Sunday Soliloquy: Rawf the Rone

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Hey inter-webs!

Sorry for being absent last week! I got back from my vacation to Philly Sunday night at something like 9:30-10:00, so I was a lot too drained to post.

It’s been a week, but I’m back though! Today I’ll be talking about my experience chaperoning my school’s prom for the second time.

So what is it like being a 23-year-old prom chaperone for seniors (17-19 year olds) and juniors (16-18 year olds)? In many ways it’s like being Casper. And I mean like Casper in the movie Casper, where he becomes alive for a short period of time. This time around, I knew a lot more students, but as a good chaperone, you can only interact with students so much. A lot of the night becomes a mixture of eating food (highlight!! — it’s free), taking pictures and videos of random fun occurrences, talking with the occasional students, and saying hi and/or hugging the students that like you enough to do so.

The strangest thing for me though was being one of the “young teachers” at the event. Obviously a teacher: everyone at the event knows me as such, but not quite in the loop enough to be in on all the jokes or to comfortably sit at the teachers or admin table in our designated backroom. On a positive note, talking with a new older teacher (he had a late-life career change) was quite enlightening. In the span of a 15-20 minute conversation, I bonded really deeply with the older math teacher, who’s lived in various cities in the country, from LA to Chicago and now Miami. I couldn’t help but think how unfortunate it was that few of his students would ever hear his stories. But the lack of respect and space we leave for older people to spread their experiences/the lack of room in educational curriculum for that experience sharing is an issue for another soliloquy. My final point is definitely going to edge toward the line of taboo.

I’m 23. I’ll be 24 in less than five months. The age gap between my students and I grows larger every year, but this year it’s still uncomfortably close. Chaperoning prom reminded of that, when 90% of the music played could’ve played at my own prom. Watching students who I manage on a regular basis cut loose, knowing that quite a few of them were sneaking flasks or were on their way to a hotel to commit all kinds of debaucheries, is a little unnerving to say the least. Even more disturbing is the truth that for a handful of them, someone my age is dateable (I have a student whose boyfriend is 23). All that adds to the strangeness of being a Prom Chaperone. As cute, clean, or beautiful as the youngin’s are, there’s something that tugs an eye and pulls a nerve about the fact that they’re becoming that much closer to adulthood.

For better or for worse, they’ve reached another milestone and they’re on their way to hardships and honors, congratulations and challenges. I guess I’m really just sad to see the youngins that are like little cousins to me get that much closer to the struggles I’ve dealt with or those that my friends have.

And I guess I just have to deal with that. I’m both proud and perturbed by the fact that my current and former students will have to deal with that too.

So I know this one was a little strange, but that was really on my mind. I’ll be back next week with some more reflections!

Have a great week!

Peace,

 

Raf

Sunday Soliloquy: Plotting My Progress

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Hi all, and sorry for my absence last week. To be perfectly honest, I was just caught up in a few things and when I re-checked my phone (the next day), I saw that Sunday night had come and gone. I missed out on a great chance to reflect on a number of things, but as always I’m pushing to get better and more consistently posting.

Now this soliloquy is also a tad bit late (it’s no longer Sunday on the East Coast), but I can’t help but post regardless of whether its actually Sunday or not.

Today I’d like to share a bit about where my mind is and where I believe that I am heading. Whether or not one person reads my blog consistently, or a score of people do, I’ve been a strong believer in making certain goals and ambitions public. For me personally, it makes me more accountable to the universe and the social groups that I am a part of; additionally, in keeping with the Christian foundations I was raised on, the spoken word becomes “truth”, or at the very least has power. For both of these reasons, and a number of less conscious ones, I’ll lay out some of my medium term goals.

When I have finished my current career stint as a public school teacher (preferably the summer of 2018…but who knows?), I will begin an MFA program in the field of Documentary Film. To provide more context, this was my original plan as a junior in college. The goal was to earn my MFA degree, which for Documentary Film (and any practical film program for that matter) is the highest degree available, then to work at the university level and/or work for production companies that specialized in documentary. As a senior, when I realized that most of the programs required a thesis film that was 20 minutes in length, I set those goals aside, believing that the final project was too simple or that I would not gain enough to warrant the potential price tag. I then began to focus on potential fields to earn a PhD in, with the goal of picking up at least one Masters degree along the way.

After a very intense week of conversations with various mentors and peers, I was made to realize that I was running away from a degree, and from programs, that made a great deal of sense for me. I have been, since my interest in videography began in high school, focused on documenting various parts of the world around me. I do a lot with writing, but currently, in the classroom, I take photos, make videos, “collect moments”, with very little prompting, with very little immediate reward. My TFA coach noted that he doesn’t know many, if any, other corps members, or teachers who document as much as I do. Less recently, after working an entire summer in the corporate world and purchasing a Canon Mark III, I became more inspired to record the lives of the people around me with higher quality.

My Uncle in particular helped me to realize that my desire to explore and to delve deeply into intercultural and intersectional studies does not mean that I cannot gain more “formal” training in a field that I believe to be seminal to my success. In fact, I realized that I will have even more credibility as a future PhD student who strives to use new media in my work if I have that degree. As I have fortunately discovered, the younger “me” had reason and logic for our goals. In returning to this goal in particular, through the mentors and people God has put into my life, I am moving much closer to Hirs purpose in my life.

I’ll be working on some new docs this summer and I’ll be working really hard to make the most of the months I have.

Wish me well, as I wish you well,

Have a great week,

 

Rafi