Well, you really do win some and lose some... This week we really did try to stick to planning our own independent events for the IEP classes. Since that has been something that we haven't been focusing on this semester we really wanted to try. With excessive FB posts, emails to teachers and students, lots of outreach in general... still nothing. We set up a show and tell event in the Selleck game room where the students could bring a little something from their home country and tell the group about it! We hoped that it would increase conversation and give the students a chance to talk about their home and me and Ariel a chance to learn more about the students in general. We chose the Selleck game room because at the game afternoon event that we held there we had a huge turn out because people were already there and it was a central location for a lot of students. With support from the teachers too, we hoped that this show and tell afternoon would have the same sort of effect. Sadly it did not and we had no takers for this event. We did hear back from some of the students that we had contacted and a lot of them had prior commitments or last minute conflicts.
It would be a lie to say that not having people show up to these events isn't disheartening, I get really excited about the events that we plan and with what I thought to be a lot of connections and support from campus I had hoped that getting attendance to these things would be a bit easier. People do have their own schedules, though, and making specific time to go and talk to people who aren't like you is hard and different. I even understand that. The only reason I am so okay with it is because this is what I live to do. I love being in awkward/uncomfortable situations because I believe that is where you grow as a person. I want to become a person who is comfortable and knows how to handle all sorts of situations that I am put in, I want to be able to understand others cultures and beliefs and behaviors so that they can shape me as a person and make me into someone who understands; because understanding is the true issue in all this isn't it. The understanding of another culture and the respect of different beliefs, actions, and ideals. I think that is important and that is why I am doing this, that is why I was so excited about this internship.
Of course, coming into this we were warned that this might be hard. Hard to get people excited about talking. Hard to get people to even show up.
Oh my dear it is.
So, I am taking a different plan of attack.
This week is my campus-wide event I have been coordinating through Students Overcoming Stereotypes, the Nepalese Student Association, and University Suites Hall Government with $1,000 of funding from our own Residence Hall Association. I have been throwing myself into planning this event because it has been all mine. Everything has snowballed and I have been able to coagulate everything I have learned with the successes and failures of this internship to my own event. I have been clear about date and times and locations, I have branched out to organizations that I know and trust and have made personal relationships in order to get them to believe in my cause as much as I do, I have blown up Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to get constant reminders out there, and have created what I hope to be a successful event for people of all backgrounds and organizations. This event is a fundraising and awareness event for the people of Nepal as well as my friend Karin who is in Nepal working as a nurse and a cross-culture worker. Through health/wellness initiatives, community development, awareness, and education she is combatting human trafficking and hoping to help raise this country out of the poverty and crime that they have fallen into. The one thing I have realized this year is the lack of awareness of these issues and how easy it is to get into a bubble; this event is to combat that. I have made connections with students and faculty of all backgrounds and groups that are fully supporting this event! I think it is fabulous. No matter where you come from or what you believe or what background you have you have the ability to make a difference. Project Nepal is a free buffet dinner where people can come and learn about this resilient, beautiful country, the struggle they are going through, and how one person can make a difference in this world. Support is coming from everywhere: greek row, global studies students, the Gaughan Center, the Women's Center, women from the water fitness class I teach at the YMCA are attending, Tiny Hands International here in Lincoln is having a booth, the Health Center, friends from Oklahoma and NYC are ordering tshirts and sharing the event on their feeds to raise awareness, IEP, RAIKES, RHA students are attending, people are driving in from out of town to attend, we have donations from Ten Thousand Villages here in Lincoln and they are advertising as well, volunteers from all across campus including huge support from the UNL athletics department.....
Honestly, I am so excited to see all these people from different groups all in one place; interacting, eating, and learning together. Featuring my dear friend who is so far away making a difference and being cheered on by a campus who is so full or love and support.
Though Ariel and I are slowly trying to figure out this IEP event planning attendance dilemma, the failure is only leading us into bigger things. This internship has opened doors and realities that I never thought possible. It has led me to understand the abilities that I do have and the how absolutely important these events are. It is not simply the event. It is not simply sitting and playing games. It is not simply going to different speakers and activities. It is the merging of cultures to promote understanding and awareness. I have realized this more than anything. The understanding, interaction, acceptance, and inclusion of people from different social groups and cultural backgrounds is so important to our future as a people and world.
It is fulfilling knowing that though I am playing a small role in the attempt to make a difference, I am at least attempting.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
― Edward Everett Hale