Dana’s reflections since coming home

Though only 6 weeks, I feel like I lived a lifetime this summer at BayUp. I had weeks of anticipation and even fear leading up to it. All the things I thought would be hard turned out to be easy, and the things I didn’t know I would face made me a new woman.

Highlights of things I’ve learned (and am still processing):

  1. I can live on a lot less than I think
    This summer the budget was $15 a week per person for food. We also received $5 per week for laundry. Our Cal team of five decided to pool our weekly allowances together, totaling $100 per week for us to work with. Before BayUp, I assumed this would be incredibly difficult and that I might starve. What I found was we had way more than enough. We planned our grocery list carefully and ended up sharing wonderful meals like spaghetti, cold noodles, crepes, lima bean ham soup, fried rice, dumplings, tuna casserole, and so much more. Of all the money we received over the course of 5 weeks, we only lived on about 65% of our allowance. The rest we tithed and donated to some of the justice organizations we encountered along our way.
  2. Things don’t make me happy
    Fasting from technology was a huge piece of BayUp. I am so surprised by how much joy I had being free of laptops, internet, and cell phones. I definitely missed my family and friends, but it was nice to only long for technology out of desire for my loved ones. After a typical long hard day pre-BayUp, I would want nothing more than to sit in front of the television and “relax” all evening. Turns out this sucks compared to coming home to good conversation and laughter with friends. I feel so much more aware of my need for community and relationship. My grumpiness that use to tell me I’d rather be alone is a lie. After all, God is in relationship within Himself through the Trinity. How much more then do I need to stay connected to God and people!
  3. Easier to offer grace in conflict
    I’m so impatient and unforgiving sometimes. I’ve been asking myself….why? During BayUp there was no need to rush around anywhere and plenty of time to solve conflict openly and honestly. It now seems so frivolous that I could become so easily irritated by the simplest things throughout a day. What good does it do to walk around angry and annoyed? I can just tell people what I need or how I’m feeling. It was such a blessing to be surrounded by such a gracious and forgiving community. We corrected each other with love and were honest about how we were doing. I felt so much love in these relationships and hope to keep offering grace to others.
  4. We are responsible for bringing about justice in the world
    God broke my heart for the injustice in this world every single week during BayUp. We learned so many statistics and facts about our failure to love our neighbor in the criminal justice system, within education, our lack of care for immigrants, and the painful cycles of human trafficking. It was really hard to not feel completely immobilized by the enormity of our sin and what seems like difficult paths to healing. I learned to lament and cry out to God, and He moved me to not only cry with Him, but to do justice with Him. When it comes to bringing healing and justice to this world, we are God’s Plan A. There is no Plan B.

Thank you so much for your prayers. I truly saw them answered and was blessed because of it all summer long. I am more aware than ever before how much I depend on the body of believers to pray and partner with me as we are together sent to love this planet and all that is in it.

I can’t stop chanting…by Dana

Image

This summer I worked at the Oakland Freedom School with my wonderful brothers Galvin (left) and Hiram (right). OFS serves black youth in the city of Oakland, ages 5-14. The curriculum focuses on literacy (books that feature other black kids!), and cultural pride and identity. It was a wonderful opportunity to serve with an all black staff and watch our children and community uplifted as we learned together.

One fun aspect of the Freedom Schools are the Cheers and Chants. These are songs specially designed to engage the youth with rhythmic and catchy songs about black culture or literacy. These chants are sometimes paired with tunes they already know from popular rap culture. Here are a few that I cannot stop chanting…

Good job! Good job!
*clap clap*
Good job! Good job!
*clap clap*
G-O-O-D-J-O-Bee Good job Good job!

OFS! We Manifest!
We choose the path that’s best from east to west!
We put ourselves to the test we refuse to settle for less!

See a book, grab a book, read a book, AYE!
Yesterday, tomorrow, I’ma read a book TODAY!
Freeze! What’s your name? And where yo book at?

P!-O-W-E-R We got the power ’cause we are the Freedom School!

Are you hype? Are you hype?
Yeah I’m hype! Yeah I’m hype!
Are you ready? Are you ready?
Yeah I’m ready! Yeah I’m ready!
For who?
Whatcha mean for who? I’m hype for Freedom School!
AAAAYE!
Turn up turn up! Turn up turn up!
Where yo book at?

Something inside so strong
I know that I, I know I can make it!

As I wrestle with the dissonance of returning back home, memories of OFS and all the kids I taught bring me huge and endless smiles =)

Look what I found: To Care for Your Friend Coming out of the Summer- Terri L.

While perusing the sites of other fellow BayUP bloggers, I happened upon this letter by the director of our BayUP program.  It’s to the friends and family of the BayUP team, and although it is a little late for some of the first few points, there are many points that are still relevant to our coming home experience.  I know that I for one, will be happy if family and friends would take to heart some of the advice given in this letter.

Happy Reading!

Terri

*****

Dear Friend/Family of a BayUPer,

Thanks so much for partnering with your friend as they participated in BayUP this summer.

I wanted to offer some suggestions to you to help your friend transition back to their lives at home and school.  You may be surprised to know that the transition home is often harder than the transition to the new culture of the city.  This is because students often come back and have trouble communicating what they learned and experienced.  Sometimes they have a hard time finding people to listen to their stories.  Sometimes they are overwhelmed by the relative material wealth they return to their lives compared to the poverty that they saw in the middle of Oakland.

As their friend, it is good for you to be aware that the transition home can at times be difficult.  This can help you set appropriate expectations for your friendship in the first few months after they have returned home.  And there are some ways that you can help your friend make the transition back home:

  1. Talk to your friend before they return.  What would they like their first week to be like when they get home (they may not know for sure, but talking about it doesn’t hurt!).

  1. If you are picking them up from the project, remember that they are coming off of an intense summer emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  THEY ARE TIRED.  They may not be up for an immediate welcome home party, or all the relatives to descend on the house, or dinner out.  Most likely they will want a shower and some sleep.  Ask them what they would prefer.  They will appreciate your warm welcome.

  1. If you are not meeting them at the airport or picking them up, a card waiting for them at home or a phone call the day after their return is a great way to let them know you are glad they are home.

  1. The thing your friend will need most from you is your listening ear!  They want to tell the story of their summer, but often find it hard to know where to begin.  The question “How was your summer?” can be hard to answer because it is such a broad question.  Asking LOTS of specific questions is the best way to find out what the summer was like.  Here are some examples:

    • What was a typical day like?

    • What was your favorite thing about your summer experience?

    • What was the hardest thing about your summer experience?

    • What was the thing that was most interesting to you about the culture you were in?

    • What is different about how people relate to each other here compared to the culture you were in this summer?

    • What was the funniest or most embarrassing thing that happened to you?

    • What was the food like?  What did you enjoy?  Dislike?

    • What was your team like?  Who were the people you were closest too?

    • How were your expectations about your summer met or not met?

    • What did you learn about yourself?  About others?  About God?

    • What are some ways you want to apply what you learned now that you are home?

    • How does it feel to be home?  What did you most miss about home?

    • What do you miss about your summer culture now that you are home?

  1. You don’t have to ask all these questions at once!  Consider having a couple of extended times (at least) with your friend where you ask questions about the summer.  Maybe once shortly after their return, then again when the pictures are developed (if they are not already on a digital camera!)

  1. Periodically ask how they are thinking and feeling about their summer and how they are applying what they have learned throughout the fall semester.

  1. Some other fun things you could consider:

    • If your friend learned to prepare any traditional food from their summer culture, have a night where they make dinner (or at least one dish!) for you.

    • Look through whatever souvenirs your friend returned with and ask questions about them:  were they given as a gift?  by whom?  what was that relationship like?  If it wasn’t’ a gift, what prompted them to buy this particular souvenir?

    • Invite other friends of yours and your BAyUP friend to hear about the summer.  Consider hosting a little dessert and let your friend tell his or her story and show some pictures to a group of people.

  1. It is ok to remind your friend that you had a summer too!  Life in your world did not stop just because they were on a summer project.  Tell them about your summer . . .

  1. Your friend may seem weird or respond to situations differently than they did before they left.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the changes you notice.  Let them know you want to care for them while at the same time giving them the freedom to change and grow.

  1. Help them to re-engage with their friends on campus and their responsibilities in classes and with InterVarsity by helping them brainstorm ways to integrate their summer experience into what they are doing now.

  1. Most of all, continue to pray for and with your friend.  Encourage them to take time for reflection and to be with Jesus.

The most important thing is just to be patient and ask a lot of questions.  Returning home is often as much a part of the growth process as the summer at BAyUP.  I believe the Lord is using all of these experiences to make your friend more like Him.  Thanks again for blessing your BAyUP friend with your prayers, support and encouragement.  May you also be blessed.

Sincerely,

Yu-Shuan Tarango-Sho

BayUP Director

*****

PS.  Did you notice the numbering?  There’s a 1 between the 9 and the 10.  Typo!! 😛 🙂

We’re Home!!! – Terri L.

So, clearly the everyone blogging on the last week of BayUP thing didn’t work.

We as a team did come to the realization that just because we’re done with BayUP doesn’t mean we have to stop blogging about it.  I think part of what we learned during debrief was how to integrate what we learned into our normal lives.  So here’s some of my first reactions after less than 6 hours after the end of BayUP.

1.  Technology is updated really fast.

After coming back, I have 20 updates for apps on my phone and both facebook and google have been updated and look different on my computer.  Google implemented a new inbox for gmail and I’m a little lost.  Not sure if I like it or not.

2. Life is stressful.

Okay, so some of you are thinking, “Well, duh.”, but it’s crazy.  I have to turn in an application for a leadership program, I think I missed a creative writing class deadline (which means my schedule is up in the air and needs to be revamped), and my IV fellowship wants me to be back in Berkeley two days before the date of my flight back up.  Why do I have to think about school now?  Can’t I just relax for a couple weeks?  Some interesting and important decisions need to be made soon and I don’t know if I’m ready.

3. Being alone is weird.

After spending the past six weeks in almost constant contact with people, being in my apartment by myself is weird.  For a second, as I looked out my window into the night, I felt kind of scared.  Which makes no sense, Berkeley streets are much safer than Oakland streets.  Without having the BayUP community around me all the time, I think I feel more vulnerable.  This is definitely a new thought.

4. Constant sound is overwhelming.

Before BayUP, I used to constantly listen to music, but when I turned on my music earlier, it was just too much.  I feel like God pushed a reset button on my focus and attention span.  I don’t think I’ve appreciated silence like this since middle school.  I do miss my music though.  I’ll just have to take it slow – and reconsider this constant music thing.

5. My stomach hurts.

Haha, so that seemed out of place, but it relates – I promise.  For dinner, because it took so long to get into my apartment (key shenanigans), I went out to eat with Michelle instead of making my own food.  We went to Berkeley Thai House and got boba at Moccachino after.  It was really great.  I think it’s the first time all year that I’ve spent money on myself and not felt guilty about it.  But, I also noticed that restaurant food is a lot heavier than the food that I’ve been eating for the past six weeks.  Something to keep in mind when I return home to family in SoCal Saturday morning.

Yup, so those are my first five reactions so far.  Although we’re done with the program, please keep praying for us as we re-enter our normal lives as changed people.  Pray for a smooth transition, many people to talk and process with, and healthy reactions to re-entry culture shock.

Thanks!

Love,

Terri