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Molly Mrzlak

Andrew Miller

EXPL 390

24 January 2018

Intro Reflection

Part 1

One of the main things I want to push myself to do is be less hesitant when reaching out

to potential employers, specifically when making cold calls—some employers can be very rude.

I need to get over that nervousness so I can keep practicing and become more comfortable with

this particular aspect of outreach. I think my hesitancy and nervousness comes from a pressure I

feel because I believe this work to be so important. Practicing this outreach will definitely

develop my interpersonal skills so I can be more confident with this type of work, as I hope to

work in some sort of non-profit working with refugees in the future. Not only can I use these

skills throughout the rest of my life, but in developing these skills I can have a direct impact on

our clients and the organization currently and in the future. If I am more confident and

comfortable, then I have a better chance of creating a long-lasting connection of job

opportunities for clients and the organization. I’ve seen first-hand just how important those

existing connections are in getting clients jobs as quickly as possible.

Developing my interpersonal skills will also help with learning how to make clients feel

more comfortable during interactions. I am still learning how to interact comfortably with

clients--I would like for it to come more naturally as I am more reserved in nature. This could

include something like trying to learn a little bit of certain languages that a lot of clients speak,

like Swahili or Arabic. Long term, I would really love to learn those languages because I know
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they would be helpful in other refugee organizations in the future. Obviously I can’t learn two

languages in one semester, but I think it would be beneficial to learn some key phrases to break

the ice with clients. I was able to speak French with a client last semester and I could tell that

they really appreciated that; it was also really nice to be able use my French for something useful

other than talking about literature in class. In general, sometimes using a translator can cause the

relationship or interaction to seem kind of impersonal, so any little bit helps when making the

client comfortable. If clients are more comfortable, then they might be more willing to cooperate

with the agency, because sometimes they can get really frustrated and not want to cooperate—

which is understandable.

Something else I would like to do this semester is to investigate and get more involved in

the inner workings of the agency. Learning about funding and logistics will be very essential as I

am pretty serious about working in the nonprofit sector. With huge limitations on refugee

arrivals, things are logistically different. In my international studies classes I learn a lot about

international policy, and I think it is important to see how that affects places like refugee

resettlement agencies. By seeing these impacts, I want to find a way to be more vocal and

advocate for the need to take better care of refugees coming to the United States. My supervisor

mentioned to me that the agency is always looking for ways to better serve clients and that

having a perspective from someone who hasn’t been there long would be really beneficial. So,

by getting a deeper understanding of logistics, I hope to be able to provide fresh insight for the

agency.

Part 2

Social justice can look like people working together to right past wrongs that are still

prevalent in today’s society. My own evaluation of my privilege plays a significant part in my


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definition of social justice. Although I try not to actively benefit from my privilege, it is still

there and I believe that I need to be accountable. Accountability and responsibility are also

important facets of social justice in a community. All too often, people can be spiteful and

willfully ignore issues, which is why nothing changes. If people in communities have more

respect and decency, then they will be more willing to work together. Social justice also requires

being very vocal about injustices. I was raised to speak up for what’s right—which I have been

doing ever since I was little. I’ve always believed that people have to go out of their way to be

disrespectful or nasty to others.

In turn, I think the basis of a good society is respect and human decency. I believe that

the absence of these things are some of the root causes of social injustices. One example that

comes to mind is the vehement rejection of universal healthcare in the United States. It boggles

my mind that people do not want universal healthcare just because they think they “shouldn’t

have to pay for someone else’s healthcare”. I, on the other hand, would happily pay for someone

else’s healthcare because I believe access to healthcare is basic human right. If people had more

decency and respect, then they would be more open to not just equal access to healthcare, but

other things like education, economic opportunities etc. Structures need to be put into place

where people have equal access to these basic human rights. Money is always a big factor; so,

when it comes to this, we need to reevaluate the current economic system in place and assess

how it is pushing us towards injustice and inequality. I believe it is possible to have some sort of

economic system that allows for equal access to basic human rights—it is all a matter of figuring

it out. Loeb also touches upon this idea and in terms of human dignity. A good society should

include respect for that.


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Loeb wrote his piece in 2010 and mentions the lack of civility that occurs in places like

town hall meetings (267). Eight years later, the way in which politics and discussions take place

have become even nastier. The idea of civility can also be tied to the idea of respect. I envision a

community where critical conversations can be had without being nasty to one another. If we

respect what one another has to say, then maybe conversations can be more productive. A lot of

times I can get frustrated with someone who fundamentally disagrees with my values, and I want

to become snide, but in the end that would have the opposite effect that I intend--the person

won’t listen. I can disagree with someone but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to be civil. My role

in my current and future communities is to actively work towards being open to opposing

viewpoints--no matter how difficult that is. However, I think back to a discussion we had the first

day of class about the narrative that social justice movements need to be nonviolent, and whether

or not violent movements can be considered self defense and not anarchy. While I can see the

appeal to rise up violently (which I have joked about), I really don’t think it would get anything

done.

Loeb introduces the need to make distinctions: “For all civility’s limits, we need to

distinguish between nonviolent civil disobedience, of whatever political stripe, and outright

bullying” (268-269). I think Loeb does a really good job of separating the idea of intimidation

and the power of mere inconvenience (such as a boycott). This makes me think of community

organizing in terms of how coalitions are very vocal yet civil at the same time. The material we

went over for community organizing with Cesar Chavez was really transformative in my

thinking on how we can go about about enacting social change. This leads back to my definition

of social justice being people working together. A good society would have more people willing

to take part in community organizing, instead of being complacent. I really like how community
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organizing can cover a whole range of issues and takes into account each member of the

community’s concerns. I hope to find a way to be involved in more community organizing soon.

In general, I hope to live or work in a community that have the same base of values that I

think make up a good society: respect and human decency. Even if the other members of those

communities don’t have the same opinions as me, I think that a lot of change can happen by

appealing to someone’s respect for human dignity. From there, I would hope to participate in

activities in the community—something as simple as listening to a neighbor or coworker’s

concerns—that would foster social justice.