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Collaboration Regarding Education

Before taking this course, I didn’t realize how large the education gap currently is in Marin County.  I knew that some areas weren’t as nice as others, but I was shocked to learn the true statistics about education in these areas.  Marin County is one of the wealthiest areas in the United States.  However, areas like the Canal District are constantly overlooked. Some statistics from “A Portrait of Marin” state, “While 88 percent of white children are enrolled in preschool, only 47 percent of Latino children are.  While fewer than 30 percent of American adults have completed at least a four-year college degree, in Marin, over half have. In Marin, as across the nation, the schools whose students have greater needs tend to get fewer public dollars.”

When children are given an education at a younger age, it provides them with the foundation and motivation to want to learn and have a better future.  I’m saddened to know that only 47 percent of Latino children are enrolled in preschool.  Without having a basic education before entering kindergarten and elementary school, these children are already behind.  And when fewer public dollars are going towards struggling schools, how are these students supposed to gain an adequate education?

Working with San Rafael High School students and Young Moms of Marin was eye opening because we all shared stories about our lives, goals, and what we hope to achieve with an education. It is difficult for the moms to pursue a higher education because their main priority is their children. In her personal narrative, young mother Jessica Gaines stated, “I would love to go to college but with limited financial aid and 3 kids to put in daycare, my hopes to gaining a higher education seem to be futile. I would like to see more accessible child care in school. With this, I believe my opportunity for higher education would be manageable and within my reach.” Some of the high school students have difficulty finding motivation with school because their parents are constantly working to help support the family.  Hearing and reading everyone’s story about their lives and educational experiences made me realize that none of us are alone in our struggles. We all come from different places, both the affluent and the disenfranchised, and we came together to make a powerful statement regarding the educational inequity in our area.

Educational opportunities should be equal because no one should have a lack of quality education based on where they grew up, what has happen in their life, or what his or her financial situation is.  I come from a middle class family, and I am extremely appreciative (and lucky) that I have had access to a quality education throughout my life. However, it saddens me to know that people with the hopes and goals of achieving a higher education are struggling to make them a reality.

Helping paste up this project on the Bellam underpass was an incredible experience to be a part of.  Right as we began pasting the first portrait of Xochitl, passersby began to take notice.  With each portrait we pasted, more and more people passing by asked questions, cheered, observed, and honked. Seeing our photographed portraits pasted on the actual gap in our community was undoubtedly making a major impact.  Our project was already engaging Marin residents with our statement about educational inequity.  Howard Zinn once said, “I had always insisted that a good education was a synthesis of book learning and involvement in social action, that each enriched the other. I wanted my students to know that the accumulation of knowledge, while fascinating in itself, is not sufficient as long as so many people in the world have no opportunity to experience that fascination.” This quote really resonated with me while reflecting on our Inside Out project.  Bringing awareness to the issue, working together as a group, and sharing it with our community, allowed us all to be a part of the social action. Creating our project in a busy area that acts as a gap in our community definitely made an impact. The stories about education and our struggles are finally being told.

I am so glad that I was able to participate in our project, “Facing the Gap.” My perspective of educational equity in Marin County is much different now and I am much more informed of what needs to be done in the future regarding education.  I hope that more community based art projects can provide similar outcomes that we’ve had.  I’ve learned the importance of expanding your vision to the world around you. We cannot live in our own bubble with blinders on and pretend that everything is great on the outside. Service learning has definitely had a positive impact on my life as a Dominican student. I am very grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to get more involved with the community through the amazing global art movement, Inside OUT.  JR, the creator of the Inside Out project, proposed this question: “Can art change the world? Maybe … we should change the question: Can art change people’s lives?”  I know that my life has been changed after participating in the Inside Out project.  I’m sure that everyone who participated was impacted someway.  We helped make a difference and brought awareness to an unseen issue.  We helped achieve JR’s goal of turning the world “inside out.”

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Aside

The Inside out Project has changed my understanding

The Inside out Project has changed my understanding of what it means to be part of a community. This project has helped me realize that we must push for everyone to have the ability to become educated. What I learned from the project is that people are held down by their social stereotypes. Our project toke place in Marin and focused on a part of the community where the community is segregated due to their status of wealth. While working with community I discovered that there is not a lot of differences between those who have the opportunity to become educated and those who have not.  I found that the only deciding factor for people who wish to educate themselves is based off of our social norms and stereotypes. We live in a society where we are the only people who decide where we take our lives. Having a structured life gives a person more hope and a better chance in their future. Given everything that people go through in their life, it is still their life to decide what they are capable of becoming. For I believe that life is an educational experience, where we either learn from our mistakes or we live long enough to use the information that we have gathered to be able to adapt in our environment.

The goal of the Inside out project was to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. Our group has shared an experience that has opened our eyes to the possibilities we as a community can create. The project focused on a community that comes from all different walks of life, and showed us that we all are faced with struggles and obstacles that make our lives hard. The Inside out project has given me the ambition to better myself so that I may able help my community to become more sustainable. The project has given a sense of value in what it means to be part of a community. This project has also has helped me realize that we must listen to one another if we are to grow into the people we hope to become.

The Inside out project drives us to become part of the community by breaking down the barriers we have made. The project calls for the local communities to step forward and work together to create and cultivate a society that can sustain and grow. The Inside out project has brought together a group who hope to bring awareness to lack of Education with in our communities.

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Facing It: Changing Perceptions

Final Synthesis

My education is one of the most important things in my life. The opportunities that I have been given and worked for have been innumerable. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with the chances to gain a proper education, and therefore struggle to find a reason to work for it. Education equity is something that should be available to everyone who wants the chance to make a greater impact within society. This project has truly opened my eyes to the struggles that everyone faces, but especially the people who are starting off from the very bottom financially. Working with students from San Rafael High School and the moms from Young Moms of Marin, I was able to learn about their lives, their goals. This project has allowed me to hopefully motivate my peers, acknowledging their hardships while also encouraging them that they can and will succeed. The images on the walls represent each and every one of us. We are just a small group, but together we created a huge project with a heavy message: education is for all.

Working together in the project has definitely given me some hindsight about myself that I often take for granted. Although as a student, I am constantly struggling financially, trying to afford school and living expenses. Yes, it is hard, but I never once thought that I couldn’t do it. Not going to school was not an option that I would ever consider. I grew up this way, constantly being motivated and told that I would succeed. I understand now that not everyone grew up with this inspiration and enthusiasm or the understanding that they could become whatever they dreamed of in life. This realization really changed the way I see the world, and the way I see my own accomplishments and educational opportunities. I guess I can say my gratitude is overflowing.

This project presented a problem to Marin, right in the heart of the separation between San Rafael and the canal district. As I said before, this project has allowed me to be thankful of my own opportunities as well as opening my eyes to the lack of opportunities given to others. I am sure I can say the same for our group too. The installation itself was also powerful in its own way. Everyone was working together, for the same cause, with the same purpose. Maybe we only impacted Marin in a small way, but it doesn’t matter because we made a difference. Even a difference that may appear to be small is a feat in itself. Change starts with the action of just one person; in this case, it started with JR. His vision to turn the world “inside out” was an idea he had, and that he did. It just takes one person with an idea and the drive to push through in order to make a change. We became part of a worldwide project, lighting up out community with the hope to make it a better place for everyone. Sadly, after two days of our project being up, it had been tagged with graffiti. This didn’t bother me though, because no matter how much someone can mark up our photographs, it doesn’t change the fact that we took action for positive change. Unfortunately for the taggers, they will probably never realize that this project was for them, for all of us.

As JR said, “Art is not supposed to change the world, to change practical things, but to change perceptions.” I know that many people’s perceptions, including my own, were changed through this process. If that was the only thing gained from this experience, then it was a success to say the least.

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Students post your final synthesis papers here–

Guidelines: ART 3810 Inside Out: Facing the Gap Synthesis

Using the What? So What? Now What? questions as a template, you will compose a blog post that reflects on your experience of the creative process, social action, and your interaction with other participants in this project. You can use any of the photographs on the Picassa website to illustrate your points. When writing, please keep in mind that the audience you are writing for is not only your teachers and peers, it is to a much broader public audience.

Your post should be formatted to speak to the following questions (not each and every one but the concepts and ideas that they point to):

  • What? How did this project impact your understanding of what it means to be creatively engaged with your community and increase your understanding of educational equity? What did you learn that surprised you(could be about this community, about the use of images to share a message, etc.) Use specific examples. Cite from any of the narratives (will be on website).
  • So What? Content, Process, and Message. How did the process of creating art together (ei. the brainstorming, the interviews, photographs and writing narratives) bring forward new insights about yourself, your community, other people participating in the project? Has this project changed something about the way you see the world, your local community, even Dominican itself and your educational opportunities?
  • Now What? To what extent did this project implement and represent the values and challenges present in the local community (in the canal district and in Marin County?) How did the artistic process and final installed artwork impact you, the participants, and the audience and increase your and, hopefully, the public’s awareness of the issue of educational equity? What did it mean to be part of a larger, global project—think about our project in relationship to the description of the INSIDE OUT Project (above).

Welcome to our Inside Out Project!

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We are so excited to be part of this international project and putting the issue educational equity in Marin County on the Inside Out Map

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