Tiffany Embry May 3, 2009 My Cultural Bag
I was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1980. As a young child, my family (mom, dad, and little sister) and I spent almost every weekend with extended family. My extended family lived in the country on a farm. In the summer, our weekends were spent on the lake. We were not wealthy and both of my parents held full time jobs.
When I was in kindergarten, I remember my dad coming into my room and telling me that he was not going to live with us anymore. I was too young to understand the concept of divorce, but I understood that he was leaving. I can still remember that day and can still feel the impact that it caused in my life.
Not long after my dad left, my mom started dating. My dad was re-married and I had two step-siblings, within 2 years. Throughout this entire time, my parents remained friends and made sure that the other knew what was going on with my sister and me. My parents believed that family was the most important thing in life.
When I was in the 3rd grade, my dad took a job in eastern Kentucky, about 2 hours away from me. It broke my heart that I wasn’t able to see him, whenever I wanted to. My visits with my dad were every other weekend. My dad called every day to check on my sister and me. When we finally got a computer, he sent e-mails.
My parents engrained in my sister and me the importance of education. My parents were very active in parent teacher conferences and always stayed in communication with teachers to monitor my progress in school. My parents knew that I was capable of making straight A’s, and accepted nothing less. I went to public schools, where people from many different backgrounds were mixed together. I was involved in sports. I was in the honors program and on the academic team. In the schools I attended, there were people from many different cultures. I am not sure if my parents taught me to look beyond skin color or if it was just something I picked up, but to this day, I never look at skin color. I notice cultural norms and dialect, but I never see someone whose skin differs from mine and automatically expect the person to sound a certain way or to act a certain way. As I reflect now, I honestly don’t think I notice skin color. I notice the way people are dress and how they present themselves, but I don’t notice color.
My mom taught me to respect everyone and that everyone was unique. She never used the word different, just unique. She also never used the word handicapped or disabled, she would always reference the person’s challenges. I take after her in this aspect. I went to a catholic university for my bachelor’s degree, a college where most people had not experienced being around those who differed from themselves. I sat down in my first special education class and started listening to my professor, Dr. Moll; tell us about the students she works with in Special Olympics. I remember her telling us about their challenges, yet explaining to us how similar they are to us and how it was the ignorance in the world that makes some shy away. It was that moment, that I realized I had been molded to become a special education teacher.
Since becoming a teacher, I have made it my mission to try to educate those around me. My students know that the word “retarded” is not to be used as an insult. They also learn about their own uniqueness and challenges. I find that by showing them that everyone has their own strengths and well as areas of challenges it brings them together and cuts down on bullying and name calling. I also find that my students are more apt to help a student with a physical challenge and not shy away from them. I feel that educating and answering students’ questions allows them to be aware. Ignorance is what causes stereotypes; knowledge is what allows for understanding.
As far as my ultimate goal in life, that is a question that I don’t think I will ever be able to say for certain. I don’t think it is possible for me to say, “If I finish/accomplish this one thing, my life will be fulfilled”. Living life to the fullest is my ultimate goal. I want to experience the emotions that come along with living life. Each event molds me into who I am today. I am surrounded by those who love me. I am married to a man who is Korean. I have a step-son. My husband allowed me to experience the most extraordinary event in my life. I can say for sure, that the one event that impacted my life the most was the birth of my son. I never knew it was possible to love something as much as I love him. I hope that I will be able to show him what wonders and spectacular things life has to offer. I also hope to teach him about the uniqueness and challenges, just as my mother taught me.
Use your Facebook login and see what your friends are reading and sharing.
Now bringing you back...
Please enter your email address below to reset your password. We will send you an email with instructions on how to continue.