Ethnographic Portrait

Welcome to English 110 of the Fall Semester!

As a final assignment, students will work in groups to produce an ethnographic portrait.

Throughout the development of American society, culture norms have been created to keep a structured system of race, gender and class among people. In specific, examples of the experience that immigrants undergo after migrating to the United States emphasizes societal pressure on everyone besides Americans to conform and categorize themselves into any American norm but their own. In order to be considered American, immigrants are expected to fit society’s standards.

In this project, students are provided with the opportunity to interview, research, and collaboratively work on a first-hand experience of an immigrant who underwent various amount of cultural hardships when arriving to the United States. Students will be speaking out for immigrants who are minorities in the United States facing institutional racism and the cultural construction of gender as they attempt to obtain the American dream.

The following articles will be provided for students to go through:

“Gender Stereotypes And The Relationship Between Masculinity And Femininity: A Developmental Analysis” by Monica Biernat.


“Immigrant West Indian Families And Their Struggles With Racism In America” by Dadrene Hine-St. Hilaire

Students will work in groups of 3 to complete the assignment. Both at home and in class, students will be conducting the interviews, research on databases, and writing an ethnographic portrait on someone who is an immigrant after the age of 10.

In order to assure that students succeed on this assignment, I will already have graduate students who have agreed to be interviewed on their immigrant experience.

The assignment will be evaluated not on the content of the final project (every story matters!), but the way information was collected and worked on throughout the group. Collaboration is a must for an individual passing grade.

Good luck everyone!

Exploring the World of Gentrification 101

Have you ever wondered what happens years after gentrification has taken over a community? What happens to the lives of minorities who experience gentrification first-hand? According to PBS, gentrification is a “general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district’s character and culture.” Exploring the World of Gentrification 101 dives into gentrification all around the state of New York. Students are provided with the opportunity to become more aware with the phenomenon that is taking over communities one step at a time.

Unlike most Urban Studies courses that generically cover gentrification briefly during poverty related lectures, Exploring the World of Gentrification 101 sets out with a mission to become knowledgable on the topic and ultimately take action for those negatively affected. Rather than the professor holding only lectures, students will part-take in readings and presentations that inform their peers in an active way for all to equally hear on the subject from each other. Students will be divided into groups for the semester according to a borough. Although there will be small quizzes and written assignments that cover the topic, the final is quite different. Groups are expected to have come up with a plan on how to help those negatively affected by gentrification. This must be a professional proposal and backed up by plenty of research. Get ready to fight the negatives of gentrification one borough at a time!

“Flag Wars.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

Living in a World of Depositors and Empty Receptacles

Throughout the development of education, educators have made the old fashioned teacher-student relationship a norm. Although some are content with the norm, others have expressed otherwise through works of writing. Pedagogy of the Oppressed outlines a theory of oppression and the source of liberation. In Freire’s view, the key to liberation is the awakening of critical awareness and the thinking process in the individual. This happens through a new type of education, one which creates a partnership between the teacher and the student. This ultimately empowers students to enter into a dialogue and begin the process of humanization through thought. Traditional structures within the educational system reflect oppression through the enslavement of students. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire provides readers with the argument that the “banking” model of education should be replaced by the “problem-posing” model.

To Freire, the traditional teacher-student relationship consists of the banking model of education. In this oppressive model, the teacher is the oppressor who retains control during teaching. The student, however, is expected to follow. As the follower, a student is to be passive and not think on their own. He further explains how teachers deposit information into students, who are empty receptacles for these deposits.

Freire proposes problem-posing education as the successful alternative to traditional education. Problem-posing education is structured to encourage thinking in students. In this form of education, the teacher and the student enter into partnership and join in a dialogue to jointly come to conclusions about problems. The solutions must not be predetermined by the teacher, but instead must be come to together during the process of dialogue. The teacher and students learn from each other.

These two particular models of banking and problem-posing are more than similar to lecturing and active learning. For instance, in lecturing, students are expected to synthesize lecture discussions that are solely led by the lecturer. Like Freire’s theory of the banking model, lecturers deposit information that they believe is important to learn into students, who are the empty receptacles responsible for listening and memorizing all information given in order to be successful. Moreover, the problem-posing model emphasizes active learning as students will ultimately learn through actual involvement. Active learning encourages questioning, and in many instances, the professor might learn a thing or two as well.

Before, I simply thought of the models of education as lecturing vs. active learning, but now I can associate oppression and liberation with these models thanks to Paulo Freire. A part of the chapter that was particularly compelling to me was towards the ending found on page 83 or page 11 of the PDF. In this scene, a culture group in Chile was discussing the anthropological concept of culture. Somewhere along the discussion, an ignorant peasant gives significance to the idea that a not-I cannot exist without a non-I: “Now I see that without man there is no world” (82). Here, Freire gives readers a reference to how individuals cultivate the banking model into their individual thoughts. Overall, Freire’s descriptions of education resonated with my own experiences because I myself have felt limited in a lecture. Depending on the professor, some of my classes never even held on discussion among students. Although I knew my full potential was in critical thinking and active learning, I did not question this traditional teacher-student relationship for the simple fact that I was the student, not the educator.

Did Paulo Freire’s descriptions of education make you think of the traditional teacher-student relationship differently? If so, how?

Was there ever an instance where you challenged the traditional teacher-student relationship? If so, how?

Works Cited

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1968.

My Introduction

Hello class!

I’m a tad bit delayed with this because my first class with you guys was on Thursday, so please bare with me. My name is Juliana, and this is my second semester attending Queens College. I transferred in last semester from SUNY Geneseo. It is 5 1/2 hours away and most importantly, an isolated area. Living in the middle of nowhere was not style, so I decided to come back and show the “city” some love again. I went into Geneseo as a general business major, but I am going to narrow it down to finance here at Queens.

Although most finance majors only enjoy taking business courses, I do have deep appreciation for english classes. It’s a much needed skill that I know will be helpful in the long run. Even though I like English classes, I do have my weaknesses along with strengths. My strengths and weaknesses as a writer go hand-in-hand. For instance, I find myself great with brainstorming/outlining ideas for an essay, but I struggle with structuring and organizing the final product.

I look forward to a successful semester with all of you! See you in class.