Friday, July 27, 2012


If I had to compare today to the last day of regular school, I would have to say that it was harder to part with this program; mainly due to the fact that many of my classmates live in entirely different countries and I most likely will not be seeing the majority of my new friends after tomorrow morning.  Although we spent some time, near the end of class, reflecting on the last four weeks and saying our goodbyes, Prof. Lamas spent a large portion of the time teaching us about alternative currencies.

One way that many communities throughout the U.S. and cities in other countries are building their communities is by straying away from dollar bills and circulating new currency that is specific to their area.  Cities like Ithaca, NY, Berkshares, Massachusetts, Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan have all adopted this method of alternative currency as a way to bring prosperity to their communities.  People feel extremely comfortable with this because this way they know where the money is going and, in turn, they are able to create closer relationships with people in their communities.  The less economic stress that people feel, the more they are able to focus on helping others, and having alternative currencies relieves that pressure.  In a film that we watched on this topic, the alternative currency is still paper money but the images printed on them are of local significance, giving the users of this currency a stronger sense of community.  Many local markets, restaurants, and other businesses in these cities accept about 10-100% of the alternative currency.  The banks within these areas have generously printed these notes and supported this method as well.  This idea relates back to the days of barter, but is more modernly adapted of course; however, the system in Greater Buenos Aires is more closely related to the past trade system.  When inflation rises too high, bartering takes over the community to bring it back up to speed.  In the film many people in that area talked about the great variety of goods provided at the station, and I thought that it was amazing how smoothly the process worked, and works, for them.  Maybe I could start some sort of alternative currency within my own community, although I am not sure exactly how well it would work out.  I do support this idea though, despite its cracks and complications, and I am so glad that Prof. Lamas used part of the last day of class to provide us with more interesting information and develop deep discussion.  

Iris and I being silly
I cannot believe the day has come that we have to go back home!  I am very excited to see my family again and sleep in my own bed, but I will dearly miss my Social Justice class here at the University of Pennsylvania.  Today in class, I was imagining how I would feel after a week back at home, and I knew that not long after I got back, I would wish I was back East again.  This thought made me appreciate and love every minute of class today, even more than I normally do.  I have absolutely LOVED taking this course and meeting Andrew Lamas, Michael, and Nantina who is one of our T.As.  I cried a little when we were saying goodbye because, even though I have most of my classmates on Facebook, I don't know when I will ever see any of them again, and that is the saddest thought going through my mind right now.  I will make sure to keep in touch with everyone though, and I wish I lived in Philadelphia so I could take classes with Prof. Lamas in the Fall!  I am very jealous of the residential students right now, but I can always email Andy whenever I have any questions or anything.  I cannot believe how wonderful our teachers and guest speakers were in this class!  They are all truly incredible people and I hope that I can effectively use my widened perspective to create change in my own community back in California.  Goodnight Philadelphia, I will miss you so much.

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