For my activist project this semester, I chose to enroll in a service-learning placement through the Shriver Center. I chose to do this because I had always wanted to consistently volunteer somewhere but never felt like I had the time to. Having the option to volunteer as a part of a course was a perfect way for me to do this, and I chose to serve at the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center in Baltimore because I wanted to learn more about effective ways to address homelessness. Initially I wasn’t sure if volunteering could be a form of activism, and I was worried that doing this wouldn’t feel like enough of an activist project.
My Activism project is about educating people about the pay gap between various genders and races of the human population. I participated with the WILL group’s Pay Equity Day bake sale and help them out with it. The premise of this activism is simple; we would host a bake sale about the wage gap between Americans and sell baked goods to individuals based on what they self identify as. We also stated when we talked to individuals we did not have adequate data about non-binary individuals. Also, we noted that the data we had for this bake sale was outdated, but it was the most recent information we could find.
This is just an example of the data we used for the wage gap poster that we used for people to self-identify and to pay for the baked goods from. For example, the default $1.00 would be White men, which we would get from the average weekly earnings of men/ the default, which would = $986/$986 = $1.00. We did this for all of the values, and were able to make a chart from this.
Initially, I planned out an ambitious activist project, which consisted of collecting pads and tampons for homeless women, from the students of UMBC. Despite the initial rush I felt at coming up with an idea that I felt fit the definition of activism perfectly, my project soon crashed and burned because of inadequate preparation and awareness of exactly what I needed to do. This was a disappointing blow for me, but as the semester went on and I learned more about activism, both from GWST 200 and from the actions of others around me, especially with regard to the events in Baltimore, I realized that something else I was doing throughout this spring counted as activism. That is, it was something that was effecting positive change, even though it was not on a relatively large scale and did not immediately seem radical. Continue reading
I have never owned flannel. I have never held a picket sign. I have never even marched down the street out of frustration or rage. That is what an activist does right? After only being in this class, GWST 200, for a couple weeks, I have realized that none of these things apply. The best part? I have realized and began to accept that I have been an activist in way more ways than one.
In high school I took a passion that I loved – drawing with Sharpie’s – and used it to raise money and awareness for a local homeless shelter. While that may have been a few years ago, it stands out to me because it was a way for me to become involved in something that I did not have a whole lot of connection with by using a talent that I had a true passion for doing. I had also volunteered in my local hospital’s ER because helping people is something I have always loved to do. More recently, I had begun to volunteer in the SUCCESS program for an First Year Seminar class. If you had told me last semester that I was an activist by volunteering, I would not have believed you. However, it now makes sense that the promotion of those who have learning challenges throughout higher education is something to promote and stand for – not only for those actively involved, but for my own dedication to the importance of education.
Helping out through volunteer work not only gives me the ability to become actively engaged in these projects but it also gives me more reason to become more aware of the differences being made in people’s lives. Differences not only for education, but for the greater good. This class has given me the realization that being an activist is more than just the flannel, picket signs, and rage, but about using your own ambitions to make the change you wish to see.
How’s a fat girl feel in a pool. Not too hot.
I’m an accidental activist. I started volunteering at Multiple Sclerosis Swim my freshmen year of college because the Sondheim program required it. I chose MS Swim because none of the other service sites could fit into my schedule, forcing my body-conscious self into a pool with strangers every week. Continue reading