Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Samantha Kopf on Being a Global Citizen

My experience at the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation has had a big impact on who I am as a person. It has made me realize more so than ever that everyone is human, and that there really isn’t an “other.” From now on if I view someone as an “other,” it isn’t because they are different, rather it is because I have not done a good job at getting to know them and their background.
We live in a society that tells us it is okay to discriminate against people, in fact, our society even tells us who we should discriminate against and often times why. Interestingly, through the media, we further construct which groups should be and are being discriminated against. This is evident in the stories that are covered in the news and how they are framed.
On Wednesday evening, the whole Wartburg West program went to the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation to have food and conversation with individuals who practice the Islamic faith. Of all the places we as a class have gone, this was the trip that I was most excited for because it is a faith that I have heard a lot about, but that I knew very little about. It was also important to me because I’d never really had the opportunity to interact with individuals who are practicing the faith and openly discuss their religion and background with them.
Prior to going to the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation, we had to read a chapter on the Islam faith; this was enlightening because it helped to put the differences and similarities between the Abrahamic faiths into perspective for me. Learning more about Islam through this reading solidified for me that while this Islam is portrayed as very different, it is in reality very similar to the majority faith of the United States, my own faith.
Reading and actual interactions with real people are two very different experiences.  Interacting with the community and individuals at the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation on multiple occasions has been such a wonderful experience. While there, the first thing I was struck by was how strong the sense of community was; everyone knew everyone. Different adults were taking care of all the kids running around and all of the kids were comfortable with all of the adults. Something that was striking was that the community we spoke with did not feel that they faced discrimination often (unless at an airport) this was so interesting to me because the media portrays the population so much differently. This among other experiences has confirmed in my mind that the media is so skewed and therefore is an unscrupulous source for information.
Through this experience and my continued devotion to being a global citizen, I have come to realize how important it is to keep an open mind in all situations.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Aubree Taylor Discusses Experience at Hispanic Mass

            As a small town Iowa native, I was raised studying Christianity to later become a member of the Christian faith. Like my mother, Sundays as a child consisted of early morning mass followed by brunch with my grandparents and other family members who attended mass that same morning. Now as a young adult I feel very knowledgeable about this religion as someone who has worshiped, served and sung in the choir for the past 20 years of my life. 
Not until this past Sunday was it brought to my attention how the same religion can differ in a different language. I was given the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the religion that I was raised by. Growing up in a small town in Iowa, I was not exposed to a variety of languages or religions. I was never challenged to explore how different cultures worship the same religion as I do.
Upon entering the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church in Denver I was eager and excited. Right after stepping into the church I was greeted by a Pastor who asked me if I was aware that this was a Spanish spoken mass, I responded and told him that I was aware of the language that was spoken. For me this stood out that the Pastor was able to tell based off my physical appearance that Spanish was not my first language and that I was part of the minority in the church.  Though I was among four of the people at the service who knew little to no Spanish, members of the church were very inviting, giving us missalettes that included English and Spanish versions of the readings and hymns of the day. 
As the mass proceeded along I picked up on differences from this mass compared to back home besides the difference in language. The Hispanic mass had more involvement overall. I saw this in their church choir and the amount of pastors who took part. I really enjoyed the different instruments/voices that were in the choir. In Iowa I am used to a piano or organ as the only instrument accompanied by a female-dominated choir group. It is typical for a mass to have one pastor/father who on occasion will be accompanied by a deacon. The Hispanic mass included three pastors who were each very involved and shared parts equally throughout the mass.
Overall, I felt like I was able to follow along with the mass very well with my background. I was able to help answer questions that my friends had about mass. At the end of mass, when returning our books to the cart, a lady asked us what brought us to the mass. As a member of the church for many years, it was very noticeable that we were not regulars. I informed her that we are new to the area and looking to find a church that fit us. She then informed me about the English masses. I thanked her and continued to talk about the beauty of the church and the job that the choir did before leaving. Attending a Hispanic Spanish language church allowed me to gain more knowledge about my own religion.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Olivia McAtee Reflects on Attending a Spanish Church Service

            On Sunday, Sami, Carly, Bree, McKenzie and I all went to the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church here in Denver. We attended the 9:30am Spanish service. As we walked in, it was quickly very apparent that we were not regulars. So apparent, in fact, that the Priest brought us over books with the Spanish versions of hymns and verses on one page and the English translation of those on the next page. Though this was a kind gesture and it helped us follow along with the service, it also reinforced the fact that we were not like everyone else in church that morning. I remember Sami making a comment, “is it really that noticeable that we aren’t from here?”
I think being on the other end of this gesture was a good thing for me. At my internship, The Bridge Project, I work with families of all different backgrounds, cultures and languages every day. Sometimes, when I think I’m helping them or going out of my way to make sure they feel comfortable, maybe in reality I’m just making them feel more uncomfortable. Recognizing differences in the people around us is one thing, but acting on those recognitions is another. I think I learned a lot about how my actions when dealing with people from another culture may end up causing more of a divide between us even if I fully intended for it to mesh us together.
We talked to two different people, but I can’t remember the names of either. One had worked as a volunteer coordinator for the church for seven years, so she was able to tell us a lot about how the church has changed over time. For example, there used to be only English services being offered. This quickly transitioned into English and bilingual services offered, which has since become completely English and completely Spanish services offered. They used to have only one or two of each, and just starting last week actually, they now have three of each being offered. It was fascinating to have her walk us through all of the changing demands in language and availability the church has experienced in less than ten years. For me, this really reinforced the rapid growth rate and rising population we’ve talked about.
            The second person we talked to was the Priest. I was hesitant to go up to him at first, thinking maybe he didn’t fully understand English and not wanting to put him in an uncomfortable position or on the spot in any way. As I walked by and shook his hand, he held my hand and said “I haven’t seen you here before, what’s your name?” I was completely taken back. He had no accent at all. This simple question led us into a full on conversation with him and the discovery that he had just only learned Spanish in the last year. This was also a learning experience for me, I was much too quick to label this stranger and had he not stopped me, I never would’ve engaged conversation on behalf of completely false presumptions. 
            Overall, I walked in feeling completely out of my element, and walked out with two new friends and a sense of belonging. They invited all of us back and even asked that we bring our other classmates and friends next time. I’m glad I had the experience I did there, and we’ve already talked about returning… to the English service next time! J

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nicholas Moore On Realizing Where You Want To Be

            My time out in Denver has been everything I hoped it would be and then some. Everyone is going to tell you about how the culture is so different here in Colorado than the Midwest, but to me I think it is the best of both of worlds.
            Here in Denver the pace of life is fast because it has to be, it is a city after all. But where Denver separates itself from other big cities is its friendly attitude and atmosphere. Growing up near Chicago, I was able to experience the city life and culture whenever I really wanted to. I would often times take the train in to the city with my friends or family and just walk around the city and visit museums or shops. The city was always an enjoyable place for me because I loved to escape the occasional boredom that came with growing up in a smaller town. The one thing I didn’t like about Chicago was the general attitude of everyone for themselves and the lack of compassion for some communities. Here in Denver people are always generally pretty nice to one another and the amount of dedication and care for the community I have seen from so many people I have come into contact with here in Denver. I have actually been fortunate enough to be involved with the community while here in Denver. It feels great to be able to feel like you are making an impact for the city and everyone who lives in it.
            While living in Denver I have realized the need to stay active and appreciate the outdoors is far greater than that of the people in the Midwest. I think I have spent more time at the park or hiking than I spent in my apartment the whole semester. On any given sunny day above 50 degrees you can go to the park just a few blocks away from the apartments and see the entire park covered in Denver residents enjoying the great day. In my opinion, this atmosphere is just something you unfortunately do not get to experience in the Midwest.
            Sometimes though, I feel it is important to just look past how two places differ from each other like the Midwest and states like Colorado in the Rocky Mountain Area and think about where it is you yourself fit in and how you want to live your life. Every region has something for everybody, but for me, I feel like the Denver lifestyle is something that I strongly relate with. In the end, coming out in Denver has confirmed two things for me: My love for the city of Denver will continue to grow every day I spend here and this will certainly not be my last time out West.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Alyssa Hewitt and the People of Denver

            I probably was considered a city newbie when I first came to Denver. Having lived my entire life in the suburbs outside of Des Moines, Iowa, I had only experienced a city in brief visits. Mostly, I knew cities as places where a lot of people lived and where there were big, tall buildings and higher rates of crime. That all changed when I came to live in Denver, and what changed my perspective was the people of the city.
            When you think of people who live in a city, what comes to mind first? For me, it was businessmen and women and hopeful college grads. Then I actually started walking around in Denver, and I started noticing that there were all sorts of people here, from the homeless person on the corner to the single mom in the grocery store to, yes, even a CEO or two in fancy cars. That opened my eyes. A city, I realized, was not about what you see from the outside. It’s not about the skyscrapers and traffic jams and city parks, it’s about the people. The people are the heart and soul of a city, and I found that Denver has some pretty special ones.
            We have met with a lot of cool people and organizations in our classes out here that are really making a difference in the community. We have been to an indoor farm that sits in the middle of a food desert, selling all natural produce at little cost to families below the poverty line. We have heard from a former homeless man now dedicated to helping those who were in his same situation. We have learned of advocacy groups fighting to get more affordable housing and those who are fighting to make the city more sustainable. These are the people that have inspired me.
            Picturing a city now, I see business people who are in the business of helping other people, the people who dedicate their lives to non-profits and advocacy work just because they know it is the right thing to do. If anyone ever knew that one kid from high school that was really passionate about a certain topic in all the class debates, but that you lost touch with after graduation, I think I know where they went. They went to a city, where they don’t see the crowded streets as an annoyance so much as a resource for making a difference.