Snow Day

As I sit here listening to the symphony that is New York City on a snow day: beeping horns, slammed-on brakes, frustrated voices, I am ever so aware that I am not living in a small town anymore where snowfall beckons tranquil words like “tiptoe” and “flutter.” No, no, I will not be able to hear the tiptoes of my fellow people, nor even their stomps, but I can hear their raging horns, those unremitting reminders that I live in a city where patience is about as hard to come by as a cab on New Year’s Eve. And yet, although the disparities between city life and life in suburbia are evident, it is not these variances that my mind seems to be narrowing in upon at the moment.

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Earlier today I sat in my bed hoping to get the news that my first two classes of second semester graduate school would be cancelled. I’ve been flu-stricken and bed-confined since Friday and the thought of trudging through the battlefield that is Manhattan in a snowstorm to get to class was too much for me to handle. Not to mention my brave hero Seamless had been slower than usual today at heaving my ten gallons of soup and orange juice up the four flights of stairs to my apartment, so I was not fully fueled and ready to face the challenges ahead. You would think this waiting would have reminded me of all those nights I’d stayed up waiting as a child watching the TV screen scroll through the surrounding townships to see if I could find my school’s name on the cancellation list. The thought of a snow day excites every child I have ever known…even the nerds like me who would cry when they had to stay home sick because they didn’t want to miss what was going on in the classroom. Yea, I was that kid.

But, no, this wait was different. Because as I listened to the loud noises outside, I thought not of the soft patter of snowflakes on a cold night in my hometown in Connecticut, but rather of the gunshots and bombs heard outside a home in a small town in Pakistan. I thought of Malala.

It’s strange to think about this. Two people waiting at different times in two completely different worlds for an answer to the same exact question: Will I go to school today? Except, the difference here is, my question went a little more like “Will I have to go to school today” and Malala’s was “Will I be allowed to go to school today?”

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At about one o’clock today I got the news that my school would be closing and I wouldn’t have to make my way through the blizzard to my classes. Five years ago, Malala Yousafzai sat in her home and heard the Taliban deliver the threats over her radio that girls were no longer allowed to go to school. 50,000 girls would lose their education because of this broadcast.

Now my worries don’t seem so large because outside my window I am hearing horns, not gunshots. And if I was going to have to walk to school today I would have been concerned about slipping on ice, not having acid thrown in my face. I wanted my classes to be cancelled despite knowing that regardless of the fact that I may have the flu and live in a noisy city, I would still be safe walking to class. Malala did not want her classes to be cancelled despite knowing that she was not safe walking there and that she could have been targeted at any moment, just like the corpses strewn across her village, left out there by the Taliban as an “example” for her people.

MALALA-i am afraid of no one

From this moment on I will never take my education for granted. Not that I have in the past. And not that I think it’s wrong to get excited over snow days. We live in a different world. Our worries are different here. But, after watching the documentary below and hearing Malala say at the age of eleven, “In the world the girls are going to school freely and there is no fear. But in Swat when we go to our school we are very afraid of Taliban. He will kill us. He will throw acid on our face. He can do anything,” I really appreciate what I have so much more. I am a woman and I am able to go to school freely, and not only that, but I am able to pursue the career that I want through higher education. This is how it should be for everyone.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/asia/teen-school-activist-malala-yousafzai-survives-hit-by-pakistani-taliban.html?pagewanted=all

When I say everyone it reminds me of a post I wrote almost a year ago today, on MLK day, where I said this:

“It isn’t until we all believe that the change that we want to see in this country and this world, and which we demand from all of our presidents is not the responsibility of one person, but EVERYONE. This is what I see when I look at that word: Every person becomes one. Every individual affects the oneness of our nation and our world. Think of a synonym for every: “each.” Take away the “one” from eachone and you get “each.” Take away the “each” from eachone and you get “one.” Each=one. They are equal. “Each” does not mean two or more. It means one. It means ONE person can make a difference. Now that we have a better grasp on the equivalence of “every” and “one,” let’s go back to the actual word, “everyone.” Replace “one” with “I am.” We use this phrase in order to convey our individuality and inform others of our relation to the world as a whole. I am Kelly. I am female. I am here. Saying “I am” means we are going to reveal something about ourselves. Now, reverse “I am” and put it back into the word. Everyami. Reverse the whole word. I may rêve. Rêve is the French word for dream. I may dream.”

Malala-Dream

At just eleven years of age, Malala Yousafzai had a dream. She had a dream to become a doctor. This dream has since changed due to the violence inflicted upon her home in Swat Valley, Pakistan. She has become a symbol of peace and hope for her people. She spoke up for the right of girl’s education in Swat Valley when even adults in her community were too fearful to raise their voices. And this bravery almost cost Malala her life as relayed by her in a speech to the UN below:

“Dear friends, on the ninth of October two-thousand and twelve, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life—except this: Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

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Malala has a dream: “let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” And a means to achieve it: “let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” So as I spoke of before, I may dream, because I am part of the “everyone” and so is Malala. Our worlds may be different and I am deeply saddened by that, but that doesn’t mean our thoughts have to be. Education is power. The more we learn about the world around us, the more likely we are to achieve our highest ambitions. As we hear stories like Malala’s, our minds become aware that our dreams are not the only ones that matter. And it isn’t until we start helping others work towards their dreams, that ours will start to make sense.

I don’t know about you, but those horns are sounding pretty melodious to me right now. And I’m going to stomp happily to school on Thursday, so that my stomps can be heard. Because I am proud to be a female studying hard every day to achieve her dreams. And that’s a privilege that not everyone in this world is given.

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So, dream on, dreamers. We’ve got a whole world to change.

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Los Enlaces Que Hacemos: La historia de Nelly y Kelly

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Vivimos en una era en que los recuerdos están disponibles en el tecleo de un dedo. Las fotografías han sustituido a los diarios y cartas como el medio para registrar eventos a lo largo de nuestras vidas. Me encanta tomar fotografías, pero también me gustaría confiar en las cosas que puedo tocar para traer de vuelta los recuerdos y sentimientos que van junto con ellos:una cáscara de una playa que fui a cuando yo era pequeña, pendientes una vez usadas por mi bisabuela, o una dibujo que un niño hizo para mí. Todos tenemos estos elementos, y ellos son los que nos solemos elegir cuando preguntamos qué un artículo tomaríamos si nuestra casa se estaba quemando. Estos artículos son especiales porque te hacen sentir conectado a otro lugar o tiempo, o persona. Las fotografías funcionan de una manera similar, pero no se puede tocar, lo que significa que no puede explorar los bordes y recordar dónde golpes y arañazos provenían o se preguntan por qué una pieza alta.

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Soy el tipo de persona que disfruta de la singularidad de las cosas.He sido así durante tanto tiempo como puedo recordar. Cuando Titanic se estrenó en los cines y todo el mundo estaba obsesionado con Leonardo DiCaprio, estaba tan molesto que me boicotear la película cuando era ocho años y no termino de ver hasta que yo estaba en la universidad. Y olvídate de los Teletubbies y Furbies, quienes nunca iban a pasar por mí. Hoy en día, se muestra más como, yo prefiero tener un collar hecho de una roca que se encuentra en unas vacaciones a África (una chica puede soñar) que un par de aretes de diamantes de una joyería en el centro comercial (Por favor tome nota: No estoy insultado ninguna de estas cosas, todos somos personas diferentes). Parece un poco loca y esta cualidad puede molestará a mi mamá cuando estoy buscando de un vestido de novia un día, pero a través de esto, yo realmente entiendo por qué muchos padres piden a sus hijos para los regalos hechos en casa o notas escritas en lugar de algo que tienen que gastar dinero en.

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En un reciente viaje a Florida , mi madre y yo fuimos a una tienda de joyas en el hotel, propiedad de una mujer llamada Laura. Laura era saliente y burbujeante y una de esas personas cuya energía se llena una habitación. Después de unos minutos de hablar con ella descubrí que en el pasado ella era un traductor para los hospitales, lo cual es algo especial para mí, ya que estaré trabajando con traductores al hacer mi trabajo como especialista en niños y tengo un interés especial en el barreras lingüísticas en el ámbito hospitalario .

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Un anillo de azurita azul llamó mi atención y mi mamá quería comprarlo para mí, porque ella sabe de mi obsesión por encontrar cosas únicas y esto, con sus bordes dentados y forma alargada y deformado, fue sin duda eso. Lo que ella no sabía era que cualquier cosa de mi mamá tiene un significado especial para mí — una tarjeta enviada por correo o un mensaje de texto en un día duro, todas las pequeñas cosas que hace todos los días que hacen que me diera cuenta de lo afortunado yo soy de tenerla. Así que en realidad, sólo este gesto tiene un significado bastante para mí .

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Pero a medida que avanzaba la noche, el significado del anillo se hizo más profundo para mí. Laura no era el único en la tienda. Iba acompañada de Sandra, que trabajaba allí una vez a la semana, y la madre de Sandra, Nelly, que estaba de visita desde Ecuador. En el momento en que usted cumple con Nelly, sabes que ella es una persona especial. Hay amabilidad excepcional en sus ojos y ella habla de una manera que te hace creer en el mundo nuevo. No es frecuente que la sabiduría es presenciado y experimentado, pero cuando lo es, tanto la tranquilidad y la ansiedad se apresuran a través de ti casi simultáneamente: la tranquilidad porque se siente como si los secretos de la vida están siendo revelados a usted, y la ansiedad porque no quiere olvidarlos.

A quote posted by Nelly's daughter, Sandra

A quote posted by Nelly’s daughter, Sandra

Nelly y yo hablamos en español (o al menos eso intentaron) y se rieron de la coincidencia de que nuestros nombres son sólo una letra de diferencia. Fui testigo del amor compartido entre ella y su hija y que me hizo creer aún más en el bien que está a nuestro alrededor todos los días. Nelly se ofreció a hablar conmigo en el teléfono para que yo pudiera practicar mi español una vez que ella estaba de vuelta en Ecuador y amablemente me invitó a visitarla a su casa allí. Terminamos la noche en el bar del hotel y Nelly hizo un brindis con su jugo de naranja (como ella nunca ha tenido una gota de alcohol en su vida). Durante esta bendición, que he grabado y publicado más adelante, se puede sentir la amabilidad y la sinceridad en sus palabras, algo que es un tesoro de experiencia.

Estoy escribiendo este post para Nelly, y para todos que quieren creer en el poder de la conexión humana. Cuando le di mi número de teléfono y el enlace a mi blog le metió el papel en el interior de su bolsa y cuando estábamos buscando en mi anillo y el collar de mi madre nos dieron, señaló a la bolsa y dijo que el papel era su “joya.”

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Conocerte y sentir tu espíritu brillante y la amabilidad incondicional es mi tesoro, Nelly. Hay una cita de un autor alemán Johan Wolfgang que dice: “El mundo es tan vacío si uno piensa sólo en las montañas, los ríos y ciudades, pero conocer a alguien que piensa y siente con nosotros, y que, aunque distante, está cerca de nosotros en espíritu, esto hace que la tierra para nosotros un jardín habitado.” La roca sobre mi anillo es un producto de la naturaleza. Mirándolo y sabiendo que venía de alguna parte del mundo que yo nunca tenga la oportunidad de ver que me hace sentir pequeño. Pero cuando mirando y viendo ti, me recuerda de que vivimos en un mundo tan grande, las conexiones que hacen entre sí forman enlaces como en una red de fútbol. Cuantas más conexiones que hacemos, mayor será la red se vuelve, lo que nos permite abrazar el mundo y mantenemos nuestros objetivos en el seno.

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The Links We Make: The Story of Nelly and Kelly

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We live in an era when memories are available at the click of a button. Photographs have replaced diaries and letters as the means to record events throughout our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking and keeping photographs as much as the next person, but I also like to rely on things I can touch to unearth memories and feelings that go along with them: a shell from a beach I used to go to when I was little, earrings once worn by my great-grandmother, or a picture a child drew for me. We all have these items, and it is they that we usually choose when asked what one item we would take if our house was burning down. These items are special because they make you feel connected to another place or time, or person. Photographs work in a similar way, but you can’t touch them, which means you can’t explore the edges and recall where bumps and scratches came from or wonder why a piece is missing.

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I’m the type of person who relishes in the uniqueness of things. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. When Titanic came out and everyone was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio, I was so annoyed that I boycotted the movie at the age of eight (not that I should’ve been watching parts of it at that age anyway) and didn’t end up seeing it until I was in college. And, forget about Teletubbies and Furbies, those were never going to happen for me. Today, it displays itself more as, I’d rather have a necklace made from a rock found on a vacation to Africa (a girl can dream) than a pair of diamond earrings from a jewelry store in the mall (please note: I’m not knocking any of these things, we’re all different people). It sounds a little crazy and this quality may end up driving my mom up a wall when I’m finding a wedding dress one day, but through this, I truly do understand why many parents ask their children for homemade gifts or written notes instead of something they have to empty their piggy bank for.

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On a recent trip to Florida, my mom and I went into a jewelry store in the hotel, owned by a woman named Laura. Laura was outgoing and bubbly and one of those people whose energy fills up a room. After a few minutes of talking to her I found out that she was once a translator for hospitals, which is something special to me as I will be working with translators while doing my work as a child life specialist and I have a special interest in the role language barriers play in the hospital setting.

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A blue azurite ring caught my eye and my mom wanted to buy it for me because she knows my obsession with finding unique things and this, with its jagged edges and long, warped shape, was certainly that. What she didn’t realize was that anything from my mom has special meaning to me—a card sent in the mail or a text message on a tough day, all the little things she does every day that make me realize just how lucky I am to have her. So really, even just this gesture, holds meaning enough for me.

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But as the night went on, the meaning of the ring grew deeper for me. Laura was not the only one in the store. She was accompanied by Sandra, who worked there once a week, and Sandra’s mother, Nelly, who was visiting from Ecuador. The moment you meet Nelly, you know she is a special person. There is exceptional kindness in her eyes and she speaks in a way that makes you believe in the world again. It is not very often that true wisdom is witnessed and experienced, but when it is, both tranquility and anxiety rush through you almost simultaneously: tranquility because you feel as though life’s secrets are being revealed to you, and anxiety because you don’t want to forget them.

A quote posted by Nelly's daughter, Sandra

A quote posted by Nelly’s daughter, Sandra

Nelly and I spoke in Spanish (or at least I attempted to) and laughed at the coincidence that our names are only one letter apart. I witnessed the love shared between she and her daughter and it made me believe even more so in the goodness that is around us every day. Nelly offered to talk to me on the phone so that I could practice my Spanish once she was back in Ecuador and graciously invited me to visit her at her home there. We ended the night at the hotel bar and Nelly made a toast with her orange juice (as she has never had a drop of alcohol in her life). During this blessing, which I recorded and posted below, you can feel the kindness and sincerity in her words, something that is a treasure to experience.

I am writing this post for Nelly, and for all those who want to believe in the power of human connection. When I gave her my phone number and the link to my blog she tucked the paper inside her bag and when we were looking at my ring and at the necklace my mom got, she pointed to the bag and said that paper was her “joya,” her jewel.

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Meeting you and feeling your bright spirit and unconditional kindness is my treasure, Nelly. There is a quote by a German author Johan Wolfgang that goes: “The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.” The rock on my ring is a product of nature. Looking at it and knowing that it came from some part of the world that I may never get a chance to see makes me feel small. But looking at it and seeing you reminds me that although we live in such a big world, the connections we make with one another form links like in a soccer net. The more connections we make, the tighter the net becomes, allowing us to embrace the world and keep our goals close to heart.

soccer collage