Sunday, April 10, 2011

it's time for a change

This blog has been so important to me for my life's journey and as indicated by the title, it has also been pretty random. I think I've gained some focus recently. In the summer of 2010, I decided to focus my energies on two passions: technology teaching and social justice. This has led to a wonderful year of learning and growing. It has also led to some life transforming moments:

On a whim, I submitted a scholarship application to attend The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference: K12 Workshops. What I learned is that there is a crisis in computer science education both in quality and access. The result of this crisis is that women and minorities are missing opportunities to advance academically and economically in a field whose employment potential far exceeds the number of students preparing for it. Also, if we don't get more diverse participation in technology, then we miss out on innovations that are relevant and usable by a wider range of people.

This convergence of technology and justice led to the Project Justice week long immersion experience that I created for the middle school students. This project began as an opportunity expand the students thinking about social justice and to give them an avenue through technology to raise awareness about issues they care about. I can't measure the change this experience had on the students, but what I didn't expect was the change it caused in me. What I've learned from my middle school students is that they want a world where:
  • the hungry are fed;
  • the homeless are sheltered;
  • the use of rape and violence against women and children as a tool of war is not tolerated;
  • the environment is treated as a cherished resource.
One project in particular kind of haunted and hounded me: Falling Whistles. I found myself crashing a high school gathering in Richmond to hear Yves and Sean (founders) share their stories. They were compelling, frightening, engaging, inspiring, passionate and humbling. I bought a whistle and I changed a little more.

The latest experience was at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference. The overall theme of this conference was "Development Security and Economic Justice: What's Gender Got to Do with It?" Here I learned that women and girls have suffered setbacks disproportionately across the board with regard to wages, education and human rights abuses.
  • the 21st century has brought us the objectification of the world;
  • trafficking is the extreme in a norm that is exploitation, squeezing a little more profit from human labor;
  • when you destroy the women, you basically destroy the community;
  • we have enough when we can share;
  • the opposite of abundance is not poverty, it is fear;
  • poverty is a political issue, it is evidence that we are not yet making the right choices;
  • violence against women is the most normalized evil in our world today.
So now what? There's a lot to be cynical, ambivalent, overwhelmed and outraged about. My natural inclination is to rebel, but what will that accomplish? I sense that my purpose lies somewhere between teaching technology and empowering the voices and actions of young people. What form that will take, I don't know.   I do know that I want to take Thomas Merton's words to heart. I still have a hard time recognizing the light shining in myself or for that matter in many adults, but I can see it in our children. I'll be trying to shine the light @
“As if the sorrows and stupidities of the world could overwhelm me now that I realize what we all are. I wish everyone could realize this, but there is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun.” - Thomas Merton