Community Engagement

Fall 2016


Week 5

Week 5: Isabelle

AH! Due to my absence in class during Week 4, I had no idea that our community’s WordPress was up and running. Thankfully, I found Rick’s “Roll Call” e-mail and can now give some feeback on the readings.

Although I appreciate all the readings, by far my favorite its Bambara’s “The Lesson” as its themes of economic disparity and the choice to either rise above or submit to it can be seen in our own diverse community here at UCSB. One concept that we have touched upon in disucssion that is relevant to our campus culture is the idea that not every student at UCSB comes from the same background or has gone has faced the same adversities.

In “The Lesson”, we gain a little insight on what like to grow up in an economically disadvantaged community. After touring the FAO Schwartz Toy Store, many of the children left feeling cheated-out and upset about their situation. To cope with this, they begin to squabble over what to do with the change from the cab ride. These children’s behavior represents one option of coping with adveristy: submitting to it. Because the children see that their current quality of living is nowhere near the quality of those who could afford the expensive toys, they eventually settle with the few resources and money they do have and make do. On the other hand, Sylvia represents the other option in coping with adversity: using it as motivation. Instead of settling for less, Sylvia makes the promise to herself that “ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin”. This statement suggests that Sylvia refuses to be defined by the conditions in which she was born into and is going to work to rise above them so her boundaries will not be defined by her enviornment or those more advantaged/priviledged than her, but by herself and her will to make a difference.

The concept of going against the grain and rising above one’s surroundings to achieve greater things is witnessed in our own campus as many Gauchos have had to do the same to attend UCSB. Because we are not from the same backgrounds and experiences, it is important to celebrate diversity and provide opportunities those who are working hard for their education.


Week 5: Linh Le

Response to “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara

Hi, this is Linh. I realized that i’ve never considered the bigger picture of my position in society. I never put into perspective that there is a big divide in what people have. I knew that there was one through books but i never felt like i was in one until i read this reading. i would choose to ignore it and go about my day like Sylvia and would only attend to my temporary need. The quote that really struck me was when Sugar said, “I don’t think all us here put together eat in a year what that sailboat cost”. Until i read this quote, i’ve always have a tunnel mind of thinking about what i want and what i can afford, not how limited we are compared to other people. I believed that as long as i try my best to live a happy life everything would be okay. Unfortunately, there are many invisible weight pulling people down that we don’t think about regularly because we are use to it and neglect its importance. An example of an invisible weight i have is that i live in an uneducated working class family. What i noticed is that there was a teacher in this passage. It made me realize how much of and impact having a teacher at home is. (parents, siblings or any role model) I’m a first generation student with parents who has been always been in the working class economy. They are older than me by 40+ years and up until this past year i never had a proper conversation with them. They wouldn’t ask me “why do you think” and that caused me to believe things are just how they are. I also didn’t receive lessons from stories my parents told and they definitely did not read me books. (We couldn’t afford it and they weren’t able to read in english since they aren’t bilingual) This impacted the way i learn. I never realized how passive i was about the socioeconomic problem. Another example is just being a girl/women and told to be polite and quiet. Just by being taught to do this impacts females because society trains us to think that women cannot be leaders and doesn’t deserve as much respect.There are plenty of other invisible weight we carry but class is definitely a massive issue because of the limited opportunities that restricts our ability as well as how we live and learn.

Week 5 : Marthe

Hi there, here is an overview of my thoughts on the articles. I have no clue if this is what we strive for but I just wrote down my unfiltered thoughts.

The article of Jensen to me is about schooling and how this makes us into similar human beings. This is indeed very interesting. In my opinion, the American university system has a paradox,  one one hand they try to promote and show variety in their offering of many clubs and extracurricular activities for different students with different backgrounds, ambitions and interests, whereas at the same time they synthese their academics into one input and output: giving out material to study and testing it without designing space to criticize and reflect on what we are actually studying. Shouldn’t our academic system reflect society, in which there are indeed many differences and many different opinions. A society in which we have to deal with people who might think extremely different about various topics.

The Drum Major Instinct to me is about everyone’s underlying wish to be better off which strengthens sense of superiority, the idea that the grass is always greener at the other side. The reason why we use the concept FOMO and what really affects us in daily life.The Lovers of the Poor talks about philantrophy. It is really popular for Western-European young woman to take a gap year helping out at a foster care in a third world country. It has long been proven that social work in those centers is not good for the children at all. They’re newly build relationships are only temporary and there are often language and culture differences.Why do we still do those things? Why do we want to ‘do good’.Do we do those things to do good or to feel good about ourselves. Isn’t being or doing intrinsically good only possible once we do not need to engage in such activities to feel good about ourselves.The Lesson talks about differences. Differences in backgrounds, financial situations etc. and especially the inequities these provoke.

What in my opinion binds and connects these three articles is the will to pursue our happiness to a maximum. Whatever financial or educational possibilities we have we always want to feel good or be better. Are there differences in society because people try to do this but some people had the possibilities to pursue there happiness over other people? All three of the articles talk about inequity: your drum major instinct makes you want to create an inequity, in the lovers of the poor the inequity is trying to be bridged but not tried to be diminished – maybe holded back by drum major instinct, because if we diminish differences no one can feels better than the other -, in the lesson we see the inequity between social classes and accompanied financial possibilities.


Weekly Response Sample

Here is a sample of the weekly response – it is also your guide to using this site!

To make a post, log in to the site and enter the student username and password – these will be provided by the instructor.

Once you are logged in, you will see a sidebar on the left-hand side. This is where you will be able to add your weekly response. Click My Site and select the Community Engagement

Be sure to click add post (not page — these are different and function differently on the website).

Title your weekly responses as follows: “Week _: Your Name”

Enter your response in to the main text section.

IMPORTANT: You will need to categorize your post. In the sidebar, click Categories & Tags.
Here, you will need to check Weekly Responses and the corresponding week for your response (i.e. this post is categorized as Weekly Responses and Week 5).

You can save drafts of your post if you want to come back to it later, but make sure that when you are ready to submit your response, click publish.

When posting a comment: be sure to start with Your Name, followed by your comment.

If you have any trouble, please feel free to contact Rick at rbenjamin(at)

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