Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Journal #30

I thought that the video that was shown in the last few minutes of class today was really interesting and the director did a very good job of creating a short film that leaves you thinking for the rest of the day. I find it interesting that he used such a creative way to tell a message that we have heard many times. I felt that throughout the video I was aware that something deeper was being shared; however, the audience did not know what it was until towards the end. Maybe this is because it was divided into 2 parts, but I found the parallels between the 2 parts to be very moving. For example, in the first part of the video the narrator talks about how the workers make the tomatoes and the woman who sells flower perfume for money uses that money to buy the tomatoes. Then when she is making pork (dead pig) for dinner the tomato that is not good enough is thrown in the garbage. In the second part the workers live on land named for flowers and the tomato that is not good enough to feed to the pig is thrown out to those who do not have money. In the first part the tomato goes down the food chain of human-animal-trash. If we are to take this same senario for the second part it is human-animal-those without money (AKA-trash). One way of looking at these videos is that the trash in the first part is representative of the poor in the second part. The poor are treated as though they are not humans (like the Jews....) even though they have the same characteristics as everyone else. It seems to be an unforunate truth that eventhough we know that poverty is a problem, it is still very abundant, and growing everyday.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Journal #29

As I have been reading Gandhi throughout the semester I am increasingly imporessed by the life that he led. Throughout his efforts it didn't seem to matter if he was put in jail or not, in fact he said, " civil obedience, once properly launched, needs no leaders." The only thing he looked for was freedom and to do what's right. Not only is it impressive that he continued with this mentality for the majority of his life, but that others recognized it as well. Some of his opponents have stated, " Be careful in dealing with a man who cares nothin for sensual pleasures, nothing for comfort or praise, or promotion but is simply determined to do what he believes to be right. He is a dangerous and uncomfortable enemy because his body which you can always conquer gives you so little purchase over his soul." The fact that Gandhi put everything he was into his beliefs and did not expect praise was part of his great success. The way Gandhi went about creating reform is very different than the way Americans have tried to do it. Gandhi tried to do it without violence, though he did not mind breaking the law (there were some US leaders who have done this, though they seem to be the exception). In general it seems the US is very quick to take up arms to solve problems. This how we make change, by showing others that we are bigger, stronger, and quicker....and many Americans have come to believe that this is the best way to produce what we "believe". I would find it hard to believe that there would ever be 20,000 US Americans willingly to peacefully walk hundreds of miles to protest and be willing to be beat, put in jail, etc. etc. in order to stand up for what they "believe". However, I do think it is more feasible for 20.000 Americans to take up arms and "fight for what's right". I am interested to go to India, and to learn more about their culture and learn more about thier rich history and how they view life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Journal #28

I was recently reading articles about illegal immigration and what the US is doing as far as legistation is concerned to solve this problem. As I was reading the article and the different viewpoints that the informants addressed I started thinking about how US citizens are not really good about understanding other cultures (at least according to the comments I have heard and the articles that I have read). People tend to say slandering comments about the "mexicans" (which is a word used to describe anyone south of the US/Mexico border), how they need to learn English and stop hopping over the border and to have their kids here, etc. etc. etc. These phrases paint a very different picture of immigrants than the ones who I know. Whenever I have met an illegal immigrant they generally have 2 or 3 jobs and are trying to save money to send back home. I am not writing this post to discuss the politics of illegal immigration, but about how we as US citizens view other countries, and why our scope is so limited. A few months ago CNN came out with a statistic that only 30% of US citizens have passports, and 44% speak a second language. For an international "super power" these numbers seem low. Now I realize that not all US citizens have these close-minded beliefs; however, I do think these beliefs are common. Part of it has to do with the fact that the US is separated from a lot of the other countries in the world, making it harder to travel.. It seems that we are loosing the curiosity and desire of finding out about other cultures/countries, even though these cultures are quickly coming to our door in a world that is constantly growing smaller. I would think that technology would make it easier to travel, but it seems to be taking away from travel. Why go to Rome when you can have a treadmill that puts pictures up of Rome and simulates the roads so it's as though you are "in Rome"? Hearing these comments and seeing how others view different ways of life give me a greater desire to have more cultural experiences and learn about others ways of life. There is so much to learn and so many ideas and beliefs to hear and think about. As time gets closer for departure I become more excited to go and have another immersion experience.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Journal #27

So the conversation on culture shock got be thinking about my experience with culture shock and the different parts of it. I thought it was interesting that different people explained the different ways that they experienced culture shock, yet everyone agreed that what they had experienced was in some form, culture shock (or at least the irritability stage of culture shock). However, with the discussion we had I wasn't really satisfied with the definition we had of biculturalism. From what I understood from what people were saying, they believed that biculturalism is when you take one part of a culture and make it into your own. If this is the case, then I don't think you necessarily even need to go through the other stages of culture shock in order to do this. We come in contact with different cultures on a regular basis and generally that contact leaves an influence on our lives. For example, I remember reading an article where in California there were gangs from Mexico and gangs from Laos who were fighting and did not like each other at all. However, what was interesting about these gangs was that the members both spoke English with a Mexican accent. So even though technically the members of the gang from Laos did not ever go through the stages of culture shock from being in a Mexican culture, they still were affected by that culture. I guess you could argue that since they lived in a heavily populated Mexican area they could have passed through culture shock, I would think that they were passing through culture shock from being in the US, but taking on attributes of the way Mexicans speak English. I think that in order to be truly bicultural, it takes years of living in one place. And even then, I don't know that it is ever truly possible becuase I think that in some way we always change the way we adopt a certain part of another country's culture. For example, after living in Chile, I have become accustomed to drinking Mate. Even though this is a custom done in several countries in south America, the way that I drink Mate is is this really bicultural if it is changed? I guess I still haven't come to a complete conclusion, but it is intersting to think about.