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Reflective Farewell

When I think about working with children and their families my hope is to have a positive lasting affect on each child and when needed to be a source of help and understanding to their family.

My main goal as an early childhood educator is to provide a high-quality education to children prior to entering kindergarten. In Mississippi; which is where I live; 1 in 4 children enter kindergarten unable to recite the alphabet or recognize their own name in print. Until 2012 the state did not require any formal education of children younger than five years old, the mentality has been that the responsibility of the family and sub-par daycare and head start centers. Hopefully with new legislation regarding pre-k education and charter schools children will have access to be quality education.

To the members of Group 1, thank you for sharing your professional and personal experiences on topics that at times are difficult but necessary to discuss. The opportunity to do so in a civil respectful way in an open forum was a welcome experience.

A special thank you to Dr. Parrish for providing resources and words of wisdom that allowed me to truly acknowledge and begin to alter biases I had when I began this course.

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Welcoming Diversity

My family would be relocating from Vietnam and would be visiting early learning centers for their 3 year old son.

1. I would recruit an interpreter to be prepared in the event the family’s English is limited or non existent. It will also show the parents we are willing and prepared to work with their son and the family.

2. Have pictures displayed, and books that reference the child’s homeland and heritage.

3. Have a talk with the potential classmates and teacher about making the new student feel comfortable.

4. Research traditions and religious practices that may apply to the child’s culture.

5. Allow the parents to accompany the child on the first day and observe the environment of the class and how their son interacts with the teacher and other children. 

By locating an interpreter I feel that will make the initial meeting less stressful for both myself and the family. Also by taking the initiative to research some traditions and religious practices I will have a place of reference to learn more about the family.

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Home Buying Bias

Approximately nine years ago I gave in and agreed to purchase a home in my husbands home state of Mississippi. Because his career takes him away frequently we pre-qualified through our bank and selected the area we wanted to live in prior to my contacting an agent. I selected three houses in the subdivision and contacted the listing agent by email. We spoke a few times by phone and I explained we were pre-qualified and trying to close on a home in two months. She was very eager to start the process.

I could tell my race surprised her by the way she rushed me into the house. She tried to remain professional pointing out a few selling points, but her main focus was on the price and the fact that the HOA fees were somewhat steep. I informed her that we had owned and sod two homes in other states and I would not waste her time or mine if we weren’t serious buyers. She apologized but the damage was done and so was my business with her.

I was also done with finding a home. Why would I live in a place that still judged even the ability to live in a certain neighborhood by race? Being fiscally responsible has nothing to do with race,ethnicity, gender, or age. It is the result of good business sense and hard work. 

After a few months of reflection I decided to go into the agency again. I was greeted by a very friendly older man who ultimately sold us one of the homes I had on my list. Yes we are the only Black family in the neighborhood, but the experience has not been totally negative. We socialize with many of our neighbors and our grandchildren love playing at the lake with the other kids in summer. I may have been discouraged but it turned out well in the end.

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Microaggressions

Being a member of two marginalized groups, there are many times I have been the target of or witnessed microaggressions.Unfortunately it is not just members of the dominant culture that are guilty of these transgressions towards other cultures. For instance.I am constantly being told that I speak in a very proper manner. Although I have become accustomed to certain comments about my diction, it really bothers me when a Black person says I really ” sound White.” It’s bothersome because they are unwittingly supporting the stereotype that Blacks speak poorly and so should I.

This week’s assignment has made me aware of the effects that prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes has had on me as a female minority.No matter how confident I am as an intelligent, compassionate human being, I must always deal with people that feel they know me based upon societies stereotypes.

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The Culture Question

Culture is your family heritage, and diversity refers to your unique qualities.”

Culture refers to race and ethnic background.Diversity usually applies to people who aren’t White.”

Culture is the values and traditions you learn from your family and community. Diversity is what makes you different from whats considered the social norm.”

The majority of people I spoke with about culture and diversity agreed that culture was not only race and ethnicity but what we are taught by our families. They gave examples of deep culture such as religious beliefs, how we express ourselves,values and even how we discipline children. I was surprised that most people paused before saying that diversity is what makes us unique in some way.way. No one mentioned speaking another language or sexual orientation in our discussions.

The discussions I had about culture and diversity did not change or influence my thinking in any way. However, I did find it interesting that some people were visibly more uncomfortable than others when the conversation began.

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Family Culture

The three items that I would select to carry with me to my new community would represent my family culture at different stages.

1. My maternal grandmother’s gold wedding band. She and my grandfather were married for over 50 years and she never removed her ring. She explained that when your husband places a ring on your finger its forever. So it came as a surprise on a cool September day in 1974 when she removed it and gave it to my grandfather. She passed away a few days later. I was 12.

2. My Lladro porcelain baby. It was a gift from my first husband to celebrate the birth of our first daughter. It represents the beginning of my new family in a new country,Germany.

3. My external hard drive. A few years ago I spent about a month collecting old family photos from my aunt and her children so I could have them stored digitally. I am an only child whose parents and grandparents are deceased, so its important to have pictures to share with my grandchildren.

Although I would be upset to give up my baby statue and my hard drive I would. The statue has literally traveled around the world with me and ultimately lasted longer than my first marriage, but I can do without it. The hard drive contains copies of one of a kind pictures, but I gave CDs to both my daughters. My grandmother’s ring is priceless and represents the love and commitment they shared. It will eventually be given to my only granddaughter to wear should she choose to marry.

This exercise was somewhat difficult not because of the idea of leaving the familiar; I’ve moved many times. Nor was it the notion of having a limited number of “things”. It was the reminder of how much loss I’ve experienced in my life and the reminder of my own mortality.

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My Supports

My husband and I decided three years ago to become a one income household. It allows me to spend summers with our five grandchildren and travel when he’s home from work. Therefore, the most important support I have is financial. Recently my youngest grandson; he’s two and a half; was admitted to the hospital in Jacksonville, Fl. I was able to fly there and stay with him in the hospital which allowed my daughter to take care of his older brothers and continue working. Had I been employed the process would’ve been more complicated. On a more basic level, my laptop and smartphone provides countless supports on a daily basis. From managing expenses and shopping, to getting scheduled reminders, watching church services, and now attending college to prepare for my second career. If these supports were gone I think the transition back toi work would be easy; though not as profitable, and even with the convenience of modern technology I still know how to handle my finances and other things the old-fashioned way.

I’ve often wondered how difficult my life would be if I lost my sight. There would be many more supports I would require. A driver, an instructor to teach me braille and how to navigate my surroundings. I would also want to join a support group of other people who had lost their sight late in life to discuss the emotional issues and day-to-day challenges. Under this circumstance losing these supports would make life very difficult. But I’m sure the support of my family would make things easier.

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