Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-burnt December 22, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:11 pm
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She’s fuchsia

purple

royal blue.

She’s wine,

emerald,

turquoise.

Everyone knows it.

But you gift burnt orange

despite having heard years

of disgusted mutterings

about orange and yellow and olive

from childhood.

Burnt orange.

Burnt.

Orange.

She ponders

Surely there is a message here?

and wonders whether you would be offended

if she dyes your gift

more than she’s offended

by burnt orange.

 

 

 

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club obligations and privileges October 6, 2012

Filed under: Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:10 pm
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I was just writing a note to a person on an exchange student forum, and I thought I would share my thoughts with you.  We were discussing how some areas of the world don’t understand the purpose of Rotary Youth Exchange, and therefore, don’t do anything to support the student.

Year after year our club has fantastic, interesting, and delightful exchange students.  How do I know?  Because we integrate our students into our club and get to know them.  Students chosen for this program tend to be talented, fascinating kids who are travelling to broaden their experiences and to prepare to make a difference in the world.  We send fantastic kids abroad to share them with another part of the world.  I am sad when I hear about clubs who miss the opportunity to know the amazing kids that they have under their noses, so here is my advice to Rotary Clubs all over the world, prefaced by my core belief that when a club agrees to host a student, EACH member of the club has an obligation to that student.

Each member of the club should make an effort to,

1. make them welcome to the country, city, and club

get to know who they are,  greet them on the street, and  invite them to attend club meetings, projects, and events, and personal activities.

2. include them in club activities

that means when  exchange students are at a club event, you integrate them by having them sit with members, you speak to them, you encourage them to participate in the program somehow.  Listen.

3. show interest in them, their experience, their home country  

Ask them about their hobbies and interests, and how things are similar and different in their home area.  Your way isn’t the only way.  Your students have experiences to share with you, just like you have experiences to share with them.  Listen.

4. welcome them into your home and family activities if you can.  

Even if you are not able to host a student in your home, you can include them into your activities.  When you know your students’ hobbies and interests, you can more easily identify opportunities to include them.  The student likes sports?  You can invite them to a local game- even free ones played by your grandkids.  Your student plays an instrument?  You can invite them to attend a recital or concert.  Your student loves history?  Take them to a local site you know well.  If you know what your student hasn’t experienced, you can invite them along on simple family events.  One of my more memorable experiences in Finland was foraging for mushrooms in the woods with a family!

5. share in their local experiences.

Consider yourselves the students’ family.  If they are participating in a concert, a sporting match, or speeches, go along to cheer and celebrate.

These inclusions are fantastic for everyone involved.  Your club learns more about the world, and more about your country by seeing it through the eyes of another perspective.  You will improve your club’s experience with your students, and your students will have a more memorable, and more valuable exchange year by having the opportunity to know you all.  You will feel blessed by experience.

Don’t waste your exchange students.  Celebrate them!

 

charity and obligation May 1, 2012

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:29 pm
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There are some things that we do because we want to, and just the doing of those things is a pleasure in itself.  We don’t expect recognition, or seek it, and that is quite okay.

Sometimes we have to do things that we’d rather not do, and the only value in those activities is the recognition that it brings.  When you don’t like shovelling manure, you want to get paid for having a ‘crappy’ job!  I don’t mean those days when the scent of manure makes you euphorically pastoral.  I mean the days when it’s a miserable drudge, and you don’t want to do it.  You do what you have to do, and you gather your pay cheque, and use that money to buy something you need or you want.  You sacrifice a little something for the filthy lucre.

Sometimes your sacrifice is your time.  Sometimes your investment is emotional.  Sometimes you go out of your way to help someone when you’d rather be doing your own thing.  You may feel obligated to help out due to friendship or family commitments.  You ‘lend’ a friend or family member $500 knowing  full well that you’ll never see it again.  You make a sacrifice on their behalf, and it’s fine.  You do what you have to do.  It’s not out of line to expect to hear a simple, “Thank you.”  Not marching bands or ticker tape parades, just a simple, “I appreciate your effort.”  It’s nice to have someone recognise that you have helped them out at some personal cost.

I’m staring at my 20 year old couches at the moment, swathed in their dog safe covers, and I’m feeling quite grumpy that I don’t have the replacement ones that I’d been visiting at ScanDesign for 4 years.  I dreamed about them.  They were $10,000.  I visited them a lot, but they were well out of the budget, due to the expenses of the household.  The couches have been discontinued, and so I’ll never be able to get them now.  If I had not been making sacrifices on behalf of someone else, I could have had my couches.  It makes me see sad to realise that I sacrificed my fantastic leather, fully reclining, gorgeous eKornes couches for someone who has turned out to be completely unworthy.

It makes me so upset that I have wasted my efforts for years being helpful and supportive to someone who plainly needed to learn about sacrifice and independence the hard way.  Sometimes when we try to ease someone’s path, we deprive them of experience they need to appreciate the value of their own efforts, and to be appreciative of help when it comes.  I regret this person’s ignorance and attitude, while I mourn the loss of opportunity that I could have given someone who would have appreciated it more (like my dogs or myself).

I confess to being more than a little concerned, because once this person was respectful, kind, considerate, and responsible.    Things change apparently.  I know better, now.  I won’t be offering support any longer.  I’ll cut my losses and I’ll invest where the return is better.

 

 
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