Cost of Volunteering

While working on our final project in class and discussing medical voluntourism my group came up with a potential reason for why people actually attempt to perform tasks they are no qualified to do. When I think of volunteering, I think of going to an animal shelter and playing with animals. I think of something that brings people joy or working for cause they believe in. Medical voluntourism is much different since it is not free. In the society we live in today, people are always on the hunt to get the best deals. A prime example is Black Friday, which is pretty much a holiday dedicated to bargain shoppers. When people pay for something they want to get their money’s worth. This could potentially cause them to perform tasks that they are not qualified to do just to get the experience for the money they paid.

This point caught my attention and I then decided to research how much medical volunteering in other countries actually costs. I found a website which offers medical volunteering placements and the prices. I looked at the Midwifery Internships Abroad program and this experience is not cheap. For a trip to somewhere like Ghana it is about $2,765 (price chart in link) not including flights and visa. This is pretty pricey; especially for a college student or even someone right out of high school. Although, on the website there is a tab called “Why pay to volunteer?” which breaks down everything the price includes. This section provides great explanations to where the money actually goes. About 51% of the cost is for the individual’s trip while the rest is to maintain the agency and run future projects.

As someone who is working to get myself through school, I would not be able to afford this program. This is why I pursued a job at Strong Memorial Hospital. My job provides me with income and patient interaction. Even if I could financially afford this program, I still don’t think I would feel comfortable helping some give birth, since just transporting a pregnant woman to an exam within the hospital without a nurse makes me anxious. I am in no way trained to assist anyone through labor.

All in all I could see how people would want to get the most out of their experience or almost feel pressured to get hands on experience in order to get their money’s worth. However, this is not something that should be allowed or even expected. Hopefully, our final course statement gives students a better understanding of what they should expect from medical voluntourism.

Cold Imagery and Consent in Zulus

In class we recently discussed Colson Whitehead’s fantastic use of vocabulary in Zone One. Like Whitehead, Percival Everett uses a variety of literary elements to convey his ideas in his novel Zulus. A very prominent element throughout the novel was imagery. Everett uses this element in order to appeal to the reader’s senses and to add depth to the major themes. Continue reading “Cold Imagery and Consent in Zulus”

Cultivating Community

Yesterday I attended a poetry reading by Christopher Soto. Soto is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). Soto read a few original poems and other poems produced by other poets as well. Throughout this experience, all of the poems shared a common theme. There was a shared theme of inclusivity within the poems. Each poem covered serious issues, such as mass imprisonment, sex slavery, and racism. One writing technique I gained from attending this poetry reading is call and response. Soto read a poem aloud and when he raised his hand, the audience replied with the same response. I found this to be effective in accomplishing the message of the poem. The poem was in regards to mass imprisonment. The poem also contained the technique of repetition. Repetition stands out to the reader in that it makes the piece memorable and quotable. Christopher Soto is an incredibly talented writer that touches upon economic, racial, and social issues throughout society.

Some of Soto’s work brought me back to Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson. Throughout the book the reader is brought through the life of Fortune and his endeavors. After Fortune died, Fortune’s bones were placed in a museum to be put on display. This was done without consent. During some of Soto’s readings, there was an instance of lack of consent when a female writer wrote about being raped and beaten in prison against her will. The other topic discussed in yesterday’s poetry reading that brought me back to Fortune’s Bones is racism. Soto opened up the discussion with self identity. Every person in the room had their own identity, but unlike Fortune, he was merely classified as bones in a museum. Fortune was more than that, he contained an identity just like everyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s discussion and thought it was informative and pushed students to think creatively and productively.

Encompassing the GLOBE Learning Outcomes

The small group discussion today felt different than Monday’s class, as Dr. McCoy acknowledged. I did not realize the change in pace at first, but our group was more engaged and energetic during the conversation and more willing to participate. I think this change occurred because we finally understood what was expected of us in order to successfully complete the project. Everyone was obviously invested on creating a collective paragraph that expressed and combined our opinions about medical voluntourism. Today our group was clearly embodying some of the learning outcomes that we predicted would arise during this project. Leadership and collaboration was demonstrated as we all worked, “to engage others in developing collaborative solutions; to experiment, take risks, and learn from mistakes; to enable, encourage, and recognize contributions to collaborative efforts by all group members” (Globe Learning Outcome 6). For example, we were communicating and challenging each other to think critically and discuss the problem we are responding to. This was further demonstrated as we challenged each other on many sentences, which caused us to think further about the problem to generate a thoughtful paragraph. Today’s exercise proved that this class is capable of creating a positive and significant collaborative project that addresses the problem of medical voluntourism.

A Surprising Transition From Monday’s Class to Today’s

This week’s class was dedicated to our entire class to collaboratively work on the “Final Course Statement.” The collaborative course statement unpacks a specific problem we have discussed during class, in our case Medical Voluntourism, and follows-up with a solution. During our class Monday, we went over how that project is relevant to Geneseo’s Mission, Vision and Values and the Globe. We identified how medical voluntourism can be seen as a problem. That is if the volunteer were to lack adequate training/qualifications, then they can cause more harm than good to the underprivileged communities that they work with (Zakaria, 2014). Continue reading “A Surprising Transition From Monday’s Class to Today’s”

America, We’re not Selfish… Are We?

Ah, medical volunteerism. You know, sometimes I really do feel bad about the amount of blog posts you might end up reading about medical volunteerism on this website, but honestly, there is just much to say on the topic, and everyone has contributed such meaningful and thought provoking sentiments to the blog… So, is it really a bad thing?

In this one in particular, I’d like to briefly comment on Avery’s very eloquent blog post entitled “Studying Abroad: What’s your Real Purpose?” I think Avery was incredibly attentive in her writing and brought up some interesting points about the medical volunteerism industry being tainted by American’s selfish motivations.

Continue reading “America, We’re not Selfish… Are We?”

The Non-Consent in Gender

At class on Monday, we got started on our class-wide project, a difficult task to organize with close to 30 participants. One of the most helpful parts of the endeavor came when Sean volunteered to stand at the white board and write down topics that students would like to write about in our project. Sean did a good job hearing students out, teasing out the specifics of what we meant when we would offer broad categories, not least of all – me. Throughout the Lilith’s Brood Trilogy, the inspire paper, and my previous blog post, I had been thinking a lot about gender, so I offered the wide-ranging category of gender as something I’d like to write about, though I wasn’t initially prepared to unpack what exactly about it I’d like to write about. Continue reading “The Non-Consent in Gender”

A First Responder to a Stigmergency

So a few classes ago we had the opportunity to read some blog posts in class, something I had rarely done before. But it gave me a chance to read many interesting thoughts as to what’s going on in your guy’s heads. One that particularly stuck with me was Brendan’s post called “Stigmergencies.” In it he details his thoughts on markets, as in stock not farmers, and how they are perfect examples of a stigmergy, with “each broker scurrying around the trading floor is in their own way a dutiful scavenger, each LED stock ticker a blinding chemical signal” (Mahoney).

Now I am just a humble liberal arts major and have basically no idea about anything having to do with economics, but Brendan does a good job of putting it all in a perspective that I can understand. To make it particularly easy, for those of us who know nothing, he compares them to how the Oankali see us “they contain within them a terrible power” (Mahoney). The power to make and break nations with simple numbers. And these numbers, I have always thought that they control us because in our country there’s always the argument of “oh it will wreck the economy and destroy facilitate the downfall of our country.” But Brendan put another layer onto it that I had never thought about before, he said that markets “operate by turning people into things and by turning things into numbers” (Mahoney).

Something I had never really thought of before is what happens to the people behind the numbers. The ones who give their lives in order to make other people money. Brokers that are inside all day and become less and less like people, and more like machines. They are the middlemen that live to compete to try to beat his neighbor to make the best deal possible.  Like the ants on an ant hill they scatter, following the trails of the LED stock signals to do work to help their colony. Brendan argues that the more this goes one the larger the disconnect between buyers and sellers will grow, that over time this will “reduce our ability to see the life in one another” (Mahoney). And I agree, wholeheartedly. Stigmergy creates too much of a disconnect between people and the more we work with Butler’s fiction, the more I start to appreciate people. Not just humans but people, as a society. Where humans always seem to sabotage ourselves is when we stop communicating with one another, and start making quick decisions without really being informed about what our society needs.

A common theme with Butler is the destruction of the world because of the selfishness and destructive nature of humans, something eerily similar to what we see going on in the real world today. But I always find a spark of hope in Butler’s work by how some form of humanity always survives and grows anew. Not necessarily what came before, but something that is different does not inherently mean that it is bad. I really enjoyed Brendan’s take on this subject also because of the hope he sees in it. He, and I, believe that our society could change for the better, and it all starts with us. All we need to do is decide to.

Works Cited:

Mahoney, Brendan. “Stigmergencies.” ImPossibilities. N.p., 13 Nov. 2017. Web. 29 Nov. 2017.

Average Mark Spitz Deals with ‘Sea’ of dead

After grappling with Colson Whitehead’s Zone One in its entirety, I found that the racial element of the story is not as prominent and obvious as I had anticipated it would be. For one, we do not learn of Mark Spitz’s race until far into the narrative. However, this is really the only distinguishing characteristic of Mark Spitz, other than that he is male and described as “average,” which may be a comment on race itself. Mark Spitz’s race and mediocrity are his only distinguishing traits, and it is precisely his mediocrity that allowed him to survive the infestation for as long as he did. He is described as being “neither the captain…nor the last one picked.” In the context of the zombie infestation, the last one picked would surely fail, but so to would the captain because he/she would be responsible for other people.

Being that Mark Spitz is presumably a minority and Colson Whitehead is as well, Whitehead is possibly trying to convey that a young person of color could easily see being average as the best route in traversing through society. As it is the least notorious, because people tend to ignore the average person as they prioritize helping the below average person as well as praising the above average person instead. The character’s name “Mark Spitz” is itself a racial slur derived from a moment where instead of jumping off a bridge into water to flee from a swarm of “dead,” Mark Spitz shoots his way out of it screaming that he cannot die. There is a similarly climatic scene on the final page where after the final barricade is breached by the dead, Colson writes “Fuck it, he thought. You have to learn how to swim sometime. He opened the door and walked into the seas of the dead.” Perhaps this is him embracing who he is as he self-actualizes and “swims,” conquering his fear of “water.”

Mark Spitz’s fear of water is the stereotype that creates his name and enables him to share that story with Gary as he passes, which must have been especially emotional given that he and Gary were brothers in battle against the infestation. They were the only family they had left, as Mark Spitz lost Uncle Lloyd and the vast majority of the population died. In this context, it was actual great to be the minority. His fear of water is symbolic of his fear of death. Mark Spitz was not one to delude himself with hopes of the “after,” and when the barricade broke and he walked into the seas of the dead, Mark Spitz was able to feel closure. Additionally, Whitehead may have been using zombies to symbolize micro aggressions perpetrated by white people, and the barricade breaking is symbolic of the micro aggressions adding up and having a cumulative effect. At one point in the novel, Mark Spitz makes a reference to there finally being no “amateur fascist up the street machinated to steal the next cab.” The plague itself could be symbolic of retribution for the atrocities of slavery as well as the sum of centuries of micro aggressions, bigotry, racism and acts of racism.


Studying Abroad: What’s Your Real Purpose?

Thinking more in depth about medical volunteerism has forced me to contemplate everything regarding studying abroad. I was on scrolling on twitter when I saw my friend tweet something along these lines, “I can’t wait to go dancing at the bars in Tuscany.” She’s studying abroad next semester in Italy. Reading this tweet in correlation with our discussions in class made me realize something: how often is it that someone studies abroad to genuinely study and experience the educational opportunities that another country may have in store for them. Continue reading “Studying Abroad: What’s Your Real Purpose?”