Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Serena's blog

Serena's picture

On Paper #10

First, concerning the interviewing, I was really nervous and actually waited until the last minute to do all of my interviews because I kept mulling over how to approach people to ask them to help me out. Ultimately I asked two out of three via email. I found that once I actually got it going, I enjoyed it, mostly because I got to know some intimate things about people who I had been spending time around and interacting with for the past couple of months. In one particular instance, I would have never guessed the information that I would get.

As to writing the paper, I actually had a good amount of difficulty. I had all my information and knew what I wanted to say with it, but it was very hard for me to turn that into a three-page paper and ultimately my paper actually turned out being just a little over two pages, which I'm not proud of. I would really like to expand on the paper sometime, but I just really don't know how I would do that now. Maybe after speaking further with my writing buddies and Anne, I'll figure out what to do with it!

Serena's picture

On Friday's Workshop

While I thought that the workshop was great, I am worried that it will be easily forgotten. During my time at Bryn Mawr, I've heard repeated that people just don't want to talk about class on campus because it makes them feel uncomfortable, and I recognise that this is a good reason why the activities this year will fade into nothingness following their original run. I would like to know why talking about class makes people feel uncomfortable. Obviously it is because we are all raised not to speak about something so personal as finances, but why shouldn't we? Do we fear that letting someone know how much we have or don't have will make them think of us differently, ask us for money, pity us?

I come from interesting opposites: at home we never spoke about what we had, only about what we lacked. However, at my high school, students always talked about what they had and never what they lacked, perhaps because they weren't aware of it. In this way, the poor students were all but silenced and made to feel inadequate. In reality, you could never know who had money and who didn't because the poor kids weren't allowed to express themselves or they would be all but shunned. I don't know if that is the way it is in most schools.

Serena's picture

Perry House - Inclusion and Exclusion

For my essay, I chose to focus on the space and history of Perry House, which currently serves as the Black Cultural Center; student residence; and meetingplace for Sisterhood, Mujeres, and the Bryn Mawr African and Caribbean Student Organization (BACaSO).

In my paper I analysed it place for both inclusion and exclusion. While Perry House has always been a sort of safe haven for Black, African-American, and now Latina students, it also seems often to deter those who do not fit into these categories despite being a public space. Residence is open to all students, regardless  of race, but the predeterminant that you must be an active member of the cultural groups that meet at the space ensures that mostly women of those races live there. In addition to this, its detachment from the campus ensures that residents of the house are likewise relatively isolated from the rest of the campus.

Serena's picture

On the Term So Far

So far I have really enjoyed the class. Not only have I learned more about views on the world around me, but I have been able to further my own opinions and dissect my place within this world. I am still working on gaining confidence and comfort to contribute more in class and online and hope that by the end of the semester, I will be a regular contributor. I am still learning the meaning of being in an educational "community" as opposed to just being an individual in a class, and I feel that this form of contribution will help me understand what this means for myself and others. More than anything, however, I would love to help my own growth and that of others.

I'm still working on being more concise in my writing, but I think that will improve by the end of the semester with Anne's help and that of my peer editors.

Serena's picture

Anxiety and Expectations

I'm feeling very anxious to visit the high school. Not only have I always been pretty socially unsure, but despite coming from an economically disadvantaged background, I've been separated from "city kids" for a long time and don't know what to expect when it comes to their behaviour, attitude, and language (eg, will they be laid-back? Use a lot of slang? Be open to our visit?). I think that a lot of this anxiety comes from our use of the term "inner-city," which has a mostly negative connotation, to describe the school. I've worked at an "inner-city" charter school before, albeit one which was kindergarten-8th graders, and what I saw there was a little disheartening.

While I consciously recognise the potential of the economically disadvantaged and those from the city, I hope that this trip can change my subconscious feelings, showing me that there is hope for more of us than I had previously imagined. Their policies seem fairly strict, so I'd imagine that the majority of the kids will be well-behaved, and I'm interested to learn about their "school selves" as opposed to their "home selves." I also think this will be an interesting place to observe how the educational system enforces "middle-class values" onto the other classes.

Serena's picture

Education and the (Financial) "Playing Field"

Being a student who is using education to climb out of the lower class, the idea of "leveling the playing field" is one that I think of often. I consider myself privileged in this respect: though my mother is disabled and has raised me on her own along with two other (foster) children, she has always emphasised the importance of educational motivation and has been willing to sacrifice to make this possible for us.

Not everyone is as fortunate. Many cannot even fathom the idea of becoming educated beyond high school: some must halt their educational careers even before high school graduation to care for their families, while others have become so disillusioned with or otherwise discouraged by the educational system that it seems as if it is not worth it. Of course, the public school system doesn't do much to help: as Shannon has stated, I have experience with people who have been "pushed through" public school despite performing poorly in class, putting them at a further disadvantage in standardised tests and increasing the possibility of dropping out of college.

Serena's picture

Access and Education Reflection

This week, using the terms "access" and "education" as relative terms to hold up my thesis, I argued that if education in self-awareness was placed alongside academics in schooling, not only would the discrepancies of access be diminished, but ultimately, those people would become happier. I cited Thompkins, whose lack of self-knowledge brought her depression, and Shorris, whose experiment shows how self-reflection can meaningfully affect the lives of the poor.

I do believe in my argument, but the feasibility of such is questionable. While liberal arts colleges emphasise getting to know oneself, I'm not sure how the implementation of "courses" - so to speak - in self-awareness would fare in larger universities or among those who are only interested in schooling to further their careers. Surely a better understanding of the self could benefit anyone, but it could not work if it were forced upon them.

Then comes the question of how it affects those who are unable to continue their schooling. Should the "courses" then be started at a lower level, perhaps high school? How would teachers be trained in leading students on their individual journeys of self-enlightenment? When reading the Thompkins essay, I came across the issue that she seemed to hope that all of her self-knowledge would come at once, as opposed to gradually as she matured and gained more experience. How would this be remedied for those who do not intend to continue schooling after high school?

Serena's picture

Educational Map

Everyone -

In my map in addition to the road I have taken, I include possible alternates and other elements (in my youth) that affect my education. I hope it isn't too confusing.

- Sx

Serena's picture

Reaction to Educational Autobiography

I was at first anxious to write my educational autobiography for an audience because, while I do think about the details of my formal and informal schooling often, I don’t usually share these thoughts with others. As always with my written work, I was worried that I would come off in a way that I had not intended, for which reason I opened my writing with a less formal anecdote, though in reading the essay again, I’ve found that I soon after fell into my old formalities that often accompany my writing. When speaking of my writing, my English teacher would often say that it comes across as if I am trying to impress someone, or that it is more or less pretentious, two things that I would not like my readers to feel; I simply do not know how to write in any other way.

Serena's picture

My Self and Schooling

Hello, everyone -


My name is Serena, I am 19 years old and live with my mother and cousin in Paulsboro, New Jersey, which lies on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia. Although I lived in other similarly small towns throughout New Jersey in my childhood,  I found my home here in the most fundamental years of my upbringing. Paulsboro is nearly equally black and white, with a handful of Asian residents. Here everyone is around the same social class, with some of the more affluent are able to take vacations in other states or own more than one car. There is a sizeable section 8 (government assistance housing) "manor" across from one of the two elementary schools.

I attended the Paulsboro public school system in elementary school from grades 3 to 5, before being placed into a local Catholic school and finally into homeschooling following an injury to my neck and back. In homeschooling I learned very little and insisted upon being placed back into "regular" school after 9th grade. My mother and I decided that I would not attend Paulsboro High School; most graduates attended community college or, at best, Rutgers University (the state university of New Jersey) and I had decided that I would take nothing less than University of Pennsylvania (my taste has since changed).

Syndicate content