The Peer Project: Youth Mentor diaries

Just last May I signed up to be youth mentor in our area. I went with an open mind to the orientation, which proved to be easy after all. Well, not all about it was piece of cake but since we’re dealing with kids here, we definitely have to be aware, firm and fully ready for the job. I waited a good two months to get started, it took a while but it was all worth it. I have been busy enough to not blog for a couple weeks because I really want to take time on my other endeavors. (That sounded as if I have tons of things to deal with, not really what’s happening in real life tbh)

As for the methodology of the said organization, the website states: “Young people experiencing behavioral  social, emotional and/or cultural difficulties can be referred. A home assessment will determine their needs. Young adults and police officers from all cultures and diverse backgrounds are recruited, screened and trained to become positive peer mentors sharing their life experiences”

I, myself have been wanting to be a mentor for so many years now. I think it’s because I grew fond of kids when I was in my late teenage years. I remember that day my friend Rachel had her 18th birthday at the orphanage, it was such a fulfilling experience that nothing could ever replace. I gave her props for that because instead of having a ball or like party at the club, she thought of other people who needed help and time. Also, I came from a country where there’s so many kids who can’t afford education and thus, resulting them to become wayward. I wish I could do something about it now that I am here overseas. I will do anything to be of help to those less fortunate youth when I get the chance. Also, after seeing the trailer for the SXSW film “Short Term 12” starring Brie Larson, I knew that was like one of the go-signals to get on board with this opportunity.

“Remember you’re not their parent, you’re not their therapist. You’re here to help them discover who they are and all other things they struggle with”

I wondered what my junior will be like (that’s how we call them apparently), and I actually asked my case coordinator if I could have a kid who’s only 6-10 years old. I seem to be having a little of trouble when I deal with older kids. I was initially paired up with a 13-year old kid who just recently moved here to Toronto. At first I didn’t have any problem with it but after some thinking, I grew hesitant because the worst case scenario will be me butting heads with this kid and I wouldn’t want that for the both of us. I already thought that as a disadvantage before even meeting the kid. My apologies if you think I’m a terrible person.

Then I was paired up with this kid who lives a block away from our place (I know, isn’t it perfect?). When I met up with him I found myself excited to finally be sharing my time with this kid even if it’s only for 3 hours a week. Our first activity happened just 2 days after the meeting and this kid’s brother apparently has a mentor already who also showed up for our water park getaway. It was a rather awesome yet surreal experience, especially it being my first with my junior. A child’s formative years is from infantry to age 5, and what happens after that is tricky. In my kid’s case, he wants someone to spend time with other than his brother and sister, he wants to look up to someone and he wants to play with that someone. The smile on this kid’s face when he sees me makes me feel giddy and fulfilled.

I know this is going to be tough and being a youth mentor is a thankless job but I believe that I can do this to the best of my abilities. I thank God for this experience. You can check out the org’s website and see if you can be of help. I cannot wait for more experiences with this kid honestly. It’s going to be an awesome year!

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Movie Review: Fruitvale Station (2013)

fruitvaleNow I understand why this film captured the hearts of the Sundance crowd and won the jury prize. I was prepared to be indifferent about it despite the great reviews, but oh boy it hit me deeply and I was in tears.

Plot: Follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day. Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core.

You know that feeling when you just walked out of the theatre but you wanted to collect yourself first but people keep walking past you? This was EXCELLENT in all levels. A very special film that was based on a youtube video about a young man that was arrested and eventually shot by a police officer on New Year’s eve. The movie follows Oscar Grant (played by the amazing Michael B. Jordan) as he goes about his final day and the people he met. The director surely made an unforgettable debut.

I can say that the performances are better than the movie itself. The cast was a-plus-mazing. Octavia Spencer gave me everything I ever wanted in life, while Melonie Diaz served! I wouldn’t be shocked if both of them won awards come the Oscars/SAG/Golden Globes season. Did I mention Michael B. Jordan’s terrific starmaking turn? He was absolutely amazing. Some of the scenes were superbly shot, and the script was just a dream. The ending provided us with the information we needed but that last scene with the girlfriend and the kid, was just, I can’t even.

Definitely one of the films you shouldn’t dare miss this year.

Cory Monteith, 1982-2013

Cory MonteithThe Toronto Star: “The B.C. Coroner’s Service says Canadian actor Cory Monteith was killed by an overdose of heroin and alcohol.”

The said statement was announced this afternoon following the autopsy and investigation about Glee actor Cory Monteith’s untimely passing. Staff at Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel found his body around noon Saturday after he missed his checkout time.

What I really feel about this whole situation is that one man, with whom the public has grown to love over the past 4 years is now gone. Glee was a turning point in Cory Monteith’s young career and he definitely melted hearts and swooned girls from all over the world by being in such a great Tv show. I was shocked myself when I found out about his passing Sunday morning and I screamed myself “NO NO NO” then started reading more about it on twitter and the news articles, and unfortunately believed it.

The thing I loved about Cory Monteith is that he’s as genuine as he is very nice and hilarious. That’s something in general to all the fans who love him as well, but his interviews are what stood out to me. He would encourage everybody to be themselves, and follow their dreams. He was never hesitant to open up about his drug problem, and that he needed help. Hats off to him when he decided to check into rehab a few months ago, even though I found that completely baffling. I never expected someone like him to have such weight on his shoulders especially with his image. A while ago I was reading some more tweets about him and found out that co-stars Dianna Agron and Naya Rivera fell to the ground and collapsed hysterically after hearing the news. I couldn’t imagine the pain his family is going through, also his girlfriend Lea Michele and his friends. The outpouring of love and support throughout social media was flowing, everyone was heartbroken. It’s a tremendous loss to young Hollywood. I would also like to write about Talia Castellano, who died this morning as well. Such a fighter and a sweet little girl. Spread your wings and fly child, you are now free. Rest in peace Cory & Talia. We love you.

“I’m so embarrassed I’m not a real person yet”

Frances HaThis is becoming quite the movie review blog that I have wanted it not to be. But wait, I absolutely love movies and even though I watch a lot, there are few that stick out and just stays with me. This is one of those films: FRANCES HA.

Directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written by its star Greta Gerwig. It definitely seemed like a tribute to the 1960’s French New Wave Cinema, and oh, was filmed in black and white. It explores obsessive friendships, coming out of the nest, random trips to Paris, diminishing fortunes, dancing and most of all, stuff twenty-somethings go through. I was able to see it for free when I won passes from The Toronto Film Scene (thanks guys!) and I tagged my friend Cynthia along. We had the best time, just laughing at the theatre, waiting a long time and getting some good insight about the movie at the Q & A that preceded (Greta and Noah were in attendance).

Anyway, I’m just going to say it: this EASILY became my favorite film so far this 2013. It was just splendid (and I actually decided to use that word). It was a great portrait of someone who just hit rock bottom, but still manages to be super endearing and full of life. I have thought about so many things that happened to Frances in the movie and put myself into the same situation: whether I’m going to go nuts or just be like her, who’s ever so positive despite knowing deep in her heart that she’s bound for more unfortunate mishaps but then STILL TRIES. I don’t want to be a person who just stops caring and trying. So many of reflections of humanity and just a raw depiction of what it’s like to be 27 and not have your life figured out. One more thing: NEW YORK CITY! Geez I want to end up there so badly.

The title of my post was a line from the film in which Frances goes on a date with her best friend’s acquaintance, she just got a tax rebate and she insisted she paid for dinner but her credit card was declined. She then says those words and the theater burst into laughter, she runs to the closest ATM (which almost took forever). It was one of the movie’s best moments. Alright, so there you go, my review and my insight on this wonderful gem. I am going to post yet another blog about my thoughts on growing up and growing old, and why I want to take some more chances this year.

 

Grandfathers.

This is totally random but I’ve been meaning to write about them for a long time now. Here it goes. I am lucky to have such wonderful grandmothers whom I love very much. Sadly, their spouses have passed on already and I grew up without meeting one of them and the other got sick when I was 8 and unfortunately met his demise. It would have been great to see them up, and share memories. I remember this one time my mother told me about I was still a little tot and we were all sleeping in the same bed with my older brother and her, she woke up in the middle of the night because she couldn’t see me anymore laying on the bed, then she kept looking for me & found me under the bed playing with what seemed like an imaginary friend (I know, it’s kind of creepy), but she knew it was my grandpa, whom I never met. I guess it was his way of wanting to see me.

My other grandfather, we would always visit their home every Christmas when we were kids, and he actually did look like my dad. He got very sick one day & we just found out that he was too weak and he had to go. My grandmothers are still alive and strong, thank God for that. I know part of them wish their husbands are still alive. I miss them, though I never really knew them that well. God please take care of my grandfathers, and please let my grandmothers live longer.