Native Apples: Newsletter 1

I am super excited to be a part of this project. Though, admittedly, I have been so busy with freelance writing, schoolwork, and coordinating with several internationally based clients that time seemed to just…go poof.

Here is the first newsletter for Native Apples:fireshot-capture-40-native-apples-i-smore-https___www-smore-com_wkn00-native-apples_embed1

Read the entire newsletter here: Native Apples Newsletter 1

Native Apples advocates a growing global consciousness and tolerance. In a time where xenophobia seems to be escalating, let’s create a culturally diverse community where we celebrate our heritages and ethnicities.

Promote global tolerance, awareness, and love.

Generation Butthurt – Interesting Thoughts

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb’s Blog: Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie. Today we are going to dive back into social media because who we are on-line impacts the odds of our success. Whether we like it or not, engaging on social media and cultivating a following is going to massively…

via Generation Butthurt—How Being Constantly Offended (and Offensive) Costs BIG — Writing and Musing

USA Inauguration Day

January 20th, 2017. What a day. Usually the United States of America is full of excited energy. Yet, I know so many of us are overcome with a sense of dread. Fear. And more importantly, rage.

As an American, much thought has gone into this post. As a writer, I can only hope my words will hold some weight. Additionally, as a global citizen, I endeavor to help mitigate the fears of friends throughout Earth. I have heard that America is doomed now that Trump is President. I have felt the trembles of fear rippling through international news and minds.

This morning on Facebook I shared these thoughts:

I usually don’t write long statuses on FB, as I feel they have no meaning when it comes to making waves. I don’t know how many people read the opinions of others, but I cannot contain these thoughts. As a daughter of the nation known as America, today I woke up feeling ill. I remember growing up, reading history, looking back at how much has changed and thinking, “America is headed in the right direction.” I remember holding hands with people of every ethnic background and thinking, “We’re coming together.”

I believed that it was the essence of being an American that made it possible for me to have friends from all over the world and call them “brother and sister” despite having no blood relation.

Yet, there were times to when I was not proud to be an American. One of these moments was when I was in a convenience store in Japan, looking at the news reports of the 2016 Presidential Campaign. In the background I heard some Japanese people pondering what is wrong with Americans. How could we be so blind? Around the same time, I was repeatedly confused for a European. Whenever I said, “I’m from America,” people were both shocked and confused.

And this was not just the Japanese. It was Australians thinking I’m from Britain, or Italians thinking I’m from France.

I inquired as to why so many people assumed I am not American. The response was staggering. The overall consensus was that because I am not obnoxious, bigoted, racist, overweight, bombastic, and unintelligent, there was no way I could be American.

Then I would whip out my passport or say something only Americans would know. In a way, I thought I was proving that Americans are nothing like Donald Trump. I thought that this election would prove we are bigger than our fears as a nation. That ethics, morals, and justice would prevail.

But today, America is swearing a man into office that I just cannot accept. Some of you may celebrate this inauguration. But for me, it is a day of lamentation on a Grecian scale.
Yet, I do keep a sliver of hope in my heart. Great and terrible things have happened in America. The country has endured horrendous events time and time again. When Americans come together, we accomplish amazing feats. So, to my brothers and sisters of every ethnic and cultural background and sexual orientation who seek to resist, fight on. The American Dream lives on in all of you.

Many of my friends are ready to rise up and fight for what they believe in. “Our existence is threatened by Trump and his administration,” they say.

Yes. You might be right.

But do not crumble in the face of this threat. Stay strong, stand together, and know that in times when the inconceivable happens, there is someone close to keep you safe.

Fight on, fellow Americans. Rage on.

Investing in Women

Today is a rather important day for me. It’s my 3rd full day of a vacation in Japan. Time just seems to fly by when you’re having fun.

Here in this country so unlike my own, you begin to see the differences in genders. Japan is not terrible when it comes to equality for women. In fact, while women are still considered the mothers, the caretakers, the homemakers, and the effeminate in Japan, the education for them is the same. Women here don’t seem to mind being treated along the lines of society’s depiction of them.

Women should “know their place,” but they aren’t necessarily stopped from attempting to achieve their goals like in other places around the world. In that sense, I think there’s an underlying strength and fortitude in Japanese women. They work hard for what they want.

The only thing is that I wish Japan would take emphasis off of women having to be weak and slim and demure. But then again, it’s cultural too.

In America, women and men aren’t on the same plane–but it’s different somehow. A lot of women are scorned for speaking out, for wanting to protect their own bodies, for wanting the same rate of pay as men. But we forget how fortunate we are.

We forget how much we already have.

So many women around the world don’t have the options American women do. In lesser developed countries, there’s no maternity leave. There’s no voting rights. There’s no feminine hygiene, healthcare, and post-natal care. Women are scorned as humans but coveted as objects. Many are seen as sexual devices. It’s terrible, and it needs to stop.

So once again, I was asked to write up an article for Lemin Solutions, an organization building up a network of philanthropists, donors, and investors to change the world little-by-little through technology.

Check out the previous article HERE.


You Help Women, You Help a Nation

By Valerie Taylor

There was a time when ones gender mattered more than their capabilities at work and in life. Men were thought to be smarter, stronger, and generally more human than women. But that was grossly underestimating the potential of the opposite gender, whose abilities span farther than simply adding children to the human population. That is why it is crucial to understand that women are just not the mortar of society, we are the future of the world, and every piece of the future is a firm investment.

Lemon Solutions understands the importance of investing in women throughout the world, but do you?

Let’s look at where most women in the world stand:

  • Women make up half of the world’s population, but around 70% of them are poor.
  • Within that 70%, 2 out of 3 adult women are illiterate.
  • Globally, women work more than men, but they only earn 1/10 of the world’s sum income.
  • More than 100 countries have laws restricting women’s participation in society and the economy.
  • 43% of women make up the agricultural work force but most don’t own their own land. However, it’s been proven that women who farm get 10-30% more crop yields than men.
  • Women only make up 18.9% of the world’s legislators. Countries with more women in the government see more peace and collaboration with other nations.

(credit: womendeliver.org & usaid.gov)

There is of course more to investing in women than simply giving more money to feminine healthcare and developing nations. Investing in women means advocating equality for everyone in the entire world. This means understanding that women are as important to building households, countries, and the future as men are. When men and women are on the same ground, free from the constraints of a glass ceiling, so much more can come into fruition.

Women are innovators, entrepreneurs, and nation builders. When women are given power, great things happen. The country’s economy stabilizes, there are less instances of sexually transmitted diseases, lower infant mortality rates, and an boosted workforce of educated individuals. So many women change the course of history by getting educated, getting a sense of purpose, and having confidence. Examples of this is seen in the Ghunduribadi women who used their bodies as shields to protect a sacred forest in Odisha, India; the African women who pool their resources together to trade chickens, eggs, and other food to provide for their families; and the Lebanese bloodied brides who are standing up to rapists and for women’s rights. Women shake society when they stare down oppressors, like the young girl in Chile or stand against terrorism like Malala Yousafzai.

Lemin Solutions is a new kind of organization that is comprised of innovators, just like you, who team up with an international network of professionals to tackle social issues. The pilot program for the company is to aid Eritrean women who are now refugees in Israel with getting the financial, medical, educational, legal, and technological help they need to become a prosperous members of society. It is projects such as these that make use of Lemin Solutions amazing pool of philanthropic donors, team members, and investors.

leminsolutionsgraphic

1: Gebremichael is an Eritrean refugee who came to the U.S. in 2010. The painting is in honor of women.

An investment in these Eritrean women is not solely based on money. It’s based on all the things that make someone’s life more complete. An example of this is bringing in Information Technology specialists, psychologists, and language teachers to train, teach, and guide these women. Lemin Solutions offers to pay for utilities and connect psychology and social work professionals to help promote mental wellness too.

After all, an investment is more than dollars and cents signs, an investment can be your ideas and time. If you have an idea to aid towards strengthening women and bringing greater opportunities throughout the world, Lemin Solutions invites you to contact them. Who knows, your dream might become reality.

Innovations Saving Lives

I was recently asked by someone on Fiverr, where I’m growing into a self-directed entrepreneur (yay!), to write an article for their organization. Now, I’m not usually one for over-doing promotions or shining light on myself, but I wanted to feature this article today. I also wanted to explain more about the organization, because I think a coalition of minds like this shows something amazing.

Global citizenship. Worldwide connections. People joining hands to do amazing things, like reshaping the face of economy with technology, or giving the less fortunate a reason to smile.

Isn’t that the coolest thing ever? I think, more than ever, people need to lay aside their differences and this idea of “getting ahead” to truly come to together. The world is filled with so much hate and confusion nowadays. Whenever I see people trying to do their part to bring peace and community to those trapped in terrible circumstances, it renews my faith in my fellow man.

So when Lemin Solutions asked me to write them up something special about their company of innovators changing and saving lives, I was stoked.

It’s that time of the year where we start preaching again about the “spirit of giving.” Showing kindness and compassion towards others should not be dependent on your religion. Nor should it matter if you believe in the “reason for the season,” which many would say is the birth of Jesus Christ.

No… the true reason, I think, is something that people have globally created for themselves and their own cultures. The desire to give rather than receive, the want of something better for those that don’t have what you do–that’s what I’m talking about.

Lemin Solutions understands that, and I was honored to be the first writer to feature their message.

If you have an idea that can bring smiles and wellness to impoverished populations in far away places, would you do it?

If you had support and financial backing, wouldn’t you let your ambitions take flight?

I know I want to try, which is why I’m happy to support Lemin Solutions, an organization that gives you the appropriate network, materials, and funding to back your humanitarian efforts. To learn more, check out the blog I wrote for them HERE.

A brief quote from the page:

Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Though many people believe that by themselves making waves is impossible, they forget that a single act of kindness creates a ripple. That ripple can motivate others to join in the cause, and soon what was once a solitary force is standing in line with thousands, if not millions, more. 

Lemin Solutions believes in connecting modern innovators with like-minded people through technology to tackle social issues around the world so that the ripple you’re making now can join a wave and transform into something bold and beneficial for the world.

The Traveling Person

Written by: Valerie Taylor (me!)
(This is the English version. For the Japanese version, please click here:≪日本語≫

It’s been a while!

When you hear “travel,” what comes to mind? Where do you think of? Without a doubt, for me, “travel” means “Japan.” But right now, there’s a huge distance between me and that land.

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When I lived in Tokyo (up until a few days ago), I gathered amazing memories, and so right now my heart and soul are still in Japan. I’m sure there’s people who are thinking, “So why come back to America?” I’ll explain.

The Visa Problem
I got into Japan multiple times on a student visa. In 2011, I was awarded the study abroad visa and for about a year and half I studied in Shinjuku with it. Then in 2015, although it was a short time, I was allowed to use that visa again—though I opted not to. At that time, Immigration told me that student visa was still usable.

But when I decided to use it again, I was told that within 1 year (February 2017), I would need to renew or change it. However, on a student visa I couldn’t find financial stability, and so I sought out a work visa. I don’t have a Bachelors yet, and I don’t have 2 years of performance experience. Getting a work visa is difficult in this case.

More than difficult, it’s impossible. Immigration would have nothing about it. No matter what I tried, the answer was, “Go back to America and try again.”

With much deliberation, I decided that belaboring the parting wasn’t smart.

But There Was Time!
If you think that, it’s actually the opposite. February 2017 is indeed written on my registration card, but take a moment and remember that the application for renewal and changes begin around 4 months prior. In reality, no matter what I’d do, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.

So I’ll get my Bachelors. I’ll keep dancing.

Besides, I’ve made the promise to go back to Japan in December. Afterwards, in 2017, I’ll be moving back again. I can finish my Bachelors in about 6-9 months, so I can still broaden and accomplish my dreams.

Before Returning to America
I thought I’d create some awesome memories. That way, I could board the plane smiling and meet my parents smiling. Somehow, I did just that. But now, I’m lonely.

I am not happy in America. Nor am I comfortable. I look at my photos of Japan every damned day.

I had a party with Y-de-One. Every day—every single day—I wake up and think, “I want to see them.” Are they well? What kind of performances are they appearing in? What choreography am I missing out on?

I experienced ninja training. Also, I saw a festival at Sky Tree. In America, ninjas are limited to TV shows like “Ninja Warrior” and “Naruto.” When searching for a decent dojo, I’ve yet to find any. Ah, I want to continue studying with the Musashi Ninja Clan.

And I want to keep taking classes at the Ninja Club Shinjuku Gym.

I even did some sightseeing in Chiba city. It’s really quiet but not all that interesting. The castle was cool, and the architecture is just wonderful (for a nerd like me).

Present Thoughts
My body made it back to America safe, but my heart and soul aren’t well. I’m happy to see family, but there’s friends and family waiting for me in Japan.

I look at the calendar and sadly think, “God, it’s so long.” December, next year… no matter you look at it, it’s not really that short of a time.

But I do have plans!
October = Brooklyn, NY for classes with Gallim Dance and Mark Morris Dance.
November = ?
December = Visiting Japan before Christmas.

 

 

旅している人

記者:ヴァレリー・テイラー
(日本語のみ;English = 英語はこちら

お久しぶりです!

「旅」って、何を考えますか。どこの場所へ行きたいんですか。私は必ず「日本」と答えるに決まりましたが、いま日本と私からすごい距離があります。

東京に住んでいた時に色々な素敵な思い出を集めて、今私の心と魂やまだあの都市に残っています。なぜアメリカへ戻ってきたのかという聞きたい人がいらっしゃると思いますので、説明しておきます。

ビザに関する問題

何回も日本へ行けることは学生ビザのおかげで。留学のビザは2011年に得て、1年半間ぐらい新宿に日本語を勉強しました。2015年12月に短い期間に東京へ来ました。その時、入国管理局から「学生ビザを使えるよ」と聞かれました。

でも、2017年2月に更新しなければならないことになりました。しかし、私は「留学生」で生活できなくなかったので、他のビザを目指しました。4年間学位を持っていなくて、ダンサーとして2年間の演芸につて経験がないんです。こんな場合に、就労ビザを手に入れることが難しいです。

まあ、難しいより不可能です。

色々の考えをあげくにアメリカへ帰ることになりました。

時間があるけど!

と思えば、実際に逆です。2017年2月が在留カードに書いてありますが、少し考えれば、2016年11月からビザの変化申し込みが始まるはずです。現在に、努力しても何もできないんです。

今アメリカの大学を続けます。ダンスの訓練を続けます。

12月に「日本へ来る」という約束もあります。あと、2017年にまた日本に引越しことができます。大学は早く終了できますので、自分の夢はここから広げて、達成できます。

アメリカへ戻った前

いい思い出を作ろうと思いました。笑顔で飛行機に乗って、笑顔でご両親を挨拶しようと思いました。なんとなくうまくやりましたが、今寂しいです。

アメリカでは幸せを感じられないんです。居心地がないんです。毎日戻った前に撮った写真を見ています。

ワイデワンのみんなとパーティーをしました。毎日、毎日、目が覚めたとたん「会いたい」と思っています。みんなは元気かな?と、みんなはどんな披露に出るかな?と考えています。何の振り付けが作り出しましたの?

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色々な忍者体験を参加させていただきました。そして、スカイツリーの忍者祭りを見に行きました。アメリカで、忍者ってさ、Ninja WarriorとNARUTOという番組を考えしかいない人がたくさんです。いい道場を探しても、見つけませんでした。あっ、もう一度武蔵一族と勉強したいんです。

また、Ninja Club Shinjuku Gymで体術とか練習したいんです。

千葉市を観光しました。(とても静かな町!あまり面白くないと思いましたけどね~)お城はすごいですね!建築は素晴らしいです。

現在の考え

身体が無事でアメリカへ戻りましたが、心と魂は元気じゃありません。家族に会ってうれしいですが、日本にいる友達と家族がいなくて、寂しくてたまらないんです。

カレンダーを見ると、「あ、もう、そんな長い時間か」と悲しくて思います。12月でも、来年でも・・・どんな視野で見ても短期間わけじゃありません。

でも予定も作っておきました!
10月=ニューヨークでダンスレッスン!Gallim DanceMark Morris Dance.
11月=考え中
12月=クリスマスまでに日本!