Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm learning...

Sometimes it doesn't all need to make sense.

Or be comfortable.

Sometimes it's enough that we can be happy with what is happening and where we are and just feeling everything around you in a moment where it's more important that you are and can be alive than really... anything else.

Friday, October 11, 2013

And in the collection of answers I will probably omit when someone asks me what I do "for fun..."

I started reading an informal history of New York's criminal organizations around the 19th and early 20th centuries and while I've been reading I am plugging points and important streets into the maps, looking for (and definitely noticing) trends.

It's especially interesting to see how some of the sites, the old five points area, have been reclaimed by the "justice system" to carry out their services in the city. Some of the old streets that housed the public squares where all the "action took place" have been renamed, done over and left to be forgotten. But the Paradise Square lay out is still there underneath it all.

Fascinating. I'm going to explore it and see where things are still nicely present and/or weeded out by new city development. It's especially interesting to read old guidebooks describe the secret "glimpses" of old pubs and housing that exist under new, more modern buildings and establishments...

Or the ones that were reclaimed by different groups moving all the way into the 1980s...

In case you're curious, go check some of this out. (Alternative tourism at its finest)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


“Once social change begins, it cannot be

reversed. You cannot un-educate the 

person who has 

learned to read. You cannot humiliate

the person who feels pride. You cannot 

oppress the people

who are not afraid anymore.” -

Cesar Chavez

Streetlights and perspective.

Some decisions come to me like someone sneaking up behind you. You can hear the nylon of their jacket rubbing together, getting closer and closer to you until you turn around. There is no violence. Just that moment where you are staring at each other, too close for comfort. And you let go.

And in that way, I am letting go on my 4 month project. It was full of love and passion when it was just me and Tiff. When it was exactly what every TEDx project should be: a learning experience, interesting new conversations and hope. The relationship lost that beautiful, promising glow when it was bogged down in partnerships, stalled relationships and too much time taken for things other than working with our speakers.

As I find peace in letting go of this project, just when it was clearly not where I am supposed to be right now, I reread and remember:

"If you look straight ahead at nighttime, the brightest things you see are the streetlight, or the porch light, or the car light. Because of the curious urban phenomenon of light pollution, these appear to be the only lights around. But step outside the city and then look up—and you see the fires that have forever made mankind dream. Stars.

In the dim haze of city lights, we can lose sight of the things above us. As a result, it’s easy to settle for the things directly in front of us. It’s easy to settle for the streetlight or the porch light or the car light; that is, it’s easy to settle for the things practically being handed to us after graduating from this place: creature comfort, a good reputation, a cozy paycheck. I don’t mean to say these things are bad—streetlights are good, especially in New Haven—but the difficulty always lies not so much in separating the bad from the good, but the good from the best. The dim haze of the merely good can crowd out the truly high, bright, and beautiful. And we guard against this—because a streetlight, as it were, can’t hold a candle to stars.

So you and I—let’s continue to look up. Let’s seek out the things bright enough to live for: a world of wonder, the world through which the life found looking in will walk alongside the lives found looking out. "

--- all credit to:
Yena Lee
Yale 2012
Princeton Ph.D Candidate

Saturday, August 24, 2013


The wandering has begun. I finished my time with the TED content team, and now I'm in Boston for a few days working on some research and finishing a project proposal to launch next week before I head to London and Turkey to connect with some interesting people and new projects.

I have never been very good at the "relaxed" vacation... I think part of it is that I remember days based on the cool things I was working on at the time. It's a celebration of time, as I see it.

This is my plan to actually sort of relax and make the most out of my vacation time until I start working at Locus. The goals go as follows:

1) Make time to write. Every single day.
Even if this means just for myself in the privacy of the notebooks that I sketch out ideas for articles and blog posts next to my grocery lists or my hardbound journal, I need to do more of it. It's centering and helps me think through things that might be floating in bits and pieces around other parts of my mind. I also need to spend a little more time blogging because... well I've missed it.

2) Reading Books. Not just articles and blogs and emails and everything else I read on a daily basis.
I love the fast information and touches into different things I can get through articles, but it will never replace the longer mental conversations that we have with characters in books when we really sit down and engage with the author. I honestly do think that my writing has improved because I read as much as I do for fun. (Not just because I have to!) Plus, it's really the sign of a vacation for me when I can close my laptop for a while and just read something unrelated to my research because I want to.

3) Go for long walks just to see things in New York => Boston => London => Istanbul => Bodrum.
I think this ties in a bit with the hypothetical love child of the "solo" trip I took in the woods for a few short hours my freshman year of high school and my desire to fill a notebook with ideas, vignettes of narratives I'm thinking about, and weird research thoughts. The solo trip was one where my high school planted us together in the woods for two weeks, and we had an option to be dropped off alone somewhere in the woods for series of hours and entertain ourselves. As someone who falls between the Introvert and the Extrovert on that scale (speaking of which, interesting thoughts), this was wonderful and terrible at the same time. I love the energy of being around people, but often crave alone time to draw out my thoughts into tangible language. I had a notebook and all the time in the world.

4) Take the train to every corner of Manhattan (then I will move on to Brooklyn)
(Fairly straightforward, but promises some interesting experiences)

5) Go back to my creative projects.
Though most people don't know this, I do some work in jewelry design on the side. I need to go back through my boxes and do some work with the beads and other materials that I have been saving for some time... good time for me to get back in touch with some people I've sold to before and make some extra cash!


6) Work on TEDx. All day every day. (Which always makes me happy!)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why We Write Letters.

I read an article recently that talked about the merits of writing letters as part of building your narrative on specific chapters of life. (It was especially pleasant to think about it that way after listening to talks like this about internet tattoos and all of the recent scandals about leaked emails etc.) Yes, my life and activities are being recorded to some extent through facebook and twitter, online purchases, credit cards, online bank transactions... All of these mediums.

But I also have the option to hand write letters that will fade with time, lose their meaning to anyone except the recipient... but they are beautiful because they make time seem more tangible. Instead of forever, we have the chance to make something that will fade with memories.

Society might be pushing towards immortality -- how will I be remembered? What can I leave behind to keep people thinking about me?

But I crave something tangible. Something with a real time line.

And for me, that is a letter. So intimate, you can imagine the brush that someone's hand has over the paper as they write.

For me, it means I have a box of letters sitting in the corner of my apartment that was waiting for an address until yesterday.

Letters suddenly mean a lot more when they become the only option. The life line to a friend so far away. And right now, they are. So my days are poured into words that clunk and don't fit as well as the experience itself, but we make the effort to recreate and remember these chapters, these moments, to share them when it matters most.

And as I send them all off tomorrow, I'm sending a piece of my memories as I lived them, to someone who matters most.

In defense, here is a TED talk!

Friday, July 26, 2013

How do I talk about race?

How do I talk about race?

Much of my life has been a racial identity crisis. I was born in Mexico and came to this country as an immigrant. I am also mixed race, so my nearly “blond” hair blends in better in the United States than it ever did in Mexico City. I grew up in the Boston area, surrounded by people who accepted my two completely different last names, and perhaps identities, without question. It didn’t matter where I had come from, just that I was there.
I was only vaguely aware of how easy it was for me to walk into almost any place in Boston and feel at home. When my parents were working really late and needed me to find somewhere to entertain myself until they were ready to go home, I could walk into a hotel and sit in the lobby reading for hours without being bothered. “Just walk in and act like you are supposed to be there,” my dad told me once. And it worked — because I blend in easily. This is not a reality for a lot of people.
While my parents encouraged me to speak up in class, be vocal and defend my opinions politically and socially, many other immigrant students lived quietly in limbo with seemingly fewer options as they got older. I was comfortable sharing my story as an immigrant, despite all the layers that came with it. But I never experienced the sting of rejection or judgement. Around my American classmates, they looked at me and saw someone that they recognized as another generic looking “American.”
What does it mean to “blend in?” Sometimes it’s the unspoken but necessary factor in making your case when you meet strangers. Can they connect with you? Can they imagine you being a daughter, a neighbor, a sister or girlfriend or friend?
Sometimes, whether we acknowledge it or not, we stop listening when the story is too far beyond anything that we can imagine happening in our own lives, right?
In the eyes of the public, and even my community, I am white. My race only comes up at certain times: When a friend has had too much to drink and asks me why I still identify as a Mexican even though I haven’t lived there for years and look just like “everyone else here.” It comes up whenever I correct the pronunciation of my name – Dee-ah-nah… not Die-ann or Die-ann-uh.
It came up when I visited friends who look more stereotypically Mexican than I do. Society sees them as Latino, the kind of Latino that politicians flash on the screen during their speeches in Miami Dade, Bridgeport, Connecticut or Texan political rallies.
It came up when I went shopping with a friend and the saleswoman followed him around with her eyes, looking uncomfortable, but let me wander around on my own without more than a nod of her head in acknowledgement.
The definition that society uses for “Diana” is not the same one I would choose. But it is a definition that has fundamentally shaped my experience as a Latina in this country. It is unique to me and cannot be used to generalize the “Latino experience” in the United States. While there were some experiences that I share with other Latinos, I will never completely understand the experience that other students, who look more stereotypically Latino, face on a regular basis.
There are days when people will listen to my story and my reasons for fighting for immigration reform and it will mean something to them. And there are other days I go to other communities who look at me and don’t see themselves in my face and my skin and my story. Race is a factor in our experiences, whether at home or away.
I notice it most when it comes to politics. When I am trying to address a room full of people who all have a different concept of what the “American experience” really feels like. As an activist, I am constantly struggling to find the right language to get my message across. I’m working on finding that balance between my personal experiences and a more inclusive message.
Original copy posted on Interrupt Mag

Sunday, June 30, 2013


... and when she talks about Mexico, you can just see the love pouring out of her mouth and her ears and her heart.

Yes, that's about right.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A few TEDGlobal 2013 talks

This week was absolutely phenomenal.

To give you an idea, the three talks that are up right now are:

from an Amazing Activist

an argument to stop the use of military drones

a pitch to reform European democracy

and, of course, some quadcopters.

oh, and, the Sandra Boynton when Pigs Fly TEDxYale Video that was played during one of the session.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

TEDGlobal 3!

I'm having such fun. We just watched an amazing talk by Kelly McGonigal on stress. In essence: rethink your stress. If you are social and work with other people through your stress, you'll heal faster. If you think about stress as your brain preparing you for the next event, you'll perform better and have a healthier response. Attitude really is everything.

It reminded me of my first TED experience and how I have changed in the last few years. Especially this past year. I used to be very socially anxious about going to big events. I learned that I do a lot better at them, spend more time getting to know new people, and I feel less socially anxious. Funny, I had to do it alone to figure it out. I started going to events and conferences alone and I got much better at throwing myself right into new conversations. I'm a lot happier to go to things now that I know I can trust myself in new places. It sent me to do research in India, meet awesome mentors at TEDWomen this last fall, and really love being here now. I think, without realizing it, I learned to turn the stress of meeting new people and not knowing what to expect into energy and excitement about engaging with new people and experiences. Worked well for me!

This morning I talked about the trip I am taking to see a friend in Turkey in September with a woman who had gone back packing through Eastern Europe and Turkey 20 years ago (after I fixed a tech glitch on her phone... Look at me being techy!). She lived in Bodrum for a year and made it all sound so magical. I cannot wait to go!

I also talked about informal economic research, India, Brazil, the book I'm doing research for next year, privacy and environmental issues over lunch. It's been a while since someone else was pushing me and digging into other aspects of my research. Such fun.

Of course last night we stayed up late in the bar downstairs. I met the organizer for TEDxMogadishu and we talked about Africa and poachers and Kenya for a while with a TEDFellow from Kenya. I caught up with a friend and former Yale world fellow from Mexico (she is curating a session here and was just named as a cultural minister for Mexico). I had time talking to one of the most inspiring women in my life (she has taken me in as a mentee and is always curious about what I am working on. She is also a hardcore serial entrepreneur, which just adds to how awesome she is) until late.

There was a protest this morning outside of the first session of TEDGlobal because the former prime minister of Greece was speaking. An anti-austerity group sent a few dozen protestors to be outside. They were asked for a question to give the minister, but it seems that didn't work out..

And now Natasha Bedingfield is giving an amazing concert performance!

Running off to meet a friend from India now!

Monday, June 10, 2013

TEDGlobal Day 2. Morning Edition


Admittedly it has only been a few hours of TED and real TED hasn't kicked off yet -- it will happen this evening around 4pm. But I am taking my afternoon coffee and mooching off the free wifi in the coffee shop across the street. The people working behind the counter now recognize me. I guess this is my local version of Woodland Tea and Coffee in New Haven...

This morning was a TED Workshop called, Taming Wicked Problems. I ran into a few of the TEDx organizers that I saw yesterday at the TEDx workshop and also at the reception last night in the Edinburgh castle. The workshop was run by a fellow from Autodesk and Singularity University. We tried a new method of workshopping/problem solving that was really interesting. We weren't allowed to speak, but wrote down different elements of a "wicked problem." Then we stuck them all to the board and had to arrange them into categories, still without speaking. I liked this method of communicating something very complicated [the topic my team picked, at the urging of the woman I was sitting next to at the table, was drug trafficking].

This afternoon Dad and I are going to be part of a filming project that will go up tomorrow... exciting and mysterious, no?

Last night we attended a cocktail party in Edinburgh castle, which was lovely. I talked to some really interesting characters, including one of the speakers for this week who is a specialist in "wild sex" research. I also saw a few of the TEDx organizers that I had met earlier that afternoon when we went to hike King Arthur's seat. The sun doesn't set her until after 10, so we had a beautiful sunny view of the city and walked home still in the sunlight around 10pm.

Well, time to run and get ready for this afternoon's activities!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

TEDGlobal: TEDx Organizers workshop


I got up early this morning, walked to the theater in the now cloudy Edinburgh, and gave my talk! So easy after all the build up haha (it helps that this was my second time and we did a funny stage prep thing to make everyone relax. Rives and Kelly asked us questions like, what was the craziest thing that you did for love? to make everyone laugh. My question was: what is your worst habit? Funny, because I am going to work for Kelly after Global... It was hard to come up with something on the spot, so I said that I get really frustrated when people walk slowly on the sidewalk and I usually grumble to myself). 

My talk will go up later under the TEDx resources page for University students looking to start or continue with their university level TEDx events. I was covering the basic issue of University vs TEDx branding and how to build a partnership with your university. 4 minutes. Alongside some really wonderful TEDx organizers from TEDxParis, TEDxBerlin, TEDxKhartoum, TEDxChange and TEDxCity2.0. 

Me with Kelly Stoetzel on the TED Stage after my talk

Kelly and Rives MCing for the TEDx Organizers workshop

So much fun to be here. My Dad was also in the audience, taking some pictures and adding commentary for when I finished speaking. Rives pointed out that we might be the only Father-Daughter TED team at Global right now. He also mentioned our friends Robin and Cameron, a Mother-Daughter team that has been at TED together before. I wish they were here this year too!

I have a little down time before I go on the TEDx organizers hike on the beautiful hill tops just outside the city. There are a few sessions this afternoon based on specific issues that organizers have encountered during there work, but Dad and I ducked out to check email in a coffee shop and get through some work. 

Some news from today: 

The next TEDx Summit will be in.... BERLIN!!!!!!!!
For those of you who dont know, I love Germany and particularly Berlin. This is wonderful news. 
There will also be a TEDCity2.0 event this year in New York, TEDWomen has moved out to California (Tiffany and I are trying to figure out how we get there...) and organizers around the world are pooling together data and tips for videos on TEDx How Tos that are going online. So look for them!

So that's my update for now. We start official TEDGlobal tomorrow! More time for me to play today.

I got an interesting challenge from Rives, which will be my goal for the week: he said that I am clearly comfortable on stage speaking candidly about things I know something about... so why not try being funny? Or... spoken word.

So there we go! The push I needed -- I'll look for some space for me to give it a try in New York. And, as he put it, push until it doesn't work anymore.

Also, my name tag is really sweet: 

Till later then!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Current Status: TEDxing

So excited for the TEDGlobal TEDx Workshop tomorrow. 


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Including Introspection.

This was the speech I wrote and submitted to present at Class Day. I was not selected to speak in the end, but I was a finalist so it was published in a small collection of other students speeches that was given to every member of the class of 2013. It's not online yet, so I thought I'd put it up for anyone who wanted to read it.


Maybe we’re a little lost right now. But don’t let that scare you, don’t laugh nervously and shrug it off. Let’s talk about it.

We are just graduating and the world is ours to explore. No more pre-set path, it’s all out there to make your own. We spent evenings wondering how we will measure our own impact and what we want to learn along the way. Maybe some of us have a final goal on the horizon, a dream we want to turn into a reality, but we wonder what steps we need to take along the way.

Somewhere along the way, Yale gave me something I still treasure – it gave me a lens with which to consider myself – as an individual and as a member of this community. It built a community of scholars and friends. It gave us the space to be introspective – to ask ourselves, and others, hard questions.

How will you use your time and value your results?

In the endless list of possibilities, what will you decide matters enough for you to add your own unique touch to it and call it your own? What will you remember as a defining moment of your time here? That value system was yours alone to decide.

The character you have become and will keep molding over time comes from your experiences. It comes from days spent wandering through undiscovered corners of your neighborhood, conversations with your suitemates on the floor on your common room until 4 am, and long drives with a mentor figure. Nights where you bent over your desk long into the night cracking codes and accepting that glorious Eureka! moment. Minutes where the song played by your friend on the cello explained exactly what you were feeling but couldn’t explain with words.

Celebrate your uniqueness and everything that you’ve learned here, but please, don’t stop evaluating yourself.

We each invite time for introspection into our lives: For some, it means long, abstract conversations about values, and for others it means meditation or experiments. Maybe it was a long walk through a park with nothing but the sound of joggers passing you and gravel crunching beneath your feet, or maybe it was a pause, between pages, while you read something that really engaged you. Wherever that space was – where you felt uncomfortable, where you examined yourself and your decisions, where you decided what mattered to you most – protect it.

Here comes a thought experiment: Maybe we are lost. But we are forging our way from here on out.

Don’t you see? You will be the deciding factor in your journey. There isn’t a checklist anymore, because you have the freedom to decide what comes next.

You will be afraid sometimes. This is not the last time you will feel uncertain or confused about your direction in life. It’s also not the first time you’ve experienced it.

If you give yourself the bedrock of integrity that comes from knowing who you really are and what you want to make out of your life, no one can ever take that away from you. It is yours to guide you through whatever comes next.

You will probably never leave these conversations with black and white answers to your problems – but regardless of the other people in your life, your new environments, friends, jobs… you’ll be able to make better decisions in that moment about what you truly want holistically. That was what Yale wanted for you. It sought to build leadership through scholarship and character. You have some of the answers you need to ground you through the uncertainty and fear.

Be open to the world around you and learn from the people you meet. You will never stop being a student. There will be situations that challenge you again and force you to question what you stand for, but know yourself and what you value, and you will make decisions that you can live with.

I hope your last days here and everywhere are spent with the knowledge that you want to be where you are or where you are going, in that moment. No one can ever take that away from you.

Confessions of a Fair Trade Shade Grown Vegan Hipster II

The first edition happened last summer in the monsoons of Mumbai. This edition comes from a new Chelsea resident as she gears up for TEDGlobal and the TEDx organizers workshop on June 9th.

Just as recap for people who missed the last one, I am not actually vegan or any of those other things. A friend coined this label for me a few years ago jokingly and it kind of stuck with some of our other friends. It is all in jest.

Well, a year ago I was living in an apartment in Colaba, waiting for the rains to come and take away the heat of Mumbai's early summers. I've come to the point where I miss India. I was reading Shantaram over the last few weeks and it made me miss it even more. I could imagine the scenes taking place in different areas of the city where I spent a good deal of time last summer. I could feel the heat burning my arms and the rains flowing in and out of my plastic shoes.... it was such a treat to read something that took me back there as much as this book did.

Sometimes it takes a year to see and remember what is worth seeing/remembering. For me, anyway, this is very true. I have a few friendships and projects that took time to settle and be everything that I hoped they would be.

Most importantly, I think I learned that we really can't expect every experience/relationship/project to turn out the same way. That seems really basic, especially when I write it out, but it took me a while to process that -- especially with friendships. We learn different things from different people. Why shouldn't the relationship reflect that? I think I'm a lot happier in understanding that we're all trying to do our best being ourselves. And in that, we all have to give a little bit of space to quirks and character. Just as people have to do with me. Plus, it would be really boring if all friendships were identical and taught you the same things. So, really, this is a good discovery for me.

This granola cruncher is getting ready now to leave for TEDGlobal. A perfect loop -- I went for the first time after I graduated from High school, and now I am back. As a recent college graduate. I'm excited to be back in the TEDx organizers Workshops -- TEDxYale is presenting best University level TEDx practices this time. So I'll be up there, giving a 4 minute talk alongside some other really awesome organizers from different TEDx conferences around the world. And then, of course, there is the part where we'll be in beautiful historic Edinburgh...

Catch me June 9th, 9am BST, 4am EST here

I think life works in loops sometimes -- as I said before, I rarely say "Goodbye" because there is a good chance that I will be back in some capacity in the future. I think I like it that way.

Yes, people do move on and fill gaps in their lives when we leave. But sometimes it doesn't matter as much -- like those friendships you go back to after months and it's exactly the same. Sometimes it changes things a lot, but the friendship matures with it. And other times, things need to fade into the background because it is healthier for both of you. There is nothing wrong with that, either.

While some of my friendships from home have grown and shifted with the past few years, we all found ourselves downtown watching the Bruins game in a sports bar last night. Things have changed -- we talked about the apartment and job search instead of things we were talking about in our classes or doing that weekend, but we're still friends. More seasoned, we love Boston more fiercely as a resulting of moving out of the city and being able to come back. I think we only grew to love it more after the Boston Marathon this spring...

So. Here's to time and patience and friendships that can grow along with you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Towards the end of the year, I had a hard time juggling things. The salon series we were running on feminism and integrity had to take second place to my thesis after march break. I spent all free time writing and finishing up some research -- honestly, class time started to feel like me study breaks. I was social -- other year long thesis writers and I crowded together in coffee shops and libraries for near all-nighters, reminding each other that we loved the topics. Just this piece was getting rough.

I am excited to say that my turned in thesis (by no means a finished product) was something that I am still proud of. It has introduced me to some really interesting thinkers, historians and now a future research proposal or two that I hope to continue while I start my regular person job. (Which, let's be honest, isn't too regular either).

But now, back on track. I'm reading all of the interesting pieces that I wish I had read earlier this semester (that said, there is no time like the present!) and gearing up to launch the New York start of the salon series.

We already have something lined up a practice with another group that we met along the way with a similar but perhaps less feminist directed curriculum. It will be great to be back in the swing of the salons now that Tiffany and I are in the same city again. We met for lunch yesterday outside her office building and talked about the next few months and how we want to push this forward.

It will be interesting for me to figure out how to balance working with the salons and my continued drug wars research... though actually it is the best of many worlds as it is right now. I do some freelance research on the side, which makes me learn about different kinds of models and thinking going on around organized crime. It's interesting work. And naturally, a nice thing to keep my head in the game while I work on other projects that are more immediately useful.

All of that is a long way of saying, we're back on track with the salons and gearing up to launch the New York pilot, inter-generational awesome feminist salon series that we started at Yale in a sort of Beta level this past spring. Go team!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Commencement speeches.

Like a good oped, the best commencement speeches, in my opinion, are the honest ones. Not the ones meant to be political or self promoting, not the ones that tell me what I want to hear. The ones that come from crusty and well earned experiences. Not necessarily the most glamorous ones.

Now that I am reading Infinite Jest, it makes this speech all the more wonderful to read. I love the voices that he is able to use and communicate ideas that really get inside your head and heart. Naturally,   I have to include David Foster Wallace's This is Water from the 2005 Kenyon Commencement address.  Funny, mere days after I read this for the first time, I had an argument about race and privilege with a man who used to teach a seminar series at Yale. This is Water was the opener to my argument.

This speech, Fail Safe by Debbie Millman, is deliciously honest about the choices that we make along our adventures. I loved it, because it reminds me how often we find ourselves mid thought as we move through our lives and make decisions based on our guts and whatever other information we decide to let in. How often I have made decisions purely based on my strong instinctual reactions to things... and for me, that has been great. I had an excellent college experience, made some really close friends, taken on some great projects and found my ways of being happy. Even when everything else felt like Chaos.

I don't have a transcript, by one of my dear friends appears in this video alongside Mayor of Newark Cory Booker in his Yale 2013 Class Day speech. I really enjoyed how much his talk and President Levin's talk during Baccalaureate centered around activism and participating in the world around us. This is what I had been hoping to hear for years at Yale -- take on responsibility, have a stake in your community, and work on interesting problems.

And, in the same vein, I was pleased to hear that Oprah was talking about immigration reform and gun control at the Harvard 2013 commencement ceremony.

I was also digging the line from the Soledad O'Brien speech at Harvard 2013 that my mom clipped out of the newspaper to save for me:

“Do not listen to others people’s take on the life you should lead,” O’Brien told the audience of seniors, families, and friends gathered in Tercentenary Theatre today for the Class Day ceremony. “By not listening, you can figure out what your heart is telling you to do.”

“People can be mean and unfair, but more—far, far more—people are good and generous and helpful and hopeful,” she declared, adding, “That means you are going to have to lead with an open heart. And it also means that that little heart is going to get stomped on a few more times than you would like.”

(requoted from Harvard Magazine)

And perhaps, a more directed version of this advice, came to me from a mentor figure that I was lucky enough to find this semester. We could not be more different -- this professor finds my research fascinating, "fringe" and proof that my brain is an "unusual place."

He said to me, on the last evening that we sat down for a 2 hour talk about what the hell comes next for me...

You have an unusual mind. The road that you have picked and will pick will never be easy, because you are not traditional. You will always be questioned and you will always be alone. You will find allies, but they are not going to be in your head. It is beautiful and terrible at the same time. But you can and will do it.

As if there could be a better introduction into the world, than having someone you admire tell you to go out and do your thing, whatever that may be. 

Good luck!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Year of Tomorrows

A dear friend of mine (actually, two friends of mine) are enlisting. One of them entertained me with stories of his experience in a nearby ROTC program (since Yale, until recently) did not offer a program for it. He woke up earlier than most of us ever did and worked very hard, making friends and learning a discipline that I was never exposed to besides the conversations that we shared on the topic. His commitment was inspirational to a lot of us. And it was a pleasure to open my email this morning and glow with pride for his accomplishments.

Though I was able to learn more about it over the course of the year, I came from a very academically focused family. We value service and I have devoted a lot of time to find ways to serve and solve interesting problems. But this service is very different in its mindset and goals.

It was a transition for me to embrace. The other friend is someone I have known for many years now and has been adopted into my life in a way I never really expected from someone whose politics are very different from mine. First we learned to coexist and respect each other, and quickly we became very close friends. We're both pretty quirky. I think that's what did it.

So when he told me for the first time that he planned to enlist once we graduated, I watched him with the same measured stare that he gave me from across the table. "Oh. " was all I could muster.

I am endlessly proud of him. The same way I am of my own younger brother. Though he was too modest about his accomplishments to tell me things himself, like when his next cross country race would be, or that he was killing it at higher level physics, math, and economics classes, or when he did particularly well in a race. I learned how to ask. Though too often I forgot to.

It was a year (or several years) of tomorrows. I would go to his race, tomorrow. We would catch up, tomorrow. There was always tomorrow. We sure as hell enjoyed the todays. The todays when we went to a driving range (golf) and both tried to see who could hit the golf ball furthest (he won), or hit the truck picking up the balls (I won), and ended up ripping the skin off my hands because I only know how to swing golf clubs the way I learned to use a field hockey stick. I think he pulled a muscle in his arm that day. Clearly, neither of us had any idea what we were doing and probably looked ridiculous. The todays were early morning runners to our favorite diner, no matter how early he had to leave the next day. Or the afternoons when he would dry the running clothes that he had used earlier on his car, after he washed them in our sink, and my mom would insist that he try the washing machine upstairs. Or the afternoon when I called him after the marathon bombings and he tried to make it better. We had a lot of todays. But always with the promise of tomorrow. He wasn't going away... yet.

This is how I have conceptualized my goodbyes: it's not goodbye, almost ever. It's not hard to stay in touch or reach out, and we may very well cross paths again. We can have years of todays and tomorrows.

But I am wary of putting too little weight in the time that I do have with some of my friends before we part ways in the directions we've decided to take. It's not goodbye, but time and space add their own elements to friendships, relationships and conversations. We wont always have shared contexts.

He left with a friendship bracelet that I made for him -- just like I did our freshman year. I guess, in that way, I'm still right there, as he knows I always will be. Even when I cannot be physically present.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Time for Goodbyes.

I opened this tab and stared at a blank page for days. What on earth was I going to say about four years of adventure in 800 words for a Yale Daily News column? I wrote several drafts all playing with different ideas and tripping over my own words. What was I looking for? What was a single thread that I could tug and reproduce images in your head, just as they flashed through my own.

I love the feeling of words when they fit. But when they don't they are so painful and awkward to experience.

How do we say goodbye?

I don't think I do a good job with it. What are the options?
Long, drawn out and painful
bitterly sweet, quiet tears down cheek bones, never ending embraces
tequila infused dancing beneath tents in dewy courtyards until the sun comes up
promises to keep in touch (and actually meaning it... so it's not goodbye, but I'll see you later)
running out the door without a second glance
see you soon.
I love you.
Don't leave (but I have to.)
come visit me this weekend!

We all had some of these with the commencement ceremonies this past weekend. Deliciously mixed together in short whispers and promises promises promises and smiles fall on and off our faces.

Maybe I'm a little strange -- but there is something beautiful about goodbyes. This one wasn't sad for me. I was ready to go, I think. I will miss the community -- but I know that I will keep finding them in new places and seeing everyone do what they love most brings me joy. They will flourish and make their own rules. That is what I want for everyone.

So yes, it is a time for goodbye. The end of college, as a cycle for some of us. But... it's not really. Because I WILL see you later. Be sure of it :)

Remember to Say I Love You (repost)

ENRIQUEZ: Remember to say I love you

I was walking to class on Monday, reading through emails and speed-walking to make sure that I wouldn’t be late, when one particular email caught my eye. It was from a friend. The subject line read, “your brother,” and the only word I saw in the next line was “bombs.”
My little brother spent the past year training for the Boston Marathon. I thought Patriots’ Day was a national holiday until I stopped living in Boston; there, it is a statewide holiday. I live near Heartbreak Hill, so my brother and I would walk over to the grassy areas of the road and cheer on the Kenyan runners as they flew by wearing their flags every year. We chased each other along the sidewalk, cheering until we lost our voices. This year, he was part of the race.
And I was so proud of him.
But yesterday, the marathon wasn’t a display of human achievement and beautiful movement. For me, it was that chilling, heart-shattering moment of looking through the headlines, desperate for information from anything I could find.
I had no idea what to do, so I called one of my friends on the cross-country team and gave him my brother’s running stats and times, hoping he could tell me that Nico was OK. I was clinging to everything. And all I could think about was: Why didn’t I call him to wish him good luck? What was the last thing I said to him?
Marathon Monday was terrifying for many members of my family and my friends back at home. But in the background of explosions and confusion and the crowds of frantic, scared people away from their homes, I saw so many signs of heroism.
My mother got into the city, despite the locked-down streets and blockages. With a friend of hers, she managed to get through the crowds and passed policemen blocking the streets to find my brother, who had to borrow eight different people’s cellphones to text her and tell her where he was. She was a lioness that day. The kind of mom who lives up to the superhero status she had in my eyes.
My friends from across the city posted messages about having open couches and corners and beds for anyone who was lost in Boston and needed somewhere to stay.
Headlines about runners who left the finish line and went directly to the hospital to donate blood for the people injured in the explosions appeared and were all over Twitter.
We may be known as “Massholes,” but I saw love pouring from every corner of Massachusetts towards all those in need. I have never loved Boston as much as I did yesterday.
Someone told me once that we can remember what is beautiful in the world if we remember to look for the random acts of kindness that take place in the face of tragedy.
I read the news while waiting for more information about my mother and my brother and felt a little better because I believed that someone out there would help them if they could. Just as I knew Nico would, too, if someone needed him while he was out there running.
I have never been so relieved to hear his voice as I was when he called me yesterday evening. A little out of breath, tired and in a lot of pain (he finished the marathon), we joked about how hard it would be for him to climb the stairs the next day. I told him that I loved him, and remembered how lucky I was to say that to him whenever I wanted.
Yesterday helped me remember the communities I never really thought about having, from my friends who immediately texted and emailed and left class to call me, to my fearless mother, to my friends back in Boston and around the world. I think too often I wander through my work and daily routine without appreciating all that I have been given.
Yesterday I was given the gift to say “I love you” again to my beloved little brother. I will never forget this gift.
Diana Enriquez is a senior in Saybrook College. Contact her at diana.enriquez@yale.edu .

Senior Reflections: The Reckoning

The Reckoning
Some people go out to East Rock to think about their place in the world. Some wander through cities, enjoying the feeling of being anonymous in a crowd where no one knows your name. Wherever you found that space of solace, there was probably a moment or two, at least, when you experienced a moment of reckoning.
Some of us came to Yale with neatly constructed narratives about our lives and our goals. We handed out neat, packaged descriptions of our “purpose,” much like the mission statements we used when fundraising for our conferences and events. Maybe it felt like we could package our lives into these descriptions, just like we packaged these one-time events into neat paragraphs on a single typed page. I found myself doing this.
But Yale taught me something important. My moment of reckoning came my sophomore year, at the end of what I would call my slump. I was desperate to get away: This campus felt too small. I felt trapped by my “purpose” — the type- cast I had written for myself on that single typed page. I needed some clarity and space; I even considered studying abroad.
As it turns out, I did not need to go far to find my solace. I left my room in Saybrook and went to meet Miles Grimshaw ’13 to talk about launching TEDxYale. As we worked to bring TEDx to campus, I found a new space to grow in and to ask questions, instead of just jumping directly to answers.
I spent so much time my first two years here conforming to the definition of “Diana” I had built for myself. I had stopped looking for new ways to learn and be pushed. I had found a comfortable place, but it was smothering me. My mission statement was written by a younger me who didn’t understand what I would come to see after more exposure to the world.
So I tossed it out. I gave up my 10-year plan, and opened my eyes to the other opportunities around me.
The rest of college was defined by new projects and people who pushed me to redefine my conditions for “success.” I found friends who were patient enough to tell me and correct me when I was making mistakes. I went to events and sought out students whose passions for different subjects made me excited to learn more about their talents and research. I spent more time writing and trying to understand what Yale, as a community, was teaching me about my values, my prejudices and my goals for the world. I found happiness in seeing how many different ways people were thinking and doing things all around me.
It was easy to fall into a routine, to settle with a group and stick it out, even when some of these relationships and projects weren’t working. I made the active decision to leave my corner and look for other places I wanted to be on campus. It was the best decision that I ever made.
I still think I have a sense of purpose, though its direction is far less concrete than it was four years ago. I am excited to see what I find along the way, and I know I can trust myself to take on new challenges that fit within that sense of purpose.
I have not given up. I have come to understand that sometimes the best route is not always preplanned. The people that I found at Yale helped me understand that would never be happy on a straightforward path, even if the path was my own design.
Sometimes I still struggle with questions. What will success feel like for me? Do I need to meet a more widely accepted definition of success to be happy?
I realized that I, at least personally, do not. I want my projects to be challenging and give me interesting problems to solve more than any thing else.
Yale was a safe space for me to test my ideas, plan new projects and reach out to professors who became my mentors and confidants throughout the challenges. My reckoning came from the access to different worlds and opinions that I found all around me. I am grateful for the rigor and thoughtfulness of my classmates, the friends who pushed me and the ideas that I could turn into realities while I was here. I leave now with a sense of purpose, however abstract, and know that I am better for my time here.
DIANA ENRIQUEZ is a senior in Saybrook College.
 Read more senior reflections here

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Soho in the Snow.

I spent the first piece of breaking writing. Writing and writing and writing. What? Well, a little bit of thesis, a few columns on feminist branding (... and how it needs to change a little bit), questions for Warren Buffett (I was in Omaha yesterday for a quick Q&A session before I came back to New York), some emails... really everything. But sometimes that is the most fulfilling. Just having time to get everything out of my head and down somewhere that it can stare back at me.

I woke up this morning to grey clouds and a little excitement. The weather had that heavy feeling just before it either snows or rains. I walked down 6th Avenue felt it.

Then, while I was walking through Greenwich Village, it started snowing. Light clumps of clean white snow. Not the annoying kind that sticks to you. The whispering kind. it floated on without me.

I love wandering through cities on my own. It's nice to come up with a plan last minute, change directions and run with it. The snow had the same idea.

Well, time for me to run off and meet a friend at a poetry slam in Brooklyn.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Finding Grace

ENRIQUEZ: Finding grace and a case against marijuana

The sickeningly sweet and earthy smell of marijuana smoke is probably my least favorite scent in the world. For so many Yalies it’s something casual. We joke about what people did when they were high or how often people smoke, and then we forget about it, right?
It’s funny how memory works: the smell is so deeply attached to images in my head and memories I would pay to forget. But here on campus, in the safety of your dorm room or apartment, it means nothing more than a burning plant and a chemical reaction in your brain.
I see the endless deserts of Northern Mexico. I see the border. I remember the phone call one evening in March a few years ago when we were told that my cousins, living somewhere along the border at the time, had been killed. They had been shot in the chest, while their baby was left crying in the back seat of their car until someone found him. I see the health centers that women run into and are later dragged out of, dead or alive, when they run away from local gang leaders and “narcos” who want them for their own.
My options always seemed so limited. I wasn’t a voice people were excited to hear at a party. Friends stared at me blankly when I told them I hated the smell of marijuana. All I saw were burning dollar signs going straight into the hands of local dealers, and then into the pockets of men working a system that leaves blood on the hands of every individual from here to Mexico to Colombia. What stays behind, in the residual cloud of smoke, is the collateral damage.
I wanted some cold, calculated way that I could present a case against drug use, separating me from it entirely. Somehow quoting statistics and death tolls and reading my news alerts gave me credibility and people listened. I made it part of my thesis.
I wanted to ask my friends to stop smoking. No matter how good I became at paralyzing my face when people talked about their drug use, it will always be a reality for me. My cousin died when she was 22, the same age I am today. But it’s never been easy to be an activist in any field: it’s difficult to know what I could or should say, how to package it or what would make any sort of difference.
And so I have sought a quiet, internal grace — as I tell you why I don’t smoke without causing you to turn away from my words.
This is my cause. So many of us are looking for missions to push us through life, and to give meaning to our daily toil. Sometimes we take them on; sometimes they fall into our laps and inspire us through the rest of our days. When that day comes, how do you put yourself outside of the issue, so you know how to approach it in a broad discussion? When you really care about something, how do you learn to talk about it outside of the language you grew up with, outside of your memories and experiences and hopes for change?
Maybe the most important piece of this search for a “life mission” is an understanding that no part of it will be easy. It’s a journey often filled with uncertainty.
Some of my friends have left these difficult conversations with me feeling attacked — like I paint myself the victim and they the villains. Some are left speechless. It’s almost like a wall comes up between us, where their use becomes an even more private feature of their lives — as if they are protecting me. As I ask my friends to reject what has become normal, I have to be prepared for however they react.
And so if you give yourself to a mission, make a promise that you’ll keep something for yourself. Spending day after day worrying about your work and how people respond to your words is draining. You may believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing and where you are going, but that will not give you the balance and strength you need to keep fighting in the long run. Appreciate the opinions of those around you, but also carve out some space in your head where you can take a step back and consider your case.
Balance your mission with space for reflection. This is where I find grace. No one can ever take it away from you.

Original content from: http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2013/01/23/enriquez-finding-grace-and-a-case-against-marijuana/

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Just registered for TEDGlobal 2013 as an official participant! Very excited.

It was appropriate given today's theme:
I've been working on HATCH with Tiffany -- it means the morning was full of TED talks, articles and interesting spoken work pieces about integrity and inner strength.

I fully believe that certain things come to you when you need them most. What could be more appropriate than me writing a salon series and forcing myself to remember and reconsider my values as I go through the seemingly endless job search?

This reflection on value time has only grown in important for me at this particular stage in my life. And honestly, I hope that I never give it up. These pillars of values I hold close to me and define so much of what I do have added so much clarity to other aspects of my life.

It comes from afternoons of watching TED talks like Susan Cain's and Brene Brown's, reading Charlotte Beer's book about her experiences in the work force, laughing through the "How to Start a Movement" video... and remembering how much happened in the last year.

Here's to another year of understanding what I value enough to fight for it. I hope you find the same space in your own lives.


Image is Powerful

Everyone needs to watch this talk by Cameron Russell.

Social justice, image, and the legacy of beauty.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Current Status: Thesis. Hatch.

The pile of books around my feet, all open with notes in the margins and pens folded inside of the pages pretty much explain where my thoughts have been this December-January.

1. How Will You Measure Your Life? (Clayton Christensen)
2. I'd Rather Be in Charge (Charlotte Beers)
3. Swordfish: A true story of ambition, savagery and betrayal (David McClintick)
3. The Sicilian Mafia (Diego Gambetta)
4. Bio-degradable notebook
5. La Economia de los Paramilitares
6. Stealth of Nations (Robert Neuwirth)
7. How the Irish Became White (Ignatiev)
8. Cartel (Sylvia Longmire)
9. Gangland (Jerry Langton)
10. Illicit (Moises Naim)

I'm in every which place. But very happy. So many things to think about/read and do research for. I picked out my final class shopping schedule for Yale... and now here I am. Going through more research and theories and reaching that sweet spot in my thesis where I ACTUALLY WANT TO WRITE IT!!

I love being gloriously productive. It makes my life easier/happier :)


Remember that women's leadership project I've been working on... forever?

Well! It's moving along. We're going to send out the class invites today so that people have some time to think about whether or not they want to take the class.

http://hatchyale.wordpress.com/ => the earliest promises of a website...

We'll see you soon!