Thursday, August 27, 2009

Education Journal - Entry #1

These journal is going to be the journal questions that my professors from the education department have given me to answer while I am here in New Orleans working int he school. Here is my first, I hope you like it.

My greatest fear about this experience is that I will be teaching in a city that is far different from mine in Port Arthur, Texas. Yes, both cities are predominantly Africa-American, both are effected by hurricanes, both are still rebuilding and expanding. They both are having problems as well as growth in the school system. So there are many similarities between my upbringing in Port Arthur and New Orleans, however, it is the people that make the biggest difference. New Orleans has a different culture than people I know in Port Arthur. I mean most people who live in Port Arthur have ancestors and older family members who came from this area and moved to Port Arthur for industrial work, but after so many years apart, a different culture has arisen between the two cities. I have been told time and time again of how New Orleans is not just a different place but almost a different country. The people, culture, traditions and all kind of other things are drastically different and have drastically changed over time. One person told me that the people here have a mindset of “survival of the fittest - ghetto style”. Now that may seem a bit harsh, but these are people who have lived here, gone to school here and who still come back to visit. So they would have a better understanding that I would and that is my biggest fear. I have never had to live with the mindset of survival of the fittest. I have never had to understand what it means to fight for food or shelter. I don’t know what it means to lose everything you have and then have to fight, almost claw your way to the top and everyday having that climb become harder and harder by the minute. Yes it is a different culture out here and that is my biggest fear. As a teacher, how much time will it take before I am part of the culture or in some ways influenced by what I will be around. It is easy to say that we can be objective, but the truth of the matter is that as a teacher, one must be able to relate and in most cases, to relate one must take part in culture. This is a very scary thought in my mind, because it also brings up the question how can one maneuver through a culture and exert culture differences between New Orleans and Port Arthur. As I stated before, these two places have a lot of similarities, and a deeper similarity through family ties, however, will I be so influenced and engulfed in one culture that I become disconnected from the culture I grew up in or will I mix the two and not be able to survive in either one. While these questions do sound perplexing, it is a question that many teachers who chose to teach in other cultures besides the one they are used to, have to ask themselves. If it is hard to answer these questions for me being in two black cities, I wonder what goes through the mind of white teachers in color societies, or people of color going into white societies or better yet, in mixed societies if they came from predominantly one culture or gender society. There are also other situations like gender, and sexual orientation as well as state to state, international and domestic, language, and other situations that we don’t necessarily think of as factors.
I can’t really answer the question how I will meet these challenges head on because I don’t know how to. I don’t know what to do because I am not being challenged at this moment. I don’t want to plan for a situation until I am presented a situation. I rather deal with the problem as it comes. I rather find myself working through situations with the decisions I make rather than have something already set out and still come out not learning anything.
As far as my experience goes with my teacher, students and other personnel, I just want to build a relationship like I would build a family. I want to have a pretend-like mom and dad. I want a simulation family that I would normally get if I was at home. If I could have something similar to my home it would be family, because these are people I plan to rely on a lot to get through this year. My personality and enthusiasm is what is going to help me make sure this collaboration works. I have no problem talking to people and asking for support. I will also be available when needed to show that this experience I am having is just not one way, to where I am getting all the information, but it is a two way street. I must be giving back in other ways. It won’t matter if it is menial or very time consuming, I will show how committed I am to being here and how committed I am to making sure that all parties are satisfied. This is not a place of failure and failure is not an option. All of these relationships will be met and I don’t plan on anything not meeting required expectations.

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