Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ritika: "Musings from Miami"

  1. Canned chickpeas
  2. $14,000 funeral
  3. ESL and Computer Skills Class
  4. Lunch with the Prime Minister of Haiti
Check, check, check, and check.

Empowerment in the kitchen? Pass. Actually… this week I finally gave in and make my favorite comfort food. (I guess I miss Indian food ok?) I made channa masala, a spicy chickpea curry. It was a little dry and I initially forgot to add the chili powder, but overall it was a success -- that cleared my unsuspecting sinuses. Even with the hiccups it gave me a feeling I’d never had in such a high dose -- independence (two jobs, work hard, she a … bonus points if you can finish the line). How ironic that cooking make me feel that way, it’s just so domestic (read: basic) but it did. I’m not the quintessential college kid binging on cold pizza and ramen noodles, and that’s a good feeling. Quite the opposite of the mom-jean-wearing-kitchen-slave picture I had so feared...

Our first week at FANM we were told to research the recent shooting death of a teenage boy shot by another teenage boy on June 6th in Miami. One google search later, we had four possible, but unrelated incidents. Four. FOUR. FOUR TEENAGERS KILLED ON THE SAME DAY. And none of them were the actual shooting we were supposed to read about. The actual shooting occurred between brothers over clothing. Typical right? Wrong. Fighting over clothes is typical. Shooting over clothes is something else. Well that’s where my avoidance of feelings doubles as proactivity. We created a campaign platform ( the initiation step in a radical chain reaction. First, we raised $1720. Then State of Florida victims of violent crime compensation provided $5000. Next the Trayvon Martin Foundation donated $1000. In case you got hung up on the math, that’s only $6280 left. With some help from Congresswoman Wilson of the 24th district of Florida, Reflexions Funeral Home agreed to put on the funeral for whatever money had been raised thus far. Only one small problem, GoFundMe takes 7% of the online donations. What? Thats 120.04 I don’t have. Cue termination step in the form of an anonymous $200 donation. Bam. My ice box may have melted somewhere along the way...

A straw hat and an infectious smile. And that laugh, that utterly joyous, harmonious, throaty laugh. Like a scent that can take you back eons, this gleaming personality catapulted me back to 2002, to my grandpa. The brilliant yet unassuming gentleman. The ever-hopeful storyteller. If I allow myself one unreasonable regret, it’s that he didn’t live long enough for me to chat, debate, be merry with him. But back to the straw hat. Brenda and I are novices at teaching, although we are fluent in English, we need to develop some more skills to teach it, so it takes a couple tries for us to get the point across. When we explained the difference between I and me and us and we, using examples, Joseph, the smiling straw hat, clapped aloud for us, thanking us. That hearty and heartfelt applause and shear joy without an inkling of mirth was more than refreshing, it was reinforcing. I don’t trust myself to put the feeling into words...
Results of email sending practice. If nothing else, this class has taught me how uncommon real sincerity is.

On Tuesday we were told to create a presentation about the campaign we’d been working on, the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. Right now, the US has a Cuban Family Reunification Program in place that allows Cuban nationals with approved family-based visa petitions to enter the US while their actual visas are still being processed. This means that they are legally allowed to reside in the US as parolees and bypass the waitlist to receive a visa. However, this is not the case for other Caribbean nations. In fact, the waitlist for immediate family members from Haiti is anywhere from 5 to 12 years. If you think about it, that is a huge chunk of childhood during which as many as 110,000 families are separated. So naturally, I opened up a PowerPoint and began typing away. Pretty soon, I had a short and sweet presentation to inform a lay audience.

On Wednesday, we were told that we would be presenting to Laurent Lamothe, the Prime Minister of Haiti, in lieu of Marleine, our supervisor, who would be unable to attend. After our Friday evening meeting was rescheduled to a Saturday luncheon, Brenda and I awoke promptly at the crack of dawn (which is 10 am, in case you were wondering) and made our way across Miami to the meeting. Most of the meeting was conducted in Creole, apart from our presentation. I had thought that we would be telling the Prime Minister things he already knew, but he questioned my reference to the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti. I never thought I would be defending my research to a foreign official; always remember to cite your sources kids! Perhaps the most touching part of this meeting was our supervisor Marleine’s absence. Rather than attend a meeting with the leader of her home country, she chose to attended Steven and Stanley’s funeral. Her selfless dedication to the community members that depend on her is admirable. She will remain the model for the leader I want to be for a long time…

May you have more coherent thoughts than mine,

No comments:

Post a Comment