Wednesday, December 28, 2011

October: Politics & Halloween

Following the departure of Shanty, the rest of the month of October was a whirlwind of political activity, teaching tasks, all capped with the celebration of Halloween. Within 5 days Stany and I attended a March and Rally which had been three months in the planning – to occur on the 10th Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Afganistan. This anti-war protest, coming only nine days after the massive Occupy Protest of October 6th, was swelled by Occupy Movement people to over 6,000 strong. As a lead ``peacekeeper`` for the event, I was stationed on the stage from which Rally speakers addressed the crowd. It was a fine vantage point also to take photographs, including the one below (which shows Stany watching intently among the audience assembled!

As can be seen in the poster on the right, the many uprisings in the Arab world were also featured, with these being among events inspiring the crowd to demand a more functional democracy in the U.S.A.. While the corporate-owned media continues to either ignore the Occupy Movement, or to portray it as without any coherent messages for change, all one needed to do at the Rally was listen to the common themes: get money out of political campaigns (public financing), create healthcare for all (single payer), end corporate personhood, and create jobs and economic relief (to homeowners, students, and others) rather than resources for banks and other institutions which are primarily serving the rich. Such themes are not hard to understand, except by those benefitting from the current status quo. Of particular interest to Stany was the fact that coverage of this event was virtually non-existent from newspapers the following day. Such neglect is a testament to why so many are now supporting basic changes to politics globally.

Nine days later, local papers covered in advance an action being contemplated by the Portland Public School Board. This action would require all school functions to which U.S. Military Recruiters have access, to also provide equal access by Counter-Recruiters. Sponsored by school board co-chair (Martin Gonzalez, long an acquaintance of our family), the front-page coverage of the vote seemed calculated to encourage opposition to it. While some vocal opposition did express itself during the Monday evening School Board Meeting, many more of those in favor attended. Sitting with Stany and my wife Kristine in the meeting room, I was struck at how no one complained about my holding a sign on my chest while seated. Some 7 years ago I had been arrested in this very room with five others protesting military recruiters having access to student files (without either student or parental consent). John Greschow and I were holding signs together then, and now we were being not only tolerated – but there he was speaking to the Board in support of the resolution which he had crafted! The political atmosphere had visibly changed. The Vote? 7-0 in favor of the resolution! Pictured below is John tolerating my taking a photo of him after the meeting as testament to his perseverance.

After the photo was taken Kris, Stany, and I took John out for some ice cream at a nearby Burgerville! Whenever we can, most any excuse for celebration may bolster the spirits!

Other highlights of this month included eating out at Namaste Restaurant as well as a kind invitation to join Wilson Jacob (a Chemistry instructor at PCC), his wife Alphonsa, and their child Gabby at their home. It is nice for Stany to enjoy some South Asia food from time to time and the Jacob family are such good company! After Stany leaves, here will be a relationship we should maintain (and no, it is not only about the food)!

At Portland Community College classes are now in full swing. Stany has classes he contributes to four days per week, commuting among three campuses. He is learning much about cultural realities here (like how few people talk on the shuttle bus), different teaching styles (from lecture to more interactive), and is generally being well appreciated by his colleagues and students alike. As he teaches one evening a week and I teach another, it was a rare opportunity for us to seize time to visit Powell`s bookstore: a tri-level building that covers an entire city block in downtown Portland. In our two hours there, Stany remained in one place (with Political Science books of all kinds tacked seven shelves high on both sides of a aisle running 10 meters! Asked why he did not wander about browsing elsewhere, Stany responded with ``I thought I might get lost``!

An outing with our housemate Tom one Friday took Stany to the campus of Portland State University, a walk through the Occupy Portland encampment, and then to an American bar to share a few beers. Though I felt guilty due to how little social time is available for me these days, it is good for him to spend time with Tom and others. Without Shanty here, it is clear that Stany does not enjoy ``mingling`` on his own. That said, he certainly has plenty to learn from and process!

Halloween was spent giving candy out at our home. Stany enjoyed seeing all of the children (large and small) dressed up in costumes ranging from angels to devils, pirates and cats, fairy princesses to vampires. Well over 100 people came to our door, with the two pictures below enjoying Stany`s generous spirit!

No comments:

Post a Comment