Thursday, October 25, 2007
One of the new little boys who sat at my table looked me straight in the eye and told me that he thought I should be a teacher. I was taken aback. I thought to myself, what a nice thing to say. And then after Homework Help was over I was telling one of the parents what we had accomplished and what the student still needed to work on. The mother told me that she was glad I come and wished I could come more afternoons to help. Both of those statements really meant a lot to me. They helped me to realize something very important as well. I am in the wrong major. I knew when I came in that I wanted to be a teacher but I thought they really don’t make a lot of money and I like Public Relations, so I will do that. What a mistake.
When I got home I flicked on the television for an assignment to look at commercials and analyze them. Regularly I do not have time to watch TV, but since I was already doing so, I decided to watch a program. On the program Hip Hop Mogul P-Diddy was on talking about how he got in the music business. One thing he said stood out to me, he said he did it because he loved it and not for the money. After having the experience at the school and then having this man I look up to tell me it is not about the money, I felt it was a sign from God. I honestly do not know what I am going to do. I am a junior who has already registered for her second semester classes and is on track to graduate with her class. I should be a teacher and I know it.
One thing that the Jesuit ideal teaches us is discernment. Although very necessary I think almost impractical at Loyola. This institution encourages us to be leaders but wants us to have time for academics and discernment. I am sure some students have figured it out. I am not one of those students. If I had took the time to really think about what I wanted and what I needed as a person I would have seen my vocation a while ago. God tells us to be patient, so I will. I will be patient. I am not starting over again but I may have to do an extra year of school or work by day and try to get my teaching certification by night. Somehow, someway I will do what I need to do and become a teacher. I will be inspired by little people everyday; I will have the love and desire to inspire them as well. I may not make a ton of money but my husband will and I will be happy. Who knew that going down the street to a little broken elementary school would repair my soul. I know what I am passionate about now.
This past week I continued work with Choice Tutoring which helps educate juvenile offenders in the Baltimore area. I found this night especially fulfilling because I was on the planning committee to help with the events of the evening. Because the age and grade level of all of the youths vary greatly, coming up with a fun and exciting way to stimulate their minds while catering to each of their individual needs was especially challenging. We decided that we would give the youths a journal question and twenty minutes to write about it.
When I interviewed for the program I was asked the question “How can I relate to youths who lead live that are so different from mine?” This question echoed in my mind this week. Because the Choice Program works with a number of different groups that rotate periodically I am able me to meet all kinds of youths from all kinds of backgrounds. This ensures that no two College Nights will be the same. As I looked around the room this week I noticed that our newest group could not be any more different. The majority of youths were black, raised by single parents, and have a low economic status. How could I relate to these people or even try to begin to see things through their world lens when are lives are so overtly different?
When it came time for our educational event, we handed out notebooks and asked the students to write out the ten most important, people, things, or ideas in their lives. The tutors themselves were also asked to complete this assignment. After we had finished we were all asked to share what we had written. The moment we began to do this the answer to the burning question in my mind became painfully obvious. It was clear how similar we really were.
I could not help but be reminded of “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes. Despite obvious racial and economic differences, these youths are just like me. We both care about friends, family, music and, yes, even our cell phones. Although we might not look it, we are similar in ways that are much more significant than our external disparity.
Just like in the Hughes poem a cliché assignment helped to free our group from the constraints of our differences and allowed us to see each other for who we truly are; people. This simple fact is something I think we all need to be reminded of from time to time. No matter what the external differences may be we all share the same hopes and fears and can relate to each other because we are all people. Whether we know it or not our lives are intrinsically intertwined just by the fact that we are human beings who have interacted with each other. These interactions are enough for us tutors to influence our tutees in a positive way. It is even enough for our tutees to influence us, and teach us a thing or two about real human connection.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Event Oct. 24
The theme of racism and equality in Walt Whitman’s poems From “I Sing the boy Electric” and One’s Self I Sing and the theme of music as a power of beauty in the short story “Lush Life” by McCluskey both were perfect readings for my reflection of service at Care-a-van.
Care-a-van is my weekly experience that I always look forward to as a Tuesday challenge. Last night at Care-a-van someone counted the number of people we served. More or less there were around sixty-five people who I served drinks to. Out of the sixty-five, there were two white people. I have never counted the number of friends down in the park, nor have I counted the number of races I encounter at the park. I have never put a number on the amount of sandwiches served, drinks poured, or snacks distributed. I have only noticed the numerous smiles greeting me weekly at the park. I do notice when it is the end of the month because it becomes more crowed due to diminishing food stamps. The change in weather also effects how many friends I interact with at the park. I realized after last night that putting a number on sandwiches and drink makes no difference to me. I would go to the park if there was one friend that needed something to eat.
Another way in which Care-a-van has really made me think about the underappreciated things in life is the gratitude that people show for appreciation of respect. The men and women who are homeless show genuine thanks to the Loyola students who bring more than just food and drinks but conversation and love. Many times a gentleman in the park will break out into song. It might be a religious song, it might be a made up song, it might be an oldie but no matter what the words, the real content of the song is thanksgiving. People can express their gratitude and inner emotions or thoughts through music. The music I hear in the park is like the beautiful music composed in “Lush Life.” The intimacy and energy I get from Pops and Mike when they sing is truly incredible. Music can affect a human being from deep within the soul all the way to their fingertips.
The theme of the poem Form “I Sing the Body Electric” is the equality of all things, not just external an internal body parts but equality in a general sense. Our society today can not function without diversity and the mixing of cultures and people. Society would be extremely boring and uneventful if humans were all the same race. The rhythm and rhyme of Walt Whitman’s poem From “I Sing the Body Electric” really connects to the issue that are prevalent to
In From “I Sing the Body Electric” this poem made it clear that the two: body and soul don’t have to be separate and they shouldn’t be separate. It is also important to talk about things we deliberately exclude or separate in
The majority of the lecture given by Tracy Kidder on his book, Mountains Beyond Mountains, was a review for me since I forced myself to read the book. Kidder, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, wrote this book based on his experiences around the world with Dr. Paul Farmer. Dr. Farmer, a Harvard Medical Grad Student, began studying the Haitian culture while in college at Duke. He developed curiosity for the people there, which had to suffer living in one of the poorest countries in the world, with barely any medical assistance. Throughout college and medical school, he found that it was his duty to bring medical assistance to those of the less fortunate. After being exposed to these places of poverty, he found it essential to cure infectious diseases, especially Tuberculosis, and to bring the necessary tools of modern medicine to those who need them most.
By age 27, Dr. Farmer co-founded Partners In Health in Haiti, which has now developed into a universal health organization. PIH has helped patients in poverty obtain free treatment, specifically for Tuberculosis and AIDS, and provides them with the necessary drugs to continue treatment on their own. Farmer has also developed medical projects in Russia, Peru and Rwanda.
Listening to Tracy Kidder speak about Dr. Paul Farmer gave me the same reaction as the one I received while reading Mountains Beyond Mountains. As I read the book this summer, I felt overwhelmed with the fact that Farmer had accomplished so much at a young age, and that I haven’t even figured out what I want to study in college. By his junior year at Duke, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and had begun to visit countries to carry out his future plans. Being here for two months at Loyola though, I have felt a sense of relief to this problem. Having to do service, taking Core classes, and having the opportunity to become involved in so many different activities has let me seen that I will be exposed to myriad amounts of various interests, and will find just what exactly I want to do in the future sometime throughout these four years.
Another point Tracy Kidder continued to make about Paul Farmer is that he wants everyone to remember that “We are all humans”. This famous phrase of Farmer’s came from a situation with a Haitian woman and her sick sister. The young, sick woman needed a blood transfusion desperately, and her sister was willing to drive from the hospital Farmer was currently at, to a near by hospital to get the blood. Farmer scurried around the hospital to find money. Finally, the woman could rush to the next hospital to get what was needed, but they would not give the blood to her because of her social class. The Haitian lady was devastated, and replied with, “We are all human beings”.
Farmer keeps this motto in mind at all time. It shouldn’t matter what color, race, gender or social class we are, because we are all equal and should receive the same respect, not just medical attention, as everyone else does. From the short stories and poetry we have read in the past two weeks of class, I have also received and realized this message; that we are all unique but equal, and should be treated as one.
What is more interesting about Dr. Paul Farmer’s story is that what he did with his newly gained status as a doctor benefited those who were less fortunate in Haiti, instead of feeling money driven and selfish. This probably had a lot to do with his upbringing, coming from a poor family, and his education at Duke studying Haitian culture. Both of these things influenced his already growing relationship with the state of most Haitian’s health, which was very poor since they were living in a country that could not afford to spend large amounts of money on improving the healthcare system.
Dr. Paul Farmer’s efforts to change the state of Haitian healthcare is an example of the ability of one individual to change a large amount of lives by carrying out a vision. It reminds me, again, of the solidarity that must be present between people across cultural lines. The diversity between people who serve each other, creates relationships in which each person has a lot to gain through experiencing the world of what seems to be a completely different person.
The success that Dr. Paul Farmer gained is not unlike the success that Emily Dickenson writes about in her poem “Success is counted sweetest”. Because Dr. Paul Farmer was able to succeed so greatly, from being in a poor family, to being able to help the poor in Haiti, he is able ‘to comprehend a nectar’ of success because of his past and his persona.
Dr. Paul Farmer’s story is a reminder of the obligation that everyone has to help each other, no matter what condition a person may be placed into, and that success is possible through resilience and grasping every opportunity.
After attending the fair trade panel last week, I came to the realization that little things you do can affect someone else’s life halfway across the world. For example, buying a drink or a bag of coffee with the fair trade sticker on it changes the lives of thousands and thousands of people. The panel consisted of an array of speakers with a variety of perspectives on how fair trade impacts lives. Speakers included two female workers from a cocoa plantation in Ghana, a woman discussing Catholic relief service, a businessman in support of fair trade, and a member of the United Students Against Sweatshops. The workers from Ghana represented a sense of culture and pride for the cocoa and coffee production they worked for. They were genuine in their feelings of appreciation for fair trade and how much it has helped them to grow and become more successful. The woman with Catholic relief services discussed three goals that I think can apply specifically to Jesuit beliefs. The first was internal human development, which explained the idea that although helping people to survive was important, it is not sufficient. Like the Jesuits believe, Catholic relief services look at a person for their qualities as a whole. They focus on people based on all parts, from the emotional to spiritual to social being and beyond. The second goal the service focused on was economic justice for all, in that everyone plays a role in the economy. She stated that the economy exists for the person and not the other way around. The decisions we make can hurt or help farmers, such as the women workers in Ghana. The third goal was fighting global poverty, which is a worldwide struggle that many must face everyday. The member who spoke on behalf of the United Students Against Sweatshops was very passionate about her cause. She strongly urged people to make sure the clothing you wear is made in just conditions. This decision would persuade companies and businesses all over the world to change their unjust ways and give equal opportunites to all workers.
The traditional values of Jesuit belief provide a basis for all of these ideas. The importance of justice and helping to provide for others is the underlying message of fair trade. The concept that everyone in the production and trading process is equal makes for a just world. Serving others and being aware of fair trade may take much more time and effort then it does to ignore it, but its reward in the end is far more valuable.
Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Success is counted sweetest”, deals with the idea that a person who lacks or does not have something understands whatever is lacking better than the person who possesses it. This idea applies to fair trade because workers who do not work in just conditions would appreciate and love the opportunity to be treated with equality. They can better grasp this feeling because they understand the treatment of unjust conditions, compared to those who do not experience them. Giving a person his or her individual rights is a powerful thing, and many take this privilege for advantage.
A few weekends ago I went to the Fun Festival down in Fells point. Baltimore offers many festivals that truly allow you to see the participation the community has in the well being of their own city. This festival opened my eyes especially to many new nationalities, coexisting with each other. The Fun Festival in Fells point is a festival that is an outdoor festival with a lot of diversity that was experienced and shown throughout the many streets of Fells point. This excursion out to Fells point was an experience in itself.
The drive to Fells point, once again we went through the city and saw just how lively the city is. Even though there is a well-known nightlife, it is nice to see a daytime change in the activity. Baltimore is such a welcoming city, as long as your knowledgeable about it, it can be a family city and just a great place to enjoy each other. These excursions into the city whether it’s sunny and warm, or raining and cold outside the cities bright life just shines right through.
While at the festival there were so many nationalities that were represented fully throughout the vendors, and the food stands. Each side of the street had a different type of nationality represented throughout the display of food, like a lot of Cuban and Hispanic foods along with a stage with live dancing and music in the background. There were many other diverse things that really stood out. The community all had vendors of Jamaican trinkets, Hispanic dresses, and Americanized object. That shows that although each and everyone of us are proud of our own heritage we all come together as a melting pot, as Americans.
This event really opened my eyes even wider, although I went to a very diverse school it is very different to see a whole community work together so harmoniously, and support each other’s pride. Our very education supports the very environment that we as college students live in. In this specific teaching of the Jesuit tradition they teach us to accept others for who they are and love them for the uniqueness and the differences that they bring to the table. The people of Baltimore clearly demonstrate this, even if they have not been educated in the Jesuit tradition. The Jesuit
I am familiar with tutoring people. I am familiar with working with people with disabilities. I am unfamiliar with tutoring someone who is disabled, as I did this week. I thought I was prepared, that I understood the issues facing the students of the Learning Bank but somehow the idea of a student with sight problems had never occurred to me. In the past year that I have volunteered at the Learning Bank I’ve tutored students with various external stressors: previous substance abuse, current substance abuse, low income, teen pregnancy, lack of family support, and all that develops from these issues.
The woman I tutored on Tuesday, Patricia, not only wore high prescription glasses but also carried with her a magnifier glass. As we worked through the assignment dealing with subtraction of whole numbers, her perseverance astounded me. Even with the magnifier glass she struggled to read the numbers, and to write her answers down on a line. As I grew frustrated with my lack of tutoring technique, Patricia continued to work diligently. Usually I am able to work with the students so that they arrive at the answers almost entirely on their own, but with Patricia I noticed myself taking short cuts.
Outside of the Learning Bank’s shelter there must be someone to walk with her through life. I caught myself with this thought. All the other people I’ve encountered with serious vision problems have had aids who help them through their day. For the most part they’ve had the resources to stay out of danger. In reality I have no idea if anyone greets Patricia on the other side of the Learning Bank’s glass doors.
Society is supposed to protect those that are vulnerable. Instead of being protected, this woman has likely been shown closed doors and averted eyes. My tutoring did little than pass the time during the class; even though she can grasp the concepts on a theoretical level her physical limitations prevent her from making progress. As the teacher of the class asked how she was doing, her eyes revealed that she had no comprehension of a greater plan for this woman. Patricia comes to class regularly. She comes prepared. She is attentive. She puts forth great effort. We show her nothing but empty hands.
The Learning Bank works to spread adult literacy throughout the
Mountains Beyond Mountains
By: Tracy Kidder
When Tracy Kidder, a graduate from Harvard, came to Loyola College to speak about Mountains Beyond Mountains, written in 2003, he described the dedication and amount of time that went into writing the novel and also the different experiences he underwent while visiting Dr. Paul Farmer in Haiti.
Dr. Paul Farmer came from a very poor family where he moved from a bus to living in a boat which was not an ordinary boat because of the fact that it was very old and had no source of running water. Although Paul farmer was not wealthy he stayed determined to take advantage of every opportunity which he came about and ended up obtaining a full scholarship to Duke University and later on went to medical school at Harvard University. Farmer first became interested in the life of these Haitian’s while talking to farm workers in his hometown of North Carolina. While at Harvard, he earned a degree in Anthropology and graduated in the top of his class despite the fact that he spent more time volunteering in hospitals in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. This sparked Farmer in that he felt as if he needed to promote justice as revealed through his Jesuit values in order to make a difference in the world. If Dr. Paul Farmer didn’t help to make a change who would? Farmer volunteered in different hospitals throughout Haiti and very quickly became interested in medicine.
A very vivid description that Paul Farmer gave to Kidder while writing his novel about reaching out to help others was when a pregnant mother in Haiti had malaria and therefore needed a blood transfusion. What we would think to be a simple and cheap operation in the United States happen to be costly and not possible in Haiti. Farmer described how the pregnant women’s sister offered to give her blood so that she would not die, but this was not possible because the hospital did not have the needed resources to perform this simple operation and so the sister had to watch her pregnant sister and baby die. This example of not being able to live a healthy life is a part of the many important Jesuit values. Kidder claimed that when Farmer told him this story he was in tears. This example was put into the novel in order to show that the lives of other cultures are very interesting and that everyone can help to make a change for the better in their own community or even around the world. This also proves that it only takes as little as one human being to realize that our society is far from perfect. Help is needed throughout the world and through the mission of globalization and justice anything can be achieved.
Even at a young age, as told by Tracy Kidder, Paul Farmer felt the need to help out others even if it cost him a whole life of dedication and so he created an organization in Haiti to help aids and T.B. patients called Partners in Health. This organization was started with one of Paul’s friends from college, Tom White, who was very wealthy and contributed over forty-five million dollars. This organization that all began from the desire of a very intelligent doctor at the age of twenty-two has proved that all illness’ can be treated economically no matter where you are. Paul has proven that his Jesuit values have influenced him and that everybody can help to change the world like he did. When Paul received an email from a student asking how he could walk in Paul’s footsteps, his response was that he did not expect others to dedicate the amount of time that he gave, but that someone had to step up to the plate and take the challenge.
Thus, during Tracy Kidder’s speech on his novel Mountains Beyond Mountains, the importances of our Jesuit Values are portrayed. Kidder reveals that Dr. Paul Farmer had a goal to help others out and that by doing this he also figured out who he really was and why he was placed on earth. Farmer’s main message as portrayed throughout Kidder’s novel is that we can all make a positive change to help out others and use the mission of justice as incorporated in our Jesuit values to decrease poverty and help cure the sick. Dr. Paul Farmer currently lives with his wife and daughter in Rwanda, Africa where over twenty million dollars will be used by Partners in Health for the research of treating illness’ including Aids and T.B.
A week passed, and it was six o’clock on Tuesday night, and the St. Ambrose kids ran off the bus. Jordan was the first one to the doors of the FAC, he ran up to me to show me that he already had his bathing suit on and ready to swim because he had done all of his homework right after school.
Jordan’s excitement to learn how to swim allowed me to see his appreciation for learning. I am thrilled to see that his love for education can now continue in the classroom.
Jordan’s ambition for swim lessons, allowed me to understand firsthand, teaching the person as a whole. I feel that the Jesuit tradition follows me where ever I go, especially when working with children and in this case, Jordan. When talking to Jordan it allowed me to see my effect on a person’s life, and teach him the importance of education as a whole. He shows an immense amount of spirit and heart towards his education, and just like in the Jesuit tradition I feel that this will follow him and spread to his peers. He is a bright child with great potential, he just needs to be pushed and believed in. I am happy to be a part of Jordan's life because I feel that I am the push he needs, and I believe he can do what ever he puts his mind to.
The kids of St. Ambrose, allowed me to see that education goes both ways, being the ‘teacher’ in this scenario brought light to my understanding of the inner city children, and the potential they have. Giving swim lessons to the children of St. Ambrose is not only to assist the kids with their inability to float and function in the water, yet survive the aspects of life. Jordan has not only improved in swimming he has also gained better study habits and maturity.
Jordan has come to realization, almost as if he read “Did I Miss Anything?”, and decided that he doesn’t want to be like cliche in th poem anymore. He now knows that he needs to get his act together and start doing the work assigned, and take part in his studies. Jordan has already matured and you can tell that he is now taking the right path of caring about his education and having pride and ambition towards learning inside and outside the classroom.
I work with this foundation called the Andy Foundation which is a foundation that was made after the death of my best friends little brother. The foundation helps fund for childcare in hospitals and donate money for numerous machines and surgeries for those who can’t afford it. When I was home two weeks ago, I worked with the Andy Foundation and Kaboom, which helps build playground equipment for children. I was a group leader in the building of a playground for an autistic center for children near where I live. We spend two full days building a complete playground with the foundation and all. Companies from all over contributed there services, as well as the people in the community. When you see big construction workers and business contractor’s giving up there time for this, it really made me realize that there are people out there that care.
As a group leader I was in charge of a group people who worked on a certain part of the playground. When all was said and done, we had a ceremony of the opening the playground for the children. A state senator also came by to deliver a check of $250,000 too the center, which blew everyone’s mind. We got to see these children who are hard of showing emotions, smiling at the playground we have developed. This brought tears to everyone’s eyes and it certainly made me happy. After doing the job I had this feeling that nobody could take away from me. I was on cloud 9 with the expression’s I saw on these children and there parents faces. They were so appreciative of what we did and that brought joy to me and everyone who worked on it. This feeling was indescribable, but it is a feeling that we should all feel in our lives of self-worth and charity. The Jesuit tradition of the community coming together was a prime example of this project. Helping out those in need is one of the main goals of Jesuit tradition. What I got out of doing this project was more then just the service, but a realization that doing something good makes you and others feeling better and in ways that you can’t get anywhere else. This feeling alone should get people to do more for there community and it sure has gotten me to do more.
Tracy Kidder, non-fiction author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Mountains beyond Mountains, wrote about his travels in Haiti with the famous Dr. Paul Farmer. In Kidder’s speech, he began by describing the uncommon circumstances that Dr. Farmer experienced while growing up. Ranging from living with five brothers and sisters on a bus and later on a boat, Dr. Farmer lived out the beginning years of his life without common luxuries such as running water, or a couch to sleep on. Later, Dr. Farmer became a Duke University graduate with degrees ranging in literature to anthropology. However, this is a perfect example which proves Dr. Farmer’s mission, which states that such circumstances do not need to determine the course of life.
Dr. Farmer initially became interested and involved with the Haitian lifestyle, while he was observing the poor and dominantly Haitian, migrant workers of North Carolina. His main concern was that these people seemed so hidden from his life at Duke, which sparked an interest in him to attempt to help. Dr. Farmer, at the age of twenty-two, then decided to volunteer at a hospital in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. His main interests were primarily composed with improving medicine and anthropology.
Kidder remarked on a key memory in which he recalls a doctor from the United States who decided to abandon a pregnant Haitian woman suffering from malaria, because the hospital could not supply blood for the necessary transfusion. Kidder said that Farmer was in tears and distraught over this, and the fact that the doctor could be so indifferent to this woman’s cause. Farmer claimed that “we are all human,” and all deserve the right to life, at all costs. Dr. Farmer then decided to ask for donations for blood transfusion equipment, and was appalled when he found out that the hospital then decided to charge money for the services. This example clearly shows Dr. Farmers utter ambition to help the common people of society, and to give the poor and the suffering justice in the world, much like the mission of the Jesuits.
Poverty and sickness go hand-in-hand together, and Dr. Farmer felt a responsibility to attempt to eliminate some of this in Haiti. At age twenty-seven, he founded a small public charity, Partners in Health. Tom White, friend of farmer, and wealthy owner of a construction business in Boston, was the number one donator to the charity. Partners in Health was created with the aim to help fight Tuberculosis in Haiti, Russia, Mexico and Peru. As a result, nine clinics were built, and nine more were reconstructed. Currently employing 2,000 Haitians, Partners in Health now helps to build homes, promote education and schooling, as well as providing food and clean water to the impoverished.
Dr. Farmer helped to promote justice in Haiti through personal sacrifice, and as Kidder said, “Farmer does not expect people to aim to do what he has done, he understands that people can’t, but hopes that they will try.” In contrast, Kidder also stated, “I have never wanted to be Farmer, I feel like I have contributed something through this book, and through speaking at different campuses world-wide.” Dr. Farmer calls the readers attention to the mass poverty in the world, and consistently reminds us that we are all equally deserving human beings.
Now Rwanda, Africa has been graced with Dr. Farmer’s presence, where he is currently living and working to help fight the AIDS epidemic. Although Dr. Farmer is not a Jesuit, I believe that he has fully been living his life according to their mission to promote justice. As a whole, Kidder’s novel clearly portrayed the need for people to reach out and offer their assistance to those who are less fortunate. Dr. Farmer has gone well beyond reaching out, and moreover, he has shown that it only takes one determined person to make a difference for many.
Event Analysis 10/24/07
Last week when I attended my service learning at Guilford Elementary School I was very moved when I saw myself bringing a Jesuit ideal to life. I remembered sitting with a boy named Robert who refused to do his work because he was “going to fail anyway.” It was then that I brought everything I had in order to teach him. I witnessed firsthand what it meant for me to bring my whole self to whatever I was doing. This week however, I witnessed what happens when you only “show up.”
When I walked into my fifth grade classroom I went straight up to Mrs. Smith to find out what the plans were for the day. She explained to me that the students would be collecting and organizing papers. Although this sounded easy, she informed me that many of them would need my help. She was absolutely correct. When the class got quiet, Mrs. Smith chose a couple of students to help her pass out portfolios and graded papers. I spent much of my time helping the students at my table and they were very eager to help on another. It was at this moment that I started to see what happens when you don’t bring forth your entire self each and every day.
Many students had questions for Mrs. Smith as they put together their portfolios. I told them that before they asked her, they could come to me. They did so but there will still questions that even I did not know the answer to. When they went up to Mrs. Smith to ask their questions, it was as if they were talking to a wall. She did not care that she was being spoken to and she did not do much to help anyone out. Instead, she sat at her desk and did what she needed to get done for the day. I took it upon myself to organize the student’s portfolios and before class was dismissed I told Mrs. Smith what I had done. Again, it seemed like she didn’t care. She had an attitude as though she had to be in school. She did nothing to help her students out and had no intention of changing the way she was.
After seeing this behavior, I realized how important it is to love what you do. It was very clear that Mrs. Smith was in the wrong place. Like the Jesuits, I discovered how essential it is to do both service and to bring your whole person while doing so. For these fifth graders at Guilford, this service learning program is sometimes some of the best education they receive. It allows them to work with other students as well as Loyola teachers and really get work done. Times when we are not there, many students get very little done. Especially in a classroom like Mrs. Smith’s, students do not get any instruction and therefore never have the drive to succeed. I feel very privileged that I can be one of those people that help to make a difference and I hope to continue throughout my years at Loyola.
Not being familiar with your surroundings can be extremely scary and nerve-racking. This past Saturday I participated in a Mission Mobtown trip. At one o’clock I went to the meeting place behind Boulder not knowing what to expect. They told us to make teams of three, so my friend Sam and I partnered up with this other freshman, Natalie. We got on the bus, headed to Federal Hill, and the Mission Mobtown coordinator distributed the packets and Polaroid cameras. Our assignment was to gather information and take pictures of how age defines Federal Hill. Our first impression was that our topic was easy. Oh how we were wrong.
We got off the bus in front of the American Visionary Arts Museum. Instead of heading straight, like everyone else, Natalie decided to lead us down towards Key Highway. There was a great deal of construction across from us so we took a few pictures. We figured that by taking pictures of new buildings and old ones we would complete our assignment. Walking for a while, Sam and I noticed that the area was getting more and more run down and we began to feel uncomfortable. Finally out of the corner of my eye I saw the spire of what we figured was an old Church. We changed our route hoping to land there because we believed it would be very helpful.
As we walked towards the Church, we came across an older woman sitting on her stoop. First we asked her if she lived here, and her automatic response was “Yea, why who are you looking for?” Not only did her answer make me feel unwelcome, but also she did not give off a good first impression. Sam asked her some questions and we moved along.
Finally we reached the Church. We went inside hoping to find someone who could tell us the history of it, but it was empty. We were about to walk out when a woman appeared at of nowhere and asked us if she could help us. We asked her if she knew any history of the Church, but she quickly said, “No, I don’t know anything,” while walking towards the front of the Church and going into another room. This situation was creepy. I felt like I was in a scary movie and the Church doors were going to shut behind us. We all looked at each other and hurried out.
At three we got back to our meeting place and everyone had good things to say about their experience. I felt different. Some parts of Federal Hill were very nice, but others were not. From the start I was uncomfortable not knowing where I was, and to add to this feeling the people we encountered were mean and unhelpful. Also, the three of us did not find out as much information about our topic as we would of liked. I wish I had a better experience from Mission Mobtown; however, it was helpful because now I am familiar with Federal Hill.
I can relate my Mission Mobtown experience with the Jesuit idea of learning through experience. In addition, the Jesuits believe it is important to be familiar with Baltimore and our surroundings. Before participating in Mission Mobtown I had never been to Federal Hill. I have visited the Inner Harbor many times, but that is only one aspect of the city. By walking around and exploring Federal Hill, I got to see a different view of Baltimore. Unlike the Inner Harbor, it is a neighborhood where people live. Although I did not have the most pleasant experience, looking back it was well worth my time. I will be living in this city for the next four years, so it is important that I get out and learn more about it. Therefore, experiences like Mission Mobtown are the best way to learn.
Being that I am not a first year student and did not read the common text, I went into this lecture with no expectations. Mr. Kidder was a very poised speaker with a lot of important points to discuss about his novel, which I learned was written about a real life character, Paul Farmer. The man who introduced Kidder explained that his book began with inspiration from a difficult Harvard professor; this immediately reminded me of “Fork,” the poem we read about finding inspiration from those who may not motivate you in a positive manner.
Mr. Tracy Kidder went on to explain a brief synopsis of his novel, helping those such as myself who had not read it. He then explained the character of Paul and how he may not have had the best upbringing as a child. Kidder added that the way you were brought up cannot help but to shape you, however, you do not have to let it make you who you are. This was just what Paul did in his great life achievements. I found this comment particularly striking in that many people who may act out in their lives or not lead a very moral life tend to blame it on their unfortunate upbringings.
As Kidder continued to explain Paul’s story, he included how Paul took full advantage of his four years in college by being very active and indulging in various types of classes. Kidder then joked that he may have wasted his college years on partying and being lazy, and how looking back he wished he’d spent it the way Paul did. Kidder explained that it was Paul’s curiosity that lead him to learn new things in college, and that curiosity is a great thing, where all adventures begin. It was then this same curiosity that lead Paul to learn of Haiti, where his story flourishes.
After his college graduation, Paul went to Haiti for a year to volunteer at a hospital. It was in this first trip that Paul witnessed horrifying poverty and a pregnant woman in need of a blood transfusion that was denied because she did not have the funds. This realization that poor people, in a sense, do not have as much of a right to live as rich people, is what snowballed Paul’s program to what it is today. Paul then raised funding back in the states to but that hospital equipment for blood transfusions. From this first donation to now, years later, Paul has helped countless people in numerous poverty-stricken countries across the globe.
As impressed as I was with all of Paul’s accomplishments, one factor stuck out to me particularly. Whenever I hear of people with great life achievements I always think I’m too young to contribute like these people do. This is definitely not the case, Paul was only twenty-two years old when he started all of this, and I am just three years younger than that. This made me realize that it is never too early to start making a difference, and if we all of this mindset, our generation will never make the improvements for our world that we need to.
Mr. Kidder also proved a good point in the latter half of his discussion. He explained that the monumentally good works done by Paul and his people in Haiti prove that no problem is too big or too expensive. This is a common misconception that so many of us have about worldly problems, specifically that of AIDS.
This lecture reminded me a lot of our class discussion about service and experience. I think that Paul’s experience in Haiti is what caused him to do all the great things he did and to help all the people he has, and continues to help. This brought me back to the idea that simply hearing someone say there is severe poverty in the world, or reading about it in books, it will never become real until you see it and experience it for yourself.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
In Julia Alavarez’s “Queens, 1963” a black family’s freedom is tested. The community is made up of diverse immigrants, each relocating to Queens because their freedom was limited and questioned. However, once a new ‘different’ family joins the neighborhood, the community (including the speaker herself) judges the new family. The community as a whole is being hypocritical, to judge the new family. The people of Queens now show the same characteristics of the enemies of their origins, showing a complete circle of racism and segregation. At the end of the poem you get a sense of regret towards the prejudice she showed the new family. Reflecting back on the incident, the speaker understands that everyone has the right to freedom.
In the poem “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes, a 22 colored male is questioning his place in society. He starts off by stating instructions given by his teacher, a paper on him. The teacher oversimplifies the complex topic, which annoys the speaker because the paper is so general and intricate. The speaker reveals who he is through an external description and then gets lost in the complexity of the assignment. This confusion and chaos shows that he is still trying to find his ‘freedom’, when he reflects on the topic it shows that he is just like the teacher in a way that he is American, and holds the same rights as the instructor.
Again, in “Fork” by Jeffrey Harrison, a student is angry towards a professor because the student is on the road to finding himself. The student shows his anger by taking a fork as a symbol of motivation, and succeeds with out the aid of the teacher. In the end the student fought through the bad to get to the good, just like in Lucille Clifton’s “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school). Clifton saw herself in a present day Baltimore high school student because just like in Clifton’s time of segregation, she survived the ‘jungle’ and the Baltimore girl was in the same position as Lucille Clifton was in at her age, battling the ‘jungle’ of a public school.
| The main theme in each of the poems for this week is the idea of conformity. In each of these poems the speakers refuse to conform to what the majority believes to be acceptable. And, because of that they have grown stronger.|
In Julia Alvarez’s “Queens, 1963” the poet touches on the issues of race and racism during the early 1960s. The speaker is a young girl who has just moved to this country from the Dominican Republic. She observes her street in Queens which is filled with different ethnicities and takes note of how the block reacts when a black family moves in. Throughout the poem the speaker listens as her neighbors, who do not consider themselves directly racist, complain about the problems that have moved in along with the black family. Line 51 best illustrates this point “Too bad the world works this way.” This line is ironic because the neighbors who are saying this are “the world.” They are the people who dictate how the world works and they have the power to change that as well. Yet, they fear change despite the fact that they themselves have also felt ostracized from the “American norm” as well. The poem ends with a very powerful message. It reminds us that we are all foreigners to this country and that there is no “right kind of American” there is only American. I also feel that it ends on a positive note. Because the poem is told from the point of view of a child who sees the flaws in her neighbors logic it leads the reader to believe that she will not continue these ways and will break the cycle of fear and hate in the future.
Langston Hughes “Theme for English B” also deals with the idea of race and acceptance of differences. This poem, however, not only celebrates our differences it also celebrates our similarities. The speaker is a black student at an all white college who was given the assignment in class to write what is true. The speaker does not want to be seen as a black student but rather just as a student. What is “true” is that he likes many of the same things as his peers despite their obvious differences. His race may define what he is, but it does not define who he is. The poem sends the message that although we might not realize it and sometimes deny it, we are all a part of each other. No matter what race we are, we are all a part of the human race. Therefore our actions, ideas, and emotions affect all people we encounter not matter where they come from.
Lucille Clifton also tackles the issues that face a black student at an all white school in her poem “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school).” The speaker is a girl who is chastised by her fellow students because she is black. She is described is described as a “jungle girl” and a “snake” both very unflattering terms by any measure. The speaker, however, turns these words around by describing herself as “bright” and “shinning.” At the end of the poem she realizes that because of the torment she receives at school she has not only survived, but grown stronger.
Jeffrey Harrison’s “Fork” deals with a different kind of acceptance; creative acceptance. The speaker of this poem was discouraged by a college professor because his work was different and because he did not conform to his teacher’s will and become another “disciple.” He was called “hopeless.” The speaker did not let this get him down, instead he used this negative energy to fuel his drive even more. This motivation manifests itself in the material form of the fork he stole from his professor’s home. He kept it for a long time, first using it to taunt his teacher, then using it a as a reminder of those who doubted him. Years go by and eventually he realizes that because he did not conform he has become successful. Once he is satisfied, he finds no more need for the fork which has been the symbol of his drive. He realizes that it is time for him to let go of his grudge, “It has served its purpose.” It has helped him work very hard to achieve great things and now, he is sending it back to the teacher. In reality this teacher has given him more than even the most encouraging teacher could have ever offered. By not believing in the speaker, the speaker was forced to believe in himself that much more. And because of that he has led a happy and fruitful life.
Jesuits believe that we must not love and serve others in spite of their differences, but because of them. Whether these differences are economic, racial, or creative we must embrace them and realize that they are what make each of us unique. By not conforming we are serving God by saying that we accept that we were made in His image and likeness and we will use our differences to do God’s work.
Lucile Clifton’s “this morning for the girls of eastern high school” is a poem about a black girl who is seen as awkward and different because of her race. Eastern High must have been a predominately all white school. Although her classmates referred to her as the “jungle girl” and gave her such negative descriptions of her (quick as a snake) she was still able not only to meet herself, but survive. She did not let the girls break her.
Julia Alvarez’s “Queens, 1963” is about a young girl who not too long ago moved on an all white street. Just like the Italians and the Jews who moved on before her something about each new group of people was never quite right enough for the street. Because we are all American, we all did not belong and now people who were once immigrants are able to define who is American enough. Not blacks, not Germans, not Dominicans and not anyone really. The people on the street in this poem are hypocrites because they once were in the same position as the new people being followed around by the police, but since they have adapted a little more easily they are now above what once defined them, difference.
The poem “Fork” by Jeffery Harrison is about a student who had an awful teacher, and the student’s rebellion. By stealing a fork from the teachers home, the student is able to get back at the teacher. Not only does the student steal the fork but also mocks the teacher by capturing the fork on film in various places around Europe. The teacher would never accept the student or any student to be anything but a student. Not a thinker, not a writer, not a visionary but a just a student. What the teacher forgot is that students too become award winning writers. The teacher was selfish and didn’t want the attention to shift from her writing to the students so she tore every student to pieces to keep them down. Like in the Clifton poem the speaker does not let society restrain them. The student survived and thrived. The point of all of the readings is to say that we are all survivors and we are all important. The Jesuit ideal is to say that we are all created in the image of God and even when people forget your worth, you cannot.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
In Hughes’ “Theme for English B”, the speaker is struggling with his identity as being an African American in a historically African American setting, Harlem, but being surrounded by people who he cannot share the same immense pride of belonging to the place with because of their race. Yet, through writing, he realizes that there is continuity between races in America, and that the single difference should not be a huge barrier between races. He writes, “You are white---/yet a part of me, as I am a part of you./That's American.” This signifies the relationship that can be built between different races in America based on their common history and ties to the country.
Lucille Clifton’s “This morning (for the girls of eastern high school)” presents us with another challenge of racial identity in an environment that is seemingly unsupportive of the speaker’s minority. In the poem, the speaker is taunted because she is of a different race than the other girls. She is compared to primitive things, such as “bright/jungle girl” and “quick as a snake”. Although others view her as less than a fully functional human being, the speaker manages to get through the day because she holds fast to her own identity in the face of immense opposition.
Julia Alverez’s “Queens, 1963” also deals with the struggle of identity in a diverse environment. The speaker feels as though each diverse family cannot find a place living together because they do not have anything in common when in actuality, all of the families moved to the United States to better their lives. This alone, the speaker finds, is what connects all of the families in Queens, regardless of their ethnicity or racial background.
Jeffrey Harrison’s “Fork” presents us with a different type of struggle not based on race, but based on the prejudice of a teacher in writing styles. The teacher believes that the students will not become good writers because they are not writing within the vision that the teacher has created. The student has trouble finding his or her identity as a writer because the teacher has constantly belittled the student. This is apparent in lines 4-5 when Harrison writes, “because you told me over and over, in front of the class,/that I was "hopeless," that I was wasting my time/but more importantly yours, that I just didn’t get it.” Eventually, the speaker finds a way to get past the prejudice of the teacher and find his own identity within writing apart from what the teacher thinks is valuable.
The poem “Fork” by Jeffery Harrison is written from the perspective of an adult man reflecting back on his years as a student and how they shaped his future. The speaker has a negative tone in the first stanza when reflects back his professor in college, who he despised at the time but with time has realized that this particular teacher had the biggest impact on the person he became. The tone of the speaker in lines 1-24 is that he has been defeated and beat down on as a student. This teacher who is not named but clearly not forgotten is reveal as an award winning writer who has a knack for tedious detail and unbelievably high standards for his students. When the speaker says “the fork was my prize” he is bragging to the teacher, so happy that he stole the fork without the teacher noticing. The instant the speaker grabs the fork in line 25 the tone of the poem bursts into energy “spurring” the speaker on. The teacher is mentally and physically present “in dozens of moves, and changes” in the student’s life.
The poem “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)” by Lucille Clifton is about a young school aged girl who goes to school and finds herself. The poem can be interpreted that a girl finds another girl who is like her, “tree girl a me girl I met myself” or as a girl who has found the confidence in herself not to care what others think of her. The speaker of the poem has finally found someone who will not judge her. “I survive survive survive” can be interpretation as a sudden relief of not feeling so out of place and with the security of her new friend or her new self confidence, she will make it through school.
In the Langston Hughes poem, “Theme for English B” the speaker dives deep into the realities of societal life in Harlem and the race difference inside and outside of the classroom. The well known busy bustle life of the predominantly African American neighborhood described by Hughes allows the tone of the poem to reflect the fast pace life style. In line 25 the student speaker says “I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races” acknowledging the racism in the classroom and in life. The poem’s underline message is that we are all parts of each other. The different races might enjoy different things but we all are individuals and we are all who we want to be. Races can separate people if they let them but people from different races can learn something from one another.
The poem “Queen,1963” by Julia Alvarez also deals with the hardships of coming into a new country and facing racism face on during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The melting pot of races and religions in America are all trying to find their niche in society. It’s ironic that the Jews, Greeks, Dominican are segregating the African Americans when they were once in the same position. The speaker describes the terrible discrimination in a free America.
The themes of seeking approval and race are weaved throughout the four poems assigned for this week. In life, we all desire to feel accepted and each speaker in these works face obstacles regarding rejection and judgment. In Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B”, an African American student struggles for approval from his white teacher. The student writes the poem in response to his teacher’s seemingly impossible assignment, which asks him to write a page that tells the truth. The student writes about his life and the way he has been treated not only in school, but in society. His writing is meant to convey the message that even those his skin is a different color, his likes and beliefs may not be so different from those with white skin. The student’s “page for English B” gives him the opportunity to express his mind and reveal his emotions. He believes it is possible for a white man to learn from a black man, and in the reverse order as well because they can understand the opposite perspectives. The student wants the teacher to realize that although they are different, they are the same because they are both American. He expresses this idea by saying “You are white—yet a part of me, as I am part of you, / That’s American.”
Jeffrey Harrison’s “Fork” focuses on a student’s journey in becoming a writer, despite a lack of faith from a college professor. Since the student does not receive approval from this particular teacher, he steals a fork from the professor’s home during a class dinner there. As years pass after the theft, the student uses the fork as revenge towards the teacher, by traveling throughout Europe with the utensil, snapping pictures among monuments and mailing them back to the professor. At the end of the poem, the student realizes that the fork has “served its purpose” and mails it back to the professor. The student does this in order to prove the teacher’s doubts wrong regarding the student’s writing abilities.
In Lucille Clifton’s “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school), the speaker discusses being an outcast in school. She addresses the fact that she is an individual and of a different race, including the fact that she has flaws. He recognizes she is a “tall tree girl” and “a black bell” which describes her physical features and how she will “survive” with them because without these qualities, she would not be herself.
Julia Alvarez’s “Queens, 1963” involves how a mixture of races and ethnicities leads to conflict and challenges. The idea of “fitting in” also plays an important role in the poem. Each diverse family had moved to America for freedom and, although they had arrived at their new home, their racial background had prevented them from attaining the freedom that they dreamed about.
Being able to look at a person based on qualities and capabilities rather than appearance has become a complicated topic in society for a long time. Many times, people assume another person’s behavior and beliefs based on the way they look externally. Approval is not easily conquered by many, since society tends to hold such extreme standards and expectations. The idea of success, achievement, and proving someone wrong shows that anything is possible; it just depends on what lies on the inside.
Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B,” Lucille Clifton’s “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school),” Julia Alvarez’s “Queens, 1963,” and Jeffery Harrison’s “Fork” all share the theme of individuals trying to fit in and find their place. I found that the three poems “Theme for English B,” “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school),” and “Queens, 1963” specifically deal with acceptance based on racial and ethnic issues. While, Harrison’s poem “Fork” discusses the same topic, but dealing more with the acceptance of oneself.
In “Theme for English B” the speaker, an African American student, is given an assignment by his white teacher to write a page, “And let that page come out of you—Then, it will be true” (lines 4-5). The speaker writes about being African American, and similarities he and people of different races share. Also, how even though him and his teacher are different colors they are still equals. He says they are part of each other because they are both Americans. The page he wrote allowed him to realize that he does fit in and that he is not all that different because he is black.
Clifton’s short poem “this morning (for the girls of eastern high)” tells how an African American girl discovers herself. At the start of the poem the speaker is “bright” and “shining”. However, towards the end she is trying to survive. Clifton puts emphasis on lines 3 and 12 by repeating the phrase “I met myself.” This shows that by the end of the poem the speaker recognized where she stood in society as an African American.
“Queens, 1963” shows the acceptance into society based on different races and ethnicities. In this poem, Alvarez discusses the multi-cultural block she lived on as a kid in Queens. Despite all the different cultures on her block everyone became alert when the African American family moved in. Cops patrolled the street and rumors spread. For this African American family fitting in would be extremely difficult.
The speaker in “Fork” describes how he found his place as a writer with the help of a fork, which he stole from his teacher, who he despised. He writes this letter telling the teacher how the fork helped him get to where he is today, but now he does not need it anymore so he is sending it back. This is when the speaker finally accepts himself.
Whether it’s within society or within oneself, these four poems all relate through acceptance. Like all the speakers in the poems at one time or another we have to face being accepted and find out where we belong.
The struggle for equality and acceptance is evident in “Theme for English B”, where an African American student is assigned by his white teacher to write a paper based on what is true to him. He struggles with this assignment because he likes and does the same things as a white man, but the world will still view the two men differently. The student wants to be accepted and understood as a person, more importantly an American, and not judged by his color.
The same type of acceptance is expressed in “Queens, 1963”. A young immigrant discusses the racial diversity growing up in her neighborhood in Queens. The main conflict revolves around the story of a new African American family that has just moved in across the street, in which each diverse family has a different reaction to the newcomers. Each family seems to be too worried about themselves and does not want to accept the other families because the only thing they see is their nationalities. It is obvious to the reader that the speaker is also aware of the problem of acceptance, when in line 23 she discusses how whites and blacks get along in a different town. This informs us of the apparent cultural inequality in the neighborhood. In both “Queens, 1963” and “Theme for English B”, the speakers plead for unity and acceptance of all humans, no matter where they come from or what they look like.
“this morning (for the girls of eastern high school” continues with the theme of acceptance, but deals more with acceptance of one’s own self. One morning, a young, black female finally accepts herself for who she is, and not what others see her as. She realizes that even if others see her one way, she is going to disregard their opinions and be the person she really is. In “Fork”, a grown man reminisces of his past actions of revenge on someone who did not accept him. The speaker talks about his negative teacher from his childhood, whose opinion influences almost every action of his life. The teacher once told him that he was hopeless and would never write, and as revenge he stole an elegant fork from her house. He lived the rest of his life with her opinion and fork constantly controlling his thoughts. One day, a question from his daughter made him realize that he doesn’t have to prove himself to her at all, and only has to prove to himself what he is capable of doing. He finally comes to terms with who he is. Both of the characters in “this morning” and “Fork” throw away the opinions and acceptance of others, and start living for themselves.
The plead for acceptance and equality in all of these poems is an issue we deal with everyday. We must realize that everyone is different and unique, but we must treat everybody with respect and equality because we are all humans. First though, you must accept yourself. Otherwise, you will struggle your whole life with accepting others, and will never look past what is just on the outside.
Julia Alvarez’s piece, “
Similarly to Alvarez’s poem, Langston Hughes piece, “Theme for English B”, deals with race relations during the civil rights movement. Although his poem is written in the beginning the momentum is still evident. Just as stream of consciousness gives the reader a view into the writer’s thoughts the development of this poem does the same. The speaker, Hughes himself, is better able to include the reader through this use of style. By naming specific, well known cities, Hughes gives the reader a concrete background through which to understand the point of his piece, that the role of race in everyday life is still unclear.
“Fork”, Jeffrey Harrison’s piece, deals with people’s relations without discussing race. The poem was written in 2003, as opposed to Hughes’ and Alvarez’s poems. However the underlying idea is still the role that other people can play in your own life. Forks are used to eat and are therein tied to a necessity in human existence. The teacher’s fork, though, is silver and frivolous. Instead of stealing the fork to use for its intended purpose the speaker uses the fork as decoration, to make a statement. The speaker is looking back on his time as a student, and reflecting on it. Instead of contemplating racial relations the speaker is examining student-teacher roles; the effect of the actions of someone holding power towards someone without power.
Written after the civil rights movement, but before modern racial relations, Lucille Clifton’s, “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)”, is a simple reflection piece. While the other pieces tended to be quite lengthy and tending to a narrative form of poetry this piece uses the freedom of poetic structure fully. By using direct repetition
Though these pieces were all written at different times they can nonetheless relate to modern urban life. The civil rights movement may have officially ended and we are living in a theoretically well developed country but still racial relations are tense and grey. These writings call on the reader to reflect and attempt to internalize their diverse experiences, in order eventually gain progress.
Blog # 6:
Being an outcast and being looked down upon because of one’s ethnicity or race are the two major themes which are portrayed in “Theme for English B”, “Queens, 1963”, “Fork”, and “This morning (for the girls of eastern high school)”. Not being accepted because on ones color is something which many minorities including African Americans had to deal with after coming to the United States. Another hardship endured was being an outcast, which is not being included in regular day activities or simply being thought of as lost in the world.
In the poem by Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”, the narrator, a twenty-two year old student is given a writing assignment for his English class and feels that no matter how well it is done, since he is the only black person in the class it will not be good enough. The student also feels that no matter how well his paper is written it will still be written from a minority in the class and therefore the student feels as if everyone including the teacher is racist. An example of this is shown in lines 25 and 26: “I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races.” Similarly, in Julia Alvarez’s poem, “Queens, 1963”, the narrator talks about the hardships of coming to the United States and being placed in a diverse neighborhood, but still have to deal with racism with the coming of a new family to the neighborhood; African Americans. The racism portrayed in this poem like in “Theme for English B”, describe how horrible racism really was even in America during this time period.
In Jeffrey Harrison’s poem, “Fork”, and in Lucille Clifton’s poem, “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school), we can see from the narrator’s point of view that being an outcast in the United States as well as being a minority was a very hard fact to overcome. In Lucille’s poem the narrator is compared with the jungle meaning that she was maybe not the best looking girl along with being tall as a jungle tree and having to deal with survival, being black. In Harrison’s poem, “Fork”, the narrator believes that he can succeed, but because he doesn’t receive the normal attention that any teacher should give to their students, he feels as if he is an outcast in the class. To overcome his problem, the narrator feels that in order to succeed he has to keep his fork which represent the many changes currently occurring in order to overcome his challenges.
Thus, in “Theme for English B”, “Queens, 1963”, “Fork”, and “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school), the issues of racism and being an outcast in a new country are portrayed. These are problems which still occur to this very day; however, if we use our Jesuit values incorporated in our lives, these problems can be avoided and every person therefore would be accepted for who they are as God created them.
In the poem “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school)” by Lucille Clifton shows the view of African American women who was one of a few in a predominantly white high school. The poem shows her life with so few words. These few powerful words showed her courageous attitude and her strong sense of self. She is who she is and no one can take it away from her. In the end of the poem she shows her excitement of passing the test of survival. The survival is through the perception of those who didn’t except her. This woman is just one of many who have gone through the same thing during this time of inequality.
In the “Fork” by Jeffrey Harrison, he shows his perception of this teacher he had. This poem show a narrow minded teacher who only accepts there way of writing. His different style makes him different from this teacher and maybe the class. This poem shows that there is more then one way of looking at something. There isn’t just a black and white, but there are other colors. Just like there are different views and perceptions, he escapes this so called normal style. The fork that he steals from her house seems to have taught him more then what the teacher ever did. The fork represents different culture and how no one person is alike just like in writing. Everyone has there own style and beliefs and has the freedom to write about it through there own eyes and not through a normal standard view.
Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B” represents how he sees the world and how we should see the world. He is assigned to write a paper and let the truth come out. He talks about how he eats and falls in love just like everyone else. This shows that he has a view of equality that others didn’t share with him. He is as part of America as much as the professor. Hughes shows that he is not a one sided man. Whites and blacks can learn from each other whether they like it or not. America is the land of the free and a boiling pot of cultural views. We as Americans should as a true American accept these beliefs of equality and freedom. This poem really nails the views of what our world should be.
In Julia Alvarez’s “Queens, 1963” is the view through a little Latino girl’s eyes of the forming of the boiling pot on a street in Queens. Her first hand account really shows the way of life in the early 60’s and how different culture lived together. Each religion and race that has landed in America on this street is trying to belong, but there is a feeling that that she describes in the poem that she and these other culture will never feel like a real American. This one trait that makes them not feel like a true American is of freedom in this country.
These poems have a main view of an outsider looking in. they show this view to us in the way of there writings and help us see what they see. The Jesuit tradition accepts all kinds and different views. Jesuits feel a need to learn about other culture and learn from other people weather they be purple or green. We as a Jesuit community treat everyone as we would treat ourselves and our family. Jesuits are color blind to all race’s and religion and accept all who live in this world. Jesuits have a worldly view of equality and all of those in need.
Racial diversity and segregation may cause individuals to look deep within to find who they truly are, and to furthermore block out the negative and ignorant views of society. “Queens, 1963,” written by Julia Alvarez, is a poem in which the speaker depicts her childhood experiences as an immigrant living in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Queens, New York. The speaker’s memories are primarily composed of the effects that her ethnicity directly had on her life and her moreover, on her writing. The speaker writes “they’d come a long way to be free!” (line 19). This line is stated to show the desire for many to escape tension, and experience lives of liberty and justice. An important aspect to look to when reading this particular poem, is the time in which it was written, 1963, a period universally known for racial tension and protest such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Just as segregation dominated the nation as a whole during this time period, the speaker suggests that it also was directly evident in her particular neighborhood in Queens, and was therefore, was difficult to escape.
Consequently, Langston Hughes’ poem, “Theme of English B,” focuses on the barriers placed on individuals in society as a result of their race. The speaker discusses the factors that race places on people living in contemporary American societies. The reader is called to use deep insight to find the hidden message found beneath the poem’s careful end rhymes and intricate structure. It can also be beneficial to recall that Langston Hughes played a key role in the Harlem Renaissance, and was also an advocate in the Civil Rights Movement. In both poems the speakers convey personal experiences and troubles, and as a result allow the reader to capture a piece of their life, through the development of the underlying message of the poem. The uses of historical events are developed to portray its effects on the many perspectives in society.
The Jesuits call individuals in society to use service and other related experiences to develop a deeper self-awareness, and a clearer and more humble perception of oneself. This mission for justice and an enhanced society and individual, is prevalent in Jeffery Harrison’s poem, “Fork.” In the poem, the speaker describes a personal encounter with a malevolent teacher whose criticism directly affected his life. As means for revenge, the speaker steals an engraved fancy silver fork from the teacher’s home, and uses it to spite her, and to prove himself a capable and successful writer. In closing the speaker says, “You might even say your fork made me a writer. Not you, your fork” (line 59-60). The speaker meant that he did not let the teachers harsh and critical words get the best of him, that he used the fork as a way to find himself as a writer, and sent it back to her when he accomplished this for himself, out of spite.
In Lucille Clifton’s, “this morning (for the girls of eastern high school),” the speaker of the poem is an African American girl who describes the process of how one morning, she found her inner self. The title of the poem can infer that this is often a hard process to come by, and that may have been the reason why Clifton dedicated the poem to the girls of her high school. However, the speaker seems to celebrate this coming into awareness with oneself, and in the last line she repeats the phrase “I survive” (line 19-21).
The main message in all four of the poems analyzed is that of self-awareness, and the factors that influence individuals to see themselves on a deeper level than society commonly observes on the surface. As readers, we should consider looking to the belief of the Jesuits and their universal encouragement to prove and find our individual selves. Through the processes of motivation to reach out and overlook the barriers and generalizations placed on us by society, we all have the power to overcome any prejudice, burden or discouragement encountered.