Monday, November 30, 2015

Promising Practices Blog

For promising practices, I attended Transgender Wellness at All Ages and a lecture on a study done on the World View Lecture Series.

I arrived at the dining hall around 8:00. I grabbed my name tag and found a table a few of us from FNED 346 were sitting at it. I threw my stuff down and immediately rushed to get a tea in order to get some sort of caffeine in my system. Fed and slightly energised, I was ready to tackle the day.

The day began with the keynote speech by Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. A woman with a long list of credentials, (A specialist in treating infectious diseases and teaches at Brown University) she is not one to be trifled with. Her keynote address definitely lacked lustre, that's for sure. It focused on integrating healthcare services with social workers. I'm not completely unfamiliar with this topic. The nurses in the show "Call the Midwife" often make home calls and care for the sick and work to provide government funded services to them besides healthcare when their patients need it, however; I can't say I was overly thrilled at the idea of this being an hour long speech. It felt like it dragged on for at least three hours. Her PowerPoint was too dull to be seen from the back and it was cluttered with paragraphs on each slide. She broke two cardinal rules of PowerPoint: Don't use clashing text and background colours and don't read off the slides.

The question and answer period of the keynote definitely livened things up. The first girl implied to Dr. Alexander-Scott that the state government wasn't doing their jobs correctly and that all the changes she talked about would be pointless until the government changed. Perhaps the young lady had forgotten that the speaker also sits on the governor's board of advisors on medicine. Another woman came up, talked about her resume, asked Dr. Alexander-Scott if the state was looking for a certain position, and when told no, she sat back down. The final question came with an added political plug for a man's organisation. He told everyone that they could find him in the back with more information on dying with dignity legislation.   

The keynote addressed reminded me of the Kristof piece we read from the beginning of class. Kristof talked about how his friend was doomed from the start because he was unable to advance in society due to his birth in a lower social class. Dr. Alexander-Scott talked about how often times disease rates were higher in poorer neighbourhoods and certain communities, like the LGBTQ community, because outreach to them is often more difficult or not done at all.

I was extremely happy to get of the dining hall and go to the lecture on transgender wellness. The first session was definitely the most interesting one of the day. Professor Rowell was a small, spritely woman with enough energy to power a city. She moved about the room with amazing speed and was very passionate about her topic. Rowell discussed the importance of recognising transgender youth and allowing them to live as they are. Most importantly, she said they just want to be treated like everyone else. At the end of the lecture, she passed out a bunch of resources on LGBTQ issues for people to take home with them.

Just a few of the handouts from Prof. Rowell
Prof. Rowell's lecture reminded me a lot of August's "Safe Spaces". Rowell talked a lot about creating safe spaces for students where they could just be themselves. If they want to change genders, let them. If they don't want to have a gender at all, let them. She advocated, like August, that we should be allies for our students. It also reminded me of Johnson in that Rowell said we needed to say the words in order to get over the issue. We can't avoid transgender issues because ultimately, they become our issues as a society.

The second session was not as interesting as the first. It was about the impact of the Worldviews Lecture Series on students' diversity awareness. The Worldviews Lecture Series was a series of lecturers from around the world presenting topics about education. The goal was to get underrepresented minorities in the teaching field in to lecture about different topics. Lectures included an education specialist from Japan who talked via Skype and a group of educators from Israel. The presenters weren't expecting the audience they got. I believe they were hoping for a room of professionals or graduate students but instead they got thirty undergrads. They did their presentation. Before the lecture, they gave the audience a brief survey asking them if they agreed with a statement and rate it 1 (completely agree) to 5 (completely disagree). At the end, they gave the audience the same survey. The results showed that people were more aware of diversity and culture at the end than before. Interestingly, students who identified as homosexual saw higher spikes in cultural awareness.

My first Promising Practices was definitely an interesting day. I think I would go back if the focus was not on healthcare and instead was looking at education or a topic more closely related to my interest.

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