Job Well Done: The Neurodiversity Alliance of Southern Oregon University poses for a photo after a successful presentation at the Annual Social Justice Conference. I feel so honored to have been working with NASOU over the past few months, and I hope that you take the time to look over these posts, or even do some research on your own, to learn more about what it means to be neurodiverse and what the neurodiversity movement is all about.
Small Steps, Big Impact: Looking forward, there is much hope for the future, and it does not take much on your part. There are many things you can do to help society (and yourself) better understand neurodiverse individuals and the neurodiverse movement, such as being patient and understanding of neurodiverse individuals. Take time to get to know them, and take the time to educate yourself by dispelling myths about what it means to be neurodiverse, and never assume that somebody is neurotypical because of the way they look. Small steps can have a big impact, and I encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on this in order to create a more tolerant and accepting society.
“The World Needs All Kinds of Minds”: Yesterday, February 19, 2016 was the annual Social Justice Conference at Southern Oregon University. The Neurodiversity Alliance of Southern Oregon University was one of the conference speaks, and it was a pleasure to get to watch the group get to speak on important issues surrounding the Neurodiversity Movement, specifically addressing how society needs to change the way they different brain wirings within the population. Topics ranged from how neurodiverse individuals are portrayed in the media (in both negative and positive ways) to the importance of awareness training for law enforcement and other safety public officials, especially in a time of crisis. One of the most important messages of the speech echoes autism activist Temple Grandin’s quote, “The world needs all kinds of minds.”
The few weeks I spent in Haiti were some of the best of my life; the culture was welcoming, the food was delicious, and the people I met were the kindest. I am grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with them and to help out, even if it was in a small way. Over forty percent of the Haitian people lack access to clean water. Thankfully there are many wonderful organizations that are working to change that. I am glad I got the opportunity to work with Volunteers for Peace, one of these great organizations. To learn more, visit http://www.vfp.org/t-haiti.aspx
A village elder pauses to smile after performing an oral story about the history of her people. Of all the people in the room she was the most full of energy, of life, and of grace. Her performance was thoroughly captivating, and though it was in another language, she had a way of making you feel, and somehow understand, what she was saying. All eyes were on her, the other village elders, all the volunteers, and some stray school children waiting beneath the open windows. I didn’t have to say much to get this picture, just slightly lift my camera and she struck her pose, and I am forever grateful I got to meet her.
One of the best and brightest people I met in Haiti. This young girl, who was the daughter of the hotel owner, could speak three languages and was very interested in learning all that she could from our cultural exchange. She played with us, watched movies with us, she cooked with us, and she even volunteered to paint a local hospital with us. This girl holds a pretty big place in my heart.
One of the many children that I had the pleasure of meeting while staying in La Vallée. Despite this more serious look of concentration, he was a very happy and lighthearted boy, always doing his best to make everyone around him smile. It was fun to watch him play with the other children and the volunteers. He was such a pleasure to be around and I am glad I got to know this bright young man a bit.
One of the cultural exchanges the volunteers got to participate in was the annual Kite Festival. Each of us handmade a kite for the festival and then made the long walk from the hotel to the hillside where thousands of Haitians gathered for the celebration. Though it was very crowded, it was so much fun and filled with great food and great people.
While visiting the Hotel Oloffson in the capital, I couldn’t help but stumble upon this beautiful mural. Haiti is already beautiful on its own, but the abundance of artwork and artists only enhances the natural beauty. If you ever get the chance to visit Haiti, make friends with some of the local artists and make sure to bring home some art to decorate your walls!
Whenever I travel to a new place, I love getting the opportunity to explore the city. I love watching the people go about their daily lives, listening to the beautiful sounds of their language, so foreign to my ears. I greatly enjoyed spending the day in the back of a small pickup, roaming the city streets, exploring markets and museums. I often think about the sights and smells and tastes held in the memories of those city streets.