Monday, March 29, 2010

Yassin Omar | First Post

Well well well...Washington DC, great experience so far with my fabulous group of Hamlineites. The trip has been both a learning experience and a time to think and reflect upon the things we primarily ignore (hence homelessness) We arrived at DC Saturday night and pretty much unpacked and went to bed. Sunday was also kind of a non productive day, with the exception of just touring parts of the city. My group ( Anna, Muna, and Anna-Maria) had great time enjoying the Capitol, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial. Walking through these symbolic national scenes had left me with what I often wouldn't have thought about had it not been for the challenge. Had I come to D.C without the group, I would have used these national scenes as a way to expand my tourism resume, however as I walked with the group and looked at these places I came to realize a different meaning. A meaning from the lenses of both the homeless and the many things wrong with our society. I thought about what it meant for a homeless person to see these buildings. What did they see? a nation that is working hard to give it's citizens an extra push? A nation staring, like the case with average pedestrians? I was almost in a state of awe, as I reflect back. I came to the conclusion of realizing a country that has come so far to expand and give a cain of support to all kinds of issues, nevertheless not perfect. Call it a more perfect union ( or are we?) Apart from the tour, we also had an orientation with Sarah, who told us about our space and what we can do and what not earlier that day.

Monday( Today )started off with a great experience and ended with a not so good moment. We kicked the morning off with a much needed exercise, walk, to Martha's table. A site that helps and prepares food for many different kinds of groups. There, we cleaned, organized and packed food for the many causes. Aubrey, Trey ( a local 7th grader who also volunteers), and I packed forty seven bags for newly housed families. Trey from the beginning, I thought was there to sit and watch his parents work. However, he was there part of the D.C requirement for kids to put in at least 10 hours, monthly in addition to the credits required to graduate high school. We bonded very well, because we had many things in common; dedicated to upper education, helping our respective communities and also making a difference in this not so perfect world. He was laughing, sharing and expanding on his life, as I did and we came to realize that no matter where we come from, we have the potential as people of the world that change occurs in small steps. It starts in the most unusual places...local libraries, local garages, and local shelter places. We couldn't bond any closer. I left Martha's place realizing a hopeful world. Next came, discussing these problems and changes that need to be implemented with our politicians. Although I do have my own view when it comes to progressive issues, I was hopeful on at least coming to a broad agreement with all of our Minnesota representatives. We met John Klein's chief of staff who from the beginning already turned me off with many non welcoming gestures and words of choice. She continued to say the obvious and agree to homelessness being a problem, nevertheless failed to realize the socio-economic aspects of the problem. She said that Mr.Klein wouldn't support any legislature to assist undocumented persons. This struck me as very close minded view. Although he doesn't represent me nor my district it was very troubling to see our politicians very focused on only their few thousands constituents. This was because before we departed Minnesota we visited Simpson's shelter in Minneapolis, where we met Amanda, a worker there. She mentioned many immigrants who were homeless who couldn't be assisted in any way due to the current laws which prohibit such assistance. Farther more, Mr.Klein's chief staff was very vague and unclear about any direction of assisting the homelessness issue. I even asked her " does Mr.Klein have any action of plan to end homelessness long term" and responded with a very objective answer " Mr.Klein sits in the ____ and ____ committees" In conclusion, the day ended with a very disappointing day and made me ticked off about the lack of care and narrow-mindedness that existed with some of our representatives. Nevertheless, a great trip so far with the group and can't wait to blog again!

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