Diets & You

Diets & You

For my project I wanted to choose a topic that would have a broad scope and I would be most passionate about. I decided I would do my project on specialized diets and awareness surrounding it. After submitting my initial proposal, the feedback given to me by my professor made me consider not only consider vegetarians, but also religious diets and allergies. My plan for my project then became to research which diets and allergies are most common because my brochure would not be able to fit more than 5-10 diets. After my initial research I narrowed it down to peanut-free and gluten-free diets for the allergy diets. For the religious diets I chose Kosher and Halal diets as people who practice Judaism and Islam require more diet accommodations than people who practice Christianity and other popular religions. While researching the differences between vegetarianism and veganism I learned that vegetarianism has many different levels and vegan is among the most restrained. I elected to use the 2 most common ones because it would provide the widest scope for information. My proposal also had the goal of having me inform myself while researching so that I may more considerate towards others about their dietary needs. When designing my brochure, I made sure to make it easy to read and to find information. Additionally, I included information such as locations individuals with those diets might have the best access to food if dining on campus and what each diet entails. I printed 10 copies to distribute around campus personally because I did not receive formal permission from the campus. After completing my project, I realized the campus is more considerate about diets than I had imagined. The site where I accessed most of my information regarding UMBC dining was

            What worked with my project was the research and incorporating the information into my brochure. My goals of informing myself and creating an easy to read brochure were completed. My time management with the project worked out in the end. What did not work included finding the appropriate staff member(s) to formally distribute my brochure. My initial goal was about 30 brochures, but it has been lowered to 10 since I had to distribute them myself without asking for permission to. If I do a similar project in the future, I will contact faculty as soon as I can in order to avoid having to put the brochures around the school without asking first. I will also try to have another group member at least so I may have a second opinion on the direction of my project.

            In the process of completing this project I realized I can be an activist even with small-scale projects. Even if this project only informed me about specialized diets, it was valuable information and worked to bring awareness about people who are oppressed/inconvenienced in their everyday lives. All things considered; people who have dieting needs have the burden of ordering food items from places where they are able to eat. This information would not have entered my mind before my project’s completion. I also learned that activism has a much broader scope of topics than I had anticipated. In the future, I will do my best to be more considerate towards people and conduct small acts of activism.

Only One of the Many

10 Things the US Government Got Right (And Promptly Ruined) - America’s public schools are overwhelmingly financed through the collection of property taxes. That means that poor neighborhoods equal low property values, which equals low spending on public schools.

Riverview Elementary School is a Title I school, in which most students come from low-income families and receive federal funding. More than 95% of students receive federal funding at Riverview. Though Riverview receives federal funding, the school’s academic performance is inadequate like most other public schools that are Title I. To show Riverview’s poor academic performance, I have researched their third-grade class Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Language Arts test scores:

  • 6% of students did not expectations on PARCC
  • 2% of students partially met expectations on PARCC
  • 5% of students approached expectations on PARCC
  • 6% of students met expectation on PARCC
  • Less than 5% of students exceeded expectation on PARCC

So, only about 24.6% of students performed well on the test while 78.3% of students did not.

Riverview PARCC

Now, I am not saying we need to teach students to perform well on tests, but why are students at low-income community schools doing worse than other students at high-income community schools?

At Severna Park Elementary School, a high-income community public school in Anne Arundel County, the PARCC test scores are:

  • Less than 5% not meeting expectations
  • Less than 5% of students partially meeting expectations
  • 4% of students approaching expectations
  • 3% of students meeting expectations
  • 1% of students exceeding expectations

Severna Park PARCC

The majority of students at Severna Park Elementary School are white and the majority of students are African-American at Riverview Elementary Schools with a large Spanish community.

Severna Park Race and Ethnicity

Race and Ethnicity at Riverview

These statistics are important to look at because they show us that we have an unequal public-school system here in the United States of America. An unequal education is established by a student’s family socio-economic background, race and ethnicity, academic performance, and by the resources provided to the students.

In late August of 2017, I decided I wanted to do service-learning at the Shriver-Center at UMBC. In October, I became a teacher’s assistant at Riverview Elementary School for a third-grade class where I helped my students build strong literacy skills, while building positive relationships with them.

In the third-grade class that I helped assist, there were six students below reading grade-level. One of my students approached me and said that she didn’t like reading her books, because they were too easy for her. I then read ono-on-one with her to see where she was at with her reading ability and I found that she stumbles on some words, but overall, she reads efficiently. I then had her choose a chapter book for us to read together while I helped her sound out the words she didn’t know and asked her questions about the book to make sure she understood what she was reading. In addition, I took notes on the story, so when I would read with her the next time, she would not forget what happened and would understand the story better.

I also found that my other students below reading grade-level were reading books that were unchallenging and I also sat down with them individually to read with them one-on-one. Unfortunately, I could not do this every time I volunteered at Riverview because of their schedule and the major projects they had to do. I think having more time at my service-site would have benefited my students more and would have helped me improve their academic abilities. However, I did find that having my students read out loud and tracking what they are readings is a lot better than them reading on i-ready, a website that assists students in learning how to spell and sound out words.

In addition to working with my students become better readers, I also worked with them to become better writers. Some of my students struggled with structuring their sentences and paragraphs, or even writing down their ideas in a coherent way. I found only helping them structure their paragraphs with transition words and correcting misspelled words, assured me that they were thinking on their own.

I wanted to volunteer at Riverview Elementary School to gain teaching skills, because I planned on doing Teach for Americaafter graduation. However, my students showed me that I want to make a career out of bringing an equal education to all children in the United States. Volunteering at Riverview, helped me notice the discrimination in low-income community schools more clearly. It helped me see the ignorance to the issue and that some people don’t know what a Title I school is.

If I were to volunteer again to help students thrive in their academics, I would definitely go to my service-site more than two days a week. I also would communicate more with the teacher to see what I can do to have a greater effect on the student’s academic performance. I would want to work more ono-one-one with my students below reading grade-level to see through chapter books with them.

Through doing this activism project, I learned that I will continue this work throughout the course of my life. I learned that feminist activism does not only have to be about fighting for women’s rights but fighting for equality for all those who are marginalized. An unequal education prevents, both girls and boys, from achieving gender equality. In addition to, it cripples their right as a human being to have a quality education, one that is not affected by their socio-economic background. In order for women and men to be equal, they all need to be equal through the social, economic, and political domains.

I also learned that in order to make real change in the world, we cannot think practical. For instance, charter schools and financial assistance are only going to prolong the problem, they are not the solution to solving the issue. We need to establish an equal education for students altogether in the United Sates without the need of financial assistance and the need to open up charter schools in low-income areas. We need more teachers, we need after-school programs, we need to give all academic subjects equal value, and we need to give students the opportunity to be taught humanity.