Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Girls' Night Out (With Lizzy's Loving Lucky Ladies and a Literal Llama)

Today our class started out with the professor assigning the wheelchair partners. She paired everyone up based off of how similar we were physically. There was an uneven amount of boys and girls in the class, and because Hummd and Arnold already knew each other, it was easier to pair them up together. I was put with Angel (a super sweet, 4 ft and 8 inches tall, girl)! The point of having partners is for one to watch the other while they are strolling around campus downhills or uphill, for safety purposes. Even if I got tired from manually moving the wheelchair, I can not receive any help from my partner. The wheelchairs are for a social experiment and we are not to ask for help nor tell someone the reason why we are in a wheelchair, unless they specifically ask. Ms. Talley said that it was completely up to us whether we wanted to tell them the truth or make up a story (since a student from previous years did that). After we found out who we were put with, someone had to agree to go on Wednesday and the other had to agree with going on Thursday. I chose to go on Wednesday and then once my professor had collected everyone's choices with their day, she announced that on Thursday, the whole class would be going on a trip to Sweet Cici's (a frozen yogurt place off campus). She, of course, gave us all a handbook/ manual to read so that we would be using the wheelchair properly and safely. Her exceptions were when we had to shower or go use the bathroom. We also wrote some pre-conceptions of the wheelchair experience for being in the wheelchair and acting as a spotter (before and after the experience). We will be turning in a one-page essay reflection on it after everyone has been through the process. 

At 9:45 A.M. is when we were finishing up on the whole wheelchair experiment and moving onto two articles (an excerpt from "The Body Silent" and "The Damaged Self") that we received in packets to read. This week is solely focused on the stigma of disability so we had a short lecture on the sick role and stigma. Our professor showed me that there are 4 major assumptions that underlie the sick role in the U.S. and those are: the sick person is exempt from normal social responsibilities, the illness is not the patient's fault, being ill is undesirable and a sick person is obligated to try to get well, and the sick person has an obligation to seek technically competent help in order to get well. I never realized how true this was, until she brought up examples that are commonly seen in every single case. For example, there is the lie that everyone uses when they do not want to do something and it goes along the lines of, "I feel sick, so I can't do that today." Then, they are immediately excused from having to uphold their responsibilities (for a temporary amount of time). For stigma, our professor recommended seeing the movie "Catch me if You Can" to understand the lack of any sort of clear cultural guidelines on how to behave around the disabled. 

At lunch, I ate with one of the students in my class that I had least talked with. Her name is Shelly, she is a junior, and also comes from California (except that it is not the Northern part of California). She was born in Seoul, Korea, and moved to the U.S. She is incredibly smart, engaging, always curious, and asking questions in class to clarify some of the points. It was really nice getting to know another person, and I introduced her to the cohort and the few other friends that we had made at VSA.  We all walked back to class using the wheelchair accessible path to show Shelly an easier way to get around campus without having to run into stairs all of the time.

When we got back from lunch, Ms. Talley played a documentary for us that was called "Darius Goes West". It is about a teen boy named Darius Weems that is diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. His crew (of friends that help him with his disability) and him went on a road trip from Georgia to California to meet with MTV to "pimp his ride" which was a wheelchair. However, MTV did not want to change his wheelchair, so Darius traveled across the country anyway to help spread awareness of muscular dystrophy and help raise money for Charley's Fund (a charity fund named after the doctor's son who has it) to find a cure. The film was very touching, especially because Darius's older brother, Mario, had passed away of the same reason when he was 19. Darius came back to a surprise with his brand new wheelchair with cool stereo speakers and a small TV attached as well as new experiences that he had gained with his crew along their journey to California and back. It really showed how close all of the guys were with each other, treating Darius as if he was another normal person, and became really emotional at the end because all of them started tearing up about the possibility of losing their bonds with the greatest person that had touched their lives. To this day, Darius is still alive, and he has recently been experimenting with possible cures to his disability. Ms. Talley handed out a pair of gloves to everyone after the movie to use for when we get our wheelchairs. The gloves are to make it easier for all of us to grip the wheels better (and prevent more blisters).

During study hall, we continued to read the articles and finish the wheelchair manual that Ms. Talley had put together for us. After reading for an hour, it was time to go to Arete class, which was henna again. This time, our instructor taught us how to combine the designs to fill up as much space as possible. I had trouble working with henna on myself since I had already used up most of the parts of my left hand, but I am terrible at doing things with my left hand. I guess my instructor saw my struggle so she asked if I needed her help, so she did my henna on my right hand (with a request of a lotus beneath). I barely made it through by myself when I was working on the narwhal on my wrist and when she reached out to me, I felt really relieved.
With the update of my henna on the other arm, the stain turned darker after a day or so. I am really enjoying the art of henna and I think that this class will be passing by quickly this week since I just have so much fun in it. I looked over my left shoulder, and I see Arnold's entire left forearm and palm covered in henna. It looks really amazing on him though (great job, Arnold!).

The remaining time after Arete ended (which was 5:15) to when dinner with my proctor group started was around 30-45 minutes so I went back to my dorm to put my stuff away and place anything that I might need my drawstring bag. The occasion was asked to be dressy, so almost all of the girls were wearing skirts or dresses. Before heading out to Lucky Belly, we took a group picture for the term book. I was really surprised at how close Lucky Belly was to the university, we passed right by Pancake Pantry.

At Lucky Belly, I ordered a chicken burger with fries that came along with it (everything was really delicious). Everyone still had room in their stomaches for ice cream at Jeni's Ice Cream! I had an ice cream float that consisted of cream soda, whipped cream, and wild berry lavender ice cream.
Our official proctor group name: L^6 (Lizzy's Loving Lucky Ladies and a Literal Llama)
My fabulous float and I.
The walk back took 10 minutes or less, but once we got on our floor, we joined the other proctor group that was together watching a movie. The movie was ending, but they put the show Friends (my favorite) on afterwards. I joined my group in one of the room corners to play Never Have I Ever, and from that game, it gave us ideas for what to do next week for our last proctor night. We are planning to have a pajama party, watch a movie that I had never seen before (but is apparently good and funny), braid hair, and order take out Chinese food or pizza. We also agreed on a proctor group name tonight. I thought that it would be fun to have several words start with the same letter as our proctor's and the llama part came from an inflatable that my roommate and some of her friends had bought. They were considering bringing it to the restaurant, but did not. Drew Grayson the llama, joined the girls for some of the movie time that was left when we all got back.
His name is Drew Grayson. He never fails to
startle me every time that I open the door.

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