As Americans, we often like to use our educational differences to differentiate a divide in society. We grow up with a mindset that one education is better than the other, causing us to believe that there are those below us. Rather than meeting others with an open mind, we use one detail to define who they are. The American Creed documentary produced by PBS, discusses what it means to be an American. A key statement addressed in the film explains that we need to know our neighbors and create a community because when you grow up in an area like the housing projects, you have to hold onto the American ideals. Getting to know one another allows us to understand that all Americans have the same interest in wanting an education to build a successful future.
An important experience for me is volunteer tutoring in a local lower income community neighboring through a non-profit organization called Urban Impact. Their mission is to offer educational activities through tutoring and mentoring, to help students achieve academic and social success. I had the opportunity to interview Tanja Jensen, an administrator at Urban Impact, she stated, “The after-school programs are free for the kids, all they need to bring is their homework. The mentors there help the students to become focused on life. ” When Mrs. Jensen said this, it reminded me how education gives a drive for progression. She highlighted that everyone has aspirations and being supported by a community helps one achieve their goals.
Being exposed to students who have the same aspirations as I do, even with economic differences, reminds me that all students are alike. In an interview with an elementary school administrative assistant, Lauren Harp, states, “It really shouldn’t matter what location you're in, every student is striving to be successful.” Mrs. Harp thoughts show that your surrounding doesn’t define you. The elementary school in which I have the opportunity to tutor in is surrounded by housing projects and the school is gated in. However, when you walk into the school, it is another community where education becomes the focus and there is a passion for success.
I chose these images for an artwork based submission because it compels readers to think and reflect how education is impacted through their own community. I wanted other viewers to think about how they can bridge gaps in with their neighbors because we are all striving for the American Dream of education and opportunity.
American Creed. Produced by WWTW Chicago and Citizen Film, PBS, 2018.
Harp, Lauren. Interview. 6 June 2019.
Jensen, Tanja. Interview. 6 June 2019.