May 26, 2010

Bonus Post: Extra Terkel

I was trying to find someone happy with their job in Terkel's book, and ran into the interview with writer/producer Barbara Herrick. A 30 year old single woman, she contradicts the offensive statement that the woman can be either pretty or smart. Barbara successfully made her way in the male dominated profession of advertisement. "You have to be absolutely on target, dramatic and fast" to get to be in that upper 1 percent of working women. The contradiction between her sex and financial and professional position is making her life somewhat difficult, as men just don't ever take her seriously and make her constantly, relentlessly prove what she is good for. "At the first three meetings of this one client, if I would ask a direction question" - she says - "they would answer and look at my boss or another man in the room". 
At the same time, Barbara admits that her good looks helped her get where she is. With a smile she imagines how her clients could refer her to their associates: "She's very good, but to look at her you'd never know it. She's a knockout!" Her good looks have often put her in ambiguous situation with men, and while she has learned her way to behave through the aggressive flirts, sometimes the feelings of this "iron lady" still get hurt (her coworker assumed they spend a night together while they were both away on the business trip. "That poor son of a bitch had no notion what he was doing to my ego".)
Only one fault i noticed in this interview, that Barbara never really "feels delighted to present her work and get praise for it - and the credit, and the laughter, and everything" which made me think that she is not really proud of her products, of her babies. This feeling got further supported by her confession: "I am expected to write whatever assignment I am given. It is whorish". How strange that the woman who got to the top of her carear, in a creative field, doing what she likes to do and what she does well feels hardly better than that streetwalker whore, who says that she does what most American women do - sell her favors!
Terkel kinda screwed it for me with his postscript: "Shortly afterwords she was battling an ulcer". Does this stressful job and constant competition really ruin us, and the American dream only works till one is very young? Or is it just Barbara's own passionate self, "compulsive about doing every tiny job very well since high school?

Blog post #4: Dark Prejudice

"Our nationality, race and sex are a coincidence.
Our life stance is a choice.
Organize against oppressive structures,
connect the parts, create the Whole"
(from a T-shirt purchased in Berlin, Germany)

Since the blacks were violently brought to America, there unfolded a heart-breaking clash between races, full of blood, exploitation, discrimination and mutual hatred. The recent election of Obama in 2008 proved that there is finally light in the end of the tunnel, and blacks finally get better economical, educational and social opportunities. However, “the past is never dead. It's not even past” (William Faulkner), and the wounds of the slavery will take long time to heel. While the consequences of “the dark prejudice” are still evident, we cannot deny the obvious progress that has been made in regards of race and class mobility in the last 50 years.
In his article “ In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap” Michael Luo gives his analysis of statistics of unemployment for white and black people with college degree. In his opinion, “race remains a serious obstacle in the job market for African-Americans, even those with degrees from respected colleges”. Moreover, the numbers prove, that the college degree, aimed at bringing people of any race and background to the same educational and cultural level, “does not level the playing field – in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven”. If it is the college degree that makes the racial inequality even more pronounced, maybe we teach our students something wrong in the walls of these colleges? I think this issue needs to be looked into, and I hope the investigation will result in the educational reform, where students will be taught tolerance and brotherhood, equality and mutual respect.
But let’s take a look on the racial gap let’s say, half a century ago. Up until 1960’s racial segregation was blooming, putting the black population of the USA in a very disadvantaged economic, social and educational situation. “Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners,” – says B. Obama in his speech “A More Perfect Union” – “explains the wealth and income gap between black and white.” Indeed, blacks were not allowed to study in the same schools, to eat in the same restaurants, to use the same bathroom and to drink from the same water fountain with the white people!
Nowadays, there are a lot of black students and professors in our educational system, even as high as Ivy league universities, there are black top models, black people in the government, black doctors, black lawyers. This proves that the opportunity does exist for the people of color with skills and ambitions. In this regard, while there are definitely consequences of centuries of repression on the black people rights and liberties up until now, the current situation shows that that the amount of social, educational, economic and even political opportunities has increased greatly over the last 50 years.
But three hundred years of oppression unfortunately cannot be omitted as fast as we would like it, and this process has been relatively slow. In my opinion, in order to achieve more productive relationships in our multicultural society all races should make a step forward towards each other. White people, who prefer to hire whites “casting about for the right cultural fit” (Luo) have to realize, that until they treat blacks as equals, their taxes will go towards black unemployment and health care. At the same time, in order to form a more perfect union black people should not let hatred towards the past crimes become a hindrance from a productive future. I really support Obama’s firm opinion, that mutual compromise and attempt to reverse anger and hatred will help us “narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of our time”.

May 19, 2010

my interview with elena, a very passionate volunteer activist :)

Elena turned ot to be the best interviewee, and prior to me she had been interviewed by quiet a couple influential sources. here's her interview for CBS during the times she was unemployed, before she found her vocation for teaching

And here's mine:)
1. Elena, what has shaped your professional choice? (educational background, volunteering and other professional experience)
Multiple factors have shaped my professional choice as bilingual teacher and education reform advocate. As a Cuban-American, I have lived in many Hispanic countries and attended bilingual schools. I studied International Cultural Studies for my undergrad and am now pursuing a graduate degree in Bilingual Childhood Education. Volunteering kicked off my teaching career during the recession when I volunteered as an ESL teacher at the International Center New York. I found I had a real talent to teach and loved doing it at the same time. After finding my niche (in between unpaid internships and waitressing), I started tutoring low socio-economic children, coming to terms with their everyday obstacles. This has played a significant role in shaping my professional choice because I realized I want to make a bigger impact in my community for educational reform as a bilingual teacher.

2. What helped you find your vocation?
Volunteering. The fact that I loved what I was doing for no financial compensation really made a difference in my psyche towards careers. Its about what you love to do, not about how much money you make.

3. Have you heard of "emotional labor" and if so, do you consider yourself performing it?
Not until recently :) Emotional labor is a very interesting subject when it comes to teaching. I definitely use my 'emotions' when I work, especially when I grow attached to my students. Does my salary depend on it? No. Therefore, I don't really consider that fact that I perform emotional labor. Although this only really works for one-on-one tutoring sessions when I can really be myself. I think I would perform some emotional labor if I were to work as a public school teacher (that in which I plan to do when I graduate). There are so many rules schools have teachers abide by in terms of their 'conduct', and but I suppose this goes for any job really. The bottom line is...would my salary depend on it? The answer is no.

4. How stressful is your job?
Not at all. I really feel like teaching comes naturally to me. I am very comfortable with my students. Teaching is by far less stressful job I've ever had. The most was when I waitressed. Now I have learned that was mostly due to my 'surface acting' in my emotional labor demanding job where I was ridiculed to smile all the time (it drove me crazy!). The only stressful aspect about my current job is the lack of money, but I have learned to live a life without luxury and materialistic things. I am very satisfied.

5. How do you like your schedule?
I love my schedule. I have pure flexibility to change sessions with students whenever I see fit. I think a 9-5 job would drive me insane.

6. What are your professional goals?
My ultimate goal is to be politically involved in education reform. I want to institute optional bilingual classes in every kindergarten and elementary public school. I am very influenced by the European education model. My years of teaching in a public school after I graduate will offer me the experience and necessary tools to really make a change.

7. Please, describe your relationships with students and their parents.
I feel like there is a very thin line between teaching a parenting. They both go hand in hand. Parenting is teaching. I'm just the 'extra' vehicle that provides knowledge to my students in a way that parents are not trained to do. Teaching also requires discipline, another parenting tool. The worst comment I could ever receive from a student is "your not my mother!". The boundaries are very thin its easy to confuse one for the other.

8. How does it feel to be exposed to kids with lack of skill all the time?
I love it. Its what makes me a teacher. My job is to fill build that skill and is challenge that I enjoy to tackle. The instant results are proof that I am good at what I do.

9. Do you feel higher involvement with your private students (one-on-one tutoring sessions) than in class?
Not necessarily. Both have their pros and cons of course, but I believe when it comes to attention, involvement, both can be equal. 'Bad teachers', for lack of a better term, are incapable of gaining the attention of an entire class. They simply 'talk to the board' and don't pay attention to whether or not students are really paying attention. Good teachers are constantly aware of their students involvement and now how to avoid distractions.

10. What other jobs supposed to involve emotional labor have you had? How did you do on them?
Refer to #4. I was a horrible waitress.

11. How absorbing is your current job? Do you have enough time/space/energy for your private life?
Emotionally, it is very absorbing. I become very attached to my students care a lot about them. None of this really effects my private life. I have always liked keeping work and play separate from each other :)

12. On the scale 0 to 10, how would you describe your content with your current position?
7....only because I know I am on the verge of kicking off my career. I still have grad school to finish, teaching in a public school, and gaining a significant political position. I won't be truly satisfied until I can create major change in the system.
13. What do you think about incorporating modern technologies into education? Skype classes? (Role of computers making kids dumber and distracting) What do you think is the right proportion of computer exercises and direct contact with a live teacher? (examples)
I think incorporating modern technology is a wonderful idea, especially for language classes. Students can connect with other students all over the world through programs like Skype to practice their new language. For example, American students learning Spanish and connect with Mexican students learning English. I believe some private schools are using this, but I'm not quite sure. I believe that the proportion of computer exercises vs. live teacher definitely depends on age. Elementary students for example need more 'live' teacher time for distraction/monitoring purposes. It would be very difficult for a teacher to monitor 20 computers at the same time for hours to tell if the students are gaining any knowledge form what they are doing. Older students, especially at the college level, can use for computer time and little 'live' time, if it’s even necessary. There are a few language schools in South Korea that are paying American teachers to give classes online (the hours are from 5 till 9 am usually).

May 18, 2010

Questions for my interview.

1. Elena, what has shaped your professional choice? (educational background, volunteering and other professional experience)
2. What helped you find your vocation?
3. Have you heard of "emotional labor" and if so, do you consider yourself performing it?
4. How stressful is your job?
5. How do you like your schedule?
6. What is your professional goals?
7. Please, describe your relationships with students and their parents.
8. How does it feel to be exposed to kids with lack of skill all the time?
9. Do you feel higher involvement with your private students (one-on-one tutoring sessions) than in class?
10. What other jobs supposed to involve emotional labor have you had? How did you do on them?
11. How absorbing is your current job? Do you have enough time/space/energy for your private life?
12. On the scale 0 to 10, how would you describe your content with your current position?

May 14, 2010

Please share your feedback on my personal statement I wrote to apply for the scholarship

Dear Miss Tannenbaum and my fellow co-students,
Tomorrow is the deadline for filing an application to receive scholarship through LaGuardia. They require you write a 250-word personal statement, explaining why you think you are eligible for financial assistance and how your experianses in life shaped your educational ambitions. Please, give me feedback and help me edit my statement. If you notice spelling/stylistic or other mistakes, please let me know, as I am submitting it TOMORROW :)
Everybody, enjoy the weather and have a good weekend!

 I have always known that I would try my best to attain the highest level of education available. After studying computer linguistics in Minsk State Linguistic University I had to seek asylum in the USA. I was unable to keep a productive state of mind in the oppressive, authoritarian regime of present Belarus.
Throughout my extensive life experience my true and long-term passions proved to be languages, cultures and cross-cultural communications. My ambition is to combine my excellent communication and business management skills with the languages I have learned. (Russian, Belorussian, English, German, and most currently, Spanish.)
In order to accomplish my ambition as a cultural expert in our globalized business world, I need your financial assistance to reach my dream.
It is my second semester in LaGuardia, and I am definitely enjoying my educational experience in a very culturally diverse college in New York. Studying is making me very content. My academic results from the last semester (A, A, A, A-) make me feel so accomplished and proud of myself. The A minus I received last semester is due only to my tardies and absences. I feel the importance of attending classes, but unfortunately I have to provide for myself in a costly metropolis environment. I know that my academic results only suffer from lack of time and energy finding means to financially support myself. If only I could get some financial support, nothing would prevent me from devoting all my passion, time and effort towards academic success.
This semester I am taking five classes, and I realize I can handle extensive coursework. My ultimate goal is to take as many classes as I possibly can in order to graduate soon and start applying my knowledge and skills in my professional development. I have personally suffered from unhealthy political and cultural tendencies in the world, therefore I would really like towards building strong cultural bonds in the present world through establishing productive and mutually beneficial business relationships bettween cultures, countries and continents in the global arena.

May 12, 2010

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)- so classic, and so modern

A friend mentioned having just watched Metropolis, and out of curiosity I looked it up on Netflix. Surprise - it turned out to be available for instant viewing, and I have just finished this movie!

A German masterpiece from late 1920's, Metropolis is perfectly covering everything we have been talking in class throughout the semester. Extremely symbolic, it touches upon slavery and suppressing one's personality through strict control and regulations, about segregation and discrimination, about social layers or classes, above love and haterid, and about a human life in the world powered by machines.

2 hours of silent black and white (anti?)-utopia tells us a story of segregated, layered society in 2026, the post-industrial era. The children of special Fathers of Metropolis live on the Earth's face, in paradise, surrounded exclusively by beauty and fruit of life; while, separated from the special people by the layer of sophisticated machinery, deep underneath the Earth's surface live the workers, who service the Upper city. The film makes obvious the fact, that the segregation and discrimination are rooted from the superficial natures and exclusively functional attitudes of the wealthy to the workers ("I have created a machine in the image of man, that never tires or makes a mistake. Now we have no further use for living workers." (Ratwang, the cooky scientist working for the wealthy)). Another unforgettable character in the movie - Maria, the profit of the workers. She draws an interesting paralel with Babel tower: "Let us build a tower, whose summit will touch the skies, and on it we will inscribe: "Great is the world and it's creator. And great is Man". But those who had conceived the idea of this tower could not build it themselves, so they hired thousands of others to build for them".) I love how in simple phrases expressed is a really great idea of co-dependence between classes, is shown how rich depend on the poor more then on the contrary, as the rich can not DO things! :) 

Well, i am highly recommending to watch this movie to all of my classmates! I forgot what it is to spend a couple hours without words (silent). Beautiful orchestra, incredible actor play (when actor does not use the language to convey the message, his/her face and body have to justify and express more), great photography and a beautiful, powerful message: "The mediator between brain and muscle must be the heart" (Thea Von Harbon). The way i understand it is that the mother of both idea and action should be pure love <3<3<3

April 14, 2010

Blog Post #3: Born rich or never (Carlo Zeitschel Party Tmrw! :) who's coming? scroll down for info)

I heard rumors among friends about that Born Rich movie about Carlo, but was it a surprise when we had to watch it through the coursework!  I didn't think the movie was an exceptional one, the idea and access to reach people being the greatest achievements of it. It showed a bunch of bored kids, so disgustingly worthless and at the same time full of themselves, stuck in their limited world, where self-expression and development are rarely an issue. As i personally know Carlo, I know he has a decent taste for art and enjoys running his underground art-gallery in SoHo. He has a twisted sense of humor and is over all a pleasant and open young gentleman, into sports, into fashionable in Europe techno music and passionate about his art project. Him, and maybe lil miss Bloomberg, who is cute for her love for horses, are the only ones who were pleasant to see. The other ones got stuck in their rich soapy bubble, confused about their lives, talking about how different they are but not really saying anything worth attention!
On the other hand, Mike from Stud Terkel's "Working" - is he an attractive character? A factory worker with a tough life, he has to go to the tavern to drink out his stress, looking for a rude excuse to let that punch out of himself. Not happy about what he's doing and unable to change anything in his life, all he wants from his kid is to step one level higher on the social ladder, gradate from the college and make one of those snobs.
Both the movie and the article prove the economic mobility being a myth in the USA. Well, only downwards is it easy to go, into depths of debt, into poverty and bankruptcy. The path up is tough and steep, and many doors lack the keys. The higher the class, the more impossible to make your way in it (the daughter of Tiger Woods, so called "new money", witnesses that she is being observed and judged by everyone in South Hamptons as a "newbe" and is afraid to do anything wrong to be looked down on from her new neighbors)




NEW YORK, NY 10013


APRIL 15 - JUNE 15

For her first solo show at CVZ Contemporary, Brazilian artist Yanna Soares presents Driftwood, an installation consisting of 31 squares of silk-screened plexiglass. The artist creates an intimate nautical fantasy which is punctuated by waves suggesting how all our lives are affected by tides and currents, The work is deliberately fragmented and includes a number of close-ups of human features brushed by undulations and beaches. Soares' work consists of experimenting with unconventional surfaces and embracing the complexities of printmaking, which involve contrasting references in order to intuitively give them order.

The artist is fascinated by her native Brazil and her relationship to her country as a sensory and aesthetic experience. Her work is permeated with Brazilianisms, either through her investigations of the country's colonial past or through her own observations of her life in the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The dissemination of images and the meditative quality of repeating and accumulating that can only be produced through printmaking is what most defines her work.

* Individual panels and compositions will be sold by silent auction (Bids start at $100), portion of the proceeds will go to local Brazilian charities selected by the Artist.