Last spring semester I took part in the 1.5 credit program course Conflict and Peace in Northern Ireland. This program course during the spring prepared the class for a short-term study abroad program known as Bucknell in Northern Ireland (BUNI). The program is a collaboration of Bucknell, International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), and the University of Ulster-Magee College. This service-learning program focuses on the histories and cultures of people in Northern Ireland. From mid-May to early June, we stayed in Derry/Londonderry. We briefly visited the Republic of Ireland as well. Despite the constant overcast and rain showers, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! (my pictures don’t even do it justice)
Please note that Northern Ireland is part of the UK. It is not united with the rest of Ireland (the Republic) which is independent of British rule. As you may know, society in Northern Ireland is recovering from a period of sectarian conflict. The worst part of this conflict is referred to as “The Troubles” (late 1960s-1990s). This conflict between Catholics (Nationalists/Republicans) and Protestants (Unionists/Loyalists) was the spark of much violence in Northern Ireland during their history. When we, as Americans, think of these time periods, we see them as so long ago. To society in Northern Ireland, their history is still very much alive, like it was only yesterday. Continue reading
This week’s blog proposal about identity and racial issues brought up a lot of very insightful and interesting posts. Amanda’s “Pass me the ball, I’m open!” post we felt resonated well with the women in the class, especially those who have been on sports teams. Another post that sparked class interest was Lauren’s post about the rules of dating between men and women. Ben’s “High School Track in the ‘Burbs” told a great story about his experience with racism on the track team, while Caitlin’s story about growing up as an equestrian was informative and she threw in a daughter-dad story to make it a real tear-jerker. Derek provided a different way of looking at the issue, by blatantly saying he did not want to talk about it, but was still able to write a high-quality piece. As always, Joey provided some very intuitive media examples of racist comments among politicians, and we feel the class benefited from his strong opinions. Will a champion of Republican ideas step up? The gauntlet has been laid down.
But WHO was the winner??
Our criteria for the best blog of the week was:
1. It is insightful
2. It contains many personal examples
3. It takes an idea and questions it
The blog of the week award goes to Beth, for her “Pass the Chicken Nuggets” post. We found it to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and extremely honest. We enjoyed the way Beth used so many personal examples from her finance internship over the summer, and we found it to be a very real issue that women just want to be seen in the same light as men. Beth also writes in such a way that she takes an idea, poses a question to analyze, and then does so. We found her post to be entertaining, yet inquisitive, and highly realistic.
The best way that I have been able to contextualize the issues of identity and race in America is to relate them to the problems other countries have. For my blog, I am going to share a few personal experiences from studying abroad and then describe how they made me think about American society and the problems we have here. The first experiences are the conversations I participated in with my Spanish family about race, and the second experience is an identity/crime issue.
If you read my last blog post, you know that I lived with a host family while living in Granada. My family was very curious about everything, from my religion to my thoughts about gay marriage and politics. Before this experience I had no idea about the problems other countries had about race. I can tell you now that America is certainly not the only country with issues. I remember watching TV with my Senora one day and there was a story on about an interracial couple facing some sort of legal issue. My Senora became enraged, and started telling me about these two people she knew that used to date, and one was “so white” and the other was “so black”. She made it seem like the whole city knew about this scandal, and that it was seen in such an awful way. The way she expressed herself with no filter made me think that this was typical chit-chat in Spain, and talking to her about this issue really made me realize how much America has grown since slavery. I believe concepts like interracial relationships will become more and more accepted as time goes by. I told her that in America there are undoubtedly people against interracial relationships, but that there has been progress in its acceptance among society. It didn’t seem like there had been much progress in Spain.
Now, onto identity issues. I do not know much about law, but I was shocked at the lack of legal importance in Spain. One night when I was out in Granada, I was walking home through the Albaicin (which is the old quarters of the town) and a man went after my friend and tried to rob her. I went back to help and was pushed over in the man’s attempt to grab my purse. We got away fine because a group of guys came down the hill and yelled at him to get away, but the memory still frightens me. I think this can be related to an identity/gender issue, because if it were men that were walking along, they would not have been attacked (according to my host family). When I told them about this experience they said that there really was nothing that could be done, and that filing a police report would be pointless. From this experience, I began thinking about the differences between Spain and America. This event really surprised me, because I believe that in America it would not be taken so lightly. I know that there are differing ideas about identity between countries, but the complete what seemed like lack of respect for women was appalling to me because everyone talked about it like it was just something that usually happens. In fact, when I told my host family (all women), they fed me numerous stories of their own about getting robbed, and practically blamed it on themselves. I think in the America there is still a problem of women being seen as prey and not as respected as men, but I do believe that our legal system is helping to combat this issue. I am certain that identity and gender roles have evolved to different extents in different countries, and that our country is one of the most developed. But has it developed enough? Should we be proud of our development in relation to many European countries, or is this not an accurate way of measuring right and wrong?
Race is not a biological category. There is no Black “race” nor White nor Asian nor Native American. One way you can tell is that in my lifetime the numbers of races keeps fluctuating. Growing up in the South in the 1970s and 1980s, we would hear about the “White man, Yellow Man, Black Man, and Red man.” This, mind you, was in the context of treating all “colors” the same. Well, what in the hell are the new waves of immigrants, the “Latinos,” then?
This post is a very raw, un-researched post on my part. Continue reading
Athleticism is one of the main components of my personal identity. I consider myself to be pretty athletic and very competitive when it comes to sports. I grew up playing three sports (water polo, swimming, and softball) and succeeded in all three. Over the past three summers I have been a beach lifeguard in Corolla, NC where I have participated in big lifeguarding competitions and placed in multiple events in the South Atlantic Region. At Bucknell, I am a co-captain of the women’s water polo team (where we just went 4-1 this past weekend!) and have started all four years. Sports have consumed and play an important component of my life.
From my personal experience, I still see a large part of American society being sexist towards women’s athletics. For example, during high school gym class, we would play all sorts of co-ed sports including softball, basketball, handball, volleyball, and tennis. When it came time to the team sports, I would always become very frustrated. During handball for example, the boys would never pass me the ball even when I was wide open, in a scoring position, and calling for the ball. It was discouraging and frustrating and I ended up just walking back and forth on the court since there was no hope for me to get to participate. I have not only experienced this discrimination on the field but also by the attendance to female sporting events versus men. The men’s water polo team here at Bucknell will have the stands packed during their home games while the women’s team will have maybe a quarter of the attendance (mostly family). Continue reading