ISO: An amazing experience

It’s Wednesday, and ISO is practically finished. I had been waiting for two years to be an ISO leader (because I kept moving in my apartment too late), but I’m so glad that I was able to be a leader. I was also fortunate to be paired up with group leaders that were easy to get along with.

Normally, I complain incessently when I have to wake up early mornings in order to be somewhere, but for ISO, it was worth every sleepless moment. There were times when I felt that we were present as ISO leaders for no reason at all, but even when we weren’t needed, I still enjoyed myself.

There was a lot of time for fun. Between the Social Butterfly dance, the picnic, and the various house parties, I was able to enjoy myself more than I normally do.

My ISO group, group 14!

My ISO group, group 14!

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A break between ISO training and the beginning of ISO

Today, we celebrated the constitution in true fashion by going to a plot of public land outside of Eugene and exercizing our second amendment rights. It felt a little nostalgic when we got out of city limits and were driving by all the farming communities and up the improved roads. We shot an AR-15 (my first time), a .357 magnum (again, a first for me), a .22 rifle with a scope and a Glock (never shot a glock before either). All in all, a good time, especially since I haven’t shot a gun since I was 16.

Korean BBQ came next! I’m glad Sean told me that it moved from Brail’s and to House of Noodle in downtown Eugene because otherwise, I might have never been able to find the best KBBQ in Eugene. Dol Sot Bi Bim Bop is amazing; if you ever have the chace, get it! They serve it in a hot stone pot so that the rice gets crispy at the bottom. Also, the spicy bean curd paste they serve is awesome. I’m sure I could have eaten two bowls.

Also, we had our ISA house reunion party. Long story short, did I ever feel out of place.

ISO training ends and the true ISO begins

So who would have figured that after telling two of my friends that I was too valuable of an ISO leader to be paired with them, I wind up leading a group with them?

A useful piece of info about my partner on her nametag. Found out she was in my group after telling her that we couldn't possibly be in the same one.

A useful piece of info about my partner on her name tag. Found out she was in my group after telling her that we couldn't possibly be in a group together.

Today, one of our most respected international affairs faculty members led an excellent session on leadership. I was fortunate enough to be given the task of observing a group of ISO leaders complete a project, taking notes on how they performed as leaders. It was an amazing eye opening experience, and I learned a lot about leadership. I’ll probably write more about what I learned later.

Anyway, training ended today and we received our shirts, which are bright red with silver trim. We also signed up for our individual tasks in addition to leading a group of international students.

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Facebook Chat

Man, I used to really think facebook chat was just too creepy to ever ‘make it’ as a facebook platform, but after chatting with a couple of people who are in various places around the world, I see myself using it on an almost daily basis. I don’t log onto AIM every day, but I’m a facebook whore who happens to use it a lot.

Over

International Week and Night is finally finished. It was extremely stressful running the event, but even though I’m glad the work load is finished, I can’t help but feel like a part of me is now gone. No more late Wednesday evenings or early morning chalking.

Last night’s turnout was amazing. For a while, I doubted that anyone would show up, but we pulled through and got a ton of people to come. I was down in the kitchen for most of the day and missed the show, but I was able to take part in the fashion show, so I was able to see the audience.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came and helped out.

Dependency

Dependency Theory- The theory that the underdeveloped world is behind that of the developed world because of Western/developed world hegemony. Not %100 complete, obviously.

It’s also the subject of International Communication (J396 for all you UofO kids).

By the end of the class, I’m sure my professor will be expecting me to be able to talk about why the developed world has defeat modernization’s approach to communications development. Of course, there are all sorts of underlying assumptions and value judgments made in this assertion which I hope to bring to light.

We’ll see how it goes.

Barriers

I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme in some of my recent dreams.

In the dream, I’m within arms reach of a certain goal. This is usually a goal that I’ve been actually working toward in life. Every time I think I’m going to achieve it, some barrier prevents me. No matter what I do to get around it, something comes up, something that is bigger than me or beyond me comes up and keeps me from whatever it is that I want. It’s funny because the barrier starts out as something small and easily able to be mitigated, then grows to something huge and unmanageable after trying to fix it.

But last night, I had success. I was on a train trying to get to San Fransisco when my train car detached from the rest of the train. Fortunately, we were still attached to the engine which enabled us to keep moving along. We almost got into a car wreck. There was a hostage situation on the train. The doors got stuck and we weren’t able to get out. My parents called and demanded I come home (trust me, it makes sense in a dream).

But I made it. Stepping off outside of 3Com Stadium, I ran down the street in celebration, eager to call all my friends and let them know I was alive.

I know; silly dream. But I can’t help but wonder if those dreams are some sort of reflection on the direction I’m heading in life.

Finals and Nostalgia

Last night was the first night the Knight Library was open 24/7. In light of the fact that my XBox kept distracting me (damn you College Football 2003), a change in location was most certainly welcome.I brought my laptop with me because a) it has all my homework on it and b) I finally figured out how to keep the damn thing charged. My AIM program, despite me never using it, was running. At about 3:00 a.m., one of my friends from Japan logged on. She’s currently in Uzbekistan doing whatever it is she does when traveling to various under-traveled parts of the world, but she took the better part of 20 minutes to chat with me.

We talked about finals, how she was graduating and securing a job, and how we both just wanted to be carefree for the next few months of our lives. I remember last year at this time, her, I, and another friend were doing the same thing I did last night; staying up all night in the library busting our butts for our classes and distracting each other at the most inappropriate of times.

Despite the amount of stress I was under, I really miss those moments. I miss spending hours talking about the various political ideologies that went into developing certain positions, or about how Roger Federer really is the best tennis player in the world. I miss going to China Blue, or Sweet Basil, or wherever and talking about everything and nothing. I miss outside japanese lessons, skipping Japanese class because my friends were better teachers, throwing surprise parties for friends, spontaneous coctail parties, Wednesday night trips to Highlands… it’s all stuff associated with last year, and my friends from last night brought that flood of memories back to me.

But it’s all stuff from last year, and it’s stuff I’ll never get back. Looking back is something I cannot afford to do, because then I’ll miss all the great stuff that’s coming.

Removing the Crutch

I discovered this while studying Japanese, but I think it applies to all learning. The experts that troll this blog can comment and say otherwise if I’m wrong (I’m looking at you, Adelle).

After 1 term of studying Japanese, we had learned both Japanese phonetic alphabets. Each of us had the ability to pronounce any of the characters, but it took us a considerable amount of time. At the end of the first term, and for the rest of our time spent studying Japanese, our instructors posted all lessons in the Japanese phonetic alphabet.

The first time we had to read entire scripts in Japanese was humorous to say the least! Everyone read extremely slow. What’s more, we hated reading using Japanese characters. It was such a struggle because it felt like such a topical regression. In English, native speakers have become so accustomed to recognizing words that we don’t bother looking at spelling for pronunciation as much as we look at word recognition. In Japanese, we experience somewhat of the same phenomenon. Instead of being able to recognize entire words, we were forced to examine and consider every pronunciation. Word distinction at that stage was nigh impossible given that there are no word break markers in pure hiragana/katakana (phonetic reading) Japanese.

But as time went on, and as we learned additional Chinese symbols (they go a long way in helping with word recognition and word breaks), we all became much more proficient in reading comprehension and pronunciation. I can read a Japanese text MUCH quicker than I was able beforehand.

I’m grateful my instructors removed the roman letters crutch. I know for a fact that had I been studying by myself, I would have been much more reluctant to use only Japanese characters… or maybe I would have never done it. But by removing that crutch, we were forced to adapt, and that’s something I think we as a species are amazing at doing. The problem, of course, is us not wanting to step outside our comfort zone. But the more we do, the more we learn and grow, and the more that a particular subject/area we’re working with becomes a comfort zone.

Being quick to abandon what’s comfortable, always looking toward the unseen path… that’s a personality trait I hope to develop.