Saturday, May 21, 2005

Normalcy - Charles

I'm finally starting to situate myself very nicely back in Seattle. After a sweet see-you-later of sorts to the rest of the crew members, I come home to an empty house and an uncertain future. After two months of a fast-paced life of activity fairs, speeches, interviews, and sightseeing, it all seems so surreal to see it finally at an end. I don't have any more obligations from this day forward; my life is now an empty slate. I have so many plans as what I want to do with my future, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to go through with any of them yet. I think my best bet now is to find a job here in Seattle and save enough to move wherever life takes me.

It's weird, not being around the rest of the crew. We were so quickly placed in a situation where we had to work, sleep, eat, and drive together for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and now, just as quickly, they're gone. I'm very impressed that we managed not to kill each other. As a matter of fact, I'd like to think that we became really good friends. I'm going to miss Ashley's laughter, Geetha's impeccable acumen, Aaron's dance moves, and Jamie's cooking. I mean, I'll still see them around -- we're planning on a little reunion of sorts in Boise this summer -- but to not be able to indulge in a random inside joke whenever we wanted is going to take some getting used to.

Like Geetha, I'm still going through the processing. While I sincerely believe that Generation MIX was a huge success in raising national attention and dialogue on mixed-race issues in America today, I don't think we'll be able to see any sort of quantifiable measurement of impact until months, years into the future. It will be interesting to observe what comes out on the national level because of programs like Generation MIX...

No Goodbyes...Just, I'll See Ya Later - Ashley

Well, back in normal everyday civilization for three days now, wierd. I already miss my crew members a ton. In fact as I was boarding the plane on Wednesday and took my seat next to the smelly man seated next to me, I tried calling Geetha to say one last goodbye. Being with these four other wonderful people everyday for two months straight can make you get attached.

Already I can see the changes in what this tour has done for me. I am definitely more comfortable speaking about the multi-racial experience and issues to other people. I am more confident in myself in that aspect about speaking with others, but also just in myself in general. I feel I have grown a lot as a person. I have learnt so much from the people I have met along the way, the places I have been, the MAVIN Foundation, my fellow crew members, and the experiences I had on this tour. I wouldn't have changed my decision to be a part of this tour for anything.

Some people would be skeptical on the fact if we made an impact or not for the greater public. I would respond to that saying, I think we did make an impact as small as it may be, I sincerely believe that we did our best and I know that we did impact others, and not just that but this tour made people think about the mixed race experience in general when they probably never would have thought about it before. I mean, thats how big things are started, right?, by the little things that set them off? So, therefore I am very proud to be apart of this experience and wouldn't have changed it for anything.

What I am excited to see is, is what happens with the five of us in the future. Will things change as far the multi-racial experience goes? What will each of us be doing? Will we still be envolved with or even as enthusiastic about the multi-racial movement as we are now? Who knows, but I can't wait to see.

So this is not a goodbye, but more like, I'll see ya later. I'll see ya later Mad Max, thanks for all the good times and the bad, for trucking all that way with only a few break downs. I'll see ya later MAVIN Foundation, thank you so much for what you have done for us, without you this wouldn't have been possible. I seriously appreciate all the hard work you guys did...being on call for us 24/7, making it possible to meet Barrack Obama, etc. My heartfelt thanks! I'll see ya later to all those amazing people we met along the way. And of course, I'll see ya later Jamie-whos hunger never seems to end:); Geetha-our forever long laughter sessions with each other; Charlie-your impeccable taste in fashion, decor, and music; and Aaron- whos dance moves I will carry with me and pass on to others so that they will live forever. I'll see ya later.

Friday, May 20, 2005

360° – Jamie

I’m the sort of person who needs little time to reflect back on an experience before I can really have much to say about it. Throughout this tour I didn’t say much on this blog but each time I did add to it it was something I had thought out.

It’s been a little over a day that I’ve been back home. I’ve had time to visit with my family, see a couple friends and I even made it to a Swirl Bay Area event last night, a performance by the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors. Towards the last days of the tour we all started asking ourselves if we thought we made any sort of impact, if it had been a worthwhile project or not. While none of us could deny the ways in which the tour didn’t live up to our dreams (it was tiring, events had lower than expected turnouts) we all felt great about the attention we did raise and the spotlight we helped to focus on mixed populations and communities.

I went to an open-house yesterday for the t-shirt supplier I buy from for Like Minded People. It was a warm welcome, everyone in the office asking how my trip was. Some I had just told I was going away for a couple months and with others I had more deeply explained Generation MIX. I was surprised both by my newfound comfort in even mentioning the work I do within the mixed community as well as by everyone’s open reception of it. It was the same as on the tour. People were actually interested. There I also ran into a friend of mine, a t-shirt guy who would frequent the copy shop I used to work at. He congratulated me on what I and the rest of the crew and MAVIN had just accomplished and told me that my mother had brought in the San Francisco Chronicle article I was featured in and that she’d read it over with him and the rest of my old co-workers. And then later last night at that 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors performance, a young woman working the concessions table asked me, “Excuse me, but are you Jamie?” As it turned out she was a recent graduate from UC Santa Cruz, same as me, and had just that morning checked out the Generation MIX site and read up on the tour and all of us. I was definitely taken aback to know that someone out in the real world, someone who I would interact with through such indirect channels would be aware of what I just did.

I’m huge on the power of individual interaction and how a simple personal conversation can greatly impact a person and his or her perceptions. Or how an article in a paper, or a short segment on a news program can do something similar to open a person’s mind and frame of consciousness by exposing them to something they might not ever have heard of before, like a community and culture of mixed race people. Throughout the tour this is exactly the sort of thing we did. From random people at roadside stops to whom we had to explain ourselves and our wildly colorful RV, to television, radio and print media who featured Generation MIX and their audience members who met us and who shared their appreciation for what we were doing with us. Because of them I know we had an impact and for me it was a worthwhile effort to be a part of that. All of this tells me that people are open to engaging in issues of race and its effects in society, and towards that end goal of continued civil rights and social justice, it tells me that people are open to that too, hopefully willing to take a hand in it, because that’s what it’s going to take.

As I readjust to life off-tour and get back into a groove here at home, I return to my world with that confidence to comfortably speak about what I did and what I do in and for the mixed community knowing that people out there are receptive to this work. I return galvanized to explore what all we can do with this increase of interest and momentum present within the community. I know that a big next step that will prove this mixed “movement” as being more encompassing than individual self-identity expression will be true relationship building and collaborative work with other established cultural communities. It’s something that has not been seen much throughout the relatively short history of mixed race organizing, but it has been seen before and has been a positive bond. I think to Hapa Issues Forum and how and for what reasons the organization was founded, and the strides they helped make for multiracial Asian populations in relation to Asian American communities.

Lastly, I return home committed to the continued fostering of the mixed community. It is growing and growing and I can see it all around me. More mixed children, more interracial families, more students organizing and student orgs communicating, more families (like my own) more openly talking about being mixed, more organizations expanding, more attention and understanding. There is a true investment in the community that a great many people share and we can all work for the same cause in many different ways. Most important to me is to think globally, act locally. I will always keep my mind working on questions of the bigger picture, a vision for the mixed community as a whole, and all the while I will be doing work to foster it on a local level where it most directly affects me and my life.

Thank you everyone, thank you Generation MIX.
-Jamie Tibbetts

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Back Home - Geetha

I have been writing in this blog from all over the country, from Seattle to Boston and back again. But now for the first time I am writing in it sitting on my own couch in my own house. It definitely feels surreal. It's strange to think that yesterday morning I was in Seattle. It didn't even feel like it was the last day of the tour or that we were leaving each other--it's not like it was the first day that we had to wake up early, pack, and head out for a day of travel. But then instead of loadng everything into the RV, we loaded it into cars and drove only a few minutes to our destination. Even at the airport it all felt like just another day. We broke out the video camera, loaded pictures onto Charlie's computer, and talked about nothing in particular. But then it was time to leave.

Charlie was the first to leave because he dropped us off at the airport. Then one by one we went to each person's gate and the group dwindled until it was just me. I held back my tears until I was by myself, but it definitely hit me that this experience was really over, and that we would never be together again under the same kind of circumstances. All of a sudden, after not having a moment of "alone time" for two months, I was completely by myself. So what did I do? I called Charlie, the only person who wasn't on a plane and would be able to answer the phone. And later I called Ashley during my layover in Chicago. It's wierd how fast the five of us bonded. I remember during the first weekend in Seattle we went to a party and every five minutes looked around to make sure we knew where each other were. Now I don't know what to do with myself knowing that I'm not just feet from the other crewmembers, but miles. At least I can take comfort in the fact that they're stil just an email or a phone call away. Though the tour itself is officially over, it's clear that the friendships I've made and the experiences I've had will continue to affect me for qute awhile.

For now (of course this is me talking not even 24 hours after leaving Seattle), I'm readjusting to being back at home. It was wierd last night to fall asleep in a room by myself (and my own bed, no less), I woke up and didn't have to call the boys' room to make sure they're up, and I've been driving around without asking my passenger if it's safe to change lanes. I have a new appreciation for how smoothly and quietly my little Ford Focus drives. I'm thrilled to be home with my friends and family, but at the same time I'm missing the people and the experience I've just left.

Now is when the processing begins. It's hard to figure out what an experience mean when you're still in the middle of it. It's looking like we'll be keeping up this blog for awhile. It will be interesting to see how I feel about all this tomorrow, in a week, or in a month. I'm looking forward to seeing where this all takes me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Final Supper

Last night's dinner with the MAVIN staff was full of laughter, smiles, and a few tears (from the spicy Ethiopian cuisine that we had). More so than anyone working with Generation MIX, the people at MAVIN have spent more sleepless nights toiling away to get this project off the ground. I don't think people give enough credit to all the work that was done behind the scenes in making Generation MIX such a huge achievement.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Farewell, Mad Max

Before returning her to her proper owners, we gave Mad Max one last bath, thanking her for all of the good work that she's done for us. Frankly, she was a little dusty, but after we were through with her, she looked like she was ready to head for the road again. As the honorary sixth member of the Generation MIX crew, she will be dearly missed, forever fondly in our hearts.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Captain's Log - Aaron

Mad Max the Road Warrior has officially been retired. As she heads home across the Puget Sound to lick her wounds, I wonder if she'll miss us. I know we'll miss her. A fine and gallant ship she was, even if she did have a cruel sense of humor.

After today, our official obligations will be over. We still have a lot of obligatory stuff to do (accounting, thank yous, insurance) but there will be no more speaking engagements for the GenMix crew. We did our last keynotes at a couple of private schools yesterday here in Seattle. St.Therese Catholic school and Echo Glen Juvenile detention center were nice enough to host our final speaking gigs. Both of these diverse student bodies surprised me with their intelligence and had a myriad of though-provoking questions for us to answer.

What is in store for me next is pretty uncertain right now. I feel like I have totally uprooted myself from my secure bubble of a life at school. It's as if I have put everything in a jar and shook it all up, and I don't know where all the pieces are going to fall. Whenever you leave familiar surroundings behind like this, it is bound to put a few things into perspective. I know that I'm going to return to school at WVU and my job at the Pita Pit, but beyond that I'm not that sure. I have the feeling that no matter where I am heading, this experience has given me some useful tools, if only I can keep my feet strait on the good red road.

We're planning on taking the train to Vancouver for the weekend. This trip is different from all the rest in that it is purely for pleasure. Our first post-tour venture into civilian life. I'm looking forward to being in a city where we have no obligations to fulfill. It's going to be a whole different experience traveling a city incognito, without the blazon colors of Mad Max sticking out like a sore thumb. It's an ironic twist, to have the final destination of the Generation Mix National Awareness Tour be an unofficial vacation in Canada.

On a final note, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to all of the great people I have met along the way. I have made acquaintance with some of the most unique, intelligent, thoughtful people during these five months on the road. I have made many friends along the way. I hope that I can keep in touch with these people, and that in future endeavors, our paths will once again cross. I want anyone to know that if they are ever in the Pittsburgh/Morgantown area, they have a friend to call.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Beginning of the End, or End of the Beginning? - Geetha

The tour has finally come full-circle, quite literally in fact. Somehow we made it back into Seattle without dying (although it was touch and go there for awhile, what with the food poisoning, overheating, and scary driving conditions on our last leg). We are now all settled back into our old digs at the wonderful Best Western and are running around Seattle like we never left. It feels rather surreal being in a city where I sort of know my way around and where the people are familiar. This morning we headed over to the MAVIN office like it was just another day of training. Did we really just spend the last five weeks sprinting around the country, or was it all a dream?

I have been flying through a whole range of emotions and I know it won’t slow down until long after I’m back home. Sometimes I can’t wait to get on that plane back to Michigan. I really miss my friends and family, not to mention the fact that I am ready to go back to having a normal life, or, at the very least, knowing what day it is and what state I’m in. On the other hand, I know that going home will mean leaving everything that has become a part of my life through this tour. When will the five of us crewmembers ever be together again? How will I stay involved in all this mixed race stuff? How can I keep in touch with all the people I’ve met along the way? I have had such an amazing experience and I don’t know if I’m ready for it to be over. I am constantly alternating between sadness, excitement, exhaustion, and laughing uncontrollably with my crewmates as we savor our last moments together.

The next week in Seattle will be spent exploring these feelings and figuring out where this will take us all. Processing this information and this experience is overwhelming, but it’s also very exciting. It’s definitely not the worst thing in the world to feel like I have too many options to choose from. And no matter what happens, even if I go back to my old life as if nothing ever happened, there is no question that this experience has changed me forever.

Homecoming- Ashley

Well the tour is now almost officially over. We did our last big event yesterday which I must say was an awesome success. We pulled up in front of Garfield community Center in Seattle to a large crowd cheering for us. Needless to say we were not prepared for that and shyly came out of the RV not knowing what to do, but we thank all of you that were there. It was a great turnout and we really appreciate all of your support. It was great to see all the support we had here in Seattle while we were gone. I even saw people at our last event that were at our very first one. So, I just wanted to say thank you.

Now we have a whole week before returning, homeward bound as some would say. A whole week of evaluations, a couple more speaking events, and one last week to spend with eachother before going home. Time will fly, maybe too fast as things are beginning to wrap up. What a great experience this has been, I would have done it again in a heartbeat.