09 January 2012

Stories from Marcus

Hello all, I'm back in California, feeling wonderfully grounded and completely enjoying the time I have to spend with loved ones. There are some things that I wanted to share which I never took the time to post over the last months.

This is a picture of Marcus. He was a camper at the summer camp I worked at over the summer in Rota, southern Spain. Marcus has down syndrome and quite a few family programs. I was captivated by his abundant love and imagination. During camp he would ask me to go on walks so he could tell me stories about his adventures, which were all created in his mind. These stories were vibrant with description and excitement. Most of all I am left with a fascination of his genius for story telling. Perhaps he tapped into this to escape from realities that accompany his disability and family life. His story telling is clearly a gift nonetheless.

It seems to me that each person has a very specific intelligence that one is to discover, cultivate and share. I see people, like Marcus, who face great obstacles arrive at an understanding and optimal usage of their individual genius. Hopefully one uses their comforts of life to encourage, rather than prevent, the discovery of one's true genius.

21 October 2011

O democracy, our fickle friend

A peaceful crowd gathered outside the Palace of Nations today to protest Vietnamese presence in Cambodia. Also present protesting today were groups from Iran and Egypt.

24 September 2011

Around Geneva

Aside from it's snow capped mountains, open country sides, to-the-minute bus lines, lake, parks and small towns that surround it; Geneva leaves one with a refreshed feeling for another reason. A high contrast can be found when arriving in Geneva from Spain. The most apparent difference between Geneva and the average Spanish city is the high quantity of nationalities packed into one small city. The different languages, food, and mannerisms allow one the simple luxury to be different, not fit in a set mold. Naturally, a city that houses the United Nations is going cultivate this type of environment. Above all this is what I first found most interesting and quite refreshing. With all the diversity the city seems very oddly American; like the European version of California.

02 September 2011

La Acogida

I continue to be blown away by generous loving people in this world. This past month my sister and I were traveling in southern Spain for 17 days. I say traveling, but it was more like an interim period before we attended World Youth Day. For this reason, we did not plan our weeks very precisely; rather we trusted our days and stays would work out in one form or another.

As it turns out, words can not express how well things fell into place for us every step of the way. We owe it all to the kind people who opened their homes, fed us well, and were excellent loving company. As a result we ever so smoothly passed our last days in Spain. My lasting thought is that I have the opportunity hope to return these acts of pure selfless giving with the same enthusiasm as was done unto us.

The various welcoming souls we found on our journey:

Isabel and Sr Antonia
Mila and Jiame

Maggie with Juan and Ana (Pedro, father of the family, not pictured)
!Gracias todo!

19 July 2011


As I near the end of my time in Sevilla I've been thinking about the impressions I have left on others, impressions left on me, and if perhaps anything has changed at all. I think that most people would like to feel that they had made a difference in a place were they spend five hard working months of ones life. The feeling of not leaving anything or not having accomplished anything is quite daunting. As of now I can not account for an impression or mark that I am leaving in Sevilla. Rather, I note the mark that Sevilla and Spain has left on me. That mark is one of true humility.

Since diving into the Spanish language not only I have learned a lot about Spanish, but also volumes about humility. It is something easily learned from the persistent snickering of kids that comes with one’s mispronunciation. Or it can be found in the assignment to "act" as a group leader, but not actually be permitted to do anything because the other group leader thinks one does not understand. Expressions on people’s faces when one tries to explain something, the parenting of something that one understands completely, and the general sentiment that you are destined to be a follower in life – also all humbling. Over the past five months I spent many moments feeling like an immigrant from a third-world country; and not feeling like useful volunteer.

For all this humbling, I AM grateful. I am grateful to feel a little more, and grateful to feel for others a little more. Never again will I look at someone and assume that they should understand the words I am speaking simply because they are in an English speaking country. Neither will I falter when it comes to helping someone understand protocols and norms. I will have a special eye out to make people feel comfortable to speak their mind. Above all I will search for those who NEED a smile to remind them that we are in the game of life together.

Sunflowers that fill the countryside of Spain during the summertime.