Ones idea of self can be approached with many definitions. The differences that come with individuality are what make a person unique in their own way. It is the mixture of individual characteristics that make a person who they are whether their distinct anatomy of self is being judged by a random person in society or by their own outlook on themselves. In Ari Le Vaux’s “A Different Education: Compost and Community, Not Literacy” , he wrote about his visit to Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG). This school is located in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans which is also labeled as “Cancer Alley” to locals. This part of New Orleans received the worst of the exposure to the chemicals that were washed upriver by Hurricane Katrina and suffered from highly contaminated soil.
OSBG is a school that produces lots of food in an area where food is extremely scarce and sells its goods in order to keep the school running. From what I had read in the article, I feel as if no matter what type of person you were in the past, OSBG did not hesitate to welcome you into their community so that you could work together for a good cause. The school is in a area known for violence and even includes former gang members that want to do good for themselves and the area that they live in. In the article Le Vaux quotes the schools founder, Nat Turner, when he says “If a student wants to learn to read we’ll help them learn. If a student wants to take the GED we’ll help him prepare.” This falls back on the fact that everyones unique form of self is what makes that person beautiful. The diversity in students at OSBG brings differences in lifestyles and this keeps the community such tight knit group. The change that was seen by Le Vaux in the students who entered the school seemed absolutely amazing and it is such a good place for people to make a change in a life that may have been caught in a hole that seemed unescapable.
Le Vaux’s writing definitely gave me a very clear picture of how different this school was compared to the standard classroom education. In the article he explains how a student doing independent study research led a discussion on environmental racism by comparing worldly affairs to the position that they are in themselves. In my honest opinion, I think that discussions like this can be so useful to the minds of any person on this planet and actions such as these should be seen in EVERY school in EVERY part of the world. Students that speak their minds and take notice to issues that actually matter rather than all of the filth that is glorified to the world nowadays will help them students grow so much more as positive members of society and possibly sculpt a more mature version of self that can be used as a the tool to keep moving them forward in a life of success.
I can easily say that I completely agree with Le Vaux’s indirect writing on the mindset of the people that make up OSBG. His writing pushes me toward the assumption that the importance of self plays a big part in keeping the community as strong as it is. By reading the ways of learning that are used by the individuals involved in the school, it makes me extremely happy to see that there are actually people in this world that have the passion for living such a positive lifestyle. When I read this article, it honestly reminded me a lot of my family and friends because they mean the world to me. The bonds that Le Vaux mentioned made me think of how much stronger my family has gotten in the past couple of years and how much I have grown as a person. When I heard of how the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward came back with their heads up after the damage that Hurricane Katrina had done, I thought back to how hard the problems hit my family when my dad left to Puerto Rico without warning. He left us with unbelievable debt and took most of our money. He left my mom to support four boys by herself. After all of this had happened, we kept our heads high and worked together to do whatever we could to keep our house. Around this time last year, I had been working three jobs and attended school at Northeastern Illinois University for my freshman year. No matter what I wanted to succeed and not let something like this stop me from moving forward. It was one of the most drastic growing experiences I have ever encountered and it made me a lot more appreciative of life and what really matters. When I think of my own definition of self, I would probably say that it is what should be most important in a persons life. It is what makes you, YOU and you should never let anybody change that. Everybody has unique elements that make up their own form of self. What people do not realize is that it is those different elements that make a person beautiful. I can say from my own personal experience that if you are comfortable with the person that you truly are inside, you will live a happy life no matter what. You do you.