Monday, February 16, 2009

Off to see the Wizard

My classmates and I, signed up for Beyond borders for change. We wanted to feel the passion felt by benevolent work, we wanted to be supermen and women. Only after we started our journey we came to discover that our intentions were more internal than external. We are going to do good work in these countries, yet we have been taught that we are not going to change the world. We came to discover we were actually looking for change in ourselves. There are as many motivations in our class as there are students. Some of us are like the Tin man, following the yellow brick for a chance to earn a heart. Others in our class resemble the lion that is desperate for courage, wanting a badge that says “if I can do that, I can do this.” Others want to be the Scarecrow in search for a brain, wanting a experience that shows us how the world “really” is.
Whatever the case may be, we are all making our way to Oz in hopes to obtain something. This much is evident in how many times I have read “I know this experience is going to be life changing” in my fellow classmate’s blogs. We have all come to the table expecting to get something in return for our service. This makes me wonder, “what am I expecting from my experience in Africa?” I strongly related to the lion. Part of me picked Africa because I thought it was the toughest environment offered. I figured if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere. I want to gain courage from this experience so that I could feel comfortable backpacking across Europe, or hitch hiking across America.
As with every good learning experience, I have not learned what I didn’t know, I have merely learned that I don’t know what I don’t know. I suspect that my badge of courage will be blown out of the water by something completely unexpected. I am fully aware I don’t know what I don’t know, none of us do. So we continue down the yellow bricked road with an idea of Oz, but not a good sense of ourselves.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dangerous Minds

Have you ever seen one of those movies where a white mentor shows ghetto kids the “right” way to live? From Dangerous Minds, to Freedom Writers, there seems to be an endless supply of pretty white women waving the white man’s banner of education and authority, to an unruly congregation of minorities. She is female, skinny, over educated, and oh so benevolent. I mean, she made it to the upper echelons of the elite, so of course she is the direct instrument of God. Her lesson plans are the embodiment of the living gospel. What these movies negate is that freedom is not found through the teaching of a more “correct” set of rules to follow. Gilded chains of the massa, at the end of the day, are still tools of bondage. Freedom is found through the equitable distribution of humanization. To be human is to be fully engaged in the process of creating, re-creating, and the negating, of our socially constructed universe. If the weight of a Harvard Graduate naming of the world, out weighs a crake addicts naming of the world, than freedom is lost for all. True freedom can only be found through the emancipation from a system that translates differences into backwardness. It seems to me that the “dangerous Minds” are not those of the ghetto students, but those of the ignorant teachers.
On this note, I have gained distaste for the term “developing country.” Developing? Developing into what, us? In my lifetime the world’s population will reach an epidemic 10 billion people! The world can’t support 10 billion Americans. Remember Life boat ethics? Plus, we are nothing to be developed into. Yet, we continue to believe the solution to war, famine, AIDS, and poverty, is a conversion to a America gospel, hallelujah! No, a “would like to supersize those” lifestyle is nothing that should be exported!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Shell of a Man, but i got a video!!

I recently found a website that contains a video about my placement. After finding this video I was elated. In an instant I went from knowing nothing, to actually seeing the place where I will be working. All through the power of Google, what was the internet ever like without it? There was a time before I had all this power, somewhere between elementary school and my first hotmail account. I remember a time where using a search engine was only a little bit more convenient than guessing URL addresses. Things are different now. Now I can Google “Sega, Ghana” and get a video response as my first hit, and Wikipedia as my second. What’s really amazing is how much I take these powers for granted. What happens in Africa when I don’t have a computer? What happens to my spell check, calculator, and most importantly my Google?! I’m pretty sure I would have never made it this far in school without the modern conveniences of high-speed internet! Going to Ghana for 3 months will be like living in the world that was supposed to happen after Y2K! I recently had an interview with my Professor, she told me to print lesson plans before I go. For a minute I thought she was being silly. “Nah” I thought to myself, “I’ll just print what I need when I need it (aka the night before).” Then it hit me, I will be virtually (pun intended) computerless for the duration of my stay. Sometimes I forget free high-speed wireless internet is not globally sponsored. To be honest, I am afraid that I am merely a shell propped up by the crutch of technology. What happens when the crutch is removed? Either I will learn how strong that man is apart from the machine, or I will learn that at the core, I am still the kid who got made fun of for his learning disability.

The video of my placement can be through the link, it is the first video you run into while scrolling down.