Many people growing up in places throughout the nation and other countries dream about coming to the Bay Area, a place where businesses are flourishing, technology is rampant, and people can make millions with their innovative ideas. However, what doesn’t pass through the minds of many is that people continue to dish out thousands of dollar to live in a place where the cost of living is artificially high, and where, despite being the headquarters of many social media companies, many people don’t even know their neighbors. The majority of the Bay Area does the same task of dressing up in a dress shirt and jeans, driving hours in stop-and-go traffic in either their “environmentally friendly car” or brand new sports car, working a 9 to 5 job, going home to cook dinner and repeat the same process the next day. My experience in Critical Writing and Thinking here at Santa Clara has taught me to have my eyes constantly open, to acknowledge the ignorance we have as a society, and to consider ways to change that.
Honestly, as a graduated senior heading out of high school and entering the college world, I was the least bit excited for taking what I thought was just another English class in which we would read yet another dry book and analyze the meaning of “significant” quotes. People would always tell me, “Just get through those boring freshman year classes. They are dull, but when you’re done with them you can start learning what you are actually interested in.” Without being completely aware, I let this words get to me too easily. I entered the CTW classroom with that tainting my thoughts, and didn’t keep an open mind. Looking back I feel extremely guilty, as I acted as a student I never wanted and thought I’d become. I didn’t approach my CTW at first with interest, and immediately shot it down without giving it a chance. Little did I know, on day one when “slant” was a foreign term, and “thinking critically” was a term I heard too many times, my CTW class would be the one class I could say actually changed my view point and helped me start to become a cultured, self-aware, and active thinker in a society of robots.
I truly gained so much perspective from this class, in topics ranging from factory farming and school shootings to violence in our society and writing. However, without a doubt, the greatest takeaway from this class and freshman year is understanding my role in society and acknowledging the “factory-like” society our nation, and especially the Bay Area, fosters. I was very fortunate to grow up in San Jose where there would always be jobs for my parents in business and I would be able to meet and live with people from cultures all around the world. Many people would do almost anything to live a life I was given. Yes, I was fortunate, but I was completely blinded as I was growing into the mold of a Bay Area businessperson without even controlling it.
Through reading books like Eating Animals, which was literally about factory farming, I saw how we had turned even the most natural processes–raising animals for food—in something quick, just as we were doing to everything in our society. Nacirema sparked thought about our culture and the reasons we act how we do. We related these readings to our culture and to violence in our society. This began my critical evaluarion of society, but it took almost two full quarters until I realized that I was guilty of the flaws I read about in class. It hit me one day that was being raised to be a businessperson, with the mind of a typically Bay Area individual. It was scary and took me by surprise. From a young age, school taught me everything about the latest technology. I was taught to think creatively and create thoughts that would set me apart and ahead of the crowd. But I soon came to realize only 1% of children my age would actually be geniuses and come up with an idea that could alter someone’s life. If we weren’t one of those we would find an interest for something else. Time flew by and I began to show interest in business. It makes sense; I was raised in a family of businessmen and women, and was surrounded by families the exact same way. Soon my only thought of my future would be business. And of course everyone asking about my major and what I want to do with my career tells me, “Good choice, you will thrive, there will always be jobs.”
As much as I love business, this class and how it taught me to think make me almost mad about what I am becoming, but in a good way. I realize that I have been a victim of the Bay Area culture and I am an exact replica of a stereotypical Bay Area kid. I am not mad about what I am becoming, but I am mad about how I do not differ, both from the outside and on paper, from many other kids who were raised in a similar environment to mine. Running and having a parent die at a young age might be two of the only things that set me apart.
However, this class has sparked some hope. Undoubtedly, I have been taught to think in a critical way, as I criticize the culture I have been raised in. Maybe I can stand apart from the rest of the crowd by how view the culture I’ve been raised in.
I am forever grateful for this class that I dreaded to go to at first. I was taught to think and form opinions separate to everyone else. I learned to not be afraid to be unique and have different beliefs. As I entered college, I realized and told my sister, “Julia, I feel like a boring person.” But after year one, and two quarters with Nick Leither I can be strong in saying that I have changed so dramatically since day one thanks to Nick’s ability to make his students realize the flaws in our culture. I am no longer that boring person that flows with everyone else in society, but am taught to see how our society is scary by the lack of diversity in though and critical thinking our world fosters.
Soliz, Jermoe. “In the Bay Area.” Jerome Soliz. WordPress, n.d. Web. 09 June 2015.