My Golden Year at Planned Parenthood of New York City ’15- ’16

     I’ve always been interested in reproductive health and justice, but the community I come from, we don’t talk much about it. When we do, most of the time others would be making fun. We can’t even ask our elders out of respect, and most of the time we get discouraged when asked. So there wasn’t much of learning and exploring about this topic while growing up.

     Summer before my senior year in college,  I got matched with Planned Parenthood of New York City at the Executive, Research and Evaluation department for a year long paid internship through CUNY Service Corps program. I did have some idea about the work Planned Parenthood do but didnt know as much as I do now.

    When I started my internship last fall of 2015, it was during the time when anti-abortionist released those highly edited videos. Occasionally I would come across protester right outside the building, but nothing stoped me because the work I was doing mattered and was much more important than the things they were up to.

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    At the Executive office, I had the privilege of working directly with the CEO and chief of staffs. I also had a super cool supervisor Erika, who supported and helped me learn and grow throughout my time there. My responsibility primarily involved administration and office work, community outreach, creating and updating marketing materials, outreach materials and newsletters. Data collection and management, planning board meetings, research and analysis. And also expand the use of Salesforce across multiple departments and enhance quality of data management. I also facilitated increase cross-departmental collaboration through Intranet and Salesforce improvement. And with the Research & Evaluation department I supported with their efforts to use data to measure impact and effectiveness on various project.

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   Throughout my time there I took full advantage of all opportunities as much as I could, and I consider it as the “Golden year at PPNYC”. In this past one year, Planned Parenthood was attacked by anti abortionist and at the same year we persecuted individuals behind those highly edited videos. We also endorsed Hillary Clinton, US first female Democratic Presidential nominee. We also rallied for “Fight for $15” and “Paid family sick leave” in which I got to see US Vice President Joe Biden and PPNYC raised their minimum wage to $15. We were also able to work with local governments and pass the bill that made women sanitary hygiene kits tax free in New York State and made it available for free in NYC High Schools. These are some of PPNYC few achievements and work during my time there. And this year I am very excited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Planned Parenthood, continuing their services in providing Reproductive Healthcare to everyone no matter what their colour, gender, sexuality, religion or their last name is, their immigration status or their economic background.

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     “Planned Parenthood of New York City increased my understanding of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reproductive Justice issues; gave me an insight into organizational development and management; expanded my research skills and database management experience; technical proficiency with research and CRM tools.” –Aatish Gurung

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College √ So what’s next?

It wasn’t until my 7th grade, when I actually knew what it meant by College. I know it sounds weird and so dumb, as most of the kids my age would have already dreamed or decided which college they want to go to. But it was different for me, as I’m the first generation to go and get a college degree.

As I’m currently looking for jobs online, with my 5 windows and about 10 tabs each, all open, and deciding which position do I qualify for and which one I’m interested in, I came across info. such as “*at least 2 years minimum commitment.”

2 years???? Hell no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will be in grad school by then or would want to be in grad school given my situation is in favour. But since I’m so much in desperate to get a job, I ended up clicking apply. The worst part is not here yet. If I were to be educated and been living in Bhutan, I would have been very relaxed, just looked for *any job (since job market is super scarce and don’t have much to choose from) and would have wholeheartedly signed a commitment for next 10 to 20 years of service. But no! I want a career, not a job. So why is it different here?? Throughout my 4 years of college, I took various classes in the field of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics). I loved it all!  But the hard part is deciding which one to take up as a career.

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I’ve always loved science and arts, and I enjoy working and helping people, especially those who are in need. Does that mean I should become a doctor? a nurse? a social worker or????? a teacher. When it comes to deciding career, I need to consider a lot of things. Whether I’ll be satisfied , is it something that I’m passionate about or will I be able to pursue it? If yes, then how?

The perks of living in NYC is that there is so many careers to choose from, most of which I’m hearing for the first time. When people are given many choices, it becomes harder to choose. In Bhutan, after taking science stream I was determined to study medicine but now, I’m not sure if I want to. Of course I want to help people and of course I want to do what makes me happy, but the bigger question is which, how and when? I was so sure with what I wanted but now looking at my other choices, I’m getting second thoughts, whether medicine is what I really want. There’s so much pressure and question regarding my future. And also I just don’t want to stop by working, I love school. And by 28 I want to get my doctoral or at least be working on it.

Being in early twenties and a fresh college grad, it is absolutely fine to have these questions and go crazy on it. But right now what’s important is that, you should be thinking about where you want to be in next 5 years and plan how you’ll achieve it.

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Gentrified Tales

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Four years ago, I relocated in one of the world’s exotic urban city New York, from a tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Fresh outta High School, everything looked bright. I was in this amazing city where I can do anything that I want and be anyone I want to. Walking down the street with a drink is something that I am fond of. Whenever I meet an elderly person, I try to talk to them because they’ve seen and experienced so much, and always have great stories to share. In one of the days, I didn’t check the weather so I was out about. But it started to rain heavily, so I took a refuge in this newly opened café. It was packed, but I managed to get a seat next to this man, he was wearing a grey sweater with a black hat, and he had his walking stick hanging on his chair. I placed my starbucks on the table and headed to the counter to order a blueberry scone my favorite, because it was just too awkward to sit in the café without buying anything.

When I got back, I caught my counter partner staring at my Iced peach green tea lemonade. As I pulled my chair, he shook and turned away awkwardly. I said, Hi! He didn’t respond, I assumed how grumpy he was. I didn’t ask him anything and wanted to give him his space. After few seconds I heard, “there used to be a famous deli store by the Starbucks, these filthy company took over his business and they have to move out.” I looked at him confused; he took a sip of his coffee and was looking through the glass at the side. He then started talking about Sunnyside Queens in the 70’s. He said how tight-knit the community was and how gentrification shaped this community to present day Sunnyside that is dull and boring to him.

I was amazed how much it can affect such a large population. Gentrification brings business but also a string of problem. Fancy café and restaurants? Yes! Organic farmers market? Yes! Famous stores? Yes! but how about the steep hike of price? these are the questions we should consider.

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One of my biggest concerns is the effect on people’s health. Most of them end up getting displaced and they move to less expensive neighborhood that lacks proper access to health care and everyday needs. Among those who decide to stay back, because of the social political change in the neighborhood, everything is expensive. In order to meet daily needs, people tend to work more hours risking their health, just to provide bread and a roof over their family. There will be health disparity that needed to be addressed in these communities. According to an epidemiology report, people living in an unstable house would be at a higher risk of getting infected with diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDs. Over all, affecting the whole population, as majority of New Yorkers are from working class family and most of them live below federal poverty line.

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There should be a strict policy and rules against gentrification. We do want development but not to the expense that we jeopardize every family. People need to be educated, and strict law imposed. Our district representative needs to hear us and give a careful judgment about it.

 

 

Chēya the Essence of Love

Tea is the essence of love. Knowing the right ingredient, the right texture and the right flavour makes a tea perfect. It is best served with a slice of cake. There is no particular time of the day to serve tea. For communities it’s a part of their everyday culture.

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In Bhutan, when you go to someone’s house, they’ll asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, and you’re really just fine. They asks again if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Well, they’ll say then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah! you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you all end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.

In America, when someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea.

I like the Bhutanese way better.

I was 9 when I first started making tea. I got direction from my grandmother- boil water; add tealeaf, milk and sugar. I measured every bit of ingredients to make a proper cup of tea, did exactly as I was directed.

As I poured tea in a bone China tea cup placed on a saucer, from a clear glass tea pot,on a table laid with fine linen. I realized it wasn’t sufficient. In Bhutanese culture you are supposed to serve a cup full of tea, not even less of a power to thousand negative integers. If it’s not full, it is said that the guests will think that you didn’t want to offer them at first place. So it is very important that you serve a full cup of tea, even when you know that they’re not going to finish it.

During that day it was only my family but still, I wanted everything to be perfect. In haste, without tasting the tea, I added half a cup of hot water, then I steer it. As I carried my tray and walked towards the front porch, my family looked at me amazed. My grandmother was excited. “You’re all grown up now!” she said. One by one, I started poring the tea, it was hot, and swirled with black, red, white and red texture.

I handed it one by one. As soon as she took a sip, my grandmother made a sour but cute expression and smiled at me as she saw me looking at her and said, it’s lovely. “eeeeee yuck” this taste is awful! With a jeering face. “What did you make this out of?” Said my sibling. I got confused; I poured some on my cup. I took a sip; as soon as it touched my tongue I understood why my brother said that. The tealeaf was too strong, the milk was thick, the sugar was too much, it tasted like the leftover tea from last week which you just microwaved.

“I’m sorry, I’ll try making it again.” As stubborn as always, I took the tray back and started making it again. This time, I imagined what a perfect tea would be like. I took a handful of tealeaf and put it in the boiling water. I didn’t use any measuring cups; I simply did my own estimation. I added milk, sugar, and ginger to give it an extra taste. I took a small ladle and tasted it, it was sweet and the ingredients were perfect. It was a proper tea; it had a terrior where a rich malty soil, rainfall and altitude all contributed to this flavor, and took a great skill to create it. The art of making tea should come within you, being mindful and with time.

Throwback #GreysAnatomy

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     “A couple of hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. Never leave that till tomorrow, he said, which you can do today. This is the man who discovered electricity. You think more people would listen to what he had to say. I don’t know why we put things off, but if I had to guess, I’d have to say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, sometimes the fear is just of making a decision, because what if you’re wrong? What if you’re making a mistake you can’t undo? The early bird catches the worm. A stitch in time saves nine. He who hesitates is lost. We can’t pretend we hadn’t been told. We’ve all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time, heard the damn poets urging us to seize the day. Still sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today’s possibility under tomorrow’s rug until we can’t anymore. Until we finally understand for ourselves what Benjamin Franklin really meant. That knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping, and even the biggest failure, even the worst, beat the hell out of never trying.” -Greys Anatomy

Ranking Education

“A father gives his child nothing better than an education” -prophet Mouhamad. Just when it’s the admission decision season, thousands of parents anxiously wait for the decision as they’ll know which pre-school or high school their children will be attending this fall. Getting into the school of your choice is very important as you take into multiple considerations when deciding which one to go to.

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It was right after my 8th grade that I clearly remember debating with my dad about which HS I want to go to. Being a 13-year-old lower secondary school graduate, it was very important for me to go to a fancy school. In Bhutan, public schools are better than private school so Motithang HS and Yangchenphug HS were the top two public schools in the capital. I’ve always wanted to go to YHS as it had the brand “YHS” it was the education hub where most of the Royal families attended, where all the cool kids sent, students from middle and upper class family, royals and dignitaries also went there. Going to school there was pride for a 13-year-old kid and an acceptance to this social lunatic society. It was where the privileged went. They had fancy uniforms and cafeterias to go to. Going there was a pride and getting acceptable.

I debated so many times with my dad but he who’s as arrogant as I am, turned out to be super arrogant and stuck to his decision of sending me to MHSS. I was always upset, I didn’t talk to him, I didn’t eat and when ever my friends called, I would just tell them that I’m busy or not at home.

I didn’t get involve with any of the HS admission process, at times I hid my documents but my dad always knew where to find it.

I glared at the mirror; it had a bloody red background, with white, black and orange lines running over each other, like the rusty road map of the new town plan. I felt the urge to burn it down and throw it off the window. I didn’t want to wear and go to that school. The clock struck 8; I carried my bag, left my lunch pack at the kitchen counter and started heading to school.

Within minutes, I was there. Standing in front of the school gate and still being super hesitant to step in. I froze there for a second, until one of my friends tapped me at the back and said “Hi”. It can’t be that bad, I said to myself. I inhaled deeply and I walked in.

During my graduation ceremony, I was standing in front of hundreds of my friends and teachers whom I came know in this past 4 years. It was very hard to say goodbye but something that I mentioned in my speech was that we all became friends for life. When I looked around, I didn’t see the difference in race, cultural or class but I saw that person whom I’ve learned and grown so much, and someone who’s heading to college.

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I nodded yes, yes and yes, as I read “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” by NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES in NY Times magazine. I realized why my dad choose MHSS over YHSS, primarily because it had students with diverse background and the annual board exam score was highest in the country. Desegregated schools are very important, it teaches you more than the regular curriculum. You learn to communicate with others and learn to value things. Not only it helps in personal development, but also help improve in your regular study. Parents needs to look into schools that excel in academics and at the same time has a diverse class.

#20minutes

Sexual assault is becoming a norm in the US. It happens everywhere but majority takes place in college campuses. Lack of education and action taken against those sexual offenders even makes it easier for rape to occur on campus. The latest in the news is Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious women and was sentenced to six months jail time. This juristic decision has caused outraged across the country, calling it injustice, class and racial discrimination. A meme of Brock and a former Black athlete of Vanderbilt university who was convicted of similar crime but  was sentenced to 15-25 years of prison time has been going viral on social medias.

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A Lot of campuses do not report sexual assault as they prefer maintaining their school standards. The victims, predominantly female are made to remain silence. This actions unleashes rape culture on campus, also because the rapist think they can get away with it, and in most cases they do! If people were educated enough and victims were allowed to raise their voice, then maybe it can be different.

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Topics regarding white male privilege is being addressed multiple times. If you are tall, white, straight and christian, then you may get a pass and have privileges over others. But people who have been shot simply because they are black are being called thugs and monkeys, women who have been raped can be called sluts, transgendered people who want to pee in the restroom of their gender identification can be called perverts, but white males who sexually assault unconscious women cannot be called a rapist!

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