- How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?
Throughout this semester, I was lucky enough to have a placement at Campus For All, which allowed me to meet my friend K who has intellectual disability, as well as requires a wheelchair. The past 20 hours with her was an absolute eye-opening moment for me because it made me realize that how little interaction I had with people with disabilities. Thinking back to my schooling, all of my schools had a different classroom for students with disabilities, so we were separated for the most of time. When I was in high school, me and my friends did not even know that our school had students with disabilities, until we accidentally passed by their classroom that was located in a different building where was the smallest and oldest building at the school. After discovering that, we were surprised, but did not question why they were in the different classroom. Because to us, it seemed natural to be separated. Eventually, this segregation created a huge distance between the two groups, as well as embedded many stereotypes against people with disabilities without even realizing it. Therefore, I believe that to unlearn these biases, we have to get to know those who are different from ourselves, like me in this semester. Working with K throughout this semester taught me that people with disabilities require some assistance or different approaches, they are all capable, hard workers, passionate and would like to achieve success in their lives as much as I do.
- Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?
Growing up in Korea, especially in my city where lacks the diversity, often the ‘story’ was very one sided. It was particularly obvious to me because I sometimes felt being excluded from the mainstream discourse. When we were talking about family at school, it was assumed that all students were from a ‘normal’ family with a Korean father and a Korean mother, but I was not: My dad was Taiwanese and my mom was Korean, and I was not living with my parents back then because they often go to different countries to run their business, so my grandmother was the one who looked after me. Hence, I often got confused when the teacher said ‘get sign from your mom or dad’, or ‘let’s make a card for your mom for mother’s day’. I always hated the first week of semester too. We always had to introduce ourselves on the first day, and the class would always laugh at me if I say my name, because my last name was not a Korean last name, and usually this would last for a week or so. This memory really hurt me, so I changed my last name after my mother’s as soon as I passed the age of 18, and since then, I never had to explain about my name or my family. This teaches me that it is very essential to have a multiple stories in the classroom for our students so that no one feels marginalized, and we as educators can ensure that all students become able to understand and embrace the diversity.