Carolyn

I was born in Indiana and I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. I studied business administration, international business, and marketing. 

If money is your goal, this is what we end up with. It should always be about the way you treat other people. Always. Christian. Muslim. Rich. Poor.

I started out studying business at the University of Cincinnati. I was in a very elite program; it was kind of grooming people to be CEOs. I got this feeling that it was not for me.  We were away on a business student retreat and we played this game where you have so many coins in your hand; different colors are worth different amounts. You negotiate with your partner to trade a certain amount. You don’t look at what’s in your hand, but you negotiate verbally and then trade; you kind of just have to trust each other. At the end of the game, the people who won were the ones who lied about the things they traded. I think that was the moment in my business education where I realized this is not where I belong. Honestly, I counted the chips in my hand and how much mine were worth; I was like second from the bottom. When I found out at the end that it was a lesson in honesty, there was so much pride! At first I was ashamed, like how did I lose? When I understood the purpose of the game was to be honest, or to show honesty, I had so much pride that I was second to the bottom. That was the point that I realized this whole business gig was not for me.

Simultaneously I was volunteering at an organization for people with mental and physical disabilities. They produced artwork and we would sell it and give them some money; a little bit would go toward keeping the program running. I loved it, the artwork was amazing, and that was where I felt I could apply my business skills and meet my human needs to be a good person. I prefer more nonprofit, community action work and I would like to apply my knowledge toward that rather than working in a cubicle all-day and staring at a computer. It should always be about being a good person, whether you study business or law or anything. If money is your goal, this is what we end up with. It should always be about the way you treat other people. Always. Christian. Muslim. Rich. Poor. That’s my philosophy at least.

I’ve been in Korea for the last three years. I went to school and then I went straight there after I graduated. My college boyfriend was like, “I think I want to move to Korea and teach English.” I thought that was crazy, and then I ended up there. It was a challenge. The culture there is really different and it stretched me as a person, a lot. Sometimes I felt too much, but I’ve grown a lot from the experience and I have some life-long friends, so it’s a good thing. I might continue in ESL (English as a Second Language), that’s what I was doing in Korea.

The first “occupy” event I did was actually in Korea. I did Occupy Yeouido in the financial district. That was October 15th, the international day of action. I didn’t live to far from the financial district, Yeouido, so I went up there to check it out. It was really cool. Culturally what was interesting was that many Koreans had the “Scream” mask instead of the Guy Fawkes mask. I was like, “You guys are close.” It was, even now reflecting back on that, really amazing to me to see that it is a global issue; it’s not just that “Americans are upset.” There was artwork and maybe 200 people there. It was just really cool for me to see that it is not just us, it is around the world.

I just got home and I headed up here for this. I wanted to get off the plane and come straight up here, but there was family I hadn’t seen in a long time and some relatives were sick, so I had to put in the time with the family. I took Megabus up and I stopped in the Pittsburgh camp. Actually, I went to the Columbus camp first, which is kind of humble right now. Then I headed up to Pittsburgh. Their camp had like 114 tents and close to 300 people; they are really thriving. I got to stop in there and hang out, then I took a another Megabus up about a week ago.

I keep collecting little pieces of the movement, like the newspaper and tickets stubs: some of the “refugees” from the camp went to a church and there was a concert in the church. Just holding on to little pieces of the movement is kind of a historical thing for me. That’s how it feels; I just want to document it.

Right now, I’m happy to be a number. When I told my best friend about this movement a couple months ago, she said, “What’s Occupy Wall Street?” It just broke my heart. Just to be out here and to be seen, to be another body. You’re not alone; people out there who are upset with the way things are today, you are not alone. There are people in Zuccotti Park together showing their feelings toward the movement. You are not alone.

On a person-to-person level, that day after the eviction from the park, a woman came into the donation center and she was crying because her clothes were wet, she had no underwear, and the police had taken her things. I took my underwear, which is such an intimate personal thing, it was clean and it was new, and I said, “Here, I don’t need it. You need it.” That kind of sharing has happened all over the camp. I got here and within three hours my phone was stolen. My friend, well he’s my friend now, a perfect stranger let me use his phone; he let me use his computer for hours to get my phone sorted out. People were swiping their cards for us on the metro to get us. It’s that kind of sharing that is feeding the movement. We need that kind of sharing because there’s so much mental illness and homelessness in this movement. We need a lot of support. Those people can’t a lot of time get jobs or help themselves and they’re people too. We have to support each other.

I hope that it will go a lot farther than this. We’ve come a long way, just to have this many people; I’m from Ohio, he’s from North Carolina, I met a woman from Minnesota, you guys are from Iowa. It is already big, but I would like it to be bigger. For those people I am calling on the phone that are saying, “What’s Occupy Wall Street?” I want them to know what Occupy Wall Street is. I want the banks to be scared, I want JP Morgan-Chase to be wetting themselves, I want, I don’t know. I want financial change, I want social change, and I want awareness.

My name is Carolyn.

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