This weekend I was able to travel with my Resident Assistants (RAs) to beautiful Camp Casey on Whidbey Island.
While there my supervisor and I planned an activity to take the staff to a deeper level. The activity was inspired by a book entitled, “Where I Am From: Student Affairs Practice from the Whole of Students’ Lives.” This book presents the voices of students in NASPA’s Minority Undergraduate Fellows Program (now NUFP) via 42 self-biographical narratives. The students in the book shared their strong, rich experiences that fly in the face of the “deficit mode” of many multi-cultural theories. Their narratives declare what needs to be said about their experiences and the corresponding work of student affairs practice in ways that theory does not.
My supervisor and I, having been former members of NASPA’s undergraduate fellows program ourselves, decided to provide the prompt to our students to fill in their story to the “Where I am from.” They had 25 minutes to write their story in their new journals.
I wanted to share with SUSDA “where I am from.”
Where did I come from? Germany. Oh, where I come from? Sorry. I misunderstood you. I guess that’s where I come from; a place without understanding. A place where some say has no color, but to me white is a color. A place where pictures of happiness and joy cover the walls. We had those moments, but we had dark ones too.
Who’s the “we” you ask? The “all-American” family of course. A family of four: a mom, a dad, a son, and a daughter. Oh, twins to top all that.
The pictures can tell you more. I will let them do the talking.
Slide: a meadow lane…
Slide: Brown shutters and a suburban home of the late 80’s
Slide: Tonka trucks and barbie dolls
Slide: An RV and campground. A family of four enjoying the campfire.
Slide: A boat with a young, maybe 6 year-old blonde hair, blue eyes boy at the helm
Slide: A large family attending a Christmas gathering at what appears to be a grandparents home. Wrapping paper and recently unveiled gifts scattered all around.
Slide: A young brother and sister accepting roses after a tap-dance recital
Slide: A boy with his father setting up their first tent together in their boy scout uniforms
Slide: Welcome to Texas…
Slide: Bicycles and swimming pools
Slide: sunburns and vacations
Slide: A family of four in a now larger but still suburban home
Let me stop there for a moment. Let me tell you what’s behind that picture. You see that house right? Well, there’s stuff that fills it and the garage but that’s about it. There’s barely anything more. For a long while this family lived off the Dollar Tree. This home housed joy, love, pain, confusion, anxiety, happiness, loud yelling and conflict.
Slide: a boy kissing a boy
STOP! Wait, how’d that get there? No one is supposed to know. We don’t talk about that where I am from.
Slide: Eagle Scout
Slide: A family of three
Slide: A funeral packed with scout uniforms. An urn holding the ashes of a great husband, father, son, and role model.
Slide: Black. Are we in a tunnel now? I think there is light at the end. I just don’t know where I am at right now.
That’s just a snapshot of where I am from. My life has been full of many colors; some very bright and vibrant, and others dark or pale. I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s where I am from. It’s sometimes hard to remember where I come from.