Donating blood has been one of the simplest yet most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. I had the pleasure to do so this past year at school through LifeSource and was able to save up to three lives with my donation. The nurses that helped were so incredibly kind and gentle as well as the volunteers who took care of the donors after the entire process. One thing that did shock me, however, was during the survey portion, there were a series of questions that asked if I was either a male that had sexual contact with another male or a female who had come in sexual contact with a male that had been with another male in the past year. Then, I remembered learning about the history of AIDS/HIV during one of my science classes. In the 80’s, the disease was actually referred to as “GRIDS”- Gay-related Immune Disorder. After further research, the CDC confirmed that the disease indeed had no correlation to homosexuality, thus deeming it “AIDS”- Acquired Immune Deficiency. In fact, studies have shown that active gay men are in the lower percentile rank of those affected by AIDS/HIV. Still, Red Cross has banned all “gay” blood donations. Though we were donating through LifeSource, several students at Stevenson were turned away as well. This is one of the most basic forms of deviance. We are a society run by norms and social constructs- something man-made and subjective- and when one strays away, they are immediately pointed out as if he/she didn't stand out enough. A study called Saints and Roughnecks conducted by William Chambliss shows us how deviance comes in all shapes and sizes. It follows two groups of students: the upper middle class, straight-A Saints and the lower class, unkempt Roughnecks. Both behaved recklessly outside of class, but the Saints were always given the benefit of the doubt because their social class was able to polish their exterior and boost their academics; no one ever suspected anything of them. The Roughnecks, however, couldn't afford to mask their "crimes" with a nice wardrobe or A's on their report card. In both cases, deviance has inhibited them from assimilating and being accepted into their environment. These judgments are extremely superficial and discriminatory, often using unjust and poor reasoning. No one is better than you and you are better than no one.
Additionally, I was able to teach traditional Korean drumming to a group of 4-6th graders every Saturday since September. I give lessons based on what I have learned from my professional teachers. I enjoy my time there as I love drumming as well as sharing the knowledge of my deep rooted culture. The thing that fulfills me most is knowing how I am influencing these children to embrace their native culture and introducing them to a world of multiculturalism. Recently, my students learned that I will be serving in the US Army. Without a second of hesitation, a girl sat up and shouted, “I’m pretty sure girls can’t serve in the military.” Perplexed but more amused, I laughed and explained that both genders are eligible to serve in all branches of the military today. At first, they disputed and tried to convince me that ‘girls weren’t capable’. Then, another little one stood and assured me that, “you have a 50% chance of dying”. Though I didn’t take personal offense to any of these comments, I was rather astounded by how much they were influenced by socialization into gender. From a young age, I’ve been told what I can and cannot do or what I should or should not do. Though sexism is not as prevalent as it was back then, it still exists in modern day society. Tough Guise 2 explores how social constructs have affected the way we view gender and masculinity. In fact, much of violent behavior we see in the news isn’t attributed to gory video games but it is rather derived from a “traditional” mindset of what it is to be a real man- to be masculine is to be void of emotions and to persevere no matter what. Our young boys and men have been socialized to become these set standards, thus turning to the culture of violent masculinity for affirmation. The documentary also touches on how our culture blatantly objectifies women through advertisements and media. Due to this, men are seen as dominant while women are simply their counterparts- doing the lesser chores because they are perceived as weak and simply existing for pleasure because that’s what the media tells us. While many claim that these messages have no effect on them, it is untrue due to the implicit nature of them. It was extremely shocking to see to what extent this level of socialization had done to the children of this generation. Women have been a great contribution to our US military and history. Regardless of my students’ ignorance and lack of education, they immediately assume that women are inferior and incapable. This is the result of the priming our society has done to them regarding gender, norms, and roles.
The drumming class I teach is an elective Korean school, so I speak Konglish (Korean/English) to my students to make them feel comfortable while pushing them to learn. I have to admit that they have much to go before officially claiming that they are fluent in the language. However, no matter how their tongues twist, they try their hardest in remembering to use honorific language when speaking to me. I was awed because in my Korean drumming group, SoriBeat, the younger kids always speak to me as if we are equal in age or in levels of maturity even though I am nearly 6 years older than most. Despite that they are all Korean, the significant difference is that one group is in an environment where there is more emphasis on culture and traditions and the other group is allowed to do whatever is comfortable. The contrast I saw in the children was influenced by a value that is written in our Constitution. Kohl explains in "The Values We Live By" that equality is so vital that "[Americans] have even given it a religious basis. They say that all people have been "created equal". And so, in America, children and adults speak to one another in an often casual and friendly manner. It is interesting, to say the least, to see these disparities in cultures around the world. One thing that causes a problem when encountering these differences is that people take an ethnocentric stance and judge others based off of norms and expectations in one’s native culture. While it is normal to experience a culture shock like I did, we should all strive to stray away from judgment and rather embrace our diversities.
“Look, I know you doubt me, I know you always have. And you're right. I often think of Bag End. I miss my books. And my armchair. And my garden. See, that's where I belong. That's home. That's why I came back, 'cause you don't have one. A home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can.” - Bilbo Baggins in Hobbit, Tolkien
This is my favorite part from the book/movie, “Hobbit” where Bilbo- the hobbit who agreed to help a group of dwarves retake their homeland- explains why he chose to stick through all the turmoil despite everyone’s skepticism towards him. In fact, he never tells them of all the trouble he went through to aid them in their journey. To me, that’s what a humanitarian is. Someone that is willing to give their all, for nothing in return- no goods, no deeds, no recognition; just happiness. I see community service in this light and feel that I am extremely fortunate to be in a position where I am able to serve others. I am more than happy to be giving my time and effort to the community. Service has not only made me feel accomplished, but has also allowed me to keep an open mind and be sociological mindful- being able to realize how small deeds can go a long way.