Global citizenship

globe(yellow)I believe Americans often have the stereotype that relates back to being very self-centered people. When September 11th happened, it was believed to have happened to America. Since the class’s meeting at the café last week, I have been very intrigued by a question I had asked Federica. “How did September 11th affect you?” I have asked this question to three people; Federica, Serena (my Italian teacher), and a boy I met from England. September 11th affected me greatly, but mostly due to how it immediately impacted me. I am only an hour and a half away from New York City, so my middle school was locked down when the news was heard. My sister went to a private high school where a lot of girls came from all over the state, and many of the girls’ fathers worked in Manhattan everyday, some even in the World Trade Centers. My brother was living in Brooklyn, but taking classes in Lincoln center just a couple of blocks away from the twin towers. I was afraid for myself, my brother, and my country. When I asked Federica about it, she said that she was scared for the world. Serena said she was so unsure of everything. Ollie said that he just watched the news for hours and did not know what to think. I think these separate, but united ideas about the world are very interesting to piece together in order to really understand how the whole world had a united front against the terrorism that attacked not only America, but the world. The openness of the people I met was very nice for me to experience. The funny thing was that everyone I asked, no matter their age or their nationality, felt like September 11 th happened to them too. It was a very strong feeling for me to relate to because I do not remember ever looking at the situation from another country’s view. It was my country’s situation; it was my Manhattan that was broken completely in two.

It makes me wonder about how people reacted when Hurricane Katrina destroyed so many lives. I would think that people should be afraid of what happened because it was natural, because it could happen to anyone anywhere. It destroyed so much. Did the people of Italy feel the pain in for Louisiana like I did? I would not have assumed people felt so strongly about the terrorism in my country, so perhaps I am wrong in assuming people do not feel as strongly about the damage from Hurricane Katrina as I did. The scary part about that situation for me was that I felt so useless. I was watching videos on the news every day, every hour of a place in MY country that did not even resemble the America I knew.

Meeting new people with different ideas and points of view really changes my perception of the world. Without having this dialogue between people, it is impossible to know what someone else is feeling. The hardest part for me is that I find it difficult to believe in blanket statements. Even though I know the Hofstede Model is often accurate, I think that when people follow these types of generalizations blindly it leads to issues. Perhaps I feel this way because I am often in the minority of these generalizations, and so I would rather ask a question and find out first hand what is appropriate in the situation you find yourself in. This idea reminds me of “self-doubt” that we learned about in class. I think that allowing room for anything to be possible, allows for a more flexible person.

The thing I find most interesting about the global citizen skills is how closely knit they are. Flexibility helps emotion regulation; creativity helps critical thinking, and so on and so forth. Being in another culture… having a dire need to make discoveries about the people around you…. sensitivity is a big factor. While I am discovering the answers to my questions, I am discovering the culture of the person I am meeting. This has been the most rewarding thing I have discovered while I have been in Italy.

September 28, 2009

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Rosa Parks Myth

politicsThe master narrative of Civil Rights is a very basic and sometimes misleading history of the quest for equality for African Americans. The Montgomery Bus Boycott is often portrayed as a stepping-stone towards the end of racism that was led almost single-handedly by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.. The assumption that America holds about the Montgomery Bus Boycott is surrounded by the idea of “Rosa Parks, the tired” instead of a more national feeling of “America, tired of racism.” Textbooks and teachers often put Rosa Parks in the front seat of the movement, but this dismisses the Montgomery Bus Boycott as a whole and causes the movement to lose a lot of the meaning that it holds.

Though Rosa Parks made a big difference, the real difference was made by all of the people who chose not to ride. There was segregation in a majority of the United States and it was more than simply “not being allowed to use the same public facilities such as restaurants or swimming pools.” Segregation was everywhere and was about everything. It was very emotionally damaging to everyone involved, especially young children.

People were trying to change the ways of segregation for a long time, but without proper support of major civil rights groups, the attempts floundered and were forgotten. Before Rosa Parks, girls like Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith refused to go to the back of the bus or give up their seats for white people, but the NAACP did not support or plan their rebellions and so these acts were minimally publicized. Even the bus boycott itself was not the first of its kind; tt was preceded by the bus boycott in Baton Rouge. The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott only lasted one week but many ideas stemmed from it including tactics such as carpooling and handing out flyers to spread the word.

The idea that Rosa Parks was “tired and angry and stubborn” is not accurate. She planned her stand (or rather, her sit) as the secretary of the NAACP and it was far from impromptu. People are taught that Rosa Parks’ arrest was the reason for the boycott but that is wrong, she was really the spark for the fire that had been heating up for a very long time. “So they decided to refuse to ride the buses until everyone was allowed to ride together” is so light and fluffy—what they really wanted was equality and rights and they fought long and hard for them. They wanted to be citizens of this country just as much as any white man, and that is what they desperately fought for, for 13 months.

Another assumption that is often made is that Martin Luther King led the boycott, which is inaccurate. The people led the boycott. He was elected the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association and instilled power in the people, but ultimately the people are the ones who made the change and stayed off of the busses for freedom. Yes, Rosa Parks is a very brave person but so were all of the other people who fought for their rights.

February 22, 2010