Nicky's Blog

Once an Aspirante, Always an Aspirante

January 27, 2011
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With the trend of communities mobilizing on the internet, it’s a rare and beautiful sight to see a large presence of people congregating in person. As a volunteer for Aspira of NY’s Annual City Youth Conference, I witnessed these powerful human moments at work. I left the event mesmerized by the energy of 600 people in one room promoting one cause.

Whoever conceived of the expression “children are the leaders of tomorrow” got it almost right; swap “tomorrow” with “today” and they would have hit the nail on its head. Aspira exemplifies this idea that it is never too early to tap into young people’s unique leadership strengths.

The formula for leadership is wisdom plus knowledge plus strategy. Aspira provides the strategy and its members acquire (and bring) the wisdom and knowledge. Aspira has been promoting its educational goals for decades, helping new and old generations realize their ambitions.

As an Aspirante , I benefited from its college-prep resources, including an especially practical SAT prep course that helped me get admitted into one of the top 25 private colleges in the nation. The course, I should mention, was free of charge to me. Over ten years later, I still recall my instructor, Adam Benson, who used humor as his magic wand to entice students to stay plugged in. If someone were to open the classroom door we would be inside roaring with laughter, as we attempted to solve the next math problem.

I also gained intangible skills as a public speaker and relationship-builder that transcend time and place, making them useful for the rest of my life.

By the time Aspirantes graduate from high school, they have engaged in critical life-serving experiences that put them at a competitive advantage over their peers.

Volunteering at Aspira’s Youth Conference as a young professional reminded me how significant a role the organization played in my formative years. It gave me the social confidence to see Impossible as I’m Possible, and to subtract ‘can’t’ from my vocabulary.

Social confidence, or its absence, is not to be overlooked as a powerful cause for why people don’t amount to their hopes. Many people are capable but shy away from the testing grounds, fearing that they just aren’t “enough”.

Looking around me, I saw social confidence beginning to surface in the eyes of the young people with whom I spoke. I saw my former face in theirs.

At their core, they have much to offer the world, but may not know it yet or not know it with unyielding conviction.

Many of these young people come from under-served backgrounds and are weakened by discrimination and prejudice, all of which can easily deafen one’s own cheering inner voice. However, with Aspira’s nurturing, their core values will gradually swell until they’re overflowing with belief in themselves as positive contributors to the world they live in.

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Thank you, Santa, for my Kindle

January 14, 2011
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For Christmas, “Santa” bought me a Kindle 3.

I did a great deal of research prior, though Amazon’s claim that it sold more Kindles than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the persuasive headline.  Still, I was apprehensive:

– I could never throw my kindle against a wall, pick it up and still read it. In other words, soft pages of paper actually were less vulnerable to harm’s way than a delicate piece of plastic. I didn’t like that I had to treat it like a silk scarf.

– having worked in my college’s library for four years, I learned to love  the slightly moldy smell of books. I like the nostalgia of the old. I would never be able to buy an  “old e-book” and take a whiff of its history…

– having to pay ten dollars(+) for each e-book when this “book” was one I couldn’t touch, share with someone, seemed unfair. It didn’t have the same qualities and perks as a physical book,  so why pay the same cost?

– I wondered, would I miss jotting my chicken-scratch notes on the margins? The Kindle has an option to “write” notes, but it is very limited.

– I couldn’t lend my Kindle in the way I could pass along a book that made me cry or laugh to a friend who needed a good cry or laugh. Call me a traditionalist but one of the best aspects of reading a good book  is sharing it with someone who can find solace in those same words. (Turns out there are e-communities of borrower/lenders. Here’s one great one I am a part of: http://www.kindlelendingclub.com/)

–  What if I lost the charger and was itching to finish that last chapter but the battery died on me? (The Kindle, I discovered, has a month’s battery life– not too shabby.)

I decided to buy the Kindle 3 because:

– I figured the portability factor would encourage me to bring it with me wherever I may be and thus read more. (This did prove true!)

– I liked the anonymity of the Kindle. I could read a romance novel  or a pre-law book at my own discretion.

– I liked that I could read a 300 page book or a 20 page manual and still hold the same weight in my palms. Gone would be the days of lugging around a cumbersome book.

– With the built-in 3G feature, I could buy a book anywhere at anytime. I just switch on the wireless and browse the Amazon store online.

Technology is often about the coolness factor; the Kindle is definitely sexy, but it’s also practical. Since using the Kindle, I have read more in one week than I have in months! It  has revolutionized the way I read- I read books  faster on the Kindle for reasons unclear to me. There are also many free classics and other books that the idea of borrowing from the library seems almost trivial.

I will admit this though: I miss flipping pages.  My sister and I were reading on the couch the other night. I could hear her flipping  the pages and I could feel myself pressing down on the “next page” button. It lacked that same authenticity. I wanted to flip a page badly. I peered at her from the corner of my eyes until she realized. We stared at each for a couple  of seconds and then giggled. “How’s that Kindle treating you, huh?”  She joked. “Great! Just great” I replied with a hint of sarcasm. I really wanted to flip a page, but instead, I grinned to myself and pressed down on that silly button.


About author

A lover of people, the arts, parks, curiosity, spontaneity, altruism, self-exploration, and story telling. I believe in living your life nakedly and on fire. I am one of triplets: I have two sisters running about in the city coping my look. If you see "me", think twice. Much of my writing is inspired by my daily happenings. Much of it is also closely connected to my years at Bates College. This blog is for anyone looking for inspiring insights and stories.

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