“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…”

April 6, 2013

I am currently on Spring Break, and as such, decided that it would be a good time to update this bloggity blog.  Especially since I ditched my last update halfway through because it was getting so long that I was boring myself.  You know it’s bad when you are talking about your own life and you can’t manage to hold your own interest.  We left off in January, and here is is, nearly April.  This semester has been no less busy than the last, in fact it’s been quite difficult.  I am co-teaching a sexualities class this semester (Sex Differences in the Lifecyle) with the fabulous Lisa Vallin.  Lisa is a PhD student from Sweden, close to my age, and hilariously funny. She’s a really natural teacher and it’s been great not only to work with her, but just to observe her and how easily she presents the material.  The class is enormous with about 110 students, so it’s a much different experience from last year, where I had my own small lab section of about 30 kids.  The material can get quite racy, as we talk about anything and everything that has to do with sex.  It’s both a women’s studies course and a biology course.  Here is a recent photo from 3 FABULOUS Doula/Midwife friends of mine that volunteered to speak to our class:

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It has been quite shocking to me to see how little these kids know about sex.  This is a junior-level course, so the statistics say that over 90% of my class is actually having sex.  Hawai`i’s sex education curriculum is a travesty, and it’s reflected in our students.  What a shame.  When will parents learn that children cannot and do not learn from abstinence-only sex ed?  There is still so much taboo involved in discussing something that we all do, and all have desires to do.  It’s so strange to me.  And now that I’m teaching it, it’s frightening, too.  Instead we rely on pornography to send crazy messages to our boys about violent sex, unrealistic notions of female body parts, and that his enjoyment of the act is of the utmost importance.  We let tv and peer influence send crazy messages to our girls about the “dangers” of sex, of dressing too provocatively, of shaming girls into the labels of “sluts” and “whores”, and girl-blaming when sexual violence occurs.  Additionally, all of this occurs in a very oppressive, heteronormative manner, of course.  And people wonder why these situations keep happening over and over and over…education, folks!  It’s so terribly unfortunate that parents have such a difficult time talking to their children about sex without a shaming overtone, but if you absolutely cannot, please advocate for decent information so that they may learn it elsewhere.  Sincerely, your frustrated sex ed teacher…


Anywho, I digress.  My social work classes are a bit disappointing this semester.  I’m not very interested in the material and I am finding the classes dull and not challenging enough.  I hate that, as there is so much to learn and so much to talk about.  My women’s studies course is super challenging, as usual.  I will be finished with women’s studies by the end of this semester which truly bums me out.  I know it will make my academic life easier, but I will sorely miss it.  Those classes are not only demanding and crazy difficult, but wonderfully enriching…I leave every class feeling like I’ve learned so much.  It’s great and I feel so lucky to get to teach for this amazing department.  They are all so impressive…writing books, winning awards, getting published in the most prestigious of journals…and then there’s me.  😛


I was also fortunate enough to fall into a group of women that were organizing Honolulu’s One Billion Rising Movement, which was something that was happening in 189 countries all over the world.1BR11  It was to protest violence against women, in all forms.  The event was centered around a dance or a type of flash mob with each country performing a different dance.  I met so many inspirational and fabulous women volunteering for this event.  There is something special about the bond of women.  It’s unspoken and heavy and palpable.  It’s the shared struggle of oppression, I suppose.  We practiced and rehearsed for weeks before performing the dance in the streets of Honolulu.  It was a powerful night and I was nearly

1BR2moved to tears several times.  I was also asked to teach the dance on UH’s campus through the Pau Violence program (which is a great group on campus dedicated to education about violence against women).  I very much miss dancing and collaborating with those women on a weekly basis.  It made me realize that I might have a desire or even an affinity for macro social work.  I’ve always worked in direct practice but it seems that every time I volunteer for an organization, it is in a community-building capacity.  Hmmmm.

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What else has been happening?  I got to be a part of the biggest peace sign in the world!!!  blog2For Martin Luther King day, there was a huge festival in Kapiolani park.  I met my friend Shawna to participate in the attempt to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest human peace sign in the world!  It was great fun and super cute to see peace-loving families and hippies supporting the notion of unity.  🙂

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Many of you already know, but I will announce it like it’s a great surprise on here – I am headed to the Philippines this summer!  Yup, the WHOLE summer.  As a social work student, you must complete 2 separate field practicums (internships) before graduating.  Having worked in Hawai`i for so long, I really wanted to do something different, something even more challenging.  Well, I think I got my wish.  UH has a program abroad and I soon set my sights on it.  I will be in the Philippines roughly 10-12 weeks, leaving on May 26th.  I will be in the city of Calbayog, in West Samar.  I will be working and living in a shelter with girls that have been sexually victimized and/or assaulted.  It’s going to be difficult work, no doubt about it.  They showed me pictures of my living situation and it looks…a wee bit rough.  I’m also going completely alone.  There are 4 of us selected, but we each have individual sites.  I am told that my site is the farthest away and that you have to fly in, so that leaves me fairly isolated.  As scary as that is, I’m also sort of happy about it.  If it is truly that isolated, I expect there to be a stronger sense of community, which will assist me.  I also secretly wanted (though it still admittedly frightens me) something that would completely move me out of my comfort zone.  I want to be challenged, I want to be uncomfortable.  I want as real of an experience as they can safely provide.  I may be lamenting that statement come July, but for now, I’m happy and excited, albeit scared and uncertain.  But most things in life that are worth something are not easy, right?  I just want to help, to make a difference, to feel like my time there is meaningful to someone other than myself.  I know it will be meaningful to me, I know it will be fulfilling for me…but I want it to be meangingful to those young girls, who I am certain are stronger and more beautiful than they know.  This kind of work is especially difficult abroad, as you want to be very careful not to barge in with your Western eyes and “set them straight.”  It’s not just a matter of being “culturally sensitive” or “culturally aware” as they drill into us in social work…it’s about respecting that their way of thinking, however different it might be from my own, is valid.  I am not there to change them, to change their culture or especially, to colonize or further Westernize it.  I am there to learn and absorb and instill some of what I have learned over the years about women and trauma, sexual violence, and healing. I have to be always cognizant of how I am presenting the material and how I am presenting myself, because I do not want to encroach on their value systems or bulldoze them with my own.  I know this will be very difficult.  I hope I can do it.  I know I will likely fail many times over, but I hope to have some lasting successes along the way as well.  I have several reservations, of course, but one is that Joe and I will be apart for 3 months.  😦  He is coming to visit during my last week and we will travel through the country together, but that is going to be very difficult.  I know we’ll be okay, but I wish I could just pack him up and take him with me.


Speaking of a Joey, he just landed himself a new job!  He is still with Johnson Controls, but has transitioned to the role of Energy Manager at the University of Hawai`i.  Bascially, (verrry basically, as it can get a bit complicated) he will be monitoring the energy efficiency of the UH campus, examining equipment and energy systems for the most economic and environmentally sound options.  Since he will now be working at UH Manoa, we’ll be in the same place every day…which I love to tease him about, “We can ride there together and take coffee breaks together and eat lunch together and ride home together…”  Haha.  He’s excited and I’m proud of him.  It comes with more time off, which we’re both thrilled with because that means more travel!  Yay!

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Perhaps most importantly, I’m running my 4th marathon on April 14th!  I just finished my last long run and am going to coast along and enjoy the taper (the pic is from a training run on Maui).  I’m running for a charity, this year: ‘Opio Haku Mo’olelo (Youth writing stories, youth making meaning).  It’s a local group dedicated to the Youth Detention Center here on the island.  They do writing workshops with the kids as a therapeutic tool.  So many of these kids have horrific family backgrounds and come from the most dire situations. These workshops give them a voice and a chance to express their anger, fear, and other emotions through the release of writing.  If you would like to donate, puhlease do!  The link is here:

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http://www.crowdrise.com/RunningforOpio/fundraiser/lifeoftheland#donors


Lastly, Joe and I took a fabulously amazing trip to Maui together over break.  We’ve never REALLY explored Maui before, having only been a there a few times for work or the marathon, so it was so great to have a romantic long weekend of hiking, beaching, eaaaating, and exploring.  🙂  A slideshow of our trip!!!

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‘Twas a grand time!  Well, that’s about it for these Caldwells!  I hope to keep this blog going over the summer while I’m abroad, but I’m unsure of internet connection or accessibility.  But…until next time!  I know you’ll be waiting with breath that is bated!  😉

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One Response to ““It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…””

  1. Oh Katie!!! I find your writing heart-felt, passionate, eloquent and inspirational. You have am amazing life that you lead and in some aspects I’m a bit envious(although I am your neighbor). Lol Keep up the writing!! I hope that you will have Internet connection in the Philippines. Much aloha to you my sweet friend.

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