• Thought-Provoking
  • July19th

    4 Comments

    There’s something I’ve been keeping from most of my friends for a while now, and I have to admit that it has been INCREDIBLY hard to keep secret!

    But now that I’m further along in the process, I feel it’s a good time to put it out there.

    After 3+ months of getting together my application, background checks, transcripts, reference letters, and an hour-long web interview this afternoon – I have officially been nominated as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer for French-West Sub-Saharan Africa in Business Advising & Development for June 2012.


    A couple of years ago when I finished university at Louisiana Tech, I first filled out my application to the PC, but upon much introspection, I felt I may have been going into it for the wrong reasons. As cliché as it may seem, I wasn’t 100% comfortable with myself and my identity. My identity was very much connected to the identity that others had of me in North Louisiana – I was Ross Frazier the photographer, Ross Frazier the Tech student, or Ross Frazier – a member of the Frazier Clan (haha). I’d never truly left the area and I didn’t have much of an identity outside of it. I figured undertaking such a challenge as the Peace Corps may not be the best way to succeed at “finding myself” – I needed to be comfortable with “me” before taking on a job where people would be dependent on that definition of “me.”

    So I decided to continue school far away from “home” and far away from all the friends I knew and loved. Here I sit in Belgium, my new “home” surrounded by equally amazing friends. I’ve proven to myself that I can uproot myself and still find happiness; I can weather dark times and come out even better than before; I can make lasting friendships anywhere in the world; I can find a smile no matter the circumstances.

    It is after the revelation that has been my year+ in Belgium (remember THIS post) that I have decided NOW is the time – the RIGHT time to embark on a challenge bigger than myself, a challenge harder than anything I’ve undertaken before, a challenge more demanding than any previous in my life. That is why a few months ago, I began filling out my application, asking for references, getting fingerprinted, getting a background check, writing my essays, and interviewing for my entrance into the Peace Corps.

    All of the work, all of the stress (and keep in mind, it’s still just the beginning!) have culminated in the moment I enjoyed this afternoon: receiving a nomination to serve.

    I still have a lot of work ahead of me; a nomination does not equal an invitation. I must pass more tests, medical and legal among others, to make sure I qualify on all fronts. There is a chance that my nomination will not be the same (in terms of location and job description) as the invitation to serve that I will hopefully get after I pass the medical, legal, and other placement requirements are met. But nonetheless, this is a huge step in the process and I am beyond honored to have made it this far in the continued hope of serving the greater world community and continuing the exceptional reputation that the Peace Corps has built over the past 50+ years.

    So with great honor and enthusiasm in all of my heart, I am proud to announce this great decision in my life to you. I hope you will join me in this journey as I take on what will undoubtedly be one of the grandest experiences of my life.

    And as always, I appreciate the support, love, thoughts, prayers, and good vibes that all of my friends and family have provided over the years, and I will appreciate your continued support; y’all truly are the greatest!

     

    – Ross

     

  • June23rd

    2 Comments

    The last time I remember my parents helping me with my homework was in 2nd grade when I was learning hook-ed on puh-honics – and it totuhlly work-ed fuh meh.

    My mom said  somewhere around 4th grade was the cutoff  point – when she stopped asking me if I had homework or if I had something for her to sign. Randi always tells the story of when she wasn’t ready on time for school one day, and mom said “let’s go, time to go!” and she walked out the door and started driving down the driveway…sans Randi. Randi had to run and catch up to the car and all was well. Lesson learned. hahaha Randi still isn’t always punctual, but hey – who is? She is however very independent just like me, we can hold our own.

    I even remember some of my friends’ moms would actually go through their backpacks (in JUNIOR HIGH!!!!!) to check for stuff their children needed to do. This seems immensely silly to me – but so does beating your children and some parents do that all the time – guess I don’t understand that either, cause it was never done to me.

    During this current exam period from Hell (I’ve taken 4 so far, 1 to go!), I’ve heard so many students say stuff to the effect of “if I fail a test, my parents will be so pissed”  – by the way, it’s necessary to mention at this point that exams are so difficult here, failing an exam is not an isolated or rare occurrence. I think it’s rarer if someone actually passes ALL of their exams on the first try. They even give tolerance points where you can “fail” a test with one or two points under passing and “cash in” points to get through without having to retake the exam {you can only do this a few times…and we don’t have any tolerance points for my masters program :( first year ever that they don’t have them…sucks.} Either way, back to the point.

    I NEVER remember worrying about what my parents would think or how they would feel if I didn’t do well in school, and I certainly don’t worry about it now – I’m 22 and getting my masters, I’m certainly not in it for my parents. I didn’t do any of my schooling “for my parents” I did it for myself. I graduated high school with a 4.0/4.0 at the top of my class and graduated university with 3.883/4.0 magna cum laude from Tech FOR MYSELF, not anyone else. And in this way, I believe that’s why I was successful at it. The only stress that was put upon me was from my own crazy mind. My mom would usually be the one calming me down saying “a B is still great!” Even just the other day at lunch, I was b*tching about my exams and spending 10-12 HOURS A DAY at the library feeling like I’m getting no where and how I just knew I would fail my Competitive Analysis and Strategy exam (which I think I did…this morning) and I was (am) VERY upset about it, and mom said “well, if you do, you’ll just take it again in September and it’ll all be fine.” Don’t ya think that’s a lot nicer than “if you fail this test, we will be so disappointed in you…you have to try harder.” Cause guess what? That’d probably have the OPPOSITE effect, I can tell ya that.

    I’m not really sure why I felt the need to share this, I guess it just struck me as odd that so many students are out there only doing it for their parents/family – that’s what their family expects of them, so they do it. I guess it just seems strange to me, as I was reared to believe in myself, do things on my own, do them for myself, and think for myself. In that way, I never needed someone to sit me down at a table and say “study.” and “work. now.” I did it on my own…with some relatively good outcomes, I think.

    So I’m not telling you how to rear your children or what your parents might be doing or have done wrong! I guess, since my parents are some of the only people who read this blog, I’m actually writing it to them…to thank them. I appreciate to no end the fact that I grew up knowing they’d always be proud of me and that they expected nothing more from me than to be the best person I could be under definitions that I set. It’s nice to have unending support from the people you love the most.

     

    Throughout the years, I think I have made my parents very proud – but that’s not why I did it.

     

    – Ross

  • May3rd

    1 Comment

    I’m not known for my lack of opinions. I tend to have them, and I tend to share them.

    I think it’s fortunate that I am from and currently live in a place that allows me that luxury – a luxury denied to too many in this world.

    I also have the right to believe what I want, think what I want, harbor what feelings I may, and live my life in peace.

    I am not an advocate of gay rights, I am not an advocate of women’s rights, I am not an advocate of minority rights – I’m an advocate of HUMAN RIGHTS.

    I have a very global view of the world, at times I would say a universal view of the world. I look at the big picture and find it hard to believe that groups of men have the power to dictate basic freedoms in the lives of other humans. Our lives are so short in the grand scheme of things, no one should have to live it in fear or unhappiness.

    I believe in basic human rights such as privacy, the right to live without unreasonable fears, the right to work, the right to own property, the right to a family, education, safety, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, the right to vote, to marry, and to know happiness and success by our respective definitions. These are but a few basic rights, but alas for brevity, I shall leave the list as such.

    I do not get my morals from any single book or single person or single guru. My morals are a combined effort of my childhood, my parents, my family, my friends, everyone I’ve ever come into contact with, every action I’ve ever done, every word I’ve ever spoken, every word I’ve ever read, and every experience I’ve ever lived. From my past to my present, I’ve learned what I believe is right from the accords of many – and it will undoubtedly continue to evolve as I see more of the world, learn new cultures, meet new people, and live new experiences.

    Past experiences like being called names and being made fun of and having our “leaders” on the news act as if my rights as a gay man are of no substance to them have taught me many things. And although I do not appreciate the actions, words, and feelings which I’ve witnessed against me, I will never EVER deny one’s right to them.

    So why is it that others see fit to deny them from me?

    How bad, how good does it need to get?
    How many losses, how much regret?
    What chain reaction, what cause and effect,
    Makes you turn around,
    Makes you try to explain,
    Makes you forgive and forget,
    Makes you change?

     

     

    I don’t understand a heart devoid of compassion, and honestly…I hope I never do.

     

    – Ross

  • April16th

    1 Comment

    A lot of people I know are getting married this year. A lot of people I know were married by the time they were my age. I’m only 22.

    A lot of people have started their careers, many (most of them) not far from home. I already have friends from high school with kids for goodness’ sakes!

    I don’t plan on this happening to me…for some people, such things are just what they need to fulfill their dreams and live their ideal life; I totally understand, every once in a while I get the inkling to settle down, live near my family, start my career, find a partner, buy a house, adopt a puppy….

    But the other day I heard some advice I really liked: “give yourself your twenties.”

    I’ve been thinking a LOT lately about what to do next, and I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been the cause of most of my recent anxiety.

    However, I think I’m going to take that advice…I’m going to “give myself my twenties.”

    I mean, let’s be honest here – is there a better time to try to “find oneself” and explore the world than one’s twenties? I’m healthy, I’m intelligent, I’m able, I’m friendly, I’m open-minded, I’m a traveler, I’m single, I’m in zero debt – after September I will have a masters degree and will be free…from any and all obligations…when will a better opportunity to “find myself” appear?

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to have an identity crisis! I know myself and I know I’ve got a lot in this world to accomplish, but I have my whole life ahead of me, and I don’t need to have my name on the side of a building by the time I’m 30. I want to travel and volunteer and use my skills for other purposes before I begin my corporate life / career. I want to see the world – I want to learn new languages and cultures, new skills and ideas!

    I want to feel alive everyday.

    So here’s to finishing up school, taking a sigh of relief, crossing my fingers, and “giving myself my twenties!”

    – Ross

    P.S.

    “Don’t lose who you are, in the blur of the stars!
    Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
    It’s okay not to be okay…
    Sometimes it’s hard, to follow your heart.
    Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
    Just be true to who you are!”

  • April7th

    2 Comments

    So I saw THIS comic from The Oatmeal the other day, and naturally it made me think of here…where I’m living…right now…Seattle, my ass, Belgium has to be worse.

    Now you may be thinking to yourself, “But Ross, isn’t is Spring?! Surely the weather is getting better and it’s probably AWESOME now!” Well…this is true, and you should understand that if you read the comic. The reason I’m writing this now, because we’ve now entered the time of the year when people are now saying “oh, this weather is just so great! blah blah blah blah Makes it worth living here!” It’s almost as if the past two/three days of sun have completely erased the memory of having to walk around all day with an umbrella and scarf on MONDAY…that’s right…THREE DAYS AGO. Now after a week, people will probably have completely forgotten the past 7 months of hell: no real sun, cold all the time, 100% cloudy 100% of the time, everyone sneezing and coughing and blowing their nose…even on the sunny days, it was too cold to go outside and enjoy it. You got to “enjoy it” in the sense that the 2 inches of your face that was exposed got exposed to the sun for ~30 seconds on one side of one street between your house and the grocery store.

    People don’t really account for that…when the sun shines (which truthfully is rarely…) in the winter, it never gets over the buildings because we’re so far north – it rises then glides across the horizon until it sets about 6 hours later. We’ve even gotten used to the term “partly cloudy” meaning it’s “partly” in the sense of having only one cloud, it’s just a really big single cloud covering the entire country. I’m convinced that they are required to use “partly cloudy” in order to give people hope…which Belgium desperately needs seeing their high suicide rates…

    This image represents Belgium’s satellite image for most of the year:

     

     

    So…yeah…it’s pretty crazy. For some perspective, I’d like to show you this map:

     

    Google does a really good job here of keeping down distortion, because usually when you spread out a map into a rectangle, it doesn’t really work…afterall, I think there’s enough evidence to prove the world is round…despite these people possibly disagreeing with that statement…guess they haven’t seen the satellite photos…or I don’t know…ever been to a science class. Either way, I digress.

    The point of that is to show that where I’m from…it’s equal in latitude to BAGHDAD, IRAQ, and where I live now is equal with Calgary, Canada! There is not even a part of the US (forget Alaska…everyone else does) that is further or even as far north as where I currently reside. Now, obviously you’ll notice a few differences between Iraq and Louisiana…notably the lack of muslims in Louisiana and the lack of Baptists in Iraq (pick your poison…)…but there’s also that whole “desert” thing – but to forego a science lesson, I’ll suffice it to say that the ocean plays a large role, and North Africa more or less gets screwed over with super dry air. You can google all that on your own.

    Now…the point of this post has kind of gotten lost, and I will be the first to admit that I get a TAD carried away, so back to the point:

    If you’re thinking about moving…TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE WEATHER. If you’re considering moving to North Europe (aka here), ask someone about the weather while they’re living through the Winter, because I can assure you, 1 month ago, I’d have never recommended someone move here…and if you asked what the weather was like in North Louisiana during the Summer, I’d have NEVER…EVER…EVER EVER EVER…recommended someone to move there. You could’ve asked me in the Spring, Winter, and Fall, and my answer would’ve probably been similar…but nonetheless. Louisiana Summers are brutal, Belgian Winters are brutal…So if you’re moving somewhere you’re unfamiliar with the weather, ask someone about it during the worst part of the year; afterall, to paraphrase a 30Rock quote, the Native Americans probably would’ve warmly recommended European blankets….until they began to die of smallpox.

    So…in my research of where to go next, after I finish school here (if…), I’ve basically decided that I’ll be living above the red line and below the blue line; barring deserts, super high altitudes, etc. etc. I know there is no area with perfect weather- and if such a place does exist, it’s probably some small island with limited job opportunities. Plus, I WANT a Winter, I enjoy jackets and scarves, but I don’t need it to last 6 months and I’d like to see the sun then, too. Also, I WANT a Summer. I want to swim in the pool and lay out in the sun, I want to wear shorts, sandals, and t-shirts and feel warm; however, I don’t want it to be so hot that your school mascot (a bulldog) suffers a heat stroke during orientation or that the morning news has to warn people to “stray away from strenuous labor outside in direct sun, seek shade when possible, and drink plenty of water.”  (all of that is serious, y’all…it happens…Welcome to Louisiana, enjoy that gulp of water with that breathe).

    If you know of a place with nice weather, 4 seasons, nice people, good job market, and all around perfection, let the world know, because I’m sure we’re all looking for one!

    – Ross