Blog post

Service Learning, African American Studies, Regionalism in America… Time for dinner

by Evangelia Triantafyllou, Greece

What if you were walking on a street and someone told you that the modern building on your right was a center for homeless people? I don’t think you would believe them. I bet you would like to find out whether they are telling you the truth. So, you would go inside and see that, indeed, homeless people have found a shelter in a nice and cozy environment, where many volunteers offer their help and many individuals and businesses donate money or items to the Poverello Center. In a seemingly chaotic and noisy atmosphere, you would be surprised to realize that everything works smoothly and makes people in need feel that a whole community is taking care of them without imposing on them.
An ancient Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus, said that optimal democracy is the democracy where there are neither very rich nor very poor citizens. However, modern regimes are far from ideal democracies and, unfortunately, there are many poor people worldwide. The existence of such centers for homeless people might cause a controversial discussion. Do they really help homeless people integrate into the society? You might change your opinion when Dr Daisy Rooks explains that such centers, among others, compensate for the lack of general relief provision to homeless people or the time-consuming process people in need undergo before they are finally granted a general relief.
Our initiation into the American reality goes on with an overwhelming presentation on the issue of racism through the American history by Dr Robin Shearer. Being a biological myth and a historical reality, race has shaped the American reality from the time Europeans inhabited America in 1492 up to the present. The US seems to have been set up and structured to serve white people, without however purposefully aiming at harming black people. And although de jure racism was abolished in 1865, when slavery was abolished, and in 1954, when the Civil Rights movement in the US ended legal racial segregation, de facto racism is still evident in the remaining 62 years of the American history.
As Rosa Parks, an African American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” said: “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and hopefully, we shall overcome”. History goes on and nations make decisions and shape the way the world evolves. I can’t help thinking about the results of the British referendum on the other part of the Atlantic, which were announced a few minutes ago and are bound to cause several changes within Europe and outside of it.

Time to go back to our SUSI program! Let’s get ready for our trip to Charleston on Saturday. Don’t you think we should focus on the South in consideration of our upcoming trip to Charleston? That’s exactly what Dr Rob Saldin helped us with during his presentation, outlining the differences in the level of economy and culture between the American North and South. I remember being absorbed in watching my beloved series “North and South” about 15 years ago and I cannot but feel excited about our visit to the place were part of the series was filmed. Don’t you look forward to visiting the South, tasting its cuisine, listening to country music and drawing your own conclusions on the diversity between the North and the South?

Our imaginary journey to time and space in the US ends with a lovely farewell dinner in Lolo Creek Stakehouse. Take my advice and visit the restaurant. Montana steak is really big, but I’m absolutely certain you won’t be willing to share it with anyone!

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