By: Eva Oliver, RAW Co-Coach and Life Academy Teacher
My 24-hour fast ended at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, January 23, 2012.
I had an incredibly reflective and introspective day filled with hunger and serenity and irritability and peace and frustration and joy and confusion. So many emotions filled my mind and heart during my short fast.
I began my fast with text messages to and from Pablo Venturino (the youth developer who fasted before me) and Alexandra Perry (one of my best friends who offered to join me in my fast because she believes in our movement). I felt encouraged and inspired. I was (and am) completely dedicated to this movement we have started. I began my fast feeling honored to carry the weight of our mission for my beautiful and wonderful RAW ladies.
However, my day soon collided with immense frustration. With my boyfriend (Jordan) and my friend (Nikole), I traveled to my boyfriend’s parents’ house to watch the 49ers football game. There I encountered food and wine, and I felt tempted. But, I remembered my commitment and tried to enjoy the company of my loved ones with only water. My loved ones supported me in my fast and asked numerous questions about our Season of Peace-Building. I could tell that they were excited about what I was doing – maybe even inspired.
An interaction that I had with one of my best friend’s almost three-year-old son, Noah, was the highlight of my fast. Excitedly, he came up to me and said, “Eva, I have two Cheetos. Want one?”
I replied, “No, Noah. I can’t have Cheetos today.”
Puzzled, he asked, “Why?”
After thinking about the simplest answer I could conjure up, I said, “Noah, I am doing something very important today, and I promised not to eat.”
With the cutest shoulder shrug ever to be seen, he replied, “Okay, Eva,” and ate the other Cheetos.
This short interaction with Noah reminded of two things:
1) My students and I are committed to this Season of Peace-Building not only to change our community right now, but also to make sure that Oakland (and the greater Bay Area) is different for Noah and young people his age when they become teenagers. I don’t want him or his contemporaries to have to experience the death of a friend who was the victim of violence, like too many of my current students. More selfishly, I don’t want to have to carry the weight of those deaths. They are heavy, and they’re all-consuming nature leaves little room for teaching. These tragedies are not what I signed up for when I decided to be a teacher. Perhaps foolishly, I decided to be a teacher because I wanted to change the world – one person at a time. This Season of Peace-Building has validated my call. I think change that I envisioned is possible – especially since the young men and women of BAM and RAW are so committed to changing their world.
2) Food may be what brings us together, but compassion in the glue that holds us together. Noah received an extra Cheetos and wanted to share it with me. What a small example of compassion! If we all were willing to share, empathize, and care, then we would be living in such a different world. Noah reminded me of the importance of empathy and of the beauty in small, seemingly meaningless, interactions. If you allow those moments to carry weight, then you will learn something new about yourself or others every day.
Finally, I wanted to highlight my friend, Alexandra Perry, who fasted with me in solidarity of our movement. In June 2006, the summer after we met, Alex and I made a promise to each other that we would ignite change in our world. We were committed to this mission because we had just seen true beauty in the face of absolute poverty in Costa Rica. We figured that if beauty could exist in those conditions, it could exist anywhere. Here we are, almost six years later. I am one of the teachers who helped to organize our Season of Peace-Building, and Alex will be moving to the Kyrgyz Republic in May to serve in the Peace Corps for over two years. We are living our dreams, in our own ways. I reflected a lot about that today AND how I want my students to have the opportunity to live out their dreams without the fear of violence haunting them and preventing them from actualizing what they want for themselves.
Today, I did something real – something meaningful – something unforgettable. And, all I can say is that I’m so grateful to be at Life Academy and to be the teacher of an amazing and inspiring group of young people who are committed to igniting change.
Please comment on this post if you supported today’s faster in solidarity with our movement.
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Edited by: Yuvitza Rivera, Sophomore