So I’m back in school. Just finished my second day of classes. Didn’t do any homework yesterday, I think because I was still kind of resisting the beginning of school. I’m already overloaded with readings…
But anyway. Just came from my Educational Studies class, Race, Immigration and Urban Schools. It was rather uncomfortable, in a potentially good way. As an American Studies major (for now, anyway) and potential Ed. Studies concentrator, I find myself in lots of classes that focus on America and are filled with Americans. I am always made aware (perhaps by myself) of my international student status, and that’s always an interesting position in which to be. Today, we did a couple of short, in-class writing assignments. The first answered the question, “What is your immigrant story?”. My professor defined immigrant as anyone not born in the United States. Once again, I found myself in that awkward in-between place, not a citizen, but not quite an immigrant, either. I wondered about my American classmates and what their stories would be – is anyone really from here? And for those who are, are they really? Are we all immigrants in some way? It was a great question that made us all examine our assumptions about immigration, and immigrants, and The Immigrant Experience, but still, I’m sitting here, half an hour after the end of class, feeling a little lost.
I think about being an international student – anywhere, really – and it is a bit of a strange thing. I imagine that it was different in the past, when lines and boundaries between us and them and home and away were clearly drawn, like it or not. But today, with the wealth of technology and massive increase in accessibility, with globalization and the dawn of the internet and etc, well…it gets a little more confusing. What does it mean to study a different culture? What posture does one adopt in order to do so? I think in the past, you kept your own background separate from that of your subject matter. But today, we talk about the importance of personal experience and the value of bringing that into our learning… Yet, there’s a kind of dissonance that remains. How exactly does one do that? And how, being the lone ranger, having to both educate as well as be educated (the others)?
As you can see, I haven’t quite got a firm footing, but sometimes that’s the best place to be. I know I’m faced with challenges that have the potential for huge growth, and whether they serve that end or lead me to the other not-so-pleasant alternative depends on how I choose to engage with them (or not). I’ve been telling people that it’s time for me to get serious about my studies now, and I do mean that. I feel like I haven’t really been engaging in my work, for whatever reasons. It takes time and effort and energy, and that means sacrificing something else. I always think of it as a tradeoff between immersing myself in God-things and academic-things. But it doesn’t have to be. God sent me here, and there’s gotta be a way that all of this ties together in His perfect plan.
I am honestly excited about all that I could learn, if I apply myself (ha ha). Gotta keep reminding myself of that, because that excitement definitely hasn’t grown deep roots yet, and it will be easily squashed by mountains of homework and readings and lack of comprehension… It’s time to get real. No more doing things just to get by… Though at the same time, there is something to be said for choosing wisely the things to go more in-depth into. My work, for example. I’m working for an amazing professor this year, and I’m so excited because there’s so much that I could learn from his experience. I’ve also got the opportunity to do a civic engagement project for my Ed. Studies class, and one of the options is to work with ESL kids at the local high school. They’re doing an acting class, which requires them to develop narratives (in various forms, I’m guessing) to tell their life stories. I really hope the scheduling works out and I’ll be able to do that. Our writing center just hired a new ESL specialist, and I’ve definitely been feeling like my own work with my ESL student has much room for improvement.
So yes, I’m excited. And also rambling. And needing to start ploughing through my readings