Thursday, October 05, 2006

Year of the City

I do agree with others who have said that the title of the movement is misleading, and may lead others to think that the Year of the City is a temporary concept just for the current school year. People from the public, especially those who don’t attend Loyola College, might be misled. But I think the central motives of Year of the City, to make an effort to get Loyola students involved and working with the community of Baltimore are a good noble idea. Yet it can’t end at the Year of the City, this idea will only be effective if every year is the year of the city. We cannot just make an effort this year and then let the cause be forgotten next year. In my eyes The Year of the City is only worthwhile if next year the same stress and strive continues for Loyola College students to be involved in the community that surrounds them. If this is the case then the mission is going in the right direction.
I think Year of the City gives Loyola College students a push to become involved with community when sometimes they just assume it’s too difficult or too time consuming. Service Learning is just one aspect. Service Learning provides specific sites and options that many students would not have been able to come up with on their own. I don’t think that Service Learning is unfair, because if a student is so against it they don’t have to take a class with that requirement. Year of the City enlightens students that there is a world outside of their classrooms and that whether or not they know it they are connected to it. Of course Year of the City is hard to force on everyone, and some students without the call for service and community are very aware and have been aware of their outside surroundings. Many students have built ties with the people of Baltimore on their own, before Year of the City was declared. I am just saying that it doesn’t hurt to have a frequent reminder of how valuable community connections are.
In relation to Danticat’s text, I am reminded instantly of the Haitian community Grace and Ma had in New York City. I was so moved by the idea that though they are so far away from their home city the ties with their people are still so strong. Danticat’s writing shows how the characters are connected, and her style of writing is so reflective of the themes she reveals. In light of Danticat’s book it makes sense for the reader to realize the importance and value of justice and freedom. The injustices the people of Haiti face in the book and how helpless they are to their situation, reminds me of the struggling people in the community I live in. I think that living in Baltimore we are lucky to be able to serve each other, and learn from those in different situations than ourselves. In Danticat’s book these options are not available and communication in the cities of Haiti is closed off. For example in the first story, Children of the Sea when the military enters the home of madan roger her neighbors are unable to help her, because they will be killed if they try. This type of oppression limits the ability to serve. I think that the Year of the City is calling all students to do something we are fortunate as Americans in having the freedom to do: to serve others and build a community of reciprocity.