Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: work

Working Towards Your Passions

Nina

“As a teacher I employ art, not as a mere subject but rather a holistic experience to cultivate knowledge.  Entering into a sensory experience that is informative, thought provoking, and idea inducing provides one an opportunity to be inquisitive, contemplative, and theoretical. This is the territory into true learning that I wish to navigate my students through.”

These are words that Nina Caruso, a mother of three children, wrote in her thesis paper. She is finishing her bachelor’s for Studio Arts Education at Oakland University, which would qualify her to teach K-12 for art. Next year she and her daughter will be graduating college.

I met Nina years ago at a poetry group and as mothers trying to pursue our passions, we immediately connected. I remember at the time Nina was working full-time as a pre-K teacher with the Waldorf Education.

“The economy went bad, and it was not picking up again,” she said. “The school lost many families and they let some of the teachers go.”

Nina was one of the teachers they let go and that was a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, she would not have pursued her dreams.

“As mothers, we don’t get rewarded for our hard work,” she said. “By going back to school, I was rewarding myself. It was very cathartic. You have to feed yourself or you’ll burn out.”

Last week Nina’s work was part of an exhibition at Oakland University, where seniors show their work. I was sent an invite, and reading her name on the exhibitor list, I was impressed and inspired by her accomplishments. I called her and asked, “How did you do it?”

“I feel it’s important for people not to brood about the bad and to do what’s good,” she said. “It’s all work anyways. Whether you go against the current or fight for the good – it’s all work.”

While Nina is a little sad to be finishing the coursework she really enjoyed, she’s ready to enter her major as a teacher.

“I look at an artist and an educator as the same,” she said. “Educators are very creative in how they teach students to learn and artists find ways to enter into people’s sensory experience for them to learn. It can meet us where we need to be met. There are no rules. The artist might have had an intent but the receiver or viewer will get what they needed out of it.”

 

 

Wax On, Wax Off

When two of my nieces were only nine years old, I began taking them to work, a family owned video store. Their job was to fill the buckets with soap and water, and walk between the aisles, putting the movies down one shelf, washing the shelves, drying them with a towel and then putting the movies back up. There was a very specific system to it, and whenever they would complain, I reminded them to “Wax on, wax off” – for those of you who remember Karate Kid – and that one day they would thank me for it. Their reward was a free lunch which consisted of a sandwich, drink and a snack, and as they got older, they received an additional five dollars.

This was some twenty years ago. Needless to say, they turned out to be a smart and successful bunch. One became a lawyer, the other a chiropractic.

These days my cousin, a manicurist, and I use the same techniques on our daughters that the women in our family have used for centuries – working hard and loving every bit of it. It never hurts to have children get a taste of responsibility very early on!

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Mommy and Daughter at Work

Like many of the women in my family, my cousin Amy is very creative.  Her twelve year old daughter has been following in that creative path since she was five or maybe younger. So when my kids and I went to their home yesterday to get a pedicure and a manicure for myself, I found the mommy and daughter team hard at work on yet another project (my cousin does umpteen creative things).

To the backbeat of Arabic music, she and her daughter were making jewelry for a women’s show she is involved in at St. Marino’s coming up on April 9th. Some of their stuff is really unique – such as the custom made rosaries that can be worn as a necklace or placed anywhere, like the car’s rear mirror, which Chaldeans are famous for doing. Each rosary is specialized with an entire family’s individual names. I love that!

As my cousin’s orange winged Amazon, Parker, gets to sit in a cage overlooking the attraction, it’s not difficult for him to announce his needs. Hey, orange winged Amazons have to eat too!

Parker