Tag Archives: peace

At Peace

Yesterday I went for a walk down by the river with some classmates. We ended up being gone for almost three hours. For most of it we were just sitting on rocks close to the water, just watching boats pass by. Other than the occasional boat, there wasn’t much sound. It’s not what I’m used to. I’m used to the sounds of the city. It was a nice change. At a point, I just stood there on a rock looking out across the water. The sun was shining and the water was calm. All of a sudden this feeling came over me that I don’t know how to describe. Almost like I was at peace. It was like there was nothing holding me back or weighing me down. It was unreal.

It is astonishing that a place that has so much beauty can be in poverty. However, the people here don’t see themselves as poor. They see the beauty of this land and each other as a gift, a gift that not a lot of people have. This is a great mentality to have. Wealth isn’t in the material things, its in the relationships you have and the natural beauty of the world. I want to start seeing the world the way Yup’iks see it. They accept everyone for who they are. They see the land, animals, food, and each other as gifts, and one must cherish these gifts. They love one another as they love themselves. People don’t need anything else to be happy, but society is so materialistic. The real wealth is in your surroundings. Money doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. All we need is to treasure the moments we have with the people who love us. Once we do that maybe we can all have that feeling of peace that I was able to find down by the river.

To be understood as to understand

Hello from the great state of Alaska! After 3 flights, 1 Cinnabon, and 2 hours of sleep later I stepped off the plane, onto the tarmac and faced the cold, Alaskan rain.

Today we woke up refreshed and were ready to tackle the 3 interviews ahead of us. I was lucky enough to give the first interview of the project. I spoke to Michelle DeWitt who is active in the Bethel community after running the Tundra Women’s Coalition. We were able to speak about some of the problems the region, like restrictions on salmon fishing, domestic violence, and institutional racism, as well as the possibility for solutions to these community stressors. While this was not the first interview I’ve ever given (Shoutout to the Creightonian for giving me some experience!) it was for sure my most intense. While interviewing I was reminded of some universal life lessons that can be learned from interviewing another person. Here are some of them:

Practicing my interview with my colleague, Tony.
Practicing my interview with my colleague, Tony.
  1. Listen- So often in our everyday, rushed conversation, speaking has the illusion of being transactional. While two people are often listening to bits of what the other person is saying, usually one is already thinking about what to say before the other is done speaking. In an interview, your next question hinges on the answer the person is giving. It becomes essential for you to quiet yourself and focus totally on the other person and what they are saying, they might bring up an aspect of the story you have not even considred. Sure I am tired and I am missing my friends (HI!), but it is so important to be present to the interview and the other person.
  2. Be vulnerable- Do you know how hard it is to hold eye contact with one person for an entire hour? Well for me, very. Eye contact is one of the most intimate things you can do with a person because it establishes a bond of emotional connectivity. In an interview, eye contact is important because you need to be connected to the person you are talking to and the subject you are talking about. However awkward it is, both parties must become vulnerable so that the person being interviewed feels comfortable and respected enough to delve into something serious.
  3. Be patient- Sometimes the world does not care that you are giving an interview. Dogs bark. Floors creak. Trucks beep. Refrigerators hum. It is up to you to take a deep breath and wait for the noise to stop or think of a way to get rid of the noise. It’s so easy to get frustrated  but instead you must solider  through for the greater goal of the story.

After finishing my hour-long interview I thought of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis in which we are reminded:

I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive

In interviewing you are placing yourself in a place of humility as you acknowledge that you want to learn from this other person. I hope that I maintain this sense of humility during my time in Bethel and that I am able to be receptive to the messages this community has for me.