Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The first part of class today featured a training in listening as it pertains to leaders. Having leaders that are also effective listeners in vital to the success of the whole group. Dean Rose was the one who lead the training/lecture.(She was the one who spoke at the student orientation, I really enjoy her opinions.) She spoke about how we show if we are really listening by body language, asking questions and summarizing what they've said. These were all strategies I had heard before being that I was trained in effective listening only a few months ago. This lesson is never learned however and it was pleasurable to hear her ideas about it. We also spoke about how to phrase praise and criticism. We should always use "I statements" and never talk for others or label people. I learned one wants to avoid the words: should, always and never because they automatically put people on the defensive side. (I put them all in the sentence before for that purpose.) I statements usually are things like "I feel hurt when you say gay instead of bad and I want to you to watch your diction  because I know you wouldn't mean to do that to someone." This statement gets your point across effectively, calmly, and doesn't put the relationship at risk. I feel so blessed to be here at Brown when I learn things in new ways and am able to grow as an individually aware part of society.

Dean Rose ended with a beautiful thought of her's. She said I absolutely hate the phrase young people are our future... I cannot wait that long for you. Do not waste your time. The world needs you now: I need you now." This statement left me with goosebumps as I walked out of class, despite the 90 degree weather. I had never thought of it that way before, I don't have time to be waiting around, every moment is an opportunity to make someone's life better, never neglect that. 

After class, we walked around the main street of Brown University, when all of a sudden it started raining huge drops. We ran into the nearest refuge from this strange phenomena. We went into a coffee shop. I was amazed at how quickly the rain stopped. We then walked out 15 minutes later to blue skies. The east coast is weird!

I then went back to class for the afternoon with our normal professor Dean Almandrez. I really love the way our class is set up. We just discuss topics and define the ways society has influenced us. A lot of the things I realized, I had never thought about before. That schools teach a standard norm of education and you must make your self fit into book learning. I myself  I have discovered am not naturally this way, I have been expanded to be a book learner. In my free time, I don't read for enjoyment, I make things or use my hands which shows that I'm mechanical minded but just learned to be literature based. I don't think this is bad, and I don't think school is wrong in doing this, I had just never thought of myself as another type of learner. 

Today we spoke about the Social Constructions in the way of those who are privileged vs those who are oppressed. We spoke about how privilege is sometimes not realized, not always received, and not always wanted. In some cases people of a dominant group in an area aren't privileged and that is fine, the idea behind privilege is that there is an opportunity to get special treatments. The homework reading also talked about how the first step to fixing biases is to admit that it exists and that privilege happens. 

For the second half of my afternoon class we analyzed another film, this one was called "What Would You Do? It featured a Muslim woman in her traditional headpiece in a bakery with a man store clerk who refused service to her because she was not "American". They were both actors and hidden cameras were throughout the bakery to capture what people would do in a situation of social injustice. I was disgusted by the things the actors said, and they were completely false, however it was not an act with others. The store clerk told the woman he would not serve her and has the right to refuse service to her because she wasn't an American. She told him she was born in America and he said that didn't matter. That made me so upset, how dare someone take ownership of a country that was potentially stolen from the native Americans. No one is American unless you are native, we are all United States of America citizens. What surprised me beyond the words spoken was how most people agreed with the clerk or said nothing at all. Those who agreed said he can refuse business to anyone even though he is an employee and discriminatory refusal is illegal. Some people did speak up though and told the clerk he was wrong, others just walked out. I was astonished after the video, how could people stay so silent.

After the video was over we tried to figure out what we would have done in that situation. I realized how hard it might have been to contradict everyone around you and lead in the opposite direction opposing everyone else, but I just felt compelled to say something even if I was watching it and a tv screen. We also spoke about how not doing anything is the same as agreeing. We are keeping the system of social injustice in place by not opposing the system for what is right. A really interesting thing to think about for today. 

After class, we went to a Hunger Banquet. I went but in my head I was like "What is a Hunger Banquet". The administration wouldn't tell us and despite the mysterious atmosphere, 92 students showed up, more than ever before. When we entered the room, we were given a card with a different colored dot. Then we were sorted into classes by which dot we were, I was orange, the high class. I sat down at a nice dinner with fresh flowers and four courses, whilst everyone else sat in chairs or on the ground. I didn't know what to do. I felt so uncomfortable. Everyone is chairs were the middle class you at rice, beans, chips and soda; whilst the low class sat on the ground and ate a bowl of rice and water, without any utensils. I couldn't bring myself to eat what I had been given seeing that everyone else had so little. I just sat there, feeling uncomfortable and not sure what I could do. I wanted to throw the food to everyone and make it all equal, but I had no way of doing that. So I just stayed there, I just sat at the nice table and did nothing. The point of the activity was to show how world hunger is a problem and that we all deserve a good meal and we should work to change hunger problems in the world.

 When I was leaving, however, the whole day flashed through my eyes. Dean Rose telling us to act now not later, the video asking us what would we do and realizing that not stopping something is the same as being a part, had all shared a common theme. The theme of action or inaction. What would you do? What would you do if you saw a woman getting discriminated against, what would you do if you saw a child dying of starvation. Then comes the hard realization that these are not mock simulations with hidden video cameras and lessons at the end; this is life. I hope that through Brown, I can learn not to just think "What Would I Do", but spring into action, to counteract collusion. 
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