Tag Archives: Greece

A Prisoner on the Streets of America

I am a true renaissance man and I have experienced so many forms of life and held so many positions or roles that it is difficult to narrow my thinking down to one foundational experience that has shaped and influenced my life. I died in a car accident when I was seven years old and the outcomes of being brought back to life and my faculties resulted in every person who was close to me expressing that I had a great role to fulfill on Earth.

I grew up in rough, alcoholic, and often violent home when I was younger and this heavily shaped my perception of poverty, addiction, relationships and vulnerability. My parents split when my mother had to flee from my father after he threatened to kill all of us before killing himself. That morning was the last time I ever saw my father and that definitely had a major influence on my life. The only place my family could flee to were areas in Oregon where my brother and I were the only black students in the schools. This was at a time that Oregon still had a prohibition in its State Constitution stating that Oregon was to be a white utopia and that black people were not permitted to settle within the limits of the state. Those experiences definitely shaped my perception of the world and my life. When we finally escaped the racist treatment of the people in Oregon, we moved to the Central District in Seattle where my brother and I, being tri-racial and coming directly from an all-white area lacked much of the social capital needed to be accepted by the black community in Seattle and found ourselves ostracized as outsiders. Those experiences also shaped my perception and influenced my life.

Shortly thereafter, I found myself indoctrinated into gang-life, criminal activity, and drugs. As a result of my behaviors, I spent a lot of time incarcerated and even went to juvenile prison for an extended period of time. It was there that I began to write poetry, which later in my life would lead me to being a spoken word and hip hop artist and being named Renaissance the Poet. After I was released from their prison, I was not able to shake the gang or the drugs, but the poetry stuck with me. On my eighteenth birthday I was given a drug called ecstasy, and under its influence was when I had my first experience with god. That experience caused me to leave the gang and the drugs alone and before I knew it, I had walked across the country from Washington to Massachusetts where I joined and became a priest in a cult.

I stayed with them for the better part of a year before I was able to escape from the mental imprisonment and the only method I knew to shut out the demons swirling in my head was to use drugs and alcohol to silence them. However, when I found myself back in Seattle I was ensnared by the chains of addiction once again and when the excitement of my return wore off, all of my family and friend severed their ties with me. I was left homeless, without prospects, and alone. Worst of all, the drugs were no longer working to silence the demons swirling in my head and a deep depression set in. After giving up everything I thought I was supposed to give up for god I felt truly alone because to me at the time that not even god could save me from myself.

Without anything else holding me to the planet or the people on it, I decided to take my own life by jumping off the Aurora Bridge. However, while I was walking to the bridge from Lake City, a lesson I head while I was in prison came back to me. There was an O.G. Vice Lord from Chicago that came to visit us and he told us that strangely, he discovered that he felt more free when locked-up, and more of a prisoner when he was on the streets. At the time I heard him say that, I thought he was out of his mind, but as I became a victim of the streets and was on my way to end my life I finally understood what he meant so many years earlier. Aside from having my liberty taken from me, the single other largest factor to the peace I felt while I was in prison was that I was not using drugs. So, while I was on my way to the bridge I decided to call the emergency services and with the direction they gave me while they treated me overnight in a few short weeks I was able to find my way into a chemical abuse treatment facility, which changed my life forever. I have been sober ever since and I have never felt as hopeless as I did that night I walked to the bridge to end my suffering.

Getting sober did not solve all the problems I had in my life, but it did provide me with the tools to access a level of peace necessary to confront those problems. I had four felonies and several misdemeanors on my criminal record. Furthermore, I had failed high school and at the current standing when I left, I was a 0.0 GPA student. I had no place to call home, no friends, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. I was able to gain access to a half-way house for people in transition from institutions and shortly after I began living there I woke up to the news of 9/11. I did not know it when I moved in, but the house was run by a Mormon church, and while there is nothing wrong with helping the community, I had a hard time coping because of my experience with the cult I was in; there were too many similarities. Then given the factors of my history that were barring me from both employment and education, I decided to go to a Job Corps facility.

If there was any experience in my life that I believe really set the stage for the man I was to become, then it was my experience at Tongue Point Job Corps Center in Astoria Oregon because it was there that I learned that I as an individual could have a positive impact in the lives of the people around me. Job Corps used to provide a bi-weekly allowance for the students that lived on campus, but that stipend was very limited. However, students could get a job to subsidize the funds they were lacking and I was encouraged to become part of the student government. I did and within a few months I had worked my way up the being the student body president of the facility. Aside from providing for the extracurricular activities for my fellow students we also challenged microagressions and negative stereotypes, although, at the time I did not know that is what we were doing. We challenged the center’s policy on sagging pants and how it related to the administration’s and staff’s perceptions of black youth who sagged their pants. I sagged my pants at the time and I was the president. More important, it was the issue that the students wanted me to bring up and fight for them.

While at the job corps facility I earned my G.E.D., my high school diploma, and printing apprentice certificate, and even started college. My goal for attending college was to go into law school, become a lawyer, then enter into politics and eventually become the president. It was a mixture between my experience at Job Corps being the president and a class I had in when Mr. Mollette my high school history teacher that told me that any American citizen could become president, one of the days that I passed through his class. I dropped out of school a few quarters after beginning and returned to Seattle thinking that I would get into college, but that was much easier said than done. My criminal record from when I was a juvenile still haunted me and I was barred from employment in most establishments.

I gave up on the idea of ever being able to afford college and found myself working in a used retail store for about a year when I began my journey into construction work. A man I met started hiring me on weekends to do odds and ends for him and paid me well. Then he brought me on as his first full time employee and decided that I would become his apprentice and eventually buy him out and take over the company. Within a few years I had become a professional heavy equipment operator, pipe-layer, estimator, and project manage and then I became a partner in the developing construction company negotiating contracts with Mid Mountain Contractors, Turner Construction, King County, and the City of Seattle.

During this time with the construction company I also started, hosted and ran the Cornerstone Open Mic & Artist Showcase, a hip hop and spoken word open mic that happen monthly at the Fair Gallery and Café on Capital Hill in Seattle, with my best friend and adopted brother Marcus Hoy. Mark Hoy and Sean Stuart are the people who named me Renaissance the Poet, because of the rollercoaster life I had lived prior to meeting them and the skill I had with poetry. The Cornerstone, as it became known, was a hub for revolutionary minded poets and artists from around the Puget Sound area where we discussed and challenged some of the most disparaging issues confronting our generation, such as, patriarchy, sexism, racism, and state control of citizens. Some of us may have been revolutionaries and activists at the time, but for the most part we were simply artists learning how to exercise our minds and our voices while we were learning how to exist and survive in the world we were all born into. In the more than five years that we hosted the Cornerstone, there was not one fight, and this was nearly unheard of for any hip hop venue anywhere at the time. Many relationships were forged there and the underground cultural element of resistance and justice was kept alive and fostered.

In 2010, our company won the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business “Minority Business of the Year” award. However, I always felt that I had missed my true calling to fulfill a great role on earth and thought that becoming a lawyer was the method I was supposed to take to achieve that role. In 2008, the economy spun on its head and we went into a dire recession that put a lot of pressure on our company. In 2011, a couple years after I had destroyed my knee mentoring some youth with the organization called TSB, the Service Board, battling to keep our business afloat and continuing to damage my knee, I realized that construction was never a trade I wanted to be in and decided to do whatever it took to go to college. So, I left R.J. Richards CE LLC and enrolled in North Seattle Community College (NSCC).

Somehow and somewhere along the line I had gotten this plan for my life and what I was supposed to do with it embedded into my head. I am going to write a new socioeconomic system for the entire planet that is environmentally sound, socially just, and equitable for all; and I am going to see it implemented before the day I die. I began studying history, philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, biology and mathematics and my understanding of the world exploded my perceptions of humanity and the insurmountable character of my goal. That is when I became involved with another student government and I was brought in as the Student Fee Board Coordinator, which was the treasurer for the college. To do that job I had to study the Washington State laws associated with public monies and student fees, and to study ethics because I had to select and train a board and we were going to have to make tough ethical decision. Before that I knew being part of the government enabled me to have a lot positive influence in the lives of marginalized people from my experience at Job Corps. However, I never fully grasped how much power the United States Congress has on the lives of every citizen in the United States until I was given a smaller, yet similar role. People can design all the best programs in the world, but if they do not have the funds to get them started and to maintain them, then they may often never be able to achieve the goals of their programs.

At this time OCCUPY was challenging the corporate structure and control of people’s lives worldwide after the economic collapse in 2008. Like Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about the white clergy who questioned the movement while he was in the Birmingham jail during Project Confrontation, I agreed with their aims, but I disagreed with their methods. I disagreed with the mostly because I did not comprehend how they could be successful. It was a leaderless movement with demands that ran the spectrum. At the time it seemed to me that the movement lacked the necessary cohesion to achieve its aims. It was not that I disagreed with any of the demands. To the contrary, I believed that all of the things people were asking for should be achieved. My issue at the time was that I thought they could achieve more of their demands if they focused on them one or few at a time. I did not get involved with the movement because I did not understand it.

In 2013 I graduated from NSCC and had been accepted to the University of Washington (UW). When I first started at NSCC I thought that I would enter into the Law, Societies, and Justice program at UW, but by the time I entered the university I had settled on double-majoring in history and philosophy. I was still intent on progressing onto law school. I thought getting a good background in reading and research, with training in analysis, which the discipline of history would provide me with would be helpful in this regard. I thought having a strong understanding of morality and ethics, and the philosophical frameworks they are grounded in, plus developing my argumentative skills, which the discipline of philosophy would provide would further prepare me for law school and the work ahead of me. My ethical training began with a look at global justice, which confronted issues such as poverty, hunger, gendered vulnerability, social contracts, state legitimacy, climate change, immigration and feudal privilege, and many forms of oppression. It was these arguments about justice, which is to provide for that which promotes most the flourishing of all human beings, not the interpretation of it as punishment common in the United States that exposed me to the concepts of obligation and responsibility. History provided me with a lens into why these conditions exist and what factors led them to come into being. The courses at UW changed the way I envision my role in the world and I began to feel an immediate responsibility and obligation to use the knowledge and wisdom I had to benefit people.

During the summer of 2013, Sarra Tekola, my partner in life, brought me to my very first protest. We traveled down to the Columbia River on the border of Washington and Oregon States to participate in the Portland Rising Tide opposition to the coal and oil that were being shipped from the west coast to China. At the time, Sarra was an Environmental Science major at UW and part of the Divest University of Washington coalition and she schooled me on how important the issue of climate change was to our survival as a species. She also hipped me to the fact that people of color worldwide are the not only the first impacted by the effects of climate change, but are also the most impacted by it as well. She informed me that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the best and brightest scientists on the planet determined that if we as a civilization burn enough carbon to increase the temperature of the planet by two degrees Celsius cumulatively, we will enter into a negative feedback loop of destruction that we will not be able to recover from. Desertification will destroy once plush and arid farm lands, like what had happened to her father’s people in Ethiopia. Melting polar ice caps will submerge places like the Philippines displacing millions, many of whom will die in the process. So, it was important to protest the extraction and transportation of carbon producing materials for everyone on the planet, but especially for people of color because people of color have nest to no power in the decision making circles like the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. It was scary and every moment I thought I was going to be arrested. Canoes spread across the river to block any ships and people spanned the bridge above holding signs, while a group rappelled off the bridge to display a huge banner. We did not stop the extraction or transportation of fossil fuel materials that day, but it felt good making a stand with like-minded people for the sake of justice.

The summer of 2014 I went to Greece with the Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS) of UW to conduct research on immigration. I thought my time in Greece would help me to work on the issues surrounding immigration in the United States. Greece had been suffering from a major recession for several years and was also experiencing a major influx of people from the Middle East and the African continent. Most of the migrants were fleeing from deplorable situations and most did not intend for Greece to be their final destination, many wanted to continue onto other European Union (EU) nations. Greece was the entry point by both water and land into the EU for many migrants. However, the EU had tightened its policy on migrants and because of the Dublin II Regulation, the EU was returning any migrant discovered in any country to the country they entered into the EU at to process their applications of asylum. In addition to the recession, and the lack of financial assistance from the EU for both the residents of the country and the new influx of immigrants, there was also a nationalist and xenophobic organization oppressing the immigrants named Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn was a two-winged organization like the Dixiecrats of the South because they had nineteen percent of the parliamentary seats in Greece, in coordination with an organization like the Ku Klux Klan because they had a grassroots physically repressive regime harming immigrants. Immigration could be studied in any country in the world, but the particular set of conditions in Greece enabled us to observe the systematic denial of almost every singly right it is commonly agreed that people inherently possess simply for the sake of being human.

My second night in Greece at the American College of Greece dorm that UW has a satellite facility, I was taking a smoke break in the smoking section when for officers on two motor cycles turned the corner and immediately jumped off their bikes and pointed assault rifles at me simply because I am a black man. This may seem like a strange assertion until you have been to Athens, Greece and become acquainted with the reality that millions of people smoke and because of the smoldering heat that many people are out on the streets at night. There was nothing about me or what I was doing that was out of place except for the color of my skin. Luckily, I had my passport on me at that particular moment and I was saved from being hauled off into one of their immigration prisons. Their whole attitude toward me shifted as soon as they discovered I was an American, but until that moment I felt as though they regarded me as less than the mud on their boots would have shot me just to get a laugh. It was not until I hung out with an enterprising group of migrants from all over Africa in Monostraki Square—an electric flee market—and spending time with a parliamentary member that I learned Greece was a police state, and that the police had the authority to act independently of the government. I heard stories of how the police would select a street that migrants were known to frequent, then would block the exits, beat all the people of color and then imprison them. I spent most of my time in Greece terrified for my life from both the police and Golden Dawn because I did not have the social networks or rights that I had back in the United States. However, two nights before we left Greece I received word about the execution of Michal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by officer Daren Wilson and I knew there was no escape from state sanctioned or permitted violence.

The O.G. Vice Lord’s words came back to me and kept playing over and over in my head about how we are prisoners on the streets. Being a black man in America I exist as W.E.B. Du Bois mentions, with a “double-consciousness,” constantly viewing myself from two lenses; I experience myself as a man, and I am also always conscious of my status as a “black” man as viewed by white Americans. People of color in the United States suffer from dire economic sanctions which impose poverty upon us with a capitalistic system and an ideological framework of individualism. The system of oppression is held in place through red lining, the regressive tax system, voter disenfranchisement, poor education, and limited access to capital. Until I began researching the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP), I did not understand why many of the people I grew up with ended up in prison or dead, or locked in the revolving trap of poverty. I did not understand or even know about the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) or how it was linked to the Military Industrial Complex (MIC).  I had learned, like most people are taught that Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ended slavery. However, what they do not teach is that slavery was abolished “except” in the case that a person is convicted of a crime. From that debt peonage and convict leasing emerged and over time prison slavery became a huge industry in the United States to the point that now America which has five percent of the world’s population also warehouses twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population. The largest consumer of prison labor in the United States is the U.S. Department of Defense, a.k.a., the MIC.  But prisoners also fabricate furniture and produce paint and clothing for many companies. Prison labor subsidizes many industries that otherwise would be too expensive to conduct in the United States, industries that create products other countries would have a comparative advantage producing. Prisons are an oasis for profit that is garnered from the exploitation of millions and that also disproportionately disparages communities of color.

Applying the aforementioned information about the PIC to the statistics about the rates of suspension, expulsion, and incarceration of the youth of color in the U.S. the School-to-Prison Pipeline began to make a lot more sense. Black children and children of people of color are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school. From the ninth grade on, one suspension or expulsion makes them fifty percent more likely to be incarcerated. After these children are incarcerated they become seventy-five percent more likely to enter the adult penitentiary system with prison slave labor, and over eighty-five percent likely to remain trapped in recidivism for the rest of their lives, in addition to their being disenfranchised from their first incarceration in accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of all these factors is a phenomenon known as Institutional Racism/Discrimination that permeates America’s society and institutions. The police and prosecuting attorneys have been granted arbitrary discretionary power and legal protections to act with impunity in its dealing with citizens. So, in toto, the U.S. Department of Justice with all its subsidiary prisons and law enforcement agencies when stripped of its colorful and well-sounding appeals to justice and order dissolves to a system of oppression, suppression, and exploitation.  With this understanding of the ‘criminal justice’ system in the United States, the fact that most of the people I grew up with wound up in the negative feedback loop of poverty and exploitation, or how and why Michael Brown’s executioner was able to commit the atrocity with impunity were no longer mysterious to me. We, being people of color, whom at any time can have our very lives stripped from us because the laws of this country deny that we have a right to life, are prisoners on the streets of America.

Therefore, when I returned from Greece and Black Lives Matter, which was started by Alicia Garza after the assassination of Trevon Martin in 2012, decided to organize and protest the abuses of law enforcement and for justice in the Michael Brown execution, given my sense of responsibility and obligation to use the knowledge and wisdom I had to the benefit people of my community, I joined the movement for Black Liberation. My participation in the movement has taken many forms over the last year reaching from protests, to arrests, to testifying at Seattle City Hall and King County Metropolitan Council chambers, to giving a speech to Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee. All the while I was still a student at UW continuing to learn about the system we live in and the factors that helped to created it. My academic pursuits definitely suffered when I became involved in the movement because my time became divided, but that does not mean I have not continued to be successful. I highly doubt that I will be selected as the valedictorian as I was when I graduated from NSCC, but I nonetheless, have managed to maintain a very strong GPA given all of my community activity. However, that has no longer been my primary objective. I have used my education to learn what happened during previous social movements and struggles and I now understand the importance of a leaderless movement and demands that are specific to the regions they are made. I have learned precisely what I did not understand about the OCCUPY movement. There are some similar macro-problems, such as racism and institutional discrimination that people of color suffer everywhere, but those problems are expressed differently in different places. Furthermore, there is a history of the U.S. Department of Justice, through programs like COINTELPRO under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that systematically destroyed activists and Civil Rights organizations in the 1960s and 70s.

I have lived one incredible, rollercoaster of a life that has made me a jack of all trades, and a true renaissance man. At no time have I ever known where one event would lead me. And looking back it is very difficult to pinpoint any one specific event that shaped me into the man that I am or the man I am becoming. Taken out of context, none of the major shifts or events in my life will tell anyone very much about me, who I am, or why I do the things I do. But the words of the O.G. Vice Lord from Chicago that I met while locked up have been with me since then. There is something very wrong with feeling like and being a prisoner on our own streets. A place where one might think epitomized the essence freedom. That contradiction of beliefs filled my soul with dissonance and it reverberated through all of my life-experiences until it shook loose the warrior in me. Renaissance means to revitalize, or to bring new life. The system we live in has become a runaway train that no one seems to know how to stop or get off of, and what we need is to breathe new life into our civilization. We need a new system of values and an expanded conception of “we” that signifies, represents, and displays through action that we and our planet are all connected and intersecting components of our world organism. Each and every one is vital. No one is expendable. We all have our roles to fulfill on Earth. We are all responsible.

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Day1: The Feel of Athens

Athens from the Air
Athens from the Air

 

Greece is not Seattle, and it is definitely not the United States, but that goes without saying. However, I have to insert the caveat at this point because it has dumfounded this person who has never been outside of the United States before, but in reality, on the surface level—because that is all that I have been able to observe so far, Greece is not so different from being in Seattle. Now, I know that any person reading this may be like hold up, wait a minute, you are in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, you are in Europe; you are in a place that it does not rain as the normal climate and yaddi yaddi ya… I am neither talking about the geography or whether, but rather, the people and the society. There is traffic that piles up just like it does in the States, and families enjoying dinner with each other, people walking down the streets, couples, kids in the park skateboarding and all that. It is beautiful, and definitely not as different as I thought it would be.

 

Yet, there is something that is very different beneath the surface here that I do not feel in the United States. I cannot shake this feeling of warmth and pride, of being connected to the environment and the people in the environment. I get the sense that Athens would not be Athens without the people populating the streets, filling in the shops, walking up and down the sidewalks in groups of threes and fours. It seems that the people who are here are just as much part of this place as the land and the sea, the clouds and the sun, there is a unique spirit here that I have not felt anywhere else that I have ever been. So, while on the surface it is much more similar to Seattle than I had initially thought that it would be, it is nonetheless, very different when I feel the world and the people around me vibrating at a different, dare I say higher, rate.

 

I have only been her for one evening and morning and I have already fallen in love with it, it feels like coming home. I love hearing all the many languages, and seeing all the love that everyone shares, even with strangers as they pass them on the streets. I have never heard so many people working in shops, yelling out hellos to people walking on the other side of the street, or vice versa. It is like everyone knows and cherishes everyone here and I get the sense that once you become part of the community here, you never lose that status.

 

I expected to feel like an outsider and to be treated like a person that does not belong here. I felt like this because this is the first time that I have ever been an outsider coming in. Well, at least in the sense that I am from another country. The truth is that I have always felt like an outsider at home because I am an African American male who is from the United States. I live in Seattle, Washington, which has been identified as being one the “whitest” cities in the country, i.e., it is not very diverse. I know that people think that things like Affirmative Action, and what naught make people think that minorities are included in society and are treated fairly, but that is not so much the feel if you are one of those minorities. I have to work twice as hard to get half as far, just as a starting point; and I am super bright and really smart, and I still have to put up with it. The point is that at home I never really feel like I belong, unless I am with a group of similar people. But, here, I have not felt like that at all. Everyone that I have met has just included me into conversations and made me feel at home, made me feel as though I belong and that is a beautiful feeling to have.

 

I was right, this trip is going to change the way that I perceive the world. It has only been one day it my perspective has already been irrevocably altered for the better.

Research Project in Greece this Summer

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This summer, I will be living in Athens doing research on immigration by performing interviews of people, observing their behavior and interacting with them in stores, parks, buses, schools, restaurants, cafes, hotels, etc., which are many of the principal places where culture or conflict emerges.

So, for the most part this will be qualitative research. However, to place this research into the proper context I will also be analyzing the historical and economic impacts that immigration has had on the people in Greece, so it will have a qualitative aspect to it as well.

But the overall project will be qualitative in nature.

The interviews will entail asking difficult, politically sensitive and emotional charged questions that get to the heart of the immigration issues people are confronting.

My studies into the ethics of aid, assistance, and social contracts have revealed that in order to be of any assistance to people who are suffering in other countries, or in this country for that matter, it is imperative for me to understand the factors that have helped to shape and continue to influence the development of their identities and circumstances.

My background with human rights and international justice issues will be highly useful because the forced migrations and forced segregation that people are subject to are complex moral and ethical issues that are fused with politics and conceptions of justice.

By ignoring such factors, there is a potential to do more harm than good.

The ethnographic research of the project will help us to discover what the people, which includes both the migrants to and the citizens of Greece themselves believe shape their identities, the composition of the circumstances they face, what they consider just, permissible and impermissible, and what obligations they believe humans they have to one another.

Given that all of these factors contribute to the outcomes of any complex situation, especially one as sensitive as immigration during economically challenging times, it then becomes necessary to consolidate political, economic, and historical data, as well as, the qualitative data collected from individuals to correctly ascertain the development and constraints of that situation.

This is what I hope to accomplish, or at least begin while studying abroad in Greece this summer.

 

 

For more information on Immigration, Diaspora and Apartheid you can follow the link below: 

https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/education-is-key/study-abroad-in-athens-2014/

I Need Your Assistance and Support, I Cannot Do It Without You

I Need Your Assistance and Support, I Cannot Do It Without You

Thanks to the several contributions thus far for my research project this summer, I am starting to pull close to the cost of the plane ticket. As you may be aware, the earlier that I can purchase the ticket the cheaper it will be and the better likelihood that there will actually be a seat when I need there to be a seat. Right now, depending on the negotiation that I can do with the airlines and booking agencies, the cost is approximately $1,500 for round-trip fare, but that will increase over time.

I need your help to get to Athens to perform my research on the impacts of immigration; #diaspora and #apartheid. So, please click the link below and give what you can:   

http://www.gofundme.com/Diaspora-and-Apartheid

Thank you so much for your love and support:

Carradin MichelDerek WhitneyJess SpearCarter CaseJanet Hoppe-Leonard,Luzviminda MarcotteCody LestelleSharran MoynihanSarra Tekola, and Roman Richards 

For more information about Diaspora and Apartheid please follow the link below:

https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/education-is-key/study-abroad-in-athens-2014/

Current Conditions in Greece and Reasons for Research

Current Conditions in Greece and Reasons for Research

Reading and learning so much in all of my classes and especially in the JSIS Study Abroad Seminars about the social and political conditions that the people in Greece are struggling with and through.

Yesterday we learned that there is currently a 28% unemployment rate and of that 60% of the unemployed are under 24 years old. The government has also been downsized as one of the results of cutting back on austerity–government funding on public services, so with the university-aged unemployed there are professional-aged unemployed vying in the same economic market for a limited pool of jobs.

The economic crisis that we just experienced in the United States, wherein at the beginning we saw the Occupy Movement and the housing crisis with the government sponsored bail-out; our unemployment rate only reached approximately 10% or so. The closest that we have ever been to a 28% unemployment rate was during the Great Depression in the 1930’s with 1/4 of the country out of work. I am sure that most of us are all familiar with the images of both of those American crises. So, I am sure that it is not hard to imagine the economic pressure that the people in Greece are dealing with right now.

In addition to all of this is the very real concern of migration, which undoubtedly ads into the pool of those in competition for skilled-labor and service industry jobs. Just as I am sure that you are all aware, in the United States, immigration tends to become a major concern when we are faced with economically stringent times, the same is true elsewhere.

These are many of the types of conditions that I will be doing research on this summer.

 

Help Me Pay for Diaspora and Apartheid Research in Athens this Summer

 

To Help Me Make This Research Possible, Please Contribute to the Fund to Get Me to Athens @ http://www.gofundme.com/7wx9m0

 

This summer I will be participating in the JSIS/Hellenic Studies program hosted by theUniversity of Washington in partnership with Harvard University in Greece, which is a research project that will analyze how apartheid and diaspora have and continue to impact the people in the Baltic region.

The situation that migrants face is plagued with injustice from beginning to end, from their reasons to migrate to their treatment after they migrate. However, in order to make the types of changes in policy and social behavior that will actually make a difference in regard to diaspora and apartheid we have to have accurate data about what the issues and concerns are from all the parties concerned. This is necessary if we are to make any arguments about the harms being done and further, to suggest plans of action to mitigate those harms. That is why we are traveling to Athens, we are on a social fact finding mission to ascertain the truth about the situation and are going to make recommendations based on the evidence we gather about how to address the problems our nations face. The results of the research will be evaluated and summarized in research papers and there will be a formal presentation of that material prior to leaving Greece before the parties that can make a difference in these people’s lives.

The program is further designed to immerses students in the Greek language and culture. It is a twelve credit, five week program consisting of three University of Washington courses: JSIS 11–Introduction to Greek; JSIS 488–Tourism in Greece; JSIS 499–Independent Research on Global Apartheid. The program also provides the students with a sufficient understanding of the Greek language to survive and function in Greece as a non-resident.

For further information about diaspora and apartheid check out:

Diaspora and Apartheid: Study Abroad Research

 

The Benefits of the Program:

 

Participating in this program will benefit me by providing an opportunity to experience other cultures firsthand, engage in a practical research project and learn more about issues of global justice.

This opportunity is particularly important because not only am I a first generation college student, but I will also be the first in my family to travel outside of the United States since my grandfather was in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s. My mother, who provides for my residence and food, is a house-keeper and can barely afford to help me through college. The rest of my family, if they can work, work in some aspect of the service industry and subsist on meager incomes, so they can also not contribute much but emotional and mental support for my education. Yet, even with all of their help the only reason I am able to afford the cost of tuition and books is because of financial aid and loans, but those resources do not cover much else. So, any contribution that you can make will help this opportunity, with all of its many benefits to myself, my family, my education and most importantly, to those suffering from diaspora and apartheid; to become reality.

For an example of the impacts of study abroad on both the individual and the community, please follow this link: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1108274

Life Goals:

 

My goal in life is to design a sustainable, environmentally sound and socially equitable system based on justice that transcends the stratification of nation-states, individuals and corporations, and takes into account the fact that we all share one pool of resources. This is an incredible goal, and perhaps even utopian, but I believe it is both achievable and practical and I have planned my education to prepare me for the task.

To accomplish this goal I have begun my journey by double-majoring in history and philosophy at the University of Washington, whereby I am learning about the strengths and weaknesses of previous civilizations and their socio-economic systems, as well as the ethical frameworks that sustained them. After earning a bachelor’s degree I plan to earn a law degree because the system I am going to help to design will require intense negotiation to derive a written law that will be internationally acceptable. Given the delicate nature of those negotiations and the networking that will be necessary to accomplish my goal, my plan is to work for, with and through the United Nations because it is the most reputable international institution in existence that shares my objectives and that will provide me with access to global decision makers.

 

This Program Will Help Me to Achieve these Goals By:

 

As a History major one of my objectives is the evaluation of how culture evolves over time. So, the Greece and Athens Global Apartheid program will have several highly beneficial impacts on my education at the University of Washington, as well as, long into my future career. One of the primary functions and most attractive characteristics of all study abroad programs is the opportunity to experience other cultures. However, I am from a family who is not well-off and I have neither traveled outside of the United States, nor have I had the opportunity to experience another culture. This program will provide me with this invaluable experience and since it has a basis of historical analysis it will allow me to apply what I am learning as well as bolstering my continued education of other cultures. Most importantly, it will help me to develop a perspective that is not solely American, which is vital in a globalizing world wherein, the interaction between people of different states and cultures is steadily increasing.

A further benefit the program will have is the research and analytic experience it will provide me. Not only will this benefit my education at the University of Washington as a history student, but also as I progress through my goals to work in the United Nations. The accurate writing of history sometimes entails performing interviews of people who have experienced some event, so having this experience will benefit my studies in this manner. I can also see the practical application of this after I begin working for the United Nations, when I will need accurate and contemporary, qualitative information to make informed decisions about actions and policy. The Greece and Athens Global Apartheid program is specifically designed to help me develop these skills.

I am interested in the definition, justification and implementation of justice, which is why I am double majoring in Philosophy. Immigration and a state’s right to regulate its borders are huge components of the philosophical discussion of global justice, which entails the rights of immigrants whether legal migrants or not. This program will put us up front and personal with the global justice issues of apartheid and diaspora in a region that at this pivotal point in my life and education, I would not otherwise be able to take part in. It will also thereby, allow me to participate in seeking solutions to these issues head on with and for the people most affected by them and to educate the people who can make a difference in their lives. It is one thing to read about issues in a history, sociology, or global justice course, and it is quite another to actually take part in the research that makes a positive impact in peoples’ lives, which is the reason that I am in school.

 

Expenses:

 

Program Fee                                                         $4,500
UW Study Abroad Insurance                        $     80
UW Study Abroad Fee:                                     $    300
Food                                                                           $1,500
Spending Cash                                                     $1,500
Roundtrip Airfare                                                $2,000

Total:                                                   $9,880

I have developed the budget after talking to the program director Dr. Lagos and the program advisor Katherine Kroeger. For a large portion of the program we will be staying in dorms at the Deree College, but for some of the program we will also be staying in hotels. The costs of the hotels and travel have been included into the line item Spending Cash, which is an amount that is recommended by the program. The program also estimates that the average daily cost of food, which is not included in the Program Fee is approximately $34/day and I have calculated an approximation of what that will cost for the entire program. I have also priced and cross-referenced round-trip airfare from Seattle to Greece, and the cost is approximately $1,700 if the ticket were to be purchased now. However, given the volatility of the market I have added $300 to that line item so that I can be prepared for an increase in price at the time of purchase.

I am confident that this trip will not only make a dramatic impact in my life but also an impact in the lives of all the people that I interact with in the future. And your help will make it possible for me to take part in the Greece and Athens Global Apartheid program.

 

To Help Me Make This Research Possible, Please Contribute to the Fund to Get Me to Athens @ http://www.gofundme.com/7wx9m0

Other Important Pages Related to this Project:

My Study Abroad Pages:

https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/education-is-key/study-abroad-in-athens-2014/help-me-pay-for-diaspora-and-apartheid-research-in-athens-this-summer/

Discussion of the Issues with Diaspora and Apartheid:

https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/education-is-key/study-abroad-in-athens-2014/

 

Other sources that I have applied to for funding of this Study Abroad Research:

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship:

http://gilmanprogram.wordpress.com/

The University of Washington History Department Scholarships:

http://depts.washington.edu/history/undergraduate-studies/fellowships-scholarships-and-prizes-undergraduate-history-majors