Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poetry Night

I guess I should begin with saying that I failed miserably at the actual assignment of attending an event, service, etc. However, I feel that through my catastrophic journey while trying to find my event, I experienced and benefited more, rather than if my night would have gone as planned. I experienced Baltimore on Tuesday night differently than I had intended on, but quickly learned that you cannot assume something just because of a person’s race or gender.
I thought since we will be studying poetry in Literature class, it would be interesting to attend a night of poetry readings in the city of Baltimore. After searching the internet for this type of event, I found a place that had a poetry night. On Tuesday night, my roommate, who is also in my class, and I ventured out to attend the event. I was excited to attend something that let me experience Baltimore and fulfilled the class requirement.
From the time I got into the cab, I could tell it would be an interesting night. Our cab driver, who told us he was straight from Africa, was difficult to understand because of his thick accent. After struggling to understand him speak throughout the whole cab ride, he finally said we were on the street which we had asked to be taken to. We drove past all the buildings on the street, but could not find the place we were looking for. My roommate and I decided to get out of the cab and find the address ourselves, while our cab driver told us he would wait to make sure we were okay. When we found the correct address, all that stood in front us was a Chinese Restaurant. We laughed for a couple minutes, realizing we must have made a mistake. Frustrated, we walked back to the cab to tell our new friend what we had found.
“Go ask someone inside if it moved,” he said in his African accent.
My roommate and I, both scared of where we were, went back inside to see if anyone could help us. The only man in there was a Chinese man, who could barely pronounce the word “Hi”, clearly. We asked him if he knew where the place we were looking for was, and learned that it had shut down last week, allowing the Chinese Restaurant to move in. We went back outside, frustrated with the entire situation.
“Go back in and ask him for the new address, and I will take you there,” the cab driver told us.
The Chinese man did not have the phone number or the new address, but said he would call us the next day with the number. We wouldn’t have benefited from it, but his intentions let us know that he wanted to help us. While walking outside, three young men, who I would not usually ask for assistance from, tried to help my roommate and I. They said that we looked like we needed help and eventually told us the place doesn’t exist anymore. We went home, frustrated, disappointed and a lesson learned.
As I sat in the cab, dreading the thought of having to pay the cab ride, I realized something about myself that I was not proud of. Why is it that we judge people based on their skin color, gender, or appearance? Will we ever get to a point when we aren’t afraid or hesitant to ask someone who isn’t exactly like us for help? Looking back on the night, I realized that I was in the same mind set as Koro in the Whale Rider. He judged Kahu based on the fact that she was a girl, and did not want to accept that she was the Whale Rider. I, like Koro, judged the various men that helped me throughout the night. I was hesitant because of their race and that they could not speak English well, and was reluctant to let them help me.
Even though I didn’t experience Baltimore the way I was supposed to, I learned just as much about myself and Baltimore than if I would have had an easy trip into this city. You cannot judge people because of where they come from or what they look like, but rather than what they are capable of doing.

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