Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Introduction: Social Justice

I was up and early today around 7:00 AM. I made plans with Allonna, Diana, and Chris to hang out and get breakfast together. It’s been a couple days since we all were together so it was nice knowing how everyone liked the program so far. We met outside our dorms in the Quad walked together to the 1920’s Commons, our breakfast and dinner dining hall. The breakfast they had there was a lot better than the first dinner we had. The pancakes I had were soft and tasty and they actually had juicy turkey sausage that I was able to eat. All of us were just relaxing talking to each other while eating like we always did. None of us knew what we should bring for the first day. We headed back to the Quad area a little bit early so we would have the chance to get what we needed before class.

In my room, I grabbed my backpack along with my binder and paper to inside of it. Double checking that I had my keys, I headed out the door and down into the Quad. We were all split up by program to make it easier to show us to our classes. RC’s had signs up showing which program they were assigned; if you had that program, you would go stand next to the RC holding it. Finding the Social Justice group wasn’t hard. Mainly because I saw it as I was walking into the Quad to get my backpack, already knowing where to go.

Social Justice Group
Our group was the final one to walk out, but had one of the closest classes near the Quad. The building where our class is held is called the Robert Lincoln McNeil Building. We’re a couple fights up but not too far. The RC’s showed us into the classroom where we picked the seats we were going to sit in. By then they had dismissed themselves and disappeared. I sat between Allonna and Diana. I was nervous but ready to start what we all came here for. Our instructor, Scott Hansen, started off the day with an introduction about himself so we would be able to get an idea about his story. He graduated from Columbia University in New York and has two sons: one twelve and the other ten. He has been interested in Social Justice by the diversity and religious aspect. He’s witnessed so much cultural diversity and even wrote a book on it.

In the back of the room sitting quietly were four different student teachers. One by one they followed up to the front of the room to share their own stories as well. It was interesting listening to how Social Justice applies to everyone’s lives in different ways. Mr. Hansen had told us that Social Justice itself depends on the who defines and views it. It’s different for everyone in many ways and we make our own definition of it and take action of what it means to us.

We were assigned an in-class assignment where we made a sign or nametag and added fur things to it: our name, a drawing of where we’re from, a drawing that shows why we came to this program, and another drawing symbolizing what we expect to get out of this program. I thought this was a creative way of expressing who we are instead of just plain, boring text. I wasn’t too excited for drawing but it’s always good to try things out of your comfort zone. I drew an ugly Bay Bridge, along with a person engaged in thought, and a world. The Bay Bridge represented my loving home of the East Bay Area. The person represented me and why I came which was because I have always loved Social Justice; it’s my motivation. I can sit for days arguing with my family about how unjust something they do is or with another person, such as my teachers, about how things in society is being over looked, the majority, or the 99%. I drew the world showing what I expected to get out of this program because I expect to view the world in more ways than I already have as well as learn to take action and steps to finding a way to change it in a more positive way. I know that this program is helping me achieve my goals in some way that I have not figured out yet, but will once it’s over with.

Inside of Top Floor Library
Hanson dismissed us for a short ten-minute break. A lot of us had used this time to go to the restroom, I know I did. When I shortly came back, it was time for us to break out into our pre-assigned groups with one of the student-teachers. I was assigned to group two with Mr. Yun. He recently got out of college at Vanderbilt in 2015 and majored in Sociology. He was originally born in South Korea but has lived all over the place including California and Texas. Social Justice applies to him within finding a higher education.

Our group relocated to another building within the campus where we would be meeting at for the rest of the program when we go into our breakout sessions. While in our groups, we explained our signs to one another as we went along in our circle. Just from listening to people present or explain their signs, I learned so much about them. Some people had interests in understanding other people’s opinions and learning more, others were interested in going into law where they can fight for justice, some were interested in the LBGTQ community as well as promoting respect and their rights, and others had their own personal dreams to fulfill. The diversity among us not only made us unique but also together. For our name, we chose the House of Representatives. Everyone felt that it was not only cute because it’s a part of congress but because we were all representing a part of who we were and what we believed in as well.

Lewis and Clark Journal
The discussion started off great but soon turned boring. One of the questions Yun had asked us was “What is Social Justice?” Many of us had different viewpoints of course because it has its own personal meaning to it. I enjoyed hearing what people had to say, but what grew boring is when a lot of the people began agreeing on everything soon after. We were asked if Social Justice could ever be achieved, the people who were speaking never actually answered the question itself. They were making good points saying, everyone had their own beliefs and we should all respect it. If we be who we are then we would be able to live accept one another is the main idea I was interpreting from their standpoints. It may be that I had misinterpreted it in some way but it really confused me. In my opinion, people don’t know or understand who they are without having experience or influencing factors they live or grow around. If someone grew up around bias, racist, or homophobic people, the person would be shaped to think that way leading to hate and discrimination against another group. I do not believe that it is justice if we were allowed to express hateful words and ideas.

The class soon ended leaving us off to receive our lunch. For lunch, all of us eat in the Houston Market. In the Houston Market, there are a variety of food to choose from. There’s sushi, build your own pasta, paninis, sandwiches, and even food that you can take to go that’s already pre-made in the refrigerated areas. I picked up a mozzarella, tomato, and basil panini, and an Aloe Vera drink to wash it down. I ate with Diana, Chris, and Sam who I met in our Social Justice group. Sam is from Chicago and is highly interested in the environment.

After we finished eating, we were supposed to meet back at the McNeil Building at 1:00 PM for our field trip to the American Philosophical Library and Museum. It was heating up outside and I wanted to change into cooler clothes as well as dump my unneeded backpack. We had walked back to the Quad together and quickly met up again once we all finished doing what we needed to do. The bad thing is on our journey back to class, none of us could remember which way to go. My RC, Louise, texted me to go find the RC’s who walked us to class in the beginning of the day.  We waited by the Benjamin Franklin Statue for him to arrive and guide us back to class. We ended up being late to class but we made in time before it was time for everyone to leave.

William Penn  Framed Statue
We were given two tokens to catch the train there. One for the ride to the library and one for the ride back to the Quad. The first part we had went to was the library. Entering the library reminded me of a house from back in the colonial times. It was large and contained many pieces of history from when the Constitution was written. They had busts and statues of not only Benjamin Franklin but Voltaire and William Penn. There were different paintings along the hallway walls of the city of Philadelphia, ships moving in the harbor, Fairmount, and maps. Our group was led upstairs and shown some copies and excerpts from documents written by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark. It was fascinating how they were able to preserve pieces centuries old. It was difficult trying to read Benjamin Franklin’s handwriting; it was pretty sloppy. We were told that the library is where some of the documents were directly sent to in order to protect them.

The next part of the tour led us to the American Philosophical Museum. It’s a small area but gives some of the rawest detail of the past in relations to the colonists meeting the Native Americans. In Franklin’s works he often referred to them as savages or noble savages. They were given peace medals by the colonists in which they kept as a treaty between the two groups. Many of the colonists have tried ways of converting the natives to Western ideas. When photography first became big, they had given some of the Natives photoshoots dressing them up in Western Style clothing and making them pose in certain positions. These prints were later published giving people the wrong interpretation about the lifestyle of Native Americans.
Painting of Philadelphia

Soon the tour was over with and we caught the train back to the University. I was tired from the long day but decided to sleep and take a nap. I was going to participate in an event from the program but it ended up getting canceled. I returned back to my room and finished napping and restoring my needed energy for tomorrow. My first Social Justice day is finished and am eager to continue the rest of them. 

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtful Kamillah, can't wait to hear what you see next.