Happy holidays to everyone! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I have been back in the wonderful state of Texas for a couple of weeks now, and I am feeling energized and refreshed. I just wanted to share our new family photos with you, my faithful blog readers. Thank you for your support!
PS – You know I couldn’t leave you with out the FREE TIP OF THE DAY. Today’s tip is appreciate your family, because at the end of the day. They are all you got. Also check out the making of our family photos by clicking here.
This past weekend was a combination of amazing experiences that I needed. My parents drove 10 hours to spend half the week with me. As an only child, I often miss my family back home. Yet, to see how proud they are of me in pursuing my doctorate to drive so far, really confirmed to me that I have a great support system. While here, my mother cooked lunch for my coworkers and then hosted a huge, soul-food dinner for me and roughly 20 of my friends. This was by far the most amazing meal I have had in 2011! My friends also enjoyed the time that we shared together playing Taboo and Apples to Apples for hours. Throughout this semester, I have had difficulty successfully balancing my academic and personal life. This weekend was a great transition away from that imbalance and hopefully the rest of the semester will be equally enjoyable.
However, a personal triumph this weekend was my acting debut! The IU School of Education, the Office Multicultural Initiatives, the Department of Theatre and Drama, and the Arts in Education Club presented the play: “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.” Twilight, Los Angeles, 1992 is a groundbreaking piece of “documentary theatre” that explores the consequences of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, sparked in part by the acquittal of police officers charged with the beating of Rodney King. With its immensely diverse cast of characters, drawn from interviews with real people who experienced the riots, the play presents a balanced, 360 degree look at racial tension in The United States. The New York Times called it “an expression of the eternal search for order in an anarchic world” when the play made its debut, and following nearly unanimous critical praise, the play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
My character was Gina Rae a Los Angeles community Activist. I thoroughly enjoyed practicing for this play and interacting with different people on campus from undergraduate students to staff members throughout this semester. The best part was to have my parents in town to witness the excitement.
My family drove up from Bloomington, Indiana to visit me at my conference center in Cincinnati, Ohio and to spend some quality time together.
Today we visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have visited several museums in the past, but this one really impacted me. The scope of coverage; the quality of the exhibits; and the use of technology, are some of the features of this museum that made the overall experience great!
Although we spent almost three hours in this museum, we are certain that we will return!
I used to be a Valentines Day fanatic, giving in to the pressures of consumerism and purchasing high cost candy, teddy bears, and flowers for the loved ones. I’ve sort of grown out of this, but still, during the month of February I can’t help but to spend moments thinking about all the things that I love. A lot of them are typical things, like my family, my partner, and my puppy (thats her in the picture), but I am also a little bit of a nerd and I love to play trumpet (see my next blog), and I have LOTS of love for the work that I do, particularly sitting down in front of excel sheets and playing with numbers, managing the small group of undergraduate students that help me conduct my research, presenting (mostly null) results in front of fellow graduate students and faculty, and sitting around and thinking critically about scientific problems. I also love that I love what I do.. because I have done work that I don’t particularly like and I know how it feels to get up in the morning and have to drag myself to my job. So, really, (I can’t believe I am saying this) I actually love being a gra… wait.. maybe I shouldn’t say it. Or maybe I will.. ok, here it goes…I actually love being a graduate student (disclaimer: the degree of truth to the last statement will vary depending on the time of the semester, and how many deadlines I have to meet).
The Bloomington, Indiana community gets so many opportunities to experience the world’s best, brightest, most creative minds. From high quality operas performed by the I.U. Opera Theater, to various musical events sponsored by the Jacobs School of Music, to the countless local artistes, who perform regularly perform at community events, Bloomingtonians are innundated by a plethora of activities from which to choose.
On February 2, 2011, my family and I had the privilege of attending a Blue man Group concert, which was held at the I.U. Auditorium. At first, I was not too thrilled about leaving my home, since we had recently experienced ice storms; however, once I saw I.U. auditorium’s brightly lit billboard, with the announcement and images of the Blue Man Group I quickly got over those blues!
The concert was awesome. The Blue Man Group performed a series of musical, artistic, and dramatic pieces and kept the audience engaged from beginning to end. After the concert my sons had the opportunity to pose for pictures with the three members of the Blue Man Group. Pretty awesome!
(Photo above taken from I.U. Auditorium’s website)
Jacobs School of Music:
This past semester was quite intense and tiresome, so I was really looking forward to getting some time-off to go home for a much needed vacation. I am from Puerto Rico, so going home during the Winter break enables me to escape Bloomington’s cold weather and jump into Caribbean’s sunny and hot winter weather! (or so I thought). My plan was to visit my family and friends, as well as the beaches in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the entire time I was home, the sun never showed up! Additionally, I spent most of the time working, even though, I did manage to spend some time with my family and friends, sleep 10 hours a day, and eat all those delicious home-cooked meals that I have missed so much.
Anyway, the highlight of my stay at home was being able to celebrate my birthday with my loved ones. Overall, my winter break, although short, was great and a wonderful way to recharge for 2011!!
Sitting here trying to do some work (a few readings that I have to have done by tomorrow), my mind wandered off a little bit to think about my winter break, and how relaxing and good it felt to be in a warm place, with friends and family, and celebrating some very fun holidays. One of the life changing events that happened to me over winter break was the new addition to our family, a beautiful baby that has made me a proud aunt for the very first time, and marks the beginning of a new generation. The cake in the picture was given to the proud mother a couple of days after giving birth. She definitely needed all the pampering she could get, especially after all that work!
I also did very little work, and spent most of my time eating a lot, hanging out with the family, and helping care for the little one. Of course, I am now paying for the fact that I did so little work, but all in all, I don’t regret it, because it was one of the best winter breaks that I have had
Now.. about those readings…
The Project School in Bloomington
I am writing about this school because I have children enrolled there; and their experiences with the school are remarkably different from those of other minority children attending some schools in town. I have met many graduate students of color who are not satisfied with the learning experiences of their children in their current schools. I can relate to their complaints because I had to deal with similar issues in a school where my children first enrolled when we relocated to Bloomington three years ago.
The school is K-8 and will be K-9 next year. It is a charter school; located downtown. Pedagogy in the school is predicated on experiential learning and project-based inquiry. Children become very independent and proficient in their reading and writing skills at a very early age.
The teachers are very respectful of all kids irrespective of their racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. No child is ever turned away because his/her parents cannot contribute for an activity or field trip. The following languages are taught there during after school programs: German, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, and Mongolian.
If you are a parent who is concerned about inclusive principles in your child’s current school, then you should consider this alternative. The demand for the school is very high and as result, admissions are only through lottery.
As a graduate student, it is important to keep in touch with your family and friends. My mother and grandmother have always been there for me and we have kept in strong communication. I try to call them every day and inform them about my academics, courses, activities, and social events here at IU. My family provides me with emotional support and encouragement.
A healthy diet is another important part of your well-being as a graduate student. I make sure to eat fruit and vegetables every day. Running and exercising are important activities in which I engage as a graduate student. The university has great exercise and sporting facilities, most notably the HPER and SCRS. If you commit yourself to take part in the activities described above, your quality of life and wellness will improve! Please find bellow some additional healthy habits:
1. Eat breakfast every morning
2. Snack in a healthy way
3. Make fruit and vegetables part of your diet
4. Get enough sleep (naps during the day can help)
5. Make social connections and communicate with family
6. Exercise for better health
7. Drink water and eat dairy
8. Take a daily walk (walking to classes can help you meet this requirement)
Being from out of state and from what seems like a totally different place at times, going home for Winter Break proved to be a much needed vacation. I am originally from Virginia and as an only child I sometimes struggle with missing my family and friends. I went home about 8 or 9 days earlier than I have in the previous two years. Over the break I visited New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and Georgia. Whew! There were a lot of people to visit, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Often when I am in my apartment at school, I find myself slightly nostalgic and searching through pictures on Facebook for comfort. Bloomington and IU are absolutely wonderful and I have met amazing people while here, however returning to my comfort zone is much needed for my success in my doctoral program. I am growing in how to manage my personal, academic, and professional life as a full-time doctoral student. Taking advantage of every vacation or break and using occasional weekends to recharge are absolutely necessary for me to feel comfortable in my academic pursuits. My winter vacation was absolutely wonderful and now I look forward to a successful and amazing semester complete with research projects, presentations, conferences, and classes!