Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Professional Hopes and Goals

This class on Diversity finishes this week! My 6th master's class is almost done! I have 5 left, I'm officially over half way there. So it's time for my last blog post for this class.

-One hope about diversity: I look at my own kids and I have hope in them. I see them make friends with kids who are different from them, they may have a different color of skin, or different abilities, or be a different gender, but my kids don't see that. All they see is that they are friends with this really nice girl or boy. I want to be more like my own kids and I want to continue to teach that to the other children I work with, that they should get to know someone's heart first before they make a decision about them.

-One goal for the early childhood field: I think that each person that works with children should be required to take professional development hours in the topics of diversity regardless of the location of their center/school. Too many people put diversity into a racial box and say that it has nothing to do with their school because everyone there is the same race. However, diversity goes way beyond that and encompasses everyone. If more teachers were received continued education in diversity, we would have a better chance of passing on a good viewpoint of diversity onto the following generations.

-I'm thankful for this class, and to all of my colleagues and classmates. I've learned a lot from each of you, thank you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Welcoming Families from Around The World

Let's imagine for a moment that a family from another country has just immigrated to the U.S., and is now enrolling their child into your center. How would you prepare to be culturally responsive to them?

We had to choose a country that we know nothing about so I googled what the most obscure countries are and selected country #5: Suriname. It was the only one on the list that I had actually remembered hearing about once, the others I truly had no idea existed. Suriname is located in South America.

5 ways I would prepare to be culturally responsive:
1. Find out what language they primarily speak. The national language of Suriname is Dutch, however 20 languages are spoken in their country, including Creole. For this case, let's assume they speak the national language of Dutch-in which case I would purchase a few popular children's books that are written in Dutch.
2. I would learn a few phrases in Dutch, primarily ones that would help the child be comfortable in the classroom-key components of our schedule (circle time, recess, art, lunch, etc.), how to ask if they need to use the bathroom, stop, yes, no, hi, and goodbye.
3. I would find an interpreter to be available for key parent meetings between our teachers and the parents. I would try to translate our important forms and parent handbook into Dutch, so they understand what our center is about and the primary rules.
4. In Suriname their primary meal is chicken and rice, but they usually eat at 3pm. I would talk to the parents about their family's eating schedule in comparison with when our children eat lunch and snacks at the center to make sure they are not expecting us to feed their child dinner at 3pm, when we would normally only feed them an afternoon snack.
5. Because the current center I am at is a Christian center, I would want to know more about their religion. 80% of Surinamese are Hindi. I would want to find out if they were, and to explore that with the family.
6. I would post a few pictures of Surinamese people around the room and try to find out what types of toys we could include in the classroom that may be more familiar to them.

I would hope that the above (and probably a lot more I'm not thinking of) would help the family, especially the child, to be more comfortable in not only just a new school setting (education is very important in Suriname) but also in a brand new country. Going through these preparations would help to remind me that even though this is a new family, like other new families, we need to remember that there will be more differences because of traditions, customs, and language barriers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Personal Side of Prejudice, Bias, and Opression

It's week 6 of my class on Diversity, and we're reflecting back on what we've learned so far in the last few weeks as well as our own experiences with prejudice. I've had a few negative experiences so far, one concerning racism, but the rest included genderism.

It's really hard to be a female pastor sometimes. There have been plenty of times where people would come up to my husband and I in church and not only interact with him as if he were the pastor, but then be shocked when he diverted them back to me. There was also that one time that I showed up at a Catholic family's home because they couldn't find a pastor to come deliver last rites. Boy were they shocked when a pregnant female protestant pastor came instead. 

But the times that were the hardest were when I was at any large meeting without my husband. I always felt like I had leprosy or some other infectious disease that made anyone I tried to have a conversation with run away. One time in particular, after several hours of male pastors shortening our conversations, one of my colleagues (from my church) tried to offer me their seat at the table for lunch. I lost it! I was sick of being the girl in the group and didn't want to have to sit, while others stood, just because I was the girl, after everyone had been avoiding me all day. 

The reality of the situation was he was my friend, viewed me as a pastor, and was just trying to be nice. But after an entire day of feeling like I was under full on genderism microagression assault, it was the last straw for me. I felt like a complete outsider and I was crushed.

Looking back on the situation, I've learned a few things. I, first, need to not take everything personal (like my friend offering me the seat), that was not an attack on my gender. Secondly, I need to remember that not all male pastors are against female pastors. And lastly, I need to find those that are for us (and other female pastors) and stick to that group in those types of functions and not concern myself with the others.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


This week we've been studying about microagressions in class.

This is what I've learned about microagressions so far: they are brief everyday indignities, may be verbal, behavioral, or environmental, and are communicated intentionally or unintentionally, contains an insulting message, often causes severe psychological stress or harm, reflect views of inferiority/superiority and inclusions/exclusions, and happen outside the awareness of well-intentioned individuals. That there are 4 major psychological delimas that could occur including: clash of racial realities, unintentional and invisible nature of microagressions, perceived minimal harm of racial microagressions, and "catch-22". And that the 3 forms of  microagression are: microassault, microinsults, microinvalidation. 

So this week I had to pay attention and find a microagression to write about. Well it's Saturday and I'm realizing I do not have a lot of diversity in my everyday interactions in my daily routine. So after discussing with my husband my lack of an example for my blog assignment, he pointed out a scene from a movie we watched last night. 

Last night we watched the movie Peanuts with the kids and in the middle of the movie Charlie Brown gets flustered and tells the girl he likes that his name is Brown Charlie. It was barely a flick on my radar, but Keven said he laughed at it, and then realized what he had really laughed at. After talking about it, he highly considered it a microagression and I didn't even realize it in the slightest, which could prove that it could be considered a microagression because in most cases the person delivering it has no idea they're doing it. 

This past week while studying this aspect of diversity with microagressions and isms, I've realized that I am very aware of gender stereotypes, able-ism, religion-ism, and classism. But I am still not the best at recognizing microagressions with racism, and in a way until I am in the minority of the dominant culture, I probably won't. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Perspectives on Diversity and Culture

This week I had to ask 3 family/friends what their definition of culture and diversity were. At least one person had to be culturally different from me (a different gender, race, class, religion, abilities, age, etc.). Of the 3 people, 2 are 10 years younger than me (1 my age), 2 are a different gender (1 my gender), and 2 grew up in different places than I did (1 grew up 20 minutes from me).

One person defined culture as the set of norms, values, and principles held by the majority, which would be the dominant culture. This is really similar to what my definition of culture was before this class began too, but I'm now starting to realize that culture exists outside that of the dominant culture too. Although dominant culture exists, and can be a problem at times, it is not the only type of culture that exists. Just because one set of ideas and values is held by the majority, does not negate the fact that others exist too.

Another part of culture that was mentioned was shared interests. Again this would have been in my first definition of culture, because I've always viewed culture as language, music, food, customs, etc. But as I've learned so far, that's really just the tip of the iceberg of culture, where there is more deep underneath that isn't initially observed.

A definition of diversity someone mentioned was "the amount of deviations of cultural understandings within society". I just love this definition, mostly because it puts diversity away from the individual and back on the society as a whole.

Family diversity wasn't mentioned or discussed at all.

I think it's interesting to take a look at other people's ideas and thoughts on culture and diversity because it gives us the framework of ultimately how people view each other and how they interact with each other.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Family Culture

New class, new thoughts, new assignments. For this assignment we have to imagine that our country has just had a major catastrophe and we are forced to evacuate to another country, that has a different culture, and we are only allowed to take with us 3 personal items, aside from 1 change of clothes. These 3 items need to be something that you hold dear and that resemble your family culture.

For me those 3 items would be:
-A photo album
-My great great grandmother's Bible
-A box of dice

The third item was such a struggle for me. I'm assuming that my paper documents (birth certificate, passport, etc) and a small bag of hygiene items don't count as a third item. I'm also assuming that I'm allowed to wear special jewelry that's important to me (my wedding rings, my grandma's ring, a bracelet, etc).

So if those things don't count (which honestly if you're really in this situation they probably would count), what would my third item be? At first I thought of something electronic like a computer or a phone, to help me keep in contact with other family that may have been diverted to a different country or another area of the same country, but it's hard to know if the electrical currents would be the same in the other country. Then I thought of cash, but it could be very likely that would be confiscated at the boarder of the other country, or even if it wasn't it would be in a completely different currency. I also thought of a blanket, I love blankets, it would be comforting and could remind me of home. Lastly I thought of a deck of cards or a box of dice, because as a family we love playing games together and it would help pass the time in a country that we didn't understand.

After talking to my husband, who's first item would be a computer, I settled on a box of dice.

How would I explain the meaning of these items? I think it would be difficult if there is a language barrier. I think I would try to learn a few words right away that would be helpful to explain, like family, God, daughter, son, book, game, etc. Then I could explain that the Bible is a family book about God, that the dice is a family game, and I could point out the people in the pictures in the photo album.

If at the boarder they said I had to take my 3 items down to only 1 item, what would it be? I would have first put a few of the most important pictures of my family (a wedding picture, a picture of my parents, a picture of my sister's family, a picture of each of my kids as babies, and a current family picture) in my Bible already, used them as bookmarks. So I would keep the Bible, it has family history written in it, it's a family heirloom, and it's also the word of God, all of which is very important to my family. I would be upset about loosing the picture album and even the dice, I would feel violated and grieve over those things, especially after loosing everything else that we had left behind already, but I would be glad to keep something.

This was hard to think of, but it started some really good conversation between my husband and I and some friends. It really makes you think about what you hold so dear as important and what really isn't. The idea of something patriotic from your home country was brought up, which I think would be something I would really want in a new country, but it made me realize that I don't have an American flag in our home that I could even bring with us. I have a folded one, that my dad taught me how to fold properly, but it's in storage right now. I think it's hard to think of what is truly your culture, when you're indoctrinated into your own culture currently, it's hard to know what you would really miss and what wouldn't be available to you in the new country. But man that would be so hard.

Friday, February 26, 2016

When I think of Research

Class 5 is almost done! Wow, that's kind of incredible to say. It's been a long week and this coming week isn't looking any better, so it's pretty great to say that I am almost done with my 5th class (although class 6 starts in a few days, groan!)

When I started this class I really didn't think much of research at all. I knew it existed and occurred, and I knew that I had benefited from it with the products I used, but I really didn't give it much thought. Until the class started and as I looked through the syllabus, I thought oh man this is going to be really hard. But I was mistaken. The first part of the class I learned way more than I thought about the intricacies of research and it was surprising easier than I thought. Then about half way through new vocab words started flying at me and it got a little bit more complicated.

But all in all research isn't as bad as I first thought. It's detailed that's for sure, and there's multiple ways it can be done, but all in all it's definitely more doable than I first thought. It has definitely broadened my view of a professional in the early childhood field, because there are more professionals in this field than just teachers-they include the researchers, each type, who research more about early childhood. And early childhood education is not only affected by them but impacted for the good because of them too.

I actually enjoyed writing my research simulation. And I kind of hope that I might be able to pull it together in real life some day, it would be really neat to find out the real answers to that question and to discover what the research might really show.