Professional Hopes and Goals

My career of working with children and families within the social services field has, so far, been an interesting and rewarding experience. I get the opportunity to meet and interact with families of various cultures. Working with children and families is a career I have grown to love and remain passionate about. One hope that I have as I continue to work with children and families is to continue to offer an environment that educates, nurtures, respects, and is tolerant of their diverse cultural experiences. I hope to offer an environment that celebrates individuality and diversity, and fosters the opportunity to increase equity among those I serve. I hope to also increase my cultural capital and habitus as I seek to gain insight and learn from each family’s individual cultural experiences. One goal that I would like to set for the early childhood field related to issues of diversity, equity, and social justice is to continue the efforts and research to encourage a healthy environment that is accessible and culturally responsive where children and families can grow and learn from each other. In addition, offer an environment where issues of prejudice and discrimination can also be addressed in a healthy way. Children come into the world as innocent beings. They learn from what they are taught as they mature throughout their environmental experiences.

To each of my colleagues, it has been a pleasurable journey in this course growing and learning with, and from each of you. Each one of your discussions and responses has provided hope, and has allowed me to look at the issues of cultural differences, equity, and opportunities for social justice in a much more positive way. I wish each of you continued success as you carry out your educational goals, and as you strive to make a difference one family at a time.


Welcoming Families From Around the World

          Working in an early childhood setting within a social service agency is a very rewarding experience as we as educators reap the benefits of enhancing and touching the lives of those we serve. Oftentimes in such settings, one must always prepare for the unexpected. For example, receiving a family from the Dominican Republic. Receiving a new family from another country is exciting, but also brings about feelings of uncertainty for the family and for staff. Neither I, nor the staff, know anything about the people or the culture of the Dominican Republic, other than the primary language spoken is Spanish. However, we believe in offering a culturally responsive environment so all families feel welcomed and supported. In order to prepare for their arrival, staff have researched and educated themselves a little about the culture of the Dominican Republic. Educating ourselves about the culture of another country is important and will give a little bit of insight on what to expect. It is important to not solely rely on outside resources when trying to understand another culture due to overgeneralization. Each family and child is unique and it’s important to understand that.

            Being culturally responsive involves developing a rapport with not only the child, but also the family. If we are aware that the primary language is Spanish, have an interpreter available to assist them. Learn the names of each individual family member, find out their reasons for migrating, and make your contact information available for them. Allow the family to educate you about their cultural beliefs, values, family dynamics, customs, work habits, gender roles, traditions, concerns, and what is important to them. Provide them with resources that they can connect with and feel supported within the community. Find out their educational aspirations for their children, and their learning and parenting styles. Let children provide resources to the learning environment from their home culture that make them feel comfortable and that everyone can learn from. Incorporate what you learn about the home culture into the learning environment.

            As families continue to become acculturated and acclimated to their new environment, it is important as an educator to develop an ongoing rapport. Individual and family needs change. The goals and needs expressed initially may no longer be their concern. When a new family enters the environment, it is a learning experience for both the family and the educator. Preparing and providing a culturally responsive environment is important as the hope is to bridge the gap between our cultural background and the cultural background and experiences of those we serve. When we work to make this happen, not only do we as educators feel rewarded and successful, but children and families feel supported as they strive to fit into their new home.

The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

          Stereotypes, biases, and prejudice lead to further feelings of inferiority and oppression within in those that are not a part of the dominant culture of society. I recall an incident that happened within a social services institution where I witnessed someone as a target of bias and oppression. A Hispanic family, whom just recently moved to The United States from Mexico, came in to receive social service assistance. As the family approached the counter to ask for assistance with the application process, I could sense the feelings of uncertainty each of them had about being there and asking for assistance. The mother/wife proceeded to the desk and began to speak. As she began to speak, I noticed she could speak some English, but her native language was Spanish in which she felt more comfortable in speaking. The receptionist at the desk had a hard time understanding her. No one with her could speak English too well either. Instead of taking the necessary steps to find someone to assist her, the receptionist told her, “Sorry ma’am but I can’t understand you. You don’t speak English too well.” He instructed her to stand to the side while he proceeded to help someone else. The woman stood there for a period of time. The receptionist finally approached her and explained she would need to return another day with an interpreter or someone that could interpret for her. I certainly knew the agency offered interpreter services, but I also knew that it could take a few days for customers to receive assistance from this service. Unfortunately, if that family was in great need, waiting for services could cause further detriment. Not only was the issue waiting for services, but the receptionist could have been a little more compassionate in helping this customer. He could have called the interpreter service and gave the customer an appointment time. He also could have asked staff if anyone whom spoke Spanish could help service this family. It was apparent this family was in urgent need of assistance.
           That incident not only brought about feelings of inequity for that customer, but also the inequities that exist among institutions. The United States is supposed to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave” where “all men are created equal”. That family is already living in a part of the world where they are no longer considered the majority. I’m sure that incident brought about further feelings of inferiority and helplessness for that family. As a minority living among a dominant society, that incident made me realize that although we may think we have obtained or earned some of the same privileges as the dominant among us, there will always be someone or an incident that will remind us that we still do not quite equate.
           In order to turn this type of incident into an opportunity for greater equity, the agency would need to become more culturally responsive. Services need to be readily available for those who need assistance in interpreting their needs. Not just for those whom are linguistically different, but for anyone that would need assistance. I also believe that the agency should offer educational trainings, especially those that concern culture and diversity. Staff would develop a sense of compassion for those that come from other areas of life, and how to further assist them. I also feel that it is not always the fault of the institution. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves about cultural differences and how our actions may negatively impact or affect those whom are already at a disadvantage. There are many reasons families flee to the U.S. One reason, which I am aware of, is to escape the overt oppression and “isms” that exists among their own country. The last thing these families need, when trying to obtain services, is to feel inadequate and be reminded of where they actually stand in this society. I believe with education and diminishing our own biases, we can make a difference no matter the situation.

Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

I have learned that microaggressions are most often the unintentional verbal expressions that pose as a hostile, derogatory, or negative insult toward individuals or groups. These demeaning behaviors are generally perpetrated against those due to gender, sexual orientation, or ability. While watching television this week, I observed what is called a microinsult. The insults occurred on The Arsenio Hall Show.  Arsenio initially had a champion competitive eater, Miki Sudo, to air on the show.  Miki Sudo somehow became sick and wasn’t able to be there. Instead of cancelling the eating contest, Arsenio asked members from the audience to participate against “The Posse” in a wing eating contest. Of the participants from the audience, one was hispanic and the other was black. When Arsenio uncovered the two pans of wings, he referred to them as “looking like somebody stuck up the Baptist church picnic.” That was one insult. The next insult was when the wing eating contest was over he turned to the Hispanic man and said, “I’m disappointed because you ate that like a white man!” Of course everyone chuckled at both comments. I, personally, felt embarrassed that those comments occurred on national television. One reason is because Hispanics are already considered a minority in society. Two is because Arsenio is black and blacks are also considered a minority in society, and it was like he was making a racial insult against another that is as oppressed as his race. The third reason is because Arsenio was overgeneralizing that all Baptist churches have chicken at an event.

This observation of negative behavior made me think about stereotypes. Stereotypes lead to prejudice and discrimination. We tend to overlook this behavior because it is deep embedded in our society’s history, and its acceptance has been tolerated for many years. Stereotypes can have long term effects on individuals and groups, and leave them feeling hurt and at a disadvantage. I also believe that stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudice occur intracultural. We tend to use these negative behaviors within our own groups, or around those we feel are like ourselves because it has become the norm. The behavior is so widely accepted that we insult each other and many times not intentionally. Learning about microagressions and other negative behaviors has made me more aware of what I say to others, whether they are “like” me or “unlike” me.

Perspectives on Diversity and Culture


I spoke with three people in regards to their definition of culture and diversity. They were all different ages.  One was culturally different in race, gender, religion, and age.  The first respondent stated their definition of culture is “what defines a group of people based on language, religion, and social beliefs.”  Diversity “highlights variables based on race, religion, color, and gender.”  The second respondent stated culture is “a group of people that share interests and or a lifestyle.”  Diversity is “having a group of people from different cultures.”  The third respondent stated culture is “the behavior or certain ways or traditions practiced throughout different groups or classes.”  Diversity is “what America is made up of, people of different social groups, classes, religions, races, and culture.” 

            What I found interesting in all three responses is that each respondent has a general concept of culture and diversity.  What I have learned about culture, and also included in each respondents answer, is that culture does involve the language, religion, beliefs, lifestyle, and the traditions of various groups and classes of people.  However, I have also learned that culture involves our family relationships, gender roles, behaviors, work relationships, how we eat, sleep, talk, and how we go about our daily routines.  Most of the time we do not even notice our culture until something happens to disrupt our norm or changes.   What I noticed from the respondents and their definition of diversity is that the answers included the word “different” and “variables.”  Diversity, as I have learned, is the differing variables that underline culture. Those underlying variables are what make us unique.  For example, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, and political beliefs are all what make us diverse.  To go a little further, and what the respondents may not have thought about in their broad definitions, is the ideal that valuing diversity is also recognizing and respecting each others’ differences.

            Reviewing each respondent’s definition of culture and diversity has influenced my thinking about these topics. Culture and diversity are broad topics. What one person may define as culture and diversity may not be what another person defines as culture and diversity.  Everyone has their own perspectives about what culture and diversity means to them.           


My Family Culture

“Family is not an important thing.  It’s everything.”

                                                ~Michael J. Fox

Life is filled with so many challenges. Some challenges are good and help us grow and progress, and some try to stifle our spirit.  If my immediate family was faced with the challenge of having to evacuate to another country to call home and could only take three items that I hold dear and represent my family culture, those items would include our family Bible, a portrait of our extended family and close friends, and our hand sewn patchwork blanket.  Our family Bible represents the power of prayer, faith, and the spiritual connection we have with God.  We believe a family that prays together stays together.  The family portrait represents the uniqueness each member holds, as well as, the memories, the hurdles, and the challenges that we have endured, yet have overcome.  The traditional hand sewn patchwork blanket is a gift created by my maternal grandmother and maternal great-grandmother.  Each blanket is hand stitched from various fabrics passed on from different family members. The blankets were created in love and passed as a gift of our grandmothers’ love to each family.

If I was told that I could only keep one item upon arrival to our new home, I would definitely feel saddened as all three items are very dear to me.  However, of the three, I would hold on to our Bible. The Bible is a very important spiritual resource in our family.  Not only does it represent faith, power, and prayer, but I also find strength, lessons for life, and peace through various scriptural passages. 

Through this exercise, I gained a new respect for the importance of family and family cultures.  It’s the traditions, beliefs, values, and rituals that family members create from the very beginning, that help mold us into the individuals we are today.  Family is indeed everything.

My Supports

         There are so many factors within my daily environment that provide support which include family, friends, school, my job, church, the fitness center I attend, and the internet, just to name a few.  However, the most important support I receive is from my family.  My family is so amazing, especially my parents.  My parents have been there for me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and have many times provided financial support.  Growing up, my parents not only provided my basic needs, but also supported my endeavors and encouraged me to go after my dreams.  They are wonderful grandparents to my daughter, and have helped me to raise such a beautiful young lady.   My parents are very spiritual and believe in prayer. They have taught me to put God first, family next, and anything else following, and life will be so much better.  Now that my parents are older, I am happy to be able to support and provide for them.  Without my parents, life would definitely change as I have been blessed to still have them here.  I feel very fortunate to have a close immediate and extended family that believes in supporting one another.

            One challenge I imagined, is how my life would change if I lost my hearing.  Not only would life be different for me, but also for my family.  My paternal grandmother was deaf and I always wondered what a day was like in her shoes.  I would definitely require many more supports such as learning sign language.  My home may need to be redesigned to compensate for those things that I once could hear, such as flashing lights if someone rang the doorbell. I may even need someone to drive me around.  My day to day practices would be altered and I would need to learn new ways of going about my day.   Without new supports, life would be a challenge.  However, I am grateful to have family, regardless of the situation, that is willing to provide the support needed to help make life run a little smoother.

Childhood Connection to Play

photo 3Play energizes us and enlivens us.  It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.” – Stuart Brown, M.D. Contemporary American Psychiatrist

Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” Kay Redfield Jamison

 Play is so important in the social, physical, cognitive, and emotional development of children.  I believe play is innate and a universal language among children.  For me, as a young child,  play was uninhibited.  I spent hours imagining, creating, and engaging in many forms of playful activity.  I loved to play with my dolls , play kickball with my neighborhood friends, have running races,  jump rope, play basketball, and curb ball.  All those activities were fun, however, what I enjoyed  most was music, singing, and dancing.     _KAR7318

My friends would come over and we would play dress up and pretend like we were in dance school.  I would act as the instructor and  put a routine  together, and my friends would follow.  If I was not engaged in dancing, then I was singing  and playing  my little toy piano.  No, I was not familiar with any of the keys nor did I really  know what notes were, but I loved the sound of music and composing my version of music and writing lyrics.  My friends would sing the lead vocals while I  helped sing the background vocals .

My parents were very supportive and believed children should be free to learn, create, explore, and express themselves.  They believed that with the right support, motivation, and guidance, there were no limits to what one could achieve.  They fostered  my passion for the arts and enrolled me in piano and dance lessons at a very young age, in which I continued  throughout my high school years.  Throughout high school I sang in three different choirs, played three different instruments, and also danced. 

With the technology savvy and  hurried lifestyle of our society, children no longer have the opportunity to spend much time in free play.  No longer do we see neighborhood streets filled with children running, laughing, and playing random games. Due to standards, curriculum, and time constraints, children no longer spend much time in free play in school.  We, as parents and educators, need to find ways in which to engage children in more free play. Children learn so much during play in their early years that can be carried through into adulthood.

dance machine 001


Relationship Reflection

What would life be like without relationships?

Relationships are those connections we establish whether it’s through work, family, friends, business, or maybe even our pets.  Relationships are an important part of our everyday lives as we can learn so much from them. 

My relationship with my family is important.  However, my most significant relationship is with my daughter. I remember the day the doctor told me I was pregnant. As I left the doctor’s office and proceeded to drive home, I took a moment to pray.  I began to talk to God and explain to him how scared I was because I always took care of other families’ children, but now I would have my own.  My ultimate prayer was that God would lead and guide me to become the best parent I could be and to develop a relationship and bond with my child that no one person or thing could break. 

Seventeen years later, I must say I am so very proud to be her mother. Yes, there have been some growing pains along the way, but nothing that a little listening, talking, and working through those situations could not fix.  I’ve always been an advocate of parent involvement, and that we as parents learn so much about our children if we just learn to watch and listen to them.  My daughter is such a determined young lady and I have learned so much through her over the years.  She has inspired me to reach goals that I thought were unattainable. I recall, at a very young age, during one of her tumbling sessions for competition cheerleading she became a little discouraged because she was not able to master a back handspring.  As her mother, I chose not to become involved, unless it was for the sake of encouragement, because her coaches were doing an excellent job working with her.  After her session was over, her face was a little saddened that she did not quite master the skill at that time.  Although discouraged, as she left the mat to go home, she turned to her coach and said, “It’s o.k, I’ll get it next time.”  She worked and worked hard until she finally mastered her back handspring.  Although such a young little girl, through her I’ve learned there is nothing that we can not attain if we are willing to put in the necessary work.

Now that she is seventeen and a Senior in high school, I am so proud of the beautiful young lady that she is becoming. We learn from each other. I give her advice on life, peer, and school relationships, and she gives me the insights into the “teen” world.  Although we are blessed to have an awesome relationship, I don’t believe we would have grown to this point if I were not involved and engaged throughout all stages of her life, physically, socially, and emotionally.  Parental involvement is so important in the healthy growth of our children.  Studies show that children whom grow in good relationships with their parents have a healthy outlook on life, make better decisions, and have an easier progression through school.  They go on to establish their own healthy relationships.  Relationships are not always easy and I believe relationships are like investments. One can only get out of the relationship what one is willing to put into the relationship.