Thursday, July 22, 2010

Remember this guy?

Last spring I was on a mission to keep our Academic Dean, Dr. Hemphill away from a small liberal arts college in Shreveport and locked up at the Clinton School. I tried my best citing everything from Shreveport sucks (apologies to anyone from Shreveport) and well . . . saying how the poor students minds' would be aimless without him. I couldn't lock him up at our school because 1) that's not what any upstanding public servant would do and 2) I don't want a criminal record just yet (at least not for kidnapping).

I'm happy to say that Centenary is treating our former Dean well. In fact he's famous! We should all ask him for his autograph. I might even have to put all my old papers on ebay and sell them to the highest bidder because his red pen marked it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wrapping things up

My time has come to a close here in New York City. Yesterday I had lunch with the gang from PCI Media Impact and we played a fun little game called "high/low" where we each went around the circle and stated the high of our project and the low.

The high. Well that's an easy one -- meeting and working with Alleyne Regis in St. Lucia. Our team which consisted of Alleyne, Sarah, and me was definitely a force to be reckoned with. Funny that I thought all those leadership classes and team dynamic info would be over with when Practicum concluded. However, working with this team was even more intense in the 10 weeks in St. Lucia probably because we were thrown into a project overseas.

The low. Well that's an easy one as well. I had this great idea to make an "internet cafe" inside our home one day which meant pointing a fan on one side of the table, and borrowing the from my room to have a stereo effect of fans/cool air at the kitchen table where we plugged in to our internet connection. It was a great idea until my little box fan fell a few feet from the counter to the floor and totally busted. For weeks I had many a sleepless night wrestling with the hot air and windless nights.

For the rest of this month I'll be working on a second draft of my deliverable, a Monitoring & Evaluation manual for my client, PCI Media Impact. After that my work will be done and then I'll begin preparing for my final project with the Clinton School. Wow! Time flies quickly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One more for the road

When Sarah and I were still in St. Lucia we enjoyed our weekend ritual of going to the movies. We had low bar expectations for the movie; our only criteria was to have air conditioning and be entertained. Well on one very rainy Sunday we dashed through the raindrops and huddled under the cement stairs of the pedestrian overpass to wait for the bus.

There was man standing there too trying to avoid the rain while waiting for the bus. So, I said hello like you do in St. Lucia. His response was, “Aren’t you going to say Happy Father’s Day?” I think the look on Sarah’s and my face was a bit befuddled. Yes it was father’s day on this particular day, but how were we supposed to know this guy is a father? Should we assume every man is? What to say next?

I quickly said, “Oh yes! Happy Father’s Day!” But then he started talking to me and the more he said the less I could actually see of Sarah. She claims she had to turn her body around the corner to stay dry, but I know better SARAH LEER!

So I was pretty much left standing there with some stranger who was talking about Father’s Day. Somehow the conversation went in another direction when I asked what this guy did. You know what he said? He was the crowning winner of Karaoke competitions across St. Lucia. Not only was he so proud of his achievement, he actually said, “You know I’m just a regular guy. I mean, but it’s a pretty big deal… I win Karaoke competitions all over this island.” Really?!? Had we just run into the St. Lucian version of Ron Burgundy?

Not only that, but he topped it off by singing a Karaoke song dripping with saccharine lyrics and melody. Wow! I wish I had recorded it, so you could actually hear and see what we experienced. Neither of us recognized the song, but it was truly an interesting performance. I guess you can’t escape Karaoke no matter what part of the world you’re in.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What I’m up to this weekend

I like to mix fun with work (after all that is precisely what Entertainment Education is all about), so when I planned a trip to New York for meetings with my host organization PCI Media Impact I also scheduled in a little yoga time. This is no ordinary downward dog though. I’m attending children’s yoga teacher training at Karma Kids Yoga near Union Square.

It’s a 30 hour course that goes completely from beginning to end on how to instruct yoga to children of any age. During the training we have to remember what it was like to be little kids who jump and play and frolic. Somewhere underneath all that maturity (ok maybe not that much maturity in my case) is a little child just waiting to come out and play. Being five years old again, however, is tiring! How did I do it back then? I’m sore in places that I didn’t even know existed. If I could pop my arms and legs off right now and replace them with new non-tired arms and legs that would be great.

What’s been totally thrilling and neat about the teacher training is how it’s reinforced many of the things I’ve learned over this past academic year at the Clinton School. Allowing children to speak empowers them. Have options for children to pick and choose what they want do that day. Don’t just tell a child what to do, show a child how to do something. Above all make the class fun and engage them. If that doesn’t sound like Social Change I don’t know what does! Anything that empowers a child from such an early age is a great thing.

For the rest of the weekend if you need to find me I’ll be on my yoga mat… or should I say flying a magic carpet with my imaginary helmet and seat belt on.

Classmates practicing headstand.

Friday, July 9, 2010


In my studies of Entertainment Education I’ve learned that when writing an appropriate EE script whether it be on TV or radio, it is essential that there are three types of characters in a story.

1) Negative characters – these characters exhibit all the behaviors and attitudes on any issue that the program is trying to change in the general audience
2) Positive characters – a character (usually 1 or very few in number) that exhibits exactly the behaviors and attitudes on any issue the program is promoting. This is a role model.
3) Transitional characters – represent the majority of people who can waiver from negative to positive behaviors. Usually the audience relates more to this character.

Even though in real life I don’t choose to believe that no person is truly good or bad, I do like the concept of applying “transitional characters” to life. Since each of us are essentially in the transitional state of our characters for our entire lives that allows us to discover the negatives and positives to any situation/issue/problem. More importantly though then realizing oneself is a transitional character, is the knowledge of knowing that each and every person one interacts with is also a transitional character.

Here’s to the process of transitioning!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Public Service and the City

When I was 21 I had my first internship in New York City. I worked in a boutique talent agency in the literature department. My job was to copy scripts and look over scripts that writers in hopes of getting them optioned had mailed in unsolicited, which is really all to say I read a bunch of bad scripts that summer. I wish I could remember the various plots now, but I remember picking up a book one day with no chapters and a bunch of run-on sentences about some guy’s salacious lifestyle. I don’t know whatever happened to that one.

Anyway, one day at this internship my boss’s colleague came up to me with a sheepish look in his eyes and said, “I feel really badly about this…. I hate to ask you this, but would you mind going to Starbucks for some of us?” I said yes for two reasons. One, any opportunity to wander around the city even if it is to a coffee shop I don’t like was fun. Two, I’m not beneath grabbing coffee. All jobs have their glorious moments as well as their less glorious moments, and you can only get to the glorious stuff after you do a lot of non-glorious stuff. And there will always be non-glorious stuff to do.

Today was day 2 of my wrap up with PCI-Media Impact, an organization that uses media in innovative ways to create social change. They’ve done projects all over the world and mine and Sarah’s work was specifically involved with climate change in the Caribbean. Yesterday they invited me to sit in on a meeting with Soul City who was presenting their latest endeavor in the field of entertainment education. The things I heard were amazing! I mean using reality TV in a way that transforms communities in South Africa just blew me away. There needs to be more shows like this.

Hearing about other EE organizations across the globe was just the beginning though. We sat down and looked through my deliverable; I gained some great feedback on how to improve the manual I’m drafting for their data collection method. The work continues!

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, no one at PCI asked me to grab them coffee, though I would have gladly. However, this morning I got off the metro and stumbled into a great little coffeeshop and grabbed myself some coffee. An iced capuccino. Yum.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


What do you get when you have 5 former Austinities and 1 current Austinite who all descend upon the nation’s capital? You get this lovely photo below taken after we stuffed ourselves silly with Ethiopian food. (Notice the food coma state present in most of the people's eyes.)

It’s like the planets have aligned when the 6 of us never really even planned on spending this weekend together. It is a wonderful homecoming though, and so good to see these old friends who have been scattered all over the U.S .

My friend’s father who lives in D.C. and was also at dinner, told me this morning “What a great group of friends you guys have. I mean really!” I couldn’t agree more. I will take them as well as many others with me in my pocket wherever I go.

“Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.” – Benjamin Franklin
Happy 4th of July, dear friends!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Haiku: Returning Home

The soft sounds of rain
Waiting patiently to board
Farewell, island life.