I remember turning in my essay for this program with expectations on how the program would work. I participated in the Ivy League Connections last year and it was the best summer of my life. With this in mind, I was very excited to have another amazing summer. If I hadn't gotten into the Med School program in Vanderbilt last year, Social Justice was my second choice so it was amazing to do the two programs that I wanted the most.
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The Social Justice class appealed to me the most this year because I think that social justice is completely relevant right now in light of the recent police killings. I am a race that is being targeted and there is little to no justice; I thought that educating myself on these issues is one of the best ways to protect myself. The class was not what I expected but I completely fell in love with the class after day one. At first, I was a bit intimidated by the class because there was a required reading and I didn't finish; I thought that this would put me behind everyone else, but I was wrong. The class was pleasantly surprising in a way that I didn't expect. I imagined it to be completely structured and planned out to the T. It was nothing like I imagined. We touched on many different social issues sporadically. We learned about these issues through the means of art, plays, lectures, site visits, and in class workshops. There was so many opportunities to learn about a certain topic.
I've always considered myself a self aware and socially aware person; but this summer I learned that that's only half the battle. It's one thing to be aware of a problem, it's a completely different thing to take action. I think that my biggest take away from the Social Justice was learning how to be an activist. I met a group of teenagers in South Philadelphia who were fighting tooth and nail to keep their schools open. I found inspiration in their passion for education equality. I've always been aware that some kids are provided with a better education than others but I never thought that there was anything I could do about it. Once school starts, I'm going to take my community service clubs to the next level. I'm vice President for my school's interact club and I plan to change the meaning of community service. It's more than just cleaning up a park, it's about making sure equity is accessible. It's making sure that we don't take injustices sitting down.
On the social side of the program, I have to admit that I didn't put in much effort in making new friends. I talked to my roommate and some of my classmates but I didn't really talk to anyone outside of that. One of the reasons for this is because I made really good friends last year at Vanderbilt and it was heartbreaking leaving them behind. I wasn't brave enough to go through that kind of pain again this year. I don't think that it's fun to become so close to someone in such a short amount of time just to never talk to them in person ever again. Life is cruel like that. The people I did talk to enlightened me beyond belief. I met a transgender male named Jason who made me aware of all the problems and injustices in the Transgender community. He was so outspoken and was open to answering any and all questions that I had. I met a Jewish girl named Sarah who was very outspoken on the Israel-Palestine problem. I also learned about the internal issues with China and its territories. One of the most mind blowing facts I learned was that Taiwan wasn't a country. Taiwan is a territory of China. There is no way I would have learned all of this without this program. I can honestly say that I can work with different people now because I have.
I think this is the hardest blog to write because I know I've changed but it's hard to describe how. The change in me is too abstract, and words won't help readers grasp how black lives matter to me even more than it did before. It won't describe my newly ignited passion with mass incarceration, feminism, athlete rights, hip hop, immigration, and countless other things. I'll finish off with pictures that will help describe my odyssey this summer better than I can.