Participando en la Comunidad

Absorbing the options of EngageDC on the handout provided in class, I flipped back and forth through the pages over and over again.  This was a whole semester-long commitment to volunteer somewhere; I wanted to choose wisely so that I would not regret my decision.  I did not want to be a tutor.  I have been an active tutor for kids whose first language is Spanish through my high school’s chapter of the National Spanish Honors Society, and tutoring just is not my style.  When I go in with the goal of tutoring, I usually end up having given the student a life lesson instead of helping him or her with a necessary homework assignment.  This may have been useless academically to the student, but they appreciated how I was able to connect with them on a deeper-than-homework level.  It also showed me that I have the capacity and talent to bond one-on-one with students.  Seeing “Social Media Intern” made me think I would be able to form close relationships with students from different backgrounds than myself but actually accomplish my assignments.  Upon seeing that it was through the Latin American Youth Center, I got excited because I would be able to out my language skills to use.

The position there that I kept getting drawn to was “Social Media Intern”.  I love to work with photography-honestly, if I was not majoring in International Affairs, I would be studying photojournalism-, so I finally stopped flipping through the pages and noted that the hours were very limited.  However, being that the organization was the Latin American Youth Center, I thought to myself, “Eh. Still apply for this one.  They might work with you more since you can speak Spanish fluently.”  After meeting with the site operations manager, this turned out to be accurate.  Unfortunately, I will not be the Social Media Intern because my schedule was too difficult to function with that position.  Nevertheless, something better was in store for me, and they needed me more somewhere else when I happened to be free. I get to go on Friday afternoons to the music classes and simply be a translator for the music teachers. This may sound very boring to the average Joe, but I want to become a certified translator to make extra money in university, and this could help legitimize that aspiration.  Also, I will be the only bilingual volunteer there, so I can be the bridge of trust between the students and the teacher, and that makes me feel like I am truly an important part of the process.

The element from the LAYC’s website that kept my interest the most was the picture on the home page.  It features five students of minority backgrounds.  Knowing that I will be working with students of different origins than myself motivates me more because I know I will be able to learn just as much from them as they will from me.  These students also looked genuinely happy with themselves, and currently, I am at a point in my life where I am dedicating my thought process to optimism and happiness only, so being surrounded by their peace of mind would really benefit me as well.  I think what this service learning project will bring to me is a more profound understanding of my mantra, “Unidad En Diversidad”.

 

 

 

I Know Why I March. Do You?

“Oh my God. Do you see them with them with the Hillary hats on? C’mon. The election is over, Trump is President, get over it.”  “Kaepernick is probably somewhere kneeling down hahaha.” Clearly, these Trump supporters did not agree with protesters exercising their first amendment right although this country they love so dearly was founded on the act of protesting.  Standing in front of a crowd of the most privileged people in this country -white, straight, cisgender, upperclass, able-bodied, males- on a gloomy, overcast morning and witnessing their jeers and sarcasm made me sick to my stomach.  Capitol Hill was not as crowded as I thought it would be; nevertheless, my heart felt as though a dull knife had punctured it.  Thoughts about the upcoming Women’s March on Washington were swirling around in my head faster than I could process them as I took in the scenery of the Inauguration.  I was feeling threatened even though I was around people of my own race.

In an article posted by the Independent Journal Review, veteran Bill Medler took refuge in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial during the chaos.  His message to the protesters was, “I served in the military and fought for people’s rights to be free.  I may not agree with what people are protesting, but as long as they are doing it peacefully, that’s alright by me.”  It is imperative that more people adopt this mindset.  Protesting is a form of civic engagement, which is tied directly to civil society in the establishment of a democracy.  Oftentimes, conservatives in the United States want to claim their support for the “democracy”, yet they are quick to criticize any person participating in democratic activities.  They typically regard this form of civil society as irresponsible, perilous, unnecessary, and illegitimate, but fail to provide a safe alternative to not be complacent in disagreeing.  I admit, some radical protesters make irresponsible decisions, but any rational person would understand that the majority should not be stigmatized by mistaken minority.  I respect the fact that this conservative veteran stands for cooperation.

I began to think of women of color, LGBTQ+ women, Muslim women, and all other marginalized women and how many other obstacles constantly constantly dragged their soul to the ground.  One girl I talked to on GWU’s campus said she was not going to the march. When I asked her why not, she responded, “I do not feel like marching with people who would not have uplifted my black female voice prior to this election.”  Being submerged in a sea full of ignorant, hateful enablers, I dissected exactly why I was going to the Women’s March on Washington the next day.  One reason why I marched yesterday was to show that I stand in solidarity with every woman around the world and recognize that each of our shackles are different. There are many aspects that factor into the identity of the female in the United States and elsewhere. However, many white women fail to acknowledge the intersectionality of feminism, and they constantly leave our sisters of color, of different religions, of different sexualities, etc., behind.  At the march, I remained very quiet to observe the women and allies around me.  Many white women only had posters with pictures of white women on them or posters with quotes from Susan B. Anthony on them.  Little did they care to find a quote from someone who did not uplift white women from the exploitation of women of color.  This election has quite profoundly demonstrated to world the racial, gender, and socioeconomic divisions in the United States, but the Women’s March on Washington personally showed me that white females have a lot of stretching beyond their inner circle to progress towards.  A pang of guilt and shame came to me.  With that, however, materialized my motivation to spread the importance of Intersectional Feminism.

I know why and for whom I marched.  I hope that in the future, the women with more privilege will open their eyes and stretch beyond their inner circles to embrace the unity in diversity of the female identity.  Do you march or will you march with a selfish agenda…or in solidarity?

Bibliography:

  1. Random Trump supporters
  2. independent Journal Review
  3. GWU freshman female