Saturday, February 26, 2011

Critical Race Theory: Challenging Popular "Kumbaya Diversity" Paradigms

A couple weeks ago, I attended University of Utah’s annual Conference on Social Awareness.

On the drive over, I was nervous. I’d never been to a social awareness conference that you have to sign up for in advance. Would they make us stand in a circle and hold hands? Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood for audience participation. Already off to a rough start that morning (forgetting to set my alarm, sleeping in), what I really wanted was to sit in the back row of a large auditorium and take notes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My First Day in America

For many Americans, the first big splash into another culture takes place during an expensive vacation:  fine dining in Paris, an historical tour in Egypt, a beach-side hotel in Costa Rica, or a Mediterranean cruise. All things strange and unexpected we perceive as exotic, and exciting. The candy-coating shell of Tourism shields us from the real culture shock we’d go through if we were to make another nation our home.

Thousands of Utahans are living the ultimate culture shock experience. We provide here a few of their stories.

The following are excerpts from essays written for a 2007 contest at Dixon Adult ESL Program in Provo, Utah. The essay contest took submissions from students of beginning to advanced English skill levels. The authors are adults of all ages, varying races, and nationalities. Some are permanent residents, others are undocumented. Enrollment at Dixon is low cost, and therefore the program attracts individuals of varying financial situations. The students were asked to describe their first day in the United States in English. From the many essays, I have gleaned a few interesting stories, and provide them here in several categories: Struggling with English, Being Taken Advantage of, Admiration or Dislike for New Lifestyle, Dealing with Discrimination, Interesting Border Crossing Experiences, and Feeling Welcome.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Leave No Wounded Behind

“We leave no wounded behind. Well, they can be spiritually and emotionally wounded, and they don't need to be left behind, either." 
 --Vietnam Vet, Formerly Homeless
Salt Lake City Public Library

Tuesday night last week, I attended a public screening for Street Vets by Isaac Goeckeritz, a new documentary on individuals living in Ogden's Homeless Veterans Fellowship (HVF), a VA program focused on helping veterans of the Vietnam War.