Service Learning Paper

Service Learning

Coming into the semester, I thought that I understood different cultures very well; I have family that is Mexican and Samoan, my best friends are Chinese and Korean, and I have had roommates that were Haitian and Puerto Rican.  After this semester and after doing the service learning, I have realized that I learned so much and I still have so much to learn.  When service learning was first introduced in class, I was very excited.  I thought that I would have no problem jumping into this new environment and being around people of a culture that I had previously never been around.  I quickly learned that this is not how it would go and is not how I would feel.

My first opportunity of service learning was Ella’s event with Because He First Loved Us about self-positivity and anti-bullying.  Before I even got to the event, I loved what it stood for.  I  think that everyone needs more self-love and confidence so I loved that there was an activity all about that for kids because if self-love could be implemented at this stage in their lives, I truly believe that it will have a positive and lasting impact on them for the rest of their lives.  When I got to the event, I suddenly became nervous.  Several questions ran through my head: “What if I say something offensive without realizing it?” “What if I have nothing to talk about with these kids?” “Why didn’t I learn more about their culture and where they are from before getting here?”.  I was so nervous about saying something offensive that it took a little while before I actually started interacting with the kids; once I did, it quickly became very evident that they really are just kids, and I know how to talk with kids.  Once I thought about how I interact with and play with my niece and nephews, the rest of the event was a lot of fun as I treated them how I would any other kid their age.

For my last activity, I was able to participate in Tina’s event in which we went and worked with the Refugee & Immigrant Center and held a class about different cleaning products and how to use them properly.  When I first got there, there was an after-school club going on for some kids and I got talking to the woman that worked at the center, Lara.  We were talking about the kids that were refugees and how they can sometimes be a handful and she ended the conversation by saying something that, personally, encompasses all of my service learning experience: “Kids are kids; they’re all the same”.  When I heard this, it kind of hit me that during this whole thing, once I started to look at, not only those that I was volunteering with, but those that I was volunteering on behalf of as just being people, not refugees, it became so much easier.  I think that we as people tend to get caught up on differences rather that focusing on the similarities that we have with people; we all have trials, we all will go through hard things, we all have things in our lives that make us happy, and we all really do share a lot of the same experiences.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that I had to do service learning this semester.  Having to take time and not think about myself and do all that I could to try to help someone else and to try to do good for someone that was not myself was very impactful.  Getting into the mindset that everyone I meet is going to have a different background than myself, but that they are also going to have a lot of similarities with me is a way that will allow me to get to know people more without shutting them out because I am unwilling to look beyond the surface.  At the start of this class, I always assumed that I did not have much in common with a refugee, but after spending time with those that are refugees, I now know that if you take the time to look, you can find similarities with anyone.

KoKo’s Lunchbox

This was my first time having Korean food and it was pretty dang good. I like to think I’m pretty open to trying new food, so I was very excited to try this.  I had the sweet beef box: there was sweet beef (of course), jap chae noodles, a salad with an Asian dressing, and rice.  

These noodles are my new favorite kind of noodles; they had such a good taste and a delightfully odd texture.  This is a place that I would recommend to people as it was 10/10.

Lion

First and foremost, this was an incredible, emotional movie. I cried more than I want to admit during it. 
 
It was so interesting to see how the Indian culture was in the beginning through the eyes of a child; more specifically, Saroo. He was so young and looked so frail, I was immediately worried about him. Further into the movie, when Saroo was lost and off the train in which took him away from his home, the atmosphere that he stepped into was so different to me. Everyone was shoving him out of the way with total disregard to the fact that he was alone and obviously frightened. The culture was just so busy and so rushed, and while America is busy and even Provo and Orem are, it isn’t busy like it was in the movie. I was so shocked and how no in the train station stopped to help this young boy. Seeing this other culture was fascinating to me. 
 

Final post

I enjoyed this class and the way I was able to directly apply what we were learning in class.  Being able to go and work with refugees was an eye opening experience as it was a direct look in to different identities, statuses, privileges, and power. This class allowed me to take a step back, learn further how to not pass judgment upon first meeting someone, and learning to get know people for who they are; not who the media makes them out to be.  I have also learned to recognize my power and my privilege and how I can use these to be an advocate for others that may not have as much power.  I’m grateful for this class as it is the core of my education; understanding different cultures will help me to better communicate with everyone that I’ve come across. 

This will help me in the future as it will allow me to be able to not be ignorant nor oblivious to other cultures.  I can become culturally competent and learn more about other cultures.

Peruvian Food & Straight Outta Compton

For two of the Monopoly board activities, I chose to eat Peruvian food (which I’ve never had before) and watch the movie Straight Outta Compton.  

 

For the food- I had some bisteck a la carreta and arroz con mariscos from La Carreta Peruvian Restaurant.  Both were extremely good.  The arroz con mariscos was Peruvian style paella with fish and shrimp.  While the service wasn’t the best here, the food was really good! I enjoyed having a type of food that I had never had before.

Straight Outta Compton is about the musical group NWA; famous for their popular rap music with strong, unfiltered lyrics that came about at a time in which rap was not popular.  This film gave a great insight into the unjustly handled situations that took place between African Americans and, especially, cops.  I was able to see the culture that came along with rap and with the black community at that point in time.  It was very perceptive film and gave a lot of knowledge about what was happening on the background side of the NWA, the music industry, and black culture.

Popular Media & Guest Speaker

When I think of popular media, I think of social media and how it impacts our self worth.  I’ve seen so many studies and examples as to how social media can either make someone feel really really good about themselves- but I have also seen how it can tear someone down.  Apps like Instagram draw a connection to how well liked and important you/ a person is directly to how many “likes” they’re getting.  It can also be a huge distraction from life and can be there to help us portray a life that may not accurately reflect our real life.

I also think of Twitter and how people use it to express their thoughts; even our own President takes to Twitter to share whatever it is he’s thinking at a certain time.  

Social media can also influence cultures in a way of helping people find their niche cultures.  

I was a little late to class when the guest speaker came so I sat outside the door as to not be a distraction by walking in late.  From this, I got to listen to the speaker and only be able to take what he was saying into account.  It was interesting to hear him say that in order to get by in a foreign country, sometimes all you need to do is learn how to appease them.  I like this because while it seems like a simple statement, the action of figuring that out can lead you to try to understand the culture and the population and that time spent thinking and learning about that will help you to get by in the country even better because you will be more knowledgable about it.

TEDTalk : What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids

What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids

I stumbled across the TED Talk called “What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids” by Deeyah Khan.  This was a very powerful talk as she talks about growing up as a Pakistani girl and how even from a young age she was told by her father that in order to be accepted by and to be safe around white people, she needed to famous and this fame needed to come in the ways of being a musician.  She was put into piano lessons at a very young age and quickly became a very skilled pianist.  Khan tells a story of how when she was twelve years old, she was in a candy store and an older white man came up to her, spit on her face, and called her vulgar, disrespectful names and said that she needed to go back to her country.  She then says that there were many people around her that instead of stepping in and helping this young girl that was being berated, they averted their eyes and walked away.  Khan talks about how people need to be more willing to step in and to not be afraid to help, even if they justify things as being okay due to their culture; even if the culture they are pushing on them is not how the culture actually is.  Deeyah mentions that someone told her that it is okay for cruel things to be done in Pakistan or to those that are Pakistan because that is just how their culture is.  It is not anyone’s culture to abuse, physically, verbally, or emotionally, or to shame.  This TEDTalk was very informative and eyeopening as to getting a bit of a glimpse into the the stereotype, and being stereotyped, of the Muslim culture.  The problem of the negative and hateful stereotype that comes with those that are Muslim is one that needs to first be fully acknowledged, and secondly, it needs to be changed.

James Emery wrote an articles called “Arab Culture and Muslim Stereotypes” which addresses the fact that there is a problem with how Muslims and Arabs are portrayed.  This article especially focuses on how the light in which the media shine on Muslims and the stereotyping that is forced upon anyone that may even slightly look like they are from the Middle East.  Emery says, “The mere mention of Islam tends to generate an immediate negative reaction from most people in the West who associate it with terrorism, hostages, and the explosive situation in the Middle East” (Emery, 2008, 1).  Hollywood constantly uses those from the Middle East as villains in their movies because they are so associated as being terrorists or someone that we should be afraid of, so they can spend less time on developing their character because their behaviors and traits are generalized so often (Emery, 2008, 1).   This article helps to show how negatively the Muslim and Arab cultures are stereotyped and how, even though there are over one billion Muslims in the world that are not terrorists, they are still all assumed to be such (Emery, 2008, 1).

I think that one of the best ways to combat how negatively those from the Middle East are viewed is through teaching the younger generation to do better than previous generations to be more accepting and loving.  I have often noticed that those that are older tend to be more set in their ways and less willing to change their behaviors and theirs views of the world and its occupants. By teaching younger children that is is okay to be a different color than someone else, it is okay to be a part of a different religion, and it is okay to from a different place, that this will help the stereotypes of Muslims to be turned into a positive one.  Another article that I found is titled “Combating Middle East Stereotypes Through Media Literacy Education in Elementary School” by Renee Hobbs, Nuala Cabral, Aggie Ebrahimi, Jiwon Yoon, and Rawia AlHumaidan.  This article talks about exactly what I proposed to help fight the issue of the negative Muslim stereotype: teach the young children.  The article says, “Grade 3 and Grade 4 children learned to identify inaccurate visual stereotypes of the Middle East and strengthened message analysis skills through asking critical questions about the representation of Arab people in popular culture, including advertising and animation” (Hobbs, et. all, 2010, 1).  This article supports exactly what I suggested to do to help combat the negative stereotype that is associated with Muslims. 

References

Emery, J. (2008). Arab culture and Muslim stereotypes. World and I, (5).

Hobbs, R., Cabral, N., Ebrahimi, A., Yoon, J., & AlHumaidan, R. (2010). Combating Middle East        Stereotypes Through Media Literacy Education in Elementary School. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 1.

Interracial Relationships & the LGBTQ presentation

For the interracial relationship part of this assignment, I talked to my sister-in-law (Samantha), who is white, and my brother-in-law (Adam), who is half Indian.  Samantha is very blunt and honest so talking to her was very interesting.  She said that it was difficult at first to adjust as it was a different culture than she grew up in, while Adam grew up with a strict Indian father that was very involved in the Indian culture.  In class, we’ve talked a lot about adjusting to other cultures, differences in other cultures, and how to be appropriate in other cultures.  Samantha mentioned that she had to take some time to get used to how she should behave in her new family as the culture is completely different.

I missed the presentation by the LGBTQ group in class, but I did talk to people in class that were there and they expressed what they learned and heard.  From what I gathered, some of the people in our class felt slightly uncomfortable as they were not used to hearing talk about their sexuality and their struggles so openly to such a large group.  I was also told that the group members presenting discussed what labels they want to be called (gay, queer, etc.) and what they do not like to be called.  This is something that I have always wondered as I don’t want to offend someone by saying the wrong term.

Post 7 – Privilege

Back when we did the paperclip activity, I was feeling extremely guilty about my privilege.  As we have continued to discuss privilege and the ways that we can use it to either be an advocate or an ally, I have become more thankful for all that I have and for all of the opportunities that I have been given in my life.  My eyes have been opened to what I can do with my privilege and the ways in which I can support those that do not have as much.

 

I found the coin activity to be very interesting.  My first handful consisted of three golds and, I believe, two greens.  I had enough to be put into the highest group and I stayed there for the duration of the game.  When it came turn for my group to make new rules, I noticed that we didn’t make rules in which would help any other group.  We helped ourselves and didn’t think of anyone else.  I also noticed that the lower two groups, when assigning the extra chips, gave them to those that had the lowest amount or gave them to someone so that they could go into the high group.  I found this to be interesting as this is how it is in the real world.  The rich stay rich and help themselves, while the lower groups help each other and help one another to move up in the world.  The rich ray rich and the poor get poorer.

 

Post 6

As my group presented this week, I was able to look into the articles and discuss with my group and the class about different ways to go about privilege and racism.  I was glad that we were able to talk about seeing color verses not seeing color.  I always thought that “not seeing color” was something to accomplish and to work towards.  This class has helped me to realize the fact that color is a part of identity and it is not something to ignore.  I was glad that we were able to view privilege in a way of throwing the paper into the trash cans as I feel like it helped us to feel privileged, or to not feel privileged.  I felt as if we had a good discussion in class on Wednesday about how to better combat racism and how to deal with those that are making racist comments.