Monday, January 15, 2007

Sharing Nugget #40

#40: Whoa! Elitism, in my face.

I attended a talk by a certain national (but not really governmental) organization here in school. It’s mission is to encourage youths to step out and achieve what they dream of. And they have an award system for it. I am not stating their name - I am not going to say nice things about them.

Basically, the talk turned the students off. Many came in ready to hear about what they can do for the community and how they can realize their aspirations, but they were left sour. Two girls even stormed out of the room. Here’s how the speaker, the director of the organization, pardon me, “screwed it up”.

For the whole 1 hour, he showed slides after slides about youths that “achieved” a lot. We were dumped with phenomenon stats and facts about meeting the who’s who (including the Queen and David Beckham), how they were groomed to be sent overseas, their tangible achievements etc. We saw, people after people, graduates with first class honors, from elite schools, fantastic speakers or debaters. The list goes on.

It smacks of elitism.

“Its ALL about the attitude. We will scan through the people and select some for grooming”. If it’s all about attitude, how come the examples he gave are either scholars or ivy league university people?

This director drew up more stereotypes than the number of games David Beckham had to sit on the bench at Real Madrid – (where he is leaving for US for a shameful amount of pay, but I digress). He thinks that people who are not “so educated” needs help. And “all young people like you” needs a guiding light in their life. We need help! And most incredibly, he claimed that “every youth”, like us, “needs help to TURN AROUND”. Well, I did not realize until now that I am on the wrong lane. Oops, better make a U-turn. Oops again, there goes my life.

Yes, he mentioned a girl from a “neighborhood school” who did well and achieved. Well, I believe it served to strengthen his stereotyping attitude more than trying to dispel it.

Speaking about attitude, he stressed (throughout the talk), that “It’s all about the attitude”. Then he went on to tell stories after stories about youths who lacked attitude and how he feels so satisfied to ‘put them in their places’. He reveals that he sits on the scholarship boards etc.

Then came more. He said that “I am not saying that if you are not a President scholar etc, that you will be groomed to go for the top achievements, but you can still do well…” And he meant do well in our “Class” (Not classroom class, but social class). If this is not elitism, what is? And if everyone in the room is not a president scholar, wouldn’t that mean he has spent the pass one hour telling us stories of achievement that will not be offered to us?

This is so shameful.

My friends who attended the talk with me expressed that they felt like “the guy has wasted one and a half hours of my life”. And they apologize to each other for dragging each other down for the talk. Well, I definitely felt so at first. Now, upon reflection, I believe that that session is not wasted. I sat through a lesson on “what-not-to-do”s.

Thank you for the lesson. Herr Director. Or should I say, Your Majesty.
Sorry for the attitude.


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