The Things I Carry

The things I carry help make me who I am

Even if they only show the clear side of the world when worn,

like a pair of glasses

I carry with me glasses, which do the obvious by allowing me to see all things far and near

I carry with me glasses, which make me feel embarrassed and rather nerd-like…

yet help me view the world in a new, brighter light

I carry with me glasses, which help give me an intimidating edge—being 5’2” doesn’t help

I carry with me glasses, which give me a chance to hide behind a two and a half inch lens


The things I carry make me who I am,

Even if they are the same as everyone else,

like an iPod

I carry with me an iPod, which helps me get through the day

I carry with me an iPod, which allows me to “fit-in”

and stay connected with my friends, because music is a language everyone understands

I carry with me an iPod, which helps put my mind at ease—something I desperately need

I carry with me an iPod, which can help me focus more while still being able to drift off


The things I carry make me who I am,

Even if they aren’t as unique as I make them out to be

like my dreams and aspirations

I carry with me dreams, which help give me the push I need

I carry with me dreams, which make everything I do worthwhile

by allowing me to look at the big picture I am constantly working towards

I carry with me dreams, which often times increases the amount of stress I bear—is it all really going to happen?

I carry with me dreams, which give me something to be proud of and look forward to


The things I carry make me who I am,

Even if they can cause a tear to swell up in ones’ eyes

like the sorrow felt after the loss of a loved one

I carry with me all my regrets, which constantly give me a reason to look at the past

I carry with me guilt, from what I did and didn’t do

which help me understand what I should and shouldn’t do

I carry with me all my failures, which tell me to take a lesson from the past and not let history repeat itself…

I carry with me all my regrets, guilt, and failures, which say I should stick to the “Live Life to the Fullest” philosophy


The things I carry make me who I am,

Even if they are enough to push someone I love away from me

like the taut exterior I often put forth

I carry with me strength, which gives me the ability to carry my Bari sax case up and down hallways

I carry with me strength, which helps me to become what my family and friends, never had…

the one to bear the steam others blow off

I carry with me strength, which helps me make it through this day-to-day routine we call life

I carry with me the strength to forget about all my failures

I carry with me the strength to pull through all my regrets

I carry with me the strength to wipe away the guilt that wishes to never leave my side

I carry with me the strength that will one day help make my dreams come true

I carry with me the strength that will one day help me handle all that this world has to offer


Lets talk “Tipping”

Its been a dry week for me. I haven’t had a revelation, or an experience which really moves me. It seems as though nothing worth saying has really occurred. So how about I just talk about filler. Problem is, I am not one for filler talk. I am actually pretty bad at filler–if you couldn’t already tell haha.

New plan: I am going to stumble today. After stumbling upon a link, I will free write for about 5-10 minutes on a topic relating to that link. The challenge of what to say when nothing wants to be said has been taken on. Here we go:

I stumbled upon a page for tipping etiquette around the globe.


Based on the infographic, it seems as though the United States and Canada tend to be on the tip heavy side because the tips range up to 20%; whereas in much of the rest of the world tips average at about 10%. I guess that makes sense. China and South Korea have no tip, big surprise based on their governmental structures. Brazil often incorporates a service charge in their bill. This leaves the average tip to be a solid 10%.

Seems like a reasonable amount to me considering the economic market of most nations. Hailing from a restaurant family, my dad always told me to tip at about 20% wherever I go. As common courtesy he felt waiters generally deserve such a tip for the work they put in–more if they do a better job. I enjoy being able to control how much I tip. Something about tipping on my own just enhances my dining experiences. It makes it more comfortable.

I remember traveling around the United States and noticing how high end popular restaurants in cities often include their gratuity within the bill. I was taken aback at first when a restaurant in Florida gave me my bill and I saw that it had a service charge included. My dad explained how this was often the norm in cities–I quickly realized this would be one of the few norms I would have to accustomed out of necessity.

Slowly but surely my traveling experiences are increasing, as is my tolerance to built in gratuity. It is comforting to know that when I go to London and order Fish ‘n Chips I get to choose what tip I give my waiter based upon his/her service. A simple task, yet a comforting one.

Free writing may be the best tool I have acquired during my time in college this year. I look forward to the many years that lie ahead in our relationship.

We aren’t waiting for change, Change is waiting for US

We all know injustice exists. But when those who are said to defend justice by enforcing the law and limiting civil disorder see no wrong in the status quo, what do we do? Sit idly as they continually place the blame on the victim? Or do we stand up for those who can no longer speak; those who have been tortured; those who deserve justice?

I say lets stand up. Stand up against those who commit crimes, yet remain free. Stand up against those who continually blame women for the crimes they fall victim to. Stand up against assault, hate, rape, murder. I have more to say, I have more to do. But this is my first step towards taking a stand against those fall short.

Earlier this week, one of my friends posted a link on her Facebook wall. Seeing the title and her caption, I became curious and checked out her link. What I found shocked me, in the worst way possible. The article she posted was from First Post India and discussed India’s notions about rape. I was expecting people to want to act in a way that would help decrease the occurrences of rape. But what I found were views from people who thought rape occurred on behalf of the victim, specifically women in these cases. The article pulled numerous quotes and showcased the views held by many people in India, ranging from the average citizen to the police commissioner. To give you an idea of what those views are, here is an excerpt from the article:

Satbir Singh, Additional SHO of Sector 31 Police Station, Faridabad, puts it: “Ladkiya jo hai unko yahan tak yahan tak (he gestures to mean that women should cover their entire body, then carries on speaking)… Skirt pehenti hai. Blouse dalti hai; poora nahi dalti hai. Dupatta nahi dalti. Apne aapko dikhawa karti hai. Baccha uske taraf akarshit hota hai.” (Girls should be covered from here to here… They wear skirts, blouses, that don’t cover them fully. Don’t wear a dupatta. They display themselves. A kid will naturally be attracted to her.)

Sub-Inspector Arjun Singh, SHO of Surajpur Police Station, Greater Noida, clarifies the position further: “She is dressed in a manner that people get attracted to her. In fact, she wants them to do something to her.”

These are the views of many people in India, a view which instead of looking towards being proactive and ending the possibility of rape or punishing the culprits looks to place the blame on women, and thus, shed a blind eye to the rape itself. To say that a woman deserves to be a rape is something that leaves me speechless. Who deserves to being controlled by another, both physically and emotionally? This is a not a question that requires thought before an answer is given. The answer is seemingly obvious: No one. No one deserves to be raped. Yet, people are still debating this.

To know that a part of me represents the nation in which these heinous crimes exist with such a disgusting attitude embrasses me. I pride myself on representing the best of two cultures. But today, I hate that a part of me represents a nation where people feel as though they can justify rape. India prides itself on being a nation of purity and peace. A nation which wishes to advance technology while flourishing culturally. I have loved India for its art and culture, coupled with its drive to succeed and make a difference. I have always been proud to say my parents are from India. I have been proud to be an Indian. But today, I am far from proud. I am ashamed.

After reading this article and several others alike, I have realized that I have had enough. I have read enough about how “women” are to blame for the wrongs committed against women. I have read enough about how a victim asks to be placed in the position of helplessness. I have read enough and seen enough people turn a blind eye to a world of crime.

Because I have had enough, I plan to now, stand up. Stand up and speak up on behalf of those who can’t. I am studying to become a journalist. My school is equipping me with all the tools and skills needed to effectively tell a story. Since I started my college career, I have known that I want to spend my life telling stories. Visual stories. Stories that hold the ability to inform and move people. Today, I have found one more story. A story which needs to be told, a story which needs to move, a story which will provoke change.

Its about time the injustice in the world comes to an end; lets utilize the power in our hands and become the bearers of change.

STARS Shine in the Women’s Center

Students from across the University of Missouri Campus in Columbia come to the Women's Center on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 to attend the STARS Speaks Series.

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Center (LGBTQ) coupled up with the Relationship Sexual Violence and Prevention Center (RSVP) and the MO Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) to host the STARS Speak Series: Violence in LGBTQ Relationships Tuesday, April, 10, 2012.

The event aimed to facilitate open discussion regarding violence in both homosexual and heterosexual couples.

Juanita Kwarteng, a graduate assistant to the RSVP Center, appreciates the two-sided nature of the event, representing both positive and negative aspects of relationships.

Juanita Kwarteng, a graduate assistant to the RSVP Center, enjoys her time at the STARS Speaks Series held in the University of Missouri's Women's Center in Columbia on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.


“The event hopes to discuss types of violence and also healthy relationships. Things people can do to keep relationships healthy,” Juanita said.

The event was hosted in the Women’s Center with an audience of roughly 40 people. This is one event among the many on the April calendar showcasing Pride Month on the MU campus.

“A lot of events are happening all month long. Its a pretty exciting calendar and I am happy we get to be a part of it,” Juanita said.

Pride continues to shine with other events outside of the STARS Speaks series, including the Queer Monologues, Pride Parade and their very own drag show. For more information, check out the resource website.

Your sting, Your bite

This week I was asked to do something I have honestly been afraid to do for so long: Free write. Generally I think of free writing as being an avenue to creatively express yourself through writing. However, when I think of myself as a writer, “creative” is not quite the word that comes to mind. Instead, “informative” “clever” “witty” “argumentative” “persuasive” are the words I think of. For me creative writing often equates to fictional writing or story telling. It wasn’t until this week, shockingly, that my eyes were opened to the world of true free writing, true creativity.

I was asked to free write during class about a time where I was bitten. At first I was confused; nervous about what my final product would look like. Then the teaching assistant explained how we need to just write what comes to our mind for the next five minutes and not worry or think about anything else. Taking his words as advice, I began my free write. I will regurgitate my thoughts for you on this blog as well and free write about a time I was bitten. For five minutes, here you go:

A bite can mean many things today. But if we are talking about literally being bitten, then I remember when I was in fourth or fifth grade, during a recess period, a bee stung me! I would consider that sting to be its bite. I was walking around the playground during recess, alone, and was sulking even though it was a bright sunny day. I was wearing shorts and a shirt, nothing too casual, nothing too fancy– I mean, I was in elementary school, how fancy was I going to get? Anyway, I looked down at my hands and noticed a bee just resting inside. I had no idea how it got there!! Next thing I knew it bit me and flew away. It did what it had to do, and now I was stuck feeling the pain. I went to the nurses office–when you’re in grade school, you always look for an excuse to go to the nurse, its the best way to get out of class 🙂 But this time, I wasn’t excited to go to the nurse. My hand was hurting and the sting was truly stinging. The nurse took my hand and treated the sting. It burned, when she began. But by the end of my meeting with the nurse, my sting appeared as mere remnants of a bite a bee gave me. That was a time I got bit by a bee, the only time.

There you go. Five minutes of free writing. I never thought it would be that easy or that…fun. I was able to tap into my memory bank, think of a time I was bitten, and freely write about it. No thought other than that of my memory. I wasn’t worried about my editing, my word choice, my grammar. Any of it. All I was doing was writing what came to mind. And writing never felt so good.

I guess at the end of the day, free writing truly makes you feel free. Free from a world of AP Style writing. Free from a world of constrictions on what you say. Free from the worry surrounding your thought. Free expression of what you truly want to say. Free writing.

Rain Never Go Away

Rain. 7 days in a row. Wonderful.

Many of my friends see rain and instead of embracing what the sky is unleashing, they run inside. Some brave souls gear up wearing their rain boots and rain coats, holding their umbrellas in their hands as they venture out. For me the liquid sunshine from above is not a sign to run away from what lays ahead, but instead, the rain serves as clarity.

Rain symbolizes sadness, grief, and often that which is unknown. In numerous books and films you see it hold such symbolism. Take for instance the famous Fitzgerald novel, The Great Gatsby.The scene in which two of the key characters in the story are reunited occurs amid pouring rain. The weather was purposefully made to be as such to help prove the awkward and melancholic nature of the reunion.

 Despite this symbolism, as well as the symbolism seen in other fictitious works, for me the rain symbolizes clarity, a sense of beauty and purity. When the rain washes over the world, it brings things form their artificial state back to the original. Whether it is a ten-foot building or a seven-foot tree, the rain touches all and cleans all. As a society we often are attracted to that which shines and glows under the gleam of the sun. But what we miss is the beauty of that which is natural. Rain helps take us back to that state and reminds us of what was. The sound soothes, the touch purifies and for me the rain heals.

Its been raining for a week now and I couldn’t be happier. All things are pure, the sound is natural, and I am in my element.

To show a story is to tell a story

Rumor has it that you no longer need to have a pen and paper in hand to tell a story. Nor do you need to speak. Instead, you can let your camera do the work for you.

Visual storytelling is not only a unique way to tell stories, but it is also an increasingly compelling one. By capturing your story through the lens of a camera you are not only sharing a story with your audience, but you are also allowing them to sense an emotion. The power of words is strong, but the power of visual representation is often stronger. Image

I have been an avid fan of BBC for years, and when they released their audio slideshow, Human Planet, I sat in amazement. Journalist,  Timothy Allen used his camera to capture places and people from all around the globe and compiled them into this audio slideshow. He nailed Imageevery element of an audio slideshow. His photos referenced his audio, his audio in combination with his photos captivated the audience, and he stayed true to his unique trait of photographing humans throughout his projects. ImageAllen began his slideshow by describing how he chooses to deliberately photograph humans because of the fascination he holds with them. By pairing the human element to the natural element of the scenery and and moments his lens was able to capture, Allen held my interest.


When a piece of work touches you to the point that it proves you are on the right path in life, you know that even amidst the darkness faced by journalists, in the end, you carry the light which reveals the beauty of the world.