GCD – Global Understanding

During summer break, I had the opportunity to study in New York for a month. It was my first time in the mainland of US although I have been to Hawaii several times. During the visit, I took courses such as politics and human rights, and speech and debate. We had unlimited train passes and were free to go to almost anywhere we wanted, however, there were some boundaries to where we were allowed to travel. I could tell that the boundaries were not chosen due to the distance from the school, as I stayed in a dorm at a university on 116th street but 125th street was off boundaries.

I asked one of the assistant directors of the program of why some areas are off limits, regardless of the distance. Apparently, 125th street is a slum area where crimes are frequent and where there are lots of homeless people. Most areas off limits had a similar reason. Thinking of homeless people, I noticed the difference in the number of homeless people around between New York, Japan, and Hawaii.

In Japan, homeless people are close to unnoticed, I almost never noticed homeless people around before I joined Chiku in 11th grade. I have never seen homeless people in Tokyo, and even when I saw news about homeless people, I never thought about it seriously. In Hawaii, there are homeless people but there are only a few of them and very unnoticeable. However, although New York is a famous tourist area there were a lot of homeless people even just when walking a few blocks to go to the supermarket.

For my final project for politics and human rights class, I researched about homeless people. The major factors for the difference were political, geographical, and economic factors. In New York, a lot of homeless people are descendants or immigrants or refugees from other countries, and some are even sent from other states of US from other reasons or problems.

The geographical location of Hawaii and Japan makes immigrants harder to immigrate from other countries which explain the difference in the number of homeless people. However, from research, I figured out that some homeless people in Hawaii are sent from the mainland of the US as Hawaii is warmer in climate, therefore increases the survival rate of homeless people in the winter. I felt like this is a good idea regarding the survival of the homeless people, however, I think this would make the homeless people harder for social rehabilitation. I also think it is a stress for the homeless people as they would be sent to a new ground where they might have never been before.

Another factor for people to become homeless people is economic factors. There is a connection between the great depression (US) and homeless people now, as well as the bubble crash (Japan) and homeless people now. The similarities between the two are that in both cases, a lot of people became homeless people due to the loss of jobs. Although the great depression was recovered, it was recovered by increasing the number of jobs, leaving people homeless.

In contrast, the bubble crash was recovered from the Korean War which created more jobs from the war, decreasing the unemployment rate. The chances of social rehabilitation would increase as they would already have a job and would just have to transfer jobs, which is easier compared to finding a job from zero.

My experience at New York triggered me into understanding the different situations for homeless people. An act that I have done to help the homeless is joining Chiku to help the homeless directly by making and serving food, and gathering donations. I aim to take the knowledge I gained from this experience to play my little part to make a large change in the world.

Criteria: You demonstrate a personal understanding of, and perspective on, the relationship between Power/Privilege and any of the following:
with reference to more than one context.