Berkeley students care about the homeless
Homeless at the Golden Gate
While a small, wealthy upper class dominates the housing market in San Francisco, more and more people have to live on the streets. Students are also affected
This summer I had the experience of studying at the University of California, Berkeley for a summer school session. This is about 20 minutes from the Californian city of San Francisco and, due to its history, stands above all for diversity, tolerance and activism or protest.
Several times a week there are demonstrations on current political issues, mostly about wanting to get rid of Donald Trump - keyword impeachment. The demonstrators shouted the slogan "Get him out" based on a speech Trump gave in which he called on a congressman with a migrant background to go back to their country if they feel comfortable with the way things are going in the US not be satisfied. So it seems like the people of San Francisco are politically active and committed to helping disadvantaged people.
But anyone who has ever been to the USA knows that everything is not just glitter and glamor there. The number of tent cities with people without a roof over their heads is hard to understand. When you stroll through San Francisco as a tourist, you get queasy and you have to swallow at the sight. The tent settlements and the people who look for their food for the day in the trash shock me. Confused people who scream in your face are what you come across again and again.
The problem is not only homelessness itself, as most homeless people are also addicted to drugs, whether on opioids or crystal meth. Here, many believe that a state failure is the cause. I wonder at the sight of what went wrong that could get it to this point and extent. These people are part of the city, shape the cityscape and yet nobody pays them any attention or helps them out of their situation. Americans often think that it is your own fault if you end up on the street. Hence, they don't care about these poor people. I ask my American friends who are handsome, athletic, white, and privileged. I ask them if they are aware of their privileges and what, in their opinion, could be the possible reason for the problem of homelessness. I'm surprised because I have really good conversations several times, which leads to my realizing that not all Americans are the same and think the way we expect.
That is probably the specialty at the University of California. There you will find a lot of people who are ready to critically question American culture, politics and mentality. I take a lot with me from these conversations and recognize the frustration most people in California feel.
“Not my president” is their motto, they don't feel comfortable in their own country and are ashamed of the rhetoric of their own president. Despite all this, a trip to San Francisco is highly recommended. The city has a lot to offer and has its own charm that you have to experience for yourself: it is colorful and very diverse.
From Citlalli Brauchle
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