Archive for the category “Lynnzie”

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.


schools as agents of social change?

So I am in the middle of writing a 30 page paper (kill me) for my independent study on global leadership and social change. I am writing about three instances in Latin America where individuals/small groups of individuals formed and led resistance movements against violent dictatorships (still need to think of a more concise title). There was one particular education-related aspect of my research that I wanted to write about.

Something that I have thought a lot about this semester is whether or not one can enact change by being a part of already established institutions or if it’s better to push for change from the outside. I’ll spare you the historical details, but in the 1980s in Peru there was a very influential terrorist group, called Sendero luminoso or Shining Path, that launched a violent war against the state, as well as local institutions and social service organizations, killing thousands of innocent people in the process. Prior to the insurrection, they spent years spreading their ideas and recruiting followers. One of the main ways in which they were able to recruit so many people was through their use of schools. Several of the group’s founders were college professors, and they used their classes to spread their message and indoctrinate their students with their ideas. They also set up other schools to continue teaching people about their ideas and plans. Their students then became agents in their “revolution”, as they not only helped to spread the ideas but became participants as well.

Now, obviously, what Sendero luminoso did was awful, and I am in no way supporting it. One of their main philosophies was to use brutal acts of violence to “pound ideas into the masses”. But what if the ideas that they had been spreading and their plans hadn’t been about slaughtering people, but a different, less violent form of resistance? Could schools and teachers be used in the same way to promote different types of action? Is this sort of use of the educational system at all related to what we do in global studies?

art as protest

First of all, major props to Ruth for stepping it up and taking the initiative with the readings this week!

One thing that stood out to me about these articles was the way that the word protest is used. I think that protest is another one of those words, like activism, that makes people a bit nervous and summons images of riots and smashing things. I like the way that protest was used in a very broad sense in these articles, and I took it to mean taking a stand on something. It also seems like it is possible to protest FOR something, rather than against something, in the way that the rainbow in Poland was meant to be a symbol for tolerance and diversity. I am trying to think about this in the context of our capstone project- are we protesting against traditional education, or are we protesting for something more interactive and engaging? Maybe we’re doing both at the same time…

I also was inspired by the part of the article in the Crimson that talked about art being most affective when it can be seen by the most people. This has really made be think about the sustainability aspect of our project. What if there were some way that we could leave some version of what we have done on display after we’re gone, to keep people thinking about these issues?

free speech?

As we continue to put up our open-ended prompt-posters around campus, we are realizing more and more the need for people to be able to talk and think about these sorts of questions and the need for some sort of open, democratic, truly free speech space on campus that is not controlled by Sharon Hay, her minions, and the rest of their bureaucracy. Especially when it comes to discussing and challenging the systems that hold this institution in place, we shouldn’t need permission from the system itself.

Honestly, I think that Sharon Hay probably took down our poster for the superficial and simple reason that it doesn’t help sell the school to prospective students and their parents when negative things are written about the college- “I pay $57,146 to… eat terrible food, be silenced by bureaucracy, (and my personal favorite) to not have a place to masturbate.” However, in theory, the issue of taking down the poster is much more serious. Of course the administration isn’t going to want us to encourage students to think about how ridiculous it is to pay $57,146 a year for school. If we start thinking about it, and talking about it, and realizing that a lot of us agree that it’s completely outrageous, we might actually DO something to threaten the lucrative business that is private higher education. Even the sarcastic, smart ass answers on the poster hint at the fact that we’re not walking away from this experience with anything that justifies such insane expenses. For these types of conversations, we need a space that is not regulated by those whose interests lie in the suppression of such discussions.

But here is where I feel a bit hypocritical. We want to promote free, uncontrolled speech and we want all voices to be heard. With that being said, I do not want to give anyone a platform to say things that are hateful and discriminatory. And that’s what happened with this last poster, when someone answered the question by writing “to see less qualified people get scholarships because they are minorities.” Is it okay for us to pick and choose which “stories” and whose voices get heard? How do we even do that in an anonymous, unregulated space? I am all for dialoging about these tricky, controversial topics, but is this making way for dialogue? Or is it giving people the opportunity to be hurtful and spineless without a second thought?

Also- and maybe this part is selfish- I don’t want one person’s ignorance to take away from the bigger point and goal of our project. We’re not looking for specific answers, but the goal is critical thinking and ownership of these topics relating to our education. I want people to be empowered to voice their opinions and think about things that perhaps they haven’t ever stopped to think about before. But when someone writes something like that, the focus becomes that one comment and not the bigger picture or even the question that we were trying to ask.

So how do we balance these two sides of our project? How do we ensure that all voices can be heard without allowing our project to become a tool for racism or any other form of discrimination?

big things are happening…

Couldn’t be more excited about our poster in slavin and all the responses we have gotten so far! I keep thinking about how we are going to tie all of this together with the idea of photo voice and the topics relating to identity that we have been discussing with our community partner.

I have also been thinking about the fact that we have opened our photo voice project up to the PC community. I don’t generally think of PC students as being marginalized or being a population whose voice isn’t heard. However, one of the biggest flaws in our current education system that we have identified is that those most affected by the system- students- have little to no input about what goes on. So even though we tend to think of our student body as a very privileged group of people, I think there is value in asking them these questions relating to education and learning. I think that, while it does depend on the class/professor, students have very little say about education/academic policies and requirements here, and if anything, we can get people thinking about that and realizing that they SHOULD have a say.

Dalai Lama for president!

Education is much more than a matter of imparting the knowledge and skills by which narrow goals are achieved. It is also about opening the child’s eyes to the needs and rights of others. We must show children that their actions have a universal dimension. And we must somehow find a way to build on their natural feelings of empathy so that they come to have a sense of responsibility toward others. For it is this which stirs us into action.”

-His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

if you believe in we…

So I’m glad that I put off writing this blog post, because if I had written it a couple days ago, it would have been reflected nothing but negativity and frustration. Now, after meeting with a few other ‘stoners last night and after reading some of the blog posts that have been written, particularly Anne’s post about lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, I’m feeling more inspired than defeated.

While I still have some issues with the photo voice project and the way that it has played out this semester, I have come to realize that our energy would be better spent trying to make the best of rather than trying to fight against it or plotting a mutiny (although I’m still frustrated by the “nonnegotiable and off the table” statements- since when is anything in GST nonnegotiable and completely off the table?!) So I’m trying to think of what we can feasibly do in the next month. I think that it would be worth putting up some sort of poster or making some sort of announcement in Ray inviting any of the workers to submit photos to the same prompts that we will be discussing each week with Lily and Sonia. That way we could potentially involve more people without having to deal with the scheduling conflicts and common meeting time. I also think that our group could benefit from meeting with directly with any combination of tKL to talk about the logistics of our project, rather than having the same conversation amongst ourselves week after week.

And lastly, has any one else heard the new Bon Jovi song and thought of GST/capstone?! While it’s super corny and part of me doesn’t like it, it sort of reflects some of the ideas of social change and working together that we have discussed throughout the year.

I don’t wanna be another wave in the ocean
I am a rock, not just another grain of sand
I wanna be the one you run to when you need a shoulder
I ain’t a soldier but I’m here to take a stand
Because we can, our love can move a mountain
We can, if you believe in we

social change??

So I have spent a good portion of this semester worrying about the idea of structural change and feeling like we couldn’t possibly do anything significant in three months to address the daunting structural barriers that dictate so many of the social problems that we discuss. Now that our project has started taking off in its own direction, I feel that we are moving away from structural change and moving towards community building and changes in ways of thinking. However, so far these ideas have been our own and, while they have been inspired by our conversations with our community partner, they have not been their ideas.

The time at the end of capstone last week allowed us to have an essential conversation about what exactly are the problems that we are trying to address with this project. We talked about how, while we all love language and culture, we don’t feel that the fact that immigrants need to learn English is in itself an injustice. Rather, we see injustice in the way that we often think about English language learners and the way that their culture and language is often devalued through the English learning process. It seems like our project is aiming to create something that our society lacks, rather than correct something that is already there.

This idea was reinforced on Friday during our meeting with Sonia and Lily, who both expressed happiness about their lives in the United States. While it is obviously great to see that they are happy, it makes me wonder where we’re going in terms of social change. The change is supposed to come from them and reflect their needs and wants, but they seem so content in their lives here. As of now, I feel like whatever we do is going to end up coming more from us than from them, and that concerns me.

Social Service vs. Social Change in Peru

I have been meaning to write this blog post for almost two weeks now, ever since I came back from my spring break trip to Lima, Peru. I was skeptical of the idea of going on a “service” trip from the beginning. As a GST major and someone who spent four months living in Latin America, I was totally over the idea that we were going to go into Peru for a week like heroes and make a big difference. But I liked the fact that the trip involved working with local organizations (and of course, traveling to a new country), so I decided to go.

The distinction between social service and social change was something that was so relevant to my week in Peru and was something that I was thinking about the entire time. In a lot of obvious ways, what we did and what we saw was service- us lugging 16 suitcases full of donations of clothes, shoes, hygiene products, and schools supplies (not an easy feat, I might add), the organization that provides food and medical care to elderly people with no where else to go, the organization that provides a home to abandoned pregnant teenagers. But what I loved about these organizations was that they didn’t just provide their clients with a service- they were also working towards change by empowering them. And, in order to do so, they were using different types of education.

The organization for the elderly challenges the fact that these people feel like they have nothing left to live for and can’t contribute to society by teaching them different skills- jewelry making, craft making, and, for many, reading and writing. We were told that, when many of them first arrived at the organization, they were depressed, basically just waiting to die, and many were confined to wheelchairs. Now, so many of them are confident and happy, and some have even started walking again. The home for pregnant teenagers/young mothers also teaches them skills, such as knitting, sewing, and baking, so that once they leave the organization, they have some way of supporting themselves and can hopefully avoid returning to their prior situations. They also teach the girls healthy and appropriate parenting skills to try to break the cycle of violence and neglect that caused their own situations.

My favorite organization that we visited was called Vichama Teatro, an after school program for young kids in the shanty town of Villa El Salvador. This program uses art and theater as a way of not only keeping kids in school and out of gangs, but also as a way of empowering them and teaching them that they can bring about social change in their communities. The kids identify a problem in their community, such as too much trash in the streets, and they make a video or a play about the issue and why it’s important. I was blown away by how articulate and confident, at 10 and 11 years old, these kids were when they talked to us about their program and why it’s important. When they spoke, they took ownership of their community, especially the huge problem of violence that plagues their town. They talked about how they teach their peers about how they need to end violence in their neighborhood.

As corny as it sounds, meeting these people gave me a lot of hope for the future. It was incredibly inspiring to see how they, despite the fact that they are surrounded by poverty and its inherent issues, are striving for a better society. This trip made me see how important it is to have a balance of social service and social change. There are obvious and immediate needs that people have right now, that can be provided for with service, and there is the hope for a better, different world, that can only be answered with change.

Group meeting recap

Grace mentioned a little bit about our meeting in her last post, but I’ll elaborate. Edugirls (minus Brenna 😦 ) met in lower Davis this morning. We didn’t have a lot to discuss regarding the logistics of our project, but we did talk about incorporating more one on one interactions with our community partner. We spent the majority of our hour meeting talking about the larger themes relating to our project. We talked about Teach for America and the article that Grace posted that explains why a college professor refuses to allow TFA to recruit in his classes. We talked about the inherent problems of such programs that convince college students to go into a broken system for only two years and then leave without looking back. We also talked about how, sometimes, having a position within “the system” can put one in a better position to change the system from within, rather than trying to overthrow the system from the outside. This idea then led us to discuss certain organizations on campus, along with the problems of exclusivity and misconceptions. Overall, it was a really good talk, and I’m looking forward to continuing these discussions in class on Thursday.

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