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13 years ago @ World In Conversation - How has your opinion c... · 0 replies · +1 points

I need to say, that I couldn’t make it to class on Tuesday. So, I will say what I think about immigration…illegal immigration. I am an immigrant myself, and I came to this country hoping for a better future for myself as many immigrants do (they are also looking for a better future for their families). Most immigrants, I know many, become “illegal” because they could not apply for a Visa to come legally to this country. As Sam said on Thursday, Visas are given to people who have properties and flow of cash in their home country. It does not matter if somebody with a big family applies for a Visa and only wants to come here in the apple/pear/corn/orange picking season to work, save money (pay taxes to the American government), and go back home. If a person cannot demonstrate that he/she has something material (company, houses, cars, money…) that obligates him/her to go back to his/her home country, probably NO VISA will be issued. So, a father/mother, who needs to feed their kids, enroll them in school, and pay rent in their home country, need to make a difficult decision: see his/her family suffer but together, or move (usually leaving their family behind) illegally to a country (USA) with better job opportunities. Remember that this country has a different language, culture, and immigrants are not welcomed. What would you do? Other people become illegal immigrants when they stay in the U.S. after their Visa expires. These types of immigrants, also want a better future…As for what the T.A. said in class, it is not that easy to get fake papers! So, please don’t you think that all illegal immigrants are looking for “Jose” down the street to hook them up with their documents. Many immigrants are aware that they are living in this country is illegally, they are not here to commit crimes, but not to work and support their families back home. Most illegal immigrants are not here get a fake SS # or steal somebody’s identity by mistake. These immigrants find low wage jobs with employers that already know their situations; therefore the employers know they can get away with paying them really low wages. Illegal immigrants do not only pay taxes by getting jobs with fake SS as stated in class, some of them actually report taxes (with NO refund) like most of us did by April 15th (18th this year), hoping one day an immigration law will be enacted, and maybe because they are being reporting taxes this law help them to become legal immigrants. Anyway, I understand the TA was attempting to be funny with his remarks (papers/SS are not as hard to get as you think), but frankly I am offended by his comments and his lack of sensitivity and understanding for the situation. His comment only reinforced stereotypes and promotes an ignorant view of the situation. What makes the matter worse is that his comments are probably taken as fact by the students in the class because they have no firsthand knowledge of the topic and because he is the “Mexican TA.”

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - Is nepotism a good or ... · 0 replies · +1 points

Is Nepotism a good or bad thing in the long run?
Nepotism background:
*From –noun-- patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics: She was accused of nepotism when she made her nephew an officer of the firm.
*From Online Etymology Dictionary: "favoritism shown to relatives, esp. in appointment to high office," 1662, from Fr. népotisme, from It. nepotismo, from nepote "nephew," from L. nepotem (nom. nepos ) "grandson, nephew." Originally, privileges granted to a pope's "nephew" which was a euphemism for his natural son.
What do I think about it?
I think nepotism can be good & bad. I think that nepotism in the short run is OK. Think in somebody who does not have experience in a particular job in an office, factory, or any other work place. He or she is really smart, enthusiastic, responsible, qualified for the job, and he/she just graduated from college. This person may benefit of his or her “connections,” to get his/her dream job, gain experience and sharp his/her skills. However, in the long run I think is not OK. I think this connections should not be use all the time, because a person who constantly uses his/her connections may not study or work as hard as somebody else, since he or she will get the job doesn’t matter what. How will I know if I get into school because of my prior academic achievements or my dad’s friend put a word for me? Or, if I get a job for my qualities instead of my relationship with the person who offers the job? If I use my connections to get through life (school or work), why will I even bother to get a loan to get a degree at Penn State? Instead, I could spend the loans’ money in “making friends,” who could hook me up with jobs. In other words, nepotism as a quick push to help you to get something you want, are qualified for, and word hard for it is OK. The problem is when unqualified job seekers get a job because their family or friends know somebody at the job place dismissing other job seekers who are qualified. In the end, I believe it is personal (and ethical) decision if a person uses or not their connections. For the sociologist Larry Kersten “Nepotism – We promote family values here almost as often as we promote family members.”

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - Which video in class t... · 0 replies · +1 points

Which video in class today had the biggest impact on you and why?
ALL the videos in today’s class impacted me. The first video, although it was from a super extremist point of view, scare me a lot!! I know that only a small percentage of Muslims are extremists and most of the Muslims (at least my friends) are very nice people. Most Muslims are students, workers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, or neighbors as Christians, Jews, or any other religious people and videos like the first video presented in class shows what only a small group of Muslims think. Sadly, most people after seeing this kind of video may think that all Muslims want to fight against the Americans; therefore some Americans may think they have the right to attack any Muslim. In this first video many images impacted me, because I am a very sensitive person and I do not like any violent act. The part of the video that shows people jumping out of the twin tower’s windows in 9/11 intending to save their lives was very sad to watch (when I visit Ground 0, I always think/pray in the people who did it). It is also upsetting to see people dead or injured after a violent attack while riding a train or at their offices. If what the video suggests (Muslims wants to convert everybody into their religion), I think these attacks are not the way to do it. After watching the other videos while in the Muslims’ shoes, it really helped me to empathize with them. As I said before, I do not like any violent act and I am always against the war. After, been Iraqi for an hour and half, it helped me to recognize the importance of end a war where the two parts are unable to see and fully understand what the other group suffers. After seeing the videos of the American soldiers destroying the cars without a good excuse for it, I got annoy. How is possible that these soldiers, who represented the law are broking it? I felt so bad for the taxi driver and his family whose car was destroyed by the soldiers for “stealing” wood. Wouldn’t a parent/husband do anything for their family in the US (or any other part of the world)? I know steal is not OK, however I got the impression the wood that was getting stole was “leftover” wood pieces from a construction side or an old destroyed house or something like that. If it was the case, isn’t better that a family uses it instead of been left for garbage?...In the end, I believe Americans or Muslims should not judge each other (or other groups) based in assumptions made from a small group, they do not represent the whole!

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - What is your opinion o... · 0 replies · +1 points

What is your opinion of the black/white dolls video?
I agree with Sam when he said the video: A Girl Like Me would be the most disturbing/upsetting video of the class. It broke my heart to see how the girls picked the white skin color doll over the dark skin color doll. In this video, it was clear to me, how deep the power of white skin color is embedded in people. It was upsetting to realize that an early age these little girls identify their skin color as a symbol of “bad” and white skin color as “good”. This early distinction of “good” and “bad,” I believe is learned from family and friends more than the media itself.
Parents trying to hide their daughter’s kinky hair, applying skin color whitening on them and teaching them to dislike their skin color and (fix) their features have repercussions than are also reinforced by the media. Parents should promote in their children, love and respect for their physical characteristics including skin color. Parents could teach their children about the origins of their skin color by telling them what Sam explained to us: Scientists think that Blacks evolved in Africa, near the equator. Since sunlight is more intense there, their ancestors’ dark skin has more melanin and it was a shield that protected them from the sunlight. As people moved further north, sunlight became less intense and people skin color did not need to be as dark. As a black skin color person they are more resistant to skin cancer because the high levels of melanin protect them against ultraviolet light. Furthermore, parents can explain to their children that if somebody has a problem with their skin color is not their problem; it is the other person’ problem, since they are unable to see further from their own race/ skin color.
I understand that everyone, including me, has body parts/ features we wish were different. Some of us we like to be taller/shorter, straight/curly hair, or blue/brown eyes. However, my parents though me to love myself as I am: my hands, freckles, and curls are part of my “personal package”. If I love and respect myself as I am, others will do too.
Surely, the media reinforces the view of white as “good” and black as “bad”, like the prejudices we find in television, reading books, or magazines. However, I believe is the parents responsibility to teach their kids to love themselves as they are. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - What do you think abo... · 0 replies · +1 points

What do you think about interracial relationships?

Why some people are fuzzy about interracial relations? If you are not into interracial relations it is your problem. For somebody that it is in an interracial relation, it is their problem/decision and right. Most people are free to choose want they want to study, wear, or eat and most people do not judge these decisions. So, why do some people believe they have the right to criticize interracial relationships? I am personally in an interracial relationship. I am Latina and my fiancé is White and as long as we are in love, skin color does not matter. I believe we are not as different as people may think because of our different skin color. We like to travel, eat, cook, party, dance, read as well as watch TV, listen to music, spend time with our family and friends, and walk the dog. I believe if we did not enjoy doing all these things we may not be together. So, a relationship should not be about race, it should be about sharing pleasure in doing the same things…together. We have been blessed that our families are OK with our relationship, and we do not have to struggle with them because of our 0.01% genetic difference. However, my old boss was a nice White guy and his girlfriend, who also was nice, was Black. His kids from a prior marriage did not like her because of her skin color. I believe the mom (my boss’s ex-wife) influenced the kids, creating racism. The kids did not respect the girlfriend and sometimes gave her names, and the father tried to correct them. But, I think it is hard to give children lessons if the parents do not share the same opinions. I was told by the girlfriend, after they broke up, he could not bear with his family criticizing, as well as people in the streets that looked weird at them. Anyways, many are in interracial couples, including people in Hollywood like: Seal & Heidi Klum, Taye Diggs (Actor from Grey’s anatomy) & Idina Menzel, George Lucas & Melody Hobson, Cuba Gooding, Jr.& Sara Kapfer, and many more. As Sam said interracial couples are the new trend and I am part of it, you should consider being part of this trend. =)

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - What do you think of t... · 0 replies · +2 points

What do you think of the diversity at Penn State?
I used to live in New Jersey/ New York area and graduated from a Community College where students from different races, ethnicities, culture, and religions could be spotted easily. Asian, African-American, or Mexican teachers as well as Muslim, Jewish, or Christian classmates were the norm in my old diverse school. In this community college (and I think most schools in the New Jersey area) the minority racial group of students are the ones that are the majority group in Penn State. Therefore, I do not think Penn State is too diverse. I heard from many of my classmates how surprised/glad they are of the diversity at the University Park campus. Many of them come from other campuses or small towns in the middle of Pennsylvania and are used to white students/ people. Therefore, I understand that for many of my classmates Penn State University Park is a diverse campus.
I am part of the “brown group,” and most of the time I find nobody or a few of my group in my classes, or around campus. I also noticed that most of the diversity comes from the international students rather than national students. I believe that most of these international students are from Asia (not including people from India) than any other continent, which makes me think that the school student body are in in their majority (definitely) whites then Asians. However, often I have the opportunity to interact with graduate students, and it is then when I noticed how graduate international students contribute to the Penn State student body diversity more than undergraduate students. It could explain why I do not see many non-white students in my classes or around campus.
When I decided to apply to Penn State, student diversity was not one of my concerns. I decided to come here because it is a good school and my major program fitted my necessities. Also as somebody else pointed out in his/her post, Penn State is in the middle of nowhere. So, I guess I expected to be a school of mostly white students.
I just wanted to end with a quote from the American poet Maya Angelou: “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - How conscious are you ... · 0 replies · +1 points

How conscious are you of your seat in class before and after today’s lecture?
I do not think I have ever been conscious of where I sit or next to whom. Back in my home country we look pretty much the same. Well, we have some physical differences (including skin, eye, and hair color); however, I feel that as long as we share similarities (ex: school or neighborhood) these differences disappeared. So, I am convinced that I grew up free of racism or careless from people’s race (not the same as social-economical prejudice), until I moved to the United States. So, I do not think I am really conscious where I seat. Most of the time I sit in the back of the room or by a side which it is where I feel more comfortable with myself. It is the spot where I can be farther away from the professor in case I get distracted or bored, he may not be able to see me. It is closer to the door, so I will not interrupt the class if I am late. Also, in this spot I will be able to participate in class if I want it without feeling I should because I am sitting in the front row. Furthermore, I am the only Latino in most of my classes, so it is not that I can choose to sit next to somebody with similar physical appearance as me. As I said before, I encountered racism (myself) when I moved to this country. So, I believe it helped me to be less particular of where I sit. I mean, I do not want somebody to see me choosing a seat closer or far away from him/her because of his/her skin, hair, or eyes color. I do not like people that before taking a seat next to me, analyze me: girl, “Kind of white”, dark hair, jeans and sneakers. Then walk away. However, I am aware that in particular occasions I consciously choose where I seat like riding the bus or train by myself late at night. Nevertheless, in this class I used to sit by myself next to anyone, I did (do) not care race, sex, religion, or native language. Then, without choosing a specific seat, I met a girl who is from a different race and background than me. She also speaks a different language than mine, and she is fun so, I seat next to her most of the times.

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - How can we make people... · 0 replies · +1 points

How can we make people more aware of the slavery that is still going on?

I think we can make people more aware about modern slavery, by informing ourselves about it. By knowing facts: Where the slaves come from? How many slaves are in the world? What kind of job slaves do? Etc. We will be able to talk about it, and people who decided don’t be aware of modern slavery by not watching/ reading this kind of news will need to come up with an excuse to do not hear us talk about slavery. Or he/she will hear what we have to say about modern slavery and become aware (at least, he/she will not be able to denied it anymore).

What is modern slavery?
According to the Anti-Slavery Organization, modern slaves are the millions of children, women & men around the world that are forced to work for little or not pay and are sold like objects. Although, slavery was banned by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery many countries still practiced.

How many modern slaves exist? reported that 27 million people are slaves today
Where the slaves come from? Where are they?
Slaves usually come from: Sudan, Haiti (cane cutters), Pakistan, India (carpet slaves), and Brazil (mine “workers”). Many thousands of slaves are trafficked into the U.S. every year as well as other countries like Nigeria and Gabon in Africa.

What types of modern slaves are the most common today?
*Forced Labour: individuals are recruited and force to work, commonly under threat of violence. It is estimated that 126 million children around the world are force to work.
*Early and force marriage: Usually women and girls are forced to marry and live as servitudes, commonly under threat of violence.
*Trafficking: Men, women, and children are transport/trade from one area to another and force to live in slavery conditions.

So, What Can I do?
*Buy products that follow the Code of Conduct, which means companies/retailers/factories/subcontracts follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and applicable ILO Conventions, as well as national legislation. Therefore, Children cannot work and workers have rights which include a salary. Stores like H&M and GAP reported to follow a Code of Conduct. So, ask the retailer or check online if a product/store has a code of conduct before making a purchase.
*Create awareness, buzz about Modern Slavery! I just posted a video in my Facebook about it:
Also, give it a look to this poster and stay inform:

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - Are you a Liberal or a... · 0 replies · +1 points

Are you a Liberal or Conservative?
I consider myself to be in the “middle”; just like Sam, I lean more to the conservative side. I believe that we are responsible for ourselves and for the kind of life we want and decide to live. I am responsible for the life I have and the one I want in the future for myself and my family. I am an immigrant, so I do not have access to many things/programs that American citizens/residents do. However, I am doing all that I can do to be sure I have the style of life I dream of. Therefore, I got a loan and I am studying at PSU, after I received an associate degree from a Community College. I do not think I can make others responsible for my successes or failures in life. If I blame somebody else, it will no longer be my life, it would be their life. One of my favorite’s movies is the Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith. This movie is based on the real life of Chris Gardner, who was homeless in the 80’s while raising his son. After his wife left him, kicked out of his apartment, slept in shelter and public bathrooms, Chris became a millionaire, guest lecturer and CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm…and he is African American/Black. So, race should not be an excuse. He was a sales person who wanted more in life for himself and his son, by working hard Chris succeeded. Here is the link of the movie in case you want to give it a look:
However, I recognized that some external forces influenced somehow the life you (I) have right now. I am example of it too. Since I was not born in this country I am limited to get some benefits. For example, I do have not access to some education grants or scholarships because I am not American. These loans would make my life easier. At the airport, I wish I could stand in the short line for U.S. citizens, instead of the long line for non-Americans in customs. I also need to apply for a visa to get into most countries which Americans may not need a visa. Many times liberals want the government to be responsible for their problems: their housing or schooling, so they do not have to worry about it. We only have one life and we want it to make others responsible for it? People complain of taxes, but do how they expect the government to take care of them?

13 years ago @ World In Conversation - Do You Describe Yourse... · 0 replies · +1 points

Do You Describe Yourself Differently in Other Countries?
I am the first generation of my family to live in this country. I am definitely Colombian and I am proud of it. Although I usually describe myself as a Colombian in the U.S as well as in other countries, I realized that many people do not have any idea where Colombia is. People in the U.S put me in the same category with Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Dominicans, or any other Spanish speaking country; they call us Latinos or Hispanics. Some times in an act of laziness on my part I say, “I am Latino/a.” So, I do not have to explain where Colombia is, and that my country is spelled with an O (ColOmbia), instead of an U (ColUmbia, like the clothes’ brand or the University). Some people may say, “I know you are Latino, but from what country?” I reply: “Colombia.” Then I realized that when I actually say I am Latino, I am not answering the question of what country I am from. However, some people do not really care, and I am just being lazy. If a person seems really interested in my country and my culture, I will explain what part of Colombia I am from. Also, I will give them some facts about my country besides the bad ones we usually see in the international news. For example, I often tell people the following facts:
*Colombia borders Panama (once it was part of Colombia), Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador. We border the Atlantic Ocean in the North and the Pacific Ocean to southwest of the country.
* 20% of butterfly species are found in Colombia.
*Colombia is the second largest producer of coffee annually after Brazil.
*Colombia has 80 different indigenous tribes who speak 64 different languages However, most people, like me, speak Spanish.
*Colombia has the world’s largest diversity of birds (1,754) and orchid species (3,500). Colombia is also the second most diverse in amphibians and the third in reptiles.
*95% of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia
*In the Amazon River that runs through Colombia, as well as Brazil, live pink dolphins.
I immediately identify myself as Colombian, if the person who asks me is from a Latino/Hispanic background. Since most of us are aware that being Latino/Hispanic is not the same as being Colombian, Venezuelan, or Chilean. Although we speak Spanish, our cultures are different and proudly we (I) say our (my) nationality, not the general category we (I) fell into. When a Colombian or somebody that seems familiar with Colombia, asks where I am from? I say I am from Barranquilla. Then we start to talk about the Carnival in February, Shakira (she is from Barranquilla), food, and fun places to visit while in Barranquilla.