I come from a humble family with Mexican origins. Along with the help of my family and low resources available to me I was able to get my bachelors degree in sociology and psychology from the University of California San Diego. My connection to the struggles of underprivileged hispanic/american families is what drives me to the social service sector. I now work for a group home for youth and wish to make a different with struggling families.
A specific interaction I had with a student, I found was very interesting. She started off playing with the feathers and using them to tickle her face, as well as the face of a another graduate student, and my own. “It’s so soft!” she exclaimed. She took several feathers and set them in front of her. I asked how she was going to decorate her doll, and she said, “I’m going to make a feather dress.” “really? That sounds wonderful, which colors are you going to choose?” She then proceeded to look through the bag of feathers and plucked out the purple, white and blue feathers and said,” these!” She lined them up on her doll, and rearranged them until they were in the positions she wanted them in. She then asked for the glue to glue them down with. She used a massive amount of glue and when she was done, she took yellow pipe cleaners and bent them around the head of the doll, as to make hair. “ I have yellow hair, and blue eyes, and a big smile” she said. After she glued down the hair she used crayons to draw in her blue eyes and her big smile. “It’s me!” she said as she held up her creation.
This activity helped me see just how important the arts are to the imagination and creativity. I was really impressed with how this student was able to think of using feathers to create a dress on her paper doll, and how she was so careful with the placement of the feathers. Her creativity really showed through in her final product, because the feathers really did look like a dress on the doll. Madeleine Holzer’s article, “The arts and elementary education: shifting the paradigm” supports the use of visual arts to foster and help further the imagination and creativity, which are not only valued in the visual arts field, but across any discipline. I believe that this activity was a great way to put their creativity to the test, especially because the students were not given things that resembled hair or clothes. They were instead given other craft supplies that they were required to use, then giving them the liberty to use these supplies however they wished. Furthermore, though this activity I was also able to see more about this student’s self-understanding. She knew that she had yellow hair, blue eyes and that she had a big smile, which could possibly be something that she had heard before. This can be seen a form of multimodal storytelling. In a way she was using this activity to tell about herself to others through a doll.
Gabriela Perdomo, undergraduate UCSD, TACKLE
Today we had to play games outside because the learning center was a polling site for the Orange Place community. I asked the kids if they knew why we were having LCM outside and not inside and they all answered "because that's where they're voting for the new president". It was evident that they were somewhat aware of the reasoning behind it. They were accepting about the fact that the adults were going to be utilizing their space and this is when it really hit me that the Learning Center is heavily involved with the entire community and extremely resourceful with the dedicated involvement of Ana.
Later I got a bit emotional when Alan, a 9 year old who comes to LCM every week, asked Charlotte how much longer we would be coming. She answered "3 more times" and he replied in an upset tone "that's it? and then you guys aren't coming back?" This made me think of how hard it must be for these children whom perhaps don't really have positive influences around them or the support from another adult to whom they could really open up to...yet here they are, interacting with us for 8 weeks giving us a small insight into their large complex worlds. This is something truly admirable. A vivid demonstration of what Duranti explained in the article titled "Theories of Culture". We as undergrads are experiencing an invitation to be a part of a new culture while at the same time perhaps getting a better understanding of our own. By playing games with the kids, doing ice breakers, helping them with homework, interviewing them, laughing with them, making small talk, hearing their stories, and working on their Who Am I? projects, we are experiencing a new culture; their culture. Duranti argues that the term culture can be problematic because it is often used " to justify why minority groups struggle with assimilation and the merge of mainstream society". These connotations can easily be associated with a place like Orange Place, being a low income housing community, but the culture and knowledge the kids actually possess is something quite astonishing.
Alma Lomeli, undergraduate UCSD, Orange Place
This week we began filming for out final "Who I am" project. The way the kids finally opened up so freely was very surprising. However it was also nice to feel as though the kids are beginning to feel more comfortable with me and confident in our relationship to share personal information.
For example Tanya* who is nine, is one of the more challenging students, she doesn't have a very positive attitude and tries to avoid participating whenever possible. While filming Tanya’s clip we had a chance to talk and get to know each other better, I learned that she lives with her mom who is 33, her two sisters (14, 17), and her niece who is 1 and is her 17 year old sisters child, all in a two bedroom apartment. She said she doesn't see or speak to her dad very often. I shared with her that my parents are also divorced. We talked about how she felt about her sister having a baby so young, she told me that she thought it was dumb because the baby cries all of the time and now her mom has to spend all of her money on the baby.
While we were talking she pulled out a big pack of bubble gum from her pocket, I asked her who bought that for her and she told me that she stole it. Surprisingly she was not ashamed, she was almost proud of herself. I explained that even if other’s say it is ok, it’s still against the law and she could go to juvenile hall, she said “good I don’t care.” Her reaction took me back for a second but then I remember that she had mentioned previously that she wanted to be a police officer. I then explained to her that if she ever wanted to be a police officer that she had to have a clean record which means no trips to juvenile hall. I told her that every time she stole she was risking her chances of being a police officer for a little candy or a pack of gum. It seemed like she was really listening and my logic was sinking in. I ended with letting her know what a great police officer I think she would make because I have seen the way the other kids listen and look up to her.
Our conversation was definitely an “ah ha” moment for me, I realized that many of these kids may not be getting the good examples they need to be successful at home, and that through La Clase Magica they are getting positive adult examples in their lives that they may otherwise never receive. Although we are there to teach the kids, a huge part of what we are doing is just being good friends and role models to the children. I have realized that the seeds we are planting in their minds now, essentially have the power to shape the decisions they make and the people they become.
Victoria Gerena, undergraduate UCSD, Los Robles