My Favorite Guest Lectures
1) Women’s rights by Sherry Mariea
I found this lecture especially enticing and thought provoking because Mariea gave a new spin to gender issues. She started off early on by saying that she would not specifically call herself a feminist. As she went on with her lecture, this shocked me. I was surprised because she talked about things like gendercide, sex trafficking and her own personal experiences of gender discrimination. All of these things are usually issues that feminists want to reverse so it was so intriguing that she didn’t necessarily consider herself a feminist.
I thought about why she didn’t consider herself a feminist for awhile the next couple of days after her lecture. Although I never got to ask her, through my own thoughts I came to a sad conclusion: our world has tainted and twisted the word “feminist” so much from its true origin and essence. Too often, when you ask someone what a “feminist” is, they think that it is only someone who advocates for the rights of women. When in fact, feminist really means advocating rights for all.
This comment, and her lecture as a whole, then allowed me to examine my own beliefs. Would I consider myself a feminist? I think I would consider myself a feminist but I think that I look at gender differences through a much different lens than the typical feminist. Because I am entering a field dominated by women, education, I have often been questioned (by myself and others) what issues of gender inequality mean to me. It’s been hard to hear people say, “You don’t need to be a feminist because you’re going to be a teacher and all teachers are women.” This has had the opposite effect than people have intended by saying this because it makes me want to be a feminist even more. I think female dominated fields (such as nursing and education) almost need feminists the most.
Below is a video about how much we have changed as a society over the years. Cars have changed, technology has changed, and even attitudes have changed. However, in this video, it illustrates that classrooms have not changed at all in the last 150 years.
This video and lectures like Mareia’s allows me to examine how important it is to bring change into my profession to better the lives of all.
I loved this lecture because it got me to think past my normal sphere of comfort and allowed me to establish my true beliefs. Mareia wasn’t afraid to share a different viewpoint (not being a feminist) and because of this it challenges me to share my different viewpoints to enact humanitarian change.
2) Service learning by Ann-Marie Foley
Service has always been something I have been very passionate about. I have gone on 6 mission trips and love any and every opportunity I get to serve because it teaches me a lot about my world, my community, and myself.
This presentation was especially interesting to me because it pushed me to examine a lot of my beliefs and perspectives. I went on a mission trip to Jamaica after this lecture was presented and after we had spent a lot of time talking about negative impacts NGO’s can have. Because of lectures like this, I went on my Jamaica trip curious about the positive and negative impacts we had. I never thought that NGO’s could ever have any sort of negative impact because we are never taught to think that way.
Pictures from serving in Harmons, Jamaica this spring break.
In the lecture, on the slide it said that a challenge of NGO’s can be, “Ethical purpose and aid as forwarding self-serving purposes (religion, volunteerism, professional development, ideological and political control)” (Think Global PowerPoint). I didn’t want my trip to be something that forwarded my own personal motives, but rather helped a community so different from mine. While on my trip, I asked the director, Josh, a lot of questions about this. It was so interesting to me because he was telling me that this is something they’ve diligently and consciously thought a lot about. They make it their mission to work with the Jamaicans instead of for. A really cool example of this is Won By One (the organization I went on my trip through) has each participant bring two suitcases full of donations to leave in Jamaica (including everything from medicine, to toys, to clothes for all ages). Instead of just handing these over to the Jamaicans, they put them in a store where they can buy them at very low costs. This then allows the Jamaicans to not be dependent on a “white savior complex” (as talked about in this lecture) and gives them a sense of worth through being able to buy their own stuff and work in the store.
The store where the Jamaicans work and where our donations went.
This lecture gave me such a cool, new perspective that I never would have had going into my trip without. It has pushed me to be a more critical thinker and citizen of this world.
What insights did you gain doing research on your country?
My country, Syria, is in the news all the time. Even if you don’t know anything about what’s actually going on in Syria, you know that it’s at least on the news. And sadly, before this blog research that was the extent of my knowledge. I knew that something was going on in Syria, but didn’t know what.
After learning a lot about the conflict in Syria, it has made me want to be a more knowledgable citizen. It’s important that I do know things about Syria, and other countries, because we are all globally connected. I have learned so much about my own government and beliefs through learning about Syria and that’s the way it should be. I should be able to know what my beliefs and thoughts on a global situation is without doing it just because it’s a blog post.
Because of this blog, I want to continue to learn about Syria and the world with an open mind. I want to become a better informed global citizen.