Service Learning Paper

Service-learning is an educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide a progressive learning experience while meeting societal needs (“Service-Learning”, n.d.). This semester in Intercultural Communication service learning was introduced to me but something I had not experienced in other classes before. My initial thoughts to this were “This is going to be time consuming, no thank you”. This changed for me as the semester went on.
I loved the concept of Service-Learning because I knew it was something that would push me as a student to apply what I was learning as well as learn new things alongside gaining new experiences. Generationally, people my age tend have a harder time in school. Critical thinking is harder to do with the distractions all around us such as social media, smart phones, etc. It’s almost as if we need our learning experiences to be quick, easy and to the point like the way we want our internet service. For me, Service-Learning was something I saw as time consuming and another thing I did not want to do.
We were given the list of place we go volunteer at to complete our assignment of doing 20 hours of Service-Learning. The Asian Association of Utah offered volunteer opportunities that interested me the most, one being a mentor to a refugee single mother. I grew up with mom my being around mostly and my aunts raising my cousins on their own, naturally I wanted to volunteer with this because I felt I could empathize with a single mother. I applied online for this interview and got an email back asking to interview me as part of taking me into consideration. As I was in the interview, Annette, the head of the mentor program, mentioned the organization had received a grant to use for the refugees’ immediate needs. Annette discussed with me the need the organization was seeing and one of those was maintaining home hygienics to standards of landlords in the USA and specifically Utah. Together I was able to create a class to teach that met those needs and satisfied the expectations the grant required.
It was a great experience for me because Annette and Laura, head of——-, allowed me room to be creative for how the class was to be taught and structured. I came up with the idea to have stations in the classroom that represented four rooms in a house and then placed the cleaning products that went with each of those rooms. Example: In the Bathroom you would use toilet cleaner, shower cleaner, a toilet scrub, Windex, etc. It took some time with scheduling and working with the case workers to have refugees and immigrants to sign up for the class. After confirming with case workers at the organization, the class was all set to go.
Interacting with many different cultures gave me a different perspective on working with refugees and immigrants. There was a lady who made a comment, when another volunteer was teaching her about cleaning a mirror and using a rag, about using a newspaper to clean the mirror instead of a rag because newspaper is free and you’re using it instead of throwing it away. The volunteer was shocked that this worked and asked many questions about the process. I entered the conversation at this point and the volunteer looked at me like “Isn’t this crazy?”, I had grown up actually using newspaper and confirmed that it worked. After I thought about this experience because the volunteer was shocked that this lady had a different approach to something she thought was new to her. This happens all too often I think. People forget when you are interacting with other cultures and maybe you are teaching them about yours, the can take what you’ve said and still do it their way and it not be wrong. Staying aware that different cultures interacting can connect together and remain individually standing.
Service-Learning gave me the chance to step out of my comfort zone and apply more than the minimum to gain maximum experience and knowledge. I committed to do this class with the Asian association of Utah to complete my required hours but also because I became satisfied with how Service-Learning really benefitted me in my college career. Maya Angelou said it best, “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back”.

Works Cited
1. “Service-Learning.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Dec. 2017,
2. Kurylo, Anastacia. Inter/Cultural communication: representation and construction of culture. SAGE, 2013.

Post 10, The Final Post.

This class has tonight me a lot, sparked my interest in other cultures and changed me. This class has taught me to be more aware, not to just live in my bubble. I’ve found myself only looking through my lenses and not giving others a chance when it came to cultural topics and the differences between us. I’ve learned to open up and talk about things because thats the best way to come to some common ground with a person that differs from you. I found myself wanting to dive a little deeper than required with our service learning project to really challenge myself to get interconnected with other cultures. It’s been awesome to work with the Asian Association of Utah. I’m grateful to them for allowing me to create this class about Home Hygienics that helps fill the need they were seeing that hadn’t been met for refugees and immigrants. It’s been a lot of fun! I feel different now from the beginning of the semester and I believe it’s been the discussions we’ve had, the readings we’ve done, the stories we’ve heard and the people we’ve met and helped. These experiences have taught me to love others no matter their differences, whether I like them or not.

Post 9

I feel media influences our culture very strongly, in many ways it shapes who we are as a society. Social Media has seemed to be the most recent and biggest influence on American culture. Social media has influenced the way we talk and interact with one another. Its socially acceptable to add a random person you do not know at all on social media but it’s weird to befriend someone you don’t know in person. Another media influence for our culture is Podcasts. Podcasts are a very free speaking platform but is the most underused platform. It influences our culture in the sense that people are more likely to speak out against something the believe in because they hear it in a podcast.

Our speaker was very interesting person. I don’t think I’d ever try and gold mine in Africa. One thing that stood out to me that he said was “We did not go there for them to do business with us but we to do business with them and that means we do and respect what their culture requires” (or something along those lines). I think a lot of times we don’t realize we are looking through only our lenses no matter where we go but need to see things from other perspectives to really catch the big picture.

Post 8

I talked with two couples I know that are in an interracial relationship. One of the couples said their cultures never clashed or there was never any struggle with differences because of culture within their relationship but have had others treat them differently. This couple is gay and one of them is Mexican and said he has been treated differently than his partner who is white when they go out to eat at high end restaurants.
The second couple I interviewed said they often struggle with their cultural differences. Communication is hard for them because often one of them feels like they cannot deeply understand what the other is trying to say. It was interesting because this couple seemed to have a lot more to say about how their cultures brought such differences in their relationship. One them mentioned how cultural differences was something he tried not to deal with when dating but found it easy because his partner now was willing and open to work through those differences.
Both of these conversations reiterated for me that learning to effectively communicate with someone of a different culture can bring even the smallest difference of positivity in the relationship.

Post 7

I would say my ideas about privilege have changed and I understand that people that are very privileged sometimes don’t always choose that and I can’t get upset when someone who doesn’t understand things going on with those that are less privileged. I appreciate learning about privilege with people that are white because I helped me not place all white people in the same category, like I did growing up. To believe that all or most people with privilege use their privilege for good is something I can’t say I believe. The game on Monday proved to me that people with privilege will always place themselves first and take what they can first before helping anyone, if they choose to help anyone. I understand we must sustain ourselves and our families first and thats not being selfish in a bad way but the game we played proved to be the “bad” will come out first before someone changes their mind to a “good” mindset.

Post 6

If I am being honest, I think this class has brought out a bias in me when it comes to privileges and race, one that I don’t want to have because I would like to be an open-minded person. It’s also been hard for me to understand where I stand with race and privilege. I have always felt privileged, it was something my parents always reminded me of, I was a privileged girl compared to others. I think as I grew up I noticed those privileges but even more so noticed the privileges others didn’t have. I believe I am sensitive with race and privilege because I have not truly understand why things are the way they are for certain types of people. I think the fact that people of color have less privileges upsets me and I feel a bias as a person of color, regardless of my privileges, which I feel is my thinking error and keeping me from being as open-minded as I would like to be.
I did appreciate what my classmates said about seeking different ways to get to know someone but also understanding there are different perspectives of racism. The video we watched in class was helpful to bring this up. As I hear others experiences and thoughts it helps to broaden my view and understands there are so many sides to a story but it can come together and be on common ground.
I loved at the end of the Chapter 8 that it asked the readers to think of their privileges because it would help to see how it influenced their communication with another culture different from theirs.


Privilege is interesting because when it applies to us we enjoy it but when it is not on our side, its all of a sudden not fair. I was talking with friends this weekend and this girl made a comment about what the best family situation would be and it would be having two parents in the home and one parent working and one parent at home. I heard that and ponder it and thought thats her privilege talking. She had that experience and saw it turned out great for her and heard that that dynamic in her home that shes’ believed thats the way its suppose to be done and how to receive the best life. We forget our privileges because most of the time we’ve had them for awhile or were born with them. If I am being honest too when I hear the word privilege I acquaint it with racial issues, that might be because I’ve encountered privileges because of my skin color and race.

What stood out to me from the guest speaker was that he has racial issues that he has dealt with here in Utah in 2016. Why is that shocking to me? Because it’s 2016 people. With that though, I did like what the speaker said about this (racial issues) being cemented into peoples mind and it would take generations for it to change.

Self Assesment

Self- Assessment
It’s interesting to write this self-assessment because I tend to be very prideful in my Identity but often find when I need to write it down, I struggle expressing what my identity is. This communication class has made me become more aware of the different kinds of cultures there are in the World. With the new prospective I’m gaining I hope to understand myself more and how I can contribute to the worlds around me. This self-assessment has caused me to seek deep within myself and I hope to share with you a few things I’ve discovered.
I am a Mexican-American female who grew up in a lower middle class family. Mexican American was a term I wasn’t aware of until I was leaving High-school and entered in to college. I’d always just identified as a Mexican, and thought nothing more. I remember becoming friends with a girl who was also Mexican (but she spoke Spanish) and she clarified to me that there was a difference. In this memory, I can recall her telling me a Mexican is someone who was born, and at some point in their lives, lived in Mexico (and obviously speaks Spanish). So I asked her “So then what does that make me?”, she responded “You’re of Mexican descent but were born and raised in America, so that makes you a Mexican-American”. Who even knew? I didn’t that’s for sure. I began to question my parents more about being Mexican and about our culture. I remember my Dad saying the same thing as my friend, telling me “Yes, I am Mexican but you’re Mexican-American, or a Chicana”. I liked the sound of Chicana and began to Identify as that versus saying I was Mexican, it is also used interchangeably with Mexican-American. If someone were to ask me now what my race is, I’d simply say Mexican because as I grew up I was exposed to more white people and saying Mexican American asked for an explanation I wasn’t willing to give.
In 2017, Latin people have given many different titles for one to Identify with within the Latin culture. Recently the term Latinx came out in the Latin culture. Latinx is the gender-neutral alternative to Latino, Latina and even Latin. Latinx also helps people who are trans, queer, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid feel a part of the Latin culture. Spanish tends to have a lot of masculine forms of grammar within the language, something I believe played into the way females are viewed in Latin culture. For the sake of understanding my point of view in this assessment I won’t be using the Latinx term. The gender I identify with is female. Being female in a Mexican household was an experience that some would describe as traditional. I grew up being told I was to cook for the family, clean the house, stay with and around the women, have long hair, etc. All things that essentially affirmed to me that my main role was to take care of the family because that was my role as a female. I remember always serving meals to the men before serving anyone else in the family. And it always went by seniority, ex. My grandpa first and then my dad, and then my uncles etc. My parents did heavily enforce the Idea that I was to get an education and do “big things” with my life but often was conflicting to me because I felt I was placed in a certain category but then told to reach above that category. Part of the movement to use Latinx is to break those thoughts that men and women have gender roles, because they tend to effect negatively the people who live by them. The ability to speak Spanish is something I often think of because it is an ability I do not have. This has affected my life in a big way because it is often one of the first things I’d have to say about myself when explaining to people my culture and race. When I am in that position I get one response: “What do you mean you don’t speak Spanish? You’re not Mexican”. There is never a conversation I have that involves that statement that I don’t get annoyed by, partially because it brings up feelings I had of not knowing where I belong. I’ve learned culturally I am a Mexican, it may not be what people think but this is who I know to be.
I grew up in Lemon Grove, Ca, which is small city right outside of downtown San Diego. Lemon Grove is known as “tweeker town”, meaning there are lots of drug addicts there. I only lived there until I was in middle school. Lemon Grove is a city with mostly Mexican and Black people and I remember always assuming white people don’t live there because all white people are rich and they live in big nice houses. I learned this from my cousins who have never had good experiences with white people so they’ve come to believe white people don’t have any good interest in anyone colored. Then right when I was in entering middle school my parents decided to buy a house and we moved to the suburbs. This was a different world for me but I was super excited about it. My parents are very friendly and outgoing people and always taught us to embrace others, that we were all the same. I met and became friends with many white people. Today if you were to line up all my friends you’d see I probably now have more white friends than I do friends of any other race.
Moving into the suburbs I began to see how white people lived, and it wasn’t all glamorous like I had believed it to be. I never felt uncomfortable with my friends, I always felt loved and welcomed. I remember thinking they ate good food like toaster strudels and Alfredo fettuccine, a striking difference from the Mexican food I ate at home. My friends seem to have things I did not, or do things with their family that mine didn’t do. I think where we lived everyone was a little richer than us but my parents made our home feel comfortable that I never thought much about money.In a very general way I learned white people were like me. I was no different and they were no better. My parents did treat people the same, always by the golden rule. I’ve always been know to my white friends though as their Mexican friend, and have heard them say “It’s fine because Tina’s Mexican” when saying a racist joke or speaking about something involving race. I hate this because it’s used a justification for the use of a derogatory comments because you were friends with someone brown and therefore couldn’t be a racist. It wasn’t until I was in college that I no longer laughed with my friends when they would say racist jokes but explained how that’s not okay for them to say things like that.
As far as the gender perspective I gained living around white people, it was very different from what I had been learning at home. My friends did chores but it was for money so the options of chores weren’t limited to house chores. I observed white females cared very much about their image. Always doing something with their hair, nails and skin. I swear my friends had more hair products than all the people I knew combined. Their hair was straight and easy to manage, always flowed. Mine was curly and tangled. I hated it. The white female gender roles I perceived growing up were that white girls were always pretty, kind, and advantaged. My cousins from Lemon Grove would always call me white wash because I used the word “like” in my sentences acted like a “ valley girl”. It bothered me but I loved going to visit my cousins though because we relate in so many ways. I understood and laughed at jokes I’d never laugh about with my white friends. It was a comfort to me to be able to do that. I’m on a plane flying to Los Angeles to see my cousins as I write this assessment and laughing with my cousins in a way I know makes sense to only us because we are Chicanas is still comforting. In fact we are going to a concert this weekend where the artists performing are all Chicano artists, something I wouldn’t do with my white friends because they wouldn’t know who they were. I’d say the media influenced my thinking by affirming Mexicans were different than others by pointing out the silly things Mexican Mothers would do or life in a Mexican household. I grew up listening to spanish music, watching George Lopez, going to Chicano park festivals to celebrate Mexican heritage, watching novelas , etc. I don’t speak Spanish but I do understand it and all those things listed above were things I felt apart of time after time despite the thoughts of not being Mexican enough or being white washed. These media’s taught me to be proud of being a Mexican and that embracing our cultural norms wasn’t a bad thing and they were unique and different from other people’s, especially white peoples but that was okay.
In this class I’ve been interested in knowing more about The Ethical Imperative because understanding this would answer questions I have about how to really help and understand other cultures that are in need. We were asked questions about how we would feel if a shabby man came up to us at dinner, I want to know why my thought immediately when to “His man would be pitied”. I’d like to know more about Ethnocentrism and why we can’t see outside our own culture before we make a judgement. I want to know more about the taken-for granted knowledge within my own culture because I believe as I become more aware of that I can recognize that when I’m interacting with other cultures too. Self awareness is important and I feel this class is helping me gain that ability.

What I’ve learned.

This class have been an interesting one for sure. I really enjoyed the Babakieuria video. As I’ve been involved in this class I have to admit I often think (as I’m in the class) “Do the people in here think about the color of skin as often as I do?”. Watching that video in the class brought me comfort because I do think it’s important for people to see things like Babakieuria and hope they seek a broader prospective. I know this class isn’t about race necessarily but I appreciate the dive we’ve taken into race.

Adonica Limon’s video and what she said hit close to home for me. It also reminded me of the documentary A Girl Like Me. I am a Mexican American that doesn’t speak spanish, that caused a rift in trying to understand my identity when I was growing up. I was never Mexican enough. It’s interesting how if things aren’t done a certain way it suddenly creates this notion that the things you’re doing are wrong or a bit off, this is a thinking error that we need to fix.