Lessons, Listen

Listening to kris: starlit stories with a maori villager

Listening has the power to change lives, one story at a time.

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Listen...

This is a word we all know well. We've been told for years to listen to our teachers, to our parents, to our bosses and so on. But, what does it truly mean to listen? I thought I understood the importance of this word, but I didn't. At least not until I arrived in a Maori village on the South Island of New Zealand.

There were 32 of us on my study abroad trip and, at the point of this story, we had traveled hundreds of miles, moving every two to three days so we could experience the entire country. Fascinating, right? Well, for many, sleep was the only important word ringing in our ears when we reached Te'Whakarewarewa, The Living Maori Village.

The entire group sat beneath the hunched trees and wide-open skies of the village, but as night fell our guide began to speak and many drifted away. Four of us gathered around our tiny, 80-year-old tour guide under a blanket of darkness. Her name was Kris and I called her my Maori mama. The five of us sat beneath the night sky, looking up to see perfect silhouettes of the Milky Way galaxy and the Southern Cross.

Kris told us about her story, her children's story, Maori legends, and traditions. I could've been there for hours but it felt like precious minutes. I guess that's what happens when you're in a once in a lifetime moment. Kris had been through everything life can throw at a person, and came through her experience with a wisdom I can only hope to gain in my years on this earth. Her brown wrinkles formed beautiful patterns on her face. She almost didn't seem real, but she was the most genuine human being I've ever met. Her golden voice was faint and hidden inside the calls of crickets and the whispers of the cool wind that enveloped our bodies.

As the stories of her past rolled off her tongue, I began to learn the importance of listening. I hung onto every word she said, realizing that her words were impacting my life in such a way I could never have foreseen. I cried and laughed with her and our friends sitting close beside us. Collectively, we understood it was not our time to speak. We all kept our lips shut and our ears open, allowing her unabashed emotions to flood our hearts.

I spoke to these friends recently and found we all learned a very similar lesson from this unique experience. Every single person you speak to has the ability to change your life. No matter how young or old someone is, they have a story. You just have to be willing to lend your ears to their voice. Who knows, the person you decide to listen to today may impact you forever.

When I took the opportunity to listen to Kris, I learned the importance of detail in my life. Each experience I have is a sensory one with every part of me heightened to a level that did not exist prior to this night. With each painful memory she shared, she remembered to tell us she has no regrets. She's made the most of what she's been given, forever grateful for every single fragment of her 80 years.

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14 Stages Of Buying Jonas Brothers Concert Tickets As A 20-Something In 2019

"Alexa, play "Burnin' Up" by the Jonas Brothers."

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In case you missed it, the Jonas Brothers are back together and, let me tell you, they're giving us some major jams. For those of us who were there when it all began back in 2007 with their first album, It's About Time, this has been one of the most important events of the year. But nothing, and I mean nothing can rival the excitement every twenty-something felt as the Jonas Brothers announced their Happiness Begins tour. I, for one, put my name in for ticket presale, have been following every single social media site related to the tour/group, and, of course, listening to the Jonas Brothers on repeat. And if you did manage to snag tickets, then you know that this is how your brain has been ever since they announced the tour.

1. Finding out that they're going on tour

2. Hopefully entering your name into the lottery to get presale tickets

3. Finding out that you actually get to buy presale tickets

4. Impatiently waiting for your presale tickets by listening to their songs on repeat

5. And remembering how obsessed you used to be (definitely still are) with them

6. Trying to coordinate the squad to go to the concert with you

7. Waiting in the Ticketmaster waiting room...

8. ...And feeling super frantic/frustrated because there are about 2000 people in line in front of you

9. Actually getting into the site to buy the tickets

10. Frantically trying to find seats you can actually pay for because, let's be real, you're twenty-something and poor

11. Managing to actually get the seats you want

12. Joyfully letting your squad know that you've done it

13. Crying a little because all of the dreams you've had since 2007 are coming true

14. Listening to every single Jonas Brothers song on repeat (again)

If you, like me, have finally fulfilled one of your dreams since childhood, then congrats, my friend! We've made it! Honestly, of all the things I've done in my adult life, this might be the one that child me is the most proud of.

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The 7 Best Food Places Near UCLA You Need to Try ASAP

We have great dining food AND restaurants around us? Wow, we are #blessed.

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Westwood is the home to UCLA and offers plenty of interesting and diverse dining options for students and locals alike. Since the area is firmly Bruin territory, you will find lots of on-the-go, affordable eats along with a mix of more modern and upscale restaurants.

Though I definitely haven't had all the food Westwood occurs, being here two years now (omg already!?), I think I can safely recommend certain places to eat.

1. Shamshiri Grill

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South Westwood Boulevard is often referred to as Little Tehran, so most of that area is just Persian restaurants. Shamshiri Grill just makes the best meat and whenever I go there, I always order my meal with their special hot sauce, that is to DIE for. A must try.

2. Gushi

I can not tell you how many times I've been to this place. Located near Fat Sal's, you may be tempted to just miss it but let me tell you that is a mistake. I always get their Gushi Bowl which is just heavenly and the right amount to make me feel satisfied without being too filling. Be generous with the Teriyaki and Sriracha sauces on your meat and you are guaranteed to have a good time.

3. Pinches Tacos

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I know Mexican food is very common wherever you go but Pinches Tacos is aesthetically pleasing and their food? Even more so. It just tastes so good! I definitely recommend the Asada fries and any tacos.

4. Saffron and Rose

Saffron and Rose is a Persian ice cream parlor like 10 minutes away from Shamshiri Grill and the quality and variety of ice cream is truly impressive. I would not have known my weakness for Jasmine ice cream if I hadn't tried this place and as always, the Saffron and Rose (it's namesake) deserves to be the name of the restaurant because of how rich in flavor it is.

5. Maharaja

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I am very particular about my Indian food but the buffets in the afternoons at Maharaja definitely passes my checklist. I actually went there for my birthday so that just tells you how the food doesn't disappoint.

6. Nekter Juice Bar

I found out about this place very recently and I'm so glad I did because their bowls are so good. They also serve smoothies which I haven't had the pleasure to taste yet but I expect the same kind of quality. I am very partial to the Bruin Bowl and the Dragonfruit Bowl.

7. BJs

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They have $3 Pizookies on Tuesday.

I am always there on Tuesday.

Are these two facts connected? Maybe.

What can I say? I just love the restaurants here.

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