Stupid Rich Bastards is a narrative of imposter syndrome with the main issue being that the author is very much unlike the “rich” students that attend college. Since previously living a live dictated by poverty, the entrance into a new world where opportunity is abundant and not scarce is such a stark contrast to the life where the making or life or death decisions is the norm, that Laurel Black struggles to cast aside her old self and transition into a new being as a daughter that her parents are infinitely proud of for even making it into college.
The immigration process, an elaborate game of chance and a beautiful display of finesse. Through the tireless work of translators such as Luiselli communicating the adventures of the children crossing over the border and the thankless work of the lawyers that commit themselves to representing the children in court, they ensure that the limited number of children they’re able to represent are guaranteed the full benefits of the immigration process. With every child, Luiselli and lawyers craft the grisly tales of children like Manu running from MS-13, struggling with all his might to stay alive. Luiselli will regularly hear the tale begin as one of fear or a tale of survival that ends with no conclusion. Once the questionnaire reaches its end, the children are either sent into the claws of the courts or deported back. That is where their tale with Luiselli will end. It is a story that either has no ending or one that ends in darkness. And even with her work with immigrant children, listening to hundreds of stories still can’t answer the most stand out question, “Why did you come to the United States?” What appeal is there to the United States beyond just being a place to escape from violence? What reason does Luiselli have herself to fight so hard for her green card?
Driven by fear. Driven by impulse. An animal will run. Running with madness and running with fear. Running away from the life they were assigned in this game of survival, the thousands of immigrant children are living on fear and shadows. They live on the fear of violence from their birth home, the fear of death from gangs, and the fear of being deported back to living with the root of their fears. They live in the world of shadows where everywhere they turn, they’re fighting a constant battle just to stay alive against the invisible assailants from the United States. They live in the world of darkness where the only light they see is the dim, flickering of immigrant support groups and everything else lacks the guiding light of friends and family to shine on the path. The questionnaire asks if the children are “happy” and “safe”, yet the system works gleefully hard to make said feelings of happiness and safety the most difficult to attain. From the shortening of the window to find a lawyer from 12 months to 21 days and granting border patrol the power to deport Mexican immigrants on any grounds, it becomes comical to compare the intent of the questionnaire to the judicial beast the children are fed to.
Tell Me How It Ends, a tale of the United States immigration system, chronicles the journey of the many immigrants risking their lives and dream to cross over the United States border. In a forty question questionnaire, human emotions are released bare, lives are created, and dreams are destroyed. Luiselli begins with the most basic question on the questionnaire, “Why did you come to the United States?”A deceptively simple question that intensely drags out the most complex and intricate of answers. This first question of many is posed to lost children. Children in a foreign world. Children that have lost any semblance of safety, of comfort. “Alien” children in an alien world to them. Children living in environments so appalling, they’re willing to destroy their entire lives just for the chance to make a new one. A multitude of reasons exist, all to be teased out by the first question. Following that, the questionnaire delves into the children’s journey as they trek to the United States. “What countries did you pass through?” “How did you travel here?” “Where are your parents?” All of which, meant to provide an individual profile of each child, yet fails to provide an individual human touch in each of these cases. Luiselli, at the end of this first chapter, foreshadows her own journey in providing that human touch and beginning her path to providing a voice for each child.
With the day unexpectedly being September 11th, most of the observations were focused on the memorial service being held. Although this conflicted with the goal of observing everyday people and life, our observations still provided insight into social behavior there existed such a contrast between the somber mood of the memorial service and the cheerful socializing of college students. With our observations, we devoted time into analyzing the deriving the meaning and symbols that behaviors exhibit. In contrast to normal daily life, where we are constantly taking mental shortcuts in order to survive, the exercise highlights the fine details that underlie the skills and tricks that we’ve spent a lifetime picking up subconsciously. The behaviors people exhibit when they’re alone, when they’re with a partner, when they’re with a group, understanding the social context of such behaviors is a skill that we pick up without any thought.
An issue I’ve noticed in my observations is a tendency to project my bias onto the people I’m observing. While watching the 9/11 memorial, the people wearing their uniforms exuded authority that made the service feel more about honoring those fallen. Instead had there been no one in uniform, I would assume more that the event was about grieving friends and family.
To Tuan, learning through experiences is the result of all of the human senses and the process of having experiences is through feelings and human emotion. With human intellect, people willingly choose to take the risks that lead to their feeling of emotion. Fear, love, hate, and anger. Human emotions drives people to adapt in order to overcome such emotions. Human learning derives from adapting to the emotions that come from daily experiences and reacting to the struggles that society imposes on them. Learning from experiences only comes when people are willing extends themselves and take risks. Life experiences provides the risk and opportunities to learn.
In contrast to the monotonous repetitiveness of daily life, holding a higher awareness of the senses is also is to be more aware of the experiences of daily life. Instead of mindlessly going through a typical day without acknowledging the features of life that enable their senses. By heightening awareness of the senses, we place more importance on the aspects of life that make an impact on our lives, whether noticed or not. Rather than overlooking the tiny details of life, we should take more time to put value on the details that are activating our senses, acknowledge the details that leave their lasting impact on our senses, and feel the emotions that such details induce. On a day to day basis, all of the senses are bombarded with information from all angles. It’s very easy to become jaded and to simply start tuning out all of the information being fed to our senses, but recognizing which part of our lives has created the most impact is meaningful to furthering the creation of new experiences.
“The Great Settling Down” is a rebuttal to the argument that the American society is becoming increasingly transient and touches on the notion that the number and strength of communities is decreasing in America. As evidenced by the census, the amount of the amount population that move away from their established communities has been on a steady decline for multiple centuries despite cries that communities are weakening as a result of nomadic behavior stemming from the want of better jobs and better housing. Fischer mentions that fears of weakening communities also fail to be substantiated as people prefer to maintain long distance relationships over local ones in their area even as they become less mobile.
As people fail to interact and establish connections with their local community, they are unable to create the “place” that McClay describes. They don’t seek out experiences around them. They don’t create experiences with their neighbors. They aren’t establishing a “place”.
I’ve only lived in one city, Fairfax. Being known for the Fairfax County school system, the government website, expectedly focuses on the elementary, middle, and high schools in the area. Additionally, being near the Chesapeake Bay, the website promotes the quality of the bay.
McClay’s notion of a “place” could also be considered to be a person’s roots. It doesn’t necessarily have to be physical place for someone to return to, as referenced by the excerpt from Verlyn Klinkenburg, nor does it have to be a world perspective that stays constant, noted by Gertrude Stein. The “place” is intangible, it defines and sharpens a person’s character. It could be their parents that taught them how to ride a bike, a friend they’ve kept from elementary school through college, or the friendly neighbor that waves to them every morning. The “place” that defines a person stems from their experiences, not from the location they live. Since this concept cannot be tied now to a singular location, McClay’s mention of a conception that being bound to a location holds true. A community that stays together in the event of a disaster continues to remain a community, regardless of location. An individual remains an individual with all of their quirks, shortcomings, and strengths regardless of where they are and who they are with. As McClay has also stated, the advances of technology have allowed people to have far far more unique experiences than were ever possible before. The growth of technology has allowed for ability to experience cultures from across the globe. Through social media, it is now possible to instantly gain a glimpse into the elegant beauty of Paris, the exotic scenes of the Sahara, and the wild terror that is Australia. There is an astounding amount of opportunities available to shape the mold that people wish to become and become what people used to call “The renaissance man”. College is a prime example of a place to enable the growth and development of a person’s “place”. College is one of the few place where hundreds of backgrounds come together to mingle and in doing so, one is able to draw from their experiences with the people and environment they interact with to develop their character and persona.
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