Now I’ve had the time of my liiiife…
So far, this weekend was the best weekend I’ve had while being in college.
It all started at 3pm on Friday, September 29th. My school was having their second annual “Stigma Stops Now” event, and the guest speaker was Shawn Johnson. I knew right away I wanted to go. I just wanted to be in the same room as her, but this picture was a bonus. If you don’t know, Shawn Johnson is a four-time Olympic medalist in gymnastics and a Dancing with the Stars champion (I’ve watched every season of Dancing with the Stars since I can remember; they are currently on Season 25; I recommend watching). The “Stigma Stops Now” event is something I didn’t know I needed. It was mainly about mental health awareness and slightly about suicide caused by poor mental health. Shawn shared her story about what made her the woman she is today. She also talked about bouncing back from being in a dark place. I needed this event, and I can’t wait for next year. I suffered from depression and had to learn how to recover from being in a dark place for such a long time, but that’s a post for another day.
The following day, my city hosted an Umoja Festival. The Umoja Festival is a festival to celebrate the unity of different cultures (something we need in today’s world). Since the festival was downtown and downtown isn’t too far from my school, I walked there with my friends. We barely made it on time to catch the end of the parade. My school’s band played to open the parade; I recognized the song they were playing but couldn’t think of the title. They did a really great job; I’m proud. Then came several different small organizations, churches, and some of the sports teams from my school. There were also folk dancers, the first people to not throw candy at us. The parade ended with the Watoto Dancers and Drummers, as pictured. One of the drummers stopped in front of us and performed a drum solo. It was really cool and got me really excited about the rest of the festival.
After the parade, we followed the crowd to where the rest of the festival was being held. Not all of the booths were completely set up, so I walked with my friends until they figured out where they needed to be for volunteering and then went to a free animation show where there was free popcorn. The person promoting it was riding around on a scooter, which I thought was a genius way to avoid any walking. Anyway, the animation show consisted of different short animated films made by the students in my school’s digital media department. I was grinning like a proud mom during the whole thing because they did such a good job. When I walked out, there were more booths and more people. Some of the booths included apparel to buy, tye-dye, a booth to join a club to go to the government to make them and everyone else more aware of climate change and how we need to make a change (I signed up for this one), a booth to show off different motorcycles, and the folk dancers had a booth. This was all on one street; off of that street, there was a mini Children’s Carnival that consisted of different inflatables, face painting, a petting zoo (there was a llama at the petting zoo, but I wasn’t able to get a picture of him), etc. On another street, there were different vendors. There was a Freddy’s booth with a giant hamburger inflatable, a kettle corn truck, a booth to buy jambalaya, etc.
My friends and I walked around for a large portion of the time. I took different pictures of downtown. The more I walked around, the more I fell in love with my city. There are buildings, but it’s definitely not as industrial as Nashville. My favorite thing I discovered was the “I Have A Dream” graffiti. It was right next to a small soul food restaurant, where my friends and I ate. They actually ordered from the restaurant (one friend had baked beans, mac and cheese, and a super large piece of chicken; my other friend ate greens, mac and cheese, and fried fish). I sat with them while they ate before eventually going to get a small tray of nachos from a smoothie stand and a bottle of water from the kettle corn truck.
We walked around more when we finished eating. There was a farmer’s market happening across from the festival, and we walked there as it was ending. One of my friends (who happens to be my roommate, the one who ate the fish) wanted a donut, which is the main reason we went. My other friend bought me a sunflower, which I heavily protested, and took a few pictures of me holding it. I am still very grateful for it; it’s my first real flower. Throughout the day, I not only took pictures of the things around me but also took pictures of my friends. One of my friends is pictured here; the other one (my roommate) didn’t want me to put her picture on the Internet. Understandable. However, she did a good job taking a few pictures of me, which I also protested. My favorite one is me walking in the street with my head down. These are memories for me.
I stayed at the festival longer than intended and was really scared I wouldn’t get anything done for school, especially since I have a project due on Tuesday and a statistics test on Wednesday. However, I got everything done (including going to church today) and even got it all done with my horrible allergies. It goes to show I’m not in control of my schedule, no matter how much I plan. I am very grateful for this weekend and all that it taught me.