Monday, May 10, 2010

Group Blog

As a group we are daily writing a blog and I was lucky numero uno. Here's a taste of it. I'll put the link to it as soon as I get it.

The first official day of the Thailand/Cambodia 2010 Mayterm started as most do; in the kitchen. I wouldn’t really know though because I passed out at 10:30 p.m. the night before and just managed to get myself up. A feeling of exhaustion seems to be a common thread with all the housemates. Although we want to be present, alert and learning, our bodies seem more inclined to zone out, yawn and doze off.

Either way, worship filled the cozy Victorian house on Lyon & Fell at 8:30 a.m. after a hardy breakfast, all of which I heard from upstairs. It was then followed by an interesting assignment that began “[So and so] arrives at Mayterm…” This activity allowed each of us to introduce exactly where we were coming from, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Once again, the theme of exhaustion was apparent. It was really cool to have each student share, giving a quick glimpse into who they are and what they have to share in this adventure.

We then ventured to the basement to watch a movie – that hasn’t been released mind you – called “Playground” directed by Libby Spears. EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS MOVIE. It’s about human trafficking that happens within the United States. It was completely shocking to see the gross amount of sexual abuse that happens so close to home, literally. One of the main cities they focused on in the movie was Portland, Oregon, my hometown. At first I was so happy, seeing all the familiar places of home playing over and people biking in the streets. But by the end of the movie, I wanted to move out of my beloved city. It was heartbreaking to see how much pain was going on around in the neighborhoods I played in, in the schools my friends attended. “Playground” focused on the “at risk” children in the U.S. These children are those who go in and out of foster care and are subjected to drugs and sex at a young age. They are easily coerced into situations they have no knowledge of, just are all too familiar with. Even more upsetting was how the society we live in promotes the objectification and manipulation of children. With role models who find their identities solely in sexuality, many girls and boys don’t know any other way of acting. On top of that, many of these kids who are abducted are then shamed by being photographed and filmed during sexual acts. It was definitely a difficult movie to watch. But the movie also motivated me to see hope and desire to change things for my neighbors and friends.

During our break, a few girls (Kendra, Sarah, Courtney, and Jasmine) and I ventured over to Haight/ Ashbury district to look for journals. It decided to pour. That was unexpected, especially since most of us packed for the humid sticky weather of Thailand and Cambodia… not wet San Fran. Sarah nearly face planted on the sidewalk multiple times because of her flip flops.

When we returned, Rachel and Kevin Carey had a presentation on The Sold Project, allowing us to familiarize ourselves with the situation of Northern Thailand. We learned the distinction between child prostitution and trafficking, because there is a difference! Basically, if someone is under the age of 18 they are protected by human trafficking laws while those who are engaging in sexual acts willingly 18 and older are not. As well we got to see the benefits of prevention, learning the story of Cat and how a scholarship for school saved her from a potential life in the sex industry of Thailand. For more information about The SOLD Project and Rachel’s involvement go to Kevin then gave us a very brief introduction into Thai politics. There are no good or bad side’s folks! Interestingly enough, because of the nation’s history in Buddhism violence is very uncommon so the bloodshed on April 11th was shocking because it happened in general. Worried parents: this bloodshed isn’t something that happens all the time or in great amounts.

We then scurried onto the 21 bus line to head over to China Town for an alley tour done by some local teens (Anna, Wendy and Carmen). They were so dang informative! As a former Westmont Tour guide I was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge and incredible ability to remain engaging while presenting facts. But it’s kind of a gimme when they are teaching about such fascinating topics like the history of the alleys in China Town, SRO’s (single room occupancy, basically dorm rooms that actually hold 3 generation families) and racism. It’s weird how injustices seem to out do each other for placement in the history books. I could tell you a million things about the African slave trade, how Harriet Tubman is incredible and cases that were influential to the ultimate equal treatment of African Americans. But the Chinese… didn’t they get put in internment camps? Oh wait… no… that was the Japanese… whoops. So it was interesting to learn about things the Chinese community was doing to fight for equality before that Dr. King guy was even around. Yay Chinese people!

After trekking around the 24 block district, we took our new found knowledge to Hunan Homes, the best Chinese food in San Fran. Our two groups dined on meals of chicken, beef and vegetables drenched in exotic sauces. Best part of the dinner was by far when Hillary decided to try the sauces at the table. Clear = vinegar, red/orange = extremely spicy. You’ve been warned.

Now back at the house, the djembe echoes up the stairs, laughter fades in and out and footsteps can be heard everywhere. Though the exhaustion beckons our tired eyes and heads to bed, the excitement lingers in the air. We can’t wait. We can’t wait for the speakers tomorrow, we can’t wait to get to know each other better, and we can’t wait for our sovereign King to reveal to each of us our destinies, like a dangling carrot just out of reach. Scratch that, a giant carrot cake with incredible cream cheese frosting and that cute frosted carrot on top.

We are eager. We are tired. We are ready. But we’re hesitant. Will this trip be the straw that breaks the camels back? Will these people understand that I hate crying in public so that one tear I shed was a huge moment of vulnerability? I think I failed my last final. These are all thoughts that hang imminently over our heads as we anxiously await Thailand and Cambodia. But this next week is all about preparation for that next step in our journey. And I think that I speak accurately for the whole house when I say we’re freaking stoked.

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