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Self Evaluation and Reflection

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Silvi Shameti
Ed 270, Fall 2014
Self Evaluation and Reflection

Taking Multicultural Education last semester was definitely an eye-opening experience for me; I hadn’t know what microaggressions were, let alone the fact that many of my peers were experiencing them on a regular basis and that I had probably perpetrated some myself at some point in my life. I think that listening to all those conversations led me to start working through my own place in societal structures, and I think that class gave me more access to this one. I had begun thinking about my identity in Multicultural Ed, and at one point I was pretty sure I had figured it out, but Identity, Access, and Innovation completely changed that. This class made me re-evaluate the way I thought about my identity; I began to see it as something less defined by “society” and something I could connect to personally; for example, one post I wrote was about realizing my identity as a “mentor” for younger people, which I thought was a really cool way to visualize myself and also one of the reasons I feel so drawn to teaching. I love spending time with teenagers, in many different capacities, and I love taking on the role of a “teacher” or “facilitator,” or basically anyone who gets to open meaningful discussions with other people. I consider that a part of who I am, and a part of my identity. This class has really solidified my desire to be someone who is a resource or guide to others, especially young people.

One of the biggest parts of identity that I’ve had trouble working through, however, has to do with race. I spent a long time conflating my personal struggle with an institutional one, and it took work to accept that my own experiences are valid but also part of a larger perspective. Because I come from a country that, growing up, was unintelligible to many people, I had always felt really self-conscious about my background; that, combined with the fact that my family was not financially well-off the first few years we were here made me feel very different and “othered” from the other White students I came into contact with. Albanian culture didn’t always seem to fit in with the structures of “Whiteness,” which in my mind produced a well-educated middle-class family who lived in a house and would spend time attending soccer games with other families like them. Now I understand that this way of thinking was fallacious, and that probably one of the biggest reasons my family has been able to come so far from where we started is because we’re White immigrants from Europe, and and we undoubtedly benefit from the structure of White supremacy that has a longstanding presence in the United States (and much of the rest of the world). (Try telling that to my parents, though, who are still huge proponents of the “American Dream” narrative.) I try to make an effort to continue working with this subject, especially because of recent events that have launched this issue into the spotlight once again (for those who don’t have to experience it or deal with its effect on a daily basis.) I know I’ve already brought it up, but I feel very strongly about the movements happening around the country (and now the world!) that were sparked by Ferguson (or as strongly as someone who can never actually understand the experience of being Black in America can feel), and that is also how I came to choose my banner. As a white person, I have a lot of privilege and power, and just acknowledging that is not enough. But the readings that we’ve done and the conversations we’ve had make me feel more able to take some kind of action against it. I really valued the way this class allowed me to grapple with my identity in a way that wasn’t always pleasant, but ultimately necessary.