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How often do you catch sentences that are so stereotypical? Like “girls have to wear make up” or “guys can’t cry”? How have we become so deeply rooted in these societal expectations or “norms” that we ourselves have classified?

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It’s true what they say about school. That while you’re learning these new concepts and new ways of thinking… it’s ultimately changing you. For the better. A year ago, before coming into this program, one goal of mine was to stop being so judgmental. It was just so hard for me not to. For instance “man, that guy is dressed so weird” or give the occasional “what the heck” when things weren’t “normal”. But I never really once stopped to think that it’s because of us that we have made it what it is today. Society. In general.

Today was truly inspiring to have Michael Iwama himself come to speak at our PDC conference. It was definitely an eye opener and it really made you think and ponder about the things that he said. For instance, what would you guys define as “disability”? Before, I always thought “oh that guy is disabled”… but now, I truly realize how language makes a huge difference. Why is it that “that person is disabled” vs. “That person has a disability”? He continually brought up the concept of how we use a “cultural lens” to view the world, and for those social psychologists out there… it’s those social constructs, those schemas that we make for ourselves which is how we view the world. What you may perceive as reality may not necessarily be the same reality for another person because of the way you construct things. And it’s exactly the same as things like disabilities. Why consider a disability inherent in the person? Why not take a step back… and consider that maybe it is their environment and the people within it that are leading to that exclusion and that isolation? It’s the environment and perhaps the people that make things a limitation… not the person. It’s amazing how a slight shift in the way we view things can alter things by a mile.

Another speaker, who taught the social justice model I had in the spring was also talking today. And she kept talking about how as professionals in the workforce, we should not limit the person by telling them “you can’t” but rather saying “How can”. Those two little words can make such a huge impact on someone’s life… and sadly, society doesn’t realize that.

Some people just don’t realize that by putting on these “lenses”, they’re inevitably limiting themselves in seeing things in such a concrete way…

It’s amazing how these little thoughts can make you think so much! And I think it’s because of these little bits of advice that have made me become more aware of how I can impact the world (and so can you guys!) A little step at a time! =)

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