Friday, July 22, 2016

7/22 Bittersweet Rememberance

The closer we get to closing out the program, the faster each day seems to pass by. We had our final guest speakers come in today to talk about environmental justice. The first speaker had explained to us about the risk and uncertainty things contain and how not everything can be made into a statistic as well as environmental standards, and pollutants.  Using a humorous example, she asked us if we preferred to die of a shark attack or a coconut. I picked the coconut only because it seemed less painful and traumatizing than the shark attack but none of it mattered much to me. I can't imagine myself from dying from either since I hate coconuts and I don't know how to swim so I would not be around any of these areas. The class was divided between the choices; she pulled out her data showing which had the higher risk of death. Sharks had 64 deaths annually v. 150 deaths by a coconut. Stats such as these depend on the likeliness of which factor people are exposed to more and controlled variables. In my opinion, people are going to be more cautious of a shark attack than a coconut so they will avoid certain parts of the water rather than people avoiding palm trees. She stated that the actual risk of something depends on the perception, which drives policy makers of the environment leading to the precautionary principle. If something seems to be more dangerous than another, there would be a ban or restriction placed upon it. It's better to be safe and prevent a situation rather than be sorry and try to fix something.

We had dispersed for lunch and gathered in our discussion groups after. Since tomorrow we would be getting fed by our program, Diana, Chris, Sam, and I decided to max out on our cards for our final day before we headed back to class. Lunch was the only time where the food was actually good and with a variety of options to choose from each day. I'm going to miss that once we leave.

In our final time of discussion group, we had reflected on our speakers and what they explained to us during their presentations. It was difficult actually getting into depth and unpack the topic when everyone in the room was still hung up over the very controversial issue of death by shark v. coconut. It's interesting how an example can lead to such an irrelevant debate between people. Moving away from this issue, our student teacher/group leader, Yun, had us draw a boat of us sailing to our goals and the things that get in the way preventing you from accomplishing it as well as the things that help propel you forward. I drew a path for a more realistic approach. It was hard for me to think of things that could get in the way of my goals for some reason. We were suppose to apply what we've learned throughout the three weeks to it but I still could not consider it. A lot of things that I thought about could also end up making me leap forward the same amount as it could hold me back. I ended up writing very few things but were factors I could see effecting me in the future. 
PCDC Organization Video
The things I had used to barricade my way through include: social class, financial instability, gender inequality, and self-identification. The majority of the things in life that help you advance further than others plays a large role on where your social class is, how much money you have etc. Since I don't have a high privilege of either, I believe this will add to some contribution to the opportunities that I get, which can be beneficial and also a drawback. I am a girl, and because of this, a majority will not take me seriously. The evidence is in politics, social media, job pay, and just about anywhere. What I mean by self-identification is where I stand in who I am and how I am perceived by society. I have more than one race but am forced to choose between one in certain places, other places I am at a disadvantage but still privileged than most, it's as if society is pressuring me to classify myself into a category that I don't understand how or why I have to. This recap gave me more to think deeply about than I was before. 

All of us returned to the main lecture hall in the McNeil building where our last speaker, John Chin, would present to us about environmental justice within Chinatown. In 1845, Chinese immigrants had settled into the area. 38% of the people were living below poverty. The community itself has only one school and one church with no community center. The people living there were a diverse group consisting of at-risk  youth, elderly, LGBTQ people, etc. and many were first generations so they knew limited English and had little to no education. Underneath this area were people constructing tunnels and highways along with placing their sewage and cement companies nearby. This leads to health hazards within the community. The only reason housing was there was to preserve Chinatown. Mr. Chin is part of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. Thanks to him and his organization, he has been able to help out the community and level it out in better condition than it was before. He started with outlining in neighborhood developmental programs which led PCDC  to attract five million dollars to be used to give aid in building or conditioning parks, sidewalk and road development, a community center, buildings etc. in Chinatown. A lot of the funds had came from the government. He had explained to us that protesting is not easy. In order to be taken seriously, you need a plan along with solid data, funding, and statistics to help back you up. With all this done, it proves how serious and dedicated you are to helping your cause. Communication, media, protesting, and education lead to social justice. Before Mr. Chin had left, I walked up to him and asked for his contact information for possible future advice in making a change within neighborhoods. He had really inspired me and listening to Chinatown's situation, it had reminded me a lot about cities back home in the bay who are struggling with similar issues. 
The Tonight Dough with Jimmy Fallon
At around 4:30 PM as a way of having our last discussion group together, the program is paying for Yun to take our group out for ice cream. We had walked to Ben and Jerry's nearby the campus where each of us had ordered our ice cream. I decided to try something new and order "The Tonight Dough with Jimmy Fallon." It was a cute creative name that immediately caught my attention and I knew I had to order it. We all sat together and indulged our ice cream enjoying it, and one another's company. It was a bittersweet end for our group but we still had another day left to savor together while it lasts. 

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