Reposted from I AM not the MEdia: Why teach teens and young adults about media literacy

As some of you know, I am currently working as Public Relations Coordinator at a Charlottean non-profit called I AM not the MEdia, Inc. One of my duties has been to revive and update their blog, which I gladly do every week. Sometimes, at the expense of not publishing anything here. This is one of the blog posts I published on our blog. It is meant to raise awareness to the importance of our mission, which is to teach teens and young adults about media literacy, helping them read the news and use social media in a critical way. I thought maybe it would be cool to repost it here for you guys as well. Here it goes:

I AM not the MEdia: Why teach teens and young adults about media literacy 

 

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Studying the psychosocial development of a person’s life cycle, Erik Erikson described adolescence as the stage of identity versus identity confusion. Between the ages of 13 and 19, teens are more likely to be influenced by their peers and their environment, often changing and experimenting different behaviors and activities while looking for answers about who they are and how they fit in society. Adolescents experience newly concerns about how they appear to others and start making their own decisions, despite how they were raised. One’s ideologies are now chosen by themselves, which often leads to conflicts with adults over political and religious orientations. Aptitudes and dreams are considered while choosing a career or a role in society, something that can lead to conflicts when parents feel the need to control and influence their child’s decision.True self discovery and identity comes when one reconciles with who you came to be in opposition with what society expects one to become. Also, it comes when one finds balance regarding what aptitudes he has and what he is going to do with it. These are important aspects of themselves teens need to figure out before entering adulthood.

On average, teens are exposed to the media 10 hours and 45 minutes per day, which includes engaging on social media, watching TV and playing video games. Considering teenagers are avid media consumers, one can only wonder at what extend the images and behaviors depicted by the media can influence teenagers, young adults and viewers in general. Sexuality, relationships, body image are some of the themes that seem to impact teens the most.

I AM not the MEdia, Inc. develops workshops for teens about media literacy believing that talking about unhealthy and risky behaviors and how they are portrayed on the media is the best way to provide teens with valuable information to be critical viewers of the media and informed decision makers. Ultimately, we give teens tools to think for themselves about how they want to be seen by others and what behaviors they can change to achieve their goals. We also work to send a strong message for people to embrace their individuality and uniqueness, hoping to build self esteem and their love for themselves.

Working for this organization has been such a challenge, and such a joy… Hopefully this post will help you guys see why.

 

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Living abroad: three advices to make your life easier

My husband is american and after we got married I went through a lot of adjustments when moving from Brazil to the US. Some were easier than others, but I learned a lot from each experience I had. I thought sharing it may help others on adapting to a new country, language and lifestyle. Here are my three advices to a smoother transition:

1. Stay in touch with your roots

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Stay in touch with friends and family is such an easier thing to do nowadays. Whatsapp, Imesssage, Skype, Viber and FaceTime are some of the technological tools and apps we all can use in our favor to talk to those who we love and know us better. They might not understand your difficulties entirely, but including them in your new life is always a way to reassure yourself that you don’t have to loose the relationships you already have to create new ones.

Something that took me a while to realize, also, was the importance of local food on our daily life. Discovering Brazilian grocery stores became a habit and I try to restock on sweetened condensed milk (to make brigadeiro) and frozen cheese breads every opportunity I have. Having that one comforting treat once in a while is a way to maintain cultural traditions I had ever since I was a kid.

Finally, since I love to read, I started purchasing more and more books written in Portuguese, so I can still practice my mother tongue and keep up to date to the literary scene in Brazil. When I get tired of speaking and writing in English, I find comfort on reading the best Brazilian prose I can find. Some people also purchase Latin TV channels that include TV stations from their countries, but to me the investment was never justified. I don’t really enjoy Brazilian TV as much as literature, so it didn’t make sense.

2. Find other expat friends

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Getting to know expats who are living in the same city as you and networking with other foreigners has two huge advantages: they can help you understand how to position your peculiar point of view about your new country’s culture as one of your professional strengths and they are very likely to understand everything you struggle with when you first arrive. Plus, there is no better people to mock your new country’s weird cultural traditions with. They probably share the same views.

3. Keep yourself busy

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Finding something to do with your free time is such an important advice. When I first got to the US, I couldn’t work because I was still waiting for my visa, so I stayed home for longs periods of time. The feeling of being an outsider was deepened by my loneliness, and that wasn’t helpful at all. Being so dependable of a car in Ohio was tough, but after I bought my own I started driving our dogs for parks and dog parks and getting in touch with locals that were doing the same. Having a silly chit chat while exercising my dogs was a much appreciated way to interact with others, exchange recommendations for local restaurants and grow my social network.

Those encounters are great, but more important than that is having real friends. I was lucky to become good friends with my husband’s friends, but I missed having my own. Does it sound selfish? I guess I needed a life support system that was independent from him, his friends or family. Finding a job and meeting people with common interests here in Charlotte definitely changed that feeling. Studying, attending courses and local networking events or finding local communities online, these are all things one can do to meet new people and develop new friendships. The other day, somebody posted an invitation for women to play volleyball at a Charlotean park every thursday night on a local facebook community. I thought it was a great way to connect with others. If only I could make it.

Science on the rocks: A Happy Hour at the Discovery Place

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The comment that would best describe the Science on the Rocks event, hosted at the Discovery Place in Uptown Charlotte, was made by a mom from Huntersville. She said something along the lines of “I am used to bringing my kids here, but coming without them is so much fun… I’ve already had two beers and all I can say is they should do it more often”. The Discovery Place is known as this cool science oriented museum especially designed for kids, an interactive place where you can learn more about biology, physics and astronomy. Science on the Rocks was an adult event accepting only people over 21, with bars spread around the museum. It was sort of an educative and interactive happy hour, with friends getting together to learn while playing.

On the first floor, there was a fish and sea animals exhibition, with water tanks for you to touch some of them. Ants and bugs were also exposed on a different room. One of my favorite parts was the section with musical instruments, and other cool toys. My husband preferred the catapult beer pong they installed by the cafe and bar, though.

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The main floor was even cooler. A mini lifting machine with four different seats were build to made people feel the different amount of force they needed to use to lift themselves to the top, teaching about the physical concepts of force, energy and weight. Near it, there were tables were you could design your own stop motion short film with different toys. Not to mention the Frog exhibition and the Alien Worlds and Androids, the last one displaying life sizes replicas of Star Wars’s  C3PO and Iron Man. In the same section, there was a room displaying footage of how NASA uses tones to analyze planets, their chemical components and the possibility of having aliens living there.

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The main complain was the 45 minutes line to get to the bars. There was 4, 2 in each floor of the museum, but they weren’t enough to handle the amount of people attending the event. Overall, a very fun entertaining and educative night. They definitely need to do it more often.

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World Cup in Brazil triggers home sickness

World Cup starts today in Brazil and I’ve been counting the days for the first kick since the beginning of June. Everywhere I look, somebody seems to be posting something about protests, celebrations, preparations. I can feel online the exciting atmosphere, the anxiety, the unsatisfaction with the contradictions between hosting an amazing event we would otherwise love and the social cost of it, the desire to have a great party. I can feel the joy of being part and making history spreading around my country. It’s such a great feeling, I can only imagine how people must be on the streets and in the bars. I really wish I could be there for that.

Seeing so much of Brazil on American TV is also not helping with my homesickness. ESPN aired yesterday a pre-world cup show displaying teams from different nations arriving and setting up, players already hurt due to training sessions. What hit me the most was a specific section of it about Rio, with a singer telling the story about how Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema), from Vinicius de Morais and Tom Jobim, was written.

 

Apart from being internationally known, this song is a national icon of some sort. It is a popular example of Bossa Nova, a Brazilian musical genre that mixes elements of samba and jazz. It is undeniably one of those songs that transmits the feeling of the waves going up and down on the shore, the summer breeze striking your neck, a glass of beer by the local bar,  and, in the good old days, a cigarette on the corner of your lips. The sound of people playing soccer or beach volleyball on the sand. Its the sort of music that mimics the hips of woman strolling down the road, the way her dress jiggles, the man’s laughter while discussing Neymar’s potential with the bartender. It brings in the sunshine that bathes Ipanema daily, bringing that sense of freshness, loving and tender belonging.

Lastly, it’s the type of song my American husband knew by heart and sang it to me last time we went to Rio, six months ago, while strolling down Copacabana on our way to Ipanema. Hearing the song has the power to take me back to that perfect moment we shared and vanished away. The memory remains, in all it’s sweetness. Yes, no song remains the same after a personal experience with it enhances it’s meaning. And, yes, it only reinforces the “saudade” I feel for my home country today.

#GipsyFeelings

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Moving to different countries and states brings a very specific mix of feelings, from extreme enthusiastic anxiety to deep self doubting despair. It all starts with the notion that you can do it, it won’t be a challenge, on the contrary, it is a change much needed. New opportunities ahead, new horizons, a clean slate, a fresh fresh start. Its all very exciting, you can feel butterflies on your stomach, you research everything you can about the new city and you start to believe it is way better than the place you live now. Sometimes that is totally the case, but after moving you also realize that you might have been too hard on your criticisms and too enthusiastic on your praise.

The first time you visit, if you’ve never been, is as awesome as you would expect. Maybe better. Each restaurant or bar discovery is treasured, you start picking your favorite local spots and soon your choices will give hints of your taste, your social persona, your identity. It is very cool to see the neighborhoods with tourists eyes, get to know them, form an opinion and choose your new home accordingly. Having local tips, reading local news and blogs always helps.

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Packing is always a hustle. The troubling thing is, most of the time, we decide we need to take with us more stuff than we actually need. It is a good opportunity to let some things go, maybe that old high school jeans that doesn’t fit anymore, the one you keep just to make sure you stay on your diet. It helps a little bit, but no results so far, years have gone and the button still doesn’t close. Let it go!

Lastly, as moving day comes around the corner, you get that rush of worries: what if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t fit in? What if I can’t find a job or make new friends? What if? Truth is, “what if’s” are conjunctures we conceive when we take risks, when we fear the consequences and doubt our decisions. There’s no way we can know if all the “what if’s” will become reality, not unless we decide to live, face the challenges and the fears. That might not be easy, but for some reason you thought a change was necessary, so stick to your instincts and give it a try. It might actually surprise you!

Expats Social Networking through Internations

 

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In April me and my husband moved from Ohio to North Carolina. Being an expat, I didn’t feel it was a big change. Of course we would have to adapt to a new city, get to know new people, make new friends, but that was nothing I didn’t had to do before. I knew I had everything it takes to go through with it once more.

This time, though, I felt I needed to be more engaged in creating a network of expats, people in the same situation as me, who would understand what it feels like to not speak your mother tongue for weeks, who appreciate skype, whatsapp and all the modern technologies that help you soothe that homesick feeling that catches you by surprise now and then.

I found out about Internations, the expat social network, and their monthly reunions through a google search. I signed up, talked to a few people online asking directions and tips of what to do. It was very nice getting to know the parts of Charlotte they lived and loved.The monthly meetings take place every last thursday of the month. There were europeans, south americans, chinese, us citizens. People from everywhere. Many accents, many nationalities, one thing in common: the experience of living abroad in the same city.

The first, and only, meeting I attended took place in April, just two weeks after moving. It felt good being able to talk and share experiences, but it was particularly good to be able to talk in Portuguese for a few moments. Sometimes, having to speak English all the time, makes me forget how much of language, and more specifically our mother tongue, shapes our view of life, our identities. For instance, in Portuguese we have a particular word to express that feeling of longing and missing for something or somebody, which is “saudade”. A word that I can’t really explain or translate to English in a satisfactory way, I always feel like I am simplifying its meaning. As a human emotion, we all must share the feeling that word describe, but I always wondered if the fact that we Portuguese speakers had a particular word for it meant that we had the necessity to use language to further determine our feelings. Thoughts of a linguistic mind.

On a different note, the meeting was a great step for networking in Charlotte. Having contacts in different companies and jobs is vital for a journalist who is trying to find her way into business. I met an older american guy who had many talents, amongst them being a life coach. He advised me to meet as many people as I could that night, and to create a plan of action that would help me get back on track. One of my first thoughts was how much I missed writing on this blog the last few months, which as you guys can see brought me back with new posts, new ideas. I can’t wait for next meeting, on the 28th. What else will it bring my way?

 

The Job Experience

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Being silent for a while has been a lesson about myself. Even when I was working 50 or 60 hours a week this past few months, my mind would write incredible verses, sentences, opening lines for a possible book. And as soon as reality came crushing, the words so craftily arranged on the back if my eyes would dissipate and be lost forever.

I started paying attention to people around me for the sole purpose of creating interesting, top notch characters. I saw my body detaching from the moment and moving backwards, like I wasn’t experiencing everything that was happening in front of me and my body was just a shallow robot following mechanic orders. Then again, I was working 60 hours a week, I was so tired it might have been the only way I found to cope with it all. Cope with the 10 hour work shifts, the low paying job I had.

I started working for Limited Brands at their warehouse last september thinking I would be the only one with a degree. Presumptuous, I know. I quickly realized some people there had BAs in Creative Writing and Masters in Marketing. It didn’t make me feel any better that I wasn’t the only one overeducated.

Single moms and teen moms were going after money to raise their children, hoping the seasonal position would became a full time job eventually. That would be ideal, because then they would have access to benefits, health insurance, security. Sometimes, that can be an overrated concept, but not in their situation. Substitute teachers looked for stability, an extra source of income, anything to help them pay their house mortgage and their holiday expenses. Married moms were looking for a way back into the job market.

When things got rough, women cried, picked fights or ran away, never coming back. They were either fired or just resigned, backed up by Ohio work laws. Here, differently than in Brazil, you are allowed to abandon your job without notice. You can also be fired and loose everything overnight.

It was certainly an emotional, stressful experience. But maybe, just maybe, it was the first step I had to go through to have a better job next time.