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

Paper 2

Sasha De La Cruz's picture

As I re-read the prompt for this paper (which was about a thousand times), I still have trouble understanding it and even coming up with an answer. Ever since we started class, I have been having trouble visualizing silence. I understand it to be the inability to speak/express yourself, either because you do not want to or because someone/something won’t let you. I read almost all the papers that are already posted to see if I can get an idea of what to write about, or what the question is asking. After reading the papers, I still do not have an answer, which (with a little help from Sarah) led me to conclude that the openness/vagueness of the question is silencing me.

 I guess I can relate this predicament to my academic life here at Bryn Mawr. A lot of the times, if not all the time, when there is an assignment, it takes me a while to completely comprehend what is being asked. This makes me think of our last class when we spoke about the different levels of comprehension and “education” in all of my classes. If there were a time where I am silenced in a classroom, it would definitely be when I am being asked to reason or think about something that is fairly foreign to me.

 I find a lot of my readings to be extremely difficult and inaccessible for me. I am not used to these really long, complicated texts where the author uses all these ginormous words and uses these metaphors and imagery that leave me blank. This makes me extremely frustrated and so I proceed to make the mistake of just watching Netflix to forget where I am and all the things I need to do.

Back in high school I was always the student to know almost all the answers, I was in all (and by all I mean the only 2 that were offered) the AP classes; starting my sophomore year I was already taking classes with the kids from classes above me; like I mentioned in class on Thursday, I was even the valedictorian of my class. I say all of this just to show that even though I do not come from the most prestigious high school in Boston, I am capable of succeeding academically, but for some reason this is so much harder to achieve here. Now that I think about it (again with Sarah’s help J) think difference is that I am not used to the process method of my professors teaching, in high school my teachers were very specific in their assignments.

As much as I try to do all of my readings and try to understand most of it, this is a very hard task for me. I am a slow reader to begin with, and while I read one text, others in class have already gone through almost all of them – and understanding it. When it is time for class, I find myself silenced when we are asked to speak about the readings (especially in our Ed class where we have to pair up) I find myself often apologizing to whoever my partner is because I cannot share any deep insights or thoughts about the texts, I can just point at the few lines and topics I did understand.

So When I am asked what does silence look like, I guess to me, it would be not being able to speak with such depth and understand the readings as much as my peers. I would not say I am intimidated by them, I just sometimes feel incompetent in a way though I do know I have the potential. I just shut myself down sometimes (by watching Netflix for example) because it frustrates me having to work three times as much just to be good enough to pass. I worry that my professors will think I am not trying hard enough or that I am just not college material because my writing is not even close to my peers extreme cohesive, poetic writing.

Life here at Bryn Mawr can and is overwhelming for me. From the times during midterms and finals, to just homework in general to even when I am working at Uncommons; everyone complaining about how much work they have to do and how stressed and sleep deprived they are. Watching people come in order five shots of espresso and two large coffees just shocks me. From the culture shock on campus in general to the culture shock academically, there is a huge gap that I need to begin finding ways to close it. 



Uninhibited's picture

I think there's a real issue

I think there's a real issue on this campus about class. Last year we had a whole year dedicated to issues of socio-economic (of which some of us were very involved with) and yet, little has change. So I wonder how these things can be brought to the attention of everyone in the community, because those who need it the most are not the ones attending these sessions or signing up for these classes. What are you supposed to do when you need to work but still want to feel human. It's funny that you mention being silenced and being seen as a uniform. I think any of us that have worked in the dining hall can attest to suddendly becoming invisible when that dining hall hat comes on. What is it that makes this college listen to some and silence others? And who is silencing who?

couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Thanks for posting this unknown reality

Amen Sasha...I totally feel you 100%. No need to apologize. I understand the anger.

Sasha De La Cruz's picture

Argh, thanks :)

Argh, thanks :)

Sasha De La Cruz's picture


It's 12:39am and I just got back from work (Uncommon Grounds). At this moment I am extremely infuriated therefore I apologize for all the grammar error and probably not making sense since I'll be too tired to revise this tonight. 

I say I am infuriated because I just experienced being silenced and not wanting to be, but not really having a choice. This has happened many times - but I haven't made the connections since I wasn't in this class. Tonight was one of those really REALLY bad nights at UG. One of the nights where the line it literally out the door almost by the computers in the campus center. It was me and three other workers on shift. I came in a bit early to get a start on my duties before closing. Everything was smooth at the time. As time got closer and closer to our kitchen being closed - our line started growing. Now, I do not want to seem as a lazy worker, but making 3-4 burgers half an hour after our kitchen has closed is just outrageous to me. It was 10:55pm and we were still getting burger orders, more and more frying and grilling pannini's. 

I get mad because I hate to see how inconsiderate people can be, and when they do not get their orders fast enough, they begin complaining and being rude to me and my customers. What gets me more mad is the fact that these are my peers we are talking about here! Not specifically classmates, but people I go to school with. People form younger years, people that I've had class with before, people that belong to the same affinity group. I really despise when the customers feel a sense of power because we are in our uniform serving them and at the end of the day they believe me must do as they say and serve them as best/fast as possible. 

People that I knew personally began demanding stuff and giving me very nasty attitudes as if they forget the face and only see the uniform and the environment. What frustrates me is that being in my uniform and working "for them" at the moment doesn't allow me to fully express my feelings and respond with the same (non-existing) respect they give me. I honestly cannot abide by the "kill them with kindness" technique, but unfortunately I have to because sometimes I have no choice if I want to keep my job.

Questions that keep popping in my head: Is it the uniform? Is it because you think I'm your servant? Is it the difference in class? Is it because I have no choice but to work here if I want to stay in school and maybe you don't? 

P.S. I know this sounds messy and all over the place, but I am writing in anger and cannot properly think straight right now. 

sara.gladwin's picture

don't apologize

I really appreciate this post, because I think it's so packed with feeling. I like that it hasn't been edited, or censored or eclipsed by later reflection. Sometimes I think the rest of the world overlooks how useful anger can be. We are supposed to be calm, composed and collected. Anger gets put aside, disregarded as impulse. You perfectly capture a completely legitimate feeling, and I'm envious that you can do that. I like to say that I don't get ever angry but sometimes the truth is that I just don't let myself. I talk myself out of anger most of the time- I edit it until it becomes submissive. I'll analyze and interpret my feelings until I've distanced myself from the actual emotion. And in some cases, this is a useful skill. But I think in other situations, anger can be a really powerful force; especially if you can channel it into something. Even if you can't change your immediate work situation- I think it is totally worth discussing some of your questions and thinking about a way to bring some of these things to the attention of people on campus. Even if nothing campus-wide comes of it, having a space to voice some of these complex issues. It has made a difference to me, and I know I'll carry that with me. So don't apologize; I think this post is perfect.

Sasha De La Cruz's picture

Thank you

Thank you, I really appreciate you sharing this <3