A Big Eye Opener
The first week in Selma, Alabama has been a very big eye opener for me. Being an international student from Nepal and studying in the U.S, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to travel to a place such as Selma and experience something other than big cities. My first week here has been running really smooth. I have met a lot of really nice people here who have treated me like family and have been very welcoming. They are all part of the Freedom Foundation, an organization dedicated to motivate and help youth utilize their full potential and have more fulfilling lives. They conduct many programs and services in order help youth understand that any dream is achievable. I never knew about the history of Selma in detail regarding the civil rights movement until now because I was able to visit many museums and monuments here and learn more about what had happened. Also, having the privileges to take a history tour around the town and witness the various abandoned sights learning their significance has been really helpful. This week was more of an introduction to what the real problem here in Selma is and what the Freedom Foundation has been trying to do to find a solution to this.
Although the civil rights movement regarding voting rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King was successful in Selma, the situation in Selma is still somewhat similar. The town is very segregated between the African American people and the Caucasian people. I was able to learn about the schools here that are either all “White” or all “Black” and country clubs in which require one to be “White” and a male in order to become a member. It is still really hard to believe that still exists despite witnessing it. I had honestly never expected to experience something like this. There are political issues in which the “White” still tries to dominate the “Blacks”. Many people in Selma still seem to be living in the past and do not wish for change. They do not want equality and still believe on race dominance. Many racial activities still exist. There are high levels of unemployment and poverty existing here that is stirring up more social problems. Crimes rates are also very high. One of the residences here in Selma told me “ Cars getting broken in is just normal here. I just leave the door unlocked when I park so that they don’t break the windows when trying to get in ”.
With all these problems and segregation existing, you can just imagine how it affects many children and youths living here. In order to help these youths and children to become strong, educate them and motivate them to reach their life’s goals, the freedom foundation is playing a big role. One of the programs run by them is RATco (Random Acts of Theatre corporation). RATco teach children and youths about the freedom of expression through performance arts such as singing, dancing and acting. They provide children and youth a space to come together and just express themselves freely and not be afraid to be judged by anyone.
I have been to the rehearsals of RATco and I was able to witness affective this has been. The smiles and happiness at the sight is just very joyful to experience.
This week, my co-fellow, Andeulazia, and I have been given the task of coming up with some ideas of conducting and planning an Art camp. It’s a 2-week art camp for children where they are able to do various art projects and learn about being creative. So far, the planning has been going very well and everyone here at the Freedom Foundation seems to like our idea. I’m really hoping that this will turn out successful.
All in all, this week has been very knowledgeable and productive and I am looking forward towards week 2. I am really getting excited to learn more about Selma and be involved in volunteering mini service projects and help in anyway I can.
Karan Shrestha ’18