Spring Serve with Compassionate Heart Ministries (Kaitlyn Tobin, extra credit)

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(Above is a picture of some of the mentors for spring serve. Three women are sitting on a sledding tube, while one man is laying across their laps.)

I participated in a spring serve trip through Compassionate Heart Ministries April 5-8 where we traveled to Cran Hill Ranch in Rodney, Michigan. We acted as mentors to people with mild to moderate disabilities, and wanted to have a weekend where we could all gather as friends to hang out, serve, and worship. As mentors we were thrown into the trip with the expectation to navigate on our own. We were given little detail on the disabilities presented which made it difficult to always know how to help someone, but as a group we were able to adapt and learn as the weekend went on. We met the campers Thursday morning and bussed up to Cran-Hill in Rodney, Michigan. We spent the night setting up, and engaging with the campers. Friday and Saturday we spent time doing service projects around the camp (the weather forced us to improvise causing us not to leave the camp for our off camp worksites). Some small groups spent time cleaning in the barn, polishing saddles, sweeping, removing carpeting, and cleaning houses around the camp. The campers were all willing to participate and although some projects were more fun than others, we all were there to serve. It was awesome to see how we all worked together for these projects, disability or not, we were just a group of people working towards the same goal. Saturday afternoon was spent doing more camp-like activities, including horseback riding, slingshots, and sledding. Sledding was one of the best things about this trip. We had all the campers, even those who were reluctant, go down the hill. Some people had never sled before, others hadn’t in years, and we spent the hour laughing and bonding over something so simple.
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(Pictured above is a large group of the campers and mentors sledding down a hill in inner tubes at Cran-Hill Ranch.)

Accessibility has been a big part of this class. The camp that we went to wasn’t easily accessible for individuals with a physical impairment, specifically for someone that needs a wheelchair. To make it worse for everyone, the weather was freezing, creating blizzards and lots of icy roads. We had to walk everywhere and we all had difficulty getting from place to place. We had campers who have very low muscle tone from their disability and they had trouble walking, and most people fell at some point. If us mentors and some campers struggled, there was no way someone with a more severe physical disability would be able to fully engage with our activities. The camp also was not set up specifically for individuals with disabilities, so it was noticeable that it wasn’t quite available for a variety of disabilities.

My experience at Compassionate Heart Ministries, and the camp at Cran-Hill Ranch was much different than some of the things we’ve been learning in class. The ministry was created from the beginning to offer more inclusion for individuals with disabilities, therefore it combats many of the disability myths. For example, Laurie Block outlines in “Stereotypes about People with Disabilities,”  six common stereotypes that are found when people view disabilities. One that stands out to me is the first one Block describes, “people with disabilities are different from fully human people, they are partial or limited people in an “other” and lesser category. As easily identifiable “others” they become metaphors for the experience of alienation” (Block). This is basically what the camp and the ministry is trying to change. We were encouraging inclusion, and intentionally avoiding an “us” and “them” outlook. We were all working together, eating together, and sleeping in the same room (guys/girls of course), so that we weren’t separated. We were also fostering an environment that encouraged engagement as if we were all friends, not mentors vs. campers. We were there to engage, and even though we were mentors, we were really there as one large group to become friends. Inclusion is especially important was when it comes to individuals with disabilities. Another thing I noticed was the way disability was viewed on this trip. I would argue that many people without a disability feel it’s a taboo subject, and that we should avoid talking to people about their disabilities. However, on this trip everyone was embracing it and many of them identified with it. Most everyone I talked to over the weekend wanted to share with me their disability, explain what medications they were taking (if any), and wanted me to understand their life. Language is powerful and in “Contemplating the (In)visibility of Disability,” Valle and Connor states that “language reinforces the connection between disability and inability, negativity, undesirability, abnormality, and inferiority” (Valle and Connor, 24). This article looks at how non disabled people talk about others with disabilities, however I would argue that it can also be used to show how people with disabilities talk about themselves. There shouldn’t be language such as “idiot,” “crazy,” or “retarded,” used from anyone. However, I do find it interesting and important that individuals with disabilities want to engage in conversation about disabilities. I had kids sharing with me their struggles, but also their goals, successes, and future plans. I learned about their day to day lives, their own frustrations with their disabilities, but also how they want to open up this conversation, which is exactly what they did with me.

Questions:

Do you think a trip like this should be mandatory for classes on disability? What would be the positive and negative aspects of having it be mandatory?

What has your experience been like engaging with individuals with different kinds of disabilities?

How can we make inclusion and engagement with individuals with disabilities the norm and not something we may praise ourselves and others for doing? How can we open conversations up with others, specifically individuals with disabilities, about disability?

 

Works Cited

Block, Laurie. “Education: Essay.” Disability History Museum, http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/dhm/edu/essay.html?id=24.

Connor, David & Jan Valle. “Contemplating the (In)Visibility of Disability .” Rethinking Disability, McGraw-Hill Education, 2010, pp. 16–38.

 

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The Family Menagerie within “The Glass Menagerie” (Shay Pinhey)

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A glass unicorn representing the main character, Laura’s, favorite from her collection of glass menagerie.

Summary

On a Thursday in late February (the 22nd to be exact), I had the privilege of attending the Hope Department of Theatre’s rendition of The Glass Menagerie. The performance took place in the DeWitt Theatre giving it a close-packed but homey feel. Temporary seating was set close to the stage so even the furthest row back was no more than 30 feet from the stage. The play told the story of a family of three and their desires to break free from the duties within. The main character, Tom, narrates the story. He is an unrecognized writer who yearns for a life of adventure but is bound to factory work to make ends meet after his father runs away. His family consists of his mother, Amanda, who never ceases to find a flaw in Tom and his sister, Laura, who is incredibly timid and shy. Amanda constant rules over Laura’s life and the premise of the play is her concern over Laura finding a husband. Laura would much rather spend her time with her beloved glass menagerie after little success making friends due to her limp and shy personality. Amanda will not have it any other way though, and sets up a “date” for Laura with…well, I won’t ruin that for you. The play takes a sharp turn at the end and leaves an unsettled feeling as the audience leaves with a sense that maybe an escape from the bounds of the family can never happen.

Continue reading “The Family Menagerie within “The Glass Menagerie” (Shay Pinhey)”

Divide In The Dow (Montserrat Garcia-Reyes)

 

The Dow is a well known place at Hope College. It is where people go to work out if they do not want to feel intimidated by athletes working out at the DeVos Fieldhouse. Personally, I do not visit the Dow often, but I am capable of going. I never considered the obstacles that may exist for some people at the Dow. After visiting the down a couple of times, I took into consideration the physical and gender division that existed at the Dow and concluded that this division was not intended to happen.

Continue reading “Divide In The Dow (Montserrat Garcia-Reyes)”

Basketball: a sexist sport? (Kaitlyn Tobin)

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(The above picture shows Devos Fieldhouse located on Hope College’s campus. There is a men’s basketball game being played while a large crowd cheers.”

Whether you like sports or not, it tends to bring people together. The energy can’t help but lure you in, the excitement creeps up on us until everyone is on their feet cheering our team on. Hope College is no different in that sports are an important part of the community. However, the way we treat women and men’s games, can be unequal and unfair. Continue reading “Basketball: a sexist sport? (Kaitlyn Tobin)”

The 205 Coffee Bar: A Coffee Shop for All (Madison Brechbuhler)

Pictured above is The 205 Coffee Bar on a rainy afternoon. The outside is grey and black with a matching, modern, grey interior with wooden seating.  With its’ open concept  floor plan and minimalist style, The 205 creates an atmosphere in which all are welcome.

Summary and Analysis

Coffee shops have become a staple location for many people for a variety of different reasons. They are a melting pot of college kids, co-workers, and everything in between. Some people may go to a coffee shop for its’ social aspect of meeting up with a friend or group. Other’s go there to do some of their best thinking or study for their next exam. With the 205 Coffee Bar being so close to a college campus as well as the thriving main street of Holland, Michigan, I believe it aims to be an inclusive spot where anyone could go for a number of reasons and represents a gender-neutral environment where all are welcome. Continue reading “The 205 Coffee Bar: A Coffee Shop for All (Madison Brechbuhler)”

The Kletz Market: A Place For Everyone! (Andrea Garcia)

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In the image above shows the new and improved Kletz Market which can be found in the first floor of the Bultman Student Center. 

Analysis:

The Kletz market recently opened up for all Hope students in the fall semester of 2017. It was brand new to every Hope student and not many knew what to expect from the new Kletz Market. In fact, the whole building in which the Kletz is now located is brand new. While the new building was being built, there was lots of excitement that many students and staff members were feeling for almost a year. Today, the Kletz market is known for making its delicious food, sweet snacks, sugary drinks, and much more. Looking at this from a broader perspective, it seems to be making people feel pleased, but does the Kletz market bring the right accommodations for every person that walks in? Continue reading “The Kletz Market: A Place For Everyone! (Andrea Garcia)”

Kilwins Chocolates! (Luis Angel Rebollar)

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The inside of Kilwins Chocolates, Holland, MI. The space is walk-able but too tight for people with wheelchairs to walk in, especially when there are a lot of people at the store

I visit Kilwins a good amount of times during the semester because the chocolate that is made there is very delicious. Even though it can be a little expensive, I go whenever possible. I’ve been visiting Kilwins since my freshman year, which was a year and a half ago, the social environment hasn’t changed my experience. Overall, the place seemed to be fairly inclusive in terms of gender, but not so much for disability. Continue reading “Kilwins Chocolates! (Luis Angel Rebollar)”

Femininity In Sushi (Annette Aragon)

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A brown and red bricked building with a white and blue lit up sign that reads Mizu Sushi. Clear windows show an orange painted wall and dimly lit restaurant. A red and blue “OPEN” sign reflects through the windows on the glass door. Square lamps attached to the pillars of the building light the way to Mizu.

Mizu Sushi is an authentic Japanese restaurant here in Holland, Michigan. They serve various food options from sushi to noodles and even some Korean entrees. When you step into Mizu, your senses are immediately triggered. The atmosphere is very relaxing and the lighting inside is very dim. There is an abundant smell of a mixture of food such as shrimp, beef, fried rice, etc. There are three places where you can sit; there is an option of sitting in a booth, at the sushi bar, or at a regular table. The design inside of Mizu isn’t very lively with color. The restaurant is furnished with neutral tones such as brown, gray, and black that go along with the dim lighting that is used. The walls are orange and are decorated with framed paintings that offer bursts of color. This is a good contrast of colors to balance them out. The staff is mostly women that greet you at the door, find you a place to sit, and wait on your table. There are plants in pots throughout the restaurant as well as tiny trees with lights attached to them by the booths. The small decorations create a very peaceful ambiance. Continue reading “Femininity In Sushi (Annette Aragon)”

How The Outpost Separates by Gender (Drew Lunsford)

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This picture was taken in the men’s side of The Outpost store in downtown Holland, Michigan. The darker color of the wood fixtures and the hardwood floor, along with the men’s clothing racks pictured, give off the sense that this side of the store was meant for men.

Analysis Of Space

The Outpost retail store, located in downtown Holland, is an apparel and equipment store that is loaded with some of the most popular outdoor apparel and equipment brands and styles. In terms of the layout of this store, there are two distinct sides, each with their own entrance and two different walkways that connect the two sides. However, a wall still divides the two sides. As one enters the store, the right side can quickly be determined as the women’s apparel side, and the left side to be more directed towards men’s clothing. Interesting enough, there is a downstairs section to the men’s side that includes some of the outdoor sports and camping equipment. When examining the store, in regards to gender, the store does a good job in including apparel and equipment for each gender, but the organization of the products and the layout of the store hinders the store’s ability to accommodate for both genders, plus the disabled community, equally. Continue reading “How The Outpost Separates by Gender (Drew Lunsford)”

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