Update: Almost one year back from Korea. What am I doing now?

It’s December 25, 2016 and this is my FIRST Christmas back in America since 2014! When you’re abroad, you tend to romanticize the holidays, so it was great to actually live through the Thanksgiving and Christmas period in real time!

Now this also means that I’ve almost been back in the states for an entire year! Instead of talking about Korea, I’ll have more references for my young adult life in America!

So what exactly does a young adult do after returning from working abroad? Well, for me and several of my friends (who also taught in Korea), the next step was teaching here in America.

I am now a 6th grade social studies teacher at a local charter school in Louisiana. I have to say that if someone had told me I’d be here doing this in say 2012 (the year I graduated from college), I’d have laughed at them. Teaching in America was not a part of my plan when I was 22 or even at 24, when I left to teach in Korea, but here I am! I just finished my first semester of teaching.

So, you might wonder: If this wasn’t a part of my plan, why am I doing it?

I have so many answers to this question, but one always stands out. I chose to come and teach (even if I had many other choices) because I really do enjoy the learning and growing process that happens in the classroom. I enjoyed it in Korea and I still enjoy it right here in Louisiana!

Now of course I’ve had MANY surprises this first semester of teaching and I really hope to share many of them here, so stay tuned and of course: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

 

Sorrows of Charleston, SC: Where is our focus America?

This blog is called “The Musings of T” and one thing I muse about on a daily basis is my place in American society. As a young Black woman I constantly find myself asking “What exactly is my place in a society that suffers from racism, even when it is rarely admitted that racism is still an issue?”  While I don’t feel any less American, I do acknowledge that America has its issues. Do I still love my country? HELL YES! Do I like those issues and choose to ignore them? HELL NO!

The massacre of nine Black people in a historically African Methodist Episcopal Church last week was devastating to me. I saw comments by many other Black American expats in the Facebook groups say that they cried, felt extremely sad, and had heavy hearts over this massacre. This massacre is beyond scary for us. When the dead look like yourself and your family, you will feel very different about this sort of situation.

The young man who perpetrated this atrocity admitted that he is very much racist and that his attack on and massacre of these nine people was racially motivated has been caught and will eventually face his day in court.

While I am pleased with the swift capture of the criminal and racist who did this, I am NOT happy with the narratives surrounding this tragic massacre in Charleston. I have been closely following the media coverage and the politician speeches surrounding this tragedy. President Obama called for better gun control, but said nothing about the systematic, historical and present racism that still plagues America. Other politicians, such as Nikki Haley Governor of South Carolina, have focused all of their efforts in taking down the Confederate flag.

While the confederate flag is an extremely racist and hateful symbol in America, simply taking down the flag at the South Carolina State House (and the halt in selling the flag on Amazon.com or at Wal-Mart) does not bring back the nine people who were killed last week and it does not solve the hateful ideas that linger in American society that allowed for this tragedy, and many, many tragedies just like it throughout American history, to happen in the first place.

The disease in America is called racism- the confederate flag is a symptom of that long plaguing disease! 

To simply center the conversation of police brutality and the massacre in South Carolina around the flying of a racist  flag, is to keep deflecting from a serious conversation about race in America.

-This is to say that YES, the confederate flag should not be seen, and common sense tells us this because of its history. However, the flag is not the BIG problem- what it stands for (RACISM) is the problem!  If our politicians cannot stand to have a serious conversations about racism in our country and how it has continued to covertly linger in American society, then maybe we should be asking why. Why can’t we tackle this issue so that we never have to experience another tragic massacre like the one that took place in South Carolina? What are we so afraid of? What good will come from continuously ignore racism in our country?

The families of these nine victims will continuously stay in my prayers. May these nine victims rest in peace.

Image result for charleston 9 people

Two Degrees and No Student Loans: Part 3 *Tips for Making the College Experience Amazing!*

Hello again! I am back after completing my GRE studying and taking the test this past weekend (HOOORRRAAAYY!). This means I finally get to reflect on one of the best experiences I’ve had in my 25 years of life: COLLEGE!

Yes, you heard me right! College (also referred to as “university” in many places of the world) was one of the most freeing and passion filled times of my young life. It gave me time to develop and grow in ways that I never thought I would and it gave me a different outlook on my educational experience! So today I am going to share a few tips for making your college experience AMAZING!

Tip #1-Research: Before you ever step foot on your college campus, you should do a little research on the organizations the school has to offer. Also, research the new city you will be living in. Before I went to college, people told me I wouldn’t have any time to join clubs and organizations like I did in high school. Let me tell you a little secret: THEY WERE WRONG! In college, you will want to join organizations to socialize, network, do something meaningful, and above all HAVE FUN! You cannot study 24 hours a day, so join a club or two! Also, you will want to leave campus so know what the city has (or doesn’t have) to offer you!

Tip #2-THOU SHALL FIND YOURSELF A MENTOR– You heard me right! Yes, you are an adult now, but you don’t know everything. Having a professor or staff person at your school who you can talk to and ask lots of important career questions to is crucial for helping you navigate the college experience. Remember, your mentor does not have to be your academic advisor (mine surely wasn’t). A good mentor will listen to you and encourage you, but also critique you and challenge you to do better. The best way to identify potential mentors is to first know yourself. What are your goals? What sort of career do you want? Now identify a few professors that could possibly help you figure out how to make those goals a reality and start communicating with them. Let them know what you are interested in by visiting them at office hours or talking with them after class.

Tip #3 Find three places– There are three very important places on your college’s campus and you’d do well to know where they are- The Counseling Center, The Career Center, and the Tutoring Center. Find each one of these and remember where they are. Also, USE THEM!  Don’t be afraid to use the help your tuition dollars pay for on your campus!

Tip #4- Stay on campus as long as you can– Every college campus is different but the EASIEST way to get connected to your campus and other students is to live on your campus. It seems silly but you will be surrounded by an academic and intellectual environment (with access to the library for late night studying) and a highly social environment where you can talk to people and share your ideas freely! Remember: You are only young once and you can only enjoy campus life as an 18-25 year old person when you are 18-25 years old. Don’t miss out on that opportunity!

Tip #5- Practice a healthy lifestyleTake this from the girl who gained 20 pounds in one year of college-Remember that you aren’t going to have your mom making sure you eat vegetables and fruit anymore. On practically every college campus there is a cafeteria that will offer a variety of meals and you are paying for those meals. Use them to your benefit! Eat a balanced diet and be careful not to make too many late night trips to McDonald’s and IHOP! Also, practically every college campus has an athletic facility (aka gym) where you can work out or play sports like badminton and basketball! If you’ve never exercise regularly this will be a great time to start! It’s not only a good way to get into shape, but a great stress reliever as well!

Tip #6- Positivity– Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed!  Make sure you are deliberate in the kinds of relationships you take part in. The people you have the most contact with should be those who make you happy and believe in you. If a person is constantly negative around you, you will eventually feel the effects of that negativity. Be careful with who you give the title of “friend” to as well. Learn to be comfortable in reassessing relationships and making changes when needed.

Tip #7- Find the opportunities– Don’t be afraid to ask about summer internships and programs and organizations that may help you reach your goals of graduating! Use summer jobs and campus jobs to build your skills and network with others. Jobs like resident assistants often can get you a paycheck and/or a free room!  Also, attend a conference in your field of study or your intended career field. All majors will have a conference you can attend, so ask your professors about them. Also, ask if your department if there is funding for students to attend conferences. These conferences are CRUCIAL for information and networking within your field (and non-stop FUN!).

Remember: College is not just about attending a class and getting a degree, it’s also about developing and growing as a human being! 

Links: Make your college experience AMAZING! Programs you should know:

McNair and Student Support Services (think Upward Bound for college students)

-http://www2.ed.gov/programs/triomcnair/index.html

-http://www2.ed.gov/programs/triostudsupp/index.html

CIC (for those thinking about graduate/professional school: summer internships at Big Ten schools and so much more!)

https://www.cic.net/home