What It Means to be an American

There was a time where being an American was largely associated with rebellion. We were the group of settlers that swore we could find success and nothingness, the ragtag militia that somehow defeated one of the greatest empires of the Western world for their independence. 3809103ffa79c3467e8ad7055bb73ef4

Figure: Colonizers protest taxation by England though they had no representation in Congress. This depicts the riots preceding the 1765 Stamp Act. Source: Historical Scrapbook.

As much as the history nerd in me wants to pinpoint when, somewhere along the way our defiant nature on which this country was founded. Now, two-hundred-fifty some odd years later, we’ve become obsessed with conflating patriotism and being complicit in any violence the State deems necessary.  We’re not to question the police, any wars, any legislation and certainly not to dredge up the historically oppressive residuals of any aforementioned entity. The only real distinction I can make between protests of 1774 and protests of 2017 are that in 1774 it was white men demanding freedom, and now the rioters are marginalized Americans asserting humanity.                                                              mSPGYLh    Figure: A Ferguson protestor throws tear gas back at cops in Ferguson, 2014. Source: Twitter images.

If we measure being American by how much I agree with imperialism, Christianity, or capitalism then I am about as un-American as they come. I don’t believe in the military or prayer in public schools or a healthcare market where people cannot afford medicine. I think patriotism has become dangerously conflated with jingoism which fewer and fewer people seem to know the meaning of and more and more people seem to be partaking in. I believe wholeheartedly the American people have a responsibility to critique and dismantle any oppressive entity as our founding fathers did, whether the current American looks like one of the founding fathers or not.

However, if we’re discussing “American” in terms of that old spirit of rebellion? I’m as American as they come. I acknowledge the government as in imperfect institution, and like the Boston Tea Party attendees, put the value of human lives before property that can be replaced. And while my revolution will include people of color and women, I’m relieved to have a history where the groundwork has been laid out before me.

Choose Yor Own Adventure

Throughout my entire college career at Texas A&M, I just knew I wanted to be a dentist. Everything was going well for me up until I started to take my upper-level science courses, this included biochemistry and organic chemistry. I failed repeatedly and failed until my final semester before graduation. It was now, I really started to think, is this for me? December came and I was walking across the stage. By this time, I had realized that maybe I should work and then figure out what was best for me. I was blessed enough to get a job with Aramark as an Area Supervisor in the Child Nutrition department at a school district outside of Austin. This was amazing considering I would be using my degree, Nutrition, and I will be still helping the lives of our future, children! As I started working, I found that I was getting bored, and thought well maybe it is because I am homesick. So, I found a job with Dallas ISD doing the same thing and found that I loved it again. Well, fast forward two years and I have found that this is not for me.

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Getting my hands dirty is something that I want to do. When I mean get my hands dirty, I mean be a health care provider. The past year I have been taking the classes needed to apply to an accelerated nursing program. Since I already have a bachelor’s degree, all I need to take are 60 hours of nursing courses to obtain my BSN. It may have taken me a while to figure out what I really was passionate about, but I am here to say that it is okay to make mistakes to figure out what that passion exactly is. I was afraid that I was getting too old, and was trying to plan my life when God had other plans for me. Truth is I am only 26, I have my whole life to live and by the time that I am done with my BSN I will be 27! My testimony is that sometimes, plans do not work out but that does not mean that it is the end of the world. Success is in arms reach and it is all about how you make your dreams a reality. I am glad my dream is becoming a reality and my road to success is just beginning! Follow your dreams and don’t look back is my new life prerogative and I hope my story inspires you as well!

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“to be, or not to be” (own adventure)

I grew up having no clue what i wanted to be in life, i always lived life in the moment, but i knew i liked to sing. I think every little girl likes to sing and that is their dream job. but as i got older i realized i was too shy! and i started going to summer camps, were i met the besdownloadt friend i have ever had. I also started going mission trips with my church so much that it was becoming a nature of habit in helping people. When i started college my first thing i wanted to do was find a major that earned allot of money so i chose business management. I did not expect it to have SO much math! That is when i realized i was bored with this major and i wasn’t happy because i really sucked at it. That’s when i decided to give a master in social work a try, because i had a passion for helping specially children, only cause i had a tough childhood so i wanted to help others through. Now i am here in my first social work class and i know this is where i want to be, the only thing i did was not give up on my management degree because i am not a quitter and i want to have a broader outlook for the future. Starting college i also learned that life is not a race. It does not matter when you get to the finish line, as long you chase your dreams and be happy in where you are right now, and live in the moment. I always try to take the time out of life to travel and go on little adventures because you never know when your life could end. but most importantly how long the situation you are living in could change. LOVE YOURSELF. LOVE OTHERS. LOVE LIFE. AND ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS.

Labor Relations

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For this exercise, I am very much drawn to Labor Relations and that is what I shall discuss. In any unionized environment, maintaining successful labor relations is key to a healthy and profitable business. Over the years, and in taking part in the process of three labor contracts in two industries, I am convinced that when the blood is running bad, so too will morale, productivity and safety. I have personally observed key mistakes on the part of both the union and management over the years.

On a personal level the biggest of these occurs when either an operational supervisor or his or her counterpart union steward believe that they are not equals on the work floor. I’ve witnessed firsthand how the lack of mutual respect can degrade these localized relationships and, in turn, degrade morale and goodwill amongst the union workforce and company personnel. Therefore, operational supervisors need to be of the mindset that their local union officials are to be powerful partners in order to achieve mutual company/union objectives with regards to successful and safe operations.

On a negotiation level, I’ve also see just how bitter contract meetings can be when one or both sides cannot or will not come to terms or even try. I saw this during negotiations in 2010 and again in 2014. In both of these cases, the parties stalemated and began to take shots at each other in the form of threats and propaganda. This negativity quickly trickles down into the working ranks of both sides and, as in the case mentioned above, can result in morale and peace shattering uncertainty amongst all stakeholders concerned. This kind of instability that we witnessed in York, Pennsylvania affected workers, their focus, their families and the critical government customer. Government defense contracts were lost at the site as a direct result of that ongoing labor dispute. Nothing affects the morale and well-being of any worker more than the uncertainty associated with possible job loss or a prolonged strike.

That being said, I firmly believe that there are several critical and essential elements that are absolutely necessary when dealing with labor relations. Understanding the contract in its entirety and agreeing to work through any issues and/or gray areas is an operational must. Ensuring that everyone involved on both sides to include the entire union body and company personnel are fully aware and educated about the agreements and abide by them is also critical. Also being transparent with each other about goals and desires for each other’s organization is, perhaps, the most important of all. If we lay it all out on the table to include budgets, forecasts and numbers then we put forth our strongest argument as to why it becomes and “can do” or a “can’t do” issue. Neither side will have any justification to believe the other has taken a “won’t do” stance. I have also seen firsthand how the assumption of a “won’t do” stance can quickly steam roll into the need for government mediation and arbitration.

I am not going to sit here and say it is easy or that a magic wand can be waved and everyone is happy. In my experience in union shops, I’ve noticed that what management wants most is success in business and what the union wants most is respect for their people. What this boils down to is that both sides have to remember their obligation to the mission they’ve committed to accomplish together as well as their commitment to all the stakeholders involved at every level. Doing this as well as bargaining in good faith at all times is critical to maintaining good labor relations. Union and management will not always see eye to eye, but if good faith is always maintained then so will the mutual respect that keeps both parties from getting up and leaving the table.

My Own Advanture

As a child of parents who don’t speak fluent English you automatically become the translator. It doesn’t matter if you’re five or sixteen that’s now your unofficial job. It can be frustrating especially when all you want to do is be a kid. Not worrying about anything but just wanting to play. However, deep down you know that helping your parents is the right thing to do.

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   That was my case. Ever since I could remember I’ve had to translate for my parents. Whether it’s a letter in the mail or a conversation. Don’t get me wrong they understand it and can defend themselves but that doesn’t mean they don’t struggle. Now I don’t know about anyone else but I actually enjoy doing this. It makes me feel special knowing two languages.

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   Fast forwarding to my Sophomore year in high school I was asked to translate the service at my church. The majority of the people who go there speak English so the service is in English. However, there is a Spanish speaking community that wanted to be there yet needed help with the language. So we had a little booth in the back where one would put earphones on, listen to the service, and at the same time speak into a microphone in Spanish. Those who needed the service translated would wear a headphones and listen through a little radio and hear me translating. Now remember I’ve been doing this all my life but it’s one thing to translate to your parents and another to other adults. Among the nerves I went ahead as said yes. I thought of what it felt like to not understand and choose to help out. I did this once or twice a month while alternating between other people who also helped.

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   One day I remember thinking that I should do this for a living. But at the moment it was just a thought. Time passed and I became a senior in high school and had to start thinking about colleges and a career. I did some research on translating jobs. Finally, I made the decision to study Spanish Interpretation and Translation. And like many college students at the last minute wanted to change my career path to accounting. I wanted a short straight out of college job. But being the person I am I went back to my original choice. It takes a lot for me to find something that I love doing and this one something I loved and  came naturally. 

   Now in August I will be transferring to UTA and studying translating and interpreting. I want to focus on law because I wish to help those who can’t defend themselves all because of a language barrier. I want to give to my Spanish speaking community. Make an impact on others lives. It might not be much but I don’t others to struggle the way many do. So my adventure as an Interpreter/Translator began at a young age but I continue to go through it and I know I have A LOT to learn but adventures don’t have to be short.

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My Adventure with The Law.

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(Picture from Google)

On Thursday April 20, 2017 I had a run in with “Johnny The Law.” I was on my way to work my nightly shift at Red’s Roadhouse (located in Kennedale, Texas). Like many people here in Texas, I drive ten miles over the speed limit; if you are not first, you’re last right?

Well, little did I know a cop would be waiting for me on the corner of Meadow Drive and East Kennedale Parkway, catching me going 45mph in a 35mph limit? There was no time to slow down. He immediately flipped on his lights, and I found an old abandoned store parking lot to pull into. This was the first time I had ever gotten pulled over, no other cop has caught me speeding before. I began to panic; the thought of going to jail frightened me. Then I soon realized that I was only speeding, and all I would get was a big fat ticket.

I heard my Mother’s voice in my head. “Put your hands on the steering wheel. Do not touch or get anything out from the glove box until the police officer has instructed you to do so. And Salina, don not forget to use your manners.”  There I sat with both hands on the steering wheel, waiting for the cop to get out of his car and walk up to my window. An African American police officer soon approached my car, he smiled, greeted me, and instructed me to roll down my window. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen. My 2007 gold Honda Accord has some minor problems; the window on the driver’s side will not roll down. I asked him politely “Sir, my window will not roll down, may I open my door?” “Of course!” he replied. I opened my door and waited for his next command. He then asked for my licenses and insurance card. I advised him that both were in the middle console of my car, and then asked him for permission to retrieve my documents from my middle console. He chuckled at me and gave me his permission.

Long story short, after running my information through the system for warrants of arrest or outstanding tickets, he came back to my car and advised me that he was going to let me off with a warning. I couldn’t believe it! I thanked the police officer profusely for only issuing me a warning ticket. The next statement from the police officer, shocked me. The police officer thanked me for my manners and respect towards him and my actions when he approached my car. He stated that the fact that I knew to ask for permission to remove my hands from the steering wheel was very impressive and that my parents must have informed me to do these actions. I informed the police officer, that my mom had instilled this behavior.
In conclusion, my mother had “the talk” with me that was referenced in one of our previous lessons Black Stories Matter.” However, my ethnicity is not African American, it is Hispanic/Latino, therefore, it is evident that no matter your skin color, your respect for authority should be shown at all times, no matter what the situation you experience with law enforcement.

The College Life

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Becoming a civil engineer was my goal since I was a little kid. To be honest, at the time I did not even know what it meant to be a civil engineer but it sounded cool. When I graduated high school I decided to attend The University of Texas at Arlington. I left my family and friends behind to pursue my dream. My first semesters were very tough, I had no friends, no family, simply no one to talk to. The days went by slow and I began questioning if this is what I really wanted. I didn’t want to pay for “friends” at a fraternity so just hung in there.

On my second year when I started my degree courses I met my two best friends Luis and Luis. We were all in Civil Engineering and had similar schedules. Soon I had many other friends and everything changed for the better. On my third year I got my first internship at a  geotechnical company. My daily routine quickly changed from too much free time to no free time. Trying to manage my time became the biggest problem to solve, even harder than any of my design courses I have been taking. Working, studying, going to the gym, maintaining my apartment, and just so many other things to do was just overwhelming. Today I am a couple of weeks away from accomplishing that dream that began when I was just a little boy. The road was full of sleepless nights (not all of them from studying), stressful moments, and I guess happy moments as well. I cannot wait to walk the stage and receive that diploma. I could have not made it this far with the support of my parents and friends that were there when I most needed them.