Monday, May 22, 2017

American Culture

          Throughout the world, there are different norms due to different cultures depending on where you are.  Like so, in the United States, we have some very specific traits about America culture that make us stick out like a sore thumb in terms of the whole world. Just to list a few values of America versus other places in the world, Americans value things like: personal control, time management, justice, competition, directness, practicality, efficiency and materialism. Do I realize as I am writing this how much of a mouthful that statement was? Yes, of course. Breaking it down, however, I'll just mention a few things about out values here in America.
          Beginning with time and control, Americans value the action of being on time. We see it as polite and respectful of others. While this is true in the U.S., in other countries, being on time can actually be seen as being pushy and rushing a host.
          Next up with competition, the American trait typically involves people trying to work hard and be the best they can at something and wanting to be better off than others. While this isn't true of course for all individuals in America, competition is highly emphasized in American culture like in our sports games. Other countries differ because they tend to value cooperation rather than competition and see  The values are once again are small part of what is a social construction of reality because all these values we have in America as a nation, are different in so many ways in comparison to other countries.
          And of course, materialism and effeciciency. For some reason, Americans feel the need to make things run quickly and effectively. It's a logical thing to do, but we tend to value it over more universal values. Our most easy to point out trait, in my opinion, is meterialism. Americans are know for valuing having the most udated, efficient, and nicest things. Not to mention the most things. Other countries value having practical things and only what they need rather than having the most efficient things and the best things and most things in general.
          Speaking of materialism for that matter, in the video we watched about refugees coming to America, the refugees were stunned at the fact that on Christmas, in America, people put up trees and lights, gives gifts, and eat meals to celebrate. The refugees spoke about how they never exchanged gifts for Vhristmas where they were from ne they didn't put up trees. In their country, they would dance and sing to celebrate in a spiritual way rather than in materialistic nature.
          Though I would love nothing more to say that some of these traits were not the way I see myself, I will admit that being raised in an American society has impactsed the way I go about life and impacts hose around me. I suppose that while I don't always think about it, both the American society that I live in, as well as I both are competitive, meterialistic, controlling, efficient, direct, etc. our society impacts who we are and who we become. Therefore, Americans, like myself, are shaped into the kind of people that we surround ourselves with like Americans.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Feed My Starving Children Volunteering

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to go to a great organization called: “Feed My Starving Children”, which feed starving kids in 3rd world countries. Once I got there, my friend and I watched a video on a few of the people that this amazing non-profit benefits. It told us the countries that the food goes to, as well as how far a few cents can go to feed a child and that with our help so many kids would fight starvation with the food we provide them with. My friend and I were given the job to label food packages with expiration dates. While it doesn’t seem like anything huge at first glance, knowing that the hundreds of bad that I was labeling would soon end up in a child’s hand who really needed it, made my heart fulfilled. I have to say that there may be no better feeling than the feeling of knowing that you can give to other people. This experience really showed me the outcome of what can happen when you give your time to others. By the end of the shift, the group overall had packaged I believe enough food to feed just over 80 kids across the sea. And I must say that while this isn’t a project to feed kids locally or nationally, we still felt a sense of community because we all came together from around the area as a community to help another community somewhere else.

Bocce Ball

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure and incredible opportunity to help run the Special Olympics Bocce Ball tournaments at my high school. This was such a great experience that I not only took life skills from, but also cherished memories to last me a lifetime. What my classmates and I did was score each game and we reported scores. That was what we were told to do, but what nobody told us is how much fun and appreciation we would have for everyone involved. Spending 7 hours in the sun was great with all the athletes and other volunteers too! We not only did the basic job, but we also connected with each and every athlete that day. One quick memory to recount was during the first match when we met an athlete named Martha. Martha had brought her boyfriend Mark, also a competitor. Martha worked really hard and, I believe ended up winning her game and the support of Mark definitely spoke to my entire group and made us feel like we had an impact on our community. The community was not necessarily local, but it was strong and that is something that I think everyone should learn to treasure because without it, we lose the kind of experiences like I had with Martha, Mark and all the other athletes that day.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Post #9

          Lately in sociology, we have been discussing all things culture. This is especially interesting to learn about after learning each other unit because it incorporates each unit we've discussed thus far including: race, social class, gender, deviance, etc. First of all, we began with culture shock, the idea that one may feel disconnected or anxiety from the outside world when in a new setting or place that isn't familiar.  This is so interesting to me because the impact that culture shock can have on someone can force people to look at the world in a different light and see how much more there is to the world than what they know. For example, in my life, going to the school that I do and living in the area that I live in, I usually always see the most beautiful artwork, have highly praised teachers by the state and community, have a sushi bar one a week at school for lunch and it seems normal to me. So normal, that sometimes I forget that it's not like that everywhere, in fact, it's not like that most places. When you come from schools your entire life where you are very privileged and can grow up with a computer lab or the most updated Macs, it's easy to forget that not everyone has it the same way, especially because my friends from other schools around my area have it just as well as I do at my school so it seems like everyone has it the way we do at my school, even though that's definitely not the case.
          Next we talked about ethnocentrism and what it means to evaluate other cultures based on our own preconceived standards based off the ways which we are used to. It's important to remember that in different place and parts of the world, or even different parts of the country do things differently. The simplest example I can think of off the top of my head how in certain Asian countries, people sit on the floor rather than on furniture like we do here,  in America.  At first when I heard that people sat on the floor my first instinct was for that to be uncomfortable, but that must be because I am only used to sitting on furniture rather than the floor for extended periods of time. Similarly, someone from one of those countries coming to America for the first time would probably see it as odd to be sitting in furniture. That in itself is an example of my next topic; material and non-material culture. Furniture is a part of material culture in America because and other places in the world furniture isn't used. Non-material culture are things that are more like not talking about taboos at the dinner table or in public (i.e. Using the restroom).
          Finally, we learned about subcultures- a smaller culture within a larger culture. One of my subcultures is being Jewish. While I am definitely a part of the the overall American culture, one of my subcultures is Jewish because it's a smaller culture that I'm a part of within my American culture. If you think about it, all of us Americans are a subculture when compared to the larger culture of all people across the world and while we are are equal, we are all a part of some kind of culture that makes us all different in a great way too.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Post #8

     Race is something that some don't think about and others struggle with on the daily. This is extremely prevalent throughout the entire world because of the lack of knowledge on how race is just a social construct of reality. I know that's that idea is very confusing at first glance and complicated to understand, but it's simple when you understand that I'm not arguing that there is no difference in skin pigmentation. I'm fully aware of that fact the everyone has a difference skin color, but I'm arguing that race is different everywhere. In America, people are classified into group based in race: black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and occasionally Pacific Islander and Native American. The issue is that by profiling people into groups we create structures that effect entire "races" as a whole. As well, we fail to realize that in other countries, such as Brazil, race is completely different, rather than the group listed before, they have tons of races that are based upon the slightest differences in skin pigmentation between one another rather than just 4 or so races. With this ignorance we also fail to look back and research why people even have different skin pigmentation. After discussing in class we learned that everyone started out in Africa and over time some groups of people moved farther North and expanded into many different places that were farther from the equator than where people started in Africa which made skin pigmentation lighter. So really skin pigmentation is based upon location to the equation. This is the only reason for a difference in skin color between any two people. Biologically, people are all the same regardless of the race a society assigns them too. 
     Race is something that impacts everyone and that is weather we recognize it or not. Because of the bias and stereotypes that people are surrounded upon their entire lives, people are forced to make assumptions about other people on the basis of race even if someone doesn't consider themself a racist. For starters, most people would not consider themselves racist in our community,  but what we seem to forget about is that sometimes people make an assumption about people in minority races as a first reaction and only after having made assumptions, they change their opinion once they realize what they were thinking was based off stereotypes because they realize their initial reaction was wrong. Next, in class we watched a video in sociology where black children were given a choice to choose which doll they though was a good doll of a white and a black doll and most chose the white doll as the good doll while choosing the black doll as the bad doll. Then when asked which doll the lids though they were like, they chose the black doll and because they said the white dolls were good and they said the black dolls were bad, because the children were black, the children though they themselves were bad. This study really showed that society impacts what not only people in majority races think of minority races, but also how society forces minorities to think of themselves. While the concept of race is very challenging to grasp and sort out, what is most important is that we are all mindful of our thoughts and actions towards people, regardless of their race, and putting in the effort to protect people from stereotypes and discrimination based upon race. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Post #7

Social class is something that has always existed as a result of society. It effects every aspect of our daily lives and every choice that we make. The social class in which society allows us to land determines  many other factors than just income and wealth and poverty. Prestige, power, social mobility, and life changes are all things impacted by social class. At my school people tend to assume that everyone is well off and comfortably floating around in money and while many families are, there is a good portion of students at the school who's family's make a lower income and don't live the full on lux life that other student seem to think everyone does.
     In the movie, The Line, that my class a couple of weeks ago in sociology, we learned about poverty in America. Something that unnoticed that reflected my own school is that while people may appear to be living a normal life in a normal house, they may still be struggling for money and could potentially be living off food stamps even when it doesn't look like it. Before watching the movie, I never really thought about the fact that it could affect so many people in my own community and that I likely know someone experiencing these affects that stem from the ideas of social class. And in reality, while it seems that both students and teachers make comments about the general somewhat-wealth of families that attend my school, they lack the understanding and consideration that they too also likely know students that aren't living the same kind of life that they have been living.
    Another very important part of social class is that while many people want to move up and out of their current social class, social mobility is more difficult than almost anything. Those living at the minimum wage or poverty line as learned through Nickel and Dimed, may be working multiple jobs and even sixty hour weeks to make a little bit of money to sustain their family while still living off benefit programs to help them out. While we'd all like to believe this isn't the case, a lot of America is living with that constant struggle on their shoulders. This idea is very similar to how monopoly works which we also played in sociology. The idea of a preset social class limiting where people fell in society and pre-determining income and poverty for so many people who were never given the opportunities others are smothered in because of their higher status in the game is not actually a game, but rather a reality. As some people were predestined in the game to fail because of the social classes they were placed in, we realized people are born into those kinds of situation too and that while in my table of students, we may be comfortably living, we should always be considerate and mindful of others because you never know where someone falls in social class and how their lives may be impacted my that.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Post 6

     For the past few weeks is sociology class, we have been learning about what it is to be deviant. Deviance is simply when you stand out for the social norms. The most easily identifiable example that comes to my mind when thinking about the topic is when teenager do drugs. This is deviant because in most societies drugs are seen as both wrong and are usually being used illegally. This idea of deviance was discussed very thoroughly through the Saints and Roughnecks reading that mentioned to groups of friends that were deviant in their communities. While the Saints stuck out for being mischievous through vandalism, pulling pranks and driving drunk and eventually very high, they were seen as good students with an “B” average grade for the group overall. Lots of the boy were on sports teams and one was even vice-president of their student body at one point. The saint were also the popular kids who dressed nicely, were polite to teachers, and had money. That makes all the difference in comparison to the Roughnecks.
     The Roughnecks were nearly the opposite of the Saints in that way. Typically the Roughnecks didn’t dress as well as the Saints, were far less well-mannered and didn’t have the funds at the same level as the Saints. They even made suggestive comments to respectable girls and got into fights fairly frequently as well. While the Roughneck in all honestly most likely not too much more of a threat to society than the Saints were and potentially were no worse, the community seemed to view the Roughnecks as less than the Sanst and a lot of that is due to their social class. As the Roughnecks had less than the Saints and were described to look the part too, they were seen to be worse than the Saints. This is a very clear representation of deviance. While the Saints did some very bad things and should have stuck out more for their actions, because they blended in well due to their manners and social class, they were able to not be viewed as deviant whereas because the Roughnecks looked different and were not as well-mannered, they were seen as deviant.
    Next, we watched the movie 30 Days In Jail, which touched on what it's like to be in jail when society has given you a stigma for seeming deviant. The man that spent 30 days in jail said he and his inmates became instantly and totally isolated from the rest of society for the time that they spent there. This all resulted from society telling them that they were deviant for committing crimes like possessing, selling, abusing drugs and more similar crimes. Due to the fact that many people abide by the law, when people break laws like those broken by the prisoners, they are viewed as deviant from the rest of society and are therefore labeled. This level of deviance that leads to jail, unfortunately does the opposite of what it's supposed to do by helping prisoners learn discipline and usually sets up those who have served their time for the worst when many of them end up back in the system.
     On the topic of Drugs, 21 Chump Street, touched upon what it's like and how easily it is to catch those who sell, buy, possess and consume drugs. Unfortunately for the boy on the audio recording, he had been labeled as deviant even though he had never been charged with a crime and was a great student. Because the boy got drugs for the undercover policewoman, he was labelled as deviant and it gave him a stigma. Deviance as we know surrounds us all the time, especially as we've recently seen it in our owns lives daily on the news  when we hear about others buying drugs or vandalism of synagogues and all sorts of other situations, but what we must keep in mind is while deviance is mostly seen as negative, there are also good times examples of deviance. Off the top of my head, in recent years body positivity has been a large movement for so many people and although it was once seen as deviant to speak about and may still be to some extent, it has helped us progress as a country and a world. So next time you think about deviance, remember it can be bad, but also can be great.