The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 45

I’ve just eaten an entire large chocolate bar that is making me sorta want to barf, and I am about to say something that I never ever ever ever thought I would say:

I’m ashamed to be American right now. As a general rule, I try not to talk about politics on social media, but in this case, I have to say something. Look, Donald Trump is not my idea of a president. Hilary Clinton wasn’t either. But, democracy has made it so Mr. Trump is now the president, and as much as I may not like it, it isn’t going to change. My shame is not about that. My shame comes from the way people have been acting for the past few days. I’ve been staying off social media for the most part because all I see are hateful people spewing hateful rhetoric. My liberal friends are now assuming that anyone who did not vote for Mrs. Clinton is of the mindset of Trump, that white people can’t be sympathetic or afraid of the possible changes in the country, and chants of ‘not my president’ when four and even eight years ago if someone would have said that then they were racist. My conservative friends are getting resentful of having to defend their choice, of trying to get people to see beyond who they cast a vote for. They are starting to be hateful about people being upset over the results, and being afraid for the future. I am sick to my stomach over the stories, from my friends and in the media, about racial slurs, religious insults, and homophobia running rampant. No one should have to give a fake name at Starbucks because they are afraid of what people would do if they know they are from the Middle East. I’m equally as disgusted with the rioting, looting, and violent protest. Do you really think that is going to help your cause? Destroying your city, making people look at you like you are an idiot instead of a person who is worried about the future of the country and the people in and want to make sure their voices are heard?

The worst is universities cancelling exams, offering pizza and other forms of comfort rather than giving students a space to grieve, and then making sure that they educate them on the  election process and the system, and remind them of the ways they can be helpful and productive in this time of crazy uncertainty. This is what happens when you give everyone a participation trophy. They don’t learn about hard work, fighting for what they believe in, or how to be gracious winners or losers. Right now America looks ignorant, spiteful, mean, and to be honest, is getting exactly what they deserve.

But it still leaves me sick. I’m an expat. I do not plan to move back to the States, but I have never been ashamed of where I came from until now. I’m hoping that people settle down and focus on the things that matter, and that maybe Mr. Trump will not be as bad as people seem to think given that he hasn’t done anything yet. I’m hoping that people remember that showing love to others, volunteering time, and maybe money to programmes like Planned Parenthood and other federally funded programmes of that nature is what is going to help get through this.

On to something better….the writing challenge for the week. This week is dedicated to the job I would have if money was no object. I can talk about this all day. I would love to be a travel writer. My dream is to spend my life living in different places for three or four months at a time and writing about what life is like there. I would also like to be able to start my nonprofit literacy foundation and help people learn to read. I always saw it as an organization that helped people learn to read and write in their native language, and then learn to read, write, and speak English (or another language that would allow them to interact with people around them). I would love to work with different cultures and different people helping them enjoy books as much as I do. I also want to bring the Reading with Rover to more libraries. Everyone should get to read to a puppy. My wanderlust is always there, and so is my love for books and learning, so being able to do all of those things at once, and maybe even make some lives better in the process sounds all right by me.

So, who is going to judge me if I find a sugar daddy to help fund some of these projects? Anyone? No. Good.

The Scamp and the Wide Wild World

For the last several weeks I have been reading about Paulo Freire and his educational philosophy. I have already mentioned that I envy his passion and dedication to the cause of adult literacy, and how that I hope that I can find that kind of passion and conviction when I am released into the wild to make the world a better place. It is no secret that I want to start a literacy program and help increase literacy rates all over the world. The idea of being able to travel and help people is very appealing to me. One of my favorite people already suggested a name for the foundation, The Wide Wild World, and another friend of mine told me she would help fund the project. Both told me that all they ask in return is pictures of them displayed in all of the offices. To them I say….done and done.



To help jump start my foray into the world of literacy, I have decided to take on a pet project. Last week I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from the college of education. The scholarship was presented to me by the cutest old man. He was also there to present a scholarship in memory of a dear friend of his. She was an elementary school teacher, and to help her students learn to read, she used to bring her dog to class and let the students read to him. The puppy in the classroom was so successful that public libraries all over the country have adopted as a fun story time for children. They get to pick a book, and have between 15-20 minutes to read to a therapy dog.

images (2)


download (1)


The success of the program hinges on the fact that the dogs are patient and loving, and will listen to the children read the stories. A dog doesn’t care if they mess up a word, or it takes them awhile to get through a story. The kids are excited because they get to read to a dog, and they can relax knowing that they can practice their reading without being judged or criticized.

I had never heard of such a program, but it turns out there are a couple of libraries near where I live that offer the chance to read to puppies.  It also happens that the library in the city where I live does not have such a program, but does have a high illiteracy rate among children and adults.  With a little research, and some fancy words to the crazy librarian, I am going to see about starting a program of my own. I am hoping that I can get the librarians at the libraries that have the programs will be willing to sit down with me and discuss their programs and how they make it work.

I want to take the program one step further though and offer the chance for parents and adults to come and work on their literacy. I had the pleasure of working for a program called Read Orange County when I was in high school, and they offered these combo classes as a way to help adults learn English.  I worked with the kids, but the ROC staff worked with the adults on basic English skills and then helped them do things like fill out job applications, register to vote, and even do their taxes.

The tactic that they used, and the ways in which they taught people basic literacy skills are very much the same as the ones employed by Freire when he was working with peasants in Brazil in the late 50s and early 60s. He made learning relevant to them, and was able to teach 300 people to read and write in 45 days. That project became the basis for his philosophy and for the work that he did until the day he died. The methods worked, and I am hoping that I can replicate the success and help out a few people in a city that has been very very good to me.

Eventually I am going to try and start these programs all over the world, because after all, who doesn’t love books and puppies?

images (1)

The Scamp and the Brazilian

Despite my reluctance in the philosophy class, I am enjoying the final assignment. I have been tasked with picking a philosopher and not only really getting comfortable with their philosophy, but connecting that philosophy to my teaching and my everyday life.  I’ve known since the first day of class that I was a critical thinker and that I wanted to dive into the life of my favorite Bazillion critical thinker Paulo Freire.


photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

I have been utilizing Freire’s theories in my teaching philosophy for years. He played a major role in the theoretical underpinnings of both of my masters. and I know that he will be well utilized in my dissertation that has yet to be written. I love his views on literacy and teaching students to take charge of their education and become global citizens for change. More often than not, I am teaching my students how to write, and how to use those skills to do research and to take an active role in their learning. I’m still new to teaching, and still trying to find my footing in how much power I give my students while meeting the curricular standards set by the college.

In the course of my research I found a book called Letters to Cristina ( The book is a series of letters Freire wrote to his niece exploring his life and work in a deeply personal and profound way.  I had only planned to skim the book to get a general sense of what his early life was like and how that might have affected his views on literacy and education later in life, and so far, I have read every word.  I am amazed at the passion that flows off the page, and the deeply reflective nature that he took all the way to his death in the late 90s. He grew up in poverty, and recognized that he was not in a position to succeed in life, and that he was going to have to work hard if he was going to make something of himself. He carried that drive and determination to everything that he did, and then developed a method of teaching that allowed people to not only learn to read quickly, but also gain a sense of empowerment in the progress they made in their reading abilities, and use that feeling of empowerment to register to vote and make changes to their place in society. Freire was exiled in  60s for his beliefs, and his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed ( used in American schools of education and was circulated in South Africa during the Apartheid in an effort to rally the people to fight for change.

Reading his letters, and reading the underlying passion that is in those letters made me question my passions. At 26 years old, I am not sure I have ever had that level of passion for anything except the well being of my mother and my need to travel. One of those causes is important, but one of them is extremely self serving. The program that I am in now is preparing me to go into the world of community colleges and be a leader. I want to be the type of leader that Freire was; the type of leader that fights for the underdog and gives up his own rights and freedoms to make sure that those being oppressed have a voice.

My ultimate goal in life is to run a literacy program, whether it be a nonprofit or at a college or university. I want to work with adults as well as children, and if I get my way, I want it to be global. That way I can help people learn to read, and satisfy my wanderlust at the same time. I’m young, and still have plenty of time to find my passion, but I feel like I am already behind when I read Freire’s work. While I am not trying to be one of the great minds of this century (Although I happen to think my mind is pretty freaking awesome), I would like to be able to make a difference in one person’s life.

I’m not sure what else I will discover in the course of my research, but since I am still riding the high of the A on my dissertation, I am feeling very good about the way the paper will come together. I’m hoping that good feeling will also stay with me during my qualifying exam this summer…..anything is possible, right?

In the meantime, I will try to get in the mindset of one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, and start doing some good in the world.