Dancing with Protests and Privilege

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As I stood there, silent, but in awe in the hot autumn night with street lights painting my vision the color of sepia. Streets splattered with red and blue lay behind me, but in front of me was a tsunami wave of emotion, passion, and dedication. The air was filled with shouts of a fight for a better life. Feet, bodies, and banners sprawled with the words of a brighter future were marching towards me like a tank ready to crush any opposition trying to stop their dreams.


 

This was the scene of my first ever protest of monumental scale. It was a part of a national protest known as Fight For 15. This was also my third action (protests, press events, and things like that) in two weeks. You see, my new job, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, has me going out to to different actions across Miami, and taking photos for them.

These protests have been amazing for not just being able to see the passion, and to be a part of a movement where 100s, maybe 1000s of people come together  for the same thing. It’s also amazing in that it makes me actually have to question where I stand on certain things, and makes me wonder about this and that, and about what I truly believe.

I will admit though that this Fight for 15 has taught me one very important thing. It all started when this really young fast food worker came on stage. She was probably about 16, and she was shouting how she needs 15 dollars an hour.

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I’m standing here listening, and trying to make up my mind. I would be a liar though if I didn’t say that my mind teetered on the thought of why does she need that amount of money. She’s just a kid, and her parents should be able to help her out.

That’s when it hit me. Maybe she doesn’t have the funds to be able to cover her life expenses  that my parents were able to. My privilege of having parents, and then with their ability to pay for the things I need has blindfolded me to a very real problem of people not being able to afford the things they need to survive in life.

What if she isn’t just trying to afford a life for herself, but also for her parents? Maybe they need her as much as she needs them? Maybe she has a kid, and doesn’t have the skills yet to move on to a different job? So many questions went through my head about how she can keep herself a float, but also questions of how can these other passionate individuals who are older then her handle life when they might be going through the same problems.

Why should people have to suffer whenever I’ve had the comfort and privilege of parents with a steady income?

Those things don’t make sense to me, and that’s what I guess this year is about. Being forced into the shadows of injustices, and being made to ask yourself how I feel about the evils of the world.

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If you’d like to help me be able to keep asking these kinds of questions, and learning from them then I invite you to donate here. Also, if you’d like to support SFIWJ in what they’re doing then you are in luck because they are apart of Give Miami day tomorrow, and will be accepting donations here.

 

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Week 1: Welcome to Miami!

Hey folks! Surprisingly I’ve been writing a lot, and I’ve been meaning to post. I just edit way too much, second guess my writing, and write humongous posts. So to solve this I’ll be posting a blog a day/ every other day to show what I’ve done each week in bullet points, and putting it into different sections. I hope you enjoy it! I’ve got 9 or 10 weeks to post about so get your eyes ready!


August 31st to September 6th



Nature

(As Will Smith says)

  • South Beach and the eye-piercing white sand and beautifully blue ocean.

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(Our first time at south beach…. and it was immaculate.)

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(Quinten literally testing the waters!)


Art

  • Wynwood, and it’s awe-inspiring murals. The Wynwood district isn’t like anything else I’ve ever experienced, and to be honest… I am in love with it. This district has definitely brought Miami’s art score up in my books.

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(One of the massively huge amazing murals at Wynwood)


Food

  • The Food experience’s here are unlike anywhere else. Many times during this experience Natalie has said how “nothing has tasted bad”, which is undeniably a fact. I’ve dived into the world of Venezuelan, Cuban, and many other Spanish cultures cuisines, and to be honest I don’t want to be rescued if I drown in their deliciousness. Another super fascinating thing is that hearing all the different accents, and dialects being spoken when I go to these restaurants, which is something I had no idea about before I came to Miami. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I was at Doggy’s (so yummy!) eating Venezuelan food, and Michelle (our YAV Miami leader) pointed out the dialect of people around us, and how they differ from different Spanish-influenced cultures. Which I guess is a lot how the south talks as compared to the North. How fascinating fun, right?
  • One of the foods that has captured my heart would have to be the Pepito!, which is a street food in Venezuela. This thing is basically amazing, and truly a treat whenever I get a chance to devour it.

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(Peppitos! my first Miami love)

  • Coffee: Another thing we’ve grown to love is coffee here, which is crazy since no one of my housemates has ever drinking coffee on purpose. 
  • This drink is so amazing, and it only costs like 2 bucks, which is meant for 6 friends. It’s called Colada, which is a Cuban coffee, and will make you certainly feel energized. If you care about sleeping, or being a human being the next day then I recommend not to ingest this nectar of the gods.

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(Colada, the downfall of my sleep)


Culture Blending

  • One of my big goals of my YAV year in Miami is to adapt to the culture around me. A culture that was hopefully going to be foreign to me. Lucky for me that culture is quite prevalent in certain parts of Miami. The culture is the Hispanic culture. One of the big ways culture immersion happened the first week was whenever we went on our first stop in the church tour to the all Spanish First Presbyterian church, where I got my first experience of being in a mass setting where I had no idea what they were saying (Sorry Africa and Korea). This was quite something.

Through doing this; I noticed a couple of interesting things about the culture

  • they do the hug and kiss on the check thing, which was pretty nerve wracking at first, but now I’m basically a pro. It’s especially something when you’re 6 foot 5, and having to bend down, and cheek kiss a little old Spanish lady.
  • Small thimbles of coffee are served (shots) at lunch times, and pretty much everyone partakes.
  • It could have been just the church we went to, but they have little wafers with crosses on them, which I thought was pretty neato.

Wafer time!

(I don’t think I’ve ever seen this religiously adorable)

Here is the church:

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(First Presbyterian Spanish, Our first church!)

And here’s the whole group

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(Squad life)


Assimilating

All throughout this week I was thinking and asking myself “how will I really get to know Miami, and know what the locals do so I can get the really authentic experience?” The best answer I came up with was to go to a local barber shot, mingle with the locals, and hopefully learn what’s off the beaten path of what tourists would normally know about.

So I turned to my good friend Reddit, and went to the first one people recommend. It was this quaint little place right next to Wynwood, which after finding that out I knew I had to go there since I was wanting a hip cut. While there I popped the question of “What should I do?” to all the barbers, and people in there. “You do the same stuff you you do in every city” is the reply I got back. Laughter erupted, but outside of that joyous noise it hit me like a ton of bricks that realization that maybe activities that are done in each city are the same, and maybe there’s nothing really different in each city. It’s just a different place with different people.

Luckily though, after prodding some more, and letting them think some more they gave me some helpful tips. Some things like going to the Everglades, and checking out some local events like Wynwood Art Walk Hopefully though I’ll be able to see what really makes this city shine all on it’s own. I also got a haircut that would help combat all of this heat, and humidity:

Before, and after hair pics
(Bring it on Miami!)

I heard from a past YAV, Patrick, that one of his housemates during his year in Belfast didn’t cut his hair at all,  It would certainly save money, and contribute to simple living, which is a big part of our year of service. I guess only time will tell if I’ll be able to handle all of this extra heat and humidity in my life, and will eventually have to chop off my hair.


Side Notes

  • Another big thing we did this week was go to all of our different placements, which was super exciting! Everybody’s non-profit seemed pretty great, and I could really tell that they were doing some amazing good in the city. I had a place called MVP (Most Valuable Protégés, Quinten has a place called Gate,
  • We also got to experience all the different parts of the city. It reminds me a lot of NYC with all the different Burroughs they have up there (Brooklyn, The Bronx, and whatnot). There’s Coral Cables, and Coconut Grove for example.
  • Michelle introduced us to an amazing gelato place that actually serves there gelato in cones. I guess dreams really do come true, ehh?

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Gelato in delicious cones… who would have known!)

  • Upon moving to Miami meant the DOOR/YAV house has changed to a new area. It used to be in Little Haiti, but now we are in Little Havana! This means though that we have no internet. Did you read that right? No internet! So this has made us flock to the local library, and spend our internet time there.
  • We have also shown our Korean housemate the magic that is Will Ferrel in the highly acclaimed movies of Anchorman and Elf. I was a little worried that she would hate them because the humor can be kind of really dumb at times, but I think she kind of liked them.
  • As a house we also created a house covenant, and went on our first grocery trip together (nobody died, yay!).
  • We also got to conquer the public transport system for the first time. Michelle surprisingly sprung it on us that we would be using it to get home after our last day of group orientation. Luckily we pulled it off in the end though!

What an interesting first week it was. I really can’t wait to see what this vast culturally vibrant city has to offer!

Well, until next time WordPress!

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(Yeah, that’s right. That’s a Manatee warning sign.)

Six Weeks… A Recap

Miami Skies

(The sky, and clouds are unreal here at times)

(This song, and album has been some of the main music that has helped me through my YAV year. It reminds me of what the beach feels like, and what is like to drive around with the huge sky above. Hit play, and let it be the soundtrack to this blog).


Well hey there world, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

It’s officially been a month, and two weeks since I’ve started my life as a Y.A.V. in Miami. Things… have been interesting to say the least.

So far I’ve experienced so many things. It would be too many to name, but I’ll try my best.

To start it off let me tell you about the food in Miami. Whenever they say Miami is one of the most culturally diverse places in the U.S. they aren’t lying, and you can definitely tell with all the food options this place has to offer. There are so many flavors here that it’s unreal at times.

For instance; so far I’ve had the pleasure of tasting:

  • Cuban Food
  • Cuban Coffe (Colada!)
  • Venezuelan Food (Pepiitos!)

Pepitos!

(Pepitos, a Venezuelan street food dish, which we’ve fallen head over heels for)

  • Haitian Food
  • Argentinean food

There are still so many things to try though like Puerto Rican, and Brazilian food. I’m really excited to dive into all these different cuisines because pretty much everything I’ve eaten has been super tasty.


Another thing that I’ve been doing a lot is going on a church tour every Sunday of all different kinds of churches the Miami area. We’ve done this for the past 6 weeks, and it’s been really fascinating just to see how all these different denominations do their worship. We’ve (YAV house and our site coordinator Michelle) experienced pretty much everything under the ginormous Christianity-denomination umbrella. For instance the first weekend here we went to an all-Spanish speaking Presbyterian church, and then last weekend we went to a Lutheran Church.

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(The all-Spanish church service where I understood everything 100%.. and it just so happened to have been opposite day as well)

This has been a little tiring, but it really makes one think about what they want out of a church community, and service.


Another part of my YAV experience has been Community Day Fridays. On these days I’ve gotten to learn about crucially important things affecting the world. I’ve also got to volunteer at some pretty rad non-profits.

The things I’ve done regarding that:

  • Worshiped at a catholic soup kitchen, and then helped them feed the homeless afterwards.

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(A statue of the Virgin Mary outside of the soup kitchen. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but at least I got this!)

  • Learned about gentrification, and watch a video that talks about Wynwood, which is a super hip up-and-coming part of Miami (here’s the video if you want to watch:https://vimeo.com/110682099).
  • We went to Easter Seals, which is a place that helps people with many different mental disabilities. While we there we helped with the part of it that deals with people with Alzheimers, and different levels of Dementia.

Now I bet you’re wondering what have I been doing while in Miami. When I came here I actually already knew what I would be doing, which was nice since at orientation a lot of the YAVs I talked to didn’t know what they would be doing. Since then though some things have transpired which have led me to not being associated with that non-profit anymore. I didn’t get fired or anything. It’s just that some things happened, and now I’m waiting for the next placement. Because of this I have had the opportunity to volunteer at a lovely non-profit called Branches, which is basically an after school program where I help kids with homework.

Besides that I’ve also gotten the chance to help DOOR with their Discover groups (a part of DOOR where they have groups come in for week long mission trips) like last week. During this time I was an assistant to my site coordinator Michelle, and helped her out with various things. I also got to go back to Easter Seals, which was kind of a heartbreaking experience since the people I met last time has no idea who I was even though we had like a two hour conversation, but more of that some other time!


Since this post is already getting kind of huge I’ll stop right now, but I’m going try my best to upload more so please stay tuned.  I’ll leave you though with this

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Thanks for reading, and until next time have a great day!


P.S. If you’d like to donate to my Y.A.V. year then there is a nifty little donate section on my blog up top!
There you will find all the info on how to make a contribution! Thank you very much if you decide to do this. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.

Marinating on Orientation

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(Night Worship at one of the last nights at Stony Point.)

So the next couple of posts are ones I’ve been waiting to put up here, but haven’t had a chance yet since I’ve been waiting for my house to get Internet/ overanalyzing what I write and making a bagilion different versions. So enjoy the ride down memory lane while I post my reflections from the past couple of weeks!


So here I am. Three weeks in. A bit settled in, but yet a tad bit restless still. Still trying to gather the shards of my thoughts after they were broken at Orientation.

Orientation was something else. I met so many unbelievably amazing people, and gave me faith in so many things. Lessons were taught where I not only learned things about the world around me, but also deep things about myself (like my love language might just be words). Games were played (Bunny, Bunny, and KanJam- Jam that Kan!). Stories were told that were unbelievable to hear, and that really reminded oneself to not judge a book by it’s cover.

The way the week was scheduled out was a mix of different lectures, and activities. These focused greatly on tearing down walls that we’ve created, opening our minds to new ideas, learning about different cultures and faiths, and really digging into the core fabric of who we really are as people and what we truly believe. We also got to hear a lot from previous YAVs of how privilege, and worldviews were challenged, and changed.

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(One of the slides from some of our intense classes that gave us a different kind of perspective.)

Needless to say… it was intense. There were many days where all I wanted to do was play KanJam with my new crazy friends, and just lay on the green grass. I knew though that this information would be crucial to my upcoming year.

One of the most valuable things I learned from this besides the social justice issues was that it isn’t an unusual thing for someone to feel a little lost at this age for there were a lot of people who still hadn’t figured out what path they should be going down. It’s something that rings a little true to home, and kind of made me feel a tad bit more connected now that I knew that I wasn’t entirely alone.

Knowing that fact has made me even more excited about this year. In knowing that maybe through the work with all of these various non-profits that I can finally find a path that I wouldn’t mind taking a stroll down once I complete the YAV program, and maybe, just maybe the YAV’s motto of “A year of service for a lifetime of change” might just ring even truer in my life than I could ever have fathomed.


While down in Miami I’ll have a hectic busy year, but there might be some down time. With the fact that I don’t have cable I’ll probably have a lot more free time as well so I’m thinking about what are some skills/ useless talents I should gain with all of this newly gathered time that isn’t being preoccupied by T.V..

So my question is… what would you learn if you had all of this time?

An Introduction

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(About 3 A.M., and about to head to the front of Stony Point to hop on the shuttle to take me to the Airport)


So… hello world!

My name is Patrick Michael Quiring the First, and this is my blog about my experiences while serving down in Miami, Florida for a year through Y.A.V. YAV stands for Young Adult Volunteer, and it is done through the Presbyterian Church (USA). This will be used to document my year as a way of reflection, and to one-day look back on it with fond eyes as my memory might fade with the uninvited assistance of Father Time.

A little back story on me for people who have found this blog through DOOR, Ask Jeeves, YAV, Google, or any other way:

I hail from the glorious state known as Oklahoma where I’ve lived 98% of my life, and graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma (Put cho Hooves up!) this past May with a degree in Interdisciplinary studies, and a minor in Psychology. I love music, going to concerts, eating Chipotle, traveling, non-profits, photography, the creative arts, experiencing life, and many more things.

The YAV program I will be participating in will be an interesting journey. I’ve known many YAVs and my amazing brother was even one in Kenya back in 2008 (Hey RTQ!). Through that I’ve been told that everybody’s experience is different so I’m excited to see where this will lead me.

One of the main things I’m excited about is simple living, which is basically me, living on a much simpler budget than I’m used to. It also applies to how I will be living with a different mindset from back home. There’s also no dishwasher or garbage disposal so that should be fun. This shall be very interesting since I’ve never had to really live the way that I will be living this year.

If you were also wondering about what the YAV program in Miami is like then please check it out here!

So sit back, enjoy the ride, and please live vicariously through my tales!


Also, a part of the YAV program is that I have to raise 3,000 dollars by January 1st. I’ve raised some funds, but not the total amount. If you would like to donate to my cause then there are many ways you can do that.

The first option is that you can go here, and once there scroll a little ways down until you see the teal “donation” and “recurring donation” button. If you choose this option then please just make sure that you type in “Patrick Quiring- Miami, Florida” on it in the Donation Designation box.

The second option is to send in a physical check. To do that just send it in to the national DOOR office here: 430 W 9th Ave, Denver CO 80204

You can also make a personal check out to me if you’d like, and mail it my way. If you’d like the address then please feel free to E-mail me at pmquiring@gmail.com

If you have any questions then please donate hesitate to ask!

Also, if you’re wondering why it’s not the YAV site you are being directed to it’s because YAV and DOOR have partnered up to provide services to the community they’re in.

Thank you to anybody who donates. I am forever grateful, and it means the world to me.


Thank you for venturing through my site!

Here is a little photo taken by my fantastic work site coordinator of my amazing housemates who I get to experience, and share this year with. My lovely housemates are Natalie from North Carolina, Shinhye from South Korea, and Qunten from Colorado just so you know who I am talking about in future posts. It’s taken in the Wynwood Art District, which is a phenomenal spot in Miami that has many beautiful murals.

Lastly, if you have any questions, or want to know more about anything then please don’t be afraid to contact me through here, Facebook, Twitter, or E-mail (pmquiring@gmail.com)!

Until next time!