I See, I Feel, I Am



As I sat listening to Neil Macfarquhar speak about politics in the Middle East in Politics and Prose bookstore earlier tonight, I couldn’t get the whole King Abdul Order of the Merit business out of my head. I looked around the bookstore to a crowd of AmericanAfricanAsianPersianIraqiGermanEveryone and I just thought, how on earth can we continue to judge when we all sit here as clear equals. Morgan’s comment on yesterday’s blog post really strengthened my own convictions about cultural sensitivity in the American media especially. Really, there is just no excuse for that kind of article. None. 

However, I think I may be a tad bit invigorated by a number of buzzing thoughts and interactions scurrying across my life this week. Let me share—

1) My current reading materials, all of which are deeply concerned with the problems of the world and the long oppressed who have struggled desperately for freedoms:

  • The World Is Flat   by Thomas L. Freidman
  • Orientalism    by Edward W. Said
  • Things Fall Apart    by Chinua Achebe
  • The Nine Parts of Desire
  • The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid    by C.K. Prahalad
  • The Wretched of the Earth   by Frantz Fanon
  • On the Road    by Jack Kerouac…I think this is my fifth time reading it (my Bible basically)

Hefty, depressing, invigorating, progressive, heavy, but all inspiring. (I know it’s crazy to read 140583039 books at one time, but that’s just the way I page…I figure you need have a lot of voices in your head at one time to create your own opinions.) I recommend each and all of these books, which I am a good part of the way through most, and am on my second time around for a few of them. There’s some really interesting verbage going on in a lot of these works. 


2) This awesome video my mom shared with me. Pretty much my dream.

Speechless, right?


3) I am absolutely positively over the moon inspired by the group of interns at Ashoka. We had intern orientation on Friday, and it is really just way way way radical./neato./far out./amazing./awesome./wicked./whatever word you want how passionate these kids are. First of all, they are all

BRILLIANT                          we’re talking cream of the crop here….like harvest the corn from the field and served it creamed…

now you get it

But it’s more than being smart; we were all in this one room together for the whole day, talking about who we were, where we came from, what brought us to Ashoka, what goals/projects we wanted to focus on during the summer, etc. etc. etc.  I have to say though, we played this game, and it changed my life. I can’t wait to export it to another chapter in my life…I would have cried it was so emotional…but then again…I didn’t want to be the “one who cried” on the first day. I’m emotional enough as it is.

So the game went like this:

Think of an image that incites a feeling within you and translate that image and feeling into why you have been brought to this place to do these things. 

For example (this is what I said):

I see a canyon. This canyon is so deep and so wide, deeper and wider than any canyon known in stories of mankind. On one side of the canyon is a child. This child holds a book. Next to the child stands his mother, who carries a cell phone and a day planner. Far across the distance of the canyon on the other side stands another child. Except this child holds an automatic weapon. Next to this child stands his mother; this woman carries a bucket of water on her head. In between these two pairs within the depths of the canyon is a history’s worth of hatred, violence, malice, death, harsh words, harsh actions, misunderstanding chains and shackles, religious warfare, planes flying into towers, and so on. These pairs of mother-son are so far away from each other that they cannot hear or speak to one another, they cannot cross this perilous canyon. This makes me feel desperately heartbroken and terribly saddened. While I feel discouraged and overwhelmed, I feel empowered by the fact that there are those who have made valiant journeys to build bridges across. I feel hopeful that we can recognize humanity on both sides of the canyon, and that perhaps we will be able to yell back and forth loud enough to hear and clearly understand what the other is trying to say. I am here at Ashoka, to build a bridge, to be a bridge. I wish to straddle this canyon, to be part of both sides, understand both sides, and help both sides cross and join hands. 

Yes cliche. Yes quite figurative. But I’m a bit dramatic sometimes. Anyway, that was my image. And it is nothing compared to those of my fellow interns. Some shared true images of men/women/boys/girls they have known, who have endured great struggles or undertaken great ventures. Others shared images from their own past, work they had done with those less fortunate, odds they had fought or realizations they had come to through observance. Some identified current images such as Obama speaking to Cairo or the the very circle of people we sat among in that room. While it may seem over-the-top or cliche, it was really quite a beautiful thing to witness. So much passion and hope and love. Everyone’s images were rather heavy and alarming, their feelings deep and thought-provoking; however never once did someone say “I feel hopeful” or “I feel lost.” Rather it was the opposite. We had all been reinforced, empowered even, by the horrible things that exist in the world. Nobody is resigned. Nobody has given up. We are stronger for these images we see and these feelings we feel. And that’s prettydamncool if I do say so myself.

So with that –> I can begin the wonderful adventure of the Ashoka interns together in Washington D.C.!

4) What a great weekend. I won’t go into much detail, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. But here are the basics:

Dance Africa Festival and Marketplace + Smoothies-in-a-Pineapple + Brad’s Awesome Dance Skills

Free RefillsWest African Dancing Meets Brad Milius









Next up: Drum Circle in Meridian Park + AcroYoga + Dancing to the Beat + Wonderfully Bohemian People = I finally found a place where I felt at home. It was so L.A. I can’t even tell you. KK…it wasn’t as good as our dear Venice Drum Circle…but almost! We did get some quality dance instruction by a wonderful little African woman passing on her moves!




















3 Responses to “I See, I Feel, I Am”

  1. I loved your photos. I’d like to have some of them on our walls. Maybe, er, we will start a Rachel wall here in LCF. The video made me feel good…don’t know why but it was really…nice.

  2. 1) Love the dancing video!
    2) I love your example of an image, and I love this ice breaker. This is like a legit coversation and discussion piece that is still personal and says a lot about the individual without being shallow or just boring. I too want to think of an answer and ask my intern partners tomorrow! hehe. You’re great
    3) Love the photos of your weekend adventures! Sounds like you did indeed find a sort of LA vibe in DC. The drum circle looks obviously addicintg (I feel special for getting a personal shout out thank you very much :) ), and I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try acroyoga, and your picture solidified that for me. You gotta try it, Rach! Please please and tell me how it is.
    4) No package yet, hopefully it will be here tomorrow!
    5) Have my intern orientation all day through Wednesday then leave super super early on Thursday, but I might not be able to talk via phone before then. You skype? I want to talk to you when I’m there! Let me know.

    Sorry this is so long. I love you and your blog!

  3. ProfessorStromboli Says:

    That’s some pretty heavy reading you’re doing. If you want a completely different type of motivation, you should read “The Inner Game of Tennis”. This is Pete Carroll’s bible.

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