For the alternative research project I went to help out at Micah. More specifically, I helped out at one of the many dinners they put on every single evening for the homeless. I didn’t really know much about Micah or anything about the homeless population within Fredericksburg so it was very much a learning experience for me. Just about the experience in general, each dinner is ran differently by each church that puts them on each night. It can either be buffet style or the folks who show up get served while they sit down. The atmosphere of the dinner is to make the people who go feel relaxed and just be more of a social setting. It seemed that a lot of people knew each other. One thing that was interesting were the interactions between those at the dinner. There were clear lines of who sat where and who knew who. I observed and socialized and just helped out at the dinner. One thing I noticed is that I have never felt more like an outsider than when I walked into the dinner at first. It felt like there was this social stigma that I was extremely privileged and that I didn’t belong there. However, since I stood near the pastor and trash can and helped people throw away their trash they opened up more to the idea of talking to me and I got to hear a lot of stories and learn a lot more.
The pastor was also very helpful on giving facts that I would’ve never really thought of such as how not everyone that attends is homeless. There are regulars and then there are people who the workers never see again so that was interesting. The people who attend may not own their own home but they have a shelter to go to for the night. Most are more on the margins and go just for the food, they don’t necessarily utilize the programs Micah provides which can be seen as a sense of independence. Also a decent amount of those who I talked to had jobs so not all are jobless as well. Also another thing I noticed was how many people utilize public transportation which just shows that Fredericksburg tax dollars are going to use.
How this relates to class is that I was, clearly, active in my community and I could see how power was at play. We had the ability to give our services to people who needed them. I know in class we related money to power and I could see that is how people viewed me. I just felt like me being able to college meant that I had the money and people who didn’t know really know who I was made them uncomfortable. I do hope that by me interacting and socializing that those interactions do resonate with the people I talk to. That hopefully just because I “have money” that they don’t feel uncomfortable by college students or anyone who may be hire on the socioeconomic ladder. I also know that the interactions I had with the people I met will definitely resonate with me.
2 thoughts on “Tierra Dongieux, Section 2, Research Project #2”
I think your choice of a project really hit the mark on what the assignment was. You not only helped people in your community but you also saw the clear power differentials between the people that go for the dinners, the volunteers, and the institutions at play. The social stigma is also a really important part of power because when there are stigmas or stereotypes at play, then society already views them as lesser in terms of social, economic and legal power.
I think this was a great idea for a project and I really enjoyed reading your paper. I thought your tie to power was interesting and you said that since they see you as having money that they sort of judged you in a way like you were the outsider. I like how you added a lot of your observations, it made me feel like I was right there and could picture it!