Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Families in Global Transition International Conference 2010

Hmm... I think I'll attend this one:

Families in Global Transition International Conference 2010

From the FGTI home page:

For over 10 years, Families in Global Transition, Incorporated (FIGT) has been the global leader in cross cultural education and training to support the entire expat family. FIGT offers information-packed conferences and year-round benefits through its Associates Program and expanding educational web site.

As the leader of a global network, FIGT promotes the positive value of the international experience, and empowers the family unit and those who serve it before, during and after international transitions.

FIGT values the international experience. We believe in the capacity of the expatriate and repatriate family to transition successfully, and to leverage the international experience for all of its human and global potential.

First You Pray then You Vote: Election Day in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Sunday, December 13, 2009.

Finally for the first time since we have been here we had our Sunday well planned with an actual schedule of "attack on the mall." We mustered the troops and marched out of the elevator and onto the quiet Sunday street to flag down the next cab. Popping into the cab we gave the driver the directive for our invasion and sat back with full confidence that, like Cesar, we would be able to cry out our victory, "Veni, Vidi, Vici!" However, we had advanced only a block when the driver turned to us and asked if we knew today was election day?

Yes! TODAY is election day in Chile! Yes, there were many reminders for us non-voting expats to realize the stores would be closed, the museums would be closed, the bars, of course, would be closed....that EVERYTHING would be closed, expect the Churches and the schools-turned-polling places. But that would presuppose we actually looked at the calendar and realized that TODAY is December 13. When one day bleeds into the next it's very hard to sort them out.

We immediately changed our strategy and opted for a trip to Los Domincos. The driver thought the pubelito may be opened, after all it was connected to the Church and they were all offering up Mass for the voters. However, as we arrived at the convent we noticed that, yes, even the pueblito was closed. Nonetheless, we poked about and noticed the entry into the church was opened. There, two pleasant ladies greeted us warmly and invited us in noting that we had made it just in time for the 11 AM Mass.

Curious thing about our plans and our attempts to realize their outcomes. It was only last night that we broached the topic of what about a church for us? It was a passing thought, one we decided to let pass until January after our holiday. Apparently it was NOT to pass. The entry way lead into a lovely Spanish style courtyard. As we debated the merits of staying or leaving, we turned the corner of the paseo in the courtyard to come upon the  pesebre (nativity).  We paused to reflect upon the day and how curiously our agenda had changed to HIS agenda. The priest waved us in to take our seats as we fell in step with the congregation.

Election News:
The Upcoming Chilean Presidential Election

BBC News - Tycoon Pinera favourite in Chile presidential election

Assassination, Justice And Chile's Presidential Election : NPR

Saturday, December 12, 2009

En La Tema de Independencia de Andres/On the Theme of Andy's Independence

So really... what self respecting 23 year old wants his mother to walk him to work everyday--HONESTLY could anything be ANY worse?

So of course I completely understood when Andy told me, "Go to your room" when I once again started to walk him to his job at the Santiago Bechtel office located across five busy city streets. And no..I really didn't take offense to his demand especially when it was coupled with "I do it alone!" (though, I did think his tone and remand sounded awfully familiar).

However, I did catch my breath and tried desperately to subdue the immediate flush of panic that ran through every artery and vein of my heart to the pit of my stomach as I envisioned my adult son with Down syndrome trekking off to work crossing busy Apoquindo, and its 4 arteries in Las Condes, Santiago--ALONE.

Crossing streets, which is no small feat in Chile, takes on the essence of a bullfight where the pedestrian is the toreador and the car the bull. As the light turns green cars charge out as snorting bulls while the pedestrian-toreador bravely makes his way across road. Each car comes up to the pedestrian-toreador to whirl past him and in between his companion walkers. All that is missing is a cape to twirl about the bull as the pedestrian-toreador skillfully stares down the encroaching car hypnotizing it to remain still long enough to allow him to pass to the other side of the street. But Andy insisted he could do it, so why should I believe otherwise?

Agreeing to his wish (well ok, demand), I returned to the apartment complex as I wished him a good day at work. Upon entering the building alone the concierge, who always gives Andy a hand bump each time he passes the desk, asked where Andy was. When I explained to him that today was Andy's first "Day of Independence" I could see the look of shock and fear flash across his face. As an uncle of a young teenage girl with Down syndrome this concept of independence was unheard of and quite frankly a little scary. I assured him that while I understood Andy's need for independence and his right to freely move about in his new community, I would be returning back out shortly to shadow him (or write down license numbers if needed).

I returned to the street to follow Andy and assure his walk to work would be successful and made the delightful discovery that within our short time here we have established quite a sense of community support. Our apartment is located on a small street that is also used as public parking managed by two attendants. One of parking attendants had followed after him to assure he was OK. Looking back the attendant caught my eye and then proceeded to kindly encourage Andy to dutifully return to his mother. Andy just looked at him and refused to budge shooting him a look as though to say, "Are you crazy?!" I assured the attendant that all was well and that it was fine for Andy to walk alone. The attendant then looked back at Andy, gave him a friendly smile and waved him on his way. He then apologized to me for interfering. I quickly assured him that I did not consider his actions interference. I thanked him for caring enough to keep a watchful eye out and let him know that it was reassuring that our little community cared. In the meantime Andy continued on, making it across all 5 streets to arrive safely at his work station and to return home at the end of the as an independent adult.

En La Tema de Independencia/On the Theme of Independence

It has been 60 years since Human Rights Day decreed “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” on December 10, 1948. Currently more and more countries are signing onto the Convention of Human Rights for People with Disabilities, including Chile and most recently the USA. Momentum is building with the recognition that there remains much to be done globally and locally for equality and equity—no matter what part of the globe you call home.

Friday, December 11, one day after Human Rights Day, 12 individuals  from various Chilean support foundations and agencies for people with disabilities gathered for the first time to reflect and discuss the “Vida Independiente de las Personas con Discapcida Intelectual” (An Independent Life of People with Intellectual Disabilities). Fundación Coanil hosted the breakfast meeting that extended an hour beyond the scheduled two given the multitude of issues and the burning desire ignited to address them.

I was honored to have been an added participant at the table.  What a thrilling morning to discover this small but very eager group of individuals representing a wide variety of organizations would diligently discuss the issues regarding adults with intellectual disabilities’ access and equality in Chile and then  excitedly plan how to overcome the barriers!

Using my dusty 3rd year level Spanish, I shared historical struggles and efforts towards improvement occurring across the USA as well as my personal challenges for assuring my son, Andy’s independence. Many barriers and issues, we discovered, were similar: cultural embrace of the medical model, fear of what would happen when individuals were allowed their freedoms and become self-determined, how to build an infrastructure of supports and systems that work on the premise of presumed capability.  The group acknowledged that just as in the USA with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Chile has laws on the books. However,  needed is the expertise to find their political voice and leverage their power to advocate, enact and realize them.

Perhaps it is time to establish an InterAmerican chapter of ADAPT!

One crucial barrier appears to be the Chilean cultural mindset that adults with intellectual disabilities are perpetual “ninos.” That is to say they are looked upon as “forever-children” and thus are not expected nor allowed adulthood rights or expectations, including the right of sexuality. Thus there is conflicting paradigms that need to be resolved. 

Our next meeting is scheduled for January 12 (after it was agreed that meeting again in 3 months would not be conducive to initiating change or sustaining the momentum initiated Friday). The plan is to expand the list of invitees.  Hopefully there will not be too many at the table that it would become merely an excuse to have NesCafe and cookies.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chau Clifton y Hola Chile

And so, with all her belongings packed up, she takes her journey onward to Chile having said good bye to friends and family in the States.... but not without a few glitches along the way and fulfilling last opportunities" before they became lost.

Because Chile requires exported animals to have rabies vaccinations current within 30 days to one year prior to travel, Samson, my Maltese, had to be revaccinated and stay behind with me rather than go ahead with Jorge and Andy who took off to Chile November 4. The Vet did not realize that even though Sam was current in his vaccinations here in the states (rabies shots are good for three years), he would not be granted entrance because his vaccinations were exactly one year old. After the vet vaccinated him we had to wait at least 30 days before we could leave. This meant moving my expected departure date up by nearly two weeks.

On Veteran's Day, November 11, 2009 the packers came in and scooped up our belongings and sorted them for storage and shipment. Unfortunately it was a gray, cold, drizzly late fall/early winter's  day. Nonetheless, pack-out went rather well actually. Of course after they had packed the items for shipping I noticed a couple of items I intended to have sent to Chile were left behind. Luckily the storage crew came in and assured me they would make it into the container to be shipped to Santiago. We'll see.

From Movies

Then the clean-up crew and painters mobilized to make the house presentable for the next occupants. After ten years of wishing to have the 20+ year old wallpaper removed I finally got my wish... after I moved out of my house and into the neighbor's spare room.

Sam and I stayed with our neighbors Carolyn and Cal who so very graciously opened their home to us. Mind you Cal is allergic to animals (well he insists only to cats who lick themselves). Eventually he and Carolyn made friends with Sam (or should I say Sam made friends with them-- I at times think he's half cat in personality).

We stayed in what use to be Ricky's room. Ricky is now a Marine Boot in Camp Paris and is expected to graduate December 13. In honor of his new career, Carolyn has redecorated in Americana with a heavy influence of Marine trappings. Each morning for the week and a half I stayed with them I was greeted by a strapping Marine glaring at me asking me if I was "READY". Yes by this time I was ready-- to move and join up with my family!

I have to say a great big thank you to Cal and Carolyn for all they did that last week and for what their family has done for us over the last 10 years. They are the best neighbors and friends anyone can have. Carolyn even helped me complete my "bucket-list" item to visit Occoquan. Carolyn and I spent a lovely day at Occoquan. For ten years I had been wanting to pull of the road and go visit the riverside community. Finally, with only three more days to go before I left the country I had an opportunity to check that one off my list. Together we walked the quaint streets and poked through the lovely shops. Sitting now in our display area is the embroidered image of Uncle Sam atop an old bicycle signed by the artist whom I met while making the purchase. Uncle Sam will be a warm remembrance of the lovely day I shared with Carolyn, our wonderful home and my good friends.

The Christmas Tree Tradition Lives on in Santiago

We got a tree for Christmas. It has always been a tradition (family joke really) that my mom would pick out the largest tree and then end up having to cut it down to fit into our home. I’ve carried on that tradition... But didn’t realize how much until we picked up a tree at the store for our apartment:
[You may need to wait for video to buffer]
From Movies

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cedar Run Community Church Says Adios to Andy

From Movies
Remembering good friends at Cedar Run Community Church