In today’s American economy and workforce, the value of education has grown exponentially. Education more so than ever before is being looked to as the means to improve American economy and workforce. In order to bring bright futures to individuals and the country in general, public education needs to step up in providing equal opportunity in the classrooms across the nation. However, to achieve such level of equality, funding is a major issue that needs to be determined (http://www.schoolfundingfairness.org/National_Report_Card.pdf ).
Meeting a level of equal opportunity throughout public schools in America means that equal amounts of sufficient funding need to be dispersed to provide a challenging curriculum, highly trained teachers, and multitudes of programs. As well, to further promote this idea of equal opportunity, it requires the schools to bring in equal amounts of low-income, special needs, and English-learning individuals. Ensuring this diversity is present at these schools, funding could further support new programs that could help these individuals benefit in schools (http://www.schoolfundingfairness.org/National_Report_Card.pdf). This would be the dream situation for schools and funding; however, funding is not necessarily being distributed in this manner. In recent years, inequalities have been detected, especially between schools that are very similar in the demographics and teachers they have. Its effects have been studied in recent years to gauge a better understanding of how it is affecting American education.
In one research project, evidence has supported the claim that certain districts distribute their different shares of the funding received by the state, or even federal, level, which can be especially seen between schools that serve the same demographic of students. Furthermore, larger portions of funding have been directed towards schools with veteran teachers, who are known to provide a rigid yet successful curriculum compared to the schools that are hiring teachers right out of college (http://educationnext.org/do-districts-fund-schools-fairly/). This uneven distribution is allowing a further gap into achieving educational equality. As a country, we put our beliefs on the ideas of freedom and equality. Why can we not have that in our education systems?
This study found this evidence predominantly through analysis of the funding between two prominent districts in Texas, both with characteristics that make this study valuable. Being two districts with schools having 25,000 and more students within them, it allows two events to occur that have been looked at before. First off, previous studies that looked into school funding equity stated that funding discrepancies are fairly prominent in the largest and most urban school districts. Through analysis on these larger districts, as well, it acts as more of confirmation that we are thoroughly identifying the full extent of inequality that may exist between schools. However, at the same time, it needs to be noted that while this study did a fair job at obtaining findings from this study it does not generalize how every district works in distributing funds. After observing and researching the districts per-pupil funding, average expenditure for each student-need group, and other funding, the study brought to light some new findings on funding inequity (http://educationnext.org/do-districts-fund-schools-fairly/)
First off, it found that more unequal distribution of funds was not found between two districts but rather within its very district. Even though equity has been improved in the past decade, the coefficient of the variation between schools is much larger when looking at schools in its specific district rather than in comparison of other districts. The image below demonstrates this point (http://educationnext.org/do-districts-fund-schools-fairly/):
From the results, there were three factors that were the main associations to variations in funding: school level, school size, and academic performance. Nevertheless, unintentional factors such as teacher experience may play a role. As well, districts typically found that they saw high school as the institution that would catapult excellence so much of the funding was centralized to the high schools of this district (http://educationnext.org/do-districts-fund-schools-fairly/). While that is great to put lots of effort into the higher level of education, where does that leave the primary education? In order to gain an equity in education, why don’t we focus on elementary or middle schools to fund? Elementary and middle school are where many of the fundamentals of cores subjects are taught. If we are underfunding these institutions, by the time they they get to middle school, it is already too late. There needs to be a greater focus on equity of funding at ever level so that there is equity of education.
Throughout this semester, I have focused a great amount towards specific moments and cultural phenomenons about Peru. Writing this blog, as well as getting to go on the trip, has been a blast to experience. However, being that I feel I have overstayed my welcome on the specifics of Peru, I thought what would be more fitting for a last blog entry than to focus on what people can get out of international travel from my perspective.
Especially as a college student that has not traveled much beyond United States borders, international travel provides a learning experience, not just about another culture but a lot about yourself as an individual. The process before, during, and after a trip is quite extensive, so putting yourself in this hectic situation tests your patience and ability to adjust to stresses and environments. As well as personal insight, an international experience tests your ability to be prepared. Its a mind game, guessing what to pack, what needs done in the paperwork aspect, and more in going on a trip. Being prepared is definitely something I picked up along the way.
International trips, depending on where and how you are staying in a certain country, can truly open up your eyes on how cushioned we are in America. Because the accessibility to electricity, water, and a few other entities is so easy, we, as Americans, take these resources for granted. Living for 4 days in a lodge with no wall on one side and lamps with candles as sources of light, it was definitely a challenge to adjust, but in the end, it made me value the little things in life.
If I gained at least one thing from the trip, it was that international travel opens you to a new culture. Whether a part of that culture involves its customs, holidays, or even cuisine, being in a foreign area opens your eyes, and ultimately perspective, on lifestyles. Plus, it enriches your experience while being there, providing great conversation starters upon your return back home.
Beyond anything else, if traveling with a group, staying in someone’s home, or with family, international trips can form both new connections with locals and/or strengthen your relationship with someone you feel close. Being caught in a new environment, people tend to show their true colors in handling situations that require adjusting or introducing themselves to a new environment and individuals.There are so many things I got to learn from my friends Maddie and Janine from the group by staying together in hotels, walking around Lima, and participating in activities throughout the trip. Likewise, international travel got me to meet some very interesting individuals from PUCP as a result of this trip and still hear from them a over 6 weeks later. International travel is an effective means to forge new friendships or contacts that you never imagined to get and experience.
While I do not know of your plans this summer or throughout college regarding study abroad or foreign travel, I do hope that my blog opened you up at least to the beautiful country of Peru. With the school year ending and summer approaching, I hope you find your “big adventure”, whether traveling home or to the coasts of Australia. Thanks for reading my blog!
In the last few blogs written, I’ve talked about everything ranging from the medicinal plant use to the creatures within the Amazon since the end of my spring break trip to Peru. However, this would not be a blog dedicated to my international adventure if it did not cover this topic: the food! I have yet to discuss the one question on your mind: What was the food really like?
Before jet-setting off to my stay in South America, I had written about common dishes that were found in Peru. Personally, the research was both a learning and cultural experience to have for the time there. Being that I am such a picky eater, having the knowledge for the types of spices and weird entities that Peruvians enjoyed was beneficial when I arrived at restaurants or meals at the lodge in the rainforest. With that said, I would like to present Part II of the two part series on Foods of Peru!
UPDATE: No guinea pigs were harmed while on this trip (It was hard to find Cuy with the limited amount of time! I apologize.)
The first meal item is more so a gelatinous drink or dessert than a meal. It is the Chica Morada, which translates to the term Purple Corn, and boy, that name is fitting! This item is mainly composed of the purple corn’s syrup, making the drink very sticky on surfaces and enormously sweet to the taste buds. Personally, I struggled to swallow this drink whole at the meals it was served since it was high in this sweetening corn syrup. Many of my fellow classmates found it challenging as well, but for Peruvians, this act of drinking Chica Morada daily was the equivalence of Americans that consume soda in large quantities on a frequent basis. While personally disgusted with it, I admire that Peru welcomes this item with open arms and stomachs.
Another item for the sweet tooths out there is a marketed candy called Besos de Moza, meaning girl kisses in Spanish. Made by the famous Nestle brand, we were in a supermarket in Lima when we came across these. Initially confused on what this item was, we purchased a box to taste test and come to find out that it is a little S’more in circular form! The graham cracker was placed as the bottom layer to keep the structure; after that, extremely soft, gushy marshmallow and chocolate were added as needed. What a treat it was!
Lastly, my absolute favorite meal from Peru was called Aji de Gallina, a common chicken dish at dinners. Unlike the American staple of fried chicken, Aji de Gallina was a cooked chicken breast that was covered in this yellow sauce. The sauce added a dynamic power to this meal. It was a very unique taste that is hard to describe expect for being one spicy condiment. It had me drinking glasses on glasses of water in order to cool my mouth down! While it was challenging to eat, I miss that meal so much due to its unique flavoring. Eating the campus dining hall chicken these days just makes me wish that I could have one more dish.
While I could blab on and on about the numerous courses and snacks that Peru had to offer, these few items were some of the common or most interesting delicacies that Peruvians had to offer. Getting to eat so many unique meals has made me more willing to try different international foods. If you have any suggestions on some new dishes or places to try, I would love to hear them!
As they say before eating meals… ¡Buen provecho!
In the last few years, the current topic of discussion in education tends to focus in on the newly drawn out Common Core and its standards that it is placing on people. Confusion on the Common Core’s purpose and plan tend to leave many American parents worried for their children’s future. By initially getting to the basics of what this whole program is about, there can be some clarity on what needs to be solved.
Being developed since 2008, the Common Core standards were not just a new policy that came out of the blue. The initial process began when the Arizona governor Napolitano at the time wrote an initiative for the year, a function of her job as chair of the National Governors Association. This initiative stressed the need for a greater focus on the science and math educational lessons for this country. Alongside that train of thought in the initiative, the chair also wrote about a great emphasis on the workforce, such as what skills were needed for careers and education on what jobs were needed to be filled in this country. Also, Napolitano felt this country was lagging behind in the international competition for excellence in innovation. With the creation of a task force composed of education officials, governors, and corporate C.E.O.s, standards were created to put America back on track. (http://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/articles/2014/02/27/the-history-of-common-core-state-standards?int=9e0208).
What are these standards then? Listed on the Common Core website under Read the Standards, the guidelines of the Common Core require 6 main points of interest that formed what the system is today and supports the value of this system. Common Core works according to them because they implemented a system that is:
- Researched or evidential based
- Defined, comprehensible, and thoroughly consistent in all policy and forms created
- Aligned up with the expectations of higher education and career pathways
- Centered on challenging content in topics like math and English and the application of knowledge gained through utilizing higher-degree thinking skills
- Formed upon the successes and hard lessons of other current state standards
- Advised by other top-performing countries in order to prepare all students for success when in dealing with the global economy and society.
With the standards, the degree of completion help further along a child’s education to reach the ultimate goal of obtaining success in college, the career-oriented world, and life in general (http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/).
As with much public policy in the United States, critics of the educational platform had many remarks on this system. Everything from the freedoms this policy violates to the hassle of the implementation in schools has been utilized to criticize this new policy. However, many statistics support the reasoning behind the movement towards the Common Core.
In the year 2013, ACT scores demonstrated a new pattern that was not promising and encouraging about the way our future was going with these children. Out of the many individuals who took it, only about 25% of the high school students were deemed prepared for the course work in English, reading, science, and math in college. Another astonishing statistic involves the use of community college today. Whether it is for financial or educative reasons, the community colleges are another form of higher education that has become extremely popular within the last few years. In a recent study I found, it was concluded that more than half of the high-school graduates that go to community college need remedial classes to continue furthering their education. Not only is this turn of events humiliating for the quarter percentage of students, but rather this remedial coursework costs the nation $7 billion every year. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/23/colleges-behind-common-core_n_5615091.html)
These statistics help in furthering the claim that Common Core’s implementation can be beneficial for the next generation of students and lower levels of violence, teen pregnancy, and more. However, with all these reasonings why, there are counter arguments as to why not for the implementation. Common Core is going to be expensive to implement. Common Core provides a cookie-cutter education to my student and will limit his or her creativity. Common Core may not improve those standardized test scores that every student stresses about. These as well as others prove that change is needed in some form, whether people agree or not. (http://www.newamerica.net/sites/newamerica.net/files/policydocs/CCGTC_7_18_2pm.pdf).
Nevertheless, since I have briefly outlined the Common Core and some issues, I encourage those to further their knowledge on what Common Core is and what issues are currently up for debate on its website. Being educated about your education system is important. Thank you for reading this post! I plan for the next civic issue blog to further expand possibly of this topic again, but go more in depth on the issues at Common Core. If you guys have any suggestions, please feel happy to share. It can be about the character, the overall goal, or anything else that I could improve on. Thank you so much!
With my trip to Peru being my first international trek in college, I feel lucky to have gained both cultural and educational experiences from it. With no clue what I was going to learn from the rainforest that remotely related to my major, there was plenty for me to discover. One event, in which we visited a local shaman and saw medicinal plants, broadened my thinking on the definition of medicine. It was initially difficult wrapping my mind around the fact that these simple plants in nature could mimic many common medications seen in pharmacies. Being the geek I am though, I thought I would give you an overview of these magnificent plants!
In understanding the role of each plant, it is critical to know the role of the shaman. Typically, shamans are seen by society as some voo-doo doctor that can magically cure anything in the blink of an eye. That fact is completely false. It is a job that requires course work for a few years and an extensive knowledge bank to know what to do for the community. With limited commercial medicines and little known protocol, these shamans act as the personal for all medical and spiritual concerns in the community, most of the time utilizing plants to solve simplistic situations.
The question now becomes what plant cures what problem. Will some herbal medicine cure that sinuous infection I had for a week? What does Cana Cana Morado cure? I thought I would clear up those questions with a little field guide below with the whos and whats of natural medicine.
Ayuhuasca and Chacruna coupled together is a powerhouse duo. For people within the spiritual journey, these herbs bring about visions and people’s spiritual animals to gain insight on personal and spiritual matters. On the more clinic medicine side, the Ayahuasca root pictured above has been found to temporarily stop the tremors of individuals of Parkinson’s diseases.
The next plant is the Chuchuhua, nature’s lovely over the counter aspirin. Whether it is a cough, cold, or runny nose, this plant knows how to fix you right up. Furthermore, if you are just needing a little cream to fix up that wound, look no further! Sanipanga can be utilized as an antiseptic cream.
As a girl, this herb I found interesting. While it can help those achy arthritic joints, it can also decrease the pain and regulate a girl’s menstrual cycle. Which girl wouldn’t love that?
For the men reading, listen up. There is a plant called the Para Para,meaning stop stop in Spanish. What might it do you say? Basically, it is the Viagra of the rainforest. Nature works in weird ways!
Though there is no medical use for this next herb, it is an important one to the societies in the rainforest. Individuals covered themselves in Sacha Bufeo to successfully hunt. The plant would mask the scents that only human hormones release so that animals did not detect them in their hunt.
Have a cavity? No worries, the Cordoncillo plant can help that process. As a substitute for novacane, the plant works in numbing the sensitive area by chewing up the leaves and placing them in the area desired.
Lastly, the Una de Gato is a plant worth keeping in mind. Its popularity in the pharmaceutical industry sky-rocketed in the past few years, with Bayer unsuccessfully trying to patent the treatments and usage of the plant. Due to its chemical structure, the Una de Gato has been found to cure early stages of cancer along with some major intestinal and liver problems. Who would think a plant in nature could lead the way in curing cancer? How many cases have used Una de Gato to cure early stages? What was its success rate? With that said, the magnitude of this plant to the society was remarkable.
While Peru’s medical system may not contain technologically advanced equipment like ours, these medicinal plants show the uniqueness of the term medicine. Medicine across the world is different, ranging from rural medicine to high-class private pregnancies for millions of dollars. However, what stays the same is the quality of patient care and problem-solving skills that shamans and doctors alike receive.
I hope as the weeks till finals decrease that you are able to complete your work and stay healthy. If not, maybe we will search for a plant to fix you up! Until next time!
Growing up with my adventurous, down-to-earth family, my appreciation for wildlife has been an enormous part of who I am. While I may not have been always the most pleasant kid when my mom shuffled me outside or forced me to walk in the park near our house, I valued the importance that each plant and creature has within the world, even the pesky Penn State squirrels that have taken parts of my lunch. This love of nature and wildlife is really the true reasoning that led me to want to travel to Peru because we were headed to the nature freak’s ideal vacation location, the Rainforest.
Why am I dedicating a whole post of wildlife you might say? Good question!
It is because what I saw is nothing you would ever see on campus here. Sure there was a cute red Asian squirrel that searched for Brazilian nuts like a Penn State squirrel searches for its perfect student victim, but staying in an ecotourism lodge with an open wall really keeps you in tune with nature.
While we may have been exposed in our accommodations or in the hikes we took daily to different land creatures, the first one I found interesting was in the waters of the Peruvian lakes. It is the lovely fish, the piranha! With razor sharp teeth and a mean look as if it is coming after you, the piranha is a natural killer. We ultimately came upon these rascals when we decided to fish in the lake as a break from our unsuccessful search for river otters. The most intriguing part to me about the piranha is documented in the film below in which the tour guide was feeding the fish a part of the orange peel, which it ultimately attacked with such finesse and speed.
As a Premedicine major, I always find it intriguing the research that has been initiated and performed in different areas of this world. Ultimately, when we came upon the furry, tiny saddleback tamarins, my heart melted. With such a petite size, it makes you just want to take one home in your backpack, which unfortunately is both dangerous and illegal. Beyond that, these little creatures have helped in research involving new cancer treatments. Practicing safe techniques, the results show promise that the future of oncology improves.
Lastly, another animal that inhabited the Rainforest during our stay was a green boa. Perched on a tree, this beast, one of the most giant and most tactful snakes known to man, was resting so peacefully. Getting up close and personal for his beauty shot, it was marvelous to observe the features and muscular structure that this mighty snake beheld. At the same time though, I was petrified for my life, being that my worst fear is snakes. In the end, we both went our separate ways, getting a picture or two from the experience.
While this is only a handful of the many creatures that inhabit this biologically diverse environment, the astonishing things seen in the trees and floors of the Amazon were spectacular. It was a nice change of scenery from the constant rabbits, deer, and annoying squirrels that I come across with every day. While I do not plan to go back and become besties with a boa constrictor, I am appreciative of the beauty and complexity that nature provides. It opened my eyes to the problems and issues that need to be addressed about our natural world. So recycle, turn off the lights, do not kill off plants, and do everything you can to preserve the natural resources we have. Ultimately, the sad truth is that one day what I am posting might not be here.
For numerous years in the global community, nations have spoken out and debated the value of education for girls. However, improvement has been moving at a relatively slow pace compared to other global education issues. Why is this so? According to Rebecca Winthrop in an opinion piece, the difference in value of philanthropy that is between the United States and other nations is significant. While we have numerous outlets that could such as grass roots communities and faith-based networks that help poverty-stricken areas, these groups have bigger fish to fry, which then does not put priority on the girl’s education (http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/education-plus-development/posts/2015/03/03-let-girls-learn-white-house-initative-winthrop). Studies though show ways that this emphasis and funding can improve the well-being of women as well as the nation as a whole.
According to a report released by Ackerman, improving girl’s educations have the potential to solve many economical and social issues that a nation has. Education is key in informing and preventing many mistakes that people continue to make because of the lack of knowledge. In general, those women who received a thorough education are less likely to die from complications in pregnancies in their teenage years. As well, the children that these wise women are less likely to face issues of malnutrition and mortality compared to those children brought into homes of young teenage, uneducated mothers. An education for girls can mean an increase in contraception use, a smaller percentage of underage premarital sex, a decrease in the spread of HIV/AIDS, and a reduction in child marriage and early teenage births. Health problems that are seen above in young women would decrease and help improve the well being of women and the future populations. While not every women in the world is lucky to say that, the little improvements in education have saved about 2 million lives of children between 1990 and 2009 (http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Papers/2015/03/innovation-action-funding-girls-education/Ackerman–Girls-Education_FIAL.pdf?la=en).
Improving economic struggles has been difficult for many nations such as ones in Africa and the Middle East; however, by furthering a girl’s education, they can ultimately improve the financial and economic struggles. Education can potentially contribute to the women’s labor force because of the skills picked up in school and the education allowing women to discover more about what careers there are. Nations can potentially see reductions in poverty, greater political participation by women, and a greater community involvement by women (http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Papers/2015/03/innovation-action-funding-girls-education/Ackerman–Girls-Education_FINAL.pdf?la=en).
While there are research studies showing improvements for women in education, there are still barriers that are being faced and dilemmas with educating women. For instance, secondary schools are lacking the amount of women that are being seen in the primary schools due to numerous reasons. One reason that is stressed in the Ackerman article is the idea that nations now are working towards reductions in price for primary and solely focusing on that level of education. With less emphasis on secondary and post-secondary schooling that help in building different skills that are applicable more so to the workforce, it is not drastically improving underdeveloped nations through just focusing in on primary education (http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Papers/2015/03/innovation-action-funding-girls-education/Ackerman–Girls-Education_FINAL.pdf?la=en).
As stated before, societal pressures play in as a factor for different cultures. Some places in the world are stuck in their ways culturally with having early dates for marriage and pregnancy, so not every nation is fully committed to further educate women when they are believed to have their role in society in that nation.
Lastly, as with anything that seems to be unappreciated, funding is a great barrier that is limiting further improvement of women’s education. According to the article by Ackerman, education funding is a small sector and in order to allow every child in the 46 underdeveloped nations to receive just a basic primary education, an estimated $26 billion dollars would be required. In plain terms, it is not achievable to receive that funding to provide girls with proper educations (http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/Files/Papers/2015/03/innovation-action-funding-girls-education/Ackerman–Girls-Education_FINAL.pdf?la=en).
While there are many reasons to further the cause of girl’s education, It is also valuable to note the barriers and their effects. Being part of a club based off of a nonprofit, the Malini Foundation, who works with orphan girls in Sri Lanka, I was recently shown this video which I believe helps in summing up why the stress is being placed on improving girl’s educations. I hope you enjoy!
After spending my spring break adventuring new territories in heat I hadn’t experienced in the US since August, it has been quite difficult to come back to the harsh reality of State College and Penn State. While the “heat wave” here has been a nice touch this week, I miss the culture, food, and people I met during those 10 days of travel. Though there were highs and lows with everything, it taught me a lot about different cultures and people we encounter.
The topic of this passion blog has been quite difficult for me to decide on because it seems as if I am bursting at the seams to spill every detail and story that I possibly can. There were many events that I loved experiencing; however, one in particular comes to mind that really helped me open my eyes.
Near the end of our trip, we were spending time in Lima, the capitol of Peru. With 11 million people in its vicinity, Lima is the city for lively adventures like in New York or Los Angeles. It is a city for the youth of Lima to prosper, and the culture of Peru and its predecessors to continue to flourish. Though there were many moments to witness that, it was when we visited PUCP in Lima, a midsized private university, and hung out with the college kids that it came together.
After spending the entirety of the morning and afternoon with professors and taking tour guides like prospective students, it seemed as though this jam-packed day of events and knowledge was never going to end. Yet, as we were standing by the bookstore, one of the professors that spent the day with us came up with a group of his students. Though his job was done for the day in helping us, he decided that we would find it beneficial to get to know his students and see who they are. It was so gracious of him to do that and allow us to meet different people. At the time, I was just seeing this action as a friendly gesture for these American college students., but it soon turned out to become an adventure.
Before returning to his office, this professor announced to us that later that night he had something set up for us to do in Lima with these students. Wanting to get away from the section of Lima from our hotel, I was thrilled that these people were willing to take the time out of their schedules (as well as their summer break) to show us the historical district of Lima. Getting to see the president’s house and the historic Baroque cathedrals is something I will never forget.
When the tour was over though, it was nice to fall into the roles of college students with these Peruvian students. Being that I was in a course for spring break while visiting such a marvelous area, the trip for me was different from what I imagined. I wanted to explore all I could, but there were guidelines that had to be followed. There was a lot to do in such a short period of time that it became quite hectic and stressful to know what was going on. Being just a college student however, where we talked about majors and dreams, ate Bembos hamburgers, and laughed at our funny, embarrassing stories, felt good and made me realize we are one in the same. Cultures may be different, but what unites us is that we are both trying to start our journeys in life as young adults. We have mistakes that were made, advice to share, and understanding of what we are experiencing that is hard to find outside of the college atmosphere. It was comforting to know that in a whole other country that there were college students who struggle with English papers or balancing their social and academic life.
While we left our friends in Peru, I am still happy to say that I found all of them on Facebook and have been messaging them ever since. With them coming back from their summer break, they are looking forward to their semester ahead and what it holds for them. I too am excited to see what they can do! Here is a few pictures .ith my new friends! However, this is only one part of my trip; I am excited (and hope you are too) for more posts on Peru in these next few weeks. Chau Chau.
For the last month or so in RCL, the only thing on our minds is deliberations. Covering everything from how to research the topic to how to present the approach, I came out of my group’s deliberation on Monday feeling confident in knowing how a deliberation works. While many of us have different majors, the skills in a deliberation is something that is applicable for any career. The communication skills that come with a deliberation are ones that we can leave Penn State with.
This week’s civic issues blog then is devoted to this assignment. In order to write this post though, I attended another public deliberation last week about the worth of a college education. Through participating in the one I presented and the one I attended, I found many differences and similarities on how to run a deliberation.
Being that I was frankly scared to present a deliberation this week, I decided I would attend one before Monday. Interested in what they had to say, I attended the deliberation that was titled “Get Schooled: Is College Really Worth It?” at Webster’s Bookstore. After getting a name tag and an issue guide, the deliberation began with their whole team standing in the front before those not presenting sat with us. With the environment being a very open forum compared to the Common Place and the group members conjugating with us, it added a sense of a more relaxed conversation than a informative discussion.
For their Intro team, they went into the deliberation, talking extensively on the definition of a deliberation. However, being that the dominant group of people attending were other fellow RCL students, it felt very repetitive to hear what a deliberation was and what the rules of one were.
After finally discussing both the definition of a deliberation and the topic briefly, the Intro mini-group went into their personal stake. In order to bring the dynamic of a public deliberation where everyone participated, they asked us for our first name, our major if we were a student, and why we attended. It was intriguing that they did this exercise because it made everyone contemplate why they attended and made it easier to open up after that.
With all said and done in the personal stake section, the approaches soon sounded in to begin the discussion. For their first approach, the statement was that college helps students gain social and cultural awareness. When we first started, I thought we were going to learn more about the approach. However, the approach members went straight into having us discuss what their approach was about. This really threw me off because I had not deeply looked at the issue guide for reference on what to discuss. However, this was not just done in the first approach, but also, the second and third one, which discussed students becoming a well-rounded individual and being prepared for jobs respectively, was presented this way. They would say two or three sentences and then open the floor immediately after. This technique made it hard to initiate discussion as well as difficult to follow sometimes. If they would have gone in depth a little more, I believe it would have made the discussion flow easier. Other than that, I felt that the discussion was interesting and had many points to outline for each approach.
After all the approaches were said and done, we ended with the conclusion. The conclusion was more centered on what was said in each approach and not really questioning us to think of how this information was important. Adding questions about what policymakers should do about Gen-Eds or how to implement more career services would have been intriguing and tied together all we that we discussed. Because they did not really extend beyond what was learned, it made the conclusion fairly short.
Overall, I found their deliberation to be quite successful. While I felt parts were missing or not as strong, there was some great discussion about what college really provides for us.
When comparing the set-up of our deliberation and the deliberation I attended, I think their are components that could be incorporated of the two to make a strong deliberation. For instance, we did not have a strong personal stake. Many people did not share or participate in the discussion, so I feel that an exercise such as the “Getting Schooled: Is College Really Worth It?” did could have benefited the discussion slightly. On the other hand though, since the deliberation on importance of college did not present their background on their approaches, I felt it hindered discussion initially. I felt ours having a short intro to each approach helped those who did participate feel more educated on what they were discussing.
In the end, while I am glad it is over, I also am grateful to have gotten something out of this experience. Though there were flaws we all had in deliberations, I believe it taught us the importance of effective communication on critical topics.
Spring Break 2015 is one day away, meaning only one thing. My trip has finally arrived! Tomorrow, I will leave University Park for JFK airport. From there, I will spend the whole of Spring Break in South America, traversing the depths of the Amazons and the culture of Lima. With the numerous experiences and pictures I will be taking, I’ll have to strive to not tell all of them in the first passion blog when we return.
While there is a lot of excitement for this trip, this snow day made me start thinking more in depth for Peru as I was finalizing my packing. One thing that was pressing on my mind was the concerns I have with the trip. There is no denying that there are things that worry me. In an attempt to get them out of my system, I thought writing about them in my blog post this week:
- Concern #1: Will I have all the necessary documents? Did I pack my toothbrush and contacts with me? Do I have the correct currency? Basically, am I ready? This concern is one that many travelers have. It is not uncommon for me to be unnecessarily panicking at the gate, thinking I left something behind. This concern for this trip however is more noticeable. Once I leave University Park, I cannot return to make it in time for my flight. If I leave my passport or immunizations though, I cannot travel to Peru. Being prepared is essential. While I have tried to stay ahead of the game this week, it has been hard to get ready while handling exams, projects, and papers. In the end, I just have to be confident that I packed everything and be ready before I leave Friday.
- Concern #2: Being in an underdeveloped country in some areas, disease is fairly common in those areas. While I have taken every safety precaution, from vaccinations and medications to 40% deet bug spray, it still concerns me. After reading and experiencing the Ebola outbreak in the fall, it made me think more about the risks for disease that comes with international travel. However, though there are risks of obtaining a disease anywhere you go, I believe that the benefits and experiences will outweigh that.
- Concern #3: Will I get homesick when I am there? Will it inhibit my experience? I traveled once before to Europe on a People to People trip without my parents. However, I remember how homesick I was when I was there. Though I have lived now a semester and a half without them at my side, it is still something I thought about. I am missing out on valuable time with my family and friends back home. While that is a downside of not going home for Spring Break, I remember how excited my family is to hear about my trip when I return. I am lucky to have such supportive parents I can say.
As with anything, the pros and cons have to be weighed out when making a decision. For me, while I am scared to forget something, get a foreign disease, or feel homesick, I know that there is more positives for this trip. While it is not apparent now, I know when I land in South America that I will realize the value of this trip.
I just have one thing left to say then.
Get ready Peru for Emma Schwendeman!