Goodbye. Hello.

Goodbye (for now, but you’re not going to be rid of me), Portland.

Hello, Seattle.

Remember when I said I wanted to put down roots somewhere? Well, I decided maybe it wasn’t quite time for that. I instead decided that my late twenties demanded at least one more uprooting.

Roughly three years after saying goodbye to the Emerald City, I am back. I accepted a job at the University of Washington. I will be continuing my journey as an advisor (although it seems my new title will require me to call myself an “adviser”) with the School of Public Health’s Public Health Major. This all happened quicker than I expected, as I had originally thought about starting a casual hunt for my next position around October or so.

So. Here I am. All I knew is that I needed to be at work at 8AM on September 17th, and everything else was secondary. It all worked out, and I was able to say goodbye to many of my favorite PDX folks, then take two days to move into a new home and unpack for the most part before starting.

I was so lucky to start out with Clark College, and my love for the two-year college system and public education helped me learn and grow as a professional. I have solid connections at the two-year level, and I intend to continue being an advocate for our students, especially transfer students I may see.

I’ll miss my colleagues, my CrossFit HEL (please don’t get me started because I will cry), my quirky Portland house, the easy-going attitude that Portland embraces, and the “it’s ten degrees hotter today than in Seattle” summer days. I will strangely miss not pumping my own gas.

A few of my friends have already noted that I will likely spend many weekends and days off in Portland, and they’re right. That said, I am excited to be located in my core network’s city again; I am also happy to be in a place where the distance to my hometown is the same as the distance to Portland.

I am the type of person who now believes in a different kind of open door policy, one in which I will leave a place I treasure with the fully-intact option to someday return. I believe in the infinite strangeness of the universe, and to that extent, I believe I end up exactly where I need to be.

Here’s to the next step. Here’s to new adventures. And here’s to never forgetting that I am constantly becoming, that I am writing my own story.

As a big believer in moving through transitions (and learning as much as possible from them), let me share today a fellow blogger, #SApro, and new OSU Beaver’s thoughts on her transition.

annmarieklotz

How we enter an organization is critically important.  In a recent blog post about my first day of work (entitled “Day One”) I discussed some things to think about as you embark on a new professional endeavor.

45 days later I have started to reflect on the transition-what worked, what didn’t and what I might do differently next time.

1) Say yes as much a possible: Whether it’s to listen in at a meeting, join a group of colleagues for coffee, volunteer at an event outside of your department, or attend a goodbye party for an employee you barely know, accept each invitation as an opportunity to learn campus culture and build your new network.

Saying “yes” has helped me to understand institutional context, start to build collegial relationships and learn about new resources within the outside community.  “Yes” can be a little scary when you are still learning your job…

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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.

Let it Be

I went camping this weekend in Ocean Shores with a big group of people. Some of them were old friends; some of them became new friends. We spent two days outdoors, laughing pretty much the entire time. I’ll admit that we all seem to have an absurd sense of humor–and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

We had our moments, however, when it became clear that we are all people with drive and purpose. For the most part, the people I was with were in helping professions–education, nursing, psychology/counseling, and so forth. And lately, I’ve been thinking about what my purpose really is. I know in general terms, I’m driven to make others smile and to provide a shoulder to lean on. How do I articulate that?

I know in terms of the profession I’ve chosen, it means I want to be that advisor that students feel comfortable turning to. It means that even when I have to go over “boring” details about contracts or policies or program requirements, I do it without reservation and with genuine care. I want the people I work with to know that I care about the work I do, and I want to also be appreciated. I don’t want to feel replaceable or disposable.

I’m a unique little soul, and I don’t like feeling ordinary.

Then again, what truly sets me apart? All my life, academics and my career have been #1–but am I missing out on something? And if so, what? I don’t feel the same pressure to tidy up and settle down that I may have felt a few years ago; maybe what I’m feeling is the nagging feeling that I haven’t laid down any foundations. And if that’s the case, well then… umm… can I simply count a Master’s degree and a general outline as a foundation? And if someone doesn’t think that’s the case, is it still early enough in the game for me not to hold that opinion in high regard?

I have a feeling this next academic year is going to bring a lot more soul-searching, a lot more meaning-making, and a lot more adventuring. I have a lot of things to figure out, like what my priorities are at the age of twenty-five. We’ll see what I conclude in the not-so-far-off future.

For now, maybe it’s best to keep myself happily entertained by creating an alias, or encouraging someone to make a “birthday cake” out of several matches, a marshmallow, and a stick, or sitting on the beach while pretending the incoming fog is really a robot apocalypse. Maybe it’s best just to let it be and also let myself be.

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.

Just Readin’ a Book

It’s not entirely original to rip a quote from Eat, Pray, Love and paste it into a blog–especially a blog entitled “An Adult in Transition.” That said, here’s a quote I found and liked:

“The classical Indian sages wrote that there are three factors which indicate whether a soul has been blessed with the highest and most auspicious luck in the Universe:

1. To have been born a human being capable of conscious inquiry.
2. To have been born with–or to have developed–a yearning to understand the nature of the universe.
3. To have found a living spiritual master” (Gilbert, 2006, p. 124).

I asked a cohortmate if a particular professor and leader in our program counted for #3. He affirmed, so with that–I conclude that I am an incredibly lucky young lady.

My internship begins tomorrow, and my colleague and I are relocating to an apartment closer to campus. I’m not sure if I’ll have connections to the internet, so if my blog posts are missing for the next few days, you’ll know why.