 2005, I didn’t become a nature photographer in 2004, and despite what I used to tell you in tenth grade, I’ve never done ollies past 2 feet.

It was until (truthfully, May of) 2006 when I had a resolution I actually felt strongly about adhering to consciously throughout the year. Probably because it was simple — “put most focus on my career.” Now that wasn’t a slogan I chanted everyday the second I woke up, and every night right before I went to sleep. It was a mindset with which I delegated my everyday life.

And a sense so simple proved to be an extremely powerful force that helped me accomplish titanic achievements I never imagined I would. It’s not my nature to brag, so I won’t reveal them in an explicit manner on this post. But, you know, it’s on my resume.

Then in (this time, in February of) 2007 I had made yet another seemingly vanilla resolution — “take control of my life.”

At this point you’re thinking “no sweat,” right? But believe me, this was a difficult task. Because if you think about it frankly, many outside factors determine aspects of your life. These include obligations (to family, to friends, 9-5 work, television shows), vices (drugs, alcohol, gambling), bad habits (laziness, ignorance, submissive personality), or good habits (jog in the morning, blogging, reading). And if you let these factors go out of hand then you’re essentially a string puppet to them.

Just realizing so changed me as a person. But acting on it to the best of my ability — because we all have obligations and habits — made me most comfortable I’ve ever felt in my skin. I won’t mention personal specifics again, but I must say I’ve never felt freedom like today before.

So what is my simple resolution for 08? I am not sure just yet. I think I’ll figure out for certain in a few weeks. But tentatively, I have two. One is to “be time conscious.” The second is to be like the first subject in this study by psychologist Laura A. King, who I believe has an outlook I’d like to reflect.

Here is how a woman from Dallas described the impact of an early and devastating divorce, in one of Dr. King’s studies:

“I feel fortunate in a backhanded way to have experienced misfortune as a young woman. I feel it taught me humility … and the ability to regroup. … Life is good but not lavish. It’s hard work and we have to give each other a hand once in a while.”

Another woman in the same study, who had scored lower on a measure of complexity, described her life after divorce: “What good is anything without someone to share it with? My current goal is only to make enough money to make my monthly bills without withdrawing money from my savings account.” (NYT)

A Dominican nun, a freelance writer and a principal of a prestigious school founded the International Community School in DeKalb County, Georgia to address the cultural and language barrier that many children of the refugee immigrants faced after arriving there in the late 1990’s.

In the last ten years, thousands of refugee children have come to DeKalb County, bringing not only gifts and talents but also the deep physical and spiritual wounds of war. Today the county is home to the highest percentage of refugees in the southeastern United States. (ICS)

Student population here represents over 40 nation and over 50 languages are spoken in the hallways. But children of refugees only compose half of all pupils. The other half is diverse in a socio-economic manner.

Parents from low-income families tend to choose the school over other nearby public schools because it is safe and has small classes. More affluent parents seek it for the potential benefits of exposure to so many cultures. Most of the middle- and upper-middle-class parents are social progressives from Decatur, a liberal enclave. (NYT)

Understandably, the community school faces expected challenges specific to each refugee student’s experience from the emigrated country.

Two sisters from Afghanistan seemed terrified as they arrived each day. As refugees in Pakistan, the children had worked making carpets. Exhausted, they regularly dozed at school, which drew beatings. The sisters had assumed such beatings were standard at every school.

A Sudanese girl was so traumatized from war and relocation that she insisted on sitting on the floor beneath her desk each day.

Fortunately, the school staff is as diversely represented as the student body. Which helps faculty understand or, in some cases, relate to their students.

Naza Orlovic, a teacher’s assistant from Bosnia, said her experience as a refugee allowed her to recognize and to soothe hurt feelings that frequently arose out of cultural misunderstandings.

“I constantly remind them how lucky we are,” said Hodan Osman, 27, a tutor separated from her parents at age 10 during the civil war in Somalia.

“We could have been killed,” she said, “and not only are we here, but we’re in a place where we’re celebrated. I tell them they can take everything away from you, but your knowledge is in your head, and it makes you brave.”

Presently, there are strong plans to add a middle school to the institution. And a founder desires to open a health clinic for the refugees there.

Maybe not apparent at first glance, but the location of the school is a bit ironic.  The region used to be a Ku Klux Klan haven.

43-year-old Jorge Muñoz’s sister, Luz, says his brother has “got no life.” But what Luz really means by that comment is that Jorge’s life is dedicated to serving others, leaving little time to indulge in for himself.

The people he serves are undocumented immigrants — often homeless and always hungry — who seek jobs on the cold streets in Queens every morning. Folks in whom he likely sees himself only a few years ago reflected in.

Muñoz drives to the same location every night in his white pickup truck at 9:30 p.m. to feed these individuals in desperate states with a warm meal.

“Every single night, Jorge is here,” said one worker, his leathery face peering out from a hooded sweatshirt. “Doesn’t matter. Rain, thunderstorm, lightning. He do that from his good will, you know.

“He feeds everybody, make the stomach happy,” the worker added. “He’s an angel.” (NYT)

Ms. Zapata, Muñoz’s mother with whom he prepares the meal everyday in the small apartment they live in, said that his son displayed this altruistic trait since he was very young. She cites a time when Muñoz was only 7 and a stranger requested the family something to eat.

Ms. Zapata told the visitor they had none. “But Jorge gave him his plate,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Jorge, you have to eat for school.’ And he said, ‘No, I’ll just have bread.’”

Although his devotion to the welfare of others might seem selfish at the superficial, Muñoz claims he gets compensated more than appropriately with gratitude.

“I know these people are waiting for me,” he said. “And I worry about them. You have to see their smile, man. That’s the way I get paid.”

Something new at Post Secret

November 14, 2007

postsecret4I have problems. I’m sure you do as well. Even when life is pretty close to perfect, there always remains a little factor that one would rather modify. At times these negative factors can get the best of you, and that’s called depression . . . I think.

We each have our specific mechanics of dealing with situation during these moments — some smoke cigarettes, others exercise, slashing the wrist is pretty popular, I tend to just walk it out. Quiet a few folks, though, design or view a postcard to describe how they are feeling — a trend that started at postsecret.com.

Post Secret is the largest advertisement-free blog that’s updated every week with a new set of postcards designed by anonymous individuals, in which they reveal their secret in a creative manner. The categories of confessions are pretty diverse — humorous, suicidal, aspiring, proud or anything else personal the author needs to get off his/her chest. More often than not, you likely will relate to one or few of these postcards.

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But not necessarily always. ; )

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Regardless of that fact, I personally make certain to visit the blog every week. It really gives me strength. I know it’s curious. And I can’t explain why. But “106,646,241” relate.

But after finishing reading these postcards, I can’t help feeling a bit unfulfilled. I always either want to immediately discuss with someone what I just saw, see more secrets, or maybe just reveal my own anonymously without the effort of making a creative postcard.

I guess they read my mind. Because when last I checked for new updates, I noticed something different – a banner that leads to a Web site that does exactly what I was requesting through telekinesis, and a whole lot more. Introducing Post Secret Community!

 

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Add Unwritten Law as soundtrack to anything, even the Japanese suicide epidemic, and it’s instantly cool. Remove it. And its instantly lame. Quiet a downer, actually.

Japan’s suicide rate has shot up since the mid-1990s to become one of the highest outside the former Soviet Union as the Japanese ideal of lifetime job security crumbled away amid years of recession.

The government said 32,155 people killed themselves last year, a decrease of 397 from the previous year. Japan’s suicide rate remains the ninth-highest in the world, the Cabinet Office report said, citing WHO data. (link)

This is why I don’t read the news. The media always tends to suck the rad out of awesome. Ever seen Jisatsu saakuru? Jim Jones has got nothing on Dezāto.

And it’s not just the media, the government, too, is trying to ruin the party.

The Government has published a “counter-suicide White Paper”, which sets out a nine-step plan to transform the way in which suicide is regarded and treated. Measures include training more counsellors and expanding Samaritans-style telephone helplines. (link)

Well at least when I’m by myself, the government ain’t messing with my Internet time. Where I can meet friends. Make plans to chill. And then hang out.

My only concern is that old and ugly people are going to start copying our thing. And suicide will quickly become passé.

In Japan suicide victims are mostly young adults. Among those 15–24 and 40–54 it is the second leading cause of death and in 25–39 year age group it is the leading cause of death. (link)

“We weren’t able to go to church because we didn’t have any money for transport and my father had a fever so my mother and I had to wash clothes for money.” (link)

That excerpt was from an entry in 11-year-old Mariannet Amper’s diary. She committed suicide by hanging herself with a nylon cord Nov. 2, likely because of her family’s unfortunate state in poverty.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the media has blown out of proportion an “isolated case.” A comment that enraged many to protest on the streets. Although he later added, “we take responsibility for everything because we are leaders of government. We need to ensure that services are there.”

A representative of an NGO, Global Call to Action against Poverty, said, “One death is too much.”

“We were shocked and saddened by the news of the suicide of 11 year-old girl, and for a few hours our world stopped. To hear the government reducing her death to an isolated case is outrageous.”

 

 

Crowds of sympathizers filed into the Santa Cruz chapel, where the Mass for the 12-year-old girl was held, before proceeding in a long procession to the unkempt cemetery, which looked as miserable as the girl’s destitute life.

Stepping on tombs, some of the girl’s classmates wailed as they took a last look at their classmate, whom they described as “jolly,” now lying in a white wooden coffin under a lone mango tree amidst a jungle of poorly kept tombs. (link)

All classmates and community members that attended the funeral agree that Mariannet made a poor choice. They too are affected by the poverty crisis, but wouldn’t resort to such drastic measure. Her classmate, Mary Riza Jumawan, 12, said that her family’s condition is similar, but options still remain.

“We’re also poor but I will not hang myself because I want to study and become a teacher. If my parents can’t afford to send me to school, then I’ll finish my studies as a working student like (my) elder sisters”

24-year-old mother of three, Anabel Carbonella, a neighbor, maintains the community’s consensus that suicide was an easy way out. She said, “Even if we are poor, we should not stop striving because there is hope if we try hard.”

Mariannet Amper is survived by a younger brother, her mother and father.