“Education Verses Ignorance”

By Alaina Robins
Mattituck High School

Alaina Robins

In order to further growth in society we all need to be aware of inequality and the exclusion of individuals while we seek to support the acceptance of a diverse people. Our country has done much to further these advancements. From the onset of our country we were seeking to allow people to practice their personal beliefs and to lead their lives as they see fit. We have fallen short of these ideals. Our culture at one time accepted the concept of slavery, inequality in woman’s rights, and now most recently the inequality of rights of the LGBTQ community. Many have fought to make a difference throughout history.

These individuals saw beyond the accepted norms of their society and were able to understand that their society was not just. These revolutionary thoughts were not always embraced in the beginning, but gained ground as others were forced to rethink the excepted norms of their society. Anne MacKay served this roll here on the East End of Long Island and helped to spread awareness of these inequalities in her actions and writing.

I hope to emulate her actions by being an independent thinker who can step out of her comfort zone in order to further equality. I have just begun this journey. I am a member of the S.A.D.D. club at Mattituck High School which strives to make others aware of the dangers of bullying, drinking, and drugging while promoting positive actions though: The Hands of Kindness, the Tuckerball, and the Souper Bowel, which raises funds for food kitchens. I am also a Student Leader for the Long Island Teen Institute, which is sponsored by HUGS Inc. In preparation for this role I attended another T.I. in Syracuse. This larger seminar exposed us to new practices that we could the incorporate into our own program when we retuned to Long Island. I conduct weekend seminars for students that provide a judgment free zone while creating a positive and uplifting environment. As student leaders we conduct discussions regarding: alcohol and drug prevention, discrimination, eating disorders, stress, and bullying. We also endeavor to promote acceptance of all types of people, be they black, white, male, female, gay, or straight. Ultimately our goal is to create the future leaders of tomorrow and today. We arm them with knowledge and sensitivity to the complexities of individuals and the common humanity that is within all of us.

Our society has become global as we gain awareness of the lives being led outside our own country. I have received a taste of this while traveling to Haiti over the past two years. I was part of a team of teenagers
accompanied by adults; our goal was to provide funds necessary to build a school and a water purification system. The first step for us was to film footage of the people with which to create a documentary. This will be used to educate individuals and groups at home to the plight endured by our Haitian friends. Our goal is to raise the one hundred thousand dollars needed to construct a school. I firmly believe that education is the key to unlock the Haitian people’s future. Currently there is not a public education system in Haiti. Those who have the luxury of a few extra dollars a week can send their child to a private school. There are many who lack these funds and therefore their children never get the chance to make a needed positive change in the future.

Since we have been home progress has been made in creating newsletters for publicity and events are being planned at which we will present the film and give speeches to various audiences regarding our project. Teams of two or three teenagers will be speaking at each event. Some events we have planned are: Five K runs, summer venues including Haitian Creole cuisine, and concerts.

Ignorance has caused much sorrow in our world. Social injustice, racism, and hate flourish when education is lacking in a society. Ones race, sex, or sexual orientation should never determine their civil liberties. As a society grows and develops it should begin to see that all humanity has equal rights. Education is the key. As I continue my education, I will be studying Bio–‐Medical Engineering, more specifically the development of prosthetics. There are many in Haiti who would never have the chance to receive an artificial limb. I will use my knowledge and future position to provide the medical intervention that is needed in Haiti. In my contact with the Haitian people I hope to expose them to new ways of thinking concerning the LGBTQ community, which I am a part of. Due to ignorance there is currently no acceptance of differing sexual orientations. Again knowledge and education is the key to furthering our society locally and globally.