Regeneration*

My identity is ever-becoming.

I am acting strange because I am once again wrestling with who I am, what I want, what I love, where I’m going.

This move was necessary, a step to trigger the turbulence.

I’m sorry to my friends to whom I’ve sent a million messages, and I apologize that they’re so dramatic. But this is me. This is me processing. It seems, at times, dark and chaotic. And it is.

But the thing is…

this is me becoming better than I ever was before.

* And yes, of course this is a tip-of-the-hat to my favorite TV show.** Which also brings me to another point: I’m going to be on media black-out from Nov. 23rd through the 25th. I don’t have access to BBC America, so I’ll be catching The Day of the Doctor on the 25th, and I don’t want to hear any spoilers.

** EDIT: That should say “favourite,” I suppose.

That Was… Interesting.

Week 7, in a nutshell, was interesting. It was interesting in that “I’m not sure if I’d want to do that again, but whatever” kind of way.

Monday I’d gladly do all over again, but that’s because I got to sleep in, spend all day in my jammies, and do laundry. I’ve tailored my winter schedule to allow for a lot of PJ-clad portfolio writing, so I’m looking forward to that!

Tuesday through Thursday was jam-packed busy. I’m leaving tonight to fly to San Diego for the NASPA Western Bi-Regional Conference, so naturally, I was rushing to cover my bases. A combination of delegating more event-planning responsibilities to my trusty students and only taking one academic class has left me feeling like I’m forgetting something. According to my to-do list, though, I’m okay.

However, I spent Wednesday night onwards trying to process a lot. I’ve been up in my head and spewing out verbal nonsense here and there.

I came to a few conclusions, or at least reaffirmations of what I already knew about myself.

I am not an activist. I am not an activist in terms of racial equality nor gender equality nor anything else. That doesn’t mean I don’t care. I am, like we discussed in Multicultural Issues, a “tempered radical.” I do my best work by seeking to understand the context of my environment and making subtle shifts and changes here and there. I am proud of my heritage, and I am frustrated when my mixed identity confuses others. I am sad that I haven’t found a support network like WWU’s FASA here at Oregon State, but I fault myself for not being proactive in some ways. I don’t blame OSU for the make-up of its student body or its staff or its faculty. They are working towards becoming a truly multicultural institution, and that comes with hiccups and uncomfortable stops along the way. If change and progress were easy, well then, why would we even care to try in whatever capacity we can?

I lead by example. This is something my former cheer coach told me. Maybe I was the worst stunter on the team, but I did the work I needed to do. I networked with other members of Athletics, and I did my best to keep a program I cared about on the path to being great. No, I was not a perfect leader, and there are many instances I would go back and alter. I wasn’t necessarily loved dearly by everyone, but I can tell you that I cared about all my teammates and that I saw potential in every single one of them. I tried to provide positive feedback, reminding individuals, “Hey, you’re really skilled at x. I want you to take charge of this because you’re great at leading, too.” We all have our strengths. We are not all perfect. Some of us are better at seeing the big picture and putting smaller pieces into place, and that’s my style. I don’t lead by establishing myself as an expert. I lead by trying to show others how to cooperate and move towards a common goal.

I’m not done developing. You can snicker a bit at that sentence, since it sounds like I’m talking about puberty. Regardless, I recognize that I still have a long ways to go. I still feel like a 25-year-old child. (Turning 26 rather soon, too.) Like Robin Scherbatsky, I have this cool-girl attitude that masks the fact that there is a lot of confusion and some hurt that I still need to work through. In a recent episode, Robin says, “I’m such a mess. Why do you even like me?” She gets two very different answers when she asks that question. The second response affirms her, stating, “I am constantly amazed by the things you say. Entranced by the things you do… I hope that one day you see yourself the way I see you.” I think I’m pretty rad, don’t get me wrong, but I need some time. I am still becoming. (Sometimes we forget the “students in transition” thing applies to graduate students, too.)

There’s where I’m at in my program right now. I don’t do things “perfectly,” whatever that may be. I am still getting the most out of this experience, though. I came to this program to make my experiences, not to just get them.

On Multiculturalism

I promised myself that I would be productive tonight, considering that my personal life has been dominating the past two weeks or so, as well as my awesome, awesome, awesome community college internship. My “productivity” turned into me doing some sit-ups after sipping on my favorite Kona Brewing Co. beer–Wailua Wheat–while watching Jersey Shore. I’m going to try and reverse that by writing a blog which directly addresses a CSSA competency. However, I just took two Benadryl to compensate for my cat allergies, so I apologize if I eventually trail off into shapes and colors.

At my mid-program review, I discovered that I had an astonishingly small amount of multicultural experience while in grad school, as compared to my experiences while an undergraduate. (Or at least, that’s how it seems to me.) While I was at Western Washington University, I was an active member of the Filipino-American Student Association (FASA), and I was fairly engaged my last year in the general Ethnic Student Center (ESC) due to my role as FASA’s steering representative. I met weekly with all the steering reps from the ESC, as well as our ESC advisor and VP of Diversity, to report and hear about what was going on with other clubs and vote on decisions that would impact the greater ESC and WWU communities. It was great, and I attended several Northwest FASA conferences, even participating on the conference planning board my junior year when we hosted the event.

My experiences at WWU, to put it lightly, changed me. Combined with my communication major, I found myself exploring issues of identity for the first time. When I really started to consider what it meant to go through life as a mixed-race person, I reached what felt like a higher level of consciousness. You know how some people say their partner is a missing puzzle piece? My missing puzzle piece had to do with my ethnic identity. To be honest, I’m still working through that, and as such, I haven’t quite explored all the pieces of my identity. When I look in the mirror, I see brown first, before considering what it means to be a female, and a straight female at that.

I love exploring how identity develops. Things clicked for me as I started to combine worldly experience with textbook knowledge. I’m hoping that I can facilitate that for others. My current problem is that I feel a bit limited in my ability to do so right now. For one, I can’t seem to figure out what’s going on with the Filipino club on my campus right now. Additionally, NWFASA conference was on hiatus this year. I found it hard to make it to the Asian-Pacific Cultural Center unless I was meeting my friend there. And my interactions with students of color and international students were constrained by time and even which floor I lived on.

And then¬†there’s the whole issue of “multiculturalism” pertaining to cultures beyond race and ethnicity. Since that’s my biggest personal piece right now, I seem to get caught-up in those types of experiences. I did attend a workshop on the US Census and how race factors into numbers and implications. I also went to the PeaceJam talk, but that had a cultural tone to it. And my internship at UWI was definitely eye-opening, but at the same time, it was hard to dig into issues like spirituality and LGBTQ concerns.

It was suggested that I find a way to participate in the LGBTQ community at OSU. I don’t see why not, considering I am already friends with quite a few LGBTQ(and so forth)-identified persons. It sounds trivial, but when I’m out with my friends at the Seattle gay bars, I feel incredibly comfortable–and not in a “Oh thank God, no one’s hitting on me,” fashion. I would love to participate in events, but I would also like to be present as an ally and/or a friend. I’m not sure what else I can say right here, so I suppose if someone knows who I need to talk to, let me know.

Exploring issues of spirituality is also another key interest. I have a few CSSA buddies that are working closely on projects tied to spirituality, so that’s been a good outlet for discussion and exploration. (I’m not truly wrestling with my own issues of spirituality, as I seem to be creating my own personal doctrine which borrows from Catholic tradition and Eastern philosophies and what have you.)

I guess, in general, I would like some guidance for where to go to get these “beyond ethnicity” multicultural experiences. I also would love a hand in connecting with the Filipino-American community in Corvallis, though–I haven’t really said it this past year, but I feel a bit isolated. Even at the general Asian-American organization meetings, I’m one of like… two… Filipinos.

In closing, while I work through my own identity issues, I would like to find opportunities to help others work through their identity exploration process. I want to be able to encourage students to look beyond their own circles, as I do so myself. (This also translates into international experiences–yay!)

Okay, the Benadryl is kicking in. One last thought: how much cultural coaching and prep were the cast of Jersey Shore given before going to Italy? None? Oh, it breaks my little heart to see so many people travel somewhere with zero prep (except Vinny. How adorable is he, actually wanting to learn the language?!).

Yup. I’ve lost it for tonight. Congrats for getting this far.