In my final class, at least for the next year as I move on to a be a writing fellow at Baruch, I talked with my students about how I hoped that rather than remember any particular facts about research methods – that they had developed a new perspective on how to approach research articles and research presented in the popular press.
On the bus ride to class I’d been reading a recent issue of The Atlantic on The Confidence Gap. I thought the article quite relevant as 19//20 of the students in my course were women – many of whom were quite nervous about presenting their final projects . I questioned if they thought a confidence gap existed between genders and if this gap might contribute to differences in pay? Or perhaps the confidence gap was a symptom of other systemic factors at play?
My hope is that after working through the research methods course my students will be equipped to grapple with, deconstruct and then take a position in relation to the research presented in The Confidence Gap and in other relevant issues and articles.
I concluded the class by reading an excerpt from a poem featured in the same Atlantic issue, The Five Spot by Billy Collins. Ever since Questions about Angels was high school’s required summer reading I’ve had negative associations with Collins, but The Five Spot seemed to speak to an element of the course and hopefully to how students might think about issues in the world as they move on with their lives. The poem summarized my hopes for myself and my students better than I could in clumsy social science terms. And as in class instead of trying to summarize these thoughts and emotions I’ll let the poet do this work…so direct from my fridge here it is:
As a graduate student and New York Jew with family in Israel, including a brother attending medical school there, I clearly have a stake in this debate. There is also some family history involved; my grandparents worked with the ANC, and in part due to their political activities, were eventually forced to leave South Africa for England with their three young children (a journey that my mother recounts beautifully in the prologue to her book).
Certainly in the short term the boycott draws attention to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, but at what cost to meaningful academic dialogue and research in the long run?
A good friend and fellow CUNY graduate student, Sam, shared his opinion recently in response to a Facebook post:
Many have likened the recent academic boycott of Israel to the academic boycott of apartheid South Africa. I wonder about historical differences in the two contexts. The history of the Jewish state and the jewish people is quite different from the history of the South African apartheid state. How will my family members, such as my brother, grandmother, and great uncle – who has a dual appointment at an Israeli and an American University – relate to this issue?
Interestingly, the above Facebook conversation ended with both parties agreeing to continue to the conversation offline – which also relates to my interests in how people write in explicitly social settings as opposed to semi-public or more intimate settings.
Clearly these two young men are aware of what’s at stake when debating academic issues involving Israel. What are the implications of their choice to end the conversation here, why didn’t they continue online and what does this mean for the way people write and think while using social media?
However, I can see the light. I’m looking forward to wrapping this semester up – so I can hang with my siblings, who both currently live abroad. My sister arrives from Denmark today, and my brother from Israel next week.
What better way to welcome them back than to share this incredible post my brother wrote about his first few weeks in med school? The post was so good – it earned him an interview with Lonely Planet! So here it is:
A gentle breeze wafts in from the balcony, sliding through my open door and bringing a welcome chill. I step out and rest my hands on the iron banister. In the distance I can make out the hills of Ramot, barely lit by a low, rust colored moon. My neighborhood, Gimmel, winds out below me. Undulating Hebrew and Arabic beats from nearby apartment complexes mix with the usual classic rock standards from Coca bar up the street. If it were daytime, you would hear the Ethiopian children across the street playing in the yard of the New Immigrant Absorption Center. But it is almost one in the morning, and they are sleeping now. I should probably be sleeping too. Instead, I’m standing here, breathing in the city. From my balcony I can see Soroka Hospital. A shining invitation to the unwell of the desert night, it is a slice of sleek modernity in the dusty streets.
The past month, in that hospital, has been a whirlwind introduction to our new lives as physicians in training. We have met our classmates and together we have absorbed myriad lectures, and trudged through hours of intensive Ulpan. Now, in this rare moment of relative calm, I look across at the maternity clinic, and I wonder if someone is being born behind those walls. It’s comforting to remember that life begins here. On Monday, walking past the ER to my first class, a weeping woman swept past me. Glancing towards the ER doors she had burst out of, I saw another woman writhing on the floor. An ambulance had just arrived. Never have I heard so much pain in the voice of another human being as I heard in the cries of that woman outside the ER, on my way to 8am class. At Soroka we see what we might push to the back of our minds in another context. We see illness and death, birth and health, side-by side, tipping weights on a human scale.
“Good medicine is not about killing microbes, it is about keeping human bodies in balance,” one professor reminded us. On the hospital campus, in the tireless work of the physicians and nurses who pace its halls, and in the aspiring faces of my classmates, I see the will to maintain that balance. In the struggle to provide care, I see the physical manifestation of the compassionate instinct that I would like to believe is somewhere in all of us. As I step back into my room for the night, I know another long day of classes awaits us in the mounting heat of the morning, but I also know that this day will be another small drop on the side of the scale that matters most. – Jonah Kreniske, September blogger of the month
In Color Me Blue Ephron makes humorous, poignant and cutting observations about how Citi Bank did quite well for themselves in the Citi Bike deal at the expense of New Yorkers aesthetics and tax dollars.
“For $41 million — what Citibank paid to sponsor the program for five years — our city bikes became Citi Bikes. To make certain you don’t forget this fact, a Citi Bike sign hangs in front of the handlebars, Citi Bike is printed twice on the frame, and a Citi Bike billboard drapes the rear wheel on both sides. The font is the familiar Citibank font and the Citibank signature decoration floats over the “t.” There is no way to see a Citi Bike without thinking Citibank. The 6,000 bikes so far rolled out, of a possible 10,000, and their signs are a Day-Glo cobalt blue that you see on banks. Nobody wears this color. Nobody paints his or her apartment this color. This blue is bank blue”.
Don’t worry New Yorkers we aren’t the only ones subsidizing big business, as Greg Easterbrook points out in a recent Atlantic article on the NFL, the subsidization of major businesses like sports franchises is a national pastime.
Ever wonder where your tax dollars went America? (hint, it’s not just health care)
“Last year was a busy one for public giveaways to the National Football League. In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who styles himself as a budget-slashing conservative crusader, took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility. Hoping to avoid scrutiny, McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But even billionaires like to receive expensive gifts.
Taxpayers in Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, were hit with a bill for $26 million in debt service for the stadiums where the NFL’s Bengals and Major League Baseball’s Reds play, plus another $7 million to cover the direct operating costs for the Bengals’ field. Pro-sports subsidies exceeded the $23.6 million that the county cut from health-and-human-services spending in the current two-year budget (and represent a sizable chunk of the $119 million cut from Hamilton County schools). Press materials distributed by the Bengals declare that the team gives back about $1 million annually to Ohio community groups. Sound generous? That’s about 4 percent of the public subsidy the Bengals receive annually from Ohio taxpayers”.
The week of the bike began with with Manfrank and Michael riding up the Hudson from 59th to Van Cortlandt Park . The trail ends at my old block – Dyckman street – and there we ducked into the neighborhood, rode to the tip of Manhattan and then hit Broadway up to Van Cortlandt, where apparently there is a trail to Westchester (that’s for next time!).
The next day I turned my stiff neck and ogled as a sworm of bikers (the motorized kind) stormed up Amsterdam Avenue and later saw where they went after that.