Healing Among the Clouds

You meet him at a presentation. Your eyes move from the speaker to the left hand side of the room. Your friend taps your shoulder to pay attention, but soon realizes who your looking at and gives you a smile. When the speaker is done, you excuse yourself to run to the bathroom and make sure your makeup is still good. You’re happy that today, unlike most days, you put in an effort. You come back to your friend, only to find that she had moved from your table to his. She weaves you over and you smile.

He’s sitting with three of his friends and you grab a seat beside him. He’s shy and although you keep making eye contact, it’s you who speaks to him first. He asks question, his friends ask questions, but you only pay attention to him. The evening is getting late, but you make sure to get his contact before goodbyes are said. This one feels different.

He calls you. You call him. You do not particularly like talking on the phone, but wth him the conversation never feels long enough.  Your head spins the first time he kisses you and you could barely walk to your car.

You promise yourself you would not fall, but you do. Life feels more vibrant, now that he’s in it. Everything about him was contiguous; from his warmth to his half-smirks to his sarcastic humor.

Although you knew it was long time coming, you do your best not to break down when it all ends. You lay on your couch and try to comfort yourself with the good memories you had with him, but then you realize he would never gently reach across your waist or back and comfort you. He would never make you laugh. You would never talk about life in all its twisted ways until the sun goes down. So, you softly cry yourself to sleep.

You wake up the next day and catch a flight. Your wanderlust heart finds healing on the mountains and alongside elephants. You realize that even if he had chosen you, you would not have chose him years down the road. You have chosen a life of freedom and adventure and him, a conventional life of comfort and routine. You always choose travel. You are thankful for the lessons, the memories and your powerful heart that always finds healing among the clouds.

~ A.M.

 

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Dating As South Sudanese in North America

To echo my fellow South Sudanese female friends, dating just seems so darn difficult. And a lot more difficult when it comes to dating in our South Sudanese communities. Is it just me and my friends or does anyone else feel the same way? What is it about movies and TV shows that makes relationships on the screen seem effortless and well, absolutely wonderful? Whatever the secret is, I feel like I need an in.

Personally, I’ve not dated a lot of South Sudanese men and I think that’s what frustrates me the most. I’ve went through a series of short term relationships of various significances with men of diverse backgrounds. However, every time I’ve taken a liking to a South Sudanese man, it’s always been different. I’ve often felt a sense of connection with them that I haven’t been able to feel in my other relationships. I’ve asked myself time and time again why this is. It cannot just be because were from the same country, look alike and speak the same language. Because the thing is, I’ve had far more in common with men who were not South Sudanese. And yet, I’ve felt stronger connections with South Sudanese men. And yet, the shortest relationships or interests have been with South Sudanese men. It’s not for a lack of trying, I honestly do not get it! Perhaps the problem is with me, but I don’t think so.

Has anyone noticed that people, especially young adults, in our South Sudanese communities do not date? And if they do, the relationships are often not long term committed relationships that end up in a strong, loving and everlasting marriage. Maybe this is only specific to my community here in Winnipeg, but i don’t believe that. I’ve seen tons of broken relationships, including my step-mother and father marriage, and far too many single moms. Why is that?

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I want a fairy tale love story. I know, TV shows and movies are not a true account of real life love because it does not showcase the challenges and work it takes to make a relationships work. However, I don’t think it’s stupid to want an epic love story that lasts all the days of your life. I want to raise children in a loving and caring home with parents that are committed to each other. The more I date and talk to South Sudanese men, the more I lose faith that my partner will be South Sudanese. Why? Because I want a committed and loving relationship and I think this is something we struggle with as South Sudanese living in North America.

Perhaps it’s because we come from a culture where men don’t have to commit to one wife and can marry as many as they can financially afford. Perhaps it because we’re a group of refugees trying to navigate life in a strange and new land. Perhaps it’s because we’ve lost our identity as South Sudanese and are trying to find our place. Perhaps, as refugees, we’ve experienced psychological trauma that prevents us from starting and maintain loving and healthy long term relationships. Personally, I think it’s a combination of all these and more. And if this is the case, what do we do? Where do we go from here?

I do not have all the answers and I write this because I want to start a dialogue. Please share your thoughts on the comments below, I would love to hear from you. I thoroughly hope that this blog post does not offend anyone and if it does, I apologize. Please know that I’m coming at this from my own personal and biased experiences. I also realize that I’m generalizing and that exceptions do exist. I want to hear what your experiences have been like in your South Sudanese Communities so please leave a comment below.

21 Things L’Arche Has Taught Me

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As some of you guys may already know, i have been spending the past year living in L’arche Winnipeg as an assistant. L’Arche, to say the least, has been such a remarkable year of laugher, tears, memories, growth, friendships, and mistakes. I have learned about myself as an individual and also in the context of a team. I have laughed until i literally peed my pants and i have also shut myself in the bathroom to cry. I have made life long friendships and i have also had by heart broken. Despite all of this, would i live L’arche all over again? absolutely! In just over a week, i will be saying goodbye to L’Arche  Winnipeg as a live in assistant and to mark such a transition, i decided to share with you guys 21 things that i have learned this past year.

  1. Perspective check is key when resolving conflict. Half of our conflicts result from misunderstanding and failing to seek understanding.
  2. Earplugs are essential when living with nine other people. Beauty sleep people, beauty sleep
  3. Being a servant is not just serving others, but also allowing others to serve you
  4. People with developmental disability, just like us, have strengths and weakness. They may need our help, but it is very important that we are open to receive their help too
  5. Smile. Always. And Often.
  6. God’s ability to unconditionally love His children is mind-blowing. Now if only i could learn to do the same.
  7. Laugh. A lot. Until you Pee your pants. And continue to laugh.
  8. Living in Joy is an important element in building a strong community
  9. Be stupid. Be Crazy. And have Fun doing so.
  10. It’s okay to make mistakes. Just try again.
  11. First impressions do not always hold true. Be open and allow people to surprise you.
  12. It’s wonderful to be part of something greater than yourself
  13. Have grace for yourself and those around you.
  14. Breath when things get hurt. Or scream in the car with your windows up. Whatever you need.
  15. The bathroom is the best place to go when you need a moment. Or two.
  16. It’s possible as a 21 year old to become best friends with people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Age is just a number.
  17. It’s also possible to become best friends with people wth developmental disabilities. Their people; just like us. There is no us and them.
  18. A leadership team works well when everyones gift is not only acknowledge, but also utilized.
  19. Living with people with varying personalities, perspectives, religions, and culture  is REALLY hard. But also REALLY fun
  20. People with developmentally disabilities thrive best when their a part of a community. In fact, humans in generally thrive best when their a part of a community.
  21. Compromise and flexibility is key to community living.

 

Quebec, Canada

At L’Arche Winnipeg, we get what they call statutory  holidays which we have to use before our year ends. Before i came to work at L’arche as a live-in assistant for individuals with developmental disabilities, i had spend a year road-triping across Canada and then lived in Guatemala for three months. The past year that i’ve spend in L’arche has been a different type of excitement. Since i’m living and working in my own city, there has not been a whole lot of adventure in the travel department. My travel bug was biting, and i knew that i wanted to travel somewhere for my holidays. A friend of mine was going to Montreal and so i decided to join him. Travelling all of Canada is on my bucket list and i have yet to go to Quebec, and so i thought to myself; “what better time is there than the present?” My friend and i spend a week in a L’arche community in Montreal. We eventually parted ways and i went off to Quebec City to couchsurf (a different post on that topic). In the mean time, here are some pictures from Montreal.

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You should of seen me; i was going crazy over the street arts in Montreal!
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A trip to Montreal is not complete without a trip to the beautiful Notre Dame #breathtakinglybeautiful
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The famous casino; it’s so beautiful at night. The picture just does not do any justice!
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And the Cafes; so much character
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For those of you who know me; you know the i love colour. And the colour house and doors did not disappoint!