Welcome to my website. Feel free to look around and browse through my collection of articles, news packages, bio, blog, and more.
I recently received a communications internship at the National Society of Collegiate Scholars Headquarters in Washington, D.C. I have received countless opportunities to get my work reviewed, edited, and published. Check out one of my first stories published on their main website:
The chill of the cold winter months is quickly approaching and this is the perfect time to cuddle up with the one you care about. As Valentine’s Day draws near, many college students either have a blast celebrating this festive activity with their significant other or choose to completely ignore the holiday because of lack thereof.
Sometimes the opportunity to meet that significant other will come along when one least expects it, and bring with it new and exciting challenges from which one can learn, grow, and contribute to society. So keep your eyes open and your antennae up because you never know where or when that special person and special task will come along to change your life forever.
As different colleges and universities start to prepare for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars Rush with different programs and activities, students are vigorously working on new tasks and receiving the opportunity to meet and interact with new members.
Ten years ago around this same time, love was in the air for Heather and Blake Hamamoto. With both of them being officers of the NSCS University of Washington chapter, Blake and Heather were always working closely together on many collaborative projects and chapter activities.
It was during a New York Times fundraiser that Blake and Heather really took notice of each other outside of the college atmosphere. Even though it was a cold day in January, Blake and Heather only felt warmth as they got to know each other and really delve into their individual personalities. Since they hit it off so well that day, Heather made sure that she and Blake would be able to make more time to spend together and NSCS was a major force that allowed the two to do so.
Heather said, “I think we both did some maneuvering during the rest of that fundraiser week to make sure we could work a couple more shifts together!”
Now ten years later in 2013, Heather and Blake Hamamoto have been happily married for four years and have a two-year-old son.
Not only did Heather and Blake find love with NSCS, but they were able to use their relationship to do work for the organization and in turn, NSCS provided a support system that allowed them to thrive after their college tenure.
Heather said, “Building upon our experience in NSCS, we continue to seek leadership opportunities both at work and in our community at large, to engage in philanthropy and community service, and to strive to be the best versions of ourselves each day.”
A member of NSCS can be confident in the foundation provided by the principles instilled within the organization: scholarship, leadership, and service. Once a student makes a commitment to NSCS, the benefits, rewards, and relationships that come from the society are sure to last forever.
Reflecting on the relationship Heather and Blake now have and the memories they have together in NSCS, Heather said, “Without a doubt, the membership fee I paid to join NSCS was the best money I ever spent!”
By: Kiah Clingman, Communications Intern
Struggling to cling to the economic cliff are single mothers, small business owners, and elderly people on Medicare, all about to lose their grips and plunge into poverty and despair.
“The fiscal cliff basically will consist of legislated cuts in fiscal programs and increases in tax rates across all income levels…” said Dr. LaVaughn Henry, vice-president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Armed with a doctorate in Economics from Harvard University, Dr. Henry is especially qualified to connect his expertise with the current state of the economy and give a clear warning of what dangers are on the horizon.
“If we go over the cliff the economy will again fall into a recession. The tax rates you pay, the cost of gasoline, the price of food, the cost of your mortgage, and the quality of the education that you get are the result of economic decisions that have been made…based on some kind of economic principle,” Dr. Henry said. “Ultimately, every choice you make can be traced back to an economic decision.”
It was Booker T. Washington who said economics is “at the bottom of politics, education, and even religion.” The United States is in a crisis and the answer to the problem is somewhere deep within this complex world of economics.
Contrary to popular belief, the adoption of the Budget Control Act also known as “sequestration,” will have people from all different backgrounds, regardless of skin color and ethnicity, clinging to the edge of the cliff hoping not to fall to their fiscal death. Economics knows no color except green.
An intern for Delaware Senator Tom Carper who chose to remain anonymous, said, “Congress is basically letting the current tax cuts expire. We will have the taxes we had before this. So everyone will suffer, the middle class, blacks, whites, everyone.”
Michael Grant, the president of the National Bankers Association, comments on the sequestration issue, “It is wise for Congress to prevent sequestration because broad arbitrary cuts will affect hundreds of thousands of jobs. If Congress doesn’t act then there will be 600 billion dollars cut from social programs.”
“Many college students’ first jobs are with government agencies like the Department of Defense or Transportation. Agencies get their budgets slashed as well and, in turn, they must hire fewer employees and pay them less money. These agencies have less wiggle room to operate and students will be easily thrown out of the mix when looked at for hiring opportunities,” said the intern for Senator Carper.
Many people are worried about the infamous date, Dec. 21, 2012, but the fiscal Armageddon on Jan. 1, 2013 looks to be a lot more predictable and deadlier. A new word has been coined to describe its catastrophic economic consequences: Taxaggedon.
Persons from all walks of life are speaking out on the issue and continue to exemplify the diverse range of our population that will be affected by this sudden increase in taxes and decrease in employment. Moreover, with the decrease in disposable income among consumers, fewer goods and services will be purchased, sending businesses into an even deeper hole as they struggle to pay for their inventories.
The Congressional Budget Office official website states, “The contraction of the economy will cause employment to decline and the unemployment rate to rise to 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.”
Sharon Harvey, staff nurse at University Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, reflects on how the Budget Act will affect her family directly.
“I’m a single parent with one daughter in high school and one in college. This will take away from my child’s college education funding….and planning for my second child’s future education,” Harvey said. “It’s also going to affect the hospital’s insurance reimbursement. Businesses all across the board will have to pay higher taxes. As far as the tax rates during the Bush era, it seems that folks in my category always made less and got taxed more. I hope we are not heading in that direction again.”
Harvey was not the only one who had an opinion about how the fiscal cliff issue would affect businesses. James Clingman, economic development chair for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Cincinnati, Ohio knows that this will take a toll on all types of businesses and organizations.
“As far as people earning money and supporting NAACP events via donations, memberships, and attending our annual fundraiser, the Freedom Fund Dinner, we anticipate a decrease in that support if the fiscal cliff comes to fruition. People will not have as much money and will surely have to cut back on various expenses. Consumers are already watching what they spend and after the Jan. 1, 2013, if this problem has not been resolved, the support for charitable organizations and non-profits, including many churches, will decrease rapidly,” said Clingman.
Economist and University of Maryland Professor, Peter Morici, in an article titled, A bad ride lies ahead for the economy, warns “The U.S. economy is teetering on the brink of another recession.” He points out contributing factors and suggests very strongly that if a recession occurs, our nation will be “down for the count.” He intimated that a less than 2 percent growth rate combined with an 8 percent or higher unemployment rate does not bode well for our nation’s economy and presents a prescription for disaster.
Michael Grant, of National Bankers Association, thinks it is important “that both sides come together and will include revenues and some modifications or reforming of programs. We are going to handle the deficit. We are going to handle spending. We are going to handle some reform of our entitlement programs. Everything should be on the table. If everything is on the table, we can avoid what is being called a fiscal cliff and we can also deal with the debt ceiling at the same time.”
Clingman said, “For self-employed business owners, such as consultants like myself, self-employment taxes will go up and will make it more difficult to purchase supplies, insurance, and equipment. I would be less inclined to contract some of my work to outside consultants. If you have less money to spend, then obviously you will be more restricted in what you can do as a business owner and as a consumer. That’s what the fiscal cliff is all about. I hope we don’t fall off.”
Sometimes I sit back and reflect on my life thus far. I become frustrated and even more aggravated when I see that I am putting so much time in a major that I do even want to ultimately pursue as a career. A lot of people know this already, but some do not, but I want to be an actress. That is my dream…my aspiration….my life. I crave everything that has to do with acting and anyone who talks to me can immediately tell from the start of the conversation that I have a passion for this. As I was up studying for my Advertising test until the wee hours of the morning, I felt complacent. I felt as if I was wasting my time. Why didn’t I major in Theatre? Why didn’t I skip out on Howard and attend a conservatory in L.A. or NYC? But then I realize my achievements. I acknowledge my hard work and I accept my gifts and talents in every area. I have passion for journalism, but also a love for acting. I will figure out a way to combine them. Sometimes you have to go through some tough times to get to where you want to be.
On Nov. 6, 2012, a bus will be filled with determined Michigan bound students from universities in DC, who are fighting to win the battle against voter restriction laws.
“I registered to vote on the Rock the Vote website and nothing alluded to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to vote via an absentee ballot just because I am not voting in person,” said Erin Keith, a senior at Howard University from Detroit, Mich.
Within the past two days, 15-20 students from Howard University, American University, and Georgetown University are collectively planning to make the 600 mile trip back to their hometown of Detroit on Election Day. These students were eager and ready to cast their vote via absentee ballots, but they were shocked when they found out they could not do so and have their votes counted.
The Michigan voter law specifically states “If you have never voted in Michigan and register by mail, you must appear in person to vote in the first election in which you wish to participate.” Since the Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002, those who register at a voter registration drive or online cannot vote by absentee ballot.
Students felt misinformed and misled when it came to the distribution and publication of this message.
“The law was not publicized. I had to call city clerks four or five times and they said I could vote absentee ballot. They sent me the form, and I waited for it to come and then I found out. They are disenfranchising people because they are telling them they can vote and then have no further contact with them. People who aren’t pressed will not get a ballot. This is an example of a false system,” said Erin Keith.
Fortunately, with the help of Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, the Howard University Michigan Club, and one student’s tenacity and initiative, these students will now have the opportunity to vote.
“The idea came to me on a whim. But other schools around the country and organizations such as the NAACP need to organize something like this for my state and other states that are dealing with the same issue,” said Erin Keith.
There are still some students from Michigan who will not be able to vote in this year’s election because a vast majority have class or work on that Tuesday.
Some feel it is the duty of the student to be an informed voter when it comes to keeping up with rules and regulations of voting.
“The laws can come off as discouraging and may turn students and communities of color away from voting, but we cannot. Too many have fought and died for this right, and to be quiet and not show up to vote is exactly what people in power want you to do,” said Alanna Albritton, senior at Howard University.
The issue of voter suppression is under current political scrutiny and in some states under judicial scrutiny. The Michigan case affects college students who are attending schools hundreds of miles away from home. Rather than waiting for a court decision or legislation to be passed, some students are taking the serious matter of voting into their own hands by taking a 1200-mile bus ride to cast their votes. While they may have misinterpreted the law or given false information, their initiative and determination bring to mind a line coined by film director, Spike Lee: “Get on the Bus!”
Krystal Leaphart, president of Howard University chapter of NAACP said, “However, I think students can see the importance of being engaged in local elections and decisions. If we wanted to, we can change the law.”
Despite the brisk autumn temperatures, the little boy let the ice cream dribble down his chin with a big smile that couldn’t be erased by any napkin.
“We just really wanted to try all the delectables. We love all the food, from the international cuisines to simple things like ice cream, as you can see,” said Christina, a mother who attended the Taste of DC with her three kids.
Just the idea of food was enough to gather hundreds of people from all over the nation to attend this celebrated festival. Music emanated throughout the streets of DC as guests lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue enthusiastically waiting to get their tickets. Patrons came out in rain and shine during Columbus Day weekend from Oct. 6- Oct. 8 to explore what D.C. had to offer when it came to stimulating their “taste” buds.
According to Thetasteofdc.org, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing decisions.” People suited up in their rain gear on Sunday and put on their gloves and hats on Monday and didn’t let the elements keep them from this renowned event.
Because it was located conveniently between Ninth and 14th streets of Pennsylvania Ave., the participants of the Taste of DC were able to try different foods while observing the scenic Capitol Building in front of them and the National Mall behind them.
“Built to showcase DC as a culinary powerhouse, the [Taste of DC] is host to more than 50 local restaurants, more than 30 national and international beers, and all day live entertainment,” said Thetasteofdc.org. Some of the famous vendors that come every year include: The Carolina Kitchen, Ben’s Chili Bowl, TT’s Caterers, CakeLove, and Pinkberry.
Since the Taste of DC made such a great comeback after a seven-year hiatus, families were eager to restore old memories of previous “tastes” so they could share them with their children.
Thetasteofdc.org said, “We don’t just see food on a plate. It’s those memories that we hope our guests have when they remember our event. We hope new memories are created and old memories remembered.”
Not only did Christina’s toddler enjoy the different types of food, but the many vendors had the opportunity to engage entirely in the festivities as well.
For Frank White, an employee at Ben’s Chili Bowl, this was his second Taste of DC. After hosting festivals at Banneker and other local places around D.C., White’s favorite is the Taste of DC.
“The annual chili eating contest was a big success. We had ten amateurs compete to see who could down the most chili in four minutes. Then we had a military contest for the first time, where each branch of service was represented; and we had the pro-contest with big time eaters such as Joey Chestnut and Sonya the Black Widow. Man, it was a great thing to see,” said White.
Many people who attended the Taste were thrilled to try something they had never tasted before. Since Audra, a local participant from D.C., had attended the Taste of Chicago previously, she wanted to see if D.C. could match the competition.
“I want a new experience. I don’t want the same old chicken, chicken. Since I’m into the culinary arts I just want some good food!” Audra said.
Behind-the-scenes, it takes a lot of work to bring the Taste of DC to the community, but workers and volunteers come prepared every year to participate.
“This is my second year volunteering and I love giving back to the Washington D.C. community. All of the small businesses and fabulous restaurants that may not have the opportunity to be presented to tourists and most importantly the locals who have no idea what’s in their backyard…we are utilizing the entrepreneurial spirit and utilizing really young people who are excited to put on an event,” said Melani Hom, a young D.C. native who worked during the festival.
In D.C., food has the tendency to do more than just create aromas on a wooden table. It has the ability to gather friends, family, and the community together.
Audra from D.C. said, “I just love the new experiences, new tastes. Not only are new tastes created, but I can bring my family and give them the same experience I have.”
As she looked back, it was the simple things in life that she missed the most about her father. And all she can do now is remember.
“I turned on the news and saw the car. The license plate was blurred but deep down I knew it was my father‘s car. I knew before they even said anything.”
April Bridges was 22 years old when she heard the news that her father had been killed. Her “borderline disbelief” continues to resonate as she thinks of him.
“What stands out most are the long walks we had as a family, the nature hikes, and the lunches where we just sat and talked. Those are my fondest memories of him,” April said, as she continued to remember.
On that fateful day, April had planned to meet with her father at his office. “I could not begin to imagine that we would never see each other again,” April said.
With Ken Bridges being such a family man, his absence as a father and husband took an extraordinary toll on his six children and his wife.
In addition to his family, Ken was dedicated to his work for the MATAH Network, which he co-founded in 1997 with his longtime partner, Al Wellington.
MATAH dealt with three fundamental aspects of sales: Production, Marketing, and distribution. The “Black Channel,” as it was called, was supported by a foundation of cooperative economics, consciousness-raising, education, and a healthy dose of race esteem.
Comprising thousands of members nationwide, MATAH was brought to a screeching halt on Oct. 11, 2002, when Bridges became the latest fatality claimed by the “DC Snipers,” John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.
According to Finalcall.com news, Ken Bridges was “returning home at 9:30 a.m., when a single bullet killed him as he filled his tank at a Fredericksburg, Va. gas station.” Fox News Fact Sheet said, “Bridges’ wife was concerned because he was traveling through the Washington area for this trip.”
Although Ken Bridges was only 53 when he died, he left a legacy that remains with his children. Bells do not toll in his memory, but the lessons he taught his children will continue to ring in their hearts for a lifetime.
April’s most important lesson from her father was “staying passionate and consistent” no matter the circumstances. April continued to explain, “He smiled a lot and always said he was doing great even if things weren’t going so great.”
The optimism helped Ken when it came to starting and maintaining his “marketing and distribution organization.”
“Some of our last days together were spent working to expand the MATAH Network and starting what he called the ‘Youth Movement,’” April said.
Not only did Ken Bridges’ work have a positive impact on his family; his influence moved black people to practice cooperative economics.
“Ken’s legacy continues to be one of helping people pursue their dreams. Although he was killed 10 years ago, the work he did is still producing fruit,” said Ashiki Taylor, an Atlanta businessman and friend of Ken Bridges. “My company and product, Ice Supreme, would not exist today if it were not for Ken Bridges. Not only his inspiration but his insight, his business acumen, and his friendship moved me to start my business. His words keep me going even now, and if he were here today he would still be working on his beloved MATAH Network.”
Reflecting on the trial of the two men and why her mother chose not to attend, April said, “It was hard to know the truth from fiction. When I saw the two men accused of the shooting, it was even harder because what happened to my father just didn’t make sense. After it was all over, it wouldn’t change the fact that dad was already gone.”
April and her family are still cautious when it comes to discussing the incident with the news media, but she is sure now that she does not “want to hide [Ken’s] accomplishments from the community.”
April reflected, “It’s very humbling to know that he was my father and I was his daughter. I know that I have the same potential, the same drive, and the same spirit inside of me that my father displayed when he was alive. I miss him so much.”
For more information, visit the Brookside Memorial dedicated to the victims of the DC snipers located in Wheaton, Maryland.
Saturday August 4th Beijing, China
I put my toothbrush In the water again this morning when I was brushing my teeth! I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to this. It’s hard not being Able to drink the water when this is all I’m used to. It’s different ordering only pop and soda at a restaurant with NO ice. I’ve had so much soda here that I will be in need of an all-water diet by the time I get back to the USA!
Last night was amazing! We went to a club here in Beijing and had a great time. The Chinese do know how to party here that is for sure. We went to a Chinese water park/amusement park yesterday and it was very interesting. There were no slides and it only cost about ten dollars to get into! There were no roller coasters just a big pool. Asian men were constantly calling us beautiful and I went swimming until I heard someone say that they do not put chlorine in their water. -_- I tell you, the hygiene of the people here is less than mediocre. Another thing I have yet to get used to!
Wednesday August 1st 7:30 pm Beijing, China Dancing with the Left Foot
We were watching a clip in one of our Mandarin classes and an African man who moved to China said that you have to “learn to dance with your left foot even though you may be used to dancing with the right”. I have definitely had a tremendous culture shock and have had to adjust and adapt to a new environment. While it has been frustrating and difficult at times, I am being rewarded in ways I can’t begin to describe. I know I will bring back a new perspective, a new vision even, on life and people who live in this world. Before we left one of our keynote speakers in our workshops told us to write down two names of people for who we are traveling. Mommy Sylvia and Daddy Jim. I came here not only for myself but for them. I came here for all of the people back home who may not ever have a chance to travel in this capacity. Thank you God for blessing me. The longer I stay here the more I feel blessed!
Tuesday, July 31st 4:39 pm, Beijing, China
I am on my way back from a dairy plant!! Eating some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. Would you ever try green bean Ice cream? I wasn’t brave enough to try it but a lot of my colleagues enjoyed it. I had a blueberry one, banana one, and a soybean one that was absolutely delicious. I never knew milk could taste so good! But like they say here in Beijing, a glass of milk a day makes the Chinese people strong!!
Monday, July 30th 8:40pm Beijing, China
4 Things in One!
Tienanmen Square, The Forbidden City, Pearl Market, and Summer Palace. That pretty much sums up my day in a nutshell. We did so much today and saw so much!! My favorite had to be the summer palace that consisted of lush greenery and lotus flowers that looked out on a beautiful lake with a lighthouse in the middle. It was absolutely beautiful. The pearl market was actually pretty cool too. We got to see an actual clam open up with dozens of pearls inside! My experience here in China has been amazing and I still have ten days left for my trip!
Sunday, July 29th 11:49 PM Beijing, China
Breaking Down My Wall
When I said that the acrobatic show was my favorite part of the trip, I was wrong. I don’t think anything will top the way I felt today as I climbed the Great Wall of China. I think back just to a few hours ago earlier today and I am in awe because I can not believe I had the opportunity to see one of the seven wonders of the world. Who would have thought? I have always seen pictures on tv and on the Internet but never did I think it would like it did. The pictures I took still do not do it justice and I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of freedom I felt as I reached the top of the wall, overlooking all of Beijing. It was then when I felt absolutely invincible. All the walls I had built up inside were finally let down. It was at that time that I felt renewed, restored, and rejuvenated.
Sunday July 29th 11:16 am Beijing, China
Foreigner In A Foreign Country
Just wanted to comment on a few things. The culture of China is absolutely fascinating, but some parts of it are devastating, and some of the things I’ve seen have made me absolutely cringe with both empathy and sympathy. Of course I have seen many homeless people during my lifetime, but the ones I’ve seen here are literally crying, begging, and pleading for help. I remember I saw a man in Shanghai carrying his son face down and protruding from the top of his neck was some kind of tumor bigger than my fist. When we first arrived in Beijing I saw a little girl no older than six eating live snails out of a yogurt cup. A little baby boy was with his mother and had pants with a hole so big that his entire backside was exposed. Some of the sights I have seen here have been horrific, yet I am blessed and humbled to be able to see this. We as Americans take so many things for granted.
Stephanie and I were roaming near the hotel and after we left Starbucks, we were approached by a 21 year old and 22 year old named Emma and Roma who both gave us true insight on the inconsistencies of the Chinese and their government. Americans go around and get tattoos without thinking twice. But here in China a tattoo symbolizes a criminal and a person is looked down upon if seen with one. Since Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other forms of social media are banned from their country, they are limited when it comes to interacting with their friends from other countries. I thought I wouldn’t be able to last three weeks without this form of contact, but Chinese people never get to experience it.
The government controls everything they do and they were shocked to see that Stephanie and I both had iPhones. They said they could never afford an iPhone because they are equivalent to $1,000 American dollars, while we only paid $150 for ours. They explained that they have no hope to ever see America because the Chinese government controls how their citizens get access to Visas. It is extremely difficult for an average Chinese citizen to obtain a visa if they are not connected in some way with a person of high stature and influence. I understand China is a sovereign nation and has the right to conduct itself as it sees fit. I am a visitor, and I am the one who must adjust – not them
I feel such a need to help them in some way, nonetheless. I hope one day I will be in a position where I can first give back to my community and then reach out to those in need from other backgrounds.
Beijing, China Saturday July 28th
Bait for Beijing
Yesterday was the worst day by far here In China!! Our hotel was absolutely disgusting and I have never experienced such rude people in my life. Upon entering our hotel room, I immediately knew this was going to be bad. My sheets were stained with something that looked like blood. Our shower and shower curtain were filled with scum, dirt, and mold and I was gagging every second as I inhaled the putrid fumes in the air. As I touched the sheets, I cringed as I felt them damp and moist. Oh, and our towels were not folded and appeared to be used and dingy. Yes, I know. Ridiculous!
As we walked down the street near the hotel, I looked up at the sky and all I could see was gray and dreary skies. I looked to my right and saw a man selling dog meat with such enthusiasm you would think his life depended on it. To my left I saw a man squatting in the street with his pants pulled down urinating on the side of the road. Beijing, I am not getting a very good first Impression from you. I feel like bait as we are immersed so deeply in the culture of this foreign place.
We are on our way now to another hotel and I’m ready to start off on a new foot. Our whole schedule and itinerary got switched around because of the mishap of yesterday!!! The brightest part of today was getting the chance to use the hotel’s WIFI to Skype my parents and my good friends. I will miss that aspect of the motel, I mean hotel. I hear our new hotel has a pool and is close to lots of restaurants and even the silk market! Yesterday we were stuck with eating pizza hut, but I promise that meal felt like a five course dinner after having not eaten all day. Things are starting to look up after what happened yesterday.
Friday July 27th Beijing, China 2:30pm
As we landed in Beijing I immediately noticed a drastic difference in the sky! It’s gray and looks as if it is filled with dirt and dust. Oh I remember: pollution. Now I know why all those folks wear surgical masks. I’m scared to see how this journey will go, but excited at the same time! Better find me one of those masks.
Friday July 27th 9:30 am Shanghai, China
Taking Off the Mask of the Media
We are on our way to the airport; next stop, Beijing. It was a wonderful three days in Shanghai, short-lived I suppose, but now on to eleven days of greatness in Beijing! Last night, we topped off our stay by going to a school with Chinese students. They were studying the English language and were ecstatic to speak with us. The two men Stephanie and I were paired with, Totter and Reed, were fascinated with the cultural norms we spoke of in the USA, and we were shocked to find they had only been studying English for a year! I am not even that fluent in Spanish, and I have taken it for over 5 years!
I asked Reed and Totter what their perceptions of African-Americans were and their response was genuine. They hesitated at first, trying not to offend, but showed us with great hand gestures how they thought Blacks acted. They described us as passionate, loud, and confident people. I’m sure they were using words with positive connotations in order not to offend us. But they said they only saw this in movies. This was so interesting to me. In response, I asked them, “Do we seem that way to you?” They thought about it and said, “Actually no….it was just the perception we had from watching movies with Blacks in them.” That is all they had to go by.
The image that we depict as a race in movies and other media outlets sometimes taints our image and causes other races to view us as ignorant and one-dimensional. We need to be aware of this and inform ourselves because this is how some in the world view African-Americans. We must be careful when placing ourselves in different roles just because society wants us to; we need to set our own standards, play our own parts, and finally take off the mask we have been wearing for the media all these years.
Thursday July 26th 3:30 am
I am currently up right now because I have to read this long article our adviser, Marcus Ware, told us to read. If I wasn’t so tired right now I would say that this article is very informative and interesting, but right now I am just trying to finish it so I can get back to sleep. Never procrastinate! Stephanie and I haven’t even changed into our pajamas yet; that’s how tired we are. Jet lag has gotten the best of me.
So many things happened today, and I shall write more about them tomorrow. Until then, this article, The Clash of Civilizations, and I shall fight until I finish reading. Good night!
Thursday July 26th 2:03 pm
The Work Beneath The Beauty
You never really think about all of the work it takes to make the things you use each and every day. We take little things like this for granted. After seeing the meticulous work and scrutiny that goes behind producing silk and automobiles, I have a new found appreciation for the little things in life. I never really knew silk came from a worm! We learned that a silk worm lives for about forty five days and each cocoon of a worm produced five meters of silk, but since the silk is so thin, it takes about 30,000 cocoons to fabricate a cover or blanket.
Even though we were only at the automobile factory for a short period of time it was interesting to see how intricate the process of making a car is, from placing the engine in the car from the bottom to individually putting each seat in its designated spot.
I must say I have rarely seen a Chinese man or woman sweat while doing heavy duty labor, besides the one time a drop of sweat fell off the man doing acrobatics last night. I didn’t see any dirt on the workers hands either in the automobile factory….hmm maybe there is a hidden sweat shop in the basement that they skipped over during the tour….I will ponder on that…
Thursday July 26th 10:00am-Jade Buddha Temple
What God Do You Serve?
Well for me and my household, FLA, that is, I know we serve God (especially after hearing the FLA praise and worship choir sing on the bus), but that is not whom many of the Chinese serve! Today we went to the Jade Buddha Temple and it was absolutely fascinating, uncomfortable during some moments, but that’s where my advice from earlier comes in about knowing who you are and what/who you stand for. Entering the temple, I immediately saw many people holding incense with two Hands bowing down on red cushions, praying and worshipping Buddha. They would change directions slowly being sure to bow down with the burning incense at each angle. We took a guided tour around the extravagant temple and saw the gallery of famous people such as Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan who have visited the temple. Who knows, maybe Obama will be here next year? (Obama2012). We got to make a wish on the Buddha inside the temple and the myth is that if your dream comes true then you must return to the temple to thank Buddha for granting your wish. So maybe I will be back here sooner than I think!!!
July 26th 9:02 am
Miss Bell told us something interesting in response to a question that inspired me the most. It isn’t really difficult for us as African-Americans to adapt to new places and settings in which we are unfamiliar because we are used to being the minority. In the U.S. we are the minority, even in Africa, we would be considered different. I find that strange, but in an even stranger way I find solace in that knowing that I can change the world to affect not just the minority, but the majority. Maybe one day we won’t be the minority…maybe, just maybe we as Blacks will rise up and be in charge, own our own, take back what was ours even while being the minority. Just a thought.
One more thing: To be a globally active leader in a rapidly changing and growing world, it is important to be curious, to be willing to learn from everybody, and have compassion for not only yourself, but the culture into which you immerse yourself. You must stay grounded and know where you come from so you can assume that position of leadership you so desire. Empathize with those around you and truly learn from them. Be open minded and respect others even when they don’t respect you. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid of failure. Be fearless.
July 26th 9:23am
Are Our Bodies Made For That?!
To finish off the night yesterday, we went to an acrobatic show. It reminded me of the UniverSOUL circus in the USA, but even better. I love different kinds of shows so this was absolutely amazing to me. Seeing the Chinese contort and twist their bodies in ways I never knew were possible was stunning. My favorite part of the show was the finale when eight or nine men on motorcycles entered a small silver metal globe to show off their dangerous skills, which instilled adrenalin and fear in me and others around me I’m sure. I read somewhere that Chinese lack creativity because they are so focused on academics, but after this show I know that they have some creative genes somewhere!! It was beautiful and I’d love to see something like this again in the future.
July 26th 8:42am Shanghai, China
Don’t Drink the Water!
To start off our day yesterday, our group visited one of the four Chinese consulates. The other three are the Anhui province, Jiangsu province, and the Zhejiang province. And guess what? We saw our first African-American woman of the trip, Miss Bell, who has lived in China for a few years. After graduating from University of North Carolina and Columbia University, she knew she wanted to work in a state department abroad. After working in Africa for some time, she decided to relocate to China once she was offered a position in public affairs at the Shanghai Consulate. I was inspired by her and at that very moment, I knew I wanted to travel and see the world. But not only travel, I think I want to live and work abroad as well. I’m not entirely sure to what extent but I will figure that out along the way…
While we were at this consulate, we were informed of the many projects China is working on to teach Chinese about the dangers of water pollution and other environmental problems in China including air pollution and high rates of energy consumption. Their organization is called ESTH: Environment, Science, Technology, and Health.
China produces over 20,000 tons of waste per day! One of ESTH’s primary focus is on reducing the amounts of waste. Chinese are informed by different events held such as Earth Day, World Water Day, and World Aids Day.
Thursday July 26th 8:36 am
Wine and Dine? I Don’t Think So…
From the morning when I woke up yesterday to the time I placed my feet on my hard, seems to be made of wood, bed, I was not satisfied. In terms of food, that is. Breakfast was mediocre and I’m sure if Stephanie and I got down there sooner we would have more time to examine the different substances that were placed on the massive buffet. Lunch time came later than sooner and with only having 45 minutes to eat in one of the largest malls I’ve ever seen, we chose simple KFC. I know, I know, I came all the way to the other side of the world to eat fried chicken and biscuits? Well little did I know, the only thing that was the same WAS the chicken. The only items they served were chicken and fries, it seems. No green beans, no macaroni and cheese, and definitely no biscuits. They only had one choice of beverage and that was Pepsi that tasted like a mixture of water and chocolate. But nonetheless, I would not take back this experience for anything. After paying my $32.50 for my two piece chicken and French fries, I relished the fact that I was fully immersed in the Chinese culture at that moment.
Dinner was actually…I believe worse than lunch. It was a family style meal with a beautiful spread of foods of different colors, yet the colors did not make up for the taste. I never knew noodles could taste bad! I decided not to try the eggplant…though the tomato-based egg drop soup felt like a drop of water on my tongue after being in a dry desert. I think that was the best dish they had besides the bottle of 7-up, if that counts. Needless to say, I went to sleep with almost an empty stomach last night. I’m thankful for my granola bars and my Cheese goldfish that I brought from America.
Hopefully, today’s food selection will bring some happiness to my taste buds.
Thursday July 26th 8:31 am
The Endless Day
Yesterday felt like the longest day of my life. I do not know how I got through. I have so much to talk about! I was so tired, I had no time to write down my thoughts, and so I shall write on the way to the Jade Buddha Temple. I will split up the posts to spare your eyes some boredom.
July 25th 5:32 am Shanghai, China
Waking up to a city filled with skyscrapers; I am startled. Wow. I am on the other side of the world. It is currently 5:30 AM here in Shanghai, China and inner clock have yet to synchronize. Tossing and turning all night and waking up covered in sweat was definitely not what I had in mind. I don’t know if I will regret waking up this early later today, but I can’t seem to get back to sleep. Another thing, THESE BEDS ARE SO HARD! My back and neck immediately felt this sudden change from my three mattress pads in my dorm room bed (thanks to my mother) to this wooden pallet I was on last night. Shocked as my roommate and I walked into our hotel room last night, we immediately felt damp, and said, “Do they use air conditioners here!?”
I had no time to blog yesterday but I have to mention the things I thought were “different” as I entered this foreign place. Walking down the hallway to our room, Stephanie and I found out that instead of placing a key inside of a slot to enter, we have to hold up the key and an annoying yet warm jingle grants us access.
There is no light when we enter the room, but we see that we have to place our ROOM KEY in a slot near the door in order to power the lights, refrigerator, and anything else that uses electricity. When we remove the key, the lights turn off. It seemed to only be one dim light in the entire room. But upon feeling our way throughout the room, Stephanie and I stumble upon an array of silver buttons that look like small marbles that are together on a platform between our two beds. With just one small touch of the button that says “bed” we see the lights above our bed turn on and off. With our jaws dropped to the ground, we continue to play around and see the desk light turn on, the bar light, etc. (Wow, maybe I was wrong about the technologically advanced thing). We look under the end table next to our beds, and see cute house shoes for the both of us and I immediately feel like a Chinese empress, okay maybe not so much.
To our surprise, we see no iron and ironing board. After calling and receiving a confirmation from housekeeping that someone will bring us one, we hear our doorbell (yes, fancy I know!) ring within two minutes of us calling. A young Asian girl who looks no older than 18 comes in with no ironing board or iron. We use gestures and the little Mandarin we know to finally convey to her that we need an iron, not a dry cleaning service or laundry service, which is what she was thinking we needed. She comes back soon and with her amiable nature, I believe Stephanie and I made a new friend! (She did come back with iron this time).
It is 6:39 AM now and I am excited to see what else my first day in China has in store.
July 24th - (I’m confused as to what time it is. This might even be the wrong date) Anchorage, Alaska Layover in the Land of Midnight Sun
All of these time zones! Jet lag, I feel you creeping up on me! As I lean over two seats to the right, I am aware that there is a God. A beautiful amazing God that has blessed me with an opportunity to see a rare part of the world that many students my age and even adults have and will never get the chance to see. Un-phased by our change in flight, I continued along with the rest of the Freshman Leadership Academy as we heard the voice on the intercom in the airport tell us that we will have to re-fuel in Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska, you are beautiful. As we descend into Sarah Palin’s backyard (just kidding), I am astounded as I see mountaintops covered with snow. Eight more hours to go until Shanghai. Until then, I will try to sleep.
July 24th (Still waiting on my Verizon Wireless I-phone to update to current time) Shanghai, China Technologically Advanced?
To my surprise, I peer over at an Asian woman across the row from me as we descend into China, and I notice she has a phone that looks like it is from the Stone Age. It had to have been a Nokia phone. I had no idea they still made those! Then I go to the bathroom and pass an Asian man with another phone that seems to be as old as my grandparents! For Chinese to be so technologically advanced, well that’s what I thought, everyone should have I-phones! Really surprised me.
July 23rd Detroit, Michigan Flying High with FLA
Well even though I am literally “flying high” with Freshman Leadership Academy (FLA), I really feel as if I’m soaring to reach my dreams with this illustrious group of students and advisers. I looked at my twitter (since in a few more hours, I will be unable to ) and I saw a student back in D.C. tweet, “I wish I was in FLA!” I am sure there are a lot of salty souls back home because they wish they were flying to China and Japan with the FLA. Of course they are envious now, but did they want to go when we were doing community service all year in surrounding communities? Did they turn green with envy as we listened to the charismatic Dr. Griffin giving us advice on how to empower ourselves during our tenure at Howard University? Did they give the slightest thought to our trying to learn how to plan programs, request financial aid, or do a case study to try to better the university at which THEY attend? If I have to guess, I’d say, probably not. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
So…a right to be jealous? Nah….
I have a college family now, and I will continue to get even closer to this family as I go through this trip. I’m excited for the days to come…Thank you Freshman Leadership Academy.
Packing…but not nearly packed July 21st 2012 11:00pm
I am sitting in my dorm room with only my toiletries packed, still am in shock that I have the opportunity to go to China and Japan. In approximately one day, I will be on the other side of the world. It’s time though. It’s time to find myself, find who Kiah Alexandria Clingman is, and I’m hoping this trip will allow me to rebuild, renew, and restore my inner spirit before the start of my sophomore year at Howard University. I am ready. Well, I will be after I finish packing these clothes. Until then.