Service Learning

I completed my 20 hours of service learning at the Utah Community & Refugee Partnership Center (UCRPC) in Provo, Utah. I contacted Leonard Bagalwa about volunteering opportunities. Leonard was happy to have me help out and needed someone to work in the Provo office on Wednesday afternoons. Leonard was great about working with my schedule and made sure that I was able to put in hours on the days that I was available and didn’t have school obligations. The Utah Community & Refugee Partnership Center provides many services for refugees here in Utah County. Some of the services provided include: Education, employment, housing, health & public insurance, charitable healthcare, doctor’s appointments, medical interpretations and Medicaid. It was so great to see all of the many services provided for free to those refugees that were seeking out help.
My role as a volunteer for this organization was be in their Provo office to take phone calls and help any refugees that come into the office looking for services and information. I had a wonderful experience working at the office and had many different phone calls as well as individuals coming into the office that I was able to communicate with. There were also a lot of calls for donations, which I thought was really great. I would give people information and who to write checks out to and where to go bring the money they are donating. I would say a majority of the phone calls I received were from refugees that were either wanting to be place in an asylum, or have been granted an asylum that need to know how to move forward. UCRPC has a great website that will give refugees a lot of information as well as ways to submit request and any concerns so they can be answered in a timely manner. I was able to direct individuals to the website where I would walk them through the different services that were provided as well as helped them understand the process of getting housing etc. I found that most refugees that I spoke with were extremely grateful for the help and felt as though they were given opportunities and something to look forward to. It felt so great when I was able to help others and give them hope on things that they seemed very stressed about.
I had very different experiences depending on the person and how open they wanted to be. I had a refugee come in that was extremely friendly and we were able to really connect and learn more about each other. It was great to hear about the things he wanted me to know and he also took an interest as me in a person, which felt really great. I think that when these connections happen it makes the entire process of helping them so much more successful and we were able to communicate on another level. I would say most individuals were less open, but I still felt confident in all of the help I provided them and gave them the best of the information that I have on hand.
Overall my experience was great and I felt very happy with the work I put into my service learning. Leonard was great to work with and was very insightful. He gave me so many things to think about and explained all of the many ways we are able to help refugees that are seeking help. This was a great organization to volunteer for and I will keep in touch and volunteer for them whenever possible. I never thought to do volunteering for refugees prior to this course. I have volunteered a lot, but I knew very little about how to get involved with refugees. I am glad that I did it simultaneously with this course because I was able to learn so many great things about how to communicate with other cultures and how to be aware of my competence and being respectful to others.

Event – Book: Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves

For one of my monopoly events I chose to read a book titled: Wanderlust, A Love Affair with Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves. I wandered through Barnes and noble for hours deciding which book I would like to read for this event. This book really caught my attention and seemed like it would be something I would really enjoy to read. This book was intriguing and I was able to finish it rather quickly. In her book Elisabeth Eave’s craves travel. Elisabeth goes to college right after high school but wanted something different. Her family traveled abroad a lot when she was younger and Elisabeth found herself missing the traveling and wanted it more than ever. Her first travels start in the Middle East where she was quickly put into the unfamiliar where she had to adjust and change her way of living. She spent a lot of her time in Egypt and Cairo before returning home to put a semester of college under her belt. Back home in Seattle Elisabeth falls in love and gets engaged. Once Elisabeth was home with a full time job and a routine she was yearning for something more. She decided to go to make another trip. She went to Malaysia followed by Australia. Once she was in Australia she decided it wasn’t fair to do this to her finance and she broke off the engagement. She ends up wanting to stay and live in Australia where she began making a life for herself. I have so much respect for someone that finds their own independence and is willing to sacrifice things to explore and find new exciting things. I often find myself becoming one with my routines and not taking the leap to do something exciting and scary that will push me out of my comfort zone. This book talks all about the culture shock she experienced and all of the customs she had to adjust to while living in another culture other than her own.

Event – Embracing Diverse Voices Exhibition

For one of my five monopoly events this semester I chose to go to the Embracing Diverse Voices exhibition at the BYU Art Museum. This event is held only for a short period of time this spring and I wanted to make sure I was able to experience it. I went into the exhibition not really sure what to expect and I was blown away by it. I actually got very emotional as I was walking through admiring the art. I was able to learn some great things that I previously was not aware of as well as see great pieces that symbolized some strong things in history. This exhibit did for me exactly what I think they would hope to accomplish. This made me feel something and made me want to learn more and continue thinking about what I saw and experienced while being there. I was very present in the moment and gained a greater understanding than I had before walking in.

Thoughts on what I’ve learned this semester & how I can use this in future interactions

I have learned so many great things during this semester. I have loved learning more about other cultures and the appropriate ways to interact when going abroad or spending time with people from a different culture than my own. I also learned so much about myself. The cultural self assessment really gave me a great look at myself and helped me better understand my identity and what I connect with culturally. I feel like all of the skills I have learned in this class have given me confidence and I feel like I can consciously go abroad and know where I stand and things that I know and what I what I don’t know with the ability to learn from others and make great lasting relationships with people that have a different cultural background than my own. I have loved learning about other cultures and all of the great things to understand about others and where they come from.

Movie on an Intercultural Topic – Slumdog Millionaire

I chose to watch Slumdog Millionaire for my movie on an intercultural topic. This movie was on the suggested movie and reading list provided on the class blog. I have heard many great things about this movie and it is one that I have always wanted to watch and I am so glad that I did. Jamal got the opportunity to be on who wants to be a millionaire and he does extremely well on the game show and makes it up to the million dollar question. The next question will air on the following showing, but before that happened Jamal was accused of cheating. People could not understand how an Orphan from the slums of Mumbai would be so educated. When Jamal gets questions he goes back into his past and explains where he learned all of the things that he was able to answer on the show. You get such a deep look into Jamal’s tough life as a child trying to make it with his brother as his only family. They lived in a very area and kids were often picked up and forced to work for older people in horrible conditions. There comes a time where Jamal was not ok with the things that were happening and he decided to runaway. Jamal tackles many obstacles growing up and he learns so many things through life that gave him all of the current knowledge he has. Jamal was able to learn through experience and trials based on his upbringing and he is rewarded when all of the things he went through now gives him his understanding of the world around him. It’s tough to see all of the events he has to overcome and than get accused of being a cheater as if he never went through all of his trials. Once people heard his story they couldn’t question his knowledge because he was able to explain exactly how he knew the answers and what he had to go through in order to gain that understanding. Jamal ends up winning the game show and also reconnects with his true love. It was great to see a happy ending for Jamal and the struggles he faced made him the great person he became. This was a wonderful movie to watch to get a look into different culture and upbringings that I have never had to endure.

Ethnic Food – Tanta Peruvian Cuisine, Chicago

I choose to eat at a Peruvian cuisine while visiting Chicago this semester. The cuisine was located in downtown Chicago and is known for it’s great atmosphere as well as brunch menu. I had the Leche de Tigre Classico dish, which is the chefs selection of mixed seafood, red onions and habanero. They also had wonderful bloody Mary’s with a variety of vegetables and spices included. I couldn’t help but get a few drinks during the meal. My meal was wonderful and the service was great. I went here with my boyfriend and we both were very happy with our meals and the overall service. There were different types of sauce used that gave my meal a different taste than I’ve experienced before and it was a good change on how seafood is prepared. I am so glad that I choose to eat here and I will go back whenever I am in Chicago.

Thoughts on how media influences our culture

Popular media plays a huge role in our culture. Between television, social media, and all of the popular media broadcasts the public is being fed so much different information. I think media can be both positive and negative and it depends on the viewers and how they take the information. If you turn on the TV and watch something on one news station you will get very different facts about an event than another news station presenting on the same event. Media is biased and as a viewer it is so important to look into many different different sources because often times people solely rely on one popular media broadcast and that completely sways their opinion on crucial things happening. I think most importantly viewers need to have open and curious minds that will take them to do research and explore more into things rather than hearing something once and sticking to that view without any need to hear other views or opinions. I have found myself getting very frustrated with popular media because its hard to know what to believe and all of the information out there can be overwhelming to try to break down and get a full understanding.

Interracial Relationships

This blog gave me a chance to have a great conversation with my brother Tyler and his girlfriend Kelsey. Tyler and Kelsey have only been dating for 6 months, but have found different trials that come with being in an interracial relationship. Tyler is white and Kelsey is black. They very much enjoy their relationship and think that it is worth some of the backlash they get from others in the community. They have had several times when they have been out together on dates or running errands where they would get a lot of stares and confused faces looking in their direction. In most cases people have not said anything to them, but the way they stare and their non-verbal communication says it all. They feel a lot of disapproval from people that do not know them or their story. Tyler mentioned that although their are hard times they are very lucky to also have a lot of family and friend support. They feel no judgement from people close to them and feel like they are like any other couple. I was really happy to hear that they feel support and love from people that are around them and that is something that they appreciate very much and makes the other judgements from people insignificant.

The beauty of skin in every color

I was able to watch a Ted Talk by photographer Angelica Dass. Angelica is doing a project to show the beauty of skin in every color. Angelica does a wonderful job capturing the audience’s attention by speaking about how people are making lasting assumptions about people based on the color of their skin. She expresses that it is untrue that color is just white, black, yellow and red. People are many different colors and all of these unique colors should be represented. I read relating articles that give information on multiracial minorities and having to self-label and choose one ethnicity when in fact they are not just one of the four main colors that people associate others with. Angelica does not choose her participants in her project and has a great number of volunteers that want to be represented as their own individual and be a part of this progress to show people’s beauty in every skin color.
Angelica Dass is a photographer from Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Angelica is working on an in-progress project to show the large variety of diverse skin colors. Angelica has expressed the project and the message she wanted to give with this project. All of the participants that chose to be photographed were volunteers and wanted to be part of the project once they heard the impactful message that Angelica is spreading. Angelica takes a headshot of each and every participant with a similar relating toned background to show everyone’s beautiful skin color.
Angelica is very passionate about the issue of people being divided into four untrue skin colors such as white, black, yellow and red. (Dass, 2016) People do not fit into only four categories and this is an issue that needs to be addressed and people need to be educated that you do not have to check a box and self-label yourself to these colors that are simply incorrect. Angelica expresses that she is brown, but is always recognized as black, which is a completely different color. She does a wonder job at connecting with the audience and showing the importance of not labeling others or sticking to the stereotypical colors given to people.
This Ted Talk presentation was very emotional and heartfelt and that is something was able to catch the attention of the audience as well as all of the participants that heard Angelica speak and wanted to be able to take part in the project.
I read an article relating to the ted talk that was called, Exploring the Experiences and Self-Labeling of Mixed-Race Individuals with Two Minority Parents by Donna Talbot. This article did research about mixed-race individuals and their experiences living in this county. In the article there were a lot of experiences shared about being mixed race. One person shared her experiences and expressed that she was Japanese, Canadian, Indian American that always had a hard time choosing a box and identifying herself and making a decision on what race she identifies with. She said that she felt lucky to be able to pass as a white American because it is much harder in society when you do not pass as a dominant race. She expressed that although there are challenges she believes that people that cannot pass as white have it harder in society. (Talbot, 2015)
Another article that I read relating to Angelica Dass’s ted talk is Beyond Black and White: Biracial Attitudes in Contemporary U.S. Politics, by Lauren D Davenport. This was a great article that wanted to look at individuals that were multi-mixed being both black and white. Black and white mixed individuals showed more liberal black akin views and acted more in their black culture when the studied was completed. Many people are mixed raced and they are able to decide their views and what they want to identify with something that this ted talk and articles showed me is how important it is to let people connect with their own identities and never assume that someone needs to check a certain box or that they automatically fit into the untrue black, white, yellow and red colors. Angelica’s Ted talk was so moving and powerful to me. Angelica is doing a very wonderful thing by bringing people together and showing everyone’s different and unique skin color. We are all unique and our own individuals. It is important to not make assumptions on others because of their skin tone and being accepting and open to meet and get to know individuals.

References
Beyond black and white: Biracial attitudes upon contemporary U.S Davenport, Laurenhttp://ezproxy.uvu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ahl&AN=114485643&site=eds-live

Exploring the experiences and self-labeling in mixed-race individuals with two minorities http://ezproxy.uvu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ812482&site=eds-live

My thoughts on privilege & if my opinion has changed over the last few weeks

My views on privilege have changed a lot since my first post before we went over privilege more in class. The main take away I have now is how important it is to be aware of the privileges I have and how I can use my privilege to help others who do not have the same resources and opportunities that I may have. With privilege comes a lot opportunities that most people do not have. I think that its important to understand that I am able to help others with these opportunities and I can do my part by providing any opportunities I can to others and not keep these privileges for myself, but rather share and connect with others to work together with the resources I can provide.