3 AM thoughts on the death penalty

During my senior year of high school, I started to apply for college scholarships. Though it has been 15 years since that time in my life, I still remember one scholarship application in particular that challenged my way of thinking. The application essay required me to share my opinion on capital punishment. Back then, I wasn’t a snazzy googler so I couldn’t type in “What is capital punishment?” to learn about the policy. And, my high school classes didn’t exactly inspire critical thinking or debate over political issues. So, I went to my mom and asked her what capital punishment was all about.

As a 17 year-old, I didn’t have much context for the idea of capital punishment. Most books I read were fiction, most of which were Christian romances that upheld the principles of the church I grew up in. In my literary world, protecting life didn’t really apply to adults who murdered but rather to the fetuses that had not yet made it to term. Thus, as I wrote my essay for the deadline that week, I didn’t have a full understanding nor had I developed a complete opinion on the topic.

That changed during my freshman year of college. During spring semester of that formidable first year of college, I took Dr. Shaw’s Foundations of Political Science course. In it, we read Dead Man Walking, among other books. Sister Helen Prejean’s book about life, death, and social justice changed my entire way of thinking. Though I grew up with the “eye for an eye” talk, I started to see the messiness of our justice system and the injustice people face on death row. Have you ever noticed that the people sentenced to death row come from the lower socio-economic classes? People with money take pleas or they can hire fantastic storyteller attorneys who woo the jury to finding their defendant innocent of all crimes. Humans have faults and none of us have sound judgment at all times. So, why have we created a system of punishment that allows a jury to decide if someone is guilty or innocent? Do we not realize that our own moral biases affect the way we sit in judgment on one another? And why does the death sentence assume that offenders are incapable of rehabilitation?

It’s weird to be having these thoughts at 3 AM on a Wednesday, but when insomnia awoke me from my sweet slumber and I saw an AP news blast about a woman’s execution in Georgia on my phone, my brain started churning. CNN reported that all federal appeals failed. Even the Pope’s letter requesting clemency was denied. So Kelly Gissendaner was executed.

My frustration with capital punishment continues to grow. Some people have asked me if I would feel differently if a person murdered a family member of mine. I honestly don’t know how I would feel, but I do know that I understand Samuel L. Jackson’s character in A Time to Kill. When the law is unjust, as it is, things get complicated. However, despite how I would react to a crime against my family, I still believe that capital punishment is outdated and unjust. And, I hate that the U.S., a “first world country,” continues to perpetuate the problem by continuing the inequities of our legal system by allowing the death sentence.

Addicted to Empire

Weekends are designed to help us relax, recuperate, and get back into a state of mind so that we can go back to work on Monday. Well, this weekend, I warmed up my relaxation time by watching The Emmy’s on Hulu. If I’m completely honest, I watched the Emmy’s to get more airtime with my current crush, Andy Samberg, but after watching the awards show, I was left at a loss. And, I realized that there’s some great television I haven’t checked out these past few years.

One show that I was particularly interested in watching was Empire. I had seen Terrance Howard on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and knew the show was big. But when I started to watch it today… I couldn’t stop. This show is addicting. I’m in love with the depth of characters and the continual drama that throws the family back and forth in their commitment to one another. And the music – LOVE it!

This show has a lot to say about race and success in the U.S. of A. Hopefully, I’ll take some time to look at the show through a critical lens once I’m finished binge-watching it. Right now, I’m just eager to know what comes next.

Tata for now.


Comedy Junkie           

Under my Twitter handle, I have the following: Writer. Purple fanatic. Photographer. Platypus. Traveler. Movie buff. Coffee & tea lover. Comedy junkie. Book nerd. RPCV Ukraine. Teacher. Learner.

All of these things are true about me. But the thing that describes me most these days is Comedy junkie. I don’t know if it’s because I’m done with school, I live by myself, or I just had a huge life change and no one to share it with, but I have been absolutely, positively addicted to my MacBook watching comedy shows for the last three weeks. It’s terrifying to be honest. I have a deeper relationship with Andy Samberg and Seth Meyers right now than anyone else. This is probably not going to help me long-term.

The thing about comedy and smart comedians is that they actually get things. They realize that Donald Trump is a ridiculous choice for president and they are able to challenge his candidacy in a way that makes people laugh and perhaps challenge their ridiculous beliefs about the tycoon. They challenge the media, which is both necessary and awesome. And comedians are dorky people, which give some of us hope that we too may find success in this challenging world.

I realize that some people find comedy offensive. I totally get it. Pitch Perfect 2 went too far. The racist, sexist, and ethnocentric jokes throughout the movie weren’t smart in a way that challenged the isms, but rather perpetuated serious problematic systems that are in place here in the U.S. I really didn’t care for it. But even though Elizabeth Banks missed the mark on that film, there are plenty of smart comedians that are making the world a little bit better through their craft. My list of awesome comedians starts with these fools: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, BJ Novak, Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and David Sedaris. And though I can’t argue that the next two comedians are world changers in my book, I appreciate their comedy for the 90s: Rachel Dratch and Adam Sandler.

With that, my friends, I must leave you and watch another clip on Hulu.

Tata for now.


Life of a Professional

It's a bit gray, but here is a recent professional photo of me from my days as a CSSA graduate student.

It’s a bit gray, but here is a recent professional photo of me from my days as a CSSA graduate student.

I don’t like to brag about my accomplishments. It’s not really my thing. In fact, when I was a kid, I was sort of trained not to brag about myself because if I were to do so, I would hurt others and likely lose friends.

In recent months, I’ve been forced to attempt to brag about myself in interviews, meetings with new colleagues, and on the occasional initial friend date. It’s been weird and fun and all sorts of awkward. It’s also been a treasure to write and rewrite my professional biography time and time again to fit the resume, CV, or website blurb. But I’ve done it. And that is why, at this point in time, I am going to share a biography I recently wrote about myself. It’s a bit long, but I hope you enjoy it!

In July 2015, Sharece Bunn joined the team of advisors with International Student Advising and Services (ISAS) where she is able to advise students on immigration, enrollment, and visa status, as well as serve on the International Student Orientation Team, assist with the International Student Peer Mentoring Program, and be a member of the ISAS assessment team. Sharece claims that her love of books as a child instilled in her an interest in different cultures and people. While working towards her BA in English from Northwest Nazarene University, she participated in two study abroad experiences in England. After graduation, Sharece joined the United States Peace Corps as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Volunteer in Lypovets, Ukraine. Following her service in Ukraine, Sharece returned to Oregon and earned her M.S. in Journalism from the University of Oregon. In 2011, Sharece returned to Ukraine with Peace Corps Response as an English instructor at Ternopil National Pedagogical University where she discovered her desire to work in student affairs in higher education. Her passion for diverse cultures and people led her to return to graduate school, where she earned an Ed.M. degree in College Student Services Administration (CSSA) from Oregon State University. As a student in the CSSA program, Sharece had the opportunity to serve as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Academic Success Center where she taught ALS Academic Success and coordinated all academic success presentations and outreach efforts for the center. Some of Sharece’s favorite past-times include reading, writing, taking pictures, traveling, and going on spontaneous adventures that allow her to fill her journal with memories.

There you have it: my job and professional bio in a nutshell.



We Are the Champions: Remembering Ukraine

Memories of Ukraine often flood my days. I think of the friends, students, and other people I met during my three years living in that wonderful country. Today, as I was scrolling through facebook, I stumbled upon a Jimmy Fallon video that brought back plenty of delightful Ukraine memories. Here you go. Take a look.

I get it. You’re questioning why a Queen song reminds me of Ukraine, right? Well, it does and for a very good reason. From 2005-2007, I lived in a small village in Central Ukraine called Lypovets. In Lypovets, I served as an ESL instructor for students in grades 4 through 11. The students were great. They were generally cheerful, energetic, in school, and willing to meet with me. I’m not sure that the students were always eager to learn, but I’m starting to realize that such an expectation may be a bit much for students whose basic needs are not always met.

If you haven't seen it, The Mighty Ducks is a great movie about teamwork, hockey, and an adult learning how to be a better person thanks to kids. (Classic 90s film)

If you haven’t seen it, The Mighty Ducks is a great movie about teamwork, hockey, and an adult learning how to be a better person thanks to kids. (Classic 90s film)

In Lypovets, I was a pretty young teacher without a lot of life experience behind me. However, similar to the students, I was generally cheerfully, energetic, in school, and open to the various interactions with students in the school. I also gave the students fun assignments like – create your own country and flag or pick out a theme song for your group. Repeatedly, when we would do these creative activities, two to three groups in the room would pick out, “We Are the Champions.” For me, the song had previously been tied to my crushes on Emilio Estevez and Joshua Jackson in The Mighty Ducks. But because of my students and their love for this catchy motivational song, when I hear it these days, I think first of Ukraine and my amazing students belting this song out in our dusty, uneven floored classrooms at the end of Shkilna Street in Lypovets.

Nerding Out with Inspiration

Most of my friends and acquaintances get the fact that I’m a nerd. In fact, they figure this out pretty quickly. Luckily, they tolerate me for being super sweet and caring at some point in the mix of nerdiness. Well, this morning I nerded out with inspiration. It wasn’t as cheesy as when I made my academic success class go around and say what they were good at followed by a round of applause. In fact, I’m sure I nerded out in a “cooler” fashion as I used social media to help me out. It started innocently enough. I wanted to see what Chimamanda Adichie said about feminism in a graduation commencement speech. And then I started watching Stephen Colbert’s speech, Ellen’s from 2009, Mindy Kaling’s from 2014, and more. I just couldn’t help it. I was inspired! Why don’t people say these amazing inspirational things daily? And why don’t we open our ears and our minds up to listen to this sort of wisdom more often? I didn’t get it.

I was staring at my screen with a awestruck grin on my face when I saw Meryl’s speech waiting in the sidebar. And so I watched it. I realized that Meryl was much more than her academy awards and much more than the roles she played on screen. I could tell that she was a real person and that her performance skills have forever changed the way women in Hollywood will be accepted. She’s paved the way. So now it’s time for me and all the men and women younger than me to keep that story going. We’ve got to challenge the male-dominated world and stand up for ourselves and be real. If we don’t, how will we change the world?

I don’t know if you have copious amounts of time to watch inspirational YouTube videos, but in case you do, I’d suggest watching Meryl’s as a starting point. I mean really, why not join the gang of nerdy inspiration junkies with me!?

Tata for now!


The Day I Realized I Had Unintentionally Become a Hermit

It was today.

I didn’t see this coming.

Not one bit.

I scraped off a few of the hermit cells to head down to the river to take a picture today.

I scraped off a few of the hermit cells to head down to the river to take a picture today.

Here’s the thing: I’m in the last few weeks of my graduate program. I’ve finished final projects. There are only a few small tasks left to finish. Besides applying for jobs and interviewing with people that kind of like me, I have an unnaturally large amount of free time. Today was a strange Saturday because after doing laundry, finishing my final globalization project, writing some letters, cooking, watering my plants, and cleaning up my digital files on my computer, I had nothing to do. Was it appropriate to knit when it was super hot outside? What about hand-sewing my felt Xmas chain? That’s when I realized it: I had become a shut in. WTF? (By the way, I had time to listen to NPR today and I learned that WTF is now a word all its own and isn’t an acronym for words my parents dislike anymore. Yep.)

Could it be? I wondered. I started to think of all the Saturdays I have spent in the last few months: McMenamins with my parents, hanging out with my sister, my birthday party with family, more time with my parents, New York, chilling with my nieces, homework, UFO festival with my big brother. Rarely have I spent time with people on the weekend who aren’t obligated to like me at least a little bit because we’re stuck in the same bloodline. Oh my word. My jerky friend was right.

A few years ago, when I was living with my parents, one of my oldest friends called me a hermit. She told me that I was relying too much on my family and that I needed to spend time with people I wasn’t related to. I was appalled by her comment. And, I totally disagreed. I claimed to be readjusting to life in America. For me, family was at the center of that. But though it worked back then, at this point, I am the sole single person in my family. Most members of my family have legally bound themselves to another, thus changing their life priorities AND adding to their extended bloodlines and friendships. As the only remaining unattached child, I can basically be expected to go to my parents’ house for every holiday so that I don’t sit it alone. Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my parents. I just don’t know if it’s useful to be a 32 year-old single woman who likes to knit and hangs out with her parents all the time. I refuse to get the cats OR get my library science degree just because I already see the impending doom. (However, if I don’t get a job in the next few months, I would totally go for my master’s in library science because seriously, books are cool.)

I think it’s time to leave the house and branch out a bit more. Now that there’s no homework to stress me out constantly, I ought to get into something else… perhaps a conversation now and again. That’ll probably kill the hermitesque skin I’ve grown in the first two years of my thirties.

Tata for now.