Friday, May 27, 2011

Francis' Graduation

Owing to my Armando and Armida’s generosity and Robert & Paloma’s openness to accommodate me, I was able to attend Francis’s (my godson’s) graduation from Brown University in Providence Rhode Island. It was a wonderfully organized three day event of celebrations, parties, dances and events. Since I arrived on Saturday I missed the baccalaureate but was able to attend the waterfire event, where bonfires are lit along the river as people socialize along the riverwalk. We then attended a swing dance that was being held on the street in downtown Providence.

Dancing the night away!

The graduation took all morning and most of the afternoon. As the graduates processed through town to the First Baptist Church, families and alumni cheered them. They then processed to the college green where Ruth Simmons, the president, conferred their degrees. She was moved to be awarded the teacher of the year award. By mid afternoon, the graduates dispersed to their respective departments to receive their diplomas. Francis’ was Development Studies at the Jewish Community Center. It was a more intimate place. Department Director Cornel’s dry humor was charming as master of ceremonies. After a brief nap, we had pizza at Francis’ house—a nice capstone to a wonderful day.

“Francis, let me know how I can help you pack.”
“It is OK, Nino. I have to pack myself.”
And he began to go through the items and memories he had collected over 4 years at Brown. He had just received news that he got a job for PSI  in DC, a  global health organization and he was preparing to leave. So he was closing a chapter to his life at Brown—packing up clothes, books and souvenirs, and saying goodbye to friends. Oh to be young and on the cusp of adulthood.

Monday, May 23, 2011

stupidity is ...

leaving your hybrid on all day in the parking lot and not knowing until you come back from work.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hector and the Search for Happiness

I just finished reading François Lelord’s Hector and the Search for Happiness, given to me by Connie. It is a simple book about Hector, a psychiatrist, who travels the world in search of what makes people happy. It is a fabilistic tale with anonymous entities (home country (France), the country of More (USA), Eduardo’s commodity (cocaine)), which I found slightly annoying at times, to have the reader think about what makes her happy. His list is below. Some resonate for me (*), while others less so.
This Hector would add: Happiness is being grateful for what you do have.

Lesson no. 1: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.*
Lesson no. 2: Happiness often comes when least expected.
Lesson no. 3: Many people see happiness only in their future.
Lesson no. 4: Many people think that happiness comes from having more power or more money
Lesson no. 5: Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
Lesson no. 6: Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains. *
Lesson no. 7: It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.*
Lesson no. 8: Happiness is being with the people you love.*
Lesson no 8b: Unhappiness is being separated from the people you love.
Lesson no. 9: Happiness is knowing your family lacks for nothing.
Lesson no. 10: Happiness is doing a job you love.*
Lesson no. 11: Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.
Lesson no. 12: It is hard to be happy in a country run by bad people
Lesson no. 13 Happiness is feeling useful to others.*
Lesson no. 14: Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are.*
Lesson no. 15: Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.*
Lesson no. 16: Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.
Lesson no. 17: Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.**
Lesson no. 18: Happiness is not attaching to much importance to what other people think.
Lesson no. 19: The sun and the sea make everybody happy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Como aruinar a sus hijos

Aunque no sea padre, los siguientes "consejos" se me hacen sabios:
1.    Comience durante su infancia dándole todo lo que pida. De este modo crecerá creyendo que todo el mundo le debe algo a él/ella.
2.    Cuando diga malas palabras, ríase de él/ella. Ellos le hará pensar que lo que dijo es chistoso. Esto también le motivará a decir y aprender peores palabras que los volverán locos a ustedes en el futuro.
3.    Nunca le enseñe nada moralmente. Espere hasta que cumpla los 21 años y deje que “decida por si mismo/a”.
4.    Evite usar la palabra “mal”. Le puede crear un complejo de culpa. Esto va a condicionarle a que crean cuando los arresten por cometer un delito, que la sociedad está contra ellos y todos lo/a están persiguiendo.
5.    Recoja todo lo que él/ella deja tirado por todos lados—libros, zapatos y ropa. Haga todo por ellos para que así aprendan a relegar todas sus responsabilidades a otros cuando crezcan.
6.    Deje que lea cualquier tipo de revistas que encuentren. No se preocupe que lean y aprendan de revistas y libros que solo contienen “basura”.
7.    Peleen y discutan entre los adultos delante de su hijo/a. Asi él/ella estará preparando para cuando su matrimonio se separe.
8.    Dele a su hijo/a todo el dinero que él/ella le pida. Nunca le deje ganar su propio dinero. Después de todo, ellos no tienen que sufrir ni pensar por lo que ustedes pasaron para conseguirlo.
9.    Complázacalo/a en todo lo que pida: comida, bebidas, juguetes, etc. Asegúrese de que tenga todo lo que quiera. No hacer esto podría causar frustraciones.
10.                  Siempre defienda y esté de su parte contra vecinos, profesores y policia. Todo ellos tienen prejucios contra su hijo/a.
11.                  Cuando él/ella se meta en verdaderos aprietos y problemas, discúlpenlo diciéndose a si mismo que “nunca pudo hacer nada por él/ella”.
12.                  Prepárese a tener una vida de sufrimientos. Los más seguo es que Ud. la tendrá.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

LGBT Noche Familiar de Diversidad

For me it started in with the media headlines of youth who had committed suicide because they were gay or perceived as gay, and the addressing the needs of one of our students who possibly might be gay. It caused me such sadness to know young kids, who had their life ahead of them would kill themselves because they and the world could not accept something so fundamental to who they were.

So some teachers and staff began having meetings to have an LGBT Night for our largely Latino families. I didn’t know what to expect, or who if any would show up as two years ago I was told that a similar workshop didn’t go so well. But last night we had some 50 adults and 40 students. I was really overwhelmed with pride for our staff and families.

I felt strongly that the workshop be done in Spanish and bridge the culture of our families. Many times the materials we have available depict white families, which are one step removed from the culture and language of our families. This was important because of the traditional, machismo and religious taboos on homosexuality in Latin-American countries. We started off with a short video Tres Gotas de Agua, from Our Family Coalition, about the experience of three Latina women who had accepted and loved their had children who turned out to be queer. It was a wonderful, heart touching video. One of our teachers prepared some thoughtful questions (When was the first time who knew of someone who was homosexual? How would you respond if your child wanted to play with toys or dress in clothes of the opposite sex? How would you respond if your child was disciplined for a homophobic hate crime?) I helped facilitate one group—and the thoughtfulness of some of the family members was remarkable: We have to teach respect to our children. We have to see that if our child turned out to be gay, that we would accept and love him. If she wanted to play with toys of the opposite sex, we could have to come to accept it and prepare her for reactions of what others might say.  Rhina, our facilitator, was great. She had great rapport and humor with the Latino families and got them to respond. One mother mentioned that some cultures honor “gay” people. She mentioned that the Zapotecs of Oaxaca called them ira’ muxe. They are known for their artistic skills and ability to make altars. Mothers are proud to have them because they take care of them when they get old. Wow! I am the one educated. We ended with an affirmation of our children. I love my child when ______. It gives me hope.

This is for your Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase, Billy Lucas and Cody J. Barker.

Of Principals and Moles

Recently my boss went out on paternity leave as he has a new son. That would have an impact on my job and my personal life as I would be acting principal at my school. The prospect left me with discomfort, anxiety and some anger. I have done this before—at a larger school, with many more challenges, so this would not be too hard. But it also arose for me negative memories of carrying a school and making an executive decision alone that hopefully doesn’t have deleterious effects on a school and may make someone unhappy. While I was pleased my boss would be spending time with his son, I would have to make decisions about absent teachers with no sub, addressing discipline problems, and making sure day to day coverage was happening, while at the same time doing my job.

Last weekend my nephew was relating to me that he hated his moles. He thinks he has too many, their too big, and people comment on them. This is something that he has brought up previously. He is oblivious to the fact that he is very handsome and these moles will charm with whomever he falls in love. But this does not comfort an 11 year old prepubescent boy.

In a recent issue of National Geographic there was a small article on people with moles, which have been considered beauty marks. Scientists have found that people with more than 100 moles may age more slowly. People with moles tend to have more telomeres, DNA segments which control the ability of cells to divide and renew tissues, which shrink over time. The more moles, the longer one’s body has the ability renew tissues. I sent him a letter and a copy of the article to him along with Aesop’s fable “The Stag at the Pool” letting him know that moles can be a blessing. But more importantly, that that which we disdain can often be a blessing.

I wish someone one would send me a letter letting me know that being TSAP (teacher substituting as acting principal) can be a blessing in disguise. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mi familia Lee

Mi Papá Felipe y mi Mamá Ampelia
La familia de mi papá--los Lee.
Una visita con mis abuelos de 1987 (?).

Felíz Cinco de mayo!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today's high was 79˚

I have theory that most people who live in San Francisco remain here because of the mild, cool weather. Yes, we complain about gray skies, about the cold fog and the western winds, but if we really didn’t like it, we would move.

So I kind of dread going out on days that are warm, 75˚ F and above, because people are a little more impatient, more short-tempered, more uncomfortable. Yes, you will see people out in less clothes, in shorts and tank tops, making lines at Mitchell’s, but the change in attitude is noticeable on the road. I could be that I am more irritable when I have to work and it is hot, but I think I am not alone.

©  2011 Hector V. Lee

Enjoying the food at La Santaneca

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alonso's Art 1

Shark attack?