Education Race and Children

I thought it could be fun to write this blog in Spanish because why not? And I need the practice! Shout out to my Spanish speaking readers!

I attended a presentation about how to talk to your kids about race and racism. The presentation was interesting especially since it got me thinking about how I want to talk to my own kid about racism. The spanish portion of this blog talks about what tips I liked and which I thought were kind of odd. One of the major tips I liked was to be open and honest with your children.

Yo fui a una presentación sobre cómo hablar con tus niños sobre raza y racismo. Especialmente ahorita, es difícil poder hablar sobre racismo sin ofender gente. Muchas veces padres piensan que no hablar sobre estos temas es mejor pero nos mostraron que a seis meses los bebés empiezan a distinguir diferencias raciales. Por esta razón, aconsejan que hablan con sus hijos temprano. Estoy un poco confundido como saben que los bebés distinguen “diferencias raciales.”  

Me parece raro que aconsejan actividades para hablar sobre raza con sus hijos. Muchos de los consejos realmente requieren que los padres sean honestos y cómodos con sus hijos. Mi consejo favorito es “Be active.” Uno no debe tener miedo de hablar con su hijo! No dejes que un niño en el colegio le enseña sobre raza. Yo quiero ayudar a mi hijo entender racismo y hablar sobre las muchas dificultades del mundo.

Educating children is super important. I have so much respect for educators because they have a big responsibility. The other day someone told me that the knowledge professors have does not necessarily mean they are good professors. This means a professor does not have to know anything to teach someone something. I don’t know if this is completely true but it is interesting to think about. We learned language on our own. Nobody moves our mouths to make sounds. We figure that out on our own. So in that case I can understand the merit of throwing someone to the sharks and letting them figure out what they think for themselves. I think that educating a child should be a combination of guidance but also throwing them to the sharks and figuring it out for themselves.


Deliberation I went to

I went to a deliberation that is very relevant to me. It was about teen and young adult pregnancy. I am going to start with what I found distasteful. First they made it seem like every young parent is unprepared but, at least in my experience, there are many factors that determine the readiness of the parents. I do think the group addressed the major issue which is about unprepared young parents who end up screwing their innocents child’s lives. They came in with statistics in relation to income and poverty levels.

I went to a high school where 60% graduated. I saw many young pregnancies some work and others don’t. I have found that it is dependent on the decisions made up until the pregnancy. Many people feel trapped or like their life has come to a halt. Luckily for me, I have Penn State as a big safety net for me. If I did not have that then I think I would be in a completely different situation. One thing is for sure though, the child is innocent and the parents have a responsibility for the innocent being they created. The group focused on the inability of young women to find good help. This drove the discussion for a while because two community members where activists on the issue.  

Something I liked about their deliberation was the set up. It was just a bunch of chairs in a circle. I found this to conduct discussion fairly well. It might have to do with the fact that everyone is on the same playing field to express their thoughts. This deliberation made participation easy and effortless.  I think this was one of their strongest assets.

I did feel like there was not a lot of experience in the group that presented nor did they interview or ask someone with experience. It felt like a lot of “I feel that this is blah blah blah.” It made it feel a little bratty. I don’t know maybe I am a little hypersensitive to the portrayal they made. I am also happy that I did not fit the portrayal of the “young parent.” In my eyes, at least, this has and will be a blessing that will test me and has forced me to grow up.


My partner and I thought it would be interesting to advocate for fair labor conditions for immigrant workers. Andrew stepped up to the plate and suggested taking the brief while I will be taking the advocacy component.

My plan is to interview 3 friends and 3 PSU dining hall workers. I have not come up with the questions yet but it would be a short 5 question survey regarding the origins of the food they eat and whether they know the labor conditions for the workers that harvest our food. I plan to do this in the form of a podcast using garage band or to do a video and have the interview questions come on the screen followed by the video/audio clip of the answer. The video will consist of me talking for about 3 minutes then 4-6 minutes for the interview and then 2 minutes for a closing. I plan to have pictures and maybe even some video clips.

It should be pretty cool. I am actually excited about this project and it seems like it will be a ton of fun.

Onsite Foodservice

High Expectations

I have recently developed an interest in Hospitality Management. Hospitality seeks to provide shelter and care for travelers of all sorts. I learned a lot about this when I walked El Camino de Santiago, a 550+ mile pilgrimage hike that relies on the kindness and hospice of others to complete it. I know the importance of Hospitality and the value it has on a day to day basis. In this blog post I will be examining the food and business side at the North Dining Halls as well as explain the ins and outs of Onsite Food Service.


There are two kinds of operations for Onsite Site Food Services:

  1.     Self op: An organization that exists for a purpose other than providing food services to the public or to internal clientele, and chooses to manage their foodservice operations themselves (rather than contracting with a management company).
  2.      In self-op, each operation has to “reinvent the wheel.”
  3. But, we get to invent it any way we want to…
  4.     dominates School Food service, Healthcare and Senior Services
  5.    Contract: Using an outside provider to provide services that are not part of the client’s primary business.
  • Onsite Food Service operations are located in organizations that do not have food service as their “primary” business or purpose and may be “for-profit” or “not-for-profit.”


Penn State Dining halls works as a self-op Onsite Food Service, and that comes with many benefits and disadvantages. As noted one disadvantage is that they have to “reinvent the wheel” meaning they have to start from scratch. Penn State need to balance the cost, accessibility and quality of their service and product to insure maximum participation.


Millennials are categorized as:

  • Confident
  • Connected
  • Open to Change
  • Food Knowledgeable

The hospitality industry is trying to adjust to these shifts in the population by creating niche markets for younger customers (who have greater discretionary spending than previous generations), young families, and aging customers at the other end.

As a result, new concepts are being offered such as “fast casual’ dining (Fast Casual: Full-service quality in a quick-service format; Hybrid that combines convenience with higher-quality ingredients).

Millennials are food savvy. We are not easy to fool. In a globalized world the diffusion of idea and different cuisines flows freely through society. Not only do we expect good food but we expect to be surprised by what we are eating. The thrill and experience over caloric intake.

The reason they Penn State is able to subsidize the cost is because they are banking on the difference between points bought and participation. Meaning, Penn State wants you to waste those points at the end of the year to balance out the cheap cost of food. Naturally Penn State chose self-op so they could squeeze out money from its customers, otherwise they would have to pay a company like Aramark.

Weekly Food Review

Breakfast: For Breakfast they had a buffet which included, eggs, mushroom swiss eggs, rice, french toast, english muffin egg sandwich, sausage patty and pancakes/waffles. Although sounding good the food was sub par. The eggs had zero spices what so ever and the egg english muffin was cold and seemingly petrified. Breakfast was disappointing but many times it is not. Breakfast is a hit or miss

Lunch: For Lunch they had cheese ravioli, smoke house burger slider, veggie paella, pizza, pasta, corn, carrots, and french fries. Lunch was pretty good, I had the ravioli and Corn. Itwas something that was not too hard to mess up.

Dinner: For Dinner I had Thai spicy tofu, rice, sauteed broccoli, and brussel sprouts. Again, it was pretty good but nothing had any damn seasoning and that sucks.

Lets Get to It

This blog post will follow a story about my own education, briefly cover a short story I read and then an interview on IB Education.

A defining moment in my education is associated with a vivid memory: two teenagers, covered in dirt, tasked with planting on a 30-degree slope with a couple of shovels, a homemade bunyip, some basic understanding of agriculture, and the desire to contribute to their school. I went to a Montessori school founded on some of the same principles of intellectual rigor, the promotion of imagination, creativity and commitment to justice that characterize Penn State. Classes were designed for discussion and self-initiated projects that mattered to us and to our community.

A friend and I wanted to grow vegetables and herbs for the cooking of our “community lunch” (a weekly event run by students). We researched different forms of agriculture and got the teachers involved. We came across “permaculture”, learned about the concept and techniques used, and figured how to determine the contour lines of the terrain (a must in permaculture). We had two options: a $600-laser level or a homemade bunyip. Needless to say, we made a bunyip with scrap wood and with it found the contour lines necessary to strategically plant vegetables and deep rooted grasses so our garden retained water and resisted erosion. That self-sustaining system we developed is still providing for the school’s lunches; a common good for our school, the environment and our community. I smile every time I drive by.

I believe in learning as a relevant creative endeavor.

In “El Etnografo” by Jorge Luis Borges, a man is sent to learn everything about a tribe and come back and explain a secret they have held for hundreds of years. At the end, he comes back with nothing explaining to a board that having all the information is one thing but experiencing it for yourself is education. The most important part of education, discovery, has been lost. With so much information at your fingertips how can one discover, mess up and learn?

In an attempt to better understand the education system in a more concrete way I decided to interview a student from South Bend, Indiana. Andres, a Junior in high school, in the IB Program (a program I too was enrolled in).

Interviewer: Can you find three words that describe the IB program?

Andres: Demanding, rigorous, bullshit

Interviewer: Clearly bullshit stands out, could you elaborate?

Andres: The administration running it is flawed. There is no order or organization which makes a program with so many demands difficult to complete.

Interviewer: Do you notice a difference between your Ib classes and regular classes?

Andres: Yes there is a big difference in class engagement ad expectations. Everyone is expected to participate in IB classes.

Interviewer: Do you think your Ib teachers are qualified to be teaching that level?

Andres: Yeah they are pretty qualified. For example, my History HL [Higher Level] teacher forces us to question the text and enter into discussion.

Interviewer: What do you not like about the IB program?

Andres: The amount of homework per class every day makes you sacrifice other things you want to be involved in.

Interviewer: Does Ib facilitate discovery?

Andres: Kinda, some aspects do but the overwhelming amount of work makes learning a chore sometimes.

Ib, which is regarded as the pinnacle of secondary education worldwide, is not always what it is cracked up to be. Although it is supposed to help create curious minds ready for that moment of discovery, it really creates sleep deprived students with no energy but to do the minimum and what is asked. I do think there are many benefits but as Andres showed it is not perfect.

El etnógrafo por Jorge Luis Borges [traducción en inglés/ English translation]

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