Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cultural Narrative

Take Me As I Am
By LithiumStar, Sidney, NY

If someone asked: why is diversity important, I probably would have rambled on about economies, control groups, and ethnicity funding.What if instead I was asked: Why is diversity important to you? Diversity is important to me because I am part of diversity. Diversity is simply explained as different from the normalcy. You can be diverse by your sexuality, religion, ethnicity, beliefs, and how you were raised. In the world no one is the same as anybody else, though some do try to “fit in” to the standards of billboards and society stereotypes. I am diversity. You are diversity. We are all different.

In specific to me I am seventeen years old. I am bi-sexual and extremely proud of that. I have many heterosexual friends, as well as many gay friends. I am Puerto Rican, Mexican and a mix of many other things whereas my friends range from Irish to Guyanese in their bloodlines. As a feminist I organize small movements with neighbors and friends to empower woman and help domestic abuse victims. As a Roman Catholic I was confirmed in tenth grade but I practice Wiccan rituals and Buddhist meditation daily. People should enjoy diversity but of course in life there are some who react negatively towards those who are not the same as them.

In life we have different forms of prejudice: Homophobia, racism, sexism. All of which affect the lives of those attempting to live proud of who they are. We should not attempt to live our lives set to the standards of people who do not exist. There is no “normalcy” in the world. I have learned not to be who I don’t want to be. Before my generation, I’m sure there was a lot of hatred towards minority groups. Nowadays we try to accept people as who they are, not as who we want them to be. Though we are slightly more accepting now, however, there will always be hate.
Diversity is important to me because without it, I would not be me as I am today. Learning to accept other people has made me able to accept who I am as well. Diversity is key to the survival of the world, but change and difference will always come as a shock to people, which will make it difficult for the world to grow. . Fitting in is not the most important part of someone’s life. I was told by one woman ,who spent her whole youth attempting to fit in to what her friends and family thought she should be, that I should let my inner light shine and I should never let anyone keep me from being who I am. I am diversity, take me as I am.

What impact does your culture have in your life? Do you have a place where you can find pride in the diversity of identities that define you?

Below you can find a list of resources of agencies that work to provide support and services for youth of color and immigrant youth. These agencies serve to create a space for connection, pride, advocacy, support, and community. Also, if you need any other resources or just want to talk, you can also call Teen Link. We are open every night from 6-10pm pacific standard time. Our number is 1866TeenLink or 1866-833-6546.

Filipino Community of Seattle
Filipino Community of Seattle said they welcome all ages and for teens, they have summer programs where basically, teenagers are given the opportunity to get together and do activities collaboratively. They put on cultural events, workshops, and activities throughout the year such as Asian American Idol, dance performances, spoken words, and community dinners. They present a very warm and welcoming environment for any Filipino’s interested in taking part of their community.

El Centro de La Raza
El Centro de La Raza offers a lot of programs for youth and their families:
They offer classes for students that go to Seattle Public Schools like Civil Rights/Latino History Classes, poetry, college prep, Hip Hop and parent support in education/resources and mentoring. Contact Alex Bautista - 2069574620, abautista@elcentrodelaraza.org or Mirabella Mendiola - 2069574612, mmendiola@elcentrodelaraza.org

The Jose Marti Child Development Center, daycare for children 21 months to 5 year and after school program for children 5-12 years of age. Subsidies and application assistance may be available. Contact Jessica Harris - 2069574644, jmcdc@elcentrodelaraza.org.

 Early Learning Program for Latino Families in Seattle and South King County with children six years of age or younger not attending a child development center. Individual support (home visits), and educational workshops on how to engage children through activities. Contact Lucero Cueva-Estrella - 2069574614.

 Job Readiness Training for ELL Youth and Families. Must be 15-20 years of age, eligible to work in US, from Spanish speaking families, enrolled in a Seattle Public School and receiving ELL services, parent/families must meet low income requirement, and parent/family participation. Contact Cristina Jimenez - 2069734289 or Janet Stafford - 2069574644

For teens they offer help around college readiness, DECAs, or scholarships, as well as  referrals for drug, alcohol, addiction help.

Consejo Counseling and Referral
Consejo is an award-winning agency that has provided over 30 years of culturally-competent services to growing yet underserved Latino communities with a focus on families with children.  They have a domestic violence program, substance abuse/ alcohol recovery program, mental health services, natural medicine services, and alcohol/substance abuse services specifically for teens. Most teens that come to Consejo Counseling are looking for mental health services and counseling. The staff describes Consejos as a family, saying it is a safe space for Latinos to find support and community.   

One America

OneAmerica is an organization whose mission is to advance the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state and national levels by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies. One America has a youth action squad program where youth can become involved through civic engagement and learn more about immigrant rights. They also provide opportunities for youth to do community service hours and internships. They also have youth leadership trainings and work with youth extensively in awareness on Civic Engagement and Voter Registration and such. Also, we are currently helping youth who are DACA eligible.

“ReWA’s Youth Program offers activities to help refugee and immigrant youth succeed in school, develop effective problem-solving skills, and create supportive peer networks.”
Programming includes:
  • Targeted academic assistance by ReWA staff and volunteers
  • Emphasis on cooperation in a multicultural environment
  • Access to a variety of reading materials
  • Development of science skills in association with the Seattle Parks & Recreation
  • Girls-only groups for teenagers and elementary school students
  • Public service projects
  • Musical activities
  • Gardening and physical activities
  • Fun field trips like swimming, hiking, and visiting Seattle landmarks
  • Cooking classes
  • Self-defense classes
  • College readiness help
  • Leadership and service learning
  • Summer school
POCAAN/CURB (Communities Uniting Rainier Beach)

POCAAN is a multi-cultural AIDS prevention organization created in response to the devastating impact that HIV/AIDS was and continues to have on communities of color. In Washington State, POCAAN brings people of color together across differences of race, gender, class and sexual orientation to achieve its mission. To receive these services at POCAAN you must be 18-30 and in the Rainier Valley area. If a teen (18-21 for Teen Link) were to come in they would probably only receive HIV Testing, otherwise they would be referred to the South Seattle office if they are eligible.

The South Seattle office in addition to a program called CURB (Communities Uniting Rainier Beach) is more geared toward helping youth, and will help people find schools, receive case management, help with childcare, food and clothing assistance, mental health services, etc.
CURB helps to assist young adults that have criminal records. Along with this they help young adults to learn and demonstrate behaviors and skills that contribute to reduced criminal activity and create a positive re-entry pathway into the community. Their aim is to engage young adults that are at-risk for involvement in criminal activity and provide resources so these individuals can maintain the highest quality of life and avoid incarceration.

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