What I’ve Learned

I’ve learned a lot this semester, some of which I would have said I knew before I took this class, but I have gained a better understanding as they have come to light. Working with the refugees really helped me understand ethnocentrism more and more with each interaction. To check myself and remember that my ways, my culture and my experiences do not trump anyone else’s. This class has helped me see that each person is an iceberg and we only see the top, even if they look like us or are from the same hometown we never truly know until we take the time to listen and get to know them. The class has really helped me understand myself and my own culture/subcultures more. 

 

Because of work obligations I was thrilled to find an organization here in Utah Valley that helped refugees. Leonard and Phil, the two directors are both refugees themselves and are fantastic to work with. They welcome all volunteers and are so willing to work with our schedules and ideas. I also love the gratitude they had. After my interview with them I started by just working in the office for four hours a week. Typically it was very calm, I remember being so nervous the first time the phone rang, we were usually there by ourselves, but then it was Leonard on the other line.

Two of my other classes required that we do work with refugees and because of this class I got to head a project we did an my other class. We worked with UCRPC, local photographers and fundraised money so the refugees they were working with could have a professional photo shoot. UCRPC uses pictures during their presentations to show what they do as an organization, they also use photos of the individuals during events and when contacting people about becoming involved and/or sponsoring a refugee. They were thrilled when I approached them with the idea. 

UCRPC works with about 23 refugees helping them find housing here in Utah Valley, find jobs, get enrolled in school, ESL classes, resumes and many other things. This is a picture of those that came for the photoshoot.

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The two little kids melted my heart. At first the little boy wouldn’t speak, even when we bribed with him cookies and hot coco. But when the girl walked in he brightened way up and was so much more energetic. We took the pictures in the Riverwoods and I loved showing the little kids around and seeing their reaction to all of the holiday decorations like Santa’s house, christmas lights, horses, and waterfalls. With each one they would point and yell (in French and English), get all excited and then run over as fast as they could to look at it close up.

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When we started our day I was so worried about them not feeling awkward that I felt awkward. Once I got that behind me and felt more comfortable it went so smoothly. We found ways to connect and had a great time.

Since then at the office we have been planning a cultural event where the pictures will be displayed and some of the refugees will tell their stories. We are even hoping to have them perform some of their traditional dances. Besides planning the event we are working on fundraising and helping find little ways to get more organized.

Wild China Documentary

Watching this documentary was interesting. It goes over beautiful landscapes and amazing creatures. It helped me see how much ties into their culture, beliefs, and ways of life. All of which need to be understood to communicate respectfully with a person of a different culture.

I had a few main impressions throughout the documentary. The first being, in the beginning they showed how the people worked in the rice fields. My sister used to live in China and another friend of mine worked in the rice fields. I would argue that how they described and displayed the work it requires did not match what I had heard from others. Second, it was interesting to see what different methods they had, like for fishing and how they had birds they had trained catch the fish for them. This method is over 1.300 years old but because of modern technology is now mostly used just for tourism. Third, I thought that the giant salamanders were adorable! They grow up to 1.5 meters, have the cutest faces and make crying distressed noises like a baby. I had never heard of them before. 

The landscape was beyond beautiful and I loved seeing and learning about the people’s traditions and animals that live there. I would really love to have an opportunity to go to China and see it for myself, to talk with the people, try the food, explore the caves and mountains, even spend time working in the rice fields.

La Carreta

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For my second event the hottie in the picture above (my husband) and I went to La Carreta, a Peruvian restaurant by the University Mall. Luckily it was very gluten free friendly and even had my favorite foods all in one dish! Potatoes, rice and vegetables all thrown together with a delicious sauce. My husband’s meal also had fries and rice but He added in chicken. The decor in the restaurant looked authentic and the recipes were brought straight from Peru by the owner. We both loved the simplicity of the meal and how rich the flavor was. We love trying new food and are continually looking for new restaurants and flavors to try, this one was a huge success.

Winter on Fire

For one of my cultural events I watched “Winter on Fire”. It is a documentary based on the Ukrainian conflict from 2013-2014. Students banded together for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich who had promised to join the EU but instead started making deals with Russia. They protested peacefully yet he retaliated through horrific force. I had heard about the conflict, a sister missionary in my district at the time would receive updates each week from her mom. But I had no idea what terror they actually went through. At times it was very difficult to watch yet at the same time it was beautiful to see how powerful unity is and how much they accomplished because they stood together. 

NPR/Ted Talk Assignment

Intersectionality

Intersectionality defined by google is “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” An article I found titled, “Intersectionality in Quantitative Psychological Research: II. Methods and Techniques”by  Nicole M. Else-Quest and Janet Shibley Hyde describes how to use the intersectionality approach, especially when doing research. It is so important to understand how people are made up of many different aspects of the character. They state, “All individuals are characterized simultaneously by multiple social categories, including, for example, gender, race and ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation; these multiple social categories are interconnected or intertwined, such that the experience of each social category is linked to the other categories.”

There multiple aspects of each individual that create who they are and how people view them. As a society we are lacking in our ability to view how these parts interact or combine together. Crenshaw explained, “If you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both.” Intersectionality has become a hot topic and was even discussed at the white privilege conference. I love how they depicted the road analogy. Imagine we have different highways, one for race, another for gender and one for sexual orientation. Our movements are like the highway patrolmen, looking for danger and providing security. When racism, sexim, patriarchy, violence and discrimination or disempowerment erupt they zoom over and provide relief.

“But imagine, just for a moment, what would happen if an accident occurs on that patch of road where they all converge and intersect. Imagine no one actually SAW the accident, but everybody heard it. Terrible sounds, screeching breaks, a big crash and then a body, lying in the intersection, unconscious. All of the Disaster Relief specialists jump in their ambulances and rush to the scene, and are flummoxed. What do we do? She’s lying there, in the intersection. She’s on everybody’s road—the race road, the gender road, the LGBT road, but no one can tell which traffic hit her. So, they start to discuss it. Now nobody’s doing anything yet, they just, well… are thinking about it.”

But how do we practice intersectionality? How do we make this theory useful? Catherine Butler in her article, “Intersectionality in family therapy training: inviting students to embrace the complexities of lived experience” goes on to explain how it can be used by therapists and a specific activity she does with her students to help them become aware of this theory and work to view each person as a unique self. Key here: education.

I argue that to help the idea of intersectionality become a reality in the minds and actions of people we need to educate, not only on the individual aspects such as race and gender but how they interplay. That way our minds can be open so when we see these situations we don’t have to look at each side of the road and wonder which traffic caused the damage, but will be able to take both sides into consideration and provide true equality.

Bibliography

“The Urgency of Intersectionality”. Crenshaw, Kimberle. http://www.ted.com/talks/kimberle_crenshaw_the_urgency_of_intersectionality#t-1117391

“Intersectionality in family therapy training: inviting students to embrace the complexities of lived experience” Butler, Catherine.

http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uvu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=98fbfd16-ab26-4e47-9560-bf45eaef8af8%40sessionmgr103&vid=3&hid=103

African American Policy Forum

http://www.whiteprivilegeconference.com/pdf/intersectionality_primer.pdf

“Intersectionality in Quantitative Psychological Research: II. Methods and Techniques” Else-Questand, Nicole. Hyde, Janet Shibley http://pwq.sagepub.com.ezproxy.uvu.edu/content/40/3/319.full.pdf+html

The Influence of Media

Media has a huge impact on us as individuals, as a community and culture. Even if we are not super involved in media, don’t go on Facebook or watch TV shows, we are still influenced because media is more than just reality TV shows, pop music and blockbuster movies. It’s the books and news we read, social media sights, and different apps on our phone. These influence the way we behave, how we perceive others, how we are perceived and creates different ways we can relate to to others.

I remember watching the Sandlot 2 and wanting so badly to be like the girl in the movie. I dressed like her, played softball and did my hair just like her. Now I see things on Pinterest and try to create the same look in my own home. Through media I soak in different view points and opinions of other races, ethnicities and cultures, these usually are far from accurate. Other cultures do the same and gain perceptions of me. I lived in Thailand and was backpacking through the country and Cambodia and so many people thought of me as a dumb, slutty, partier because I was a blond american girl and that is what they had seen on TV and their news. On my mission many people found out I was from the western part of the USA and imagined we all rode horses because of the western films they had seen. We can relate with people over media. We have seen or listened to the same things and helps us connect with those in our own community and those of a different culture. I loved on my mission to talk with people who liked the same music or who were obsessed about Harry Potter just like I was. Media isn’t perfect and has its fallbacks, but I don’t know what we would do with out it.

Interracial Relationship

For this assignment I went to my uncles house, four out of his five kids are in an interracial relationship. All of them gave their feedback and it was great. One thing my cousin Max stated was actually advice he received before his marriage to Nasa, who is from Mongolia. The advice was given by my other uncle who married a woman from Samoa. He said to take the best of both cultures and make the gospel the center. Our family is LDS but finding common ground is important for all people of any faith.

Communicating for them wasn’t difficult for them, most of them knew the other’s language, but it was more difficult because of their cultures clashing. They said that over time and they both began to understand the other’s culture more it got easier. They all agreed that these differences can cause stress or be very beneficial in their relationship.

Because of the diversity in my family I didn’t grow up thinking interracial relationship were odd. I also think we do have to acknowledge that everyone in some way has to go through a shift when they are in a serious relationship of combining cultures.

Guilt and Advocacy

No one wants to feel guilty, yet it is a natural and needed response, an emotional response that shows compassion and a desire for a change of heart or mindset. One thing I find interesting about guilt is that you don’t feel it  until you know that you have done something wrong, that you are not proud of. This is why it is so easy to look over white priviledge and say it’s not a thing or that it doesn’t matter. You feel no guilt about it until you begin to understand how it effects you and those all over the world. Then, hopefully, it motivates you to change, accept, and find your voice.

I really loved the two guest speakers. Two things really stood out to me. The first was the story about the little girl and the pink crayon. The second was about ignorance. So many things occurred in her life because she didn’t know anything else and no one was there to help explain it to her. I can’t imagine being in that position with my husband or taking that many credits while working and being a mom. It doesn’t seem possible in my mind. Her resilience and courage to make a difference and be an advocate for others is inspiring. I hope I can rise up as she has and lead a life lifting and strengthening others through service.

Privilege

I loved the activity in class on privilege. Sure I’m not as privileged as some, but I am also more privileged than others. I feel grateful for what I have and how I grew up. I never worried about not having my next meal, money to pay rent, if I would find a job or go on to college. I never had the nicest things but I had much more than I needed. Sure I have had challenges, financially and physically. Yet I have been amongst those with so much less. Less financial resources, food, shelter, jobs, and freedoms.