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Velocity:Inertia Stories of my Adventures

Lessons Learned: 'Murica

USA | Tuesday, 24 November 2015 | Views [390]

Well, I never wrote a closing entry to my trip. I suppose in some ways writing this meant I had to face that it was really over!

During my last few days in New Zealand, I met some wonderful people, including Mani, who runs Intersex Awareness New Zealand. It was an amazing meeting not only on a networking level but on a 'o.m.g. this person is just awesome!!' level. Meeting Mani inspired me to try to make it up to Creating Change, a giant LGBT conference that is going to be in Chicago this year ...couldn't be in a more convenient place.

I also couchsurfed when I arrived back in Auckland and was able to see a super awesome play called "Kookoo the Birdgirl" that my host, Anna, was stage managing. The show was performed by one woman, Sarah Houbolt, who was born with a similar disability to a woman in the "freak shows" of yore named Kookoo the Birdgirl. Sarah used her amazing acting and dance skills to show how her story aligns with Kookoo the Birdgirl's and how she personally feels empowered performing in present day freak shows. It is difficult to convey over text how wonderful it was to see this show.

While boarding the plane to LAX from Auckland, I learned I was put on a "randomly selected" list of people sent from the USA. The people on this list had to be taken aside and checked again, so they took off my shoes to test them for stuff and looked in my carry ons. Very. very. interesting.

Obviously, we know how that concluded, since I am sitting here in the US writing this now. :P

While I did not have some cliche otherworldly, spiritual experience as a result of traveling, I certainly learned some things.

1. I benefit from spending time in museums. I love art.

2. No matter how strange, 'liberal', or 'radical,' I seem to other people from the US, I am painfully "American." (ahem. united states-ian...can this word become a thing? American is a misnomer). And I say that in a loving way. It is complicated, but possible to be angry at the decisions your country's government and its citizens make while still loving your home. For example, I would very much rather not have my tax dollars diverted toward drones, but I love my family, who all live in the US, and I actually realized that I do love the way US accents sound, even if they get a bad rep elsewhere.

3. That said, I am terrible at being in Asia. At least, where I visited within Asia. I am not proud of this; I'm just being honest. I have nothing but the utmost appreciation for the people I met and I loved having all the unique, amazing experiences I documented in previous entries. Still... Me + places I've visited in Asia = ?????. I would go back, but I'd stay longer in one place with, ideally, a local. I am so freaking. White. "American." Again, just saying this factually. I am a walking stereotype and it is hard for me to adapt to certain things. I had an arrogance that I was more cultured, open, and accepting than 'most' in my demographic. That arrogance is gone. I have lots of work to do.

3. The people from other countries who try to live in the United States deserve so much more than the United States is giving them. I can't understand why we cannot be more open to immigrants and refugees. Even after everything the US govt did to, say, Vietnam, I was treated much better when I was visiting than I imagine many Vietnamese people are treated here. It is so incredibly difficult to move one's life to another country and adapt to another way of life. If someone is compelled to do that, it's just the nice thing to do to welcome them and try to make it easier. We don't have to be allergic to being nice just for being nice's sake. While xenophobia does exist in other countries I've visited, it never seemed as extreme as in the US.

Being nice to people from other, not as developed countries will not end in terrorism, as statistics show. (I recently saw that out of all refugees accepted to the US in the last decade, 3 were affiliated with terrorist groups....who were plotting against countries that were not the USA). However, I notice a lot of not-foreign white domestic terrorists enjoying the kindness and access to guns that their privilege affords them... and we all see how that is ending up. It is embarrassing that even France is accepting refugees and there is still so much pressure coming from u.s. politicians to not accept them, while they keep backing the NRA. Unbelievable.

4. It's a good idea when traveling alone to seek out nonprofits and learn more about them or volunteer. Even if the trip isn't one giant volunteer mission, it's a way to give back whilte traveling. It gives a chance to meet locals that you might not normally meet.

5. Lastly, I'm not ready to move to another country right now. Part of the reason I took this trip was to see if New Zealand is a place I might want to live some day.

I could easily see myself really enjoying Wellington. I've moved many times by myself within the US- Illinois, Texas, New York... and I think that if I saved up the money over the next year or two, I could definitely make it happen.

But I don't want to go by myself. Cliche as it is, Home is where the heart is... and I've spent 27 years sharing my heart with people here. Perhaps one day, I can convince a loved one or two to come with me. Until then, I am anxious to get back into learning and engaging in activism, because I love this place, and I want to see it get better.

Tags: art, auckland, museums, new zealand, united states of america, wellington, xenophobia

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