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Choose to be great

17 Feb

This weekend was one of the best weekends of my life. I traveled to Washington, D.C. (for the first time!) for Teach for America’s 20th Anniversary Summit. For those of you unfamiliar with TFA, it’s goal is to end educational inequity and close the achievement gap. It was so powerful: I was able to connect with so many of my friends, both in LVV and those who are in other cities; I was re-energized and re-inspired after hearing the work of all the amazing alums who spoke; and my eyes were opened to other careers that I may want to pursue.

20 years. 1 day. by shay

This is the sign that greeted us as we entered the convention center. The people you see in the picture are just a few of the 11,000 (yes 11,000) TFA alums and current corps members. 🙂 To the sides were tons of boths of schools (both public and charter), graduate schools, and companies that were available for networking. I got ton of pens, post-its, and water bottles..in addition to making connections!

I am going to post some of the video clips that I found most inspirational that day- and there were so many amazing people who spoke. I am just going to post the three that are most profound…Enjoy! 🙂

http://vimeo.com/19908808 This is a clip of two TFA alums who are now Senators reflecting on their role in changing outdated policies so that our students can get the best education: Bill Ferguson and Michael Johnston

This is the closing reflection by Jeremy Beard: “Choose to be great so our children can be free.” http://vimeo.com/19909263

And the last clip is of one of the coolest things I have ever witnessed: John Legend (huge supporter of TFA) perfoming with KIPP DC orchestra. KIPP is one of the high-performing charter schools that are across the country. http://vimeo.com/19909406 

“One day all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.”

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#304 part II: domestic violence awareness

9 Oct

Teen Mom is a good show. No matter what anyone says, I like it.  It’s real because it deals with actual real life situations that everyday people would face: not necessarily being a teen (or young) mom BUT relationships. Not just couples but the dynamics among families and friends. 

If you have ever seen the show, or even a preview, there is a girl named Amber and her sometimes-boyfriend Gary. Amber is usually flying off the handle, screaming and/or hitting Gary. On the episodes when this happens, MTV puts up a little PSA about domestic violence and asks you to check out a website (www.loveisrespect.org) .

Coming out of a relationship that became abusive at points, I really felt for Gary and I really wanted to check out the website. When I looked at it, I was surprised to find that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- that’s another cause the NFL should be supporting this month and raising awareness. Remember domestic violence is not always physical- it can be emotional/verbal, and/or sexual. It tends to be a taboo issue, especially if the male is experiencing the abuse. Raise awareness for yourself and then educate your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to speak up- your friend will appreciate it. Promise. Until tomorrow…

“”Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”
-St. Augustine

#304 show support for your favorite cause

7 Oct

There are a lot of causes out there that need supported. And, when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Ranging from education to social to health- there are all sorts of ways to show support!

October is an especially easy month to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness. It is as simple as wearing PINK! Pink is the color designated to support Breast Cancer. Here are some breast cancer facts:

        1. Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.

        2. There are several different types of breast cancer.

        3. Breast cancer also affects men.

        4. There are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the US today (yay!)

What I really love is that the NFL is uber-supportive of Breast Cancer Awareness during October. Watch any game this month and you will see the players wearing pink shoes, pink gloves, and pink towels hanging in their pants. Choose a cause and support it- wear the colors, wear the bracelet, make a donation, buy a shirt that supports it (GAP has shirts supporting AIDS research), be vocal about it!  Check out http://www.nbcam.org/disease_breast_cancer.cfm to read more about Breast Cancer. And for today’s quote, thanks to my friend Carinne who posted the picture/quote on my facebook! Until tomorrow…

PS: it reads “If you continually give, you will continually have.”

#127 protest injustice whenever and wherever your see it

2 Oct

Raymond Chase, 19. Tyler Clementi, 18. Billy Lucas, 15. Seth Walsh, 13. Asher Brown, 13.

All lives recently lost…to suicide….as a result of bullying because they were gay.

Bullying is a serious problem in schools and in society today. It is something that really makes me upset- who are you to think you are better than someone and can hurt them and make fun of them? This is an issue I find myself frequently addressing in my classroom. I feel that today’s culture does not acknowledge the fact that words hurt- the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” is false. Words due hurt- as evidenced by the lives lost.

Injustice can take various forms- but you know it when you see it or hear it. Address it. Stand up to it. It may be hard, but it is the right thing to do. Watch the news. Educate yourselves, your children, your family, your friends. This is important. This bullying has been on my radar, but after reading about Tyler on CNN and Raymond on another blog (see link below), and watching the clip from the Ellen show, I knew I had to blog about it.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with someone’s lifestyle, it is imperative that you do not engage in actions/behaviors that harm them. Think about the Golden Rule….a blog that was fairly recent.

Read about Raymond: http://talkaboutequality.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/another-suicide-not-just-a-number/

Watch the Ellen clip: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/10/01/levs.ellen.anti.bullying.cnn?hpt=T2 

Signs your child, student, friend may be getting cyberbullied (which is the new form of bullying) : http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/10/02/p.kid.being.cyberbullied/index.html?hpt=T2 

Until tomorrow….

“Raymond Chase was a person who liked Harry Potter and Rugrats and was a member of the popular facebook group “I cant spell “bananas” without singing hollaback girl.” He’s not number five in a week of suicides, he’s a unique special person with friends and family who are devastated by his loss. He’s a gay college kid who sure seems happy but not that day, or maybe he’d never been, and something happened or something had always happened and he couldn’t do it.”

#65 drink fair trade coffee

19 Sep

Who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee?! Even moreso, who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee that was traded for ETHICALLY?! Luckily for us caffeine junkies, we can find this virtually anywhere: including in our own home! Check out some of the coffee brands you can buy and brew at your own house (which will save you money too!): Seattles Best, Green Mountain, Timothy’s Best and of course, STARBUCKS.  What I like is that the Starbucks coffee is CHEAPER than the Dunkin Donuts brand AND it tastes better! The vanilla Starbucks is delightful, plus there is a new caramel flavor that I think I am going to try next.

I realize not everyone enjoys a good cup of coffee (which is odd to me), so I found this website which has A TON of different fair trade items you can purchase: ranging from jewelry to furniture. I really like the Zulu Grass bracelets which are made by the Maasai women who live there. And for 9 bucks a bracelet, it’s a good deal. One of the other deeds is to buy gifts which are fair trade ones…something I think I will be doing this year! Check out the website: http://www.fairworldgallery.com/catalog//  Until tomorrow! 🙂

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. ”
Saint Basil

#63 click to give free food

5 Aug

In precisely 1 minute I was able to:

  • provide 1.1 cups of food to the hungry
  • help a woman in need get a mammogram 
  • provide a child with life-saving health care
  • give a book to a child in need
  • protect 11.4 square feet of rainforest habitat for wildlife
  • provide the value of .6 bowls of food for rescued animals

How did I do this? How can you do this? Simple, check out www.thehungersite.com ! All you have to do is click where it says CLICK! The deed explains about how this simple click provides food, what it didn’t mention is that there are tabs along the top which allow you to give to other worthy causes as well!

The causes are supported 100% by the advertising fees on the website. There is also a store in which you can shop and all the proceeds go to the causes. For instance, there is a really cool shoulder bag with an elephant on it. I love it and if I had the 20 bucks for it, I would buy it! The bag would provide 50 cups of food! They have really cool items and everything is made in the countries by the people who receive the food. Additionally, if you click on a tab other than hunger, and shop in that specific store, the proceeds sponsor that specific tab. For instance, under the literacy tab there is a handmade purple dress from India that costs 33 bucks would fund a book for a child. Very cool! This would be a good site to shop at for Christmas and/or birthdays.

Updates: 

  • Shaq episode airs next week!!! 9 pm on ABC! Look for me, Kelly, and Megan front row cheering!
  • Shade tree: the orientation happens next week, when I’m out of town. Luckily Shay is able to attend! The volunteer coordinator told me she would inform me of the next session.
  • Today Shay did a very nice blog about me! It made my day and improved my mood times a thousand!!! Check out her blog (and you should make it a favorite too!!) http://simplyshaylynn.wordpress.com  

Until tomorrow… 🙂

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think.  Because although eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called. 

 ~A.A. Milne

#41 stop the raping of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo

8 Jul

After many failed attempts to do a deed today (in that the first five of the deeds I chose all had incorrect/no longer vaild websites), I finally was successful!

Today’s deed was to visit the website www.stoprapeindrc.org; which obviously is very explicit about it’s goal: to stop the rape of  women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rape is used as a weapon of war to torture and humiliate women and girls in DRC. Survivors often suffer in silence, fearing stigma and ostracism. Additionally, many survivors are left with genital lesions, traumatic fistulae and other physical wounds, as well as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Local support for survivors is hindered by a lack of resources. DRC has been called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and the widest interstate war in modern African history. Fueled by the exploitation of the country’s rich natural resources by foreign and local armies and private enterprises, the war has directly affected the lives of 50 million Congolese. Since 1996, this conflict has caused more deaths than any war since World War II, either as a direct result of fighting or from disease and malnutrition. Five million people have lost their lives as a result of the conflict. Hi, just how ridicilious, upsetting, frustrating, sad is that? And what’s even worse? How many people there are who don’t know what’s happening, or the simply don’t care.

So how do we get involved? There are several options: writing a letter, hanging posters, telling friends, hosting events, signing up for the newsletter. I chose to write a letter and tell my friends (all of you readers!). Like some of the other deeds, the letter is already pre-written. It can be downloaded and then mailed to the President of the DRC; it urges him to take efforts in these areas:

  • ensure that there is no impunity for sexual violence
  • ensure that the State armed forces and police do not perpetrate sexual violence against women and girls
  • implement national laws that protect and empower women and girls

My letter is printed, signed, and ready to be mailed tomorrow!  Until then…

“If you want to innovate, … it takes people willing to do what is not expected.”

-Jean Ribould