Week One completed and still going strong

The few days leading to the day I departed from Nashville were full of butterflies. I began to be a nervous wreck. Who allowed me to do this trip? I kept going back to this thought. Then on the day I left and had my 9 hour layover in Newark International Airport, I became fast friends with a young girl and her sister. My 9 hour went by so quickly, I didn’t have time to contemplate the reasoning of my trip.

That’s Magadhi and her little brother.

So that photo was taken in New Delhi near the baggage lane. I was seriously sleep deprived and lacked a good shower haha. I really connected with this family. Maybe because I missed my own, but it also had a lot to do with little Magadhi. Even though we don’t look it now, but when I was her age we resembled in looks and personality. 

At the New Delhi airport I met more women my age. I even got the number of a girl who lives in Kuala  Lumpur. I have a layover there for like 14 hours, when my India trip ends. She kindly offered to show me around for that time. As the night went on I met this really cool girl who is from Kolkata! She was going to school in Illinois  (2 hours from Principia). We bonded quickly, took down our info and will be meet up soon!

The flight to Kolkata felt super long even though it wasn’t compared to the other two flights. Once I landed, got my bags, and found my driver things moved rather quickly.  Maybe too quick for me. Kolkata is amazing, chaotic, colorful, loud, busy…the list can go on and on. 

I thought my time riding a taxi in Yopal, Colombia or NYC would kill me, I was wrong. Kolkata has nothing on those other cities. Drivers here are crazy. Everyone cutting everyone.  I was tired one day from all my walking that I was slowly falling asleep, until my driver jerked the car and did some fast and furious shizzz. I couldn’t tell if I should have thought that was sick or if  I should hold on for dear life because my short 23 years was about to come to an end. Hahaha people, me being dramatic isn’t just to give some humor to this piece but because it’s reality haha. 

I didn’t technically start my internship till the 26, which was on a Friday.  My advisor just gave me a quick intro of New Light and how things run, then she gave me directions of the shopping mall and a coffee shop. She saw that I was falling asleep. She understood that I was lacking sleep. I mean I was still wearing the same clothes I left my house…which of course was 3 days ago. Which much gratitude I ran out went to the grocery store, and had to convince people I was not Indian.  I mean till this day people keep thinking I’m Indian. This will come in my favor later on in my blog post. 

That night I realized that I couldn’t just buy things that looked like American food, like milk. The milk I had with my cereal that night was a bit creamy, crunchy… let’s just say it wasn’t the milk I was used to. I found out the next day it was supposed to be boiled because I actually I forgot why but I learned my lesson. I needed to ask my advisor to go with me on my next shopping  adventure. 

My advisor is pretty amazing, her name is Avantika. That name for some reason gives her some spice to her, a back story. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because it’s the only Indian name I can actually pronounce and remember. Anyways, while we were looking for some salsa dancing we came across a night tour. Of course she seems to know my interest and 5 seconds later I signed up.

My night tour buddies (please excuse my outer appearance, I’m drenched in my own sweat) 
 Let Us Go was the tour company I went with. The night tour began at 10:40pm and went till 5am. There was A LOT of walking involved and some very short van rides. Even though temperatures were high 90s with lots of humidity, I enjoyed every bit of the tour. The guides were amazing, friendly, and funny. We even  had the pleasure of having a famous blogger name Rangan Datta (www.rangandatta.wordpress.com). The group I had were all so kind and took me in under the wing. The couple standing next to  invited me for tea at their place, which happened to be like a few blocks from my place. So about the photo above, it was taken around 3am at a local famous tea place see pic below:

To the right with the white shirt is Rangan and to the left with a white shirt is Alinda (Tour Guides)

Finally, my internship is already making me feel so happy I took a flight to this hot weather. The children really make you smile. Sometimes the heat tries to wear me down and make me feel odd, but when I’m with the children I realize it’s all worth it. Yesterday, 5/30 we went to a science museum (note their was no air conditioning). When we got there I was told by the team leaders to not speak as we were going inside. This was because I look Indian and we were able to get local prices rather then they pay for the foreign price. My looks finally came to play. I was grateful they didn’t have to pay double for me. As the tour went on I was starting to get light headed and frustrated with myself. The heat makes me think negative. It’s like this error that tries to suckered your life away. But staring at the kids and watching them laugh and play, all my problems would melt away. We all have all other  be grateful for and at that moment things came to perspective. Not many people have the opportunity to help others that are in need, especially in a foreign country. I realized I’m not their to change or make the lives of all this kids better. I’m there to learn, observe, listen, and help make them smile. 

They are why I choose this type of internship. 

Ok thanks for taking time to read over my first week of adventures! Till next time ❤

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My Summer Awaits

Image result for traveling

So after you finished reading my last post, you are probably anxious/curious to know where and what I am doing this summer!

My summer will pretty much consist of me trying new food, lots of walking, meeting new people, laughing, crying, more laughing, jumping off a cliff (to the ocean of course), research, filming, photo taking, more research, learning about new cultures, adapting to the environment, learning, growing, becoming an even more INDEPENDT WOMAN and yes finally more research.

Here is my itinerary (a simplified version):

May 23-July 19 (Kolkata, India)

On May 23, I will be flying off to Kolkata, India! This internship will take place till July 19. While interning for New Light, I will be focusing on development, learn more about their empowerment programs, and be a part of their gender-based violence advocacy team. This is going to be such an AMAZING experience. I know that it’s going to be really HOT and HUMID, plus it’s their monsoon season…so I am expecting lots and lots of rain. BUT this will not kill my joy and gratitude!

Check out New Light

http://www.newlightindia.org/index.php

July 20-July23 (Kolkata, India)

Hopefully staying with a family till I head out.

July 23-July 29 (Bali, Indonesia)

Yes, you read it correctly, I will be in Bali. The land of the beaches and summer fun! This is the first country I will be conducting my research on manhood. It’s going to be interesting, because this is my first time doing anything like this. I have a nice professional to film and take pics and I also have a set questions. This is pretty much what I’ll be doing in the next countries below.

July 29-August 7 (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Besides my research, I will be hopefully hanging out with some friends from school who live in or around Jakarta! I will also be traveling with someone to the rainforest that holds the Orangutans. Sleeping on a boat meant for 2-3, under the stars will definitely be a moment to cherish!

August 7-August 13 (Bangkok, Thailand)

I will then fly on over and continue the research.

 August 13-August 20 (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Getting to Siem Reap will definitely be a journey. Instead of flying I will be on a 11-hour bus ride. Once I get to the border of Cambodia, I will have to walk through a 2-hour security check and receive my tourist visa. Yes, I know what you are thinking “why on earth would she do this to herself…” Besides the fact the bus ticket was only 29 dollars, I decided to do this for the experience. I’ll let you know after this long journey if it was worth it.

August 20- 25 (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

And this is where my summer ends.

 

Here is some important info to know about:

I will not be taking my phone with me or my laptop. I will just have a camera and a tablet. The tablet will only have my blog app, and FB messenger (NOT FB). To reach me, please feel free to comment on my blog, send me a quick message via messenger, or email me at nohemy.johnson@gmail.com. I repeat I WILL NOT HAVE MY PHONE. So that means no snapchat, no Facebook, no insta, no twitter, no tumblr, no skype, literally nothing.

Yes, I will bring sunscreen and mosquito spray. I will also have a mini first-aid kit.

Ok guys, now you all know. Please keep good thoughts/prayers for me while I’m abroad.

So much love to you all ❤

I want to give a quick  shout out to a few people:

THANK YOU SO MUCH: Dr. Billy Miller, Dr. Karen Haire, Dr. Sally Steindorf, my Dad, my mom, anyone who donated to the cause, Principia College, to my all my close friends (you know who you are), to myself (haha), and MOST importantly to God.

Upcoming Summer!

I don’t even know how to start this. So here it goes. This summer, I am going to be embarking on an incredible life changing journey. About three months ago, I began to apply to one specific internship in D.C. I believed so hard that this was the right thing for me. That I NEEDED that internship so my resume could look more prestigious. I was dead set on this. Although I had no intentions of applying anywhere else, I kept searching the web.

Of course I found nothing. When I submitted my application something didn’t feel right, but at that moment I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly that was off putting. As weeks were passing by, I kept getting nervous and putting myself down. This is something I was not accustom to. Normally, when I want something I just go for it, without thinking about my qualifications or anything. I also never put myself down when it’s something that is meant for me. So after not hearing anything back for about a month, a friend told me something about myself that I hadn’t even noticed. She wasn’t understanding why I kept focusing on that ONE PARTICULAR internship, when it was obvious I didn’t want it. I of was baffled by this realization, because at that moment I realized I didn’t want it and that prestige has never been something I aimed for. She also said when I wanted something, I would put all my energy into getting it, and then would focus on the good of everything. I wouldn’t even question if it was my right place or not. WOOOOW this was big. How did she realize this and not me? It’s funny how we can overlook our own intuition. She was right.

A few days later, I was scrolling through my Instagram and came across a photo of children laughing from the New Light organization in Kolkata, India. New Light is a non-profit that rehabilitates children and women back into society. I was introduced to this amazing organization my freshmen year at Principia College. After looking at that picture for several minutes, I realized that is what I wanted to do this summer. Be around strong women who were helping others in need. So before I knew it I was inquiring about internship possibilities.

I’m not even kidding you, literally everything started to fall into place. One door closed and another one became wide open for me. I even was able to get different forms of funding for this trip. My college is seriously super generous to its students. Without the funding they provided for me, this dream of mine would not be happening. God always has a path in store for us, we just have to be willing to listen and be guided.

On May 23, I will be flying to Kolkata, India. I will be working alongside some amazing people, and I really look forward to working with Urmi Basu, the founder. Now this incredible summer doesn’t stop there. I will then be flying to 4 other different countries! Once I am done with my internship, I will then embark on a journey to further my research on “Manhood” and my ultimate dream to combating sexual assault/rape. Ok well sorry I’m not about to explain all of that. Trust me, this post is already too long. If you want to know more about my research or my internship, please feel free to message me.

 I will be posting a separate post about my itinerary and more cool things about my summer! Thank you ❤

I am Latina

I am a Latina woman.

Soy una chica latina.

Bold and Proud.

But this wasn’t always the case.

American society doesn’t allow for women of color to have a voice.

Voices cry for a chance to be listened to. My voice cried within my head to heard.

Truly heard.

At points in life I have felt withdrawn from society.

I questioned the existence of other races and ethnicities for not being born white.

Why has white dominated all?

Why have white men and sometimes even women, shut the voices of people of color?

Latinas have had enough. Black women have had enough. I have had enough. We have all had enough.

It’s time. It’s way past time for me to be proud of my heritage. Proud of who I am. Proud of where I came from.

Brown is the color of my skin. Brown is the color of my skin. But that’s not all of me.

I am an intelligent, independent, force to be reckoned with!

I might be short but there is a fire taller than any skyscraper.

Don’t be fooled by my innocent face. Don’t be fooled by my childlike features. I am a powerful Latina.

Humanity needs us.

Humanity needs our firey souls.

I’ll continue to shine. I’ll continue to light the pathway just like many others before me.

This world is in need of strong, powerful Latinas. We can’t hide any longer. 

“the Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever!” (Sonia Sotomayor)

Es tiempo de tomar acción!

A letter to my Rapist

Last fall I got to know you. That same year you went from someone I wanted to get to know, to someone I hated. I once wished you were dead my thoughts went as far as me being the one to kill you. I hated you. The past year has been hell. Those two nights, I felt like you took something away from me. I felt ashamed. I felt worthless. I felt numb. There were some days I didn’t want to get out of bed. Days that I wondered if my life was important. I gave you that much power over me. Why? I don’t know. Even when I felt strong for others, inside I was crying. You took over my thoughts. You made me feel dirty. You took over my body. I never said yes but I only said “no” a few times. The second time I tried to play it cool. I wanted to live. As I went to your bathroom I sat on the floor or maybe it was on the toilet. (I can’t remember because of the missing pieces of that second night. You took my memory away when you drugged me.) As I was there silently praying to God to save me. To not let harm come of me. To be protected. I prayed that an angel would come sweep me away from what was to come. As I sat there silently waiting, I lost hope. This hope would not return to me for months. At times it’s hard to find Hope. Your touch, voice, face still appears as if you were here next to me. So vivid those nights become at times, but then it hurts me as I can’t seem to have the full picture. I question myself “was I truly raped?” “Maybe I said yes but can’t remember”…?

The demons inside my head try to bring me down over and over again. But I’m done crying by myself. I’m done holding it in. I’m done letting you win.

I will fight this battle you have thrown at me and I will win no matter what. You can’t take my love away. I will love you one day. I will forgive you one day. I will forgive myself one day. I will work and pray every day for these things to come true. One day I will be free. Because Freedom is my right.

 

 

 

The Otherside: We are all a little ignorant

Below is an article I wrote for my school paper:

Picture grocery shopping in a store with tiny aisles minding your own business, looking for bread. I turn the corner into the right aisle. I run into a couple. I’m there before they are.  I think that they will move over to let me slide by. That doesn’t happen.

The lady looks at me in disgust and asks me rudely to move. I am so taken aback by this situation that I just stand there, dumbfounded by her reaction towards me. She leans over to her husband and whispers loudly “the Mexican can’t understand English.”

At this moment, I’m not going to lie but it felt like someone slapped me across the face. What had I done? I didn’t realize moving from a city to a rural community was going to be a drastic change in my life. It has been a year since I last visited the community, and a year since I visited my dad.

I didn’t know the lady in the grocery stores story. Neither did I know what she’s been through, but she also knew nothing about me. The sad thing is, my story is not unique. To her, I was the unknown, and in this community the unknown was scary. She probably saw me and didn’t know what to think. Perhaps she never had the opportunity to interact with the “other.”

Even with the opportunity to interact with someone outside the community, she insulted me, only to return to what she knew. She had a chance to make the unknown known. But, she didn’t try. I left the community. She didn’t. Perhaps she is the victim and not me.

This community in Kentucky is like a bubble. It’s the same people who have always lived there. My dad is still friends with the people that he knew at elementary school. It’s custom in many rural communities to know everyone.

Principia shares many similarities to rural Kentucky. Students have the same friends from camp, middle school and even acorn group. So how does this close kinship of childhood friends impact our interaction with others?

Entering a close knit community is hard. It is even harder if you are a minority. In an interview with an international student who wished to stay anonymous says, “I never knew I was black until I came to the United States.”

“It’s not that I didn’t know I was black. My skin color is obvious, but I just didn’t realize my color had such a negative stigma. I was no longer just me, but me and my color. My color was not just a color, but all these negative stereotypes behind it,” she explained.

Since being in the states and having an acute awareness of her skin tone, she has become hyper aware of her accent. “How does it sound? Am I mispronouncing something, which is why people are giving me blank stares.”

“No student wants to repeat themselves multiple times,” in explanation why she chose to be more quiet in class and social interactions.

Adjusting to a new culture and country is not easy. It’s hard, scary, and lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. I can only imagine what many of the international students feel when first arriving in the United States.

And domestic students wonder why there is a divide within the student body at Principia.

“I think international students of color at Principia should first understand that U.S. students are generally institutionally ignorant about any other culture outside of the U.S.” said Professor Billy Miller.

“Indeed, most are ignorant about their own culture. Consequently, for the most part, too many are incapable of empathizing with the cultures of others. So, international students should not take the insulting and embarrassing cultural stereotyping personal when some domestic students engage in the horrible episodes of racialized behaviors.

International students should engage with domestic students notwithstanding their ignorance about the GLOBAL “other.” They should go forward with the greatest love and empathy for domestic students and take the highroad to loving them notwithstanding themselves” said Miller.

I must confess my own ignorance at this point. I roomed with an international student my first semester freshman year. We didn’t have the option to choose roommates. I have to admit I didn’t know how to meet her halfway, so we didn’t talk for most of the semester. But we both spent a lot of time in the room. She was doing homework and I was watching Tedtalks.

Then one day we spoke. I can’t tell you the specific day or what we spoke about, but we discovered how much we had in common. It’s odd looking back and realizing how afraid I was to be vulnerable and afraid to show my ignorance.

Sure I had to Wikipedia some information and google map her home. Only to realize it wasn’t what I expected. It was normal. Today, this woman is now one of my best friends.

This isn’t about looking down at domestic students, like myself, but for all of us to take moment to think about what the real issue is. We have an opportunity at Principia to enrich our lives by getting to know the “other.”

The “other” is that international student or person who you don’t normally interact with. Someone that might not only look different, but have a different political ideology.

So meeting the other doesn’t mean losing your identity or beliefs. It means loving your neighbor. To learn from one another we must all be willing to take down the barriers. Just like the incident that occurred for me in Kentucky. I realized I was once that woman.

We are all a little ignorant at some point in our lives. But we have the opportunity to change that. At Principia we have over 80 international students from six different continents; this is a chance to express Love.