December 31, 2007
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)
December 24, 2007
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.
October 27, 2007
15 years ago, Tina Healy of Victoria, Australia was a victim of rape and robbery. The man responsible was found two months later. Something that should have caused a bit of relief to Healy. But it didn’t.
Ms Healy said nothing prepared her for when her attacker was caught two months later and then having to go through the legal system.
She said there was no guide to tell her what to expect.
“There was just a lot of things I did not know, and of course every victim that comes into the system is a babe in the woods,” Ms Healy said. (link)
Healy found this to be a common case with several other victims she spoke to. So she, alongside other victims like her, worked with the Victorian police to put together a downloadable manual that would address already familiar concerns for new victims, “A Victim’s Guide to Support Services and the Criminal Justice System.”
Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said the statement and booklet followed extensive community consultation over the past 12 months, along with the input of victims of crime, such as Ms Healy, over several years.