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She is in HAWAII!!!

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She is in HAWAII!!!.

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She is in HAWAII!!!

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I am always amazed by my circle of friends and as we share in each other’s journey, witnessing our dreams come true … one by one … I am reminded of how blessed I am and how vital they are to my livelihood. I have two friends presenting at the American Association of Public Health meeting this week, another in the process of returning to law school and another who just ACCEPTED A JOB IN HAWAII!!! With her permission, I am publishing her first group letter to us all. I hope you enjoy. *Some details have been changed to protect her new gig :-). 

Hawaii

Aloha!

My first 24 hours in Hawaii…..  Where do I start?

After a LONG trip (2nd flight was delayed almost 2 hours), I finally made it to the Aloha State excited and with a smile on my face.  By the time I got my luggage and rental car, it was dark.  😮  After only 2 wrong turns, I found my hotel.  LOVE this place!  Looking forward to having time to enjoy all the amenities in a few days.  I finally got up to my room last night, so tired all I wanted to do was shower, change and go to bed.  But then I looked at the clock…. It was only 7pm Hawaii time.

Trying to stay awake, I went out on my balcony to relax.  Somehow, lounging on a chaise and feeling the ocean breeze didn’t help me stay awake at all so I decided I should go downstairs and get dinner and maybe even cash in one of the 10 free drink coupons I received when I checked in.  I ended up with a free Mai Tai looks like … it comes with a warning that ALL the alcohol is at the top so stir it before you drink :-). Now, I was really ready to pass out but it was only 8PM!

I lasted another 30 minutes or so.  Next thing I know it is 3am and I am WIDE awake.  No chance of falling back asleep, so I get up and try to be productive: do a little work, look at some housing options on craigslist, etc.  About 6:30, I begin to feel like I could fall asleep again.  But NO, I have a meeting at work at 8:30am.

Luckily, my hotel is really close to the office.  Well one of them; I have 2 offices on the island.  After not enough sleep and grabbing some coffee and pineapple for breakfast, I go out on my hotel balcony to see the city for the first time in the daylight.  When I look to my right, I am watching the sun rise over the ocean and when I look to my left, I can see Diamond Head behind the cityscape.

After breakfast, I venture out in my rental car in the daylight for the first time.  Ummmm…… these streets are real curvy, confusing and super narrow.  It wasn’t just the dark that had me lost last night.  After much confusion, and last minute lane changes, I made it to the office.  The Kaimuki WBIC is in on the 4th floor of a building in downtown Honolulu.  And the parking spaces are SUPER tiny in the garage, (and everywhere else I discovered).  When I got in the office my boss, Pat, welcomed me to the office and officially lei’d me, making sure the bow was over my heart.  I had the pleasure of walking around all day today with the smell of fresh orchids surrounding me.  AH – MAZING!!!

After 2 meetings in the office, I got a brief tour of the Kaimuki office – break room , restroom, oh and here is your office.  Love the view of the mountains and all the homes in the valley outside my office window.

After only a few minutes – so absolutely no time to get comfortable or MORE importantly sit back and consider how to decorate / organize my office – Pat drove me to our client’s office for our bimonthly meeting.  I did a LOT of listening and note taking today as I am still trying to get my head wrapped around our business here.  It is sooo different than what I am used to in our Atlanta office.  SIGH!  Looking forward to feeling confident and up to speed on everything!

Next, Pat takes me to an Italian restaurant for lunch with all my peers and my direct reports from both offices.  Jet Lag + meeting a bunch of new people = not the best combination.  I tried my best to just be present and meet everyone vs. watching/ observing and learning about all the people on the team.  After lunch, having been up since 3am and not sleeping well the night before began to catch up with me.  I quickly realized I was not going to make it until 5pm so I told everyone I was leaving the office.

I got the bright idea to stop by the downtown Wal-Mart on my way home, only to find out ALL of Honolulu decided to stop at Wal-Mart during the same 20 minutes I did. It took forever to find a parking space and the lines were ridiculous!  I just wanted to grab some bottled water and snacks for my hotel room.  As I was standing waiting in line, on the verge of miserable, I saw a display for the local brewery, Kona Brewing Co. so I thought: PERFECT!, after my first day, a beer on my balcony will be perfect to celebrate.  I grabbed a 6 pack.  But the line took 4EVER and I got more and more tired waiting.  The idea of that beer and the small bag of honey roasted macadamia nuts I grabbed seemed like heaven if ONLY I could make it through this line and get back to my room.

Well, I made it through.  I bought my few items and as I was walking out of Wal-Mart, I noticed a security guard checking everyone’s receipt.  Everyone!  So I stopped and pulled my receipt out, b/c I had stuffed it in my purse.  When I approached the door to leave, I smiled big and said Aloha and held out my receipt.  The guard took one look at me in my corporate outfit with my lei on and waved me on and said no problem.  What….But, wait… I’d just watched him demand to see the receipt of at least 5 or 6 people.  My first case of Hawaiian stereotyping happened today.  Do I look that much like a haole (white person/ foreigner) that there is no way I should be checked?  The immense fatigue + being so used to being the one followed around in stores out of fear I might steal something had me flabbergasted that all of a sudden I was SO trustworthy.  Me?  I spent much of my life as a Black women trying to convince others that I didn’t deserve being followed or watched like a hawk.  And now, here I am, and security doesn’t give me a second thought.  I was shocked enough to stand there for a moment after he waved me forward.  And before I knew it, the guard had moved around me and asked for the receipt of the next person exiting the store.   Guess I better get it together and move on.

As I make the what seemed like SUPER long walk back to my car the jet lag had kicked in something awful and ALL I could think of was getting back to my room and after all, I do have beer in my bag.  I get back to my room, put my beer in the mini-fridge and get changed into something comfortable.  I open the balcony door, grab a beer and my book and get super comfortable in the chaise lounge.  I can see and hear the ocean in the distance and the hustle and bustle of public transportation and city life below me.  Only then do I realize that in all my adventure, I forgot to pick up a bottle opener for my beer.  UGH!!

The Museum

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KingQuote

There are benefits to blogging as soon as a topic comes to mind, but life doesn’t always happen that way so here we are … a day later 🙂.

In my house, it’s a weekend of nonstop birthday celebrations and day #2 was spent visiting the Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta. I only thought of how wonderful it would be for us to spend the afternoon at the museum revisiting history – however difficult that history may be – but I never imagined how emotionally charged my time there would be.

I won’t spoil your visit (you really must visit) by telling you about all the exhibits, but what I will share in this blog is how experiences, thoughts and feelings like those that I had on yesterday serve as persistent reminders of 1) how very much so many others sacrificed so that I and people like me could have access to basic human rights; and 2) the duties and obligations that these sacrifices affix to my life.

Of the many privileges that I now have access to, the opportunity to receive an education is one that I value immensely. As I walked through the museum, I was reminded of the intolerance that I have for those who don’t see value in receiving some sort of education (even if just the basic K-12). I was reminded of those who struggled for us to attend school and children across the globe that wish that they could attend school and are unable to. I was reminded of why I value sitting in a classroom, why I often enjoy these experiences more than many other encounters and why I am so committed to the field of education, as well as the profession of teaching.

I get it! I know that school is not for everyone, as I am often reminded. And I get that some of the schools across our country are worse than the street corners – metaphorically and literally. And I get that for many, institutionalized education is a graveyard for creative minds. But I also get that for many people education is the gateway to opportunity. I get that even for a high school graduate the chances of success often exceed those of a non-graduate.  And I get that for me and many like me, education has afforded us opportunities that we would not have been granted otherwise.

So yes, on yesterday I cried a lot. I cried tears of thanksgiving just for the sacrifices endured so that I could learn. And I cried because I willingly accept the challenge to in some small way leave my imprint through educating others.

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