Culture shock…

After we read about the Nacirema culture today, most people thought the practices of the culture are completely insane.  Someone even said that it sounds like these people are “brainwashed.”  It is quite an irony that these “brainwashed” people are us…the Americans who take pride in our “civilized” world.  It proves the point that from the outside looking in, too often we judge another culture because their way of life or system of beliefs differ from what we are used to.  America’s standards for being “civilized” includes technology and independence, however, we must keep in mind that not all cultures value things the same.  Sometimes we take our judgements of other cultures a little too far, and we deem other culture as inferior to ours.  This is a very detrimental thinking because we are overlooking the richness  of other cultures.

learning from the experts

Our community outreach today at Stone Mountain Elementary School was a great experience for me.  Dr. Mr. Williams reminded us before that too often when we think of “urban” schools, we think of gang, violence, black students, etc.  Yet, that is not a wrong perception, and our experience with the Experts today prove just how wrong those perceptions are.  The students were very engaged in discussions.  They all had big dreams for their future…from President to millitary to schoolteacher to doctor and more.  I really enjoyed talking to my expert Jerik.  He is also on the step team, and he said that it has helped him stay out of trouble and use his talents in a positive way.  I look forward to more opportunities to work with young students in the future 🙂

Cradle to Prison

The video about “Cradle to Prison” today really touched me.  I felt a wave of sadness ran through my body as I watched those images of very young faces.  Instead of taking preventive measures, it is now becoming more acceptable to just lock up the disruptive ones and shield the rest of the world from these “bad” kids.  However, is that really the best solution for these kids?  Maybe some kids really do need to be separated from society, but I find it ridiculous that we are starting to lock up children for the smallest, most silly reason.  Do the people who press charges against these children even understand how harmful a year or two or more can do to a child in prison? It will change them physically, emotionally, and mentally!! Even a sane adult can not make it out of prison without some kind of damage, imagine what harm it can do to young kids. Do we really expect those years served in prison to make them a better person? I highly doubt it. I think it will only make it harder for them to adjust to society once they are released.  And then they will struggle in society, and probably will end up being locked up again. The cycle continues from there.  We should be focusing our effort into finding solutions to prevent the first time they go to prison, not to just send them to prison and hope that will change them.  I firmly believe that for the most part it will not change them for the better.

test test test…

“Believing we can improve schooling with more tests is like believing you can make yourself grow taller by measuring your height.”

Everywhere we go in public schools, we hear the topic of test taking. Besides the regular tests in schools, students in every grade has to take the CRCT in Georgia, graduation tests in the junior year of high school, end-of-course tests in selected grades, writing tests in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grade, SAT, ACT, and more.  It can be very overwhelming on the students, especially when they know that these tests often determine the track that they will be put on…and as we learn in class today, some tracks will determine whether the students will make it to college or not!  The IQ test that we took today showed that as objective as tests claim themselves to be, they can be interpreted very differently among students depending on their past experiences.  Each student reads the question differently, and certain questions give some students an advantage to the answers.  In addition, certain students have test anxiety that hinders them from performing their best.

I do believe that tests are important and shouldl continue to be used, however, I suggest that teachers also use other evidences to measure a student’s progress/intelligence.  Teachers can do classroom observations, teachers/parents’ recommendations, and student’s evaluations of him/herself to properly evaluate students.

young leaders.

I first saw the incident above when we watched “Eyes on the Prize.”  I was completely saddened by the cruelty one group of people can do to another.  The image caught my eyes again today at the King Center.  I decided to search about it. The students above are some of the 3000 students participated in the civil rights movement at Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.  These demonstrators were attacked by police water hose while protesting.  Instead of fighting back, the students just endured the torture until the police got tired and gave up.  The shocking thing that happened right after the torture was that the students slowly picked themselves back up, straightened their body and clothes, and walked away with much pride.  The police were left speechless, as if they had been hypnotized…

I find this incident to be very powerful.  I honestly do not know if I can be as strong as these students if I were put into the same situation.  I do not know if I will have the courage/endurance to withstand the pain and the torture.  With the water blasting at full speed toward me, I do not know if I can resist from turning around and hitting the police out of anger.  That is why I admire these students so much.  They took on a nonviolent approach and kept their pride although their lives were on the line.  Their actions give me hope for the teaching path that I have chosen.  Though they are young, they definitely serve as role models/leaders for others to look up to.

BaFa BaFa

Today’s activity BaFa BaFa was both fun and informative as well.  It was really interesting to see how people responded to unfamiliar cultures.  After a few attempts at trying to understand the new culture, some people were still very confused.  Some got so frustrated to the point where they started acting hostile toward the “foreigners.”  The bigger picture of this activity to me, however, was to realize that these cultures were made up and that each culture had only about 5-6 rules max.  Yet, people were already so lost and confused at trying to adjust to the new culture.  Imagine if you were put into another culture with years of history and a legacy of traditions. I am sure it is not something that anyone can adjust to in a day or two.  It takes years and lots of experiences to understand the richness of different cultures.  Even to this day, I am still learning and discovering new things about the American culture although I have been in the US for 16 years.

bilingual education…

I praise schools that have multicultural education, however, I praise schools that emphasize bilingual education even more.  With English being my second language, I KNOW how hard it is to learn English when you have already been so fluent with another language already.  When my family moved to the US during my first grade, I was put in an ESL class.  The class was in a separate room, completely shut off from the regular classrooms.  I would describe my English learning experience as a transitional bilingual education because I was taught content area instruction in Vietnamese while learning English at the same time.  After two years, I was given a test in English. I passed the test, and from then on, I no longer had to go to my ESL class.  All my classes from then forward were in English.  I was not allowed to speak Vietnamese with my other Vietnamese classmates in the regular classroom because my teacher was afraid it would affect my English.

Most of my Vietnamese friends went through the same experience as I did.  They end up forgetting how to write/speak/read in Vietnamese by the time we got to middle school.  Fortunately, my parents continued to make me speak Vietnamese at home.  Also, I went to Sunday school every week and had my Vietnamese lessons there.  In a way, I informally had the two-way bilingual education– English at school and Vietnamese at home/church.  I am very proud to say that I can still read/write/speak Vietnamese fluently up to this day.  Also, I think it makes me a better student at school because I already had a foundation in Vietnamese and from that foundatioin I interpret new information (English) better.  To this day, when I do math I still count numbers in Vietnamese  instead of English.  Whenever I read a story in English, I don’t register the story right away.  In order for me to understand the story, I have to do a mental translation of the story back to Vietnamese.  It might sound really confusing, but it helps me retain/understand information a lot more since I have to look at each information twice.

White privilege.

Today’s class discussion about white privilege was definitely hard to swallow, however, I think it was necessary.  I especially like the white privilege exercise/walk. I think it made very clear to us all that white people are not the only privileged ones in our society.  Maybe people of color receive less privileges, but in general, we all are privileged, if not in society than definitely at home or with friends.  Though as an Asian I am oppressed in some ways, I always know that I am much more privileged compare to other students.  For example, although UGA is a predominantly white university, I absolutely love my undergrad experience at UGA because I truly believe that I found great friends and was welcomed at most school events that I went to.  My random white roommat, along with her parents and friends, gave me the utmost respect.  I can recall a few, small incidents of racism/sexism/etc. at UGA toward me, but for the most part I was treated with much respect.  However, I know that my black friends from high school who also joined me at UGA did not receive such respect or welcome from other students.  Due merely to their skin color, they were treated rudely by their roommate/hallmates.  They were constantly asked if they were at UGA for an athletic scholarship, or through affirmative action. Sometimes, they were even called negative names.  All this is very degrading and ruined the college experiences for my friends. And when I heard about all this, i don’t blame my friends for wanting to transfer to different colleges. It makes me mad that people who are supposed to be intelligent and well-mannered can act like that based merely on physical features.  I know that the reason I don’t have to go through all this because I am lighter skin, my hair is not thick and wavy, and I am supposingly “smart” so I am an asset to UGA.  All this goes to show that although I am not as privileged as white people, I am definitely more privileged than some other people. I am not comfortable with this because I think everyone has the RIGHT to received these basic privileges for just being human.  These privileges are wonderful,,, they make our lives easier and happier.  Therefore, intead of white people trying to “lessen” their privileges, I think they should acknowledge these priviledges and work to bring other people up to a point where these people can experience all the privileges as well.

What history textbooks teach us…

In today’s discussion, we talked about what we learned in schools versus what real history is.  I am fortunate enough to say that I had really great teachers who presented to me all sides of history, even if it means making America looks bad.  For my AP US History class, my teacher Mr. White had us read Lies My Teacher Told Me (a really great book! I still have it if anyone wants to borrow) over the summer. That book was the beginning of the real American history for me.  On top of that, Mr. White would go as far as pointing out specific paragraphs in our textbooks that presented certain topics in ways to make America look better, or to gloss over the truth. We read so many outside sources to tell us the real story about the Native Americans, slavery, etc.  The discussion about Ethnic Myth today made me appreciate Mr. White more because nothing that we learned from Ethnic Myth was a surprise to me.  Mr. White is actually a young white male, Anglo-Saxon Protestant that is not afraid to tell his predominately Black/Asian students that his own people messed up big times, and that their actions toward other people were a shameful part of American history.

Also in class today, we talked about stereotypes.  Stereotypes can be very harmful, even though they might sound to be positive.  For example, people always say that Asians are good at Math. I am good at math, however, I am definitely not a genius at all.  I remember when we were taking calculus in high school.  I struggled with the class just like everyone else.  However, my math teacher assumed that since I was Asian I did not need tutoring.  When all of the students showed up afterschool for help, she would always allow other students to ask questions first, and told me to just study harder at home because she ran out of time before she got to me.  She assumed that as long as I try harder, I will get it. But I could NOT get calculus by myself. I ended up getting a 1 on my AP Calculus exam because I was completely lost. I took the course again in college with an Asian professor who really grasped the concept that calculus was a struggle for me. I aced the class with her help during office hours.

I graduated!!!

I graduated from UGA on Saturday’s morning. It was a really nice experience for me because it made me even more grateful to have family and friends who always support and encourage me to do my best. I am very blessed to have such wonderful people in my life 🙂 I know I will miss Athens so much, however, I am also optimistic about GA State and I am ready to embark on a new journey 🙂 But no matter what, I will always be a Georgia Bulldawg!!! 😀

Retreat at Serenbe was good. I was not impressed with the food, however, I really like the scenery. It was a great opportunity to get to know everyone better. I really like the identity box idea. I hope to incorporate that into my future classroom.