Platform for President

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Hello JMU, my name is Candace Avalos and I would like to serve as your ‘09-‘10 Student Body President! I am completing my 3rd year of service with the Student Government Association, and I am looking forward to serving the students in a whole new capacity as Student Body President. But first, let me walk you through the past, present, and future of my involvement in SGA!

The Past

• Class council events such as Mr. Freshman, Ring Premiere, Elf, Freshman Org Night, Sophomore finals break, Madison Milestones and more
• VPSA events such as the Purple Out Distribution, Mr. and Ms. Madison, Student Graduation Speaker, SGA Speak Outs, the Danville Memorial Scholarship (in the process), and more
• Improved communication with the student body through websites made, business cards and magnets, blackboard accounts, email, screen names, anything to get the word out to students!

The Future

“Write Out Wednesdays”
• This year I’ve noticed that it’s easiest to get student opinion if you let them do it on their own without any pressure
• Plan to have a flipchart available the first Wednesday of every month in a different location on campus (Commons, ISAT, Showker, Memorial, etc.) where people can write out about anything that’s concerning them on campus, which is a very simple step
• These suggestions will then be assigned to relevant SGA committees and they will be worked on so that SGA can serve your needs!

On and Off Campus Safety
• Plan to start conversations with all off campus locations and see what options are available for securing off campus locations
• Work with the police department to see if we can expand on campus safety procedures to include off campus residents

Advertising Space
• Plan to work with Events and Conferences and the IT department to discover new ways to advertise and make it readily available to JMU’s 330+ clubs and organizations
• Already in the planning process: using the different TVs in academic buildings to list events
• New idea to bring to IT: Using screen savers in different computer labs on campus to work as advertisements, similar to how the Grafton slides work

Collaboration with other student groups
• Get involved with other group’s events: this would mean making a team for another group’s fundraiser event, or lending a helping hand in planning an event, anything to get more involved with other orgs
• Work with presidents of other clubs to stay updated with what big things they are doing on campus so that we are all on the same page and we can combine forces to have a great impact on the student body

The Present

So what now you ask? Now it’s your turn to decide! JMU, it’s your turn to put the U back in Student Government—make sure that your voice is represented by placing people in office that you can depend on. I could sit here all day and tell you what kinds of plans I would love to see for JMU, but it’s not really about me, it’s about you. For this reason, “Write Out Wednesdays” is one of my biggest projects because with your student input it will make it easier for the SGA to serve you this year! Take control of your student government, and demand that they represent you, the students! So when considering your vote for the person who will fight for you, look for Candace Avalos on the ballot! 

Have any questions? I’d love to chat! E-mail me at avalosca@jmu.edu or follow me on twitter athttps://twitter.com/Candace4Prez , Thank You and GO DUKES!
And join the event here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=61385208927&ref=nf

Alternative Spring Break 2k9 - San Diego, California

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So, here I have documented a summary of what I was feeling and thinking during my entire ASB experience. I went to San Diego, California, and worked for Casa Familiar, which is a non-profit in San Ysidro that works primarily with Latinos in the community because of the high population and the need (but they help everybody obviously).  It can get a little wordy, and sometimes I forgot that I was writing to eventually share with others, so if it sounds like I’m talking to myself sometimes, I probably am ;)! I am open to talk to anybody that wants to listen about my experience, and talk about the issues. That’s what my orange band initiative issue is (if you know what I’m talking about). This issue means a lot to me, and I am incredibly open to hearing all sides of the story, but there is a respectable way to do it and I’ll be more receptive of that obviously than I will a hurtful, harsh debate. So happy reading, and please comment if you want more information! The pictures that I post will back up a lot of what I’m saying in my journal, so be ready for those to come up and make sure to check them out!

 

Day One – Arriving in San Diego

A two hour drive to Arlington to stay at Heather’s Aunt’s House, followed by a three hour flight to Minneapolis, then shortly thereafter a four hour flight to San Diego and then BOOM, there I was, completely on the other side of the states and loving every moment from the very beginning. Once my ears had popped a little bit, I could hear the sounds of San Diego. So different than NOVA! There was a rustling and bustling and the people were rushing while some of them were blushing, love was in the air. The way that people interacted was amazing, a lot more kind than I thought it would be. The sun was shining, and the breeze was blowing, it felt so inviting. We hop on the Enterprise bus to get our 15 passenger white van and while we wait we snatch a couple first photos. Then we’re off to get lost in search for the church that we will be staying at.  But when we saw it, it hit is like a rock. It was so simple yet so beautiful and it just screamed good things about this week. The only downfall was hearing that the owner had said “the playground is off limits,” and you know me, I’m still a kid inside!  We go inside and the first thing I thought was “adorable.” It just looked like many fun things went on in this building, from a youth rec room to a cute little kitchen and much more.  So we get situated, and we got our cots that we would be sleeping on for the next week. And guess who breaks theirs. Me, that’s who. Embarrassing yet hilarious, I brush it off and make jokes, like I usually do. I blame the cot. But it was all good because soon thereafter we were off to the beach which we caught just in time for the sunset.  We frolicked for a bit, caught some more pics, and heading off to the pier. There was a very chilly breeze, but that didn’t stop us! Finally after those shore adventures, it was off to find food, desperately. We split up in two groups, one for subway and one for Chinese. If you know me well enough, you know which one I picked. Chinese. So we went back, munched away, and then the games began! Have you ever played families before? I hadn’t, and now frankly I’m obsessed.  Then I ended that night with a poor choice to sleep on the floor because I was hurtin’ in the mornin’.  Good night San Diego.

 

Day Two – The world famous San Diego Zoo

Most of today was dedicated to the Zoo, and boy oh boy that’s okay with me! We went to the famous zoo that everyone always talked about, and I wish I could go back every day forever. I took about 300 pictures there so don’t worry, you’ll get the full scoop. We bonded all day, cracked jokes, ate some delicious Mexican food [well most of us] and got to see some pretty sweet animals. Among my favorites was a yellow snake, a HUGE tortoise, the apes [which we saw doing some inappropriate things], and my favorite was by far all of the cats, but especially the cougar who I was about a foot away from because I got up so close to the cage, and we just bonded. He would look me straight in the eyes and we just had a connection, I knew it. Maybe it was just that I looked very meaty, you’re right, but still, the connection was there nonetheless.  We then finished the day on a good note considering we got to see every single part of the zoo, so that sweet satisfaction felt good. After that it was off to the “Deportation Nation” exhibit at a local museum. It was beautiful to see the strip of museums just lining down one whole street, and it was almost like Washington, D.C. just not as drab.  The building we went into was so incredibly colorful from the outside and equally colorful on the inside.  We were sad that we missed the culture show because we saw the people in their costumes after the fact and it looked like it could have been great. But that’s okay because we still got to catch the artwork on its last day of display. I think I took a picture of each and every piece of art, which I probably wasn’t allowed to but did it anyway, and I will make sure to post it as soon as I can. It was the most powerful and most relevant-to-my-life artwork I’d ever seen. It was all immigrant related, and it was just so incredibly deep that I can’t even explain it in words. You’ll have to see it to understand. My favorite piece was of Dora the Explorer and her friend boots waving to their parents who were being arrested by 3 police officers, one named “I”, the second named “N” and the third named “S.” Speaks wonders does it not? It just boggled my mind to think about it, and I still don’t think I fully understand it, at least how the artist wanted it to be. It was powerful; just trust me on this one. Finally, we ended the day with going to an authentic Mexican restaurant called “El Indio” and the dude, Guy Ferari or something from the food network actually visited that place! It was so cool to see his pictures on the wall and him stamp of approval on the food served at this restaurant, and boy was it well deserved! If you think El Charro’s and Taco Bell are authentic, then you’ve got a wakeup call waiting for you in San Diego, I’m tellin’ ya. Later that night we got together, reflected a bit, and played some games. Good night San Diego.

 

Day Three – The Border

So we started off bright and early today as we woke up and were ready to go by 8:30 to go find Casa Familiar, which is the agency that we are doing service for during this ASB. After a few twists and turns we finally arrive, and I’m in love with it from the start. We look around for a bit and finally come across Amy who is an AmeriCorps volunteer and will be hosting our trip for this week. We also run into the Central Michigan University [which we met briefly at the Zoo the day before] and we get to know each other better since we will all be doing our services together this week. We learned about Casa Familiar during our tour of all of the facilities that they own. They own a church, a community center, a new little space with different programs and artwork displayed affordable housing locations, and housing for elderly immigrants. It was actually quite impressive how impactful this organization is in this little town in San Diego. We met the CEO and President of Casa Familiar, named Andrea, and she tells us a little bit about the history of the organization and its functions. The most powerful thing that she told us was “You are always being told that you are the future, but you are actually the Present. By the time you’ve waited for the future, you have already become the past.” And basically she was just trying to explain to us that there is no better time than there is now to be active, and take charge because the future will come when it needs to, the past is too late, but it’s the present that will have the most impact. That spoke volumes to me honestly, and I truly believe every word she said. And with that attitude, I choose to continue my life’s work, remembering that the present is where I need to focus on. We then met Nacho Gomez who was the maintenance supervisor and was going to be giving us some duties today. We went to the community center and under the stage they had piles and piles and piles of things from decorations to costumes to random junk that they wanted us to pull out and sort and reorganize. Between CMU and JMU we tore it up and in no time we were so ahead of schedule that they told us to stop and take a break because they had run out of things for us to do! We waiting around for like an hour and a half, eating lunch and playing Mafia and Families with CMU, and then unfortunately we had to leave, but for good reason.  We told them we’d be back the next day, and off we went to take a tour of the border. I would be lying if I said I had experienced something more inspirational and significantly deeper in my life because those 3 hours of border touring changed my life.  Tijuana, aka “TJ” as the border patrol officer nicknamed it, is literally right next to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. You would think that there would be a bigger gap, but no, there are people’s home literally sitting right next to the border. Ridiculous right? I witnessed everything from security gates, to primary and secondary borders, to little kids jumping over the fence, to the Mexican Flag flowing strongly through the cold air in the populated city of TJ, to a large group of immigrants being pushed back into TJ, literally, to Mexicans chilling on the border without saying a word or moving a muscle, just looking, to a beach with a fence partially in the water, to Mexicans waving to me and smiling at me from Mexico, and so much more. It’s so hard to write down anything that I’m feeling right now because I’m so deeply affected by this issue and finally I was able to see its true existence. I mean, how would you feel?  I have a lot of thinking to do, and I would be more than happy to talk with anyone about what I saw more in depth, but the point is that I saw too much for words to explain, and I only wish I had more time to experience it all. Our border patrol officer was really great and he answered a million of our questions while asking some of his own and he really did show us the true colors of the border and everything that we had been questioning pretty much got answered. I’m so blessed to have been able to experience that first hand, and I only wish everyone could so that you could experience the situation better. Like I said, please come get a coffee with me and let’s talk about it, because I really need to share it with someone. Anyway, after that we went back home, and reflected for a long time. Then we got situated, I got to call my mommy and talk to her about it, and we played some more fun games while Jen and Jesse cooked our first home cooked meal – chicken nuggets, veggies and raaanch, and some yummy mac and cheese. I’m so happy that we decided to have everyone take a night and make dinner for everyone because it has been so much fun. I think Heather and I are cooking breakfast on Thursday because the schedule got mixed up and we didn’t get a dinner slot. But for now, I’m exhausted and John Nettles is snoring away over here so I think I’m going to go to bed and brace myself for another amazing day. Good night San Diego.

 

Day Four – Bunny Bunny Bunny Bunny

Today started off the right way with some toast and peanut butter, so we were off to a good start! We woke up, went to the Casa Familiar center but then Nacho was late of course [apparently he is a coffee addict so that’s where he’s always heading off to] so we ended up playing in the park! It felt so nice to be a kid again and with other young adults like me haha. I thought I could conquer my childhood fear of being on the spider web jungle gym thingy, but nope, I was still stuck on top scared to come back down. The slides were the best though, and it just felt nice to be in the [finally] San Diego sunshine. Then we proceeded to help out in the community center and just like yesterday we pounded the workload like it was no big deal and managed to leave everything under the stage perfectly organized. Not as organized as I would have liked though, but obviously enough for Casa Familiar.  We had a lot of breaks in between and it was nice because we could just go outside and sun bathe for a while. We were playing all kinds of games with Central Michigan today and I learned a really cool one called “Bunny Bunny” and it’s almost like the game of WHOA, but with weirder sounds and more crazy movements making me really tired in the end. It was so much fun though, I haven’t decided who I’m gonna torture when I come back and make them play with me ;).  So we did some more work, then we came back to the church and some of us went grocery shopping for a bit so that was fun. Then we came back, I read my magazine for a bit, we ate some delicious spaghetti that Annie and Allie prepared and then it was off to play games again. I just can’t get enough of Mafia and Families! It’s a good ol’ time! But now here I am, relaxing, typing, and getting ready for another day. I think we have power washing and retiling of floors tomorrow, but I’m not sure. Good night San Diego.

 

Day 5 – Toys Toys and more Toys

No, it’s not Toys for tots, but it’s still a lot of toys! This morning we woke up and had a yummy filling breakfast, and then we were off to Casa Familiar to work on a toy project. There were rooms full of toys and we had to go separating them and sorting through. Apparently every year they give out about 4 thousand toys to the neighborhood children. Used and old, everything, so many toys everywhere and I’m sure their faces light up when they get them, which was the best part. There wasn’t much else after the toy sorting so we were sent back home early that day [well, like most days really]. We hung out for a bit and then we decided to go to see Hotel Del Cornado which is apparently very famous. This part of San Diego was incredibly wealthy, so it was very odd to see how different it could be in this one city which was separated by a more impoverished area about 15 minutes down the road. The dynamics of San Diego are ridiculous, but it was interesting to see how immigration affected it in many different ways. We went out to the beach in Cornado, and believe it or not, there were gold sparkles in the sand! I mean really, that’s ridiculous, lol. Apparently it’s from pirate, a.k.a. fool’s gold. The sunshine was nice though, I will admit. It was just crazy how the people in that area lived. They had a beautiful view, huge and decked out houses, and the beach. Must be nice eh? Anyway, after that we went into the city for a bit to walk around. It was pretty nice, and the nightlife seemed so fun there! Plus, we went to an outdoor mall, it was very cool.  The people seemed genuinely nice, and there was a great selection of stores to shop at. We had a good ol’ time reading the books that Urban Outfitters had to offer. I almost bought the “wreck this journal” because I’ve wanted one ever since Christie told me about it.  We also went to Ghirardelli’s which was delicious because they were giving out free samples of Chocolate Peanut Butter, and if you know me then you realize I was in heaven.  I had a root beer float and it hit the spot ;) I felt bad for Jen and Jesse because they gave up chocolate for lent – bad timing!! It’s okay, they looked pretty satisfied with their caramel ice cream, lol. I’m having such a great time because we couldn’t have picked a better group to go! Then we got home, and we were just chillin and I was waiting for us to play our usual games of Mafia and Families, but I fell asleep on the couches in the youth room waiting for people and nobody ended up playing! Apparently I kept waking up and sleep talking saying “when are we gonna play games!” Yes, I am that obsessed. Oh well, early to bed early to rise right? Good night San Diego.

 

Day 6 – Affordable Housing

Today was a busy yet productive day. We started it off right with some cinnamon rolls that Heather and I made for breakfast since we lost one of our dinner days due to some mix ups, so we decided to surprise everyone. Let’s just say, it was a great success! We were then sent to National City to work in an apartment complex by moving out the apartments into a big bin thing so that they could remodel the apartments and then moving it all back in. Casa Familiar was renovating these apartments for free as a part of an affordable housing project for these people in the area, so it was really eye opening to see how much of an influence Casa has on the people of San Diego. The one downside of today was my knee started acting up even before we got into the complex, and I hate when that happens. Every now and then my knee will just out of nowhere start killing me. I have bad news from soccer, because I popped out my knee and sprained my ACL in 11th grade, and every since then it just hasn’t been the same. Plus, my other knee was always compensating for the right knee, so that one is jacked up too. It just sucked because we had to be moving things around and I was in so much pain that I had to chill for a bit. But, what I was able to do was wait for people to bring furniture and boxes and such and put it in the bin, and I’m really good at organizing things into small spaces so I was able to contribute today which made me feel better. I just get so bummed out when I feel like I’m more of a burden because of my knees. Luckily everyone was very nice to me today and really tried to help me out, which really strengthened my feelings for all of the wonderful people on this trip. At lunch time we got to sit in a very cool stadium, and it was nice to hang out with Amy who was the girl helping us out all week from Casa—she’s an AmeriCorps volunteer which I am not highly considering as an option instead of the peace corps. We’ll see. We continued to help out and this one lady was incredibly friendly. She kept talking to us during the process, and she was so very well packed so it made the process go a lot smoother. At one point, Jesse and Jen were helping her move some things into her car, because while their house is being renovated they are relocated into a hotel for the time being, and the lady said “I am usually the one helping people, but today you guys are helping me—it makes me feel like a princess” and Jesse definitely started to shed a couple of tears. It really got to me too honestly, and it really hit me hard how much of an impact these simple acts of kindness can have on people. We always tell each other that the little things add up, but let’s be real, how often do we truly believe it? Seeing really is believing for me this week, and it has totally changed my perspective on service. We got everything done so quickly that we had another early day. So we went back to Chula Vista Church, and we prepared for dinner. It was Chelsea and John’s turn to make food and they were making Potato Boats which is apparently a specialty at the little grill. Can I just say, it was probably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had! I’m googling the recipe for sure and if anyone wants to come experiment with m e to make this dish, I’m down. It’ll be a good ol’ time! Also tonight, John’s Big David and his wife Ashley who now live in San Diego but are JMU graduates came to visit us and eat dinner with us! They were really nice people, and they even stayed to play games with us after which was very cool of them. The funniest part was when John told Ashley to write down Fred Rose because nobody was going to guess her since we knew she didn’t know who he was. Just so you know, Fred Rose was put during families for the majority of the week, and it was hilarious. Even Dr. Ball put down fred-rose.com one day haha!! We got a little kick out of messing with Chelsea all the time ;).  All in all, it was another really good day, and I’m looking forward to the last day tomorrow, it should be a good ending to the week with the food bank. Good night San Diego.

 

Day 7 – Food Bank

We had to wake up incredibly early today! We had to be at the community center by 7:15 am, and this is early for us since every other day we were getting up at around 8:30. It was supposed to be a really nice day so I wore shorts, which turned out to be a bad idea since it was freezing that early in the morning. We got there and there were already people waiting outside. Supposedly they feed around 700+ people every month, and about 1000 come out. Jen, Annie and I were in charge of handing out some flyers for some community events that Casa was going to be putting on. The flyer I had was called “Sin Limites” which also means Without Borders and it was a program being put on to talk about the border and all the new laws going into effect and all the activity going on at the border. So, you know how at JMU you sit on the commons and try to hand out flyers and people give you a face, tell you to talk to the hand, or just blatantly ignore you? Well not here surprisingly! I was really nervous when they put me on flyer duty I didn’t’ want to get rejected not only by people that I really really didn’t know, but also in Spanish, lol. But nope, every single person took a flyer and showed an interest for the program itself, asking me questions and giving me smiles. I think that speaks volumes about the kind of impact Casa has on this community, and it was very powerful to see. I only hope that one day I can be a part of community like that, because I don’t think people realize how important your community is. I was thinking about what I have at JMU and back in NOVA, and I wish it were half as strong as this one in San Ysidro. I had so much fun interacting with the people, and I really felt connected to them through this experience. After the flyers I ended up handing out some fruit cans with Tim and Annie. They had a very cool process of giving out food, and in the end everyone comes by with either a 1 or a 2, basically meaning it depended on the need.  They were so appreciative every time, and they always had a smile on their faces. It was a very warm and tingly feeling. We had one guy flip out at us telling us to go faster because he had been waiting in line for 2 and a half hours, so he was the only one that made me uncomfortable. Luckily he was far enough in the line that he got food because I’m sure he would have been extra angry if he waited that long and the food ran out. Which by the way, the food did run out eventually, and it was very sad. There were about 30 people that unfortunately did not get any food that day, and it was heartbreaking. We all want to save the world but unfortunately we can’t, and that’s a hard realization to come to. The lady in charge of the food bank said that next month they will request more money and get more food, but unfortunately every month some people are still left out because more and more people show up every month. But it’s still comforting to know that they are reaching out to that many people every month providing them with their basic needs. It made it all worth it in the end. After the food drive we got some really authentic Mexican food from down the road and ate it during the immigration panel that Amy had set up for us. It consisted of some Casa and community members, and 2 members from the border patrol.  The panel was a really great learning experience for me, and I felt like I could really come full circle on the topic of immigration. A lot of personal stories were shared by immigrants and it was interesting to hear their thoughts on the violence that is portrayed in the media about Mexico. Yolanda, one of the members of the panel, traveled to America many many years ago, and she still visits Tijuana, but she expressed her growing fear for the country because of the corruption. She said that she couldn’t even trust her own police, and that reminded me of when my Grandma told me stories about that in Guatemala. My Grandma’s brother was actually tortured and killed by the government because he spoke against the administration, and apparently this is also very common in Mexico. She was talking about how a lot of people don’t like their new president, and a lot of the violence stems from that. Another thing that really changed my perspective was hearing from the Mexican American border patrol officer.  One thing I had been wondering since Monday when we took a tour of the border is how people react to Latinos that work for the border patrol and what kinds of identity issues they may have. Apparently 40% of the border patrol is Latino, mostly Mexican. The agent said it all when he told us that he has a personal opinion and a professional duty.  He talked about how he may not agree with everything going on with the border and the laws and policies in place, but that he is responsible for doing his job and doing it well.  I feel like that applies to most people you know? I’m sure there are millions of people out there that do their jobs but may not agree with everything about them, and that’s okay. I feel like I always knew that about the border patrol, but it was hard to believe it truly until I heard that this week. Plus, they mentioned that working for the border patrol on the border is like a “professional game of cat and mouse.” I had it in my head that it was a dramatic scene of tackling and guns and chasing, but it really isn’t as complicated as I thought. Apparently about 95% of the time people will just automatically give up and not even make a scene. One of the agents said that sometimes they think that if they can’t see you, you can’t see them, and that he once caught someone hiding behind a rock covering his head, and it wasn’t until he tapped him (after trying to talk to him many times) that the guy looked up, smiled, and giggled. Isn’t that crazy? It just made it all sound much more real than is depicted in the media or people’s preconceptions on the issue. It was also really important to hear from the agent after being asked how he felt when he captured people. He said, “It’s a humanitarian issue.” At the same time, he said that in the beginning he would catch people and they would begin to talk about their families and such, and he would feel guilty and a little upset, but then he would look up their criminal record and actually see that they were a rapist or a murderer or a thief. He said after many of those he became desensitized and it made him more level headed when dealing with immigrants. I think that was really important for me to hear because I tend to be kind of na├»ve sometimes and I want to believe that everyone coming across is just looking for a better life (which a lot of them still are so don’t be confused) but unfortunately not everyone is good and our security really is important. But don’t get me wrong either, I have always thought of our national security when it comes to the borders, no matter what people might think of me. In fact, they were talking about a growing amount of non-Latinos entering through the border, which means a lot of other people are using this as a prime location to get into the USA easily without having any documentation written down, meaning a threat to our national security. It really helped me come full circle in understanding different sides of the issue and it helped me truly feel stronger about my opinion on this controversial issue. Anyway, there was a lot to learn from that panel, and I’m more than willing to talk to anybody about it because it’s truly something that I have become very passionate about and I love hearing all angles of the argument because if there’s one thing people need to do when it comes to controversial issues, it’s to be more educated on the topic in order to give your true opinion. Well, that was a mouthful, but after all of that we basically said our goodbyes to Casa, took some pictures, giggled a bit, and then we were off to the 3rd and final beach of the week. This time it was in a whole different part of town, and it felt like the beach in the movie “Blue Crush” that only the locals go to, so we looked like total tourists, haha.  We got some really good pictures though, because the water was just right, the sand was comfy, and the view, well, was basically perfect! I loved it when Heather was taking pictures of Annie with her “be involved” shirt that I really hope gets published in a JMU magazine one day because they look SO good. After that, we went home, ate and reflected, and played our last games of families and mafia. And guess what, I WAS FINALLY IN THE MAFIA during the last game that we ever played! And I won! Oh yeah, take that! John Nettles and I were quite the team, but man I was really bad at it, I’m not good at lying lol. Even though, maybe I am since I won the game…I don’t know! And then it is off to bed early tonight because tomorrow we have to be up by 4:30 to get to the airport! Good night, for the last time, San Diego!

 

What I learned:

It’s obvious that this trip had a huge impact on my life because it is an issue that I am very passionate about. Coming from an immigrant family, it was hard for me coming into this trip because I had a very biased opinion.  Like I said before, it was hard to hear about the “bad people” crossing the border because I have been surrounded by only good people who came to America to truly make a better life and that’s what they did. My Grandparents and my Mother are American citizens and let me tell you, they worked incredibly hard for that. I am completely blessed to have had a family line that truly cared about my future, because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here typing a journal on a computer to post on my facebook in which I am in a college network and I am blessed to be surrounded by all of the wonderful resources and opportunities that America has to offer. But with that being said, I never forget where it all started, because I believe it is important to preserve my heritage because it teaches me a lot about my family and myself. Let’s just say, my kids WILL be speaking Spanish whether they like it or not ;).  This entire week, I also learned a lot about community and its true impact on people’s lives. Casa Familiar does everything from reading papers sent home from people’s kids in English that they cannot read, to doing a food bank every month, to teaching kids how to play sports, to hosting events for many holidays, to filling out citizenship paperwork, to creating affordable housing, and so much more. And can I just say, San Ysidro really does know how lucky they are, because the community takes advantage of everything that Casa has to offer, and it shows. This is clearly a relationship that took many years to develop, but it’s something that every community should really look into building—and obviously to make it relevant to their living situation. Clearly their community resource has a lot to do with immigrants because most of the community consists of this population, so I’m not saying that every community needs to have a huge immigrant help center. I am saying, however, that we should all really look at our community needs and work together to make sure everyone is comfy! Sounds hard right? The good news is that strength in numbers is what really counts. It really inspired me to work harder to establish a good relationship with my community, and I think that it will start in Harrisonburg. For those of you that don’t know, Harrisonburg is highly populated by Latinos. The Rockingham county school system has over 40 languages spoken as well! We have such a diverse population and it’s important to provide resources that will bring us all together! We’ll chat more about this, I’m starting a project with my Harrisonburg High School students, and I’ll keep you updated, okay? And lastly, relating to what I was just talking about, I learned a lot about relationships. I created an intense relationship with the 12 amazing people on my trip, and I am so happy that I was able to share this life changing experience with them. It truly was amazing to watch everyone grow together, and the passion that was expressed really intensified my experience. I refuse to believe that we were put on this earth to only watch out for ourselves and no one else—it’s about working together as a human race to better this world, yes it sounds extremely cheesy, but think about it. It’s such a simple concept that goes a long way. Build those relationships with people you know, and I promise you will live longer ;). So like Andrea, the founder and president of Casa Familiar told us on the first day, “Everyone keeps telling you that you are the future, but by the time you realize that you will be the past. Start now, be the present.” Do it <3>

 

 

COSGA 2k9

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So I went to COSGA (Conference on Student Government Associations) this weekend, and it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I can't believe I got the chance to live that. It's been my dream, honestly. It was held at Texas A&M university, and I just can't believe how much fun it was! First of all, everything was flat, thank goodness. Secondly, the people were just so nice. And Thirdly, the weather was beautiful. But at the same time, I wasn't flipping out saying that I wanted to go there for grad school or anything -- not that crazy about it. Still, it's definitely a fun place to visit! I'd go back.

But anyway, I learned so much from this experience, and I can't wait to implement things here at JMU. It was just fascinating to see what some of the other student governments were doing! It will all be up in a powerpoint soon, so don't even worry.

Anyway, that's all for now, because I've got another trip today and that's to San Diego, California for an Immigration Service Trip!

Peace&Love,
Candace