Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Friend Sets an Example

The Kitchen Dispatch Blog


Some have said that life in the first decade of the 21st century can take the quote from the classic Charles Dickens book, A Tale of Two Cities; "We live in the best of times and in the worst of times," and make it the mantra that describes our world today. In reflecting on world history, I would contend that it is true of the first part of that quote, "We live in the best of times." The positive changes for most of humanity since the end of the Cold War can be measured with the number of people worldwide who have moved from desperate poverty to gain a foothold on becoming middle-class in their own environs.

Technology designed for conflict has lent itself to connecting people as never before, and led to social and political transparency that makes it possible to be friends and have conversations between the most far-flung locations. This long introduction sets the stage to introduce a blog that I recently added to my favorite list. It is written by a women who after getting to know her appears to be a one person dynamo, who has taken on the challenge of raising a family, after her husband a successful surgeon for twenty odd years, joined the Army Medical Corp and after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, is taking care of soldiers at an army post stateside. In addition my new friend, took on the job of helping publicize the recent acclaimed documentary Restrepo. She also writes an excellent blog The Kitchen Dispatch where she hold forth wise commentary about moving from a surgeon's wife to an Army surgeon's wife and how it has transformed her writer's life. Kanani Fong is not only walking the walk, when she writes about getting involved. She recently stepped up to lead a writers workshop at a local Boys and Girls Teen Center in her community, where she is introducing young people to the joys of writing. She wrote this about her first day back on what she termed "terra firma."

4:00 came around, I braved the outdoor area where the teens were having a snack. I felt awkward and conspicuous.

Approaching a group of 14-17 year olds is always a dicey affair. One doesn't want to appear eager, look matronly , or even more disturbing --come across like an aging hipster. Teens can sniff out a phony in a second. After inquiring whether they were going to join me, several already knew today was the day. A migration started from the picnic tables to the classroom.

Kanani goes on to encourage the students and then explains her approach.
The purpose of the workshop is to introduce them to writing for the fun of it. I think school has a tendency to drill into people what is wrong and what is right. After enough red marks, the students start to give up. The problem is that while teachers are willing to put down a host of rules, they're usually unwilling to admit that every writer has broken them. And so the whole experience for the student becomes whether or not they will pass or fail. Writing becomes just another damned thing they have to do, and usually, they end up hating it. While I will agree that there are ways to communicate more effectively, if someone isn't enjoying the experience, they will never gain the confidence to do it well.

Take the time to visit Kanani's kitchen and not only enjoy reading about how she got these young people to feel the rythem or writing, then bookmark her link and visit her kitchen often.
The Gratitude Post: Feeling like a Teen in the Creative Landscape. Back on Terra Firma

This leads me to reflect on what Kanani wrote about how schools teach and how it might contribute to students giving up. I came across a book review at which reviews Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It's Good for Everyone by  Richard Settersten and Barbara Ray.

The gist of the review is that.
Most twenty-somethings, however, are “treaders”, who simply replicate the lessons of their poorer, less stable, non-voting and hands-off parents, but to worse effect. The authors argue that when young adults invest in themselves and their careers before taking on the baggage of marriage, children and a job to pay the bills, they are equipped to make better choices down the road, for themselves and as citizens. Having a child too early can be one of the costliest barriers to advancement, whereas postponing nuptials until careers are in place leads to lower divorce rates.
“Not Quite Adults” offers a valuable portrait of the diverging destinies of young people today. In a country that prizes self- reliance and private solutions for social problems, more young adults are doomed to sink. Regardless of where one assigns blame, when nearly two-thirds of the next generation is struggling to find “a secure foothold in the middle class”, everyone ends up paying the price.
Even more troubling is what brought us to the point that such a large number of Americans are not equipped to assume their place in making a productive society. Regardless what the authors see that this is a good thing, I question the long term effects of having such a large precentage of the population treading water, with no plans in effect to learn how to swim. I can't comment on the thesis of the book, but am only reacting to the thread of thought expoused by the review.

Read more:
Left Out in the Rain

1 comment:

Kanani said...

Thank you! I write, not really knowing if anyone is reading what I write. Blogging is so much fun, it's opened up my life considerably. I think it's the primary way writers stay in touch with one another these days. Rare are the days of writing salons (I used to run one), and plentiful jobs at newspapers or magazines. The blogosphere has really served as a basis of operation for most writers, these days.

I was the military outreach coordinator, hired by the contracted PR company for National Geographic Entertainment. Turns out, the PR, Marketing, Social Networking and Distribution team amounted to probably less than twenty. It was small, and I give then all a lot of credit for letting me run with the ball in the way I saw fit. Which was to contact something like 354 military support organizations, blogs, and individuals prior to the screenings. It was a great job, the most fun I had all year working. I'm just so pleased it moved so many people.

As for the treading water crew --I'm in the midst of it right now. And I have to say, my generation and the one below me are to blame. The constant complaints of "everything costs so much," coupled with people providing (I think) a ridiculous amount of material comfort for their children has given everyone a sense of what I'll call "comfort paralysis."

At some point, everyone has to go out on their own, either by choice or by force. Hopefully, choice prevails.