Back to School: September 11th

On my way to work to teach seventh and eighth grade Social Studies today, I could not help but reminisce. Eighteen years ago, I was in 7th grade PE class and had no idea what a World Trade Center was. But Coach Speck had said they were two towers in New York City and a plane hit one of them. Afterwards, I got to Social Studies class and the Mrs. Hunt was frazzled and watching the news. As my classmates arrived, everyone gathered around the TV in confusion watching as the second twin tower burned. Eventually the principal appeared in the doorway, firmly ordering Mrs. Hunt to turn off the TV. I thought he was prick for doing that because I didn’t understand why he didn’t want us seeing the news. In hindsight, I guess he was trying to protect us from those images which we would later see when we got home and for years to come.

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Eric Black
The Joys and Woes of Dating While Queer in Cali

Over the years, I've learned that cross-cultural dating can be especially challenging. Not only do you come from different cultural backgrounds but a language barrier and certain customs can also make it difficult to attach meaning to situations that arise. For instance, the majority of times I've planned a date or meeting with someone, they later ignore, confuse or delay the meeting time. It almost never fails. I've learned from prior experience not to assume how serious a potential date may be with the time they set to meet or even showing up for the date. A common occurrence when planning dates or meetings in Cali is that people sometimes initiate plans without confirming with the person they invited until that person reaches out to confirm.

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Eric BlackComment
"Where is Jamarr?"

 

It had only been three months since I’d emmigrated so I wasn’t quite ready to come back to the States.  I had purchased a round-trip because it was the more economical option and offered me security blanket in case my plans fell through. However, up until the last week before I was set to fly, I was constantly reminding myself of why I had decided to immigrate to Colombia in the first place. Although my 90-day tourist visa was expiring, I didn't necessarily have to board the return flight.

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Eric Black
“Don’t Call Me Boy, I’m a Grown Ass Man”

I didn't leave the States thinking I would never face discrimination or awkwardness in regard race. However, my patience with such encounters has been rooted in the fact that  I don't fully understand the nuances of language and race in Latin America and I'm not sure whether they understand the nuances where I come from. My black experience has been colored by my natal country so I try to keep an open mind in discriminating between blatant racism and innocent ignorance. Most of the time, I vow to believe the latter. With all the uncensored media from the north that many South Americans consume, it's hard to say how any given person may comprehend nuanced language in music and movies. I've misused words in Spanish, believing they had my intended meaning.

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Eric BlackComment
It Takes a Village


It still startles me how much students are willing to share with me as their elder.  I attribute it to my own youthfulness and their ability to relate to me despite being nearly 15 years their senior.

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Eric Black Comment
Free to Live

A lot of people don't know this but before I decided to move to Cali, Colombia, I was moving to Los Angeles, California. It was spring 2014 and my company was flying me to interview for another position in LA. The thought of working while auditioning for roles on TV and movies in Hollywood excited me. Just in the winter, I had just sent in my video audition to play a singing gay character named "Jamal" on a Fox TV series, unknown at the time. I was rejected because the casting call had ended before they received my video. But I was still motivated by this job opportunity that could potentially open more of those doors.

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Eric Black
2009: Finland Flashback

Everyone reminisces. In the age of hashtags, we especially allow nostalgia to creep in on #ThrowbackThursdays and #FlashbackFridays. Follow me on my very first international pilgrimage abroad to Finland where I journaled every step of the way.

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5 Tips For The Solo Traveler

It’s not always easy picking up to go on a solo excursion. Especially if we are accustomed to being accompanied by someone. As someone whose embraced the amenities of solo travel for the past decade, I’m due to share some tips for independent travel.

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Eric Black
Motivado

One of my endeavors returning to Colombia has been to complete my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification. I've found that even though it requires lots of preparation and patience, it can be quite rewarding to teach English. It was one of my favorite and most successful subjects as a student. It's especially rewarding when part of the incentive is to live in a place like Cali. The TEFL is one of the most acknowledged qualifications for teaching English as a second or foreign language. I've been taking classes 12 hours per week that consist of learning methodologies for being an effective ESL teacher; and applying those methods to assigned projects over the course of three months….

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On the Road: Buenaventura & San Cipriano

Although it was our first time meeting in person and there was a language barrier, I felt comfortable with JR. I'm used to spending more time alone than around people, but I was grateful to have a companion on this trip. JR was not only knowledgeable about Buenaventura, he was also the reason our excursion to San Cipriano went so smoothly. For me, some of the best things to take away from solo traveling are the connections and lasting memories that are created along the way. So, I stand beside the idea that a journey is best measured in friends rather than miles....

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Eric Black
"Catch Flights Not Feelings"

We've all seen this phrase thrown around on social media, especially among single frequent travelers. It's bred from the notion that some people would rather travel and visit other cities than get exclusively attached to someone. It could be that some of us find commitment scary. It could also be that we've caught feelings for people in the past, despite opposing circumstances; and it makes since to avoid such affairs in the future. No matter the cause, when dating gets difficult and feelings are involved, it seems preferential for some of us to take the less serious route....

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Eric Black
Nature Feels. Nature Heals

I came to Pance on a Monday. There are usually loads of people who come to the river on Sundays, or so I've been told. This was my first visit despite its popularity and it being my fourth year knowing and trekking through Cali.  The trip was about a 20 minute ride from the last stop on the Mío (the public transport of Cali), Universidades. A Mío card costs 6,500 mil pesos which equates to about $2.30. Apparently, the Mìo provides small green commuter buses to Pance only ....

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Eric Black
Nació de una Sonrisa de Dios

"Santiago de Cali: Nacio de una sonrisa de Dios," said the taxi driver on our way to Cali from the airport. Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport is situated about 35 minutes outside of the city, in Palmira. The sun was grazing the mountainside as it fell to rest, granting sights of the radiant colors of dusk across the sky. I felt at home. "Como, Como? Nacio que?," I asked the taxi driver not understanding what he had said. "Nac-i-o de un-a son-ri-sa de Dios. Nacio como born." He was trying to tell me that "nacio" means born, though I didn't understand his accent immediately. Eventually.....

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Eric Black Comment
Stand Alone

I almost left without a word. Without a post. Without an explanation. But it excited me immensely so I talked about it to colleagues, friends and family. I'm very fortunate to have consumed an immense amount of love and support since sharing my decision to continue on a different path. I'd like to show the same love in return, by sharing my story and giving those people - and anyone elses who cares -  a means to keep up with me. Sometime before the end of last year, I'd fully realized my burnout.....

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