Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Start of Something Great

Today was the beginning of the famous Social Justice program that I came across the country for. I awoke around 7:00 AM and reverted back a month and a half to my times as a high school student and started my morning routine. Chris, Kamillah, Allona and I met up at 7:30 AM to go to the 1920’s dining common for breakfast before class. I had a very typical breakfast that consisted of eggs, bacon and hash browns. I didn’t expect the food to taste good at all because when I had dinner on the first day, the burger I had was horrible. The breakfast is pretty good.

After breakfast we came back to the Quad to meet up with an RC that would take us to our classroom which is located in the McNeill building. We don’t have a very long walk from the Quad to our lecture hall so it cuts down our walking. The lecture hall is simple. It has two black boards and a white screen for the projector. Our professor is Scott Hansen. Today we went over the syllabus and some general information about the University of Pennsylvania and its history . I didn’t particularly find it too interesting because i have heard the same thing about 3 times now. After some presentations we got to make a name tag answering who we are, where we are from, why we came and what we expect to get out of the program. I drew El Salvador and California to represent where I came from, a equiry picture to describe why I came to this program in the first place and a growing brain to represent what I hoped to gain which is knowledge.

Somewhere along our stay in that lecture hall, the TAs of the class introduced themselves. Their names were David Salmanson, Angela Simms, Yun Cha, Diamond Zambrano and Tonya Bell. When we got split into small groups, I got placed with Diamond and 12 other people in my class. For our small discussion groups we have a classroom in College Hall. We will be discussing a variety of topics like economic inequality, religious freedom or the lack of, and the layers of privilege in our society.

When we got to the classroom in our small groups, we introduced ourselves and talked about our name tags. We explained the drawings that we drew as answers to some questions. After we split into groups of 3 to come up with an idea of what social justice is. As expected, each sub-group had a different explanation or idea of what social justice is. We didn’t get to go too deep into our answers as we needed to create community agreements or boundaries since some of the topics we were going over were very sensitive subjects. After having this sort of bonding experience we were dismissed to lunch.
Definitions of social justice 

When I got to the Houston Market, which is where we were eating, it was packed with people. I couldn’t even see where the food was. Despite this, I somehow managed to make it to Pasta Toss or as I like to think of it: “build-a-pasta-workshop.” I paid and went outside to sit with Chris, Kamillah and their friend Sam. When we were done with lunch, we all went to our dorms to drop off a few things and then it was back to the lecture hall. We met up with the rest of the group and left for Old Town to see important things like the Declaration of Independence.

Benjamin's copy of the Declaration of Independence 
On our way back, we lost our way for a bit, but luckily our RC was with us and led us back to safety in the lecture hall. Once we got there,  my group left to the subway to the American Philosophical Society where they keep some more important documents. Thomas Jefferson was actually the president of the society for 17 years. They have the second complete rough draft of the Declaration of independence with Benjamin Franklin's hand written notes on it! The also have a large collection of the Lewis and Clark’s expedition journals. After looking at the documents, we went to the museum where they talked about Thomas Jefferson’s efforts to translate and record native american languages. A great amount of this information was lost when some thieves took a chest full of the translations, in hope of finding something of value. Instead they only found 30 years worth of research, which they then just dumped into a river. Some of the documents were salvaged but most of them were destroyed.
Lewis and Clark Journal collection
After the museum we headed back to UPenn and class was over. I decided to go get some Starbucks on my way to my dorms so that I can rest. I decided not to go to dinner and instead later got Axis pizza and mozzarella sticks that were very good. I hope tomorrow we get more discussion time about topics that are important in today's time period.

1 comment:

  1. So much to look forward to this second time around. Good luck! Super excited to see how you bring your Women and Leadership experience from Brown to Social Justice at UPenn this year!