Apply to become a SASC Summer Institute mentor or mentee!
The Southeast Asian Student Coalition Summer Institute (SASC SI) is a five-day, all expense paid educational program that will take place from Wednesday, June 18th to Sunday June 22nd. The program provides a safe learning environment and opportunity for Southeast Asian high school students (specifically those tied to the Southeast Asian refugee experience, i.e. Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge, Secret War) to learn more about the college experience and Southeast Asian culture and history. Selected students will participate in college workshops, lectures, and other peer-bonding activities while staying in a University of California, Berkeley dormitory or other accommodations.
High school students of any ethnicity are eligible to apply. However, please be aware that the majority of the workshops will cater to students who relate to the Southeast Asian experience (Southeast Asian include but is not limited to Mien, Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese ethnicities).
MENTOR APPLICATION: http://bit.ly/1mTkfgC
Due Saturday, March 15th, 2014 at 11:59 PM.
MENTEE APPLICATION: http://bit.ly/1i5a8yX
Due by Monday, March 31st, 2014 at 11:59 PM.
You can also access the mentor application by clicking the flyer above!
4 GPS for the Soul / by Nancy Colier / 1 day ago
I always giggle when I see the photograph that accompanies blogs or articles on “being present.” The image, nine times out of 10, is of a person (usually a woman) sitting cross-legged on a beach, looking out at an ocean or other body of water, with the sun setting or rising in front of her. The implication is that this peaceful beautiful scene is what presence feels or looks like. The truth is, if life were a beach at sunset we might not have to work so hard at being present “in” it.
If what we were hearing was the lapping of the waves against the sand, we might want to listen to the sound of now. But what happens when what we are hearing is the siren of the ambulance directly behind us when there’s nowhere to change lanes? If what we were smelling was the fresh salt air coming off the sea, we might want to breathe in what is here. But what happens when we are smelling the cleaning solution the gym attendant is spraying on the machine we are using, even though we are the only one in the place? If what we were feeling was the warm sand against our toes, we might want to dip into the present sensation. But what happens when what we are feeling is the cold wet slush soaking our pants as the bus wheels past? If what we were seeing were the pinks and blues of a glorious sunset, we might want to keep our eyes open to what’s now. But what happens when what we are looking at is a homeless person hunkered down for the night under filthy blankets on an icy sidewalk? How can we be “in” the present moment when we don’t “like” the present moment?
Life includes experiences we want and ones we don’t. We are better at being present in the ones we want, and we need more practice staying in the moments we don’t want. Many people ask me why we would even try and be present in the bad moments. Our assumption is that by agreeing to be present in what we call the bad moments, we are somehow agreeing to them, surrendering to them, and giving up all efforts to change them. We believe that, in order to keep things good in our life, we must brace against, ignore, and reject anything not good. This is an incorrect assumption with profound consequences.
Agreeing to be present in the hard moments is simply agreeing that what is happening is happening, and that we are in it. We accept that this is what we are living right now, whether we like it or not. We say, “Yes this is so and yes this is hard.” This “Yes,” this acceptance, is fundamentally different than, “Yes, we want this.” When we accept what is so right now, we give up the fight against what is supposed to be, and the idea that what is happening should not be happening, and certainly not be happening to us. When we give ourselves permission to be “in” the moments that don’t feel good — which may even feel like hell — ironically, we experience a kind of wholeness. There is a profound completeness, you could almost call it a joy, in being able to experience life fully, in all its presentations — even the ones we despise.
Furthermore, as long as we are “checking out” on the moments that we don’t like, we are an extra step away from being able to change them. It is counter-intuitive, but until we fully accept what is happening we cannot move on, we reject what is and as a result, what is gets stuck. When we settle into, and accept our starting place, we plant our feet in the place from which we can launch change. Scary though it may feel, agreeing to be here doesn’t mean agreeing to be here forever, it just means agreeing to be here in this moment, right now. The fact is, whether we agree to being here, in “it,” or not, “it” still is; our rejection or acceptance of “it” does nothing to “its” is-ness. When we are present in the hard moments, we are released from the primary cause of suffering, which is refusing to be where we are, rejecting our very life. Joined with the moment, we stop wasting our energy, futilely demanding that what is so not be so. When we enter where we are, pretty or not, we can at least stop bracing against our life, stop expending the effort that is required to keep us out of now. Once in the moment, inside our actual experience, we can begin the constructive work of creating change.
It is also important to remember that when we settle into the more challenging moments of life, we do not lose awareness of how we feel or the desire for change. We don’t suddenly become unconscious. We still don’t want it to be the way it is but that not wanting is simply included in the “what is,” along with the wet slush and the ambulance siren. Our dislike of the moment is part of and not a contradiction to our presence. Being able to be in the moments we don’t want is a challenge that requires different skills than being in the moments we want (which also takes skill). Experiencing what is, as it is, along with our dislike of it, forms a base of compassion for ourselves — that we are living this hard moment and it is painful and we want it to be otherwise and it is what is so right now. All are true — all at once. This self-compassion, of diving into the whole of what is, regardless of the difficulty that inspires it, is always healing and always carries the feel of a loving embrace.
Life presents all of us with the opportunity to be present “off the beach” — on a small scale, when the skies open up and we have no umbrella; on the larger, as we sit with our parent dying in the hospital, or any one of the infinite human hardships we face. Life gives us endless chances to practice being “in” what is when what is is not what we want. To be able to be “in” the moment in all its forms is to experience the full depth and scope of our human existence. To embrace what is happening, how we feel about it, how we wish it weren’t so, how we are going to try and change it and everything else, all at once, without having to reject any of it… this is what it means to be fully alive! Even when we are not at the beach, we are here, tasting life, and that in and of itself is the real gift!
Taurus & Taurus Rising
“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”― Toni Morrison
One of my favorite things is being with my friends during one of those times when I feel like I am actually there with my friends. You know those times when you feel connected, embraced and fully with the people that you are with, free to love them and appreciate them as is? One of my least favorite things is when I am surrounded by those that I love and feel like I am in a glass bubble. The very people that I felt so connected to, so in love with and so understood by now seem so far away even though they are so seemingly near. What has changed, I wonder to myself. Well, the only common denominator is me, unfortunately. I have the power to change the same situation into a win or a loose, into a good time or a bad one and into a score or a debt. This is the bane of being human I suppose, particularly a moody one (which you are far less likely to be). Enjoyment is only one part of the equation for you this week, Taurus. The other piece is a little something I can only describe as being kidnapped by your worst phobia’s, insecurities and wounds. This might leave you in a fun-house of feelings about your friends, your community and your place in it. For the musicians out there, I highly recommend jamming with as many friends as you can. For the poets, read yours words aloud to one another. For the artists, find those that inspire you and for everyone else call up your bestie and get your tuchas’s to a museum. Art helps to mediate funky feelings and strange projections. Don’t believe everything you think this week but enjoy any and all creatively inspired gatherings.
A list poem for working-class girls trying to grow up and into themselves(via http://bit.ly/1d50rfx)
1. It is okay to leave anyone and anything and anyplace that makes you feel like shit. It’s hard, but it’s okay. And bump explaining anything to anyone, unless you want to. Let them wonder.
2. Know who you are. Not just on some touchy-feely fuzzy pretty-on-the-inside tip, but knowing who you are racially, culturally, in relationship to your sexuality, gender and your class- is a source of your power. You define that for you. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you who you are. This may change in time, as you grow and learn more. That’s okay. Manage any shame or guilt you may feel through acts of accountability.
3. Be accountable for what you do. This means owning up to how you mess up, just as much as it means owning and defending the contested space you fill. You will mess up, and only you can seek atonement for this. You will need to defend yourself, and rarely will anyone do that work for you. Acknowledging both your mistakes and your rights as equally important.
4. They will call you crazy. You are a woman. There is no way of going through the world in the moment we live in and not get called crazy by someone, often someone you wish would see you as deeply sane. You are not crazy. The world is crazy. If you are affected by this imbalanced, unjust world, it only proves that you are a sentient being with some sense of empathy.
5. Empathy is built. You need to learn to really listen. This means listening without thinking about how it relates to you, or planning the next thing you are going to say. This means seeing everyone, regardless of who they are, as a human being. You cannot really be a human being unless you regard everyone as such, even your greatest nemeses and the gravest perpetrators. All of our damage comes from somewhere. Yours and everyone else’s. Learn to listen to others. Learn to listen to yourself. Empathy cannot exist without really, deeply listening first.
6. You are going to have moments of unbearable pain. It takes time to learn how to heal yourself. And healing sometimes still leaves scars. Healing is sometimes incomplete. Think of your scars as battle-wounds – evidence of how much wiser you are now- maps of where not to return. Cherish these scars and honor them. There will come times when they are the only reminder of where you have been, and how much you still need to grow.
7. You are going to have moments of unbearable loneliness. You need to learn how to love being with yourself, because ultimately, no one has the potential to love you like you can. It is beautiful to love and be loved, but these are just hints as to how to regard yourself. If you regard yourself highly, and learn to turn loneliness into soothing solitude, you will be capable of giving and receiving truly transformative love.
8. Find something that makes you feel like the world makes sense, even if you can’t justify it intellectually to yourself or anyone else. Personally, if I don’t rock a wall, get up, get laid, get down on a dancefloor, read a good book, write a poem, listen to a mind-blowing record or have a soul-shaking, satisfying conversation at least once a week, the world doesn’t make sense to me and I am unmoored. If I don’t get these things for a month, I become a total, inconsolable, incomprehensible wreck. This wreck can easily snowball into all kinds of self-destruction. Find what works for you and be loyal to it as a loyalty to yourself.
9. The world you live in is sick. This sickness creeps into all of us, and in many it manifests as an inability to love oneself, let alone others. Some of those afflicted with a parasitic strain of this illness will latch onto you as a host. You may believe it is part of your nature to nurture and support endlessly. These people will eat your love whole, and you with it, and leave you as a husk. You can grow again from your husk, but it will be hard, and it takes time and the training of betrayal and heartbreak to learn to trust yourself enough to determine who is worthy of your trust. Do not let anyone ride you. Only walk with those who will walk side by side with you, as an equal.
10. Do not mess with lovers that don’t prioritize your pleasure. That can look like a lot of different things, and you’re probably still figuring it out. Don’t put up with lovers that don’t give you room to explore, to express, and above all – if a lover is only focused on using you as a vessel to reach their plateau –be out. This doesn’t mean to ignore your partner’s pleasure, but rather to see yours as of equal worth.
11. You are not responsible for the actions of those who hated themselves so much that they hurt you.
12. Collectivism is a beautiful concept, and something worth constantly striving toward and building. Collectivism has radically changed and challenged unjust structures and institutions. But if you sacrifice your own survival for the benefit of the whole, you will find yourself wringing your hands and questioning the meaning of your life and doubting the worth of others in light of their unabashed self-interest. Find a balance.
13. Do not carry broken people who are not in the process of rebuilding themselves.
14. You are not your job. Your job is simply a paycheck, and you are probably not compensated what you are worth and it is not your fault- you inherited a broken economic system, and you will not be the first generation to fight for your right to live. But you need to fight for your right to live, in solidarity, with those around you who are also struggling.
15. Going to college is an accomplishment. It does not, however, make you better than anyone else. It doesn’t make you essentially more intelligent. You never really make it “out” of the class you came from, and you never really make it “in” to the class you aspired to.
16. If you cannot translate what you have learned from whatever access you’ve had back to wherever you came from, then you have not gained anything- you have changed. Assimilation is a choice. Seek to be a translator. Seek to share your access to those who you may have left behind. Seek to disrupt the structures that taught those of us who gained more access that we are worth more than where we left, and less than what we found ourselves among.
17. Never take validation too deeply to heart. This is especially true of those who came up entrenched in the age of social media. The gaze of hegemony is always on us. Find validation in the ratio between how positively you impact yourself and others versus how you mess up and hurt others. You will hurt others. Be accountable for this, when you need to be, and always be mindful of how often that happens in relation to those you help grow. None of us can be saints, but we can be salient and sentient.
18. Take your struggle to your community, and find community in those whose struggles intersect. It is only within one another that we will make any sense of this destroyed world and it’s corrupt ideology that we’ve inherited. Fight. Fight. Fight.
19. You are inherently valuable. You have worth. Ask no one for permission.
Greed and exploitation become a norm when an ethic of domination prevails. They bring in their wake alienation and lovelessness. Intense spiritual and emotional lack in our lives is the perfect breeding ground for material greed and over consumption. In a world without love the passion to connect can be replaced by the passion to possess. While emotional needs are difficult, and often impossible to satisfy, material desires are easier to fulfill. Our nation fell into the trap of pathological narcissism in the wake of wars that brought economic bounty while undermining the vision of freedom and justice essential to sustaining democracy.
Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will-namely both and intention and an action. Will implies choice. We do not have to love. We chose to love.