Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hi folks, want to see my recent work here :

Photographers: Photography program plug! Check it out!

My name is Aileen Pablo. Photography is my hobby and I work as a community outreach personnel at Open Colleges.I found your really informative. I shared your site to my colleagues.
By the way, I hope you can spare some time and review our courses about photography: We also have photography career tips 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where I'm at now...

Hi world! It's been a long time since I posted. I've been crazy busy but I want folks to know.. I have been trying hard to pursue the life I wanted and I can say I'm very happy with the community I have found in Queens.

For the last three years, I have been working with South Asian Youth Action leading and developing youth programs for mostly recent immigrant South Asian youth like myself. This kind of work has given me a tremendous amount of validation while allowing me to put my life in contest.

Aside from work, I've been continuing to document communities and work with different mediums including photography. You can check out my website here and a recent video I created for Holi (the festival of color) in nearby Richmond Hill community here!

I'm also working with a group of folks around food justice issues here in Queens and Elmhurst. Our group was formed after one of the Occupy Queens assemblies.

Lastly, I'm now living with 4 other amazing dynamic people. We help support each other, grow vegetables, throw bad-ass parties and have time to be creative. You can see what we're up to here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back Home! 11 Countries latter...Who am I ? What now?

              A free outdoor dance party in Central Park every Sunday! 
My uncle and aunt restate their wedding vows the "Indian way" after 25 years of marriage

Catching up with a friend at a BBQ on memorial day weekend
Coney Island , despite rumors of extreme makeover is still vibrant and kicking with lights, diversity and colors
Seun Kuti ( Fela Kuti's son) performs at summer stage for a free concert

I have been back in NYC for 2 months since my trip. I spent the first month catching up with friends and trying to get back into the pace of things here. After talking to so many people who hadn't read my blog or kept in touch and hearing the same questions and giving the same answers I was a little disenchanted and not very excited about talking about summing up my trip or what I learned to people. You don't want to hear cliche answers and you want to get into details and emotions but how much can you say about a life changing experience in a brief encounter with an old friend. 

Other than that issue, I had to deal with feeling let down to see what I was coming back to. Things were not as exciting as I remembered. Ofcourse it was nice to have a proper NYC slice again and jump on the train and hear some great musicians and see some good street art, but I realized how much less balanced life is in New York City. How unsustainable, how it was less holistic than other cities. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of concrete I had to deal with . I was disturbed by how much people were consuming and not recycling. I felt saddened by the lack of warmth I felt in everyday interactions. Some of these perceptions were real and some of them seemed heightened because I was back to the familiar. I didn't feel the energy and excitement of waking up in a different city. Of learning so much , of challenging myself. 

Recently I have felt different. After reaching out to friends that were supportive of me, after going to outdoor concerts, seeing people working on community gardens, going to various events, and being around people that are involved in dynamic and important struggles here I realized how much I was overlooking. I've been slowly trying to get involved in new projects. 
I am currently looking for work as a community organizer, or with a non-profit or NGO. After working as a waitress and hostess for the last 9 years, its a big leap for me to actually be able to get paid for something I like doing. My trip helped me feel confident about what I have to offer the world. It also made me learn to ask for myself. When you wake up in a country you have never been to, don't have any personal contacts and don't speak the language very well, you are forced to make interactions through the day to eat, to socialize, to learn and these interactions become the most memorable experiences in these places. It took me awhile, but I realized I can have those interactions here too, if only I allow myself to. I have always been spontaneous and aware of my surroundings but now even more so. 

In many ways I feel lucky to be here in Queens New York City at this moment in history. The most diverse county in the nation, and most likely the world. I am not traveling , but I have the world at my fingertips here. In my communities. The local has always been tied to global forces and agencies. It is important for us to have both perspectives and remind ourselves that nothing is isolated. Everything is intertwined. 

So what now? Well other than get a job and try to use the skills and lessons I built on my trip, I am happy to say I will start an MBA program at New School University this fall in International Affairs. I look forward to using my research to build a larger project and also think of further projects and work I can do in the future. 

I am also working on a documentary photography book of my trip which should be done soon. 

Sometimes I see something, look at a picture, read an article or hear a familiar word, or see something that reminds me of something about my trip and I get these moments of clarity and peace and so many memories come flooding back to me and I think wow I did it. Me ... a working class woman of color . I had this dream and I validated it. I have so many connections and friends that I made in various places that I still talk to and I rarely feel lonely or alienated. After all, this is something I wanted more than anything, to feel apart of the world. To feel apart of history and tied to other struggles and other lives all over this world. My life has not become completely easy and every day there are new challenges but I have a world to reference . The stories, the people , the struggles all right there for me to use to help guide me. I realize that many of you have a dream to travel and to do projects in other places. I want to tell you I would be happy to talk to any of you about developing projects or seeking to become involved in struggles abroad. 

I would like to add that another thing I realized is I feel much more confident in my ability to live abroad. The idea doesn't scare me and I am definitely giving it a thought. I still need to get fluent in a few more languages. I still need to do more research. At the same time, I have rediscovered the great aspects of New York City and seen that here, there are a number of ways for me to get involved, to be apart of making this city better and to make connections to a global community! I am so happy to be able to apply what I've learned and spread the lessons here. 
I also want those of you that are away now to post guest blogs on my page. I currently have two friends in South America and I thought, thought I am not traveling anymore, people in my network are! We must share and grow and become our own journalists and do our own research and eyes for the rest of the world .  It is our duty while we travel to give a voice to the voiceless.  So this is not the end .... just the beginning. Please feel free to email me if you would like to build. 

Peace , love and solidarity to you, the reader, whom ever you are , wherever you are in the world. 

Brothers and sisters in the global struggles....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Zealand... One of the many trail-blazers towards "Sustainability"

Wellington ( the capital)
May was New Zealand's fall so I got to see beautiful autumn leaves like this everywhere

The City Council just passed a bill to provide street recycling in Wellington! FANTASTIC!
These stickers were on every single outlet!
It's a part of their culture... sustainability is not a new idea... neither is supporting Fair Trade
Local Brews

If I had planned the last leg of my trip instead of being burnt out by trying to cram too many places in such a little time, I would have stayed in New Zealand for longer than I did. Not to mention New Zealand was one of the most expensive destinations and I had already gone over budget.

Because of a number of factors New Zealand boasts some pretty fantastic scenery . The government has strict regulation about the amount of logging that they will allow for grazing sheep and cattle. Apparently there are more sheep in New Zealand than people. Many of the cities have very active Municipal Councils and participation of people in local initiatives. In the capitol or Wellington the City Council passed to have recycling bins outside in the streets of Wellington. Everywhere you go you see people recycling, using environmentally friendly bags, products etc...

The indigenous people's of New Zealand , the Maori who had originally came from Tahiti and before that from South East Asia had developed a very respectful relationship to the land and all things natural. There are a number of Maori proverbs that still have the same or not even more relevance. My favorites that I got from an exhibit from the National Museum "Te Papa" in Wellington were:

  • What is given by the land should return to the land

  • Swift to fall, long to resurrect

  • I will never be lost/I am a seed of this land

  • Embrace the past / Prepare for the future
These beliefs stem from a Maori concept of sustainability called "Kaitiakitanga" ( I hope I spelled that right ) which means "balance with nature."

These ideas are implemented in everything from legislation to commerce. In 1991 Rudolf Steiner pushed for the Resource Management Act which maintains biodiversity. Though allot of New Zealand's forest is being cut down for sheep and cattle farming, there is a quota and limit to how much forest is cut and in what time frame. In addition there will be a project of replanting of trees to ensure that the cycle is sustainable.

Auckland is the most populated city in New Zealand. While in Auckland I noticed the pr essence of many immigrant communties. There are allot of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, as well as Turkish, and Lebanese immigrants. It was nice to see the diversity after being in more homogeneous places for a few months. After talking to New Zealanders though, you get mixed reviews about how they feel about Auckland and how they feel about immigrants. With an election this year, I heard allot about trying to get new immigrants to participate and be more engaged in the election. In addition, there was also some talk in the media about getting Maori communities to be more engaged in the election, as high numbers of Maori people are not registered to vote and do not participate in the election.

New Zealand was a very expensive destination for me to travel on my struggling student budget. I stayed in hostels, bought my own groceries, and learned to be as thrifty as possible. It was easy with all the great hostels. I bought a package in which I traveled around the North Island on a bus and could hop on or off at any point. Most of my days consisted of going to museums, taking photos, walking around the city and talking to as many people as I could. Many tourists are attracted to New Zealand for adventure sports. It wasn't high on my agenda and I didn't care because I didn't have any money to do any of them anyways. I was happy to find out just that they had an engaged citizenry. Strong municipalities, vibrant and diverse towns and cities as well as a sustainable model of development. Hats off to New Zealand for blazing an exemplary model. I hope to be back again to check out the South Island!

In Hong Kong with friends...

Hill in Cambodia
The view from Hill's bedroom
Market in Kowloon
Macau Island
The Bar District-Lan Kwai Fong
Chueng Chau Island
Giving offers to Hill's ancestors at the graves
A dragon that will be used for festivities on Chueng Chau Island
Macau Buddha
Danny and I went out during Typhoon 3 and were stuck in a restaurant for a few hours when I took this
Chueng Chau Island

I apologize to all my regular readers for not updating this. I never leave projects unfinished once I start them.

So ... Hong Kong.. Why did I go to Hong Kong? Well I originally did not plan to go to Hong Kong. There was nothing that I absolutely had to see there but I was quite surprised at how much I did learn and was thoroughly impressed by. Hong Kong was a lay over on three separate occasions so I decided to just extend one of them for 8 days.

When I was in Thailand, I met a girl named Hill, whom I met again in Cambodia since we were both traveling the same route at similar times. Hill is originally from Hong Kong and has family there. She had been in Australia for more than 4 years for college and was doing a trip on her own over land through southeast Asia and then up back to Hong Kong. Hill was an inspiration and a delightfully fierce woman to travel with. She told me to contact her once I was in Hong Kong and I stayed with her and her family for the most of my stay in Hong Kong.

The first day in Hong Kong after taking the express train to another island and then taking a taxi we got to her complex in "New Territories". Hong Kong is too dense for any houses. People live in huge high rises. Hill was on the 38th floor. What a view... mostly of the harbor. The first day I went with Hill's family for a long practiced tradition of giving respects to their ancestors. We met up early, at some dim sum and then went to several cemeteries where we gave offerings of inncense, fruit, and burned certain symbolic things like fake money in which was supposed to be used in the afterlife.

For one weekend I explored Hong Kong with an old friend from high school, Danny. Danny has lived in Beijing for 2 years and speaks fluent Mandarin. He has been there for work and travels to Hong Kong and other close destinations pretty often. Danny loves urban planning and likes to explore interesting neighborhoods with complex histories. We went to Wan Chai which is more a working class, both residential and commercial area of Hong Kong.

Hill took me to several museums and areas of Hong Kong. We went to view a giant buddha on Macau Island.

My favorite part of my stay in Hong Kong is when we went to Chueng Chau Island. Hill had some family still living on the island , including her grandparents who were in their 90's and still run a store on the island! They are beautiful energetic spirits and it is amazing that they can keep up a store on their own. Chueng Chau island has more than 30,000 people and not one single car other than an ambulance. There are no cars allowed on the island. So what is the main form of transportation? Bikes! Hill and I borrowed some bikes from a friend and biked all over the island. It was absolutely beautiful. Fishing is the biggest economy on the island and the boats are colorful and bright.

Staying with Hill and getting a tour off the beaten path from Danny as well really allowed me to see how people in Hong Kong live. So they have always been a hub/major port for the rest of capitalist asia. They have a very different history than China, and yet you still see both the Hong Kong and Chinese flag flying all over. Hong Kong has its own government that provides for its immigration, police force, legal system, monetary system as well as delegates but Hong Kong is under the Central People's Government which provides the territories defence and foreign affairs. There are sooo many x-pats in Hong Kong you can go to completely gentrified areas where you will see very little Chinese. In these areas you can get away with speaking English all the time. It makes it a very easy place to travel.

I loved the transportation system in Hong Kong! Thumbs up the the Octopus card which can be used on 7 lines - bus, shuttle, train, subway, ferry, as well as other forms of transportation.

Thank you to Hill and her beautiful family for taking me in and feeding me, giving me a bed and being my host family for a week. Hill if you are reading this.... I hope you are still dreaming big and I hope to see you out there as we keep blazing new paths and finding out more about the world.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Japan- Reunited with my Global Family

My family took me to a Jinja to bless my travels
Food stand set up or Hirami (cherry blossom Festival)
Cherry Blossoms in bloom
My good bye feast , some sake - a present for me
Sekino falls- Miyakonojo
Much of my family is spread across the world. I have relatives in a number of countries and states and this is a reality for many now. After centuries of living together and having extended family so close, many of us don't have the opportunity to see and get to know our families. This has been the case for me for a long time. It is one of the reasons I felt very alienated growing up. I had moved so many times and lived with so many different people in my family in different places, it was hard for me to feel like I genuinely belonged to household or community when I was growing up. As I have grown older I have been able to relinquish relationships that were broken off or never existed because of the forces of global markets. My family is torn because of the A.) a choice and B.) not having the choice when it comes to live in a Nation-State that is not burdened with debt , poverty or lack of infrastructure. So they went to the hegemonic powers. Wanting a slice of pie. A opportunity at freedom. A right to pursue their dreams.

This blog is dedicated to my Uncle , for all his humility, strength and all that he has inspired me and others to do. At the age of 22 ,he left India and went to Japan where he learned Japanese in the matter of months and entered speech contests in Japanese and won! I thought that was remarkable. What is also remarkable is that he plays the role of interpreter still in the communications company he works for setting up film crews to make documentaries in different countries , but mostly India.
Through my Uncle's struggle I realized how hard it was for him to be in Japan. A country that is still leaning to homogeneous side. It is a very difficult place to be in if you don't speak Japanese. While I was in Japan for two weeks I had many misconceptions debunked. I saw Japanese people as serious , as always rational, but there is a softer , passionate, spiritual side that many do not see. I met cousins for the first time and saw their children. It was quite an interesting experience realizing that there are people related to me living half way across the world, going on with their lives in culturally very different ways, yet still from the same ancestral origins as me. Not soo different in many regards.

I was lucky to be in Japan during Hirami which is the very important holiday known as the cherry blossom festival. It was absolutely beautiful to see so many pink petals all fluttering all over the streets, covering everything on the ground like a blanket. You would even see them in people's hair. During the festival , people gather and eat and drink under the Sakura trees (cherry blossom trees). It is actually an important holiday for businesses as well. Newly hired employees of large firms and businesses have to go through a sort of initiation process and take care of arrangements as well as drink to talk business and prove their worthiness to the higher ranking people of the company. You will see dozens of people in business attire at the level of inebriation laughing , singing, dancing once this happens. Its a pretty funny site.

I was in Tokyo most of my stay in Japan, but spent a number of days on Kyushu island in a small town called Miyakonojo. Population: 160,000. I have 2 cousins and an Aunt here, which I have never met. I spent a number of days in both Tokyo and Miyakonojo checking out Jinja's which are Shinto temples. I learned a great deal about how much Japanese culture and Shinto are entwined with the environment and landscape. There is a respect for all things natural and in nature and many aspects of their culture reflect this. Everything from the art, architecture, food and costumes all take the natural environment into account. It is a stark difference from Western culture that is soo used to going on with business as usual .

The over stimulation in Tokyo was a little extreme for me. It took me a number of days to get used to . I was thoroughly impressed with how bike riding friendly the suburbs were with large parking facilities for people that bike to the the train.

I was impressed by the efficiency of the transport system in general . I was stunned by how beautiful and clean it was regardless of the population. The infrastructure was pretty uniform in the city. Real estate is a huge market and rents are very high even for the large middle class populations.

The most rewarding part of my experience in Japan was getting to know my family. It was realizing that I have the right to be in other countries. That I can get over language barriers and understand what people's lives are. I can understand what they go through on a day to day basis.