Open Heart


I try to live with an open heart (corazón abierto). I am a Spanish major, and I find it a beautiful language. I cannot wait to be fluent so I can communicate with more people and hear their stories and perspectives. I enjoy reading and listening to Spanish music. Sometimes I may write here in Spanish.
Life is good and Ilook for the best in people. Helping others is essential for a better world. My goal in life is to help others and show them how wonderful it can be.

Not Everyday

It’s not everyday that you agree to take a dance class with a girl, then when you find out you can’t do, promise that you can practice together (more than one time) when you are home and that when the internship is over, that you’ll come back and take the class. You also suggest that you keep taking the class a secret until November so you can impress a big group of friends at a conference you are attending.

It’s not everyday that you go out to a club with a group of friends and then sleep at one of their apartments and stay up talking with with that same girl until 5 AM when everyone else is asleep. Not to forget that you payed for parking, for her to get in and bought her a water afterwards, or that you kept her from falling when drunk girls tripped and fell on her more than once.

It’s not everyday that you go watch fireworks with this girl, take a goofy picture together (you idea, not her’s) and then hangout at Starbucks for an hour afterwards. And you make plans to learn her favorite dance from the class she is taking while you are home before your mutual friend’s birthday party in two weeks.

It’s not everyday you invest this much time and energy in a person, is it?

A Brief Reflection of my 1st Semester of College, and a Look Forward to the Second

So, this first semester of college I feel was a tremendous exitó! Not only did I earn straight A’s, but I feel like I built relationships. Well, not only did I build relationships, I feel like I’ve actually truly done things that are worthwhile for others, things that benefited other people! Through the immigration clinic, involvement with the immigrant rights movement, and through my friends who are undocumented and my relationships with them, and by doing what I could to help them build themselves up to achieve their goals, I feel I got a huge dose of completeness. Sure, there were days I was utterly exhausted, but it wasn’t important because I felt good (if not a little insane as well!). I feel like I matured and learned a great deal too. Of course at times I still feel very self-centered, but less and less so, thank goodness. And it was really odd, because the less I tried to impress people, the more people seemed impressed. I have a few examples:

-The most recent event was over New Years. A friend and fellow coordinator at the immigration clinic read the obituary of my grandmother who passed away on December 26th. She was reading it because a friend of her daughter’s, whom she had met multiple times, had posted it on facebook. Her daughter’s friend lives in Tallahassee, and is a lawyer where her daughter first worked at after finishing law school. Now my friend’s daughter lives in Texas, and they were all visiting there for the holidays. And it just so happened that her and her daughter’s friend is my aunt, and that I had met my friend’s daughter and grandchildren when I had visited and stayed with my aunt for a week while working as a messenger for the Florida House of Representatives in the 11th grade. My friend, Nancy (I should have named her earlier), then sent my aunt a very sweet e-mail about me and she was astounded that we were related! I was astounded they knew each other! What were the chances? But anyways, my aunt forwarded me and my parents the message from Nancy about me and her very kind view of me volunteering at the clinic. And Nancy is probably one of the nicest women alive, and to have her say something so nice about me is a real compliment.

-During this past semester I worked for my Spanish professor/adviser, Dr. Garcia. On several occasions, he told me that I don’t come off as a freshman. He said that some of the freshmen in his first semester Spanish class, despite being my same age, came off as very immature and not ready for college studies.

-I have this sense for people that give of good vibes, and my friend Eli is one of those people. One day I happened to see her and we both had an hour free. We went to Tutu’s (I got to use my excessive meal plan on her!), and contently chatted for a while. She is just so sweet, I don’t even know where to start. But at one point we were talking about a little girl whose parents we both know well (I eat dinner at their house on Saturday nights!), and she said she was talking to them and one of them said, “We really wonder where it comes from in her [referring to me], she is so nice and just happy.” Something along those lines, and then Eli told me that I am just happiness and joy all inside. I was really surprised because often I feel like I don’t give that off. I feel a lot of the time like people thing I am strange or that I appear in a bad mood. And when she was telling me this was when I was getting really annoyed with my original roommate who updated me like some people update their twitters and facebooks…excessively. It was also when I was still (and still am), very frustrated with my oldest sister. Hearing her say that was how she and others viewed me made me want to live up to that standard. And it made me look at myself, who do I need to be more patient with? Well, I have changed roommates, but with my oldest sister, a better relationship would be nice, but right now it’s a bit complicated….anyways, not to get sidetracked, it was just really interesting (in a REALLY flattering and good way), to hear Eli say those things.

-Finally, probably the funniest thing of me NOT trying to impress any one, yet still managing to do so was with guys! I swear, I have never had so many guys show interest in me, and it’s really bizarre. I think it’s partially a college thing, but at the same time, I am not totally sure because I am CLUELESS as to why these guys have been attracted to me. First off, I do not drink and I do not party. Second, I do not dress like a slut, and I am not exactly showing off my body all that much. Third, most of the time I am legitimately busy and if a guy asks me to hang out I will tell them the complete truth of what I am doing. I can’t count the number of times I turned down invites to hang out because of work, babysitting, volunteering, or working with the movement. It’s insane almost. But each person kept would ask me again later or ask me when I would be free (and some continue to do so). And finally, I got really lazy about things like shaving (no shave November anyone?) and make up… not to forget the stress break outs I started to get around the end of October! I felt anything BUT attractive most days! YET THEY KEPT WANTING TO SEE ME?!?!? I really don’t understand their interest haha.

Anyways, as I look forward to my second semester, I really want to keep getting into Spanish. I have 2 Spanish literature classes AND elementary Portuguese. I couldn’t be more excited! I am also going to test the educational field waters and see what I like. I think I might like to be an ESL teacher in South Florida, as well as a Spanish teacher. Eventually though, I’d really like to get my masters in Spanish. That’d be a dream. Also for second semester, I want to learn to be really savvy with saving money without sacrificing having a good time. Right now it looks like I will have 3 regular jobs including working for Dr. Garcia, working at the church, and then teaching Caitlin Spanish once a week or so (a year and a half year old toddler!), and then I will have irregular babysitting gigs. And I have been getting a lot of babysitting calls lately, so I think that will be a strong source of income. The main thing I will have to watch is not eating out so much and buying so much food outside of school, which is hard to do because of the monotony of eating at school, but I think I can get around it. Let’s hope I don’t lose weight like I did last semester… And, without doubt, I am going to keep working with the clinic and possibly even start getting more involved with the movement through either being more involved with PSC SWER or maybe starting one at FSC. We’ll see. I feel like I’d get some good support if I talked to the right people. I really just hope that something good happens for them. And I can say for a fact it feels so much better helping others than being helped yourself. I am really glad I am useful enough to help them and that I have the resources to do so. I guess they think I have good enough abilities too becuase they haven’t kicked me out yet :).

I seriously do love the people within the movement. They show so much perseverance, strong work ethic, and overall are buenas gentes. They show me every time I see them how I want to be perceived by others. And I love how they stick with one another and how united they are.

So, final note, since it’s a New Year, people typically make resolutions. Mine is to keep on the path I am going down as long as I feel it is the right path for me. I think this following quote will sum up my sentiments.

Estarémos satisfechos cuando dejemos de buscar la satisfacción en cosas exteriores. Todo lo que necesitamos está dentro de nosotros. En otras palabras, aunque siempre vamos a querer tener más de lo que tenemos por naturaleza humana, lo importante es que nos demos cuenta de que nuestra felicidad no depende de alguien o de algo, sino de nuestro bienestar interno…con el cual nacimos pero la mayoria de nosotros olvidamos esto y pasamos muchos momentos infelices sin necesidad por la ignorancia de quienes somos en verdad. - Eridania Garcia

We will be satisfied when we stop searching for satisfaction in exterior things. All that we need is within ourselves. In other words, while we are always going to want to have more than what we have by human nature, what’s important is that we realize that our happiness doesn’t depend on somebody or something, but our internal well-being…that with which we were born, but the majority of us forget this, and we unnecessarily spend many moments unhappy because of the ignorance of who we truly are.

Does that make sense? I want to be who I truly am. I want to do what feels right on all accounts, and I want my happiness to abound. And this internal well-being for me depends on those around me. It depends on me building them up and doing what I can for them, because by doing so and forgetting myself, I am consequently building myself up. And while I cannot change laws for them or solely bring them their ultimate goals, I can be part of a support system that helps everybody within it.

I don’t know where I am going with this anymore, I hope I am still making sense. It’s a profound thought within my head at least…

Español- Pasión y Tiempo

El otro día un muchacho me oyó hablar español. Estaba con el, Sam, Luis y Brenden y fuimos al cine. En el coche en camino al cine, les dije sobre mis aventuras en Gainsville y el congreso de FLIC durante el fin de semana que ha pasado. Les dije en español y el muchacho me preguntó (en ingles) por cuanto tiempo he estudiado la lengua. Pues, empecé a estudiar en el grado 7. Y esto es lo que me molestó… el me dijo, “I’ve had Spanish since 5th grade and you speak better than I do.”

Eso me molesta porque el no entiende que la pasión más vale que el tiempo. El piensa que debe saber más que yo. Estoy en la escuela para estudiar ESPAÑOL! Obviamente yo sé como hablar y comunicarme! Es como decir a un estudiante de música, “Me encanta la música y sé lo todo porque participaba en la banda de mi escuela por muchos años, ¿cómo es posible que sepas más que yo? Pero ahora estudio los negocios en la universidad.” Si lo amaras como la persona que lo estudia, continuarías estudiarlo. No les diga nada porque no es tu pasión real, pero es suyo.

También, quiero decir que el no está involucrado en la comunidad hispana cómo yo. Él no busca las oportunidades de hablar ni sabe tantos latinos como yo. 

Laggard through and through!

Laggard through and through!

Source: pinterest.com

Enlightenment

So the FLIC congress this weekend was amazing and incredibly tiring. I drove there with a relatively new friend, Erik. And then we got there and the check in place looked sketchy and we thought we were in the wrong place but then we got in and, wa-la! We were there, checked in and waited for the rest of our group. While waiting we chose workshops to go to. We decided to stick together and went to one called Love and Revolution that was about the intersection between immigration and non-straight individuals. Then the other I went to was about the history of racism. I learned a lot in both of these and I will comment more in a few moments.

After check in all the youth went to the church we were staying in. We claimed our spaces to sleep and then played a game to break the ice and get to know each other. We went around the circle and had to say our name and something we liked and ALL of the names before us. Well when the circle came to me I got really nervous and I couldn’t think of anything that I liked so my friend Juan told me to say I like Spanish. So I said that and I got a few laughs and I had to do a motion as well so Juan told me to say “Hola” and wave. The room laughed and said I was cute. After the game finally ended some of the other youth at the church spoke to me and I actually got compliments on my Spanish! I particularly remember this Colombian guy, Esteban. It was a definite confidence booster! Then a bunch of us went to a club called La Costa. It was a lot more fun than when I went to Hyde Park Cafe in Tampa. Our group stayed together in the VIP section and I most danced with Erik (to keep creepy guys away). A few times I danced with Juan and a little with Mayra and a lot by myself. I am not much of a dancer, but it was a lot of fun. I would definitely go do that again! I got back around 2:30 or maybe almost 3 and just slept. I know some people got back a lot later because they went to an after party. I know a good number of them got drunk too. I personally don’t drink but I was fine with the people I was with. The next morning I woke up at 6:10 to someone else’s alarm. I was very annoyed… But I got up, washed my face and I was ready to go when we were supposed to be (7 AM). Most people weren’t ready….a lot were even still asleep. But around 6:45-7ish, this guy Jose and I started playing music loudly in this stereo system. I started out with classics in English like Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, and Bob Marley, but then the last song I played was Niña Bonita by Chino y Nacho. The people who were awake were impressed I could sing to most of it and they definitely approved. 

So the day started with breakfast in La Casita which is the UF Hispanic Student meeting house. Afterwards we went over to UF to go to a few introductions and I was very happy to not need a translator when they spoke Spanish :)

Eventually we got lunch and then went to our first workshop.

I went to Amor y Revolucion and it talked about the intersection of immigration and homosexual youth (mostly). Put simply, the undocumented youth and not straight youth experience the same anxiety of telling people their secrets. It can be even more difficult if you are both. And these two movements haven’t come together for various reasons such as the church often supports immigrant rights but is against homosexuality or anything that challenges the norm of a man and a woman being together. We did one activity where we had to put the date our family immigrated here, when we “came out,” and a date we thought should be on the timeline they had posted around the room. Well, I know I’ve had family since the 1600’s at the earliest. I don’t know a specific date, but my grandmother showed me this entire story of a woman I am distantly related to from that general time period. My family was there before anyone else’s. It was interesting to see that. Also, for when I “came out” I put my social consciousnesses came out. I had a hard time with that. Then finally I put the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as my date that should be on the time like because it represents the breakdown of barriers. We also “came out” to each other. We went around the rooms and gave definitions of different sexualities. I was an ally to everyone.

Then the second workshop was about the history of racism. That was very interesting. We started out by having everyone who had ever felt discriminated against go to one side of the room. I stayed on the non-discriminated side. There were 5 or 6 of us in a room of over 30 people. It was sad. I felt guilty, but it also made me want to defeat this trend in the world through my actions.

I am a Anglo-Saxon Christian. I come from one of the most oppressive backgrounds in the history of this world. My ancestors were the ones who repressed, suppressed, abused, and enslaved other cultures. My ancestors wiped out thousands of indigenous people and destroyed cultures completely. Blacks, Latin American indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, anyone who wasn’t white. And because of this discrimination within these races, there were more divisions by the darkness of skin. It’s horrible. It sickens me to know that my history is one of the oppressor. 

So here’s what I am going to do about it. I am not going to allow my ancestors define who I am and how I will behave in this world towards others. I am going to keep working for immigrant rights. I am going to continue building friendships with people of different religions and races and not let our differences come between us. Already now I think I have a majority of friends who are not white. I have Atheist, Catholic, Jain, Hindu, Buddhist, and Protestant friends. When I hear someone say something that insults another human being for one of these reasons, I will tell them to be more respectful. I will not stand to live in a world where I don’t do anything to abate the hate. 

In both of my workshops, there was an 11th grade guy named Jose. He came from Miami to the conference but he is not documented. There was a treasure box in which people could put stuff in from their lives. He brought his report card. He had straight A’s in AP and honors classes. Poor guy, just because he wasn’t born here, he doesn’t have to ability or the ease of going to college or getting a job as easily as I can. There are a lot of people like him… It’s not fair.

Finally we ended the day and had 3 panelist speakers. One woman told her story in Spanish. Why? Because she no longer wants to be repressed by English, or by other things. Her story was moving. She came here from the DR and had been raped. Her son was born and she didn’t know anyone and she didn’t speak English. Where she worked he coworkers and boss tried to condescend her and she felt stupid. She’s come a long way, and I really respect all she has achieved. At the beginning of her story Erik needed a translation so I did a little translation, but it was hard to listen and speak simultaneously. 

After that we went to dinner, but it was really busy so some people from our Lakeland group went to a Mexican restaurant. Juan made me order in Spanish, and then I practiced a little bit at dinner. I loved practicing.

Also during some of the breaks I met these two guys who were really dumbfounded/impressed by me speaking Spanish. One told me I had pretty Spanish and they were flirty too haha.

In the morning we did another bigger ice breaker game were we spoke with someone we didn’t know for 5 minutes or so. I got to speak with one woman who didn’t speak English, a guy from Brasil (I just wrote Brasil without even thinking about it, I love Spanish), and then another woman who spoke later that morning during the introductions, and an awkward woman who was also white like me.

Overall, I loved this weekend. I met a lot of people and I didn’t feel judged for trying to speak Spanish. The jovenes tried to teach me to dance before the club and it wasn’t hard to make friends. Everyone here, no matter what else, all support this cause for immigrant rights. We all shared and we all support each other. I support them and I believe they are human just as much as I am, no matter where they were born.

Corazones abiertos.

<3

<3

Hours old!

Hours old!

Zora!

Zora!

Zora <3

FLIC Congress Tomorrow

Tomorrow I am leaving for the Florida Immigrant Coalition Congress in Gainsville. This will be in interesting and learning experience. I am really excited.

Also tonight I discovered I love café con leche y pasteles con guayaba y queso! ¡Que deliciosos son! 

Also, I registered for classes this week. I have a tennis class, a Spanish Lit clas, Portuguese, Intro to Edu, and Psychology in the Natural World. I am ready for this semester to end, it has been a good start to college, but I am done and really looking forward to the next semester’s challenges!

Also, to make sure I have everything ready to leave for the FLIC congress, I am going to skip my Spanish class tomorrow. It won’t miss anything anyways, I have a 99.6 in there haha. I am really looking forward to my Spanish lit class next semester and having a clas fully in Spanish! And this time I will know people in my class from the start! I think I am the youngest in the class again, but we’ll see. I enjoy being the youngest. I get along well with people older than me for some reason; of course in college everyone is generally about 4 years apart at the most, so it’s not weird when you are constantly with these people in your age group.

My niece was born yesterday. She is the most beautiful baby ever. Her name is Zora, she was born 11-16-11 at 1:17 AM at 7 lbs 11 oz and 22 in. I held her yesterday and she is wonderful in so many ways. I am her tía and she is my sobrina! I love her unconditionally =)

¡Te queda el corazón abierto y siempre ama a la otra gente! ¡Demuestra compasión!