How to talk to us post BayUP

We have finished our time at our sites, and are starting debrief tomorrow. Here is a document our director prepared to help friends and family know how to interact with people after BayUP:

Dear Friend/Family of a BayUPer,

Thanks so much for partnering with your friend as they participated in BayUP this summer.

I wanted to offer some suggestions to you to help your friend transition back to their lives at
home and school. You may be surprised to know that the transition home is often harder than
the transition to the new culture of the city. This is because students often come back and
have trouble communicating what they learned and experienced. Sometimes they have a hard
time finding people to listen to their stories. Sometimes they are overwhelmed by the relative
material wealth they return to their lives compared to the poverty that they saw in the middle of
Oakland.

As their friend, it is good for you to be aware that the transition home can at times be difficult.
This can help you set appropriate expectations for your friendship in the first few months after
they have returned home. And there are some ways that you can help your friend make the
transition back home:

1. Talk to your friend before they return. What would they like their first week to be like
when they get home (they may not know for sure, but talking about it doesn’t hurt!).

2. If you are picking them up from the project, remember that they are coming off of an
intense summer emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. THEY ARE TIRED.
They may not be up for an immediate welcome home party, or all the relatives to
descend on the house, or dinner out. Most likely they will want a shower and some
sleep. Ask them what they would prefer. They will appreciate your warm welcome.

3. If you are not meeting them at the airport or picking them up, a card waiting for them at
home or a phone call the day after their return is a great way to let them know you are
glad they are home.

4. The thing your friend will most need from you is your listening ear! They want
to tell the story of their summer, but often find it hard to know where to begin. The
question “How was your summer?” can be hard to answer because it is such a broad
question. Asking LOTS of specific questions is the best way to find out what the
summer was like. Here are some examples:

  • What was a typical day like?
  • What was your favorite thing about your summer experience?
  • What was the hardest thing about your summer experience?
  • What was the thing that was most interesting to you about the culture you were in?
  • What is different about how people relate to each other here compared to the culture you were in this summer?
  • What was the funniest or most embarrassing thing that happened to you.
  • What was the food like? What did you enjoy? Dislike?
  • What was your team like? Who were the people you were closest too?
  • How were your expectations about your summer met or not met?
  • What did you learn about yourself? About others? About God?
  •  What are some ways you want to apply what you learned now that you are home?
  •  How does it feel to be home? What did you most miss about home?
  • What do you miss about your summer culture now that you are home?

5. You don’t have to ask all these questions at once! Consider having a couple of
extended times (at least) with your friend where you ask questions about the summer.
Maybe once shortly after their return, then again when the pictures are developed (if
they are not already on a digital camera!)

6. Periodically ask how they are thinking and feeling about their summer and how they are
applying what they have learned throughout the fall semester.

7. Some other fun things you could consider:

If your friend learned to prepare any traditional food from their summer culture,
have a night where they make dinner (or at least one dish!) for you.
Look through whatever souvenirs your friend returned with and ask questions
about them: were they given as a gift? by whom? what was that relationship
like? If it wasn’t’ a gift, what prompted them to buy this particular souvenir?
Invite other friends of yours and your BAyUP friend to hear about the summer.
Consider hosting a little dessert and let your friend tell his or her story and show
some pictures to a group of people.

8. It is ok to remind your friend that you had a summer too! Life in your world did not stop
just because they were on a summer project. Tell them about your summer . . .

9. Your friend may seem weird or respond to situations differently than they did before
they left. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the changes you notice. Let them
know you want to care for them while at the same time giving them the freedom to
change and grow.

1. Help them to re-engage with their friends on campus and their responsibilities in classes
and with InterVarsity by helping them brainstorm ways to integrate their summer
experience into what they are doing now.

10. Most of all, continue to pray for and with your friend. Encourage them to take time for
reflection and to be with Jesus.

The most important thing is just to be patient and ask a lot of questions. Returning home is
often as much a part of the growth process as the summer at BAyUP. I believe the Lord is
using all of these experiences to make your friend more like Him. Thanks again for blessing
your BAyUP friend with your prayers, support and encouragement. May you also be blessed.

Sincerely,

Yu-Shuan Tarango-Sho
BayUP Director

Visitors Day

Thanks to all of you who came to visit us last Saturday! It was super encouraging to see so many friends and family and get to share our lives with you. Both OBUGS and People’s Grocery made video slideshows, which I will attempt to post soon :).

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Life at BayUP: By Allison

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The Chinese + Megan

DISCLAIMER from Mindy (hitherto known as Mindster): I did not endorse anything Allison says about me :)

Hellooooooo friends and friends of friends. On Monday, July 2nd, we learned about education. We watched this documentary, “Waiting for Superman”. In the documentary, there was a scene where it showed elementary school kids crying because they were waiting for their names to be called to get into a charter school. They were so passionate about education and they knew how important and valuable education was. I feel stupid for not realizing that before when I was a kid. Seeing the kids’ futures in the hands of the caller made me realize that I took my education for granted. I am ashamed now to say that I did not care about school. I hope that kids realize how important education is.

I don’t want to be a teacher or work with kids, although I do like kids, but not as much as Mindster (Mindy). But spending the whole day learning about education, I think kids need to be truly loved and cared for. The interactions I make with kids make a difference. So that’s why I need to be nice to kids, not that I’m not nice to kids, because kids love me.  Which leads me to my next story hehe.

Kids at OBUGS are funny because they say whatever. They say WHATEVER is on their minds. One African American 5 year old girl named Markaela said to me “Ni hao ka lan. I speak your language”. And I was like “………..”. And then at the end of the day, all the kids were lining up and had to hold hands with each other. And I was across the garden from the kids and all of a sudden I hear Markaela’s confident and sassy voice saying “I want the Asian one in the back. NI HAO.” And all the adults were silent, but LOL-ing fa reals in the inside. And today, I had several comments, such as, “Are you a boy or are you a girl?” And then one boy said, “You look like a boy and you sound like a boy.” Well…….kids will be kids. But I have to remember that I have to show them kids love, which I hope I do.

Last Friday, me, Mindster, and Molly helped out the garden man, Maurice. This garden man, Maurice– half German, half African American, tall dark and handsome– took mindster and Elise and molly’s breath away. I however, find him fatherly, because his 4 year old daughter was with us all day. It was a good day. The 4 year old girl, Maia, loves me………way more than mindster. It was a good day. She said I was the most beautiful woman in the world and she + Maurice liked the way I dress (HAHA to all you who made fun of my style and wanted to send me to what not to wear!). the most memorable quotes Maia said were, “Are you from Chinese?” and “I like your hair. I like your necklace. But I don’t like your voice.” And then the kind, fatherly Maurice said that he liked my voice teeeeheeeheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. The mindster is jealous!

 Saturday was another program day about immigration. I thought about my family because they immigrated from Hong Kong. I thought about how hard it was for my family living in America where there was a language barrier, discrimination, and stupid laws about immigrants.

Monday was another program day about criminal justice. Shockingly, I am inspired to get involved into politics. OMG I never thought the day would come when I would even be interested in the news and politics. But I am inspired because the criminal justice system and laws about immigration are so unjust that I want to find out more about the systems and get involved. I hope this fire does not burn down in me. I am a bit inspired to register to vote for stuff (OMG, again, I never thought the day would come) because I realize that voting makes a difference. I know how stupid I sound realizing that now. But please don’t call me stupid when I come back from BayUp.

My housemates and I have been running Lake Merritt. It’s been good and calming. So we ran today, and at night, me mindster, elise, and megan went to Circuit training at Regeneration Church. Might I say, the most intense, deathly work out ever made in the whole universe. I’m probably exaggerating, but mindster and elise would think otherwise. My eyes are so tired right now because sweat continuously dripped in my eyes. And so far on Friday nights, we go to Jack London Square and dance the night away under the stars with erryone in BayUp <3 <3 <3

This weekend we switched up roommates and cooking teams. I call my room “the Chinese room”, because that is me and michelle’s room. I call my cooking team “the Chinese + megan” because it is me, michelle, peter, and megan. BTW the rooms and cooking teams were completely random, not according to people’s races. 

Abundance in Simplicity: by Molly

Hello friends & friends-to-be!

I hope you’re all having a lovely July! I’m really excited to share with you a little of what I’m experiencing at BayUP. Despite the fact that we are attempting to simplify our lives by living on a tight budget and fasting from media, the predominant theme from my experience so far has been Abundance. Each and every day our household sees God’s grace and goodness in myriad ways, one of which is through food. Groups such as OBUGs and People’s Grocery are founded on a principle of giving back to the community, and that generosity spills over into everything they’re involved with, including our BayUP team. Thus, we are routinely blessed with treats from the garden to supplement our meals, delicacies such as collard greens, Swiss chard, basil, chives, garlic, strawberries, chili peppers, mint, lemon verbena, lavender, carrots, potatoes, and zucchini. Our household also benefits from the incredible kindness of the church we’re attending this summer, New Hope Covenant Church. The first Sunday after we moved into our apartment was the monthly after-church community lunch, and they warmly invited us to join them even though we are quite a large group of very hungry young people. And just last night, a few BayUP alumni who attend New Hope invited us over for a delicious dinner and a hearty portion of encouragement. God is good.

BayUP is also a time of an abundance of learning. Every week we study a different system that is broken in the United States. From the environment, to education, to immigration, to the criminal justice system – we are exploring what the Bible says about these issues, how God’s heart breaks for the dehumanization and exploitation of His precious creations, and what we can do to restore justice to systems that seem irreparably broken. The prevalence and severity of these problems often feel overwhelming, but we find hope in the reminder that God is sovereign. Although we may not know how to fix the world, He calls us to be informed about the ways we contribute to its brokenness and to use our privilege to bring justice. God is good.

Another way I see abundance during BayUP is in the unbelievable amount of joy in our household. God has made our team feel like a pseudo-family in just three weeks, allowing us to bond and develop trust despite the newness of our relationship. Our life here is filled with laughter, runs around the lake, songs, board games, letters, story time, Psalms, and countless awkward moments, many of which have become immortalized on our Quote Board. Although the issues we’re studying are serious and, quite often, heartbreaking, God graces us every day with the opportunity to see Him at work in the darkness, to feel His presence through the love and care of the people around us.

This joy is felt at our work sites as well, which are oases of sorts in the food desert that is West Oakland. Due to the scarcity of grocery stores in the area, it is difficult for residents to purchase affordable, healthy food, and they often suffer from poor health as a result. The sites we work with not only provide access to better nutrition, they also create spaces for people to experience and express joy. This was evident in the beautiful mural at People’s Grocery that Megan mentioned last week, and I see it all the time with the kids at OBUGs. Last week, as I was working on an art project with some neighborhood kids, they asked me if I knew any Michael Jackson songs, so I started singing “I Want You Back” by The Jackson Five. The kids immediately started singing with me, and one even got up and did some Jackson-esque dance moves. As we continued singing and working on crafts, I felt an amazing sense of contentment from the kids. They had just finished their snack, and they were so joyful to be out in nature without any stressors or responsibilities. As a volunteer at OBUGs, I am so blessed to get to see and contribute to an abundance of these kinds of life-giving experiences, small as they may be. God is indeed good.

He feeds me when I am hungry, He teaches me when I am ignorant, and He replaces my sorrow with joy. Although I haven’t yet figured out how I am going to practically apply everything I’m learning at BayUP, I am confident that this reminder of God’s goodness will give me hope about the lives of all of the people I’m interacting with, as well as my ability to one day make a difference in the lives of my fellow creations.