The End (For Now)

This post not only marks the end of my class, but the end of my undergraduate study. I feel like I have been pulled through college on the back of a rocket you’d find in a Looney Tunes cartoon. I have ran into pulls, soared through a clear field, and had to repair the rocket a few times, but overall it has been a pleasant ride. This is the end for now.

This class not only was my last class, but it has been one of my more insightful classes as I for once did not enjoy the people for the most part. The energy was not only low, but it was almost disappointing. Maybe it was coming in with high expectations of a class in looking at trauma and recovery after the seriousness of War and Human Rights. Maybe it was me expecting more from a complex topic from the students. Maybe it was the classroom.

The classroom was abysmal. The room had poor lighting, was loud, and was not safe in the case of a fire. The lighting on multiple occasions made it hard for me to see, especially with my photosensitive vision following as LASIK procedure. There was an awful sound which I think belonged to the automatic windows in AW that would begin and go on for a 30 second distraction. Most of all, there was too much mismatched furniture with no room. This over-sized furniture not only made the classroom seem smaller, but less safe. In terms of an emergency evacuation there is not a clear evacuation path due to so little room.

I felt the readings were appropriate to the subject matter although I believe an updated book on the dangers of depression may be needed. Solomon’s book has not aged well and is a remnant of the post-modern period in the 1990’s where everything is over-explained. I believe an updated outlook similar to Solomon would be incredibly beneficial.

The most important part of this class remains the freedom of a writing topic. Being able to write on what you feel is correct and right to write about is outstanding. The freedom for one’s ideas to change and for topics to shift are so accommodating and allows for the student to shine. This allows students to be able to explore what they want to look at which is valuable for a course this late into an undergraduate’s career. It is a bridge between undergraduate and graduate work and allows for students to broaden horizons.

5 Minutes to Midnight?

The world is a crazy place. I have been paying close attention to the United Kingdom’s response to the political assassinations in the U.K. over the past few weeks and I feel like I am watching appeasement. If the Russian government did, in fact, order an assassination on their citizens in a sovereign country that would be one of the most blunt actions of national intimidation since the collapse of the USSR. The usage of a gas agent is not only frightening, but is bone-chillingly ominous. Not only does the Russian Federation have access to major nuclear weapons, but they have the ability to deploy gas weapons despite international concerns. I am reminded of the idea of the doomsday clock and Alan Moore’s excellent graphic novel, The Watchmen. What happens when situations are so bad it feels that we are only five minutes from extinction? Each tick of the clock brings us closer to the absurd situation we all see in life. Each tick of the clock brings with it new dangers and new destruction.

Why are books belonging to Jewish Studies being destroyed by students? Why is there such a hatred of a faith that an individual or possibly a group of individuals feel it is necessary to destroy an object of learning, an object of teaching? This destruction on WWU’s campus is not only scary, but another example of the clock getting ready to tick on. Why is it that we need to protect knowledge in these times? Why is it that we need to protect anything in these times?

More importantly what could cause the clock to tick back? What can reverse something strong enough to push time? What could that be?

I would like to leave this piece of cinematic music from 2009’s Watchmen. This music is not only ominous but almost frightening, Countdown- Tyler Bates.


Privilege of Freedom

Looking back to a few weeks ago, one thing still stands out to me after hearing Auschwitz survivor, Noemi Ban, tell her story. Her focus on the idea of freedom and the complacency that some people of my generation have come to associate with the word. What do we know of true freedom, the idea of being free just is hard for us to comprehend. We have grown up around the ideas of freedom, the ability to drink clean water, to eat substantive food, to speak what language we choose to speak, and what I think is the most important, the ability to think and speak one’s mind without legal repercussion.  Noemi felt the lack of freedom and when she gained it she never took it for granted. Her focus on the refreshing hold of water is fascinating as it is water. I complain about water quality when I can taste even a little bit of mineral taste. Noemi focused on the freedom of being able to not only drink water but have water. I feel like I appreciate my freedom, but here I am dehydrated with an empty water bottle next to me.

They way Noemi speaks about her family is beautiful. She speaks so gently about them and remembers so much about how they were and the characteristics that matched them. Her grandmother struck me as the most interesting person who wished to keep part of her life, the candlestick. That candlestick represented their prior sense of freedom before the rule of the Nazis. A single item that reminded them of what they had before only for it to be what could kill all of them just for that little taste of freedom.

The most important part of Noemi’s speech is her response to the perpetrators. Not Germans, but rather calling them Nazis. Not every German was a perpetrator of the Holocaust, but every Nazi was. I think this is useful when finding a hardcore definitions bout the perpetrators because how should we lump in the Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians, etc. into the group of perpetrators that helped to advance the Holocaust. They can all be Nazis which gives a name and an identity to all of the perpetrators despite their background.

The experience of hearing a survivor talk is one I will never forget and one I will never wish to forget. Noemi’s story is one that is not only fascinating, but unique in her own reflections of the events of the Holocaust.

This week I listened to Béla Bartók a Hungarian composer. His work helped me write this and the playing of the linked Romanian folk music is wonderful.

A Long Way Back

This week I felt my quarterly regret for leaving to Washington State for college. This period breaks my soul each time I come across it. I chose to leave everything I knew three years ago and pursue something different in life away from everything I knew. I refuse to regret the decision because I knew it was best for me, but this doesn’t mean I miss home or refuse to grieve when I miss home. This period of my thought brings me on a long way back to my own reality and where I am in order to connect back with the world I chose to come to. This mood makes me run on autopilot and lose the consistency and knowledge I hold so dear to my soul. I hate it but it is necessary to my discovery of the world.

I suppose this thought was brought upon me by a trauma at home. My brother’s Bearded Dragon, Eragon, had to be put down because of a brain tumor that had begun to show symptoms effecting his motor control system. I was not close to the lizards my brother holds so dear despite sharing a room with them for at least the last 5 years I was in Colorado. I think of the trauma and grief it caused the other members of my family. My brother who is away at college learning that his beloved pet is dead, my mother watching the lizard have to be put down, and most of all my chihuahua, Lil’ Bit who was a dear friend of the lizard, feeling this loss. Every time that I run this situation through my mind I feel awful, but I haven’t learned how to grieve the situation. This isn’t like when I am present when death effects my life. I am away, I am nearly unaffected. This is why I wanted to write about this to help put my feelings in perspective because I am unsure about what to feel about this. Empathize with those around the situation, even if you don’t feel the trauma yourself.

This ability to empathize with something out of your control is so, so hard. I wish I never had to, but that is the situation of my own humanity. In other news, the Olympics have brought me the sense of boyhood joy watching the incredible array of sports and the hard work that everyone puts into their work. I have enjoyed Curling the most so far because a seemingly simple sport has so many complexities and different reactions from the many countries that participate in the sport. Every Olympics is a wonderful situation to be a part of especially as the world enjoys these games to the point where international politics are ignored. I really wish that Vice President Mike Pence wouldn’t have set the situation to politicize the games with some blind stunt against the North Korean Delegation as well as his ongoing feud with LGBTQ athletes at the games. The Olympics are a celebration of human accomplishment and togetherness.

The song I listened to this week was Rose-Colored Boy- Paramore and I feel it somewhat captures my mood for the week. Hopefully the remainder of this week changes things.

Lethargy and a Monkey: Reflections on Ishmael Beah

Looking back on this book, I loved reading it. I have enjoyed memoirs since being given two memoirs on Jonestown Survivors freshman year of college in a Introduction to Religious Studies class. Memoirs bring me to the authors view and reflection on their situation and share me the experience of being where they saw evil, good, or simply life. Beah’s experiences in the Sierra Leonese Civil War during the 1990’s were brought to me from his eyes. While Beah was reflecting on his situation, I was able to grasp some understanding on this English-speaking country experiencing war.

One of the things that stood out most to me was the references to what I view as my culture’s items. In particular, that would be the usage of Action Movies as entertainment and almost training for young child soldiers and the use of 90’s rap and hip hop being used as a survival tool for Beah and his friends to survive in the harshness of Sierra Leone’s war. War has never been a part of my life living in the United States, yet I know of the influence of war. The glorification of war and violence, and in this case through Rambo and Commando. Both of these movies I had seen with my father as a part of seeing the “classic” 80’s action movie. These were simply entertainment to me, never were they a source of inspiration in combat. These movies are ones I enjoyed with my father being a bonding situation, not preparation for war like Beah experienced. I recall a similar occurrence last year while dealing with the Bosnian Genocide and the clothing that the individuals wore to their death. A San Francisco 49ers Jacket, Levi Jeans, and other various clothing materials I see every day in my American life. These items ground the experience in my mind and help me to visualize the conflicts. Schwarzenegger’s thick Austrian accent, Stallone’s unique drawl, the 49ers 1990’s super bowl dynasty, they all bring me back to the present and help me to relate to the situation.

Furthermore, I saw the other side of disaster: hope. Esther is that hope for me. An aide worker who gives everything she can to help bring Beah back to reality. She reminds me of the work my mother did when she was a school nurse. Regardless of the situation she was there to hear you out and bring things to help one cope or adapt. Esther brought Beah back into being a child more than he could ever expect. Her patience and stubbornness were crucial for Beah’s rehabilitation. My mother was the same way with the Nepalese and Bhutanese immigrants to Aurora, CO. She worked with them and helped them in the United States picking up on some Nepalese and learning their everyday life. She keeps poetry some of them wrote on the refrigerator, next to pictures of my siblings and me. That is hope. Hope is bringing things back and looking towards the future despite the situation. Whether a war zone in Freetown, Sierra Leone or a school in Aurora, CO, hope exists.

While in group discussion something I noticed in particular was lethargy. This subject is exhausting and taking it from the point of view of a survivor and victim is exhausting. I felt this my first time when watching and reading about Jonestown. My gut wrapped itself and the nausea was insufferable. Yet, despite this tragedy good came out of it. There is always a realization from every single tragedy and learning from it. We as a collective society in the world may never learn from a single tragedy, but each tragedy makes us all a little more informed. I am comfortable reading memoirs despite the content and the situation. I am not apathetic towards this topic, I have just learned that I need to approach my empathy with another way. I want to teach and write about how these tragedies have affected communities and how they have changed since then. Lethargy struck me in particular with Jonestown but as I lectured others and spoke them through the situation I began to feel the response I wanted to feel. I felt the accomplishment of making this tragedy learned and we would be one step closer to establishing that things like these will not happen again. This is why I often approach tragedy on a timeline to learn what allowed for this situation to happen and what has happened since. I find it a perfect way to deal with fatigue, or as I like to call it lethargy.

Lastly I want to talk about Beah’s Monkey story. It is essentially as follows: the monkey says to the hunter (Beah in the situation), “If you shoot me, your mother will die, and if you don’t, your father will die.” Beah’s experience led him answering that he would shoot the monkey to make sure no one else feels the pain. This utilitarian approach giving the good for the many is an example of supreme martyrdom. It is unselfish and it makes it so that no one is destroyed by this situation. Only one person suffers and goes on to tell the tale of the destructive and evil monkey. He chooses the informed opinion, the opinion of an individual who has seen evil. This choice makes me stress the importance of learning even more as this is seemingly not a first thought situation. This is the influence of one who’s life has been changed and shattered by a war like this.

I want to end this with a song I listened to while writing this post: Fake Happy by Paramore. I chose this song because I like to give the idea that I am not exhausted by this content and that I can speak about it forever, but it is fake. I suffer from the lethargy as much as the next person. It just takes a bit to catch up to me.

Fake Happy- Paramore

Week 10: The Train has left the Station

The experiences I have been through this quarter were outstanding experience when it came to the development of an experience. This project has made me incredibly open to the idea of research projects when it comes to the home that I choose to call the United States. People matter everywhere even in the privileged grasps of the United States there are problems that many experience and this assessment of the safety and health in Edmonds has simply been outstanding. I have learned that when it comes to communicating that email may be easy, but sometimes calling may be the best bet because it means plans can be made while both parties are present and communicating. I have learned that things can be misinterpreted when it is sent in email as there are things and certain nuances that many cannot notice via text. I have learned that car rides regardless of where I am put me to sleep with the prospect of a return trip. I have learned that group work is better for the distributor than the people not distributing work. Most importantly I have learned that the future of Anthropology is still relevant everywhere whether it is an exploration into groups thousands miles away or a group of individuals in our backyard, it remains relevant.

Week 9: Putting the Cherry on Top

This week has been about putting together our findings and making sure that we have a presentable and coherent paper to turn into the city. In particular, I really enjoy the process by which we have been able to do our work. The integration of not only findings, but using GIS software, Google Maps, and photographs taken by us we will be able to present not only an interesting report, but a report that comes with future considerations. While the process has been painstaking at times when it came to the establishment of ourselves in the community and figuring out how to best communicate with the parents in these communities was key. I feel however, we may have been able to reproduce more information if we had a longer period to do research and the means to be adjacent to where our research community is. I feel like a similar study can be done on any number of neighborhoods in the Bellingham area and produce incredible results.

I sadly will not be in attendance at the presentation given by not only our class, but through the university-wide projects that have occurred. I will instead be on a  charter boat that morning, I will gladly provide an update on that trip on this blog after we get back to shore. I wish all of my fellow presenters luck as they take their journey onto presenting to a community our work as an academic party.