Trip Start Jul 10, 2009
Trip End Dec 20, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Saturday, July 18, 2009

This morning we had an educational workshop labeled "Barcodes". It was about stereotypes and what effects they have. The educational team had placed huges pieces of paper with different countries listed on them around the room and we had time to walk around and write the stereotypes we thought of when we heard of that country. It was so interesting to see what other countries thought of the United States. It had a lot of labels like fat, lazy, uneducated, think they are better than everyone, and even tabloid obsessed. It also had labels like proud and patriotic.

After the time to write on the papers was up we were then divided up by our countries to look at what was on our paper. We were given a sheet to fill out with questions like: "Most suprising stereotype", "Most correct stereotype" and "One thing you'd want other people to realize about your country". It was interesting to sit with all of the other Americans and hear their opinions about what was said about us. The one thing we listed that we wanted others to know about the United States is that one label really can't fit for the entire USA. Each state is so completely diverse and different from even the ones directly next to it.

The thing about assumptions is that they are usually so negative and hardly ever true (atleast not completely). Some of them are just plain stupid!

For Example on Norway's paper it was listed that there are penguins and icebergs everywhere! Kristine (my Norwegian roommate) thought that was hilarious because she has lived in Norway her entire life and has never seen a penguin.

On Ethiopia's paper were the words "poverty/crime". Helene from Ethiopia said that, yes, most people in Ethiopia live in poverty (especially compared to American standards) but that most people there are very happy and where she lives has a very low crime rate. She was suprised that people thought that Ethiopia was unsafe.
What I love about Up With People and this entire experience is that it is a time to leave assumptions at the door. We are given so many opportunities to ask important questions and get real answers, so there is no reason to assume anything. It is the most unique experience I've ever known. I've learned more about the world in the past week than I have in an entire year of graduate school learning about "cultural competency".
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