educationthesis

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Cómo se dice…

I have no idea what to title this post.  It’s not the last, it’s not goodbye, it’s not an ending.  None of what we’ve learned, done, or created this year will ever really be over, so no final reflection will say everything I want it to say.  I think that right there is sustainability.

First, our event.  Someone (Brenna, probably) aptly described the set-up process being like Extreme Makeover: Educhica edition.  We were scrambling to get the last posters up as our first participants walked through the door, but luckily they were friends willing to put their tape-rolling skills to use!  After that, we had a full house (bowl?) of people coming through.  It was a mixed crowd of students of differing years, roommates, professors, and administrators (up to number 2 in command).  Some weren’t able to stay for the dialogue, some (like Sharon Hay, surprise!) dropped in just for a while for the dialogue, and others stayed on after the “official” dialogue for even more dialogue.  The stories told on the posters and in the photos served as the discussion points for reconceptualizing learning and then we were able to introduce the idea of a democratic space.  Administrators and non-seniors were really excited about the idea.  Really good questions and answers came from all sides as we tried to imagine what this space would look like.  Because of that dialogue, there is still work to be done on all sides–they want ideas for where this space might be, what it would look like, and they want to show our posters to others in administration.  The fact that this didn’t end with our event I think is a sign of success, even though we’ve learned to be so selective in using that word.  Now, it’s up to us (not just the Educhicas, but who were a part of the conversation) to move forward with this.

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Grace already posted the beautiful picture of us.  The happiness and harmony between us in it is completely indicative of our group this year.  We are a motley crew, but Grace got it right when she said “none of this would’ve been possible if we did individual theses.”  Not just the work we did, but also everything that we learned through the relationships with each other, would not have been possible.  The passion we each brought to this project brought our five different personalities together.  Each meeting, we learned something new and brilliant about someone’s abroad experience, laughed away our stress, and were patient with ourselves through the confusion.  Through the trust and spontaneity, the Educhicas were born.  Ladies, you have taught me so much about bravery in tough situations (EFA), patience in unclear ones (the endless task of defining ourselves and our lens), relaxing and finding humor in everything  (every meeting), and going on loving what we’re learning.  You were inspiration, support, smiling faces, solidarity, and working hands, hearts, and minds all year.

So, like I said, this isn’t a goodbye or ending post, it’s more of a “thanks” and reflection post at this time when the nature of our relationship will be changing, but the relationship itself and the changes it has brought on will remain forever.  (and you thought you were sappy, Grace)

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Five Girls, One Dream

It’s hard to believe that life as we know it at PC is quickly coming to an end. How did this happen and where did the time go?

Amidst the stress and anxiety that comes during finals week, the edugals were able to compartmentalize our other exams, paper and work and focus 110% of our attention on our final event yesterday. We poured all of our energy into this project and making sure that our CP and audience got the most out of it. Looking back on the final event, I couldn’t have been happier. We had well-known faculty and administrators there who were receptive to our idea of a democratic space. There were also younger students there that not only participated in the dialogue but seemed interested in getting involved with constructing this free space. Now comes the important part: sustainability. How can we make sure dialogue is continued after we graduate? Ideally we are planning on meeting with Kristene Goodwin and Raphael Zapata to discuss how we visualize a free space on campus.

Now, for the sappiness.

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Coming into Capstone this year, I only really knew Brenna, and was acquantances with Lynnzie from previous classes. I had few to no interactions with Anne and Taylor, so when we all were grouped together in the Education group I had no idea how the year would unfold. However, the uncertainty of work ethics, schedules, and personalities were quickly overlooked by our united passion for understanding education.

Each of us brought something different to the table, and despite our anxiety attacks and frustrations, there was always a support network between the five of us. They each taught me the importance of patience, building from different ideas, the beauty in laughter and energy and what it really means to work as a team. While I feel grateful for gaining insight into what education and learning means, I am even more grateful for the new friendships I made along the way.

I have no doubt that my four amazing group mates are going to change the world. They each have a genuine curiosity for learning and without each of their amazing ability to see the bigger and brighter picture, I would have been lost this year.

So, edugals, I thank you for the early meetings in Davis, the late night meetings in Slavin, the ambush of the SAIL office, EFA, the Abbey, the memories with Sonia & Lily, and free dinners from T, the jokes from Brenna, the support and work ethic from Anne and the leadership from Lynnzie. Working with you all taught me a great deal about myself and the importance of perseverance when bumps pop up along the road.

In the famous words of Elle Wods, “We did it!”

All my love-

Grace

Out of Breath

I mean this in all ways of the phrase. I am physically out of breath from walking up the four flights of stairs in Feinstein and I’m mentally out of breath after the culmination of our Education thesis comes to a close. As I sit here at this probably extremly infected and germ ridden computer at the library I’m excited about presenting our thesis. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve done a great job using different mediums to capture about what it means to be educated and the definition in and of itself. My experience in this project has allowed me to broaden the way I think aboutn what I’ve learned and who I have learned it from. So just a little shout out to my fellow EduLadies, let’s kill it today and have fun with it as well! Let’s show em’ (Sharon Hay) what we got.

The importance of reconceptualizing learning

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What I was doing while the Educhicas were meeting: waiting for the commuter rail. All the people with their eyes glued to a screen seemed indicative to me–of our “age,” of the US, of something, that’s for sure.

Yesterday, the Educhicas (minus me) met to finalize our event plans.  They made an awesome outline that sets up our opening of the event, thematic pillars to organize the posters and photos, and guided discussion.  In the opening, my part is to talk about the importance of reconceptualizing learning.  OY.  It’s one of those things that I know, but is all jumbled up in my head in no coherent order.  Luckily, I have our glorious blog to peruse, so I’m going to start by extracting some pieces of what we’ve already said:

  • “Working with Sonia and Lily has reaffirmed a lesson that I learned abroad and what I consider to be the most important thing I have ever learned- the fact that laughter, love, and friendship are not limited by culture or language.” 
  • “girl activist who had said she learned far more from the people who shared their stories at rallies than anyone who had ever spoken at her.  It was a space where we were learning from each other and it was an education in activism, community support, and solidarity.”
  • “What unites the learners is a belief that learning is practiced for the sheer joy of it—rather than to acquire certification or secure a job. Learning occurs when we engage with the world, in friendship with others, using our hands and wits and reflecting on our discoveries…as a mood, a way of doing and thinking that provides another option to learners who are seeking to discover things for themselves. Learning is not about getting it right or becoming the expert; it is about creating an environment of conviviality, discovery, and joyfulness.
  • “We were able to practice some words with her and at this point I felt like the teacher and her the learner/student. It’s great to be a in a situation where these roles are constantly being reversed and switched. Such role reversals is the way the education system should always be, and the way I see it being the most beneficial […] We say that Sonia and Lily serve as an example for what education looks like and how we can learn things outside the classroom wether that is with Ray workers, on a poster next to McPhails, in a Capstone class, etc.”
  • The obsession with formal education and the US diploma have led to a valuation of that knowledge above the learning that takes places within relationships and among people who don’t have a piece of paper saying they’re $200,000 in debt for their degree.”
  • “My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors”
  • “Deconstructing what it means to have a college diploma/degree and analyzes whether or not it is symbolic (representing this notion of being “educated”) or substantive (you’ve actually learned the necessary things one needs to make it in the world, beyond just a classroom) is really really cool.”
  • “I’m not suggesting we get rid of colleges and universities. I’m not disillusion. But, we need to look more at the structural, underlying issues. I think it starts with our country’s perception of success. It is ingrained in our belief system that to be successful you have to go to a four year college directly out of high school and now, for the most part, pursue a MBA, Masters or PhD. […] Why do we put so much emphasis on learning INSIDE a classroom, when in reality, the majority of learning happens outside it?
  • “I doubt that it’s the first time anyone’s ever asked them that, but I would imagine students don’t often get asked that question.  At the least, I hope this prompt got learners thinking about their role and autonomy (or lack there of it) within learning.”
  • ” On the one hand, I am looking at this through the lens of an institution.  If education starts with the family, one of the most basic institutions within society, then it seems to be just a transferal from one institution to the next.  The optimist in me would prefer to look at Lily’s comment as education begins with a relationship.  Mother and child.  From there it just flows from relationship to relationship.  Relationships are the basis of learning communities.  Somehow though, these learning communities have become lost and mixed up with the bureaucratic and exclusionary nature of institutions.  I hope our project might be a drop in the pond in reclaiming education and these desired learning communities.”

..and all that is just since April 15th!

So, why is it important to reconceptualize learning?  I’m struggling a little, because I want to let the stories, photos, and posters speak for themselves.  I’ll try to keep my piece brief, then.  If we reconceptualize learning, we can appreciate others’ experiences and stories better.  We can see that learning is not the prerogative of the formal education system, but rather a piece of what we as individuals gain through relationships and life experiences.  Understanding learning like this begins removing the barriers between us, students/teachers, degree holders/not, etc.  Our communities are strengthened when we recognize each member’s ability to contribute to the learning of others through strong relationships.  We also tend to enjoy learning that takes place on those terms a lot more, which means for the deeper, more creative learning necessary for a better world.

What do you think?  How does that sound?  Did I leave anything out, should I be more aggressive?  I won’t read it word for word, but I just need a guide so I’m somewhat coherent.  Ah!  I’m already nervous.

 

CP Reflection

It’s crazy to think that our time with our CP is over. IT seems like just yesterday we were “bouncin'” from EFA at the Annex. God that was terrible. I wouldn’t of had it any other way with our CP’s Lily and Sonia. Their effervescent had me always excited to go and hear their stories. The project, with them, was a learning experience for us as EduChicas. We went in with not only an idea of what it was going to be like but also an idea of what we wanted out of it. Both of those things have been completely altered as I sit down and write this blog post today. Our biggest barrier yet learning experience was us becoming flexible with what we would do when things didn’t go according to plan with our CP. Lily and Sonia shared stories with us that allowed us to broaden what it meant to be global learners. Although we are not only GST majors but have all studied abroad in different countries we still learn something new by talking to other citizen who are not originally from here. While Sonia and Lily didn’t give us our photos that we were hoping they put us in a situation to become creative and think of different way to use photo voice according to our project. Once we hit the ground running with our posters around school even our CP was able to participate in them as well. As a thesis group we challenged so many different definitions this semester including some that we thought we had defined on our own.

CP Reflection by the gringa

As Taylor and Lynnzie both have posted, our last session with Sonia and Lily was filled with laughter like usual.  Sonia teased Grace about her cerveza, Taylor about her prince, and looked me in the eye and said, almost shocked, “Tú eres gringa” (you’re a gringa).  We almost died, given that we’re all gringas, but she went on to say that I am gringa gringa for my blue eyes, light hair, and profile.  If nothing else, I am successful in looking like the exported image of an American woman!  It was such a riot and led to a discussion of why some people don’t like being called gringo.  It was yet another sign of how close we’ve grown this semester that Sonia felt comfortable telling me like it is.  Lynnzie and I need to find a way to sneak into Ray to say our official goodbyes.

I printed off all the pictures I could find that we had taken, and as they went through them, they remembered almost exactly what we had been talking about that day.  For all of us, our weekly meetings were memorable.  We gave them invitations to our final event, though given the time they said they probably couldn’t make it.  We had wanted to use our time on Friday to let them pick which photos to show at the event, but they were so excited looking through them that we didn’t get that far.  Our time was also a little short because they had to end their break on time to go prepare turkey burgers.

The educhicas are now in a flurry of work preparing for our event on Wednesday.  We’re trying to put together a powerpoint that highlights important responses, we’ll have the posters set up, the pictures from Sonia and Lily, and the pictures from our facebook page (most likely).  We’re also trying to figure out how the flow of the event is going to go, in terms of balancing the stories of our storytellers with encouraging our social change (I’ll post more on that soon, don’t worry).

CP reflection

I just want to say how glad I am that we spent our Friday afternoons with Sonia and Lily this semester. Even though the photo voice component of the project, in terms of them taking pictures to tell their stories, didn’t go exactly according to plan, I think that, in terms of relationship building, we nailed it. As global studies majors, I think we’re well aware that everyone has a story and that anyone, regardless of her background, can teach us something. Even though this was not a new idea at the start of the semester, it is always amazing to experience it again and again.

Working with Sonia and Lily has reaffirmed a lesson that I learned abroad and what I consider to be the most important thing I have ever learned- the fact that laughter, love, and friendship are not limited by culture or language. Sonia and Lily always thank us at the end of our time together, but I think that we really should be the ones thanking them. They asked us very sincerely to please stop by to say goodbye before we leave, which I think shows that the five of us are not the only ones who have valued our time together this semester. I can only hope that in the future there are other PC students who realize who incredible Sonia and Lily are and take the time to get to know them and share stories. They truly do have so much to offer.

“I HAVE to go”

 

The title of my post refers to a phrase that Sonia likes to repeat often at our sessions. She said it to us the first time we met when we were talking about the differences in language and culture. In a very light-hearted and fun way, she described how Americans always say I have to go and she would always wave her hands up and down when she did it. It always cracked me up. She said it today too, but this time it wasn’t only her and Lily that would be leaving.

Anne printed off all the photos we had taken during our sessions with Sonia and Lily and we had them look over them. They loved it! They were cracking up over some of the photos. They even remembered what we had been talking about the day the photo was taken. It was really cute and fun to see them looking over the photos. We told them the concrete details of our event so hopefully they can come! We asked them to select which photos they would like to see included in the final event and they seemed glad that we were incorporating them.

We spent most of the time looking at the photos and rehashing the memories, but we also talked a little bit about graduation and future plans with them. We then got into a discussion about the term gringa which was quite comical.

I’ve found the CP experience to be quite rewarding. It was definitely a challenge at times trying to coordinate everything, but I would never trade those Friday afternoon sessions for anything. Sonia and Lily have really made my Capstone experience that much richer and I will forever keep them in my heart along with my EduChicas.

going over photossonia reacts to photos

WHOA–bringing it full circle and kickin’ it up

FINAL EVENT DETAILS:

When: Wednesday, May 8

Time: 4:00-6:00pm

Where: the Fishbowl

Who: every single one of you

While my lovely group might be ready to sit on me and be like, “Anne, CHILL”, yesterday I was completely swept up in activist adrenaline.  It started with Lynnzie’s and my independent study celebration lunch at the Abbey with Dr. Grossman (I won’t say goodbye lunch), led to the hoodie rally led by Cedric and Dr. JZ, a peer mentoring dinner where I ran into Raf, and then a meeting about the Smith Hill Café (which I’m not even going to be around for, tear).

At the rally, PC’s issues with race and diversity were again brought to the fore.  A group of students and faculty marched from Harkins to Slavin lawn, chanting, then singing songs from the Civil Rights Movement.  As Cedric said, it’s sad we still have to singing them.  After that, there was a space for professors to explain why we were all there (check out the article tom posted on facebook) and then the megaphone became public property.  Students came forward in a succession to tell their stories about discrimination that they had felt on campus and to stand in solidarity and support of one another.  Every bit of it reflected a story behind the responses we have been seeing on our posters.

It brought everything full circle.  I used my lit review in a paper I wrote for another class (without the feedback I am STILL WAITING ON, THOMAS R. KING).  Reading it again, one of the quotes I had used was a reference to a girl activist who had said she learned far more from the people who shared their stories at rallies than anyone who had ever spoken at her.  It was a space where we were learning from each other and it was an education in activism, community support, and solidarity.  I salute Dr. Jordan-Zachery and all those who were involved in facilitating that space.

After the rally, Lynnzie and I jetted down to our posters in Slavin.  The “PC has NOT taught me” boards were full and we had one giant one left.  Inspired, we wrote a new one, “Dear PC Administration…”, on the last board we had.  After that, I sat down on the nearest couch and sent out emails to the students and faculty I had recognized at the event, eager to keep the momentum going.

We realized last night that invitations are going to be far more expensive than expected, but we need to have them printed so we can distribute them ideally Monday, but Tuesday could work too.  To do lists are my thing:

Before Saturday:

-Send out as many invitation emails as possible.

-Design postcards (thank you Sarah and Magali for responding to my frenzied texts last night)

-Send them to Kaytee Stewart or someone who can send them to Copy Center to have them printed.  (pay that department back)

-Print off pictures of/with Sonia and Lily–my idea is to print them in color on printer paper so that half of the page has the picture, and they can use the other half to write about the picture, so we can use them at our session Friday.  Thoughts?

-Have last session with Sonia and Lily (colorful from Holi).  😦

Monday/Tuesday

Pick up and distribute invitations.

-Assemble our pictures and posters–figure out plan for displaying them in the ‘bowl.

-Make powerpoint of targeted responses.

-Decide on flow and facilitation of the event.

Wednesday

set up

-make it happen

This song always plays in my head when it all starts happening like this:

 

Here we go!

This afternoon I drove with Taylor and another friend to attend eco-social’s thesis presentation. Right off the bat everyone knew it was going to be a success; the energy and excitement was almost tangible. The room was set up in a way that was super conducive to walking around, reading captions, looking at photos, and interacting with the students/CP. After talking with a few students it became clearer than ever that EcoSocial had provided them with a space to foster their interests in the environment. They truly let the voice of these amazing students shine and it was incredible to see if unfold tonight.

As we approach our final event (fishbowl, next wed, 4-6pm), everything is becoming real and it is awesome. I honestly can’t wait to engage in a dialogue about what education/learning means. We just need to figure out invitations, print and arrange photos, talk to Lily & Sonia, and figure out how we are going to present months worth of work. I think if I learned anything from ecosocial’s presentation tonight, it was that the most important part of this presentation is to highlight the *voices* of the CP. For edugals, our CP has been an interesting combination of Lily & Sonia in Ray, and the entire student body.

On Friday, there is a “embracing diversity” dinner/conversation with Father Shanely that Lynnzie and I RSVPed to. If there is still space and we are admitted, we hope to share our experiences with this project and tell everyone that they are invited to continue the conversation next wednesday. It’s exciting to see that this conversation with Father Shanley is taking place, but it’s just one step and many many more need to be taken.

Anyways, I need to hit the hay. Tomorrow is my last day of classes as a college student…shit what am I doing to do with my life. Actually whoa, Grace, now is not the time to ask myself these loaded questions. !ADIOS!

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