Tag Archives: los angeles

The Importance of Local Politics: My experience in a USC Neighborhood Council

By Jose Sanchez

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula & Anahi Terrazas

[4 minute read]

Editor’s Note:

Throughout this month, cities across the United States have seen a change in leadership at, not only a national level but also at the local level as many counties and cities also held elections for local government positions. Local government is often responsible for parks, police and fire departments, public transportation, and housing services, playing a large role in shaping the life of community members and the maintenance of the city or county.

– Anahi Terrazas, Co-Editor

The Los Angeles Tenants Union seeks to advocate for the rights of all renters in the city of Los Angeles. At local chapter meetings, renters (or anyone who does not own their own home) voice their concerns and hardships and ask what can be done to remedy their situation. At every meeting, struggling families meet people who have had similar experiences and will almost always find answers to their most pressing questions.

Los Angeles neighborhood councils give ordinary citizens the chance to play a part in local government. As a board member of a neighborhood council, people can collaborate with fellow community members to take part in a variety of community-geared activities, such as working to fund events with the goal of increasing community civic engagement or even introducing ideas for legislative action at a city or state level. I am on two local councils in Los Angeles, and they have given me great insight into the everyday problems that people experience within my community.

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

I am on the board of the Rampart Village Neighborhood Council as a student representative, and I am a contributing member of the Los Angeles Tenants Union’s Beverly and Vermont branch. I joined both of these councils to learn more about the unique difficulties experienced by members of my community and also to identify different ways that I could help my community.

The most pressing issue on most people’s minds is almost always homelessness. In fact, this topic is often brought up by international students during conversation groups. They tell me how surprised, concerned, and even shocked they are to see the prevalence of homelessness in LA.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash
Continue reading The Importance of Local Politics: My experience in a USC Neighborhood Council

USC Student Voices on Black Lives Matter

[15 minute read]

Editor’s Note:

Unprecedented times call for unique actions. Oftentimes it is easy to forget that history is not a thing of the past, but rather something that is being created every day. A large and powerful university such as USC has a significant influence on its community, and that community spans from on campus inhabitants to the Los Angeles population to the United States as a whole. Students and faculty have a choice, as part of a major institution, to make their voice be heard through the variety of platforms, privileges, and opportunities through which USC has afforded us with.

When we observe discrimination, particularly in a time where information is so easily accessible, it is imperative that we educate ourselves and raise awareness for others. The voices of the Black Lives Matter movement and families across the country who have experienced losses similar to those of George Floyd’s family need to be heard. The death of George Floyd, as well as the economic consequences of COVID-19 occurring at the same time, have made it clear that certain members of our community, especially minorities and low-income families, are not being granted the rights that our country is founded on. As a part of the USC community, the USC American Language Institute recognizes these problems and leaders in some of our programs have stepped forward and written their own thoughts and reflections on the matter at hand.

The American Language Institute bridges an important gap on USC’s campus: the gap between domestic and international students. As students in the United States, it is important that all members of the USC community remain open and informed about the history that still plagues America to this very day. Three students have written about this movement, not only in the context of America and USC, but in the context of other minorities (particularly Asian Americans) who also play a significant role in shaping America’s history. We have united these voices, and below you will find three articles: Yellow Peril: What Black Lives Matter Means To Us by Tina Wang, Black Lives Matter: What Is It? by Kaitlin Foo, and Privilege in the Light of COVID-19 by Sarah Ta. Through these voices we hope you find inspiration and knowledge to help shape your own role in the history that is being made around us at every moment. The USC American Language Institute embraces our international community with open arms as well as the community at large, and we hope you will find some of your questions answered through these articles.

-Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

YELLOW PERIL: WHAT BLACK LIVES MATTER MEANS TO US

By Tina Wang

As I am sitting here on a Wednesday morning writing this article, I am filled with disappointment and sadness for what has been occurring in this country. For those who are not aware, protests and riots have consumed the nation in the past week over the recent death of an African American man, George Floyd. On May 25, George Floyd was detained by four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a local store owner reported suspicions that Floyd was attempting to purchase a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit bill. In the ensuing encounter, Officer Derek Michael Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes while Floyd proclaimed, “I can’t breathe,” and “Don’t kill me.” After those eight minutes, he suffocated. Recorded on video tape, for 2 minutes and 53 seconds after the victim became unresponsive, Chauvin maintained his knelt position. George Floyd later passed away, and several different autopsies have produced different results, some claiming that his death was due to pre-existing heart conditions, and other independent studies stating that his death was a direct result of homicide by asphyxiation. The video of this encounter quickly surfaced on the internet and spread like wildfire throughout the country, with people nationwide crying “Black Lives Matter” and demanding that justice be served to the officers who were involved in his death. Because of national outrage, former officer Chauvin’s charge with third-degree murder was updated this afternoon to second-degree, and three other officers involved were charged for aiding in murder. 

Photo by munshots on Unsplash
Continue reading USC Student Voices on Black Lives Matter

Being a Conversation Partner

By Virginia Bullington

I really enjoyed last semester as a conversation partner. Both of the people I engage with on a regular basis are Korean graduate students, and learning about their transition to the United States has been totally fascinating. Neither of my students had lived in this country prior to their arrival at USC a few short months ago, and we have discussed the trials of being immersed in a totally new language and culture. Oftentimes, I am able to relate to this, as I studied abroad in Chile for a semester when I was a sophomore. However, I have found that there are several differences between our experiences. First of all, learning English as a native Korean speaker is far more challenging than learning Spanish as an English speaker. This is obviously because English and Spanish use the same alphabet and both share Latin roots, whereas English and Korean have no real links at all. YoungJoon, one of my students explained how for Koreans, it is fairly simple to learn Japanese as a Korean speaker if you are willing to dedicate a year or two studying. English, on the other hand, requires far more time and discipline to master.

 A popular tactic of both of my students to practice English regularly is to watch TV shows and movies in English. However, this only aids in listening and understanding, which is why my partners have sought a forum where they can practice their speaking skills. I was lucky in this respect when I studied abroad, because I stayed with a host family and was thus forced to converse in Spanish on a daily basis. As graduate students, neither of my partners live with English speakers so must seek outside chances to converse. 

 One of my favorite things to talk about with my partners is their views on Los Angeles and what they do for fun in the city. It is such a sprawling and diverse city with so much going on; there are events and activities for everyone. At the same time, because the city is so huge, it can be intimidating to navigate at first. I know this first hand, as after living here for four years, I feel that I have only recently begun to feel truly at home in LA. 

Central to my love of this place is the amazing food that the city has to offer, and I have had a lot of fun trading restaurant and cafe recommendations with my partners. Korean BBQ is one of my favorite things, and we have had long debates on preferred LA locations. According to both of my partners, Koreatown resembles Korea…. But thirty years ago. One of my partners described it as feeling like a time capsule, before Korea was an extremely globalized hub with skyscrapers, it looked very much like Koreatown with strip malls and small family owned businesses. 

Talking with my partners is always a treat because I feel like I get to travel and learn from their experiences and perspectives. Our conversations are symbiotic too, as I have noticed my partners progress in the fluidity of their speaking as they grow more comfortable. 

Featured image from Pxhere

Virginia is a senior majoring in Narrative Studies. She grew up on an island 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts called Nantucket. Through high school and college she has traveled as much as possible, studying for extended periods in South America, as well as visiting Europe, Hong Kong, and Azerbaijan. As Virginia is interested in learning about other people and cultures, she has experience tutoring students in the English language, both one-on-one at her local high school, and as a literacy volunteer at her library. Virginia loves being outside, especially going to the beach, because it reminds her of home.