Month: April 2014

You can’t leave every battle victorious but you can leave with something

DSC_0091

Whether you’re applying for a scholarship to study abroad, a job at a new company, or a position within a club or organization, the truth is you won’t always win. Yes, this advice sounds familiar since we’ve all heard it before but this is a positive friendly reminder that even though the results may not end in our favor, we’ll always leave with one thing: experience 🙂

Last week, I experienced rejection and was reminded of this lesson.

Near the end of February, I applied to a prestigious club for seniors devoted to preserving the welfare of my university. As expected, the process was an arduous one. On Thursday last week, they announced the 13 members selected for next year. Mine wasn’t one of them.

I left that evening feeling frustrated and disappointed. I thought everything had gone well. I thought I had a chance! I thought I would leave with that triumphant feeling one feels after battling for five thousand kilometers to cross the finish line before the other runners. Instead, I felt empty.

But then pace of my black dress shoes slowed as if they saw a red sign approaching. I stopped.

I thought to myself, “Wait, a second. I may not be leaving as a new member for next year but I am leaving with something and that something is experience.”

Thanks to this process, I now have more experience writing a personal statement, being interviewed, specifically by 13 people at once, mixing with other applicants and getting to know people. All of this experience will prepare for the next position or job or scholarship that I apply for in the future. It’s all about taking risks and learning from your mistakes!

The next time you consider applying for a job, a scholarship or to a club or organization, don’t hesitate and go for it! Even if the chances are against you and you don’t end up winning the battle, you won’t leave empty handed 🙂

Connecting to Chinese culture through Falun Dafa: Buddhist self-cultivation

falun

[Photo Courtesy of Google: Image of Falun Dafa group at the University of Arizona]

Today, I want to share something I have just recently been introduced to: Falun Dafa. What is Falun Dafa?

Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) is an advanced practice of Buddha school self-cultivation, founded by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the practice’s master. It is a discipline in which “assimilation to the highest qualities of the universe—Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance)—is the foundation of practice.” Taken from the Falun Dafa website.

I found out about the Falun Dafa group from another student representing the Honors College last Friday during a campus-wide fundraising event for the University of Arizona. I attended the weekly Falun Dafa club meeting for my first time today before class. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay more than 30 minutes but I was able to practice the four standing meditation exercises.

The exercises were calming and I felt a positive energy participating in them. After the meeting, I left with a feeling of tranquility. I plan to attend the future meetings for the reminder of the year and next year. I also started reading the book Falun Gong(other name for Falun Dafa) to educate myself and understand all that I can about Falun Dafa.

I wanted to share this today because of the positive vibes I received from the meditation and the cultural connection I felt. I have never taken any Asian studies classes nor do I have much knowledge. However, I see Falun Dafa as an opportunity to explore a different dimension of myself and connect to another culture that I might not ordinarily connect to. I think others could reap these same benefits which is why I am excited to share it.

If interested, you can probably find Falun Dafa groups in your area by looking here. The links above also connect to the Falun Dafa website and a free book(PDF) where you can read more about Falun Dafa. Please share any thoughts below! 🙂

 

The recognition of family heritage through a weekend trip to Northern California

This past weekend, my younger brother and I flew to San Jose to spend the weekend with my family and for him to meet my Uncle Nick. It was a trip that reminded me the importance of my family heritage.

On Friday, my mom, stepdad and younger brother flew in from Laguna Niguel, where they live, and met us at the airport. They picked us up in a rental car and the next moments were filled with smiles and hugs. It’s always a euphoric moment seeing your family in person after a long time.

Saturday, we woke up early and drove to Milbrae to take the BART into the heart of San Francisco. We spent the early morning/afternoon walking around Fisherman’s Wharf.

fisherman's wharf

san francisco

In the evening, we headed to Gilroy so that my brothers and stepdad could meet my Uncle Nick. We ate dinner at a seafood restaurant called Rosy’s At the Beach. The Ahi fish tacos were delicious! It’s a lot of food too so you receive your money’s worth.

Afterwards, Uncle Nick invited us over for dessert. We were eating cake together when suddenly my younger brother Charlie said, “What’s that?” We all looked over out of curiosity to see him pointing at this

gramophone

Uncle Nick said, “Well, that right there is called a gramophone. It’s a family heirloom.”

“A gram-uh

-what?” I with a confused look across my face.

“It’s how people used to listen to music back in the day. Here, let me show you.” He turned it on and then I started to hear music. I thought to myself,

“Wow. This. Is. Cool.” I couldn’t imagine what it was like to not be able to hear music aloud whenever I wanted.

“This was the only way to have music at an event or party. It was this or a live band.” Uncle Nick said to us.

It’s amazing to think about how technology has evolved and the things we take for granted these days. Before that moment, I completely took for granted the idea of being able to hear music. I realized how lucky we are to have the ability to listen to music on our phones, computers and tablets whenever and wherever we want.

The other idea I took away from this moment was the idea of heritage. Heritage is defined as, “an inheritance.” In that moment, I inherited not only a part of history in general but of my own family history. This was a moment that I know my ancestors would be happy to see. I hope this tradition continues and that one day, I’ll be the one sharing the story of the gramophone.

Afroreggae: a Brazilian NGO making changes in the favelas through music and culture

afroreggae

 

[Photo Courtesy of Google Images]

Banging.

Pounding.

The sound of a music suffocates the room as students learn to play the percussion in an AfroReggae workshop in Vigário, a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Similar to these workshops, AfroReggae also offers weekly Afro-Brazilian dance classes to the community. It’s part of their plan to divert people living in the favelas away from the path of drug and violence using education, music and culture.

AfroReggae is an NGO based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It originally started in January of 1993 as a newspaper called AfroReggae Noticias. It covered reggae, Afro-Brazilian music and issues of black interest. The reason it started was because of the 1992 funk ban by the government. The government believed that the ban would prevent further violence after a huge brawl between two funk groups in October 1992 (Neate and Platt 16-17).

Now, AfroReggae is involved in multiple favelas in Rio de Janeiro and working on more than just diverting people from harmful paths. They’re helping them find jobs, educate themselves and improve their lives. Here are a few of their well-known projects:

  • Conexões Urbanas– a TV show geared towards connecting people with “current ideas related to sustainability, social technology, citizenship, and principally peace.” It’s a program for “creating reflection and action.”
  • Favela Uprising– a documentary from 2005 that AfroReggae works to create a social revolution to counteract the violence in Rio de Janeiro “through hip-hop music, the rhythms of the street, and Afro-Brazilian dance…” I haven’t seen it yet but it’s available online through the link.
  • Culture is Our Weapon by Patrick Neate and Damian Platt– a book detailing life in the favelas and the journey of AfroReggae. I’m reading it right now and definitely recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the favelas in Brazil
  • Banda AfroReggae- one of the several musical groups started by AfroReggae whose music is “influenced by political and social commentary.” They use their music to communicate their ideas of escaping the drugs and violence in the favelas.

 

I happened to come across the book Culture is Our Weapon while research an area in Northeastern Brazil called o sertão. I figured I could find a blog of someone from the region who could give me more insight on the culture so I searched “blog sobre o sertão brasil” and came across this page on the book’s website.

Then I decided for my Honors Thesis project at my university to research and analyze how AfroReggae represents themselves in Brazil and around the world. I figured it would lead to more insight on Brazilian pop culture and the power of music in social movements as well. I’m researching them for my Honors Thesis and research paper.

I’m sharing this topic today because I think AfroReggae is awesome! Their involvement in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and their overall ideas are powerful. It makes me happy to know they’re using music and culture to redirect people away from drugs and violences and in a more positive direction. It’s amazing and I wanted to share it with others as inspiration. They’ve inspired me and I hope one day I’ll be using my passions to make the world a better place.

 

###