Shelter from the Storm
Welcome to the first post in the new What's Up Arlington! blog. You may be asking -"why blog?". Good question. I asked myself the same thing. I'm fairly new to the whole blog thing. I read "The Blog Log" in the Washington Post Express and I periodically check to see what is on DCist, and Rides in the City (I think that's considered a blog) but that's about it.
I publish the What's Up Arlington! e-newsletter every two weeks with suggestions for fun things to do in Arlington. But I felt like What's Up Arlington! needed a more personal voice. It needed someone saying, "yes, I really did do this, and yes it really is fun." Or, if it turns out not so fun, then to say that too. And to give you a chance to comment as well. So, that's what this blog is for.
So, you may have wondered if I actually do the things that are in What's Up Arlington!. The answer - yes, well sometimes, OK, not as much as I would like. I've got all the same excuses you've got for not going - I'm busy, I wont' know anybody there, it's not a convenient time/place, I can't miss Lost, etc. Some of these are legitimate reasons, I'll give you. But some are not. So, I for one, am going to change those excuses and I'm going to let you know how it goes.
In the last edition of What's Up Arlington! I highlighted an event at the library called Shelter from the Storm: The Experience of New Arrivals in Arlington. So this past Wednesday, I headed over to Central Library (which by the way has ample parking and is metro accessible) for this conversation.
Attendance was good. I'd say there were 40-50 people there. The audience was probably more baby boomer than Gen X and Y, but there was a wide variety, and a lot of diversity. The panel consisted of a gentleman who was forced to flee Sudan for policial reasons, a lady from Malaysia who initially came to the U.S. to study, and a gentleman from New Orelans who lost everything as a result of Katrina. In addition, two audience members stood up during the presentation to tell their own stories including one lady who fled Bosnia during the recent civil war.
Sometimes I think we hear these types of stories so often that we become numb to the personal nature of them. I think this is especially true in the Arlington and the D.C. area. We're educated, we're diverse, we care about social issues. And in our own self-assurance that we know these things, we forget the personal nature. We forget that these people are real - that their experiences and their struggles are real.
During this presentation I was struck by the courage of the individuals on stage. I was struck by what they had been through and yet what they were conquering. It may sound corny and cliche-ish, but I was struck by how lucky I am to live the life I have lived.
I left the presentation having no doubt that my evening was well spent, that I had learned, was changed, even if only in a small way. It would have been easy for me to say I was busy, that I needed to work late, or to have some other excuse. But I didn't, and I am better off for it. (Oh, and I still got home in time for Lost).
Both Arlington Libraries and Parks & Recreation have a lot of programs such as this - programs that ultimately make you a better person - that may be through health & fitness, nature, cultural awareness, or social connections. I encourage you, when you see something that sounds interesting, check it out. You may be glad you did -- and when you do, please let me know what you thought.
In this week's edition of What's Up Arlington! you'll see another library event - cross-cultural cinema. This film tackles race relations in Mississippi, and should provide for a thought-provoking evening. Why not check it out? Bring a date or go on your own. And when you're there, look for the 6'2" skinny white guy. I'll be there.