Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Final Blog Post--Class Review

One main aspect of this class was the service learning project. Funny enough, I apparently missed the memo and did not know that it was a service-learning class. I had two service projects that fit in with my schedule, one being working with the elderly at Montefiore, and the other tutoring middle-schoolers at Open Doors Academy at Miles Park. I ended up opting for Open Doors, because I have a deep fear of nursing homes/retirement homes, and I have a lot of prior tutoring experiences. While I was hesitant about the idea of service, just because I worried that I would not have the time, I was happy to return to tutoring. I had over one hundred volunteer hours in high school from tutoring alone, so I expected to excel.
When my service group began our time at service, what struck me was how under-resourced the location was. For about twenty-five children, there were three staff members present consistently. Also, all of these kids were located in one gymnasium, and basically had free reign over what they did during the time they were there. To add, the kids did not have their own textbooks. Helping them with homework was a huge challenge due to this because several children had to share one book, which is not a productive study skill. They did not have large access to technology for research, only the staff members’ tablets. This was really eye-opening. I’m not used to being in an environment where things such as books are computers and a rarity.
Another issue was making a connection with the kids there. John Carroll Students are in a completely different environment than the kids at Open Doors. We are hugely sheltered and privileged, and those kids really aren’t. This was a major challenge. Because the kids were allowed to interact with their friends and get nothing accomplished, more often than not I felt like I just sat around doing nothing. I did make connections with a couple of the kids there, and I was more than happy to assist them with their homework. This was the upside to going to service every week.
Another aspect of this class was “kick-off” lectures and guest speakers. I have to give a big thumbs down to this. Three words: the water guy. To this day I don’t even know what the point of that presentation was. That was possibly the worst lecture I have ever had to attend. Also, some of the professor’s lectures weren’t that great (Sorry, Dr. Palmer, but the best professor-done speech goes to Dr. Shutkin solely on visual aids). Dr. Seither’s lecture on the digital divide lacked student interest, and having students come up to do examples did not help. Finally, I really like Dr. Peden as a person but that presentation with the sticky notes bombed horribly. As for guest speakers, kudos to the transgender speaker, Joyce Murton. Hands down, best day ever in FYS. That really held my attention and I found it aspiring that she comes to talk to JCU students every year.
Finally, the videos get a mixed review. Sometimes it has been a bit of an issue for me to do the assignments over the weekend when I’m home and a video gets assigned because we have a bandwidth limit at my house and thus, cannot stream videos (a slight part of the digital divide—oh, the irony). A little more notice would have been nice on these occasions. Overall though, the content of the videos was good. I really enjoyed the stream of videos we watched in class about the digital divide in rural areas; it was very eye-opening. I also enjoyed the first segment on what happens to cellphones and computers when we dispose of them. It wasn’t something I had taken a lot of time to think about, mainly because I did not have a cellphone until my graduation. It was something that I had never needed to think about.
Overall I enjoyed this class, but to a degree I found it semi-dull. I thought it repetitive and mindless at times unfortunately but at others I found it fascinating. All in all, though, I feel that’s not a horrible view to have on a college course.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Digital Divide Assignment

FYS Social Justice and Digital Media – The Digital Divide              November 16, 2012

Assignment over for Monday, November 19, 2012:
This is a 40 minute video of a presentation on the Worldwide Digital Divide by Michael Graham

We will be discussing this video on Monday.  In preparation, please answer the following questions:

1.)    Compare the topic of discussion in this video to the issues that we addressed during our discussion of the KONY 2012 video.
a.       This video mainly discusses the limit of knowledge in countries that don’t largely have internet access. Here in the United States, most people have constant access to the internet. That is not the case in many other countries. The lack of access to the internet creates a barrier against knowledge and they are unable to have the same access to knowledge that we do here. With KONY 2012, the people of Uganda have a limit of knowledge, but a different type of limit. The children are not largely educated, and often the boys are abducted to be in a child army. Regardless, they are not able to access any sort of outside knowledge and only know what they have grown up with.
2.)    Does the example Graham makes using the oldest map in existence about the limits of knowledge apply to the modern maps in the video?
a.       I found this example really interesting. He used the map to describe the limit of travel accessibility as well as knowledge. Later in the video, as he describes the amount of print journals, newspapers, and whatnot, he uses modern maps to describe a similar limit of knowledge. The United States has a huge availability to knowledge, as do Switzerland, France, and Germany, yet, most countries do not. So yes, the example of the oldest map does indeed apply here.
3.)    He makes the point that one obstacle to digital literacy is basic literacy.  Is it possible to use the internet without being literate?  What is your reaction to the gender disparity of literacy?
a.       I don’t think that it is realistically possible to use the internet without being literate. One has to be able to read. Without said literacy, one cannot use search engines, type in web addresses, nothing. Really, the internet cannot be efficiently utilized without basic literacy. As for the gender disparity, it goes to show that in those countries, women are far less educated and are thus, more illiterate. That’s horribly unfair… I feel like that should be the case.
4.)    There are three anecdotes at the end of the video that address the claim that technology alone can have a positive impact on the digital divide.  Write a blog entry based on one of them according to your last name.  The blog entry should take the 2-4 minute segment of the video as a starting point about the general topic being addressed.  Your blog entry should start with referencing the clip, but you should bring in additional material that you find on the subject to support or reject the point being made in the larger context.
a.       A-G Makmende Amerudi!
b.      H-M Feodor Vassilyev
c.       N-Z Kenyan Conference in Nairobi

Makemende Amerudi
            In this video, Graham references Makmende, who is a fictional character who became a viral internet sensation in Kenya. As people attempted to make Wikipedia pages for him, the page would get deleted supposedly because it was irrelevant and focused on someone that isn’t even a real person. In reality, the page editors were not from Kenya and could not understand the importance Makemende had in that region. It wasn’t until national news bases reported on the issue that Makmende’s page would stay online without it being immediately deleted. On the Wikipedia page for Makmende Amerudi, it explains that the name Makmende is a mispronunciation of Clint Eastwood’s line in “Sudden Impact”, “make my day”, which resonates with people all over the world. This symbol grew to stand for people everywhere doing the impossible task, and it had a huge resurgence in recent years, originally brought on by the musical group Just A Band in their music video for their song Ha-He in 2009. “Makemende Amerudi” is Swahili for “Makemende is back”, and the Makmende website was the most visited website by Kenyans in 2010.
            In watching the Ha-He music video, despite the fact that the music is rather catchy, I can’t lie; I don’t really see the relevance that Makmende has. I don’t really grasp why he has such a strong following in Kenya. However, I understand that this is because I obviously don’t live in Kenya and I’m unable to comprehend why Makmende resonates with Kenyans. My lack of appreciation for Makmende does not make it irrelevant. I don’t understand why popular figures in America such as Justin Beiber, PSY, Carly Rae Jepsen (Ironically, none of these artists are even FROM America, but the point is still made) have such a huge following but that doesn’t mean that they are irrelevant. Just because I don’t understand, or a group of people does not understand, does not mean that a webpage promoting the person should cease to exist. It’s rather inspiring that a group of internet-literate Kenyans were able to make a webpage for Makmende and every time it got deleted, they kept remaking it and remaking it until it got media attention and was able to stay online.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Serving under-resourced places"

At Open Doors Academy, there are about 25 kids housed in a very small gym-type setup with about 3 adults, plus the JCU volunteers. If that isn't considered "under-resourced", I don't know what is. It really brings to light how hard it is to have a solid structure there. The kids are all walking around visiting with friends, and with only three adults and six volunteers with no authority, it is really challenging to give everyone the help that they need. I feel more time is spent trying to get the kids to settle and get to work than actually tutoring them. I wish they were able to get more resources in the way of adults in charge. That would seriously help the kids' ability to be successful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"What does it mean to grow up with privilege?"

With service, I have learned that to grow up with privilege ultimately means that I have had access to an education. Many of these kids can't read well, if they can read at all. I was reading small chapter books when I entered kindergarten. Also, most of these kids can't do simple addition or subtraction without a calculator, something that I gave up doing in elementary school as well. I never realized that it wasn't the norm for everyone to be as educated as I was. Being around 14 year-olds who have lacked a solid education really enlightening. It makes me feel like more should be done to help with that though. I tend to wonder why these kids haven't had access to education, which is something I can't find an answer to, unfortunately.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ai Weiwei assignment

Direct Link--Glogster


Monday, October 29, 2012

Personal Response to Certain Tweets....

A few years ago, I sat in my living room watching some rerun of Two and a Half Men. Charlie was telling Alan about "phone cajones", or how people have more courage dealing with people over the phone than in face-to-face situations. Over time, I have seen this concept grow through Facebook and Twitter. People resort to tweeting or posting statuses about people rather than confronting anybody. This causes tension and drama to unfold in social situations because, let's face it, we all know who was talking about who.

Today in class, while we were presented with tweets from our peers about Joyce Murton, I was utterly disgusted. Seriously, how ignorant does someone have to be to trash someone because they are a transgender individual? And when I saw the tweets referring to her as "it", I got so internally frustrated. That is insanely low. She is a person. Not an it. "It" refers to a table, or a book, or photograph, or some inanimate object. SHE. Is a person. SHE. Has feelings. SHE. Has a heartbeat and can react to words, statements, and emotions. She did what she felt necessary to fit in with the world. Can any of us say we're different in that regard? The pure fact that people my age in 2012 are insulting her JUST because she is transgender blows my mind. I can't even understand.

So, Dr. Palmer, you asked if I believed that Joyce should come back to speak at JCU. I say definitely. Her speech was enlightening and gave perspective on something probably 90-95% of the audience had no experience with. I really hate what my peers had to say about her and it embarrasses me to have to call them "my peers", but I believe it was an hour well-spent.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Service Reflection #6

Prompt: "What have you learned about the people you are interacting with, and what have they learned about you?"

I have learned that, even several weeks into service, many of the kids are not willing to open up to me. While it is understandable, it was more understandable during the first couple weeks of service when I was the most unfamiliar. I try to connect with these kids despite the fact that I am so outrageously different from them. I know I come from an entirely different world and I accept that. I have not seen or known what they have. In return, what they have learned about me is that I will keep trying to connect, but I do not pry. I find it useless to pry. They have also learned that I am patient and will help with anything, regardless of difficulty (or lack thereof), without making them feel non-intelligent. I hope my experience gets better as service continues.