Yesterday, I was flipping television channels and I heard a woman say:
“Thank you Christopher Columbus for discovering America.”
And if you’ve been reading or you know me personally, you know that I have several problems with this statement.
- It is from a white dominant standpoint. It implies that “America” did not exist or have a history before a white man, Christopher Columbus, discovered it. It completely leaves out that fact that there was a rich native history in North America prior to Columbus’ “discovery.”
- By using the term “America” it puts the United States as more important than other countries in North, South, and Central America. It’s basically saying that the United States is greater than more than 15 other countries. No wonder other countries think that we are full of ourself.
- It completely leaves out the consequences of Columbus’ “discovery,” which was the start of the genocide of the
Native Americans American Indians. We all know that school textbooks never like to use the word genocide and American Indians in the same sentence. As a society, we have a hard time admitting our mistakes, especially grave ones.
We have to wonder why our government has sanctioned the celebration of this holiday. And before I go further, let me state that I’m not hating on Columbus. We can acknowledge some of his accomplishments, like surviving long voyages at sea (hint of sarcasm). But like every historical figure we have made a hero, we need to examine the positives and negatives of that person’s accomplishments.
We need to acknowledge that when we are “celebrating” Columbus Day every year, that we are doing so from a white dominant perspective.
So I want to share with you this video I that I found years ago. I think it sums up the point really well. It asks us to reconsider celebrating Columbus Day. And questions…
“Should we really be celebrating Columbus Day?”
**Note: As I shared, this video is a few years old. The website at the end of the video is no longer active. Also, Columbus Day was on a different date this year.
The end of the program year was a whirlwind to say the least. Just as I’m catching my breath while being buried alive by end of the year reports, I realize that it’s been two months since my last post. That means there is much to catch up on!
Thank you for following my blog and posts about youth development. This is my entry into the word of blogging and feel fortunate that you have joined me for the ride. This summer will be full of transitions as I move from a full time youth development to part time youth development consultant and a full time graduate student pursuing a Masters in Social Work. There will be plenty more to come, so stay tuned!
The title of this post is more than appropriate. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I will be attending graduate school full time this fall. I’ve had a great deal of time to reflect on the last program year. (There are only four weeks left of the program year.) After three years as a program manager, I feel a flood of emotions. I’m sad. I’m excited. I’m anxious. I’m joyous. I have had the amazing opportunity to see over 135 girls grow and become young ladies even if they were with me just for a year. In particular 16 of my 8th graders have been with me for three years. It’s been an amazing opportunity to see them grow not just in height but also in their values and beliefs. I’ve been a part of family struggles, boyfriend drama, and self awareness journeys.
They have not been the only ones growing; I have as well. I still remember my first week of program like it was yesterday. I don’t like to share this often, but I cried after my first week of program. I had so many doubts. Did they hire the right person? I cannot handle this. Am I doing any good? Yet three years later, I know this was meant for me. I’ve experienced the highest highs. I’ve cried with girls and for girs. I know deep in my heart that I was meant to work with young people. All these amazing and life changing experiences have helped me plan my next steps – social work.
At program on Friday, two of my 8th grade girls were choosing a song to perform at the Our True Colors Talent + Fashion Show (see post to come). They introduced me to this absolutely beautiful song by Beyonce called “I was here.” It sums up everything perfectly. I was here.
It’s hard not to be anxious or sad or nervous when knowing that a life chapter is coming to a close. As of now, I cannot image a life without fifty enthusiastic, opinionated, thoughtful, intelligent, and talented middle school girls each week. Nor do I at this point in time want to imagine it. But for now, I know that I was here. When I feel sad that this chapter in my life is coming to a close, I will try to remember the lyrics of the song. I was here for three years. I made a difference even if just in the life of one girl. My life has been changed as a result of these amazing young women. I was here.
Happy Monday. I hope this post will bring you a little inspiration.
I want to say I lived each day, until I die
And know that I meant something in, somebody’s life
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see
I was here
Yesterday, I went with my social work intern on a home visit, which was part if her learning goals. It was an informational home visit where we sought the opinions of the parent about the program, program topics, and her daughter’s transition to high school. It was a great visit.
Emma* has been in my program for the last three years. I have been fortunate to be able to see her grow into a compassionate leader and bright young woman. What was particularly meaningful to me was at the end of the visit. Emma went to her room to grab things we had done over the years in Jump Start.
One of my rules I share with my girls (especially after an activity) is: I don’t want to see you throw out what you have worked on. If you don’t want to keep it, then you can throw it out later when I’m not around. So when Emma began showing me her Superwoman drawing from her 6th grade year, her scrapbooking and “I am” poem from 7th grade, and her roadmap from this year, I was surprised. As I say, my heart began to smile.
So often program managers create activities and projects for our youth and they end up just throwing it out. When you have spent a couple hours planning an activity, that’s the last thing that you want. Also, at times I often wonder how much my program’s two hours once a week means to the girls. How much is it really impacting them? Seeing that Emma kept all her projects for the last three years was encouraging to say the least. Those little activities meant enough to her that she kept them. She even put some of them on her bedroom door.
When I have doubts again about the impact of my program or that one hour activity about goal setting, I will remember how Emma kept her things from Jump Start. If it impacts just one girl, then its all worth it!
*Name of the participant has been changed.
If you read my last post, Early Exposure to College, you know that I attempted something very brave last week. (If you didn’t read it, you should scroll down to learn the importance of early exposure to higher education for first generation college students.) I survived five college visits in five days…with middle school girls. I took 37 girls (24 unduplicated) to colleges and universities in Washington, DC and central Pennsylvania.
Did I achieve it? Yes.
Am I tired? Yes.
Was it worth it? YES!
To quote the movie, The Girl Next Door, “The juice was worth the squeeze!”
With this post, I want to bring you a summary of last week. Below is an update about the success of Jump Start’s College Week 2012 that will be sent to parents and school counselors. I hope to you bring you a more thorough reflection later this week. But in the meantime, enjoy the highlights!
[SIDENOTE: I created the document you see below; I enjoy creating and designing. I'm available for freelance graphic design. See my "About Lauren" section for my contact info.]
[Source for Quick Facts: Princeton Review and College Board.]