Hurricane Katrina, Syria, Iceland…and my heavy heart. 

More than 11,000 families in Iceland have offered to open their homes to Syrian refugees in a bid to raise the government’s cap of just 50 asylum seekers a year.

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I spent the last three days compiling facts, photos, videos, personal narratives to share with my 10th grade Cultural Competency class this week. (This morning, the projector didn’t work, and we lost 10-15 minutes of class time. When I got frustrated about what I didn’t have a chance to cover, I reminded myself: Get over your privileged “problems,” T.) 

Yesterday, I posted something on here that I found while lesson planning, thanks to writer Rebecca Solnit and her Facebook post: selections from a website that was put up in 2005 (it has since been taken down) where people from all over the country could share Housing Offered posts for the Hurricane Katrina victims in need.

Today, reading this particular story about Syrian refugees (not “migrants”) and about the generosity of the citizens of Iceland made me shed tears once again — tears of gratitude for  human kindness, camaraderie, empathy, compassion, unconditional generosity: More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis – Europe – World – The Independent.

These words in particular slayed me:

“They are our future spouses, best friends, the next soul mate, a drummer for our children’s band, the next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finishes the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, a fireman and television host…People of whom we’ll never be able to say in the future: ‘Your life is worth less than my life.’”

These words, in how humanizing they are, ground me in why I do what I do…in a country to which I have immigrated, whose land and people I have claimed as my own.

Thanks for reading.


Leaning in: A student’s guide to engaging constructively in social justice education

I LOVE this article!

Leaning in: A student’s guide to engaging constructively in social justice education

Here’s an excerpt:

…basing our knowledge on such sources as personal opinions, self-concepts, anecdotal evidence, hearsay, intuition, family teachings, popular platitudes, limited relationships, personal experiences, exceptions, and mainstream media is insufficient for understanding and responding constructively to social injustice.

Therefore, to maximize our learning of social justice content, we offer the following guidelines:

1. Strive for intellectual humility.

2. Recognize the difference between opinions and informed knowledge.

3. Let go of personal anecdotal evidence and look at broader societal patterns.

4. Notice your own defensive reactions, and attempt to use these reactions as entry points for gaining deeper self-knowledge.

5. Recognize how your own social positionality (such as your race, class, gender, sexuality, ability-status) informs your perspectives and reactions to your instructor and those whose work you study in the course.

And another excerpt:

Practice the following approaches to the course content in support of Guideline 4:

• How does considering the course content or an author’s analysis challenge or expand the way I see the world?

• How have I been shaped by the issues the author is addressing? For example, if the author is talking about the experiences of the poor and I was raised middle class, what does their perspective help me see about what it means to have been raised middle class?

• What about my life in relation to my race/class/gender might make it difficult for me to see or validate this new perspective?

• What do my reactions reveal about what I perceive is at risk were I to accept this information?

• If I were to accept this information as valid, what might be ethically required of me?

And lastly, excerpt from the conclusion of the article:

General Reflection Questions to maximize learning of social justice content

1. If I wasn’t worried about my grade, how would my engagement in this class shift?

2. Which of the various guidelines detailed in this essay are the most challenging to me, and why? How can I meet these challenges?

3. What degree of responsibility am I willing to take for getting the most out of this course (e.g., coming to class prepared and having completed the reading, engaging in large-group discussions, not dominating discussions, asking questions for clarity, speaking respectfully in class, and using academic rather than colloquial discourse)?

4. What degree of responsibility am I willing to take to support my peers in getting the most from this course (e.g., engaging in discussions, not dominating discussions, listening respectfully when others speak, taking the small-group discussions seriously, coming to class prepared and having completed the reading)?

5. Many students think about higher education solely as a stepping-stone to employment, and thus the only knowledge that is worthwhile is knowledge they see as directly connected to getting a job. We ask you to consider what other kinds of skills higher education can provide, and how these skills are also connected to future employment. If you think beyond a strictly vocational approach, what skills do citizens in a global democracy need? How are these skills also important to any future work you do?