This is where you can see all of the things I've done so far in Watkinson's global studies program including events, meetings, zooms and many more.
In Caste by Isabel Wilkerson It helped me better understand what Caste systems were and how they affect our everyday lives. She shows us by walking through many different Caste systems, some include India, Germany and even the U.S. She shows us that each Caste system has its own major flaws. It helped me understand how times in our history such as slavery were really just Caste systems. Slavery was a time when white men were at the top of the caste system followed by white European males. Then white women and at the bottom of the system was African Americans. Through a Caste system it better helped me understand how people viewed African Americans and how they felt it justified to throw us in the cruel system of Slavery.
Another Caste system that helped me understand how Caste works is the Germany Caste system. During the Holocaust white Germans specifically with blue eyes were at the top of the Caste system. Allied white Europeans were next on the list and were still relatively high compared to who was at the bottom. At the bottom of this Caste System were Jewish people and they were mistreated because they were at the bottom so much to where they built camps just to kill Jewish people. I don’t believe that we need Caste systems and that we can live in societies where everyone is given an equal chance. While I do believe that there always has to be somebody that does the undesirable things such as being the garbage man or working at the local McDonalds I believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity. With a Caste system not everybody has the same chance and opportunity as others which leads into more often then not members of the lower Caste picking up these undesirable jobs. However without a Caste system everyone can have the same opportunities and that is something that can work for everyone.
ADL Walk Against Hate
I’m gonna be honest, when I first volunteered for the ADL walk against hate I came into the day thinking that it was just gonna be volunteering and nothing else but boy was I wrong. During the amazing speeches that I heard before the beginning of the walk I heard two speeches that truly changed the way I thought about it and genuinely made me happy to be there. The two speeches in particular made me feel like I was really part of ADL and it’s goal to end the hate. Even though this was the first time I did any sort of work with ADL they made me feel so welcome that it felt like I worked with ADL on a regular basis. The two speeches I’m talking about were the speeches by Ellie Cooper and Art Miller. It was amazing hearing the perspective of Emit Till’s death and it’s impact by someone who was close to him. It was also incredible hearing from Ellie Cooper who moved to the country as a immigrant and got adopted by two lesbian parents.
The volunteer work itself was also great as I found myself early on in the day at a position which I hadn’t even signed up for. I went to go check on my friend who was managing the parking lots but it turned out some of it was more then one person to handle. I ended up staying with him for about a hour helping him park cars and directing people to lots and things like that. After that we heard all of the speeches which led to me being at my post for the walk which was the side of goodwin. It was amazing seeing all of the warm and friendly smiles walking by along with some even saying a brief thanks to me as they walked by. A few even stopped and had a quick chat with me before heading on there way. It was unreal to see so many people show up to a event and all of them really made me feel like I belonged at the event.
My experience at Bethel Woods was a good one to say the least. I learned many things including about how influential the woodstock event was. I learned about all the music that was played and how it’s very different from the music that we have today. I feel like the music back then was more personalized instead of just simply being pop or rap or other genres of music. People really put all of there being into a song and you could tell by the song and who was singing all of the struggles and misfortunes that they had been through. It was amazing to see and even better to learn about. However I think that somethings that could have improved the day is getting a chance to explore and view the museum ourselves. I feel like in order to get the most out of the experience we should have only had two time requirements through out the day instead of having multiple for each exhibit. One requirement would be that at some point you have to catch the film and watch it because you really get a better understanding of Woodstock and what went on by watching the film. The only other requirement would be to come and have lunch at a certain point in the day. Everything else could be selected by the students on the trip
Watkinson Day of Community and Belonging
I thought the day was good and the thing that resonated with me the most was the speeches by Jason Craig Harris. It was good to hear his stories and mainly why he felt that a day of community and belonging was so important. It was interesting and certainly unexpected for him to say what he did in his childhood and how he and people around him were affected. We also learned more about why he does the work he does and why he feels it’s so important for him to continue to work towards a community that makes everyone belong. He made me really belive in the work that he’s doing and through his story I understood him better. This was the most impactful part of the day for me and also the thing I wanted to write my reflection on the most.
For the Adl Never is Now I decided to attend the very beginning of it as I wanted to hear Vice President Kamela Harris open the discussion that was going to happen for the next two days. I belive she did a great job however she kept it very brief so that Adl could move on to what they really wanted to talk about. During the opening session Adl talked a lot about Facebook and Mark Zuckelburg and how changes need to happen. One of the things that they were talking about was how Facebook was not combating hate on there platform. They were holding facebook accountable for constantly violating human rights and how every year they say they will fix it but all the talk is never backed up. They brought up Jewish hate periodically throughout the meet as well and even had a representative for Jewish students at Michigan State named Jordan Robinson talk. I belive this is also a good example of demonstrating civic and community engagement as Michigan state has a community of Jewish people that are engaging and constantly battling the hate. Another topic that was talked about at Adl Never is Now is Asian hate and how we saw a massive rise in it because of covid-19. Even the president of the United States at the time was called covid-19 the china virus which is an act of dehumanization and a violation of Asian people as a whole. They had a representative named Daniel Dae Kim talk about how as an asian he sees hate and how it should be dealt with. He talked mainly about how Asian hate doesn’t get enough attention as some other forms of hate and how he would love to see an increase in people's understanding and knowledge of Asian hate. For example he lists that one of the biggest lynchings and hate crimes in the USA happened in the 1900s along with a lot of other lynchings but people only talk about African American lynchings and not others such as Asian lynching. He says by understanding that these things happened he can bring awareness to the topic and hopefully get more people to help.
Adl Never is Now
During our talk with Arvin we learned about many things that were going on at Fairy creek and what he observed as he was there. He saw the blockades up close and personal and even got arrested just for being a cameraman at Fairy creek. Of course they released him as he did nothing wrong but that still surprised me. The amount of people that got arrested just for protesting in a nonviolent way also surprised me. All these people were doing was protesting for the safety and protection of an environment. However police along with loggers violated that safety and protection by arresting protestors and cutting down the forest. Over 97% of that great forest has been lost to logging which is the sad truth which also means a great loss of habitat and just 3% of it remains. However the blockades are protecting and preventing the final 3% from also being taken. It’s a form of free speech what protests are doing in order to stop the logging of the forest and without these defenders the forest might already be completely gone. By continuing to build these blockades the people of Fairy Creek forest will be able to keep pushing back logging and protect the forest. Overall the events that happened at fairy creek have shocked me but have also made me hopeful as there is a group of courageous people that continue to do the work that most people are simply scared of doing.
Arvin Singh Fairy Creek Blockades
I attended the CT forum virtually as I had other things going on that friday that made it nearly impossible to go in person. Looking back on it I wish I could’ve went in person because even watching it virtually, this is the best event that I’ve been a part of so far this year. There are many factors as to why this was such an amazing event but first I’d like to talk about the people at the event starting with Mellisa Harris Perry. She had a coolness to her as she was the moderator of the conversations and helped to keep everything moving. She was funny and charismatic throughout the whole event and was suited very well for her job as moderator. Next I’ll talk about Cathy Park Hong, she was the most controversial for sure by saying things such as how the only place she’d want to be a black woman in America is NY city. She talked mainly about being an Asian American and the difficulties that come with it. She said that a main reason that she does poetry is to reach other Asian Americans in the US and try to inform others that aren’t Asian about the difficulties of being one in America. Overall she added the spice and personality to the conversations and made them more interesting. The next person is Julian Castro who is the former mayor of San Antonio. Out of everyone there Castro felt like the “big dog” and the one with the most merritts to his name. He was definitely the most calm out of the speakers and added a cool tone to the conversation. He mainly talked about change and compared it to the change that was happening in his own state of Texas. He said that before, Texas was thought of as being the wild west but now Texas is transforming with places like Dallas, Houston and of course San Antonio. Texas is turning itself into more of a modern state where many companies are beginning to settle because it’s much cheaper then going to New York or Los Angeles. Castro also talked about his time being in office and how it felt as a latino man to run for mayor of San Antonio and win. He then paved the way for the work to begin in order to change Texas from being a wild west state to more of a suburban place. Overall he was a good speaker and added a more political side to the conversation. Finally there was Baratunde Thurston who is an African American comedian. He talked about various things including his experience on being a black man in America, change he sees in Hartford and how he sees his mother. The thing that he talked about though that stuck with me the most is mistakes. He said that many times we are afraid to make mistakes and that its human nature to make mistakes. He even talked about how he viewed his mom as this perfect woman and how it was unfair for his mother to have to live up to a standard that doesn’t exist. Through everything that was said this was the most relatable and something that everyone no matter what they belive can get behind. Overall my virtual experience of the CT forum was great even just sitting at home and I hope I get to see something like this again in the near future.
We got the opportunity to go see the movie flee down in Hartford during B block. Flee is a story about Amin and the long journey he must take as a Afghan refugee to get away from the violence. The story starts when he tries to flee Afghanistan and finally after some trouble escapes and ends up in Russia. During his time in Russia we quickly see how corrupt the police are, and the hardships that Amin will have to face. Amin stays hidden for a while and eventually sends his sisters over to Sweden in order to live with his older brother who had fled earlier. The sisters nearly died on there way to Sweden but by sheer luck managed to survive and be reunited with their brother. Amin was next on the list but corruption in Russia made it difficult. At one point they were being smuggled across by illegal traffickers and on the way their boat started to sink. They got saved by a giant ship but in return had to restart. Eventually they got enough money to pay a high quality trafficker to get them to Sweden but he ended up in a different country. He said he had no family and was taken in where he eventually got to reunite with his family. As for what I thought about it? The story itself was a great story and Amin was a good story teller. He made you understand the hardships that he went through and really let you know how you should feel. He also explains well that not all refugee trips are the same and there are an endless amount of ways that each person can take the journey. Also the fact that it was so hard for him to open up about it shows how much of a burden he was carrying and how he was finally able to open up. However while many were a fan of the animation style I was not. I understand that all animation styles can’t look animated by disney but I think with the style they chose at some points it made the film look stand still. Also some of the transitions from when he was young to when he was old were confusing. Some parts of it didn’t make sense and so I feel like using a better animation or even trying to make a live action might have gone a long way. Overall though I enjoyed the film and I think that it tells the story of Amin quite well but if used with a different animation style I think we could’ve gotten even more from the film. However I would definitely recommend the film to anyone who is interested in Amin’s story and would like to learn about the life of a Afghan refugee.
The Palestine museum was an interesting place to be and I truly learned a lot more then I did about Palestine and its culture. However there were some parts of the trip that where better then others. My favorite part was definitely the time when we got to look at all of the artwork, this was exciting and I got to see just what the museum was all about. The presentation was informative but was rather monotone and didn’t really bring any excitement to the experience. Through the presentation I learned a few things about Palestine and how Israel has kicked them out of their homeland. It’s important to have this museum because of its importance to Palastein and how it teaches people that otherwise wouldn’t know about Palestine. It allows people to understand something that they might not exactly be a part of in terms of culture and broadens our views and what we get to experience. The person presenting to us described Palastein and how more then anything they would just like to move back to there homeland if possible. He says that the place that has Palasteinin people is more like a jail that Israel keeps them in. He said that its regulated and that it's almost impossible to leave. In terms of the exhibit the thing that spoke to me the most is the piece where god is reaching down and trying to help the hands in the sea but he can’t reach. This means a lot of things to me with the first being that the Palastien people not receiving any help and being prisoners in there own home. Also it represents the journey of a refugee and how also many people view refugee’s as people that have to escape using boats and cross oceans and great lengths in order to escape. This represents hardships and how hard it was to be a refugee from Palastein.
Belfast is a movie about an Irish family that is set in the middle of a civil war between catholics and protestants. It takes place in Ireland in the late 1960s and we take the perspective of a young man named Buddy and his family. Buddy sees many hardships throughout his life and has to learn how to overcome many obstacles in his life and in the end his family makes the hard decision to flee to Australia in order to escape the fighting. I thought that Belfast was a good movie and that it was told in a good perspective. I feel like having the movie characters be played by real actors and not just cartoon characters really showed the story in a real light. It took us from a birds eye view to actually being able to imagine what the streets of Ireland were like on a day to day basis. My favorite character of the movie was Pa because even though throughout the play he makes many mistakes and is out quite a lot, he always fights and never quits. No matter how many times he gets knocked down, he gets back up and tries again for the sake of his family. This shows the true man that he is and how strong he was to constantly stand up against adversity that he faced back then. Even though the family was Protestine they faced many challenges with other Protestines as they were different from them. Most Protestines in the civil war were for only Protestines and wanted to get rid of catholics in the nation. However Pa and his family were different as they were accepting of both identities and it didn’t matter to them who you were, as long as you were a good person. This basic ideology is echoed when he tells Buddy that even if his school crush is catholic, as long as she has a good heart she will always be welcome in his household. He also wanted the Irish people to understand peace and that the fighting that they were doing was pointless. The biggest antagonist in the movie was Billy Clanton who wanted to run all catholics out of the town. Naturally because Buddy’s family stood with the idea that nobody should be ran out of their homes, Billy targeted them and came after Pa multiple times even trying to shoot him at one point, If it weren’t for Pa’s great aim then he might not be alive to tell the story. This story overall shows the perseverance of a working class Irish family and the hard decisions involved with choosing to flee. In the end they decided that Australia would give them a better chance at life and survival and made the tough decision to leave everything behind and start new lives. Honestly I hope that they are doing alright and that Buddy has settled into his new community just fine, that little guy was truly special.
First Cathedral Baptist Church
My experience at first cathedral baptist church is definitely something that was different then what I was originally expecting. I should probably get out of the way that me and my family aren’t very religious. If someone asked us what religion we were then we would say christian but in general none of us go to church or actively worship a god. We tried to go to church once when I was ten but it was boring and we decided not to go again. The First Cathedral was very different from my original image of a church however. First Cathedral was very lively and everyone was constantly on there feet, dancing! People were singing and dancing, some even had instruments and things to play in the crowd. Even Mr Sailor's wife had a tambourine and was jamming away to some of the songs that were being sang at church, to me it looked more like a concert for this part then actual church. I guess I had always imagined church to be where there is a priest that constantly reads pages out of the bible in a monotone voice and everyone just sat down and listened. First cathedral changed my view on church and how it could actually be fun! After this the mini concert they brought a guest speaker on the stage. I’m blanking on her name but the things that she said were extremely powerful, she talked about not giving up, being your whole self and not letting others push you down. She also talked about how failures are lessons and that no matter what the only bad thing is giving up. She was truly inspiring and while she had a very powerful voice, it felt so warm in the way that she said things and as if I had knew this lady for longer then just the hour she was on the stage. Everyone is so connected in service that no matter your differences, it shows that its possible for anyone to come together under the right circumstances. While my experience at first cathedral was truly eye opening to what church could be and truly joyful, we should also talk about the other side of things.
It’s a primarily black church and almost everyone on the inside is black. The service that the church does for the community is truly amazing. First cathedral goes far beyond being just a place of worship as there are many positive things that come out of the church. It helps those in need, helps addictions, teaches younger kids, serves food to those in need, goes on services trips and many other things. Some people rely on this church to open every sunday even for simple things as food, it is very humbling. They give so many opportunities and second chances to those in need and in general it is just a place for healing. They even stream there service online for those that don’t have the chance of physically showing up to the church on sunday. Through all of these positive things its also so sad to me how they have to basically lock down the church with security. Security is airtight in the church and there are both people in uniform and those that stay undercover with plastic ear pieces in. Its so sad to think that a peaceful place like that would really have to worry about people breaking in and doing something to intentionally harm the community but I’m not blind to the fact that it does happen. They even talked about the shooting that happened in Buffalo and it was very eye opening when the priest said it could have happened in Windsor, Bloomfield, Hartford or any place in Connecticut. Its sad to think about but it also gives me hope that despite these risks, people still gather in one place all to give thanks to one man and be accepted into a place of peace and healing. That is my experience at first cathedral which was a great one and I'm glad I got to experience it.
Social Justice day at Watkinson was a big success this year, the presentations that I heard were great and what I expected from social justice day. It’s amazing especially because we didn’t have one last year and Ms Massenburg is still in her first year here. The first event that I decided to go to was about electric cars which was run by Evan. I was interested in this one because I just have a general liking for electric cars especially because I drive one daily. First we did a kahoot which I surprisingly did terrible in, there were many facts I thought I knew but didn’t and some of our terminology differed. However a big part of why I did bad is because there were questions about hydrogen cells cars which I’ll admit I know nothing about at all. After this Evan spoke a little bit more then broke us into five groups to decide the green future we would have. Three of the groups were hydrogen cars, electric cars and synthetic gas. The other two groups which I was a part of judged which future was the best based off the other groups' presentations. We decided that hydrogen cars was best as a group although I think that electric cars are clearly the future. This connected to social justice day well overall because we were all reaching for a green future where fossil fuels are no longer used.
The next event I went to was a deeper analysis on the racial issues in the movie get out. I chose this because get out is one of my favorite movies and I was interested to see the race breakdown because watching the movie it definitely had a lot to do with race. This was run by Mr Talotta who did a great job breaking the movie down. It focused mainly on the main character Chris as he goes to his white girlfriends parents house to meet them for the first time. There Chris is secretly being auctioned off to a white person who more often then not has a defect, they then transfer there consciousness over to Chris and continue life in his “superior” body. Get out attacks many things including introducing the idea that all of these white characters want Chris’s body because his is far superior to there own. His skin, face, features and athletic ability are all taken into account and they deem it as better then there own. Also being auctioned off is kind of a representation of slavery and how slaves were auctioned off to different owners. There are also subtle race things dropped by the white characters and things they say that seem to have no meaning but can actually be seen as racist. This fights the racial issue of when people say things such as “I have a black boyfriend I can’t be racist” or, “I have a black friend I can’t be racist”. Just because these things are true doesn’t mean that somebody isn’t racist and in some cases it can actually be a cover for their racism. Overall these are my experiences of social justice day and I’m glad that everything worked out in the end towards this.