Decoration Day

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Before we knew it as Memorial Day, today at one point in time was referred to as Decoration Day.

I never knew this little tidbit of historical knowledge until I was perusing Google today. But after reading that, it seemed fitting. Especially after I reflected down my life journey to Memorial Weekend 1997. To a moment in time of which I think of every Memorial Day.

That year I had the great fortune to go on a trip to Washington D.C. with my social studies class for that weekend. Now that weekend had been a whirlwind of sightseeing, great food, and tons of fun with lots of friends. But the memory I am referring to is having the honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. I had earned the honor by entering an essay contest. I remember my essay topic clearly: saying thank you to those who fell who helped to keep South Korea a free nation so that my parents could adopt me.

When Monday came along we headed out and started our day sightseeing. After lunch we headed to the National Cemetery. Once we arrived myself and three other student essay winners went straight to the Tomb to get our instructions on the protocols of laying the wreath.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

The scene at the Tomb, while crowded with American citizens paying their respects, was quiet with a sincere reverence that even I knew at that age was a meaningful gesture. The only sound was of the steps of the soldiers guarding the Tomb and the light drizzle falling on the glistening marble monument. We were taken to an area where we were given instructions by both the security officers and military personnel who were at the site. They explained how we were going to lay the wreath from our Jr. High at the Tomb. An hour later we were lined up and ready to begin.

It was only a five minute process, but I remember each step. The light drizzle continued falling on the wet marble, wrapping us all in a blanket of somber sincerity and gratitude. Our classmates lined the way watching us and waiting for the ceremony to begin. The mat where the guards walked glistened black and their steps were crisp and sharp to the ear. With a few commands of the guards, we began our descent down the steps towards the Tomb, while the soldiers held their posts, guarding the tomb, at each end of the mat. As we began our walk I remember whispering a brief thank you to the men and women we were about to honor. We reached the wreath that stood at the bottom of the stairs and at the instruction of the military guard, who was accompanying us, I and a fellow student laid our hands on the wreath and were led by the guard who carried the wreath and stand across the shining black mat to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Once we placed the wreath, we returned to the other side of the mat and observed a moment of silence.I remember walking across the mat with my hands resting on the wreath following the soldier who would eventually place the wreath at the tomb.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

During that moment, something in me clicked and I really understood what the Tomb represented and what Memorial Day was for. And what it meant to those left behind. I  whispered one last thank you before we turned and walked back to our school group.

This is how I remember Memorial Day. Its how I remember what we actually honor today. Its not only the lives lost but those who were left behind. The families, friends and loved ones of those who have died and their sacrifice they have given as well. Its not only to honor those who have died on the battle field but also those who died after they came home and continued to live until time, God or whatever you may believe took them from those plane. Its a day to say thank you to those who have served and passed.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

So take a moment and say a prayer for a love one who has passed who served or thank you to a family whose soldier has passed for their service.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, Panda!

In memory of: Agnes “Dolly” Proffer, A3 US Air Force, 1937-2011

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Rainy Events!

Where my activities and events peeps at? Woot Woot!

Let’s face it, when we do our events outside, especially those of us in the lovely Mid-West, we never know what the weather is going to be like.

This weekend I have a large scale event, and to avoid dreading the torrential precipitation that is galloping towards East Lansing, I thought I’d remind myself of the good things about rainy events and share my list with you. :)

 1) You can always sing and dance in the rain with students and staff!  

2) Rain helps the flowers grow!  (Post event of course)

3) The ability to re-enact your favorite film rain scenes with your volunteers! 

4) Rainbows to gaze at with students(And an urge to read LOL)  

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Nothing’s Black & White Except Pandas

Michigan always keeps things interesting.

Late last week a digital billboard appeared in Macomb County here in Michigan:

Now, let me just say, that on the surface…No one is born sporting the full ROY G BIV. But let’s be honest, it doesn’t look bad. :)

But in conversations on social media and in person over the busy Mother’s Day Weekend (Happy belated Mother’s Day to everyone BTW!) I had some interesting perspectives, points, and opinions shared. Some were supportive while others not, but overall it provided me a better perspective and understanding as to the two sides of the issue. So I thought I’d share with you some of the points made from all the sides I interacted with.

“Homosexuallity is a behavior”, a.k.a. a choice.

Ok, let’s say one agrees and that we are born straight but due to environment and situations we “become gay”. Is religion not the same? We are not born Christian, Muslim or Jewish. Our religion and faith are products of environment and experiences. Therefore, why is religion a protected civil right and sexual orientation and identity are not?

Sexual orientation not proven or disproven to be genetic, etc.

It has not conclusively been proven that sexual orientation is genetic or not genetic.

Use of Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:5

The First Amendment allows an organization free speech. The First Amendment also allows faiths and religions to practice freely. So we should concede to using Biblical quotes and their religious beliefs to support their opinions and views  in the billboard.

RestraintheJudges Website

This initiative is sponsored by an organization that is supported by organizations based in Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Washington D.C. and Nevada. None which have strong ties to Michigan.They span the race, religious and professional spectrums from black pastors to white lawyers to conservative Republicans to white mothers.

Impact

How does a same sex couple getting married impact a male/female marriage? How does a same sex couple’s first marriage impact a male/female’s third marriage?

These are just a few of the more interesting points made throughout my conversations.

For me the biggest thing now is the lack of rise and fight from some of my friends and colleagues. Not only have these billboards been popping up around Michigan, but last week there was a game that was launched (but thank God was removed) that allowed individuals to KILL LGBT individuals. These are visible and tangible actions against who I am and brutal discrimination. And another layer to it all is that LGBT individuals are still not overarchingly protected on a national or federal level. So where is the uprise and support from some of my colleagues who have passionately advocated for other recent events in our society?

Is it because it’s not a clear cut black and white issue, therefore everyone is not required to take a stance? If that’s the case do I still have a right to expect colleagues to prioritize it? Should I not expect support on an issue that directly effects my life and my work if it’s not a protected civil right? Is it because it is not a visible identity it does not carry as much importance? Where is the fire from my community for the safety and protection of these identities?

I admit that these are definitely thoughts on an emotional and biased view but no less so than others from friends and colleagues on other social justice issues. Thanks for reading friends!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/05/kill-the-faggot-video-game_n_7214374.html

http://www.macombdaily.com/general-news/20150508/uber-driver-raises-money-for-new-billboard-after-attack-on-gay-marriage

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My Frustration and Confusion

I’ve been battling some identity issues lately. Now it’s not that uncommon for us to go through these battles through our life journeys, but lately it’s been exacerbated by colleagues and my field.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve been dismissed as a person of color (POC) 2 times verbally and 1 time over social media by colleagues in the field.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve been informed 2 times that Asians should not be considered POCs by colleagues.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve been accused 3 times that as a POC, I am not supporting my brothers and sisters of color in their efforts in Baltimore as much as I should by colleagues in the field.

Since #ACPA15 I’ve gotten 2 inconsistent definitions of who are POCs from colleagues.

Now, I have no problem with being challenged about beliefs, who I am, and why and when I advocate because it helps me to deeper understand myself. But its confusing and hurtful when the acceptance of my identities change throughout a conversation. When at one point during a conversation, my views are dismissed for not being a POC, but then later in the same conversation with the same person, I’m called out for not firmly owning my POC identity to advocate for justice.

I feel that I’m taken seriously as a Student Affairs Professional. I feel that I’m taken seriously as an advocate for students. I feel that I’m taken seriously as a person of color when its CONVENIENT. I feel my experiences as a gay , Christian/Catholic, Asian, male are not heard unless it’s able to add to a “cause”. I feel that I am only accepted in the field on an individual identity basis rather than me as a whole person of many identities.

Now, it’s only a few people and I don’t mean to put the whole field on blaze, but I always expected better from some of my colleagues, who are educated, enlightened and compassionate.

Being an adopted South Korean to a conservative while family, I’ve struggled with my identities for years. I always found Student Affairs people great in helping me along my journey and I have been honored to call them friends, colleagues and mentors. But lately, there are lines being drawn in the sand and we are picking and choosing. It’s becoming an either or, one side or the other, black or white and only when it’s convenient depending on your identity and the issue at hand. We are no longer a person we are an identity in each conversation any more.

Something is occurring in our field. Whether its that we are finally addressing issues or that we are acknowledging that Student Affairs Professionals are still only human, I’m not sure. But like everyone, my individual identities are not solely who I am and they should not be used to accept or reject me on an “as needed basis” in conversations or experiences.

“As needed basis” is for a job description, not for acceptance as a person with thoughts and opinions.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

I appreciate you reading through my current frustration. I’ve learned I process better when I blog. :)

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Criticism = #StruggleBusAllDayLong

Something has been bothering me about Student Affairs Professionals and myself. I haven’t been able to pinpoint it until I saw a conversation on the Twitters last night.

I realized what was bothering me was the inability of #SAPros to take criticism, regardless the form, be it harsh, constructive, inclusive, exclusive, personal or professional.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Now, I’m definitely on the struggle bus with it, and am working everyday to really embrace feedback and critiques; good bad, ugly, harsh or soft. It always hurts and hard to hear, but its needed. Even the most gracious and humble #SAPro struggles with feedback and criticism.

But perhaps the question is why does it hurt and sting? Why do we immediately get defensive, find excuses, pass on the blame?

I think it’s because, at least of the #SA field, we put our blood, sweat, tears and heart into our work, our students and even in supporting each other. Often times we make sacrifices for our work that we probably would never have made in another field. To critique this type of work we also critique the individual. Sometimes you can’t critique the work without critiquing the person, and vice versa.

Its this personal nature of our work and dedication that we find taking criticism hard. We see people throwing up the walls and defenses to avoid a blast of feedback. We end up nitpicking the way feedback was given, and therefore dismissing the information because it has provided too harshly or not put into a specific style. We pass the blame to someone or something else for the actions in order to divert the conversation and critiquing to them/it. We fight criticism with criticism and begin a “well, you do this wrong” or “this is whats wrong with you/it” war.

In a field where we look at ourselves as educators the ability to be wrong or that we could still improve something that we thought was perfect is a hard pill to swallow. It is tough to acknowledge and take responsibility that we are not only educators but also students. We have to acknowledge the good, bad and ugly not only in others but in ourselves. We have to be open to learning and understanding one another and to be patient and know that we are each individuals with different strengths, love languages, communication styles and histories. We need to be honest and not be afraid to give criticism but also be strong and wise enough to ACCEPT criticism as well. And sometimes it is just hearing the feedback or information inspite of the delivery method or individual delivering it.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really have an ending for this, other than after pondering this for a few days I’m trying even harder to reflect and make changes to help me learn and understand myself and others in order to be better prepared to take feedback and criticism from others and myself. And so the #strugglebus continues (but at least it just got a new detail job with a panda on the side :))

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Don’t Settle

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a phrase that has been coming up a lot in my conversations:

Quote 4.13.15

I find this response from people one of the most frustrating phrases ever used.

To me, it is a very sad excuse for a person.

It indicates there is a lack of desire to reach standards and goals.

It distracts a person or organization from reaching their full potential.

Its an answer you get when you get in trouble but see others getting away with the same thing.

Its a response that you give when you’re too tired to continue on.

Its an excuse that allows mediocrity and complacency to run havoc in our lives and society.

Its a phrase that disappoints me when I hear it.

It is a comment that makes me sad because it shows that the person is willing to settle.

Its a challenge to me to help someone or a group set and achieve their own standards regardless of external surroundings.

Its something that I hope the people in my life can overcome and conquer beyond!

I hope I never find myself saying this phrase. I’d like to think that I have expectations and standards of my own to abide by and that I don’t settle for others standards and expectations or compare mine to theirs. I’d like to believe that I am my own person and therefore should base my actions upon my beliefs, values and abilities. I’d like to think that those in my life know their worth and ability and wouldn’t settle either or that they know I’m here to help them get beyond those low points or walls in the journey and rise and conquer their challenges to reach their goals and expectations.

Just what’s been on my mind lately. :)

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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A Charge for Myself

Damn.

Alright #ACPA15 and #NASPA15.

Its out there.

We can’t hide any more.

I can’t hide any more.

The Student Affairs field is not perfect.

Student Affairs Professionals are not perfect.

No one is perfect.

We all have different opinions. We all have different outtakes on our jobs, our field and our roles. We interpret student centeredness differently, we understand student development theory in different ways. We focus on different sub-populations of students because of our experiences and who we are.

We use our platforms in a plethora of ways for a plethora of reasons including personal and/or professional development. To support people and to tear others down. To call out the young fools or wise crazies. Some “practice what they preach” while others practice “do what I say and not what I do”.

We all have biases, we all have privilege. We are all smart people who can do stupid things. We each put people on pedestals. We each belittle one another. We self promote ourselves beyond whats needed for that extra follow and we follow others to get their follow back not to really get to know them.

We talk too much. We act too little.

If you’re reading this and in the back of your mind are saying “that’s not me” or “I don’t do that” you’re not helping yourself or being honest with yourself.

We are a community. Impacted by each others actions. Individual actions are reflective of the whole. The whole’s actions are reflected upon the individual. 

But I can’t change the whole without changing the individual. So what will I DO to make our field better?

I will do my best to be conscious of myself and the impact I have on others and the whole. I will work to better understand before talking. I will focus on listening before speaking. I will do my best to hold myself, my colleagues and those who represent me accountable to what I believe is right and to actions done. I will do better to educate myself on the going ons of society, my field, and my students. I will take on the “practice what I preach” philosophy. I will be true to who I am knowing that there are others who will not accept me. I will be awkward in person and weird but funny on my platforms. I will continue to love pandas and Tweet out baby animal photos. I will be a complicated mess of identities that even I don’t understand, but will work on to better understand. I will ask questions and be responsible to admit when I don’t know something or need help. I will make sure to limit my talking and complaining and always end every conversation with an action.

This is my charge to myself. Hold me to it.

What will YOU DO?

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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