crschmidt: (Default)
Affirmative action has played a large role in many educational institutions across this country: Making way for the less fortunate minorities to be able to participate in educational facilities which they might not otherwise be able to, and bringing diversity into places it might not otherwise be. These goals are applaudable, and although in some cases there have been instances of better students being edged out by less capable students, for the most part, affirmative action has played a positive role in higher education in America, especially from the point of view of minorities helped by these programs. (Note that this is largely hearsay, and if I'm wrong, you can feel free to argue that in comments.)

However, more minorities in a school does not always bring diversity. This is something that I learned recently through hard experience with Alicia's class at Tobin School in Cambridge. The class was almost entirely composed of minorities -- Alicia was the only white female in the class. Group Shot The social results of this were quite clear to me when I chaperoned a field trip for the class: She was completely excluded. Even when trying to get her and her group together for a picture, it was obvious that she was left out.

There was absolutely no integration program of any kind at the school to try and help Alicia, who had just moved from an almost-entirely white school in New Hampshire, adjust to the new social setting she had gotten into. Apparently such a program used to exist, but was chopped by city administration.

This was my first experience with integration of groups which would regularly be minorities not leading to greater diversity. I never really understood before how someplace could have that happen. It was a very weird experience for me. Growing up in St. Charles, and later in Manchester, I was used to a very very small number of non-majority students in all of my education. Trying to make people understand that Alicia was suffering due to the complete lack of social integration with the rest of the group was hard to do without seeming racist.

I think that it was important for Alicia -- it taught her what it is like to be a minority, to be outside the standard circles that the rest of the people around you are in. This is still something that I've never had to do, however, and I have no idea how I would handle it if i did. I'm glad that she's gotten into someplace that seems much better for her now.

It is very strange that minority integration does not necessarily lead to diversity, but it's definitely true, and something that I never would have realized before moving to Cambridge and seeing it for myself.
crschmidt: (food)
EntrywayThis evening, I dined at Full Moon, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This restaurant is a diversion from most of my experiences eating out, and a pleasant one. The food was top rate, the atomsphere was perfect, and the staff was helpful and friendly.

Full Moon is not your typical restaurant. A former fusion restaurant, it closed due to lack of business, and reopened with a wide pallette of interesting dishes and an unusual twist: It's extremely kids oriented. You wouldn't know it from the outside: It looks much like your standard Bisto/cafe style dining experience, right down to the abstract art on the walls. Once you take more than a few steps in, however, you'll realize this is no typical restaurant.

Alicia+Viking Hat In the corner is a full play area: Tabletop brio set, stuffed animals and dolls, 4 foot high dollhouse, and a full set of hats that would put the Village People to shame. The tables are covered with plain white paper, and adorned with crayons for coloring on it. Silverware is at the table - napkins available upon request. After choosing the "Fried Chicken Tenderloin" (aka Chicken Fingers), the kids ran off to play, Alicia coming back several times to let us know how things were going, and in one case to show off her Viking hat. Julie wandered and showed the toys she found to the other kids there - and almost all the tables were full of kids, 2-3 per family.

The food, although varied and really, quite odd, was delicious. Kristan had Salmon Pizza, I had a great nachos plate (which was probably an appetizer rather than an entree, but it fed me and that's enough for me), and Jess had a BBQ Chicken meal. All the food was good, in healthy sized portions that didn't leave anyone hungry.

Gigantic Cookie!One of the best parts of the whole meal was the dessert in my opinion: Gigantic cookies, tasty chocolate pudding cake, and amazing vanilla ice cream can really hit the spot after a good meal, and I really think that it's a top to a great evening.

The hours are short for adults, but perfect for kids (closing at 9), and although the location isn't great (about a 2 mile walk from Harvard Square) there is a bus route that runs right in front of it. The whole experience was great, and I would highly recommend it for anyone with kids. Childfree, however, should steer clear: this is a very kid-friendly place, to the extent that talking and so on is limited by the children running around and playing. If you don't like children, this isn't the place for you: it's a family location, and it is very clear from the second you walk in the door.

Additional photos (though not very many) in the Full Moon (Sep 16) set on Flickr.

August 2017



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