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Sigma Phi Rocks!

11 Mar

This past weekend, I had so much fun with my Phi Theta Kappa friends! My chapter, Sigma Phi, hosted the Colorado Regional Convention at Arapahoe Community College and we had a blast. On Friday night, the officers of Sigma Phi and Alpha Gamma Alpha staged an 80s Highschool Reunion Murder Mystery. I chose the role of Sally Sax, the band dewey/nerd since that was exactly what I was in highschool. I even dug up my old Thornton Highschool band jacket for my costume and borrowed my sister’s saxophone. It was a little harder to dig up 80s clothing than I thought it would be, though I did find some leg warmers and boots in my 14-year-old daughter’s closet. The upturned collar of a pink polo shirt, tacky earrings and the Sheena Easton up-do completed my fairly authentic look. My husband played the role of Danny Drums and my advisor and good friend Erica played a pom-pom girl. In this photo, we’re doing our “interpretive dance” routine (an inside joke from our trip to Virginia last summer…LOL!) I have WAY too much fun at these events…I’ll be SO lost without Phi Theta Kappa and my Sigma Phi friends when I have to transfer to a 4-year school next fall…WAH!

Sigma Phi swept the Regional awards again this year, too. We won the Colorado Distinguished Chapter award, first place in the Scholarship and Service Hallmark categories (I wrote the Scholarship Hallmark Essay for this award), Distinguished Chapter President award, Distinguished Chapter Officer award (that would be ME!!! 🙂 ), and the Horizon Award for our AMAZING advisor.  One of our members is also campaigning for International President this spring.   I am surrounded by a truly wonderful group of people–many of whom have become my dear friends.

Here we are with all our awards…aren’t we a good-looking group? Go SIGMA PHI!

And here I am receiving my Distinguished Chapter Officer Award from my good friend Adam, the now former Colorado Region President.

See? Nerds really DO know how to have fun…:-)

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Warning: Don’t Laugh At This Man!

29 Jun

Part II of my experiences at the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Institute at San Francisco State University, June 16-21, 2008…

On my day off in San Francisco, I went with my friends Roxanne and Derek down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We rode the subway train (MUNI) down to Pier 1. It happened to be a free day on the MUNI for everyone in the Bay area so the busses along the wharf were jam-packed. We didn’t want to wait around for an empty bus and it was a nice day so we decided to walk from Pier 1 to Pier 43 1/2. As we were walking along, we saw this street performer standing stock still on the sidewalk. I had seen similar performers on You Tube and thought to myself I would take a picture of this guy to show my teenage son when I got home. I didn’t have a camera with me, but I had picture-taking capabilities on my cell phone.

As soon as I whipped it out, Robot Man pointed his finger at me and strode directly toward me with a mean sneer on his face. He stuck a plastic cup in my face and flicked the rim of it with his finger. Out of nervousness, I laughed underneath my breath. He said in a menacing tone, “What are you laughing at ma’am?” I reddened a bit and put my cell phone back in my bag while my friend Roxanne put a dollar in his cup to appease him.

I don’t think this is the same guy, but here’s a video that demonstrates just how unbelievably rude and aggressive these people are.

The incident rattled my nerves a bit and made me upset for several reasons: 1) The guy didn’t even perform–he just wanted money for the privilege of looking at him or photographing him 2) He was a big bully and that made me even less inclined to want to give him anything.

Another homeless man we saw at Fisherman’s Wharf is known as the Bushman. His trick is scaring people by hiding behind two big branches, growling, and jumping out at clueless tourists. At least he makes people laugh instead of intimidating them! After he surprised us, we spent some time watching him, though I admit I didn’t give him any money either. Later in the day when we passed by him, we heard him yelling. We turned around to see what he was so upset about. Apparently someone’s dog had raised its leg on his bushes as it was going by and he was not too happy about being sprayed!

It’s interesting how this experience just happened to correlate with our 2008-2010 Honors Study Topic–The Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges, and Consequences. I was troubled by my discomfort with homelessness and poverty when I was actually confronted with it. I live in a pretty affluent neighborhood and live a pretty cushy life, so I don’t often encounter people in this situation. I’m of the general opinion that a hand up is always preferable to a hand out, but how should our society address this particular challenge?

The best speaker at our Honors Institute, Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes, had some interesting ideas. As a Professor of Urban Studies at San Francisco State University, she has created a working model that provides “green collar” jobs, or manual labor jobs that improve the environment, for adults with barriers to employment. Pinderhughes’ presentation was upbeat and hopeful with an emphasis on the transformative power of education and the need for scholars to walk their talk by getting actively engaged in civic issues. I was inspired by her message and although I am mostly naive, uninformed, and baffled by the complexity of local, national, and global politics, I like to think that through my involvement with Phi Theta Kappa as the Vice President of Scholarship in my local chapter, I have the opportunity to contribute to social change even if it’s on a very small scale. Certainly it’s a step in the right direction as I struggle to overcome my own barriers of apathy and ignorance.

Phi Theta Kappa Honors Institute

26 Jun

The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky…

(From “The Mighty Task is Done” by Joseph P. Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge)

I’m back from my fantabulous, 6-day, all-expense paid trip to San Francisco with the Sigma Phi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and I have so much to blog about that I will probably have to break this up over several posts.

The Golden Gate bridge was lovely shrouded in wispy layers of fog the day we arrived. Here I am with our new chapter president, Roxanne and a former chapter officer, Derek on the coldest June 16th ever in the history of San Francisco. Seriously!!! I wished I had brought my winter coat instead of that thin jacket I’m wearing. Rox and Derek walked part way across the Golden Gate bridge that day, but I was a total wimp and enjoyed views of it from the car instead. With the humidity, I just couldn’t get warm! Thank goodness the sun came out the next day and the rest of the week was probably the warmest weather in San Francisco’s history.

Rox was my roomy at San Francisco State University and we got the “Penthouse suite” in the Towers on the 15th floor. Since I lived at home when I attended the University of Colorado as a young student, the experience of living in a dorm was fun–for a week! I slept surprisingly well considering we had to sleep on what we ended up calling “crib mattresses” (probably because I was so exhausted at the end of each day!) And although the cafeteria food was pretty lame, it was rather nice not to have to plan, prepare, or clean up any meals. For six days, my life was reduced to the simplicity of taking care of “numero uno” instead of me times 7. I did a lot of walking, socializing, learning, eating, and sleeping (and I savored every moment of it!)

In the lecture hall, I got to sit in the middle of a row–a simple pleasure that only mothers of toddlers can truly appreciate. Normally quite reserved, I even learned to voice my opinion, make comments in small group settings and take part in discussions relating to our Honors Study Topic, The Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges, and Consequences. I enjoyed participating in courteous debate with my peers, wrestling with personal agendas and biases and grappling with the complexity of political issues–something I rarely have the opportunity to do in my everyday “mommy” existence.

In six days, I learned that a positive attitude goes a long way, that Ghirardelli chocolate hazelnut ice cream in a chocolate-coated waffle cone is just about the closest thing to heaven on earth, and that it’s not a good idea to laugh at homeless people…(more about that in my next post!)