My day began at 3am. I went through my morning routine, grabbed my belongings, and called a taxi. By 4:15, I was en route to the local airport.
The University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh invited me to serve as their keynote speaker for an event sponsored by the Men of Color Initiative. After a two-hour delay, I boarded the first of three planes I would take to Appleton, Wisconsin to speak with students and faculty about self-love, Capoeira, and how achieving long-term success begins with awareness.
The talk I planned to give included a lecture, demonstration, discussion, and participatory exercises. As I traveled to campus, I wondered—Will I feel nostalgic about my former work?
Before my family’s move to Mexico in 2016, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring with the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to teaching undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds and academic majors in the Honors College, I also had the responsibility to serve as an advisor and director to a co-curricular initiative. It was a lot of work. But now that I live out of the country, I have moments when I miss my job.
I remember the plethora of opportunities to share with my students and facilitate the challenging conversations necessary for growth.
Topics in my courses covered masculinity, race, racism, Capoeira, and counter-histories to the dominant curricula often used in schools. I also taught classes that explored success strategies in education, business, and employment. The work had its rewards, and my trip reminded me of it this week.
While on the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh’s campus, I had the opportunity to visit a colleague’s class. The course explored Black masculinity as a social construct and how it limits the potential of too many young men in their efforts to develop an authentic identity. Please read some of my previous posts to understand how Black masculinity resonates with my interests.
I listened to the professor’s explanation of the essential ideas and observed how students responded to his challenges for more in-depth analysis. It was clear that some had read the assignments with more attention to details than others. Several students who sat near the front shared insightful ideas and questions; others attempted to avoid eye contact and escape the pressure to participate.
I sat in the rear of the classroom, took notes, and remembered my experiences as a teacher and student of university classes. Pushing my students to realize and express their greatness was part of the pedagogy I aimed to offer in every session of my classes.
When I was a student myself, I remember the days when I was eager to express my opinion in class and others when I also hid underneath my hat to avoid any possible chance of needing to talk with my peers or the professor.
Creating a vision for your life is critical to achieving lasting success.
When we moved to Mazatlan, I believed opportunities similar to my weekend at the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh would happen more frequently as part of my education consulting services. Due to budgetary constraints impacting many schools and other factors, the opportunities have been limited. Nonetheless, I am maintaining my vision that includes using Capoeira as a tool to encourage positive self-awareness and lifestyle choices.
The call to action this week is for you to keep working to gain clarity on the vision for your life. Your most prominent dreams and desires will likely not happen on your terms or follow your timeline. But you must believe that anything is possible.
While on my trip home from Wisconsin, I began reading Mel Robbins’ 5 Sec Rule. It discusses the use of counting down from 5-0 to encourage you to get started on the small tasks that can lead to higher and long-term achievements. If you need help gaining clarity around your vision, I can serve as your personal development guide.
Thank you for taking time on your Sunday to read!
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