We Make More of a Difference Than We Know….One Person at a Time (by Guest Blogger Alexis Roeser)

Note:  As a reminder to PDXEAN readers, the current series of posts are written by students in Portland State University’s Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone.  Students are spending 25-30 hours volunteering their time with youth in the community, and we also meet once a week to discuss issues impacting educational equity today.  Each post is completely student written and is made public to encourage discussion and continued learning.  Please take time to read and respond to Alexis:

DIGITAL CAMERAI have to say that this week in class was an interesting eye opener for me.  This week we discussed education reform in class, especially amongst illegal aliens and whether we believe that it is beneficial to our country or not.  Such discussions included the DREAM Act and the STARS and ARMS Acts, which were similar to the DREAM Act, which never really got implemented.

First off, I have to admit to everyone that I am a register Republican.  I actually have very strong conservative views.  Therefore, I am sure it is not a big surprise that I have always believed in stronger border security to prevent illegal aliens from crossing over.  When including schools in the matter, I have always believed that race shouldn’t have anything to do with college applications and that many financial matters involving race are unfair as well because of the fact that they leave Caucasian people out of the loop.  Unfortunately, many people think of Caucasian people as people with money, who don’t need help with school, but I can tell you from personal experience that that is further from the truth.

Because of these beliefs, when we started studying about the DREAM Act, I was against it right away.  I knew a little about the matter, but I can be honest and say that there was a lot I didn’t know either.  After learning more about the DREAM Act, that it is there to help children of illegals, who didn’t have any control over their parent’s actions, and that though it does give them financial help through school, it is a very strict program that doesn’t allow for a criminal record and they must attend school or join the military for two years before finishing, I can tell you that my opinion on the subject changed.  This would be a good thing for our country, giving these students a chance at a good education and later a good career, which could increase our economy.  We have to remember that this isn’t a chance at immunity, just a good education.

Now, don’t think that I’m not still a strong conservative, who is very into politics, but my opinion on this matter was changed, and we all need to remember that we can make a difference.  Just because I am a Republican, doesn’t mean that I always believe in what my party does.  And we can make a difference when sharing our views, opinions, and facts with others.  We all make more of a difference than we realize, and though it may not always be apparent, I mean I probably wouldn’t have brought it up if it weren’t for this blog, we all are still making more of a difference than we realize, so don’t give up on what you believe, thinking it doesn’t matter, because it does.

Now there are really two subject matters I’m talking about. Do you also believe that we make a difference, in changing others’ opinions and just stating our own?  And on the other subject, I know there are a lot of you out there that are against such act like the DREAM Act, and if you are one of those people, what would you consider doing instead of these acts, how would you solve the problem children of illegal aliens face when trying to attend a university, being forced to pay out of state tuition, even if you grew up in that state?  Do you believe they have a right to attend school here, and to receive help?

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13 thoughts on “We Make More of a Difference Than We Know….One Person at a Time (by Guest Blogger Alexis Roeser)

  1. First of all, thanks Alexis for sharing this. It must’ve difficult to think about whether or not to share your own views but I’m glad you did. I do believe that there is a chance or possibility to change anybody’s opinion on any topic as long as you approach it from an objective, non-critical position. From experience, I’ve retracted from a certain position of an idea because the person trying to persuade me was just too subjective about the topic and their view on my view was just too critical. I also don’t think that we should necessarily be going around trying to change people’s opinions (which isn’t what you’re asking but it’s a thought that I tink about when it comes to this kind of thing); I think the better approach would be to provide all the information, even your own opinions, to them in an unintrusive way so that they can make that decision themself. There’s a fine line between voicing your opinions and trying to change someone’s opinion, and we all have to conscientious and respectfulof other’s views. And whether they decide to change or not is, ultimately, up to them whether you like it or not.

  2. Alexis, I do believe that stating your opinion, especially to others and letting a dialog occur is crucial to our understanding of one another. I went to the ‘Race Talks’ at the McMenimans Kennedy School on Tuesday, and I took away one quote that I think will stick with me for the rest of my life:
    “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”
    This is what is hardest for me to understand. I disagree with people’s views and opinions all the time. I do not understand how people can attack each other’s viewpoints without sitting and listening and questioning.
    I do not think that being a Republican is a bad thing, you happen to have conservative viewpoints and I think its great that you believe what you believe. I on the other hand am a card carrying liberal, but yet we seem to have discussion without insulting one another. This is the kind of rhetoric that needs to happen not only on the streets of our communities, but in the halls of our Capital.
    I hope that more people can have the open outlook that you have and be willing to hear other peoples thoughts and opinions.

    • Agreeable point Kyle, after all, how are we ever going to make any real changes within our communities without cooperating and working collectively, despite one’s political affiliation? Certain issues do not require a political side, they just require smart people who do their research, learn the facts, and problem solve by using their resources. “Two heads are better than one”, the saying goes, but I also think that in stating your opinion you can be persuasive in swaying others minds, others who may just need to be informed.This has happened to me personally a number of times, like when I didn’t have all the right information or enough facts on the issue, after learning new information I was able to actually make a sound vote on the issue. Whether it be by using social media, or an open forum, using your voice can be extremely powerful if you can just get people’s attention and back up your facts!

  3. I think it takes a really strong person to admit that they have a strong stance or belief on something and felt one way, but then changed their mind (which may go against their original thoughts). I think it’s great that you had one view point and then were able to take in new information and see other view points and then change your mind. Like Kyle said, I we can “disagree without being disagreeable”. Some of the best conversations happen when people have different opinions and thoughts on a subject, the important thing is that people are willing to hear someone else’s view on something and not attack that person if they disagree. I think this happens all too often and people hesitate to disagree with someone else. I think it’s a good thing if you can disagree with someone’s view, and not that someone (not make it personal). Learning and growing happens when our views are challenged. I think too many people are set on what they they. They think they are right and are not willing to listen (really listen) to someone else who has a different opinion.

    • I am really glad you “came out of the closet,” Alexis. The fact of the matter is that conservatism is demonized in mass media and underrepresented in the universities (read this: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23141617/university-colorado-regent-decries-lack-conservative-scholars).

      I cannot vote because I am not a citizen. If I was, I sure as heck would not vote Democrat, and I am doubtful I’d vote Republican. What I see going on in this country is a divide that has completely undermined its democracy. People confuse political views and politics. The first is a war of words, so to speak, that stays in the realm of ideas, and one hopes that the right ideas will be represented by the elected power. Politics, however, is not a debate about who’s right. It is about gaining power, pure and simple. Having power means one thing: that you can make other people do what you want them to do. People who cannot understand this difference are helping the fight for power. How? By automatically assuming that their favorite party represents the right ideas and is, as a result, immune to ideology and is, in fact, fighting ideology. They fail to realize that politicians cannot conceive of what is right in any other way than ideologically. Ideology has always an edge on what is compatible or applicable, and not on what is right, just, moral. Because power is not right, just and moral. Politics can very well abolish morality if it is convenient. Ask your Romanian neighbor if I am lying. Or ask your 80 year old grassroots American neighbor.

      So it is good to see you telling your story here. Because it shows that we have too much politics in our society, but not enough political ideas. It is a principle of civility that we can discuss political ideas. Changing your mind is not necessarily for the better, but it is a sign that you are alive and thinking. Disagreeing is a reflection of human nature: one disagrees often with oneself. What I am tired of is this weak, PC code that makes positive statements impossible in any public capacity, including in our very own PSU. Let’s disagree with passion. People who take disagreements on ideas purely on a personal level are narcissists and weak. What happened to people who believe in something? Walking on eggshells to say the obvious is clearly not going to help this country… and that why a good injection of conservatism is much needed.

      Anyone who does not wish to see this country as a 3rd world country (which culturally, at least, it already is in my foreign opinion) has the moral duty to save democracy from politics.

  4. Alexis, on your second question, I think the DREAM Act illustrates a great instance of partisan logic operating against itself. Having stronger border control would have kept many children from being in the situation the DREAM Act tries to remedy. On the other hand, if we ignore the impact that denying those kids opportunities to grow, receive an education and enjoy citizenship to its fullest extent, has, we are also furthering a problem that could be avoided.

    I see no contradiction in your views, when you express sympathy and support for the premises underlying the DREAM Act, while calling out for more border security. I think it’s a sound position, which I share, speaking for myself and not for my party.

  5. Neslon, I am right with you on the politics. Where I grew up there was a ton of anti gang talk in the community and at school. I honestly see Democrats and Republicans as a Bloods vs. Crips type mentality trying to battle over turf wars. I have a very difficult time choosing a political party, since I feel that both sides have good ideas. The problem with that is the inability to come to a common goal that will benefit the American population, the economy, and all that falls in between and beyond.

  6. Alexis, it seems that stating our opinion and trying to start over has been a long practice of politics. I would like to see politics that can listen to another person and come to a collective concept, idea, bill, amendment, law, or what ever needs to be done to make a change. The ability to listen to constructive criticism and take it as an attack but use it to empower themselves even further. On the stance of education, I do feel it is wrong to deny local students the ability to pay in state tuition when they went to primary school in that state. The students that are illegal have many other barriers and obstacles to get by even after college. They have to try and fight for citizenship even before they can use the college degree to obtain a career in the US. I see great potential in people, regardless of there background and do feel that people can change.

  7. Kyle, I totally agree with what you said. You and I have had discussions in class without insulting each other or our stances on a subject. This is what really needs to change in our country. There have been so many times that i have talked to people who are part of a different political affliation than i am or just have a different viewpoint on a subject matter, and when we have discussions, not only do they state their opinion on the subject, but they also insult my viewpoint and refuse to listen to any of the facts that i am stating. I’m sure we all have been there. And because we all have experienced this, we also know that nothing comes from this, no decision or outcome can be made. Like i said, this is what our country needs to stear away from. There are so many political issues, especially dealing with schools, that could be solved if people would just listen to each other instead of agreeing on something because their political party does.

  8. I agree, there is a right way and a wrong way to talk to people about changes that need to happen within our society. Keeping calm and open to how other people view topics is important. I think more people in our society need to be pushed into uncomfortable discussions so that more people can be educated on the issues that matter. I feel so many people shy away from sharing their beliefs or opinions for fear of being judged or offending the people around them. If it is handled in the proper way, I think these types of discussions can be nothing but beneficial.

  9. I definitely believe that you can make a difference by having a dialogue and sharing your thoughts and ideas with others. We can all learn so much from each other, no matter what political party we are willing to claim. I have acquired many friends who have very different opinions than my own but we still remain friends despite the differences. I think that it can be hard sometimes to see another person’s point of view, especially when you feel strongly about your own. But, it’s still important to have conversations around tough subjects because that’s the way that people learn to step out of their comfort zones and start to see things in a new light.

    • I think we can try to make a difference through discourse. It really just depends on whether or not we choose to listen to one another. After much thought I’ve decided that the DREAM Act is a beneficial idea because it would help a large amount of students who want to be educated and be assets to their communities. Immigrants both legal and illegal benefit from a United States that is full of educated, hard working individuals, so allowing as many people as possible achieve this goal is good. Natural born citizens gain from this as well. But there is a side of the story that gets forgotten very easily when this discussion of education equity takes place, which the story of immigration equity and the legal immigrant. I think is a piece of the picture that deserves some thought and attention as well because it is a very valid one.
      It seems like a flawed educational and immigration system are more to blame than the people living within them in this particular instance. But as we have pointed out here, at least the people are willing to talk things out.

  10. I absolutely believe that stating an opinion doesn’t do anything but make people want to challenge it more. I have gone my whole life with my opinions (which are mostly radical) and whenever I share them, it doesn’t make anyone change their minds. What I DO believe changes people’s minds are stories of experience and personal relation. Parables are very powerful things. Whether true or not, they allow personal relation to foreign or unfamiliar topics.

    I am definitely FOR the DREAM act. It is a fact that in order for a society to operate successfully, everyone must participate in the progress of the society whether it’s writing laws, cooking in a restaurant, building and maintaining houses and roads, etc., and etc. For illegal aliens to prove their dedication to society in pursuing education or volunteering to defend their country is proof enough that they deserve to be operational individuals in society. Many illegals probably have more of a right to be in this country than many of the people that were born here simply based on their work ethic. I believe that if someone refuses to do anything for the community they live in and would rather live off of government support, they should be deported to reserved lands without running water, electricity, plumbing, or anything until they understand what it means to have it all. Work must be put into a society in order for it to work. I cannot express enough my disdain for those in this country that refuse to work simply because it’s inconvenient. It’s laziness and it isn’t right that others have to suffer for it who have the dedication to deserve those living privileges provided by society.

    Sorry for the rant haha.

    DREAM act = GOOD
    Opinions = egos (everyone has them excluding enlightened ones)
    People learn best visually, hands-on, and therefore through experience.

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