An image of Monroe, the History building at UMW with the school colors depicting hashtag UMW 17 with 5 days below it

Class of 2017, Graduating in Five Days

Five days! That’s standard shipping on an Amazon package. Today I’ve decided to look back on five events I took part in during my time at UMW that really made me rethink what matters or should matter to myself, my future students, and the country.

5 Days to Grad: Thought Provoking Events

Let’s Talk Racism Conference

This conference down in Durham, North Carolina was an eye opening experience. We talked about so many things that I still haven’t finished a specific reflection on it. The greater purpose was to encourage teachers (and pre-service teachers, like myself) to start thinking about new ways to teach out students. They pushed us to look past statistics and lift up our minority students for their unique knowledge they bring into the classroom. This conference was about joy and culture, it was about the harsh reality of racism in our country and opened up a dialogue on combating those ideas in our classroom, where young minds will be shaped. I left excited and since then have been diving into as much as I can read about Dr. Bettina Love‘s work and her Get Free: Hip Hop Civics program, taking opportunities to bring it up to the COE students that didn’t come, and looking into how I can help my immigrant students. I could carry on for a really long time about everything I learned, but the reflection post is in the works and should be done soon. Instead, I’ll embed one of her Ted Talks.

Lunch with Gloria Ladson-Billings

What were the chances that as I started creating a resource for teachers on youth involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and makes connections to other movements that there would be a guest lecturer at UMW that coined the term Culturally Relevant Pedagogy? When I was offered the chance to have lunch with Dr. Ladson-Billings I don’t think I even blinked before I asked my professor miss class. I’m so glad I got the okay and that I went. At a roundtable of less than a dozen people, we asked her where she’d been, what she was working on, and for advice for our future careers as teachers. It was short and exciting, encouraging, and at her advisement, I gutted my projected to make it more accessible. As I go into grad school my biggest hope is that I can incorporate CRP into my thesis research, but we’ll see. Regardless of whether that hope comes to fruition or not, I do plan to take everything from our conversation and her subsequent lecture, Hip Hop/Hip Hope, with me into my classroom.

2017 Student Showcase

The Donor’s Luncheon was a combination of horror and fascination. Sadly, neither of my donors came to the showcase, but I had the pleasure of speaking to many. As the weaved through the tables several stopped to ask me questions about my research. I wasn’t sure what to expect walking into it because I had never done one before, but I also knew that I would be the daughter of immigrants talking about immigration and immigration law in a very contentious time to be doing such a thing. Almost everyone was non-confrontational and it did take the first few days afterward to let go of the ones that were. Nevertheless, it was exciting to see some librarians get excited about my research, both what I was presenting and currently working on. What really blew my mind, however, was the diversity of the students’ work. I was next to a coder and a filmmaker, one table from a medical scientist, and across the room from an amazing artist. It was really a presentation of a different kind of diversity that we had to offer and I am thankful for the opportunity to participate.

Free Post-Election Hugs

Yes, I did a thing. As some people know, on November 8th two of my family members ended up in the hospital. The election results were a sore spot for so many and my emotional state was already pretty compromised, honestly. So, I made a “Free Hugs” sign and when I wasn’t in my classes, I gave hugs to people that needed it. Sure, there were some really nasty comments about it but for the most part people either asked me what was going on and how I was doing, asked for a hug or high five, or made no big deal of it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more of a part of the UMW community than that day. Politically divided, some people still cared and were willing to believe that my intentions were good and that it wasn’t just about politics, it was about lifting each other up. When I left, needing to go home and write a paper, another student actually came and took my place. That is what UMW is really about, support and family.

Women’s March on Washington

I was going to go to the march alone, it meant a lot to me, but when I made offers to take people everyone was too busy to go. My family and friends were worried about me, understandably so. Just two days before I found some UMW folks caravanning up to DC and I was just about to ask to go with them before I finally found a march buddy. When I made it to the metro I actually parked right by our UMW vans. I never saw a single person from school there, but some of my professors that went checked in with me to makes sure I had made it okay and I checked in on other friends and professors I knew that went. There was a long system of care that really showed me that my peers and professors cared about me, my friends, and my family. The march was one of the most moving events of my life, not just college, but I know that had I gone at any other point in my life it may not have carried the same weight. Moreover, it only further solidified that being a teacher means being an activist.

Leave a Reply