Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Reflections: A Journey in Progress

For kindergarteners to graduate students, it is back to school season.  Likewise, all three of my children will be returning to school, from my youngest child to my oldest young adult.
Our son, the oldest of his siblings, is preparing to go to graduate school, a six hour drive away. That's a big difference from the close proximity of his undergraduate school. It is a big step, and I'm so proud of him.

It has been a beautiful journey to watch him grow up. I remember his first sonogram photo. My husband and I happily anticipated the birth of our son, our first child.
Years went by, and we continued our life as a family together. We had two more beautiful children, our daughters. Our eventful journey as a family continued. I thank God for his mercy and generosity, which made our progress possible.

Like all families, we experienced some problems along the way. Yet, through God's grace, life has been wonderful. Like many parents, we did the best that we could with the resources that we had. I must say that we have been blessed.
Now, it is like we are passing a baton to our son. It is his turn to join the race. (The practice sessions are over.) Yet, we remind our son that we, too, are still in this race, running with him and cheering him on, putting a glass of water in his hand, when he gets thirty.

We encourage him to try his best, to be kind to himself, and to continue to be kind to others. He knows, as we've communicated to him many times, that he should continue to have good standards. These standards will require him to work diligently towards his goals daily.

By  Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Get On Up Movie Honors a Music Legend

The movie Get On Up contains a vivid setting, strong characterization, and a reverse chronology, replete with flashbacks. The image of James Brown, the bold and brilliant entertainer who was also an abandoned and heartbroken boy, is like a haunting metaphor. Perhaps I’m waxing too profound, yet I think that James Brown’s music legacy deserves no less.

Also, the lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, plays the role of James Brown excellently. He seems to transform himself into the persona of the "Godfather of Soul." The list of supporting actors is star-studded, with Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, and Tika Sumpter, to name a few.
 
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Writer's Genocide Research Reflections

I researched the topic of my novels, Sojourner's Dream and Lamentation of a Warrior, for years before, during, and after writing these novels. As a part of my research, I read many books, journals, newspaper articles, and more than a hundred news information website articles on the subject of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, and the Rwandan history that preceded the genocide. Also, I watched many historical documentaries on this topic, and I interviewed a Rwandan person who lost his family in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

Hence, I accumulated some boxes and disks filled with the research materials on this topic. Within these books, boxes, and disks is more than a decade of researched information which I've read. It often provided inspiration for some of the most poignant scenes of both of my novels. If you're a writer, or a storyteller, you'll, at some point, need to do research on your topic.

When researching, you may also need to explore into the depths of your topic. So, since the core of my topic was genocide, I also did some research into other genocides in various time periods and parts of the world, for example The Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge, the Nanking Massacre, and even the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

I'm passionate about history, so I was able to pursue researching this topic with great interest. When researching a topic in depth, it is best to have a strong interest in it. So, this worked in my favor. Though much of what I read during my research on this specific subject was profoundly heartbreaking, and often left me speechless with horror, I learned a great deal about it.

In the mist of the deep sorrow of the topic, there were moments of beauty and insight. For example, there are normally at least a few extraordinarily kind people who risk their lives to help others. The physical beauty of the geography of Rwanda is remarkable, and showed that in even in this midst of such a lovely natural setting, extreme terror can erupt.  Finally, the history of Rwanda, as it relates to other historical topics of African history during the colonial period, provided me with insightful reading.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum, Author

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fulfilling the Dream of Becoming a Writer

    As a wife and working mother of three, a son and two daughters, I know what it is like to put a dream on hold and devote oneself entirely to the care of family.  I suppose it's what most of us parents do at one time or another.

    Growing up, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. In college, I choose a liberal arts major, English literature, for that same purpose, to be a writer. Yet, when I graduated from college, and entered graduate school, I chose Public Administration as my graduate course of study, a subject that I was not passionate about. I chose it because I thought it would be a more practical course of study.

    I married my college sweetheart, and we had three children.  I entered the IT field a few days before the Y2K scare. Hence, I seemed to be moving even farther away from my creative writing aspiration.

    I was happy to put my husband and children first. Still, I always thought about my dream of being a writer. So, in 2002, I took my first steps towards writing a novel. It was not easy with my schedule. Yet, it was fun, so I found a way. Through the grace of God, it happened. I completed my first novel, Sojourner's Dream, in 2006.

    My second book, Lamentation of a Warrior, took one year, however. I had compiled information, tools, and methods which greatly shortened the time it took to write my second novel.

    I would like to share what I've learned with aspiring writers who want to contribute to the world in a positive way through their writing. It is for that reason that I developed Journey to Writer, an eCourse. Here is more information about it:
 
Journey to Writer
A 7-Week Writing Webinar/Teleseminar
When: August 23, 2014 to October 4, 2014; Saturdays from 1pm to 2pm
Cost: $597

     It's a step by step plan for you to place pen to paper, finger to keyboard, and share your book with the world. In seven weeks, you'll have obtained the foundational tools and information you need to:
  • Gain the confidence to write your book for the world to see.
  • Take action on your dreams of being an author or writer.
  • Be the author signing books at your own book signings.
  • Have the basic tools to create the book.
***And, this is all from the comfort of your home office, or sofa.

If you are an aspiring writer, you don't have to let your dream wait, or die. You can be a writer, if you're willing to put in the time and effort.  Try Journey to Writer.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A First Born Graduates

 
   A first born of first born parents, our son graduated from UMBC, with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering, on Thursday. It was a joyous occasion. I reflected and clearly remembered that twenty-two years ago, my contractions were painful enough to prompt me to awaken my husband, who was scheduled to go to work that morning. Seeing the pain that I was in, my husband took me to the hospital. Eight hours later, our first born child, a son, was born. Hence, that began our beautiful journey into parenthood. I was amazed and enraptured by the sight of my newborn son. In my heart, I vowed to give our son all that I could, especially love, affection, attention, and training.

   As a first born, our son received his generous share of our attention. From kindergarten to 12th grade, we never missed a back to school night, where we would introduce ourselves to all his teachers and would get copies of the syllabuses and book lists. His homework and academic development was a priority. We did the same for his sisters, too, yet as a first born, the expectations were even higher for him.
   My husband and I would often take our son, and his sisters, to the library during the school week. Much time was spent supervising and helping him with his homework, as we did for his sisters. I remember those days fondly, yet, my son often has a different view on those study sessions, as filled with strictness. Yet, as a result, he did well in school.

   As the first born, when his sisters were born, our son would smile adoringly at them.  As a big brother, he continues to be secure in his role of first born and the leader of his siblings. That’s the benefit, instant leadership, which our son earned throughout the years, and continues to earn.  Congratulations, son!!
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

May 23, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother’s Day Musings

As mothers, we know there will be days filled with love, joy, fulfillment, fatigue, and, sometimes, frustration. These emotions are all a part of the beautiful experience of parenthood. Today, mothers are thanked for their enormous efforts to care for and raise their children to be good, responsible, and productive people.

As mothers, many of us realize how hard our own mothers had to work to raise us. Hence, we understand the no nonsense approach that many mothers had to use. Mothers these days have a small, if any, support system and are faced with trying to be everything to their kids. This leaves mothers with less time for themselves for renewal and personal projects. For mothers, the bottom line is that the children’s needs normally come first.

As a mother, you try to do your best, with the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you have. Yet, sometimes we can be critical of ourselves, when normal life challenges happen. So, we mothers have to remember to be gentle on ourselves and to give ourselves a pat on the back when we know that we have really tried our best.
Trying to be a great parent is not easy. Yet, the effort of going the extra mile, as often as you can, without totally exhausting yourself, often has its rewards. Extraordinary patience is necessary to realize these rewards.

Each child is different, and each requires attention to his/her needs. There are physical needs, spiritual needs, emotional, and intellectual needs. Each need must be nourished in a positive way to obtain a positive outcome. Yet, one only has so much time in the day, and only so much energy.
I remember what a priest said during mass on Good Friday. He said "real love often costs nothing less than everything."  That’s what a mother gives real love.  It costs a lot, yet it is worth it.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Monday, April 7, 2014

Everyday Life and Genocide

  
  What is normal everyday life for people in a city, community, or neighborhood? At its core, it is family and community life activities: cooking, cleaning, caring for family members, going to work, going to school, or attending events such as weddings, graduations, births, and other ceremonies. Scenes of family life occur daily, such as going to church, synagogue, or temple, or some other place of religious, or spiritual, worship. These are the normal activities of people in a society. Ironically, stories of genocide often begin with normal everyday life. As a part of normal life, people in a community interact, and businesses, large and small, operate. These normal community activities stop when genocide starts.
     Night, by Elie Wiesel, and Left to Tell, by Immaculate Ilibagiza, are both true stories about genocides, one that occurred during World War II and one that occurred in 1994. Both books start with families living their normal lives in their vibrant communities. Yet, the outcomes of these true stories are that each story ends with hundreds of thousands, and millions, of people being murdered as a result of genocide.
     I visited the Holocaust Memorial soon after it first opened in Washington, D.C. I remember that a part of the exhibit contained artifacts which consisted of the personal belongings of genocide victims. These items ranged from toys to shoes, clothing, furniture, photographs, and many other household items, all as old as one would expect, 60 years later. These items showed evidence of the owners’ previously normal lives, before the genocide started.  So, it is clear that genocide happens to normal people who live normal lives. It is important to remember that genocide can happen to normal everyday people.
     Another question is do the victims of genocide see the genocide coming? Years, months, or weeks before genocide happens, victims often suspect something very bad is going to happen. Yet, they are hopeful that what they suspect won’t actually happen. They may even attribute their fears to paranoia and decide to just not think about it. This happened in the books Night and Left to Tell.  In, Night, there was a sequence of fearsome signs that something very bad would happen to Elie and his family and community. For example, the first sign came from the quiet, poor neighbor of Elie’s family, Moshe the Beadle, who warned his neighbors continually of the eventual fate of the members of his community. He told them repeatedly that he saw people taken from their community and killed by Nazis. Yet, no one believed him. Then, Elie’s family, along with all the members of their community were forced from their homes and forced to walk to a crowded ghetto, with only as much as each family could carry. There, the families set up a temporary community structure, and tried to live within it. The community people adapted to the poor living conditions and remained hopeful. Another opportunity to escape presented itself when their former housekeeper found them and pleaded with them to come with her so she could hide them from the Nazis.  The offer was declined, and they remained in the ghetto, hoping for the best. Their hope was that the allied forces of World War II would stop Adolf Hitler’s army. Then, the ghetto social structure they’d constructed was very quickly dismantled, and, Elie and his family and community were loaded into an overcrowded cattle train car and taken a Nazi concentration camp where the children were the first to die.  Elie's parents and siblings would not survive the concentration camp. In Left to Tell, the author’s parents chose not to flee their home days before the genocide started. It may have been that the presence of so many U.N. soldiers prior to the genocide that made the people feel safer, yet when the genocide started the U.N. soldiers did not take action to stop genocide.  Immaculate's parents, and most of her siblings, except for one who’d travelled out of Rwanda, were brutally murdered.
     Elie’s parents had a grocery store and were respected members of their community, and this happened to them and other people in their community. Likewise, Immaculate’s parents were teachers who were beloved and industrious people who were respected by members of their community, and they were murdered during the genocide. Genocide destroyed the lives of these families. It's sobering to know that genocide happens to normal and good people.
     In both stories, there was a similar theme that the victims had hoped that somehow the genocide would be stopped, or that reason would prevail. The books Night by Elie Wiesel and Left to Tell by Immaculate Ilibagiza depict this phenomenon of the victims' being hopeful in spite of signs of something extremely bad to come. In both stories, the help comes only after the genocide had almost run its course. 
 
 
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum