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