This is what I would tell myself if I traveled back to the first days of moving in before freshmen year began. It would be in a handwritten letter, on white card stock with a fresh new black sharpie with a poorly drawn flower on the back of it:
so you have already completed a summer =semester at the big U of M. It was really fun and great and satisfying. You really believe that these next two semesters are going to be just as awesome. Well do I have some news for you.
That will not be the case at all. You are going to be very insecure, lonely sometimes, and turn into quite the hermit. These semesters will not have as many grand tiny genuine moments, those moments you love. You will not have as much fun as you once thought you would be having. You will be incredibly uninspired with the classes you take and question very heavily the choice of coming to college. And your cool neighbor plays the ukulele really well. This is a true story.
You know, what you see isn’t always the truth (you will see the greatness that that came from later), but it will end eventually. This does not last forever. Summer will come soon enough and let me tell you, it will feel quite great when you return to Grand Rapids listening to Lana Del Rey’s newest song release. You really want to quit. But it is not the worst. So I guess stick it out for now.
Things always work out.
I am you but stronger.”
And that is what I would tell myself if I were to be able to travel back to the beginning of freshmen year.
The things running through my mind after watching a few minutes of the video were; well this seems hauntingly familiar. If you’ve ever seen American Horror Story: Asylum, this looks identical to when Lana Winters was exposing Briarwood. The only thing that makes Willowbrook more terrifying is that it actually happened. Not that AHS: Asylum didn’t, I’m sure production team did a great job to base it on true events. It is too real to me, that a television series filled with horrors and truly unthinkable events happen in real life. I am no scientist, but I feel like they drew inspiration for the show from institutions being exposed like Willowbrook.
My thoughts on the institutionalization of people with mental disabilities are simple; no. Here we have people who already have something taken away from them which is a “normal” life. These people are not going to grow up the same as little Susie down the street who has nothing wrong with her mental state and is going to have a ton of friends, a great life and a long history of happiness. Locking up these people who have mental disabilities is the worst thing you could do. All they want is to live like any other being. By institutionalizing them you are just trying to throw away people you see as problems and as wastes.
This ties to everything we have discussed in lecture because in every single situation we saw, the people who ran these immoral “studies” were really just looking for a way to use something they saw as useless, beneath them, trash, waste; in order to further their own lives. We see racism as a reoccurring theme within these cases, no one cared for those folks because they saw them as useless and trash anyway. These kids with mental disabilities are seen as a waste so of course they are going to find a way to just get rid of them, while trying to mask it as “help”.
I am going to pretend to be shocked that this happened. But really, after all I have seen and heard and read about, nothing is going to be surprising, especially in the United States. It has happened time and time again, giving you a recurring theme of “superiority group saying oops, my bad” but keep on doing it. There is probably some sick thing happening to a group of helpless people as you read this. But oh well, it won’t happen again right?
To be completely honest, I don’t know how much I’ve changed “professionally” or personally. I think this semester has just made me even more aware of what kind of person I am and want to become. I see myself as a chill person who just wants to experience life. I don’t worry about a stupid number on a screen that supposedly speaks to how much I’ve learned/gained from college. That is utterly ridiculous to me, and very funny to watch others worry about.
I already knew before this that an extremely uptight, tense, and very professional setting is definitely something I do not want to be trapped in for my adult life. That would be absolute misery to me. So I’m happy to even further know that that path is 100% not for me. I guess what I’ve seen is that I’m aware of what I do not want; that is something valuable. I’m very proud that I haven’t completely looked at this as a waste of time, but as a good thing and a direction in the right way.
I’m not sure what I want to improve on. I would say improving on making stronger relationships with the staff and instructors I have, but you can’t really force that. The best relationship with an instructor I have right now is my Motor control module instructor. And that is mainly because she’s actually genuinely in love with what she does and references something we have a common interest in. I don’t force myself to talk with her, it just happens naturally. She came into my work and it was as if I was talking to a high school friend. The best interactions aren’t planned with set office hours, but with random special moments.
The letter to myself was very me. I mainly talked about the guy person sitting in front of me, I said happy birthday to my friend Hope (because it was her birthday that day), and I said don’t worry this will go fine.
The photo below is of one of my biggest inspirations and the person that I probably look up to the most. She always told me how: the greatest thing she got from college wasn’t whatever was being spit at her in a room full of people sitting, but from the moments she spent actually experiencing life outside of a lame space. The world is not a desk and some paper. I always think about this.
I remember when I was in 5th to like 6th grade my family doctor was this really tall Indian man. He was hilarious, and always referred to my dad as daddy. It made me laugh because I was in 6th grade and here was this man referring to another man as daddy. “If you have those sick feelings again always let daddy know.” Aside from that, I think that health center in general was decent for my family’s social identity. We are a very low income Mexican family.
This clinic was in the westside of Grand Rapids, where a lot of other Mexican and of other latino ethnicities would generally live (because it was low income as well). It wasn’t pleasant, to be honest I don’t think I will ever have a “pleasant” experience, the doctors always freak me out. But it kind of felt like “hey, we are all in the same boat together.” All us kids of these immigrated parents always had to have a translator and sometimes tried to be that translator. So I think that unifying social identity of a latino ethnicity made it alright for all families involved. Mom’s would always recognize each other and talk about the latest “chisme” (look it up), and the dads would talk about the Cruz Azul v. Club America soccer game, or something like that.
And that social identity, I think, very positively impacted those health trips. Because human connection is very important. Especially when you’re all in a country where you can constantly be scared and belittled. So it’s good to be there together. It made a stressful, long, and scary experience, into just a tiny bit less stressful, long, and scary experience.
Shout out to the Hispanic community of Grand Rapids! What are some unifying communities, in the area you come from, that maybe helped make a stressful situation a little less stressful for you or your family?