Youth, anger, lack of life experiences, and aimlessness can force a young person to do the unthinkable. When news of the murder of a 17-year old at the Miami Job Corps was reported, I asked myself how could four Job Corps students take the life of one of their own. First, Job Corps offers young adults (16 – 24) a free education (High School Diploma and certification in a career such as nursing), free housing, free meals, free dental work, free health insurance, free career placement, free counseling, and other free resources. Often times, the access to stable housing is what attracts a number of applicants to the nation wide government program. These students live in transitional housing with a relative, a spouse, or a friend and are in need of permanent housing. Also, Job Corps is attractive to young people who are homeless.
The four students involved in the murder, Christian Colon, Desiray Strickland, Kaheem Arbelo and Jonathan Lucas were known as violent bullies on campus. However, it is not Miami Job Corps fault for allowing these students to stay on campus. The goal of the school is to transform the lives of young people. If school officials and the residential staff saw potential in the students, I am sure if previous incidents occurred they argued on behalf of the students. No one working at the school wants to throw a student out on the streets to potentially fall prey to human trafficking, prostitution, selling drugs, or gang activity or being a victim of violence. All of those realities are possible for a young person living on the streets in Miami.
Hopefully, the school doesn’t lose funding from the Department of Labor and the public realizes that this was an act of violence committed by people with anger issues created by the systems that the school was trying to protect them from. This death is no different from the number of deaths that occur across the country at various schools and jobs. However, this fact does not minimize the loss that has wounded the students at Miami Job Corps.
While working at a trade school in Florida, I first discovered reiki. A female student complained that she had a headache. A male student said that he could alleviate her symptoms naturally through reiki. He asked the female student to close her eyes. He rubbed two silver bracelets at his wrists and placed his hands beside her temples (without touching her). Everyone in the classroom sat in silence for about ten minutes. He asked the female student to open her eyes and explain what it felt like he was doing. She said, “waving your hands fast on the side of my head.”
“How do you feel,” he asked her.
“Actually, better,” she said. “My headache is gone.”
It wasn’t until moving to Los Angeles three years later that I would have reiki performed on my self and experienced its cleansing power. Continue reading
Actress Tracy Perez from the hit Hulu show, “East Los High” speaks to Camp Hollywood Heart in Malibu Hills about Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep, being Latina in the entertainment industry, how to break into the industry, and what it means to play a character with HIV on the show.
“East Los High” is a drama series produced and written by Carlos Portugal about teens growing up in East Los Angeles from the American-Latino perspective. The show is the only all-Latino cast show on Hulu.
Perez plays Vanessa De La Cruz. In Season 1 Episode 1 her character is videotaped having sex in a parked car and the video goes viral. The show also stars Janine Larina, Gabriel Chavarria, and Alicia Sixtos.
The founder of The Wall-Las Memorias Project, Richard Zaldivar spoke before Perez at the event. Zaldivar discussed the important of HIV/AIDS advocacy and why the The Wall-Las Memorias Project was important to build in East Los Angeles. Perez’s character contracts HIV from having unprotected sex.
Watch the video to learn more about Tracy Perez and her controversial character.
Two couches, two oversize chairs, and two folding chairs are moved into a circle. They come in from two different entrances. All execpt one has the notebooks that I gave to them yesterday. We sit in the same seats from yesterday. With me at the head of the circle, I ask for the class to go over ground rules to ensure everyone is comfortable with the space we are creating. Afterwards, I tape the list to the door and start the class with a writing prompt.
“I’ve had this dream,” one of the girls says.
I jot down notes on her piece and realize why I teach young people – to build community. Older writers are purposed to excite the minds of young writers with the fantastic and the impossible to expand the community.
Photo via Tomas Sobek
“The writing of (Soma)tics is an engagement with the thing of things and the spirit of things” … CA Conrad.
Since I discovered CA Conrad, his (Soma)tic exercises have greatly influenced my writing. (Soma)tic poetry investigates the “infinite space between body and spirit by using nearly any possible thing around or of the body to channel the body out and/or in toward spirit with deliberate and sustained concentration.”
Tomorrow, I will start a one-week writing workshop in Malibu Hills at Camp Hollywood Heart. To help my writing students learn (Soma)tic techniques, we will go on a sound walk and have a reiki bowl burning ceremony. On the sound walk, we will focus our attention on sounds and we will incorporate the sounds into our writing. In the reiki bowl burning ceremony, the students will write down negative things that they want to let go of. They will write on biodegradable paper. After finishing, they will tear the paper up, place the papers in the bowl, and we will symbolically burn the paper by throwing it off of a cliff.
As the students write, they will receive reiki energy work from Reiki Master, Carlos Caridad from the Centre For Life in Los Angeles. The energy work is intended to heal emotional trauma and stress and bring back to balance the electro-magnetic energy fields of their bodies. We will have a mini writing session after the reiki practice and see the impact it has on their bodies. The ceremony will take place in a Jewish sanctuary at Gindling Hilltop Camp.
I was inspired to create the reiki bowl burning ceremony after reading one of Conrad’s exercises.
Wash a penny, rinse it, slip it under your tongue and walk out the door. Copper is the metal of Aphrodite, never ever forget this, never, don’t forget it, ever. Drink a little orange juice outside and let some of the juice rest in your mouth with the penny. Oranges are the fruit of Aphrodite, and she is the goddess of Love, but not fidelity. Go somewhere outside, go, get going with your penny and juice. Where do you want to sit? Find it, and sit there. What is the best Love you’ve ever had in this world? Be quiet while thinking about that Love. If someone comes along and starts talking, quietly shoo them away, you’re busy, you’re a poet with a penny in your mouth, idle chit-chat is not your friend. Be quiet so quiet, let the very sounds of that Love be heard in your bones. After a little while, take the penny out of your mouth and place it on the top of your head. Balance it there and sit still a little while, for you are now moving your own forces quietly about in your stillness. Now get your pen and paper and write about POVERTY, write line after line about starvation and deprivation from the voice of one who has been Loved in this world.