After a crazy, wonderful week of orientation with all the other BayUP teams, we just moved into our apartment. I’ll post pictures soon. Peter has his own room, which is his only masculine space in a house full of girls :). We have no furniture except some air mattresses and a futon (which took our entire team to get through the door), but it’s starting to feel like home.
We went to four different grocery stores to get food on our budget of $15/person/week. Our collective favorite food is now peanut butter. After church today (where they had free lunch!), we took 4 bags of laundry to the laundromat.
We’re pretty tired, but we’re excited to start working at our sites this week!
I had a great time with all the bayupers. I had lots of fun chit chatting with other ppl from other skoos. They’re all so cool and have such strong faith. Such cool ppl! Wednesday, July 20th, me and 3 other girls were assigned to do “housekeeping” (which meant that our careers were housekeeping – cleaning someone’s kitchen, living room, bathroom, etc; we also watched some kids – kind of fun…one of them was a screamer). So we cleaned 3 houses, 8am to 5pm. At the end of the day I made $80, but I had “3 kids” and I had to pay for childcare, cellphone, and other expenses – darn kids. And at the very end, I only had $12 left ☹
Friday, June 22nd, we went to Chinatown and downtown in San Francisco. In Chinatown, we went to visit a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) building. I have been to Chinatown many many times, and I am shocked that I never knew that SROs existed in Chinatown….or even in San Francisco. I feel so sheltered from these real unjust stuff happening in San Francisco, which I do know that I am sheltered from these things. The ppl in the SRO’s are my ppl – Chinese ppl from Hong Kong. And when I’m at home, I get to watch tv in my big room and walk around in my big house. And there are ppl living in rooms half the size of a 9/10 single dorm room. One room, we walked into, and a Chinese man was so nice. He invited all of us in – like 10 of us into his small room to sit and chill hahaa. But of course we didn’t. We just glanced at his room. And 2 of his kids live in that room too! The room was really super duper small. Really small.
First thing: Shalom- the way things ought to be. I can’t believe how much I’ve already learned in one week. During orientation, we’ve already come across so many areas where our community is broken. Yet in these broken places, I have seen hope in the people of Oakland-that it’s not always been this way; and it won’t always be this way. I remember joking with my friends back home about how nobody wants to go to Oakland because of the violence. Part of that is very true. But once we’ve looked past the exterior, there is so much beauty in Oakland…So many amazing people. One of the last days of orientation focused mainly on the topic of racism. During that day, we traveled to different districts to learn more about specific cultures- Chinese, Latino, Native American and African American. I can’t tell you guys everything right now, but I’ll share a little about San Francisco, Chinatown.
If I could describe what Chinatown means to me in a couple words, it would be: childhood and family. Once we were there, I was completely comfortable and happy. All the elderly who were roaming the streets and speaking in Cantonese made me feel so in my element. Although I’ve always seen Chinatown as a wonderful, tourist attraction, I’d never been exposed to the harsh realities still so present. SROs are scattered everywhere- one miniscule level away from being homeless. Families are living in a 10×10 ft rooms- cramped, with no privacy. Twenty families are sharing one kitchen, a couple bathrooms, and fighting for hot water. The elderly are walking up steep flights of stairs, risking their fragile lives to stay in this community they’ve always known. The stereotypical Chinese person is smart, rich, and successful. But in every race, there is still poverty. I couldn’t help but feel bothered when a group of tourists passed by, snapping pictures along the bustling streets and browsing the cheap gift shops. If they could see beneath the surface… but what really upset me most was their Caucasian tour guide.
The time has finally come, and we’re on our way to Oakland! We’ll be arriving in Oakland roughly around 2 pm. 🙂 Let BayUP begin!!
Only 2 more weeks till we head to Oakland! Good luck with finishing this quarter! Cheers!
Our team is currently figuring out what to bring