When I registered for the Promising Practice Conference I was not sure what it all meant. What I did know is that if it wasn’t a requirement for this class I never would have attended. Thankfully I have a little sister that was more than happy to accompany me to a world beyond my knowledge. So we arrive at the crack of dawn and pick up our packet. While we patiently awaited the beginning of the workshops we chatted with some other the other students and realized that the conference was geared towards teachers. What was I doing at a conference for teachers? I am a senior nursing student. What was this going to teach me?
Those lingering questions were answered almost immediately when the first workshop began. The Student Nursing Association gave the first presentation. They talked about all the wonderful plans they have set into action for providing cultural competency to the nursing students. They spent a vast majority of their time talking about cultural differences. As a nursing student (being the only one in the room) I understood the importance of cultural diversity. It was a well prepared presentation that was full of statistics and facts about the success of the association. What I didn’t hear was what was being done to bring in the underrepresented population into the nursing program. It is great that cultural differences are explored but what about all the other aspects of the world that makes us all different, such as gender, class, and sexual orientation. At this point I started to feel a little embarrassed about being in the nursing program. I would have liked to be told about RIC’s beliefs on diversity. So I looked it up and came up with this site http://www.ric.edu/diversityAtRIC/.
When the second presentation began, I started to see everything that we talk about in class unfold in front of me. I listened to the members of A.L.L.I.E.D (The Advanced Learning and Leadership Initiative for Educational Diversity) talk about the things they have to offer their fellow students. This association has worked hard to establish a safe place for people of all walks of life to join together and teach each other about themselves. It gives them an unrelenting ally in the everyday challenges they may face. While the group started for education students they do not turn anyone away. They are aware that all students need support. They use blogs as a means of supporting each other when they are not on campus. They meet once a week to discuss a variety of topics. They are very active in helping the underrepresented find their voice and place (well deserved place) in the classrooms as teachers educating our youth.
One of the strongest links in this organization is our very own professor, Dr. Bogad. As Allan G. Johnson points out in his book, Privilege, Power, and Difference, the power in the world is based on class. He states that the highest class of privilege is given to the white, middle-classed, heterosexual male. While Dr. Bogad may not fit into all the above categories, she fits into enough of them to be considered privileged. Which brings me to the next idea that popped into my head as I sat and listened to the members speak.
Our class discussion about being an ally jumped right into my head. The members of this group rely on a privileged individual to support them in their daily battles of being different in one way or another. We discussed in class that you don’t have to be a loud protester or write letters to congress to stand up for a cause and that is exactly what Dr. Bogad does for this group. She is an ally. She doesn’t make loud noises to congress or cause strikes on campus. She just stands by her members and helps them anyway she can. It takes me back to the class exercise we did with the music teacher and the boy who laughed. The members of this group take comfort in knowing that if they are made to feel less than equal, they have many allies to depend on for support.
I was curious to know what others thought about the word “Ally” so I googled it and came up with this website http://www.familyequality.org/pdf/allies.pdf that explains what it means in relation to the gay and lesbian community. I found it helpful to understand the difference between being just a friend and being a true ally.
So I sit and wonder how all of this ties into feminism. Ally, cultural diversity, underrepresented population, cultural competency, it all seems a little foreign at times. The part I do understand is that feminist need allies in their struggle for equality. They are not just looking for allies in other feminist but also in males that believe in the cause. Privileged males standing next to women in their fight will be heard on a louder level. In all professions cultural differences need to be explored, respected, and embraced. Differences in gender, sex, and orientation also need to be explored, respected, and embraced. I would like to think that someday the structure of our lives can be altered in such a way that humans will be accepted and treated equally clear across the board.
After the workshops we went to a presentation put on by teen power. Once again I had no idea what I was walking into. For the most part it was an educational workshop to help teachers get their students engaged in the classroom. The activities were fun and Yemi did an amazing job representing us during one of the activities. But I was disappointed to find out that the speaker was selling things and I was just made to sit through a sales pitch. But overall it was a good experience.So I said at the beginning of this post that I would not have attended if this wasn’t required, but I am ending by saying that I am very glad I went. I learned a lot and I think that this conference should be required for all freshmen. If I knew half of what I know now my years at RIC may have gone differently. Being a senior leaves me feeling like it is too late for me to get involved in any of the associations that we have on campus.
One of the problems that I have always had is remembering where I read something. As you can imagine this causes some problems for me when writing papers. I can't tell you where I read what I remember discussing in class, all I can say is the information stays with me. So I decided to do a little googling and came up with some interesting sites. So if you are bored check out a website or two.
Thank you for changing the way I look at the world.