A well-known bus driver at the University of Central Florida got a welcomed birthday treat this week that he had no idea was in the works. And the gesture is warming the hearts of many.
Maurice, a UCF bus driver celebrated his birthday on Valentine’s Day (a Sunday this year)
Joshua Gicker is a new student at UCF, having transferred to the Orlando area college last fall from Tampa. Gicker said that Maurice was one of his first friends at UCF and that he really appreciated the way he interacts with people.
“If everyone lived like Maurice, I really believe there would be no problems in this world,” Gicker told Knight News, a UCF student news organization.
Gicker said that he found out about Maurice’s upcoming birthday last week and immediately worked to get people who live at his apartment complex to help raise $450 to give to him.
According to Knight News, 376 students came together to raise the money for Maurice.
A video of Gicker handing Maurice the money and a birthday card was uploaded to YouTube, where it has begun to cycle through social media.
“This is so great, I’m going to go through every one of these,” Maurice said in the video when he saw a list of people who donated money to him. “This is so nice, you guys are so great. You guys are the greatest and I’m just so overwhelmed.”
Happy birthday Maurice!
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Cover Photo Credit: Joshua Gicker/ Youtube (Screengrab)
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By Zac Head
My name is Zac,
I am not a person of color. I am not female. I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
I have not truly experienced poverty. I will likely never know what it is like to be a member of any of these groups.
I am a straight, white male, whose household income is significantly above the poverty line.
I grew up with happily married parents who were always very supportive of me.
I have broken laws, and been sent away from at least two encounters with law enforcement with “warnings”.
I have benefited from biases of others based on race, gender, social class, and sexuality.
I am privileged.
While I value all human life equally, recognize the sacred worth of every individual, and know that we are all God’s children, made in the image of God, and equally loved by God,
I have biases that affect the way I perceive people of color.
I have biases that affect the way I perceive females.
I have biases that affect the way I perceive people with different religious and political views than my own.
While these biases are most often subconscious, I am aware that they exist and that they cause damage in relationships and the lives of others.
My mind often feels threatened by those who are different than myself.
My mind often feels threatened by black masculinity.
I am aware of my biases and constantly fight against them.
I pray for deliverance from my biases.
Through prayer and conscious effort I have experienced deliverance from bias bit by bit, but if I am being honest I may never completely leave these biases behind.
All I can do is try each day to only see people for the children of God that they are.
Until we can acknowledge our biases we will continue to teach these biases to our children.
Until we can acknowledge our biases, it should be no surprise that those against whom we are biased will suffer.
Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, black men will continue to die from violence (with and without police involvement) at a higher rate than white men.
Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, little black boys will continue to grow up being told by the media that they are more likely to be violent than their white counterparts.
Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, we should not be surprised when this cycle continues.
I can never know what it feels like to be black, a woman, or someone who grew up in poverty.
All I can do is try my very best to listen to others who have those perspectives, acknowledge the worth of these perspectives and individuals, and live in such a way that teaches my daughter to move past biases while doing my very best to keep certain biases from forming in our household.
Today, I acknowledge my biases.
Today, I pray for deliverance (my own and that of our society) from these biases.
Today I am proud to see so many young people standing up for what Is right and am filled with hope for the future.
Forgive us, oh God of grace, for failing to see your image in one another.
Zac Head is a pastor at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church in Beaverton, AL.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.Cover Photo Credit: rwdownes/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 564
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By CieCie Tuyet Nguyen
I often wonder what my life would have been like if I was not a refugee.
On the other hand, what would have become of me had I not spent my childhood in a war-torn country, in a war that seemed to be forever a background to my memories?
Those questions and those ‘ifs’ are not for me to contemplate,as I would not be able to change history or be born anywhere but Vietnam.
However, it is not to say that my childhood was full of images of war, atrocities, death, mass graves or miseries.
There was happiness and joy. I had loved being together with my siblings, catching the double-wing like yoyo fruits in front of my house, running wild with the wind and gathering fallen dead leaves to set up a mischievous campfire.
Being with friends after school wandering the streets of Saigon enjoying street food was enough. It was simple, a few moments to let loose, albeit momentarily.
Although in hindsight, there was never a complete picture of happiness or joy with sunshine, laughter, and contentment, as peace was an important but absent part of that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
I had never felt fully at ease, or in other words, completely carefree.
That was before the war ended. When bombing, gunfire, and fighting had ceased.
Then peace arrived.
Finally, that missing piece was found to replace the empty space in my picture. Horribly and strangely, other pieces began to disappear. Freedom, then prosperity, dignity, and kindness were taken away swiftly.
They were replaced with oppression, poverty, degradation, and revenge that left peace a lonely part in my peculiar jigsaw puzzle, like a pitiful hostess in an empty house full of ghosts.
I could not understand it at all.
Without realising it, what I had wished for dearly had destroyed everything I valued most before.
Perhaps it was my fault that my childhood was scarred. My sensitivity and perception of life was too acute back then.
Moreover, they still are now.
See, I can taste the sweetness of freedom and touch the holy peace every day, every morning now, then feel alive and complete.
Years of living with freedom and peace in Australia has transformed my being to accept them readily but not to take them for granted.
The scars are my reminders.
I was born with a photographic memory.
Some would have said, “You’re lucky!” Ah, I would proudly have expanded my chest fully and answered, “Yes, I am.”
Even though there were images or memories I would gladly let fade away quietly and set me free.
Then I could have pretended that I had once been a child living happily and contentedly in a carefree environment with cute baby dolls to play with during the day and sweet dreams every night.
Not in a refugee camp, where I had spent a brief three months when I was sixteen, full of sad stories and images that I could have lived without.
That morning on the crammed boat escaping from Vietnam, I remember standing on the upper deck next to my mother, clinging tightly to her, feeling dejected and full of shame when the Malaysian coast guards shouted angrily at us, shooing our boat away in disgust.
The little riverboat, barely 10 metres long, 3 metres wide, had served its life miraculously attempting to deliver 50 people to shore.
It then had to resume its journey to some unknown destination because the refugees were not accepted there.
I stood there and cried.
Tears of shame and hopelessness were silently rolling down my cheeks as gunshots fired rapidly in the air, scaring the bunch of battered and wearied boat people away.
It was only at that moment I had realised I was a stateless person, a nobody, a refugee.
As a small child, I had never understood the real horror and suspense of trying to escape by boat to sea.
I was full of hope and anticipation before my departure. I grew up very quickly during that seven-day voyage.
I escaped from my country, away from the barbaric treatment of the communists.
I survived a sea full of stormy turbulence and remained relatively unscathed from two pirate attacks.
Then the Malaysian authority refused to let our boat anchor on their shore. I could not understand the coast guards’ language but their gesticulations were enough. I was rejected!
An equally devastating feeling of hopelessness had resurfaced, as much as when my boat was rolling madly like a tiny egg in a giant boiling saucepan in the storms a few days ago.
Why must I leave my country? Were freedom and peace worthy of my sacrifice of being a stateless person?
Those were the questions that I dared to answer because without gaining freedom and peace,followed by human rights, dignity and prosperity, my life would have been a waste.
I would have felt miserable being a refugee for nothing.
Indeed, I am glad that I have been a refugee once in my life. Mind you, once is enough!
The experience came with a high price and for some of us that included death by drowning at sea; witnessing family members raped, murdered by pirates; or being stranded for months on an island and becoming a cannibal to survive.
I am lucky that I am here right now.
Back then there were times I thought I was not.
I was miserable. Assimilating into a new country with nothing familiar to the old world I had left behind was a struggle.
I cringed every time thinking if I had to do it again.
It was no fun at all and that added to my lost childhood years.
I would love to be sixteen again as an Australian, but definitely not a refugee.
There were times I thought I would like to keep my old world with me, to go home, or to “go back to your country,” as I was told many times in the beginning by the locals. It hurt and I cried a lot, being a silly sensitive person as I was.
In hindsight, I now know a refugee must take that obvious path. Just like a book with a prologue, a main story and an epilogue.
I must take various paths and go through various chapters to re-establish myself.
It was not fun in some chapters, but I think I can differentiate happiness and grief philosophically now!
Gradually, I was accepted and I often reminded myself that I could not possibly be comfortable and at ease in my newly adopted homeland until I acclimatised successfully.
I was uprooted from my familiar though wretched environment and I needed time to get accustomed to my new land to grow stronger.
It was not easy. I had to make efforts to stay afloat.
There were language, cultural, and social rules that seemed so bizarre to me, probably as much as the locals viewed mine.
There were times I thought I had lost my identity and I tried desperately to retain it by keeping everything the way it was.
However, time passes, and so I have evolved.
I have become a Vietnamese-Australian to the extent that I cannot go ‘home’ because home is now here.
I lost my identity as a Vietnamese, but I have gained a different one.
There were times when that concept was not visible to me.
I felt confused. Now, I am proud of my heritage but I no longer need to be a Vietnamese, because I am not living in Vietnam.
There is no more pressure for me and I am glad of my new identity, as I do not want my children to go through my experience.
They should not have to struggle with that disorientation.
They are Australians.
They must feel like Australians with the local language, culture, and social rules even though those are less bizarre to me now.
I would not want my children to feel alienated in their own home. They are Australians, luckier and richer with an extra bonus heritage in their background.
CieCie Tuyet Nguyen was born in Saigon and witnessed its fall in 1975 when she was 13-years-old. After continuing to live there for three years under the communist regime, she escaped with her family by boat to Malaysia in 1978. After staying in a Pulau Besar Refugee camp for three months, she resettled in Sydney, Australia, where she has remained ever since. She graduated with a bachelor of pharmacy in 1985 from Sydney University and has operated her own pharmacy since 1989. Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom is her first novel. For more information about Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom, you can visit Nguyen’s website or Facebook page.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Ani Bashar/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 595
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–Located right in the middle of a neighborhood, The Open Awareness Buddhist Center has been open and aware for about 15 years.
-Run by Lama Karma Chotso, the center is located in a house in El Portal.
-For dozens of members, it is a place of real refuge.
-It is located right on the banks of The Little River.
-The center started in 1996, when it was located in a Hollywood bungalow.
-A patron gave the group money to purchase the property from a fellow member in 2003.
-According to Lama Chotso, there was some controversy at the time about having a Buddhist Songha in the middle of a residential street- but she was able to win over the neighbors.
-The center offers yoga sessions as well as other Buddhist related activities- including Sunday services.
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