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Category Archives: Community
Tried and true techniques for breezing through community college
written by: Casey Bridgeford
[twitter_follow username=”illholiday” language=”en”]
1) Start fresh: My high school years were over a long time ago. Even though I wasn’t the best student in high school, I had another chance to do things right. Community college was my fresh start and it could be yours if you let it.
2) Study: In high school my grade point average was 2.8. No elite school is actively recruiting students with a below B average. If you want to increase your gpa, study 3hours for every class session you have. (if a class meets more than once, then allot 3 hours for each session)
3) Grab a friend: If you are struggling in a class, people say to talk to the instructor. This works. But if you grab a classmate, you may get more help on your schedule. I always made friends with peers to get through material with people who were learning material at the same pace I was. My grades are proof that this worked
4) Don’t give up: Nobody sails through community college unscathed by personal drama or academic fatigue. When your crisis comes, don’t give up! Pressing on makes you a better student. I faced fatigue, boredom, and a declining work ethic all at the same time. Even though I earned the first D of my college career during that semester, I finished my community college career with a cumulative grade point average of 3.6.
5) Take a break: I don’t mean an academic break. I’ve seen many peers take a semester off that eventually turns into a year and on some occasions, a decade, off. To stay refreshed, skip a study session every now and then to take a long walk, enjoy a movie, or go to a live show. If you never do what you want to do, you’ll begin to despise the schooling process. I always felt refreshed after
taking time to write a blog post.
Casey Bridgeford has launched a fundraising campaign to help defray some of the costs of his move during his studies at UPenn. To learn more, visit http://www.gofundme.com/Ivy-Tech-to-Ivy-League.
Anytime you beg friends, family, and co-workers to give you thousands of dollars to go meet your estranged family members in a foreign country over 7,000 miles away, things are bound to get interesting. As interesting as things were at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, they didn’t prepare me for where I would be staying.
My driver safely navigated through the streets of Lagos to deliver me to Lekki (Lekki Lagos Nigeria Peninsula is a developing suburb considered a prime real estate location). This trip was a 4-hour feat. That’s right it took four hours to travel to where I would be staying. Along the way we experienced a great cross-section of the diversity that is Lagos.
A man selling watches caught my driver’s eye. His time pieces were stored away in pockets that had pockets. The street vendor walked alongside us displaying his watches while we crawled through traffic. His best pieces must have been tucked deep because he always had a better watch to show for each one that was rejected. About a half a mile and a dozen watches later we hit a wall [not literally]. My driver needed to make a decision and couldn’t chose between three different pieces. So, the plan was to get off the exit that was about a half mile up the road. The only thing that seemed like a catch was- traffic picked up and that meant we would leave the vendor in our dust. Much to my surprise he ran all the way to where we parked off of the exit, and was there as soon as we looked around for him. I knew that if my driver wasn’t going to buy a watch, I had to give something to the hardest working watch salesman I had ever seen.
After the excitement over the newly purchased timepiece calmed down, we were now getting hungry. That was not a problem either. Along with mattresses, tires, cabinet sets, magazines, dresses, travel kits, and windshield wipers, there were several food items to be bought while in motion on Lagos roadways. Given my apprehension to eat any of the sliced fruit or unpackaged food, we settled on plantain chips. The chips did exactly what they were designed to do. The kept me from taking a bite out of my driver’s right arm.
Soon, we were in the area where I would be staying. Some of the houses were huge, while others were literally shacks. It was interesting to see such wealth and poverty cohabiting literally feet from each other. One thing was sure, security was a major consideration. Each major estate was only visible above the 8-10 foot wall that guarded it from the outer world. I remembered seeing houses that were guarded like this, once before. The only houses that I had witness using this much security were the ones in Beverly Hills.
We pulled up to the house about 7 or 8 and I yelled to the driver, “Yo Holmes! Smell ya Later”.
No, seriously, it was like I had pulled right into a Bel-Air Estate. The one thing that would divert from that comparison, that I noticed right off the bat, was a distinct smell. It wasn’t ganja or anything crazy. It was actually something pretty good. I am at a loss of words for what fragrance it was but it was definitely African. I had smelled this smell at the poetry spots in the US. It was like a black soap/Nag Chompa/shea butter/non-european smell. I wish I could explain it better. Whatever the ingredients, it was both welcoming and fresh!
The maid opened the door and ushered me upstairs to greet the owners of the home, the Desalu Family. I quickly learned that I had family in Nigeria that I didn’t even know about. The owners of the home are not related to me by blood, and yet they treated me as their long lost son. Therefore, they literally turned me into the Fresh Prince from our first conversation. This was the home that they toiled hard to build and I was enjoying the fruits of their labor with maids, drivers, cooks and all!
When entering the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Desalu, the maid did a curtsey gesture. I first thought that this was done because she was a domestic servant and that it was expected of her. I later saw all people who were younger than the Desalu’s greeted them the same way, no matter their position or profession. That’s when it became evident to me that Africans have a very deliberate way that they pay respect to their elders. The respect that the maids showed to the Desalu family was indicative of their way of life. I liked that.
Another thing that I liked, was the fact that I had my own wing of the house. The suite where I was staying was fully equipped with a frig, microwave, sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom. The walls were adorned with beautiful art and I had they key to the suite. This was dope!
Every morning breakfast was delivered to me on a tray with linen’s and freshly squeezed orange juice. The only time it didn’t arrive, were days when we had to leave the house early.
[And yes, they do have Aunt Jemima in Nigeria]
Outside of my suite was the rest of the beautiful estate, which included: a living room, two sitting rooms, dining area, several bathrooms and bedrooms, an Olympic sized swimming pool, and a back yard with a view of the ocean. You could tell that ‘living’ had gone on in this home, good living.
After the initial shock of the thought of staying with Affluent Africans, I began to see the real value that their home represented. It was a home that entertained guests, raised children into adulthood, housed relatives, and covered this family. It was anything but the empty mausoleums that we often see celebrities use to shield themselves from society. It was a real home of a real family that is doing really good in Africa.
As you can see, I was involved in a lot of maxing and relaxing during my trip to Nigeria. Check back to hear more about the places I went, people I saw, and the things I did during my time in the Motherland!
Click HERE to learn about my first day in Lagos, Nigeria.
Back from the MothaLand: The play by play of my journey to seek acceptance on the African Continent///Day 1:The Airport
Many Americans go to 3rd world countries with a singular mission, service. For many, this includes building schools, providing drinking water, medical support or even spreading the gospel… While service is always in season, I was not one of those with that mindset. My mission was very specific and I wouldn’t even need my cape for it. Two weeks ago, I was headed to Africa to meet my family.
With financial backing of donors from around the globe, I embarked on a trip that would be full of triumphant success and tragic heartbreak. 10 days in Africa’s most populous city was an unbelievable experience for a person who wondered if he would ever experience life outside of public housing.
I stepped off the plane into a hectic airport that was crawling with what America would call “minorities”. Almost everyone in the whole place was black. The flight attendants rushing to catch outbound flights were black. The concession stands were black-owned and operated. Black pilots strolled past pulling small small black bags. I was anticipating seeing alot of black, and that’s what I got…all except the line I was in- passing through customs. This line was filled with all the world’s nationalities that weren’t black. If there were “US” and “Them” surveys to complete, I would have clearly had to complete the “Them” survey. to I seemed to to be part of the small group of people entering Nigeria that day that was black, but wasn’t African.
While trying to make this a Kodak moment, I quickly learned a lesson. Taking pictures at the wrong time could get me into some big trouble. Immediately after snapping a shot of my first sight in Nigeria, I was approached by two angry guards that wore a look that spoke very clearly. Their facial expression said, “Don’t you know we have back rooms we can take you to and practice interrogation techniques! Keep taking pictures if you want to disappear!” I don’t really know what was coming out of their mouth; but angry is universal, and they were angry!
I began to wonder what lied beyond the airport doors. What would happen once I officially set foot on African dirt? Would I stand out? Would I blend in? Could I shed the “minority” title that strangled my psyche for 30 years? Or, would everyone just snicker and make jokes about the American who was wearing three hats? I pretty much made sure that the depth of Africa’s first impression of me would be “Is wearing three hats a style that is celebrated in America?” Seeing that I am a hat man, I had to give Africa the same first impression that people in cities across the US have of me… I have no problem looking silly to keep my hats from getting smashed.
Once in the car, I began snapping photos again. The only problem, I forgot to ask if it was a good time to resume. One could begin to think that I was intent on ‘not’ being welcomed into Africa. In just a half an hour I had managed to piss off airport security, stick out like a sore thumb wearing several ‘funny looking’ hats at once, and now…Now, I clearly offended a gentleman who was minding his own business until… I began shooting pictures of his airport business.
After this picture, he came and tapped on the car window demanding to be paid for the pictures I took. That’s when I began to wonder if it was safer to take photos of the scenery instead of the people. I’m glad I had a good driver, and he got us out of there with the quickness. That was my first episode of “when being a dumb tourist gets real.”
As we made our way from the airport to where I would be staying, I began to think, “I hope it doesn’t get any worse than this”. Would it get worse? Would I make a better impression on the people related to me? And most importantly, where will I be staying for the next week and a half?
When I was six years old, my mother revealed my father’s identity to me. Even though she had raised me without and help from him, she spoke of him as one of the most genuine and noble men she had ever met. For the next 20 years, I was obsessed with connecting to the man whom I admired, but didn’t know. The truth is that, my father didn’t even know I existed until I was 27 years old. Thousands of prayers, Google searches and Nigerian news articles later, I found a living person with my father’s last name.
It showed up in the strangest of places. I found the last name, IGBOYI, on Facebook. The first Igboyi I found was my cousin. Afterwards, I met my little sister. Then I met the rest of my family. This marked a new era of my life. Now, I would be forever be connected to Africa, directly through my family.
It has been 3 years since I first connected with my sister on Facebook. She has graduated from college, started a career, and found love. She is now preparing to marry the man of her dreams and I want to be there! Help me make it to Nigeria for my sisters wedding on October 15, 2012. This will be my chance to meet my father face to face as well as the Nigerian family that I have never known.
Casey Bridgeford is an award-winning American hip hop artist and community activist. Professionally known as “iLL Holiday”; his music drives listeners to live healthy lifestyles. He runs a blog that is quickly becoming a medium for sharing new music, fashion and culture from around the globe.
Casey’s community work has allowed him to develop his city’s first and only city-wide peace tour. He currently works to develop young professionals who have an interest in working in the non-profit sector.
Learn more about Casey “iLL Holiday” Bridgeford at the following links:
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zachariah 4:10 Continue reading
iLL Show ALERT: Dope Music [plus] Good Food [plus] Wierd People [minus] Anything played on the Radio = IMAF 2012
The Independent Music and Arts Festival [IMAF] Presents iLL Holiday and Luke Austin Daugherty! Continue reading
This past Monday I had the great opportunity to assist my employer to tell its story. Every year we invite community residents in the Indianapolis community to an event that is full of food, conversations, and community celebration. This annual event is the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center’s (INRC) Annual Meeting.
This year’s event was no different than years past. We recognized community organizations that did exceptional work collaborating to impact communities, presented our accomplished keynote speaker, and reported on the progress that our organization made through its five signature programs.
After general greetings and recognition of guests, we jumped right into our Collaborative Spirit Awards. INRC’s Collaborative Spirit Awards offers communities an opportunity to showcase the work that they do to improve Indianapolis Neighborhoods.
This year’s three finalists were: Near Westside, Southeast Neighborhoods, & Millersville at Fall Creek Valley. The Near West Side Community Organization developed a community-wide picnic. This was a great means of getting residents connected to the organization and to each other. Several neighborhoods on the southeast side of Indianapolis banded together to form a Southeast Congress. They also developed a website as a medium to keep everyone updated on their work. The winner of the Collaborative Spirit Award, Millersville at Fall Creek Valley, developed four projects. These projects included: a treasured homes tour along with brochure detailing historic aspects of the community, a concert series in partnership with IPS # 106, a farmers market café, and a Greenspace Gateway Beautification Initiative in conjunction with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. For their great service in the community the winner of the Collaborative Spirit Award received a plaque along with a cash award.
Next, we made way for our keynote speaker. The keynote address was delivered by Indianapolis Star columnist, Matt Tully. He has made a tremendous impact on our community through sharing the tremendous number of opportunities the community has to get involved in Indianapolis Public Schools. Matt Tully offered a heart-warming story of how a desperate local high school needed funding; and how the Indianapolis community rallied to raise ten year’s worth of funding for its theatre program just by attending a single performance. His speech captured the essence of what it means to be a neighbor. It was based on the fact that we can change the reality of inner-city youth if we care enough to get involved.
Our last order of business was to let people know about the progress we made through our work over the past year. Instead of reading from a boring report, we decided to add a little creative flare to our presentation. We adapted the melody of the 1980s chart-topping song ‘Tom’s Diner’. With all original lyrics, we explained the work that we do, as well as its impact. The audience was not only welcoming of our off-the-wall presentation; they joined in with singing and swaying to the infectiously simple tune. After completing our musical rendition, it was clear that INRC was serious about finding new ways to tell its story.
In conclusion, this year’s annual meeting was a success. We connected residents to the work that community organizations are doing, presented one of Indianapolis’s positive forces in local media, and found new ways to tell our story. I think I see a full out theatric production coming, if we hope to top this year’s Annual Meeting.