For the longest time, my father cut my hair growing up. My two younger brothers and I never went to a barber shop to get the job done. And this job is complicated to say the least. Around 16 or 17, my father just didn’t have the same precision as before and my hair was just too difficult to cut. Soon after, my father simply retired, if you will, from cutting my hair and my brother’s as well. I was confident that if my father could cut my hair, anyone else with experience could do it just as well. Read more
Posts tagged ‘multicultural’
I don’t visit the Multicultural Center, Casa Latina or the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services offices as much as I used to. But in the past few weeks, I have been stopping by, and I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Latino and students of color using these resources. The number of programs and events has grown just as well. However, as I visited each place, I felt like an outsider to some degree.
When Casa Latina opened, I believed it would develop community among students. When I was part of that growing community a couple years ago, I could see small but solid steps towards the needs of the students. However, I should point out that I lived on campus at that time. I moved to Oregon City this past summer. Since then, I have been out of what is going on, who is new to the community, how are the needs of the students being addressed and ultimately why must this work continue?
Perhaps, I have distanced myself too much without even knowing. However, I have given much thought as to why I or these places feel different. It seems that these places have become over the years fast paced, overloaded with work, expectations have risen higher, and yet moral obligation and duty is still present among these departments that are undoubtedly understaffed and under supported. My feelings I believe stem from my concerns for the students.
As a student, I feel empowered when I can connect deeply and grow from a program or from an individual. What concerns me is being regarded as just a number rather than a person. It seems that when a department is understaffed, the meaning of their work shifts and becomes more quantitative than qualitative. Students cannot afford to be seen as a number. I hope that this does not unfold within these offices. They are too vital and necessary for the growth and education for students of color and their communities.
The first university I visited during my middle school years was Portland State. I vaguely remember seeing the Smith cafeteria and the Broadway computer lab. At the time, I was curious about attending college, but by my freshman year in high school, I knew I was going to college. I had no school in mind, but I was determined to enroll with or without financial aid.
During my senior year in high school, I made a trip to Phoenix, Arizona. All of my mother’s side of the family moved there a decade ago. A cousin of mine was attending Arizona State, and she suggested that I should enroll there. I visited the enormous campus and was excited at the idea of leaving Oregon for something different. Ultimately, I chose to stay and enroll into Portland State for financial and family reasons.
I had come to the conclusion that I simply could not afford to attend Arizona State. My lack of knowledge about financial aid blurred an opportunity for me to go out of state. I had worked hard in my rigorous classes in high school and had harvested pears and cherries during the same time. However, many low-income people of color do not have access to a solid education let alone higher education.
I have been fortunate and privileged to have both. Portland State and all the institutions of higher learning are more than just a mascot, brand or colors. They are the places where we should gain knowledge, develop our skills, and empower ourselves. It has been a journey for me to mold a better life and to give back to my family and community.
When I came to America three years ago, I was very curious about what kind of TV programs were popular in the U.S. I started watching TV with my first roommate, Jennifer, whose favorite shows were on the Reality TV channel. She really liked watching every episode of “Cops” and obsessed over “American Idol”. She would become upset, cry, or be very happy with these shows, which reminded me of reality show reactions in Japan.
We have many reality TV shows with similar line-ups, such as “Kesatsu 24ji” (Cops 24hours), “Aidoru Bangumi” (Idol competition show), and ”Kin^niku Banzuke” (Ultimate Figher Programs). Some of my friends in Japan also have emotional attachments to these shows, displaying a sense of empathy to the people in the shows. I was not interested in watching these programs in Japan, but in America, I like to watch Cops, The Rattlesnake Republic, and Hard Core Pawn. I feel that these are real America, and that I am learning about parts of American society that I would otherwise not know.
I have lived on campus for three years, and in three different locations. Living in the city was a drastic change for me. I grew up in a rural area where I had no neighbors, surrounded instead by acres of orchards. While living in the city brought me new experiences, it was expensive and at times lonesome for me.
I have had a total of seven male roommates, have lived alone, and at one point, I lived with five roommates. One can just imagine how things went living in a place with five guys. We were all single, young, and a bit naive Yet, throwing parties, going out, hanging out as a group, and goofing around just wasn’t for me. At the end of the day, I would always feel alone or being left out of something meaningful.
My mornings, evenings, and my life are now spent with my new family. I moved in with my girlfriend this past summer into her sister’s house in Oregon City. It’s a full house; there are two cats, two dogs, her husband, her sister in law, and her 2 year old son who, I like to say, is the king of the house. It’s a great welcoming and friendly environment. I often hear the little boy call out everyone’s name from across the house. I get up every weekday at 7 to get ready for my day and help my girlfriend get prepared as well. I see the cats walking back and forth, and I hear the dogs in the yard barking for attention.
At 22, I love my new home, my girlfriend, my new family, and myself. I have left behind my single, lonesome, and confused life. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Money makes the world go round, and even more so when I am waiting for my money to kick in. Like most students at Portland State, I have to apply to FASFA every academic year I am enrolled in. and while the deadline was months ago, I am still waiting to see how much I will be offered the upcoming year. Why? There is this step called “verification” I have been told that students are selected randomly to take this extra step in applying for financial aid. It essentially verifies that all the information that is provided is true.
I have been selected not once, not twice, but three times. At this point, it is no longer random in my opinion. Most students by now know their financial package for this fall term, I do not. My parents always file taxes in April and have the documents to prove it. Not only do I need to fill out extra paperwork, but I also have to turn in a copy of my parent’s taxes. However, there is a new system or process to being verified. PSU is now asking to turn a “tax transcript” instead. While this may be easy, it is complicated for me.
My parents don’t speak English, and thus any financial step or information they need to provide, an interpreter has to be present. Like any student with who has immigrant parents, this is part of our lives. This not only prolongs my financial aid distribution, but also holds me back from planning and estimating my living and school expenses.
There is nothing like moving into a new place, a new environment, and I could even say into a new chapter of life. The city has always attracted me, and with it came many opportunities to meet people and make new friends. Being one of the few Mexican Americans living on campus made it interesting trying to fit in. Nonetheless, with time I made new friends, and eventually got close with a few. At the time, I was living alone in Broadway but knew that I eventually wanted to move in with my friends.
From my experience, the more roommates you have, the more issues and tensions come up. The question is how these issues will be addressed and solved in a respectful manner?
I am a pretty laid back person, and I admit, shy. It takes me awhile to trust any person, I observe first, talk little, and try to understand the person. However, we all have different personalities, different ways of thinking, and making friends.
At the beginning of one of my move-ins, everything looked promising. We all expected to get along, go out during the weekends, and even throw parties at our place. However, issues came up. Someone wouldn’t clean up after themselves, someone would always be late paying bills, someone would constantly have their girlfriend over, someone had a huge ego, and someone was under age, the list goes on. By the end everything had changed, the lack of communication and respect didn’t help. I saw it as a learning experience, good and bad.
In the end the six of us separated, three of my former roommates stayed together and found a new place to live. I fortunately, paired up with one of my other roommates and found a new place. Nonetheless, some friendships were lost and others were changed.
Coming from a small but rural town, I’m used to having stores, restaurants, and other places beyond walking distance. It’s very common to see young teenagers get their license and start driving to high school and elsewhere, I certainly did when I had the chance. Most cities have the same layout, where you need a car to get around. But Portland is small compared to other cities.
Powell’s bookstore, restaurants, Pioneer Place mall and are all within walking distance. Our public transportation makes it easy to travel one side of the city to the other. The street car makes it easy for me to get around. The street car, along with the MAX line and TriMet buses, are vital to many students and PSU commuters.
Without fail, the streets and public transportations are full with people every weekday who are ready to start a new day. It is nice to live near PSU so I don’t have the hassle of waiting for a bus or the Max and taking up some of my time commuting. It is expensive to livedowntown, but the experience and the independency are invaluable. I have been living in Portland for more than two years and I’m planning to stay here for a few more years.
What do you think: Are there more pros than cons living downtown?