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

Spoken Word! -Terri L.

Hey everybody, it’s me again. Look at our awesome team, blogging twice in one day! 🙂 Just wanted to let you know that this week, we are aiming for everyone to make a post, so look forward to hearing from Dana and Galvin for the first time, and another post from Luz. Of course, we have realized we are pretty terrible at blogging or updating on a regular basis, so don’t hold your breath. 😉

A warning before I get on with what I was going to write about – it’s loooooooong. But hopefully good. So brace yourself for the length and open your mind for the content.

Yesterday was Visitors Day. It was super nice. My mommy and one of my sisters came (bearing lots of food, of course). We hung out and cooked. If you ever wonder what a Liang gathering is like, the previous sentence says it all. We talk and cook. Also, we tend to cook food for an army, so today has been officially dubbed leftover day and we don’t have to cook anything from scratch – just reheating and some minor reinventing 🙂 .

Part of Visitors Day was a program from 7-9. During that program, each work site was given 7 minutes to give a presentation. In an effort to minimize the time that we (College Track) took, we made art pieces and did a quick sharing of that. It was for this setting that I created my first spoken word poem! Continue reading

First Day! (Sort of…) – Terri L.

Hello World!!!  How are you doing?  Haven’t talked for a while, huh?

I can’t believe that we’ve been in Oakland for over a week!!  We had orientation the first day and just moved into our houses on Wenesday.  Yesterday was technically the first day at our intern sites, but the College Track orientation was only an hour long.  So, I think today was really the first day of “work” (as everybody else calls it).

For the first day, we were going to a ropes course for the first day/field trip.  College Track goes on field trips every Friday.  Today was also the first day that the kids got to come and interact with staff.  It was a bit hectic.  The transportation wasn’t quite worked out (by no fault of the College Track staff, they did wonderfully at figuring out alternative ways to transport the students) and, although we (Sarah, Zach, and I) arrived around 7:30, we didn’t leave the Oakland site until after 11.

It being the first day with the students, it was super fun getting to know them.   Continue reading