As a writer, I’ve been taught that my work should speak for itself. Disclaimers should not be used because they imply a need for apology, and a writer should never apologize for their work. But this blog, while I am claiming authorship for its content, does not represent me individually. This blog represents an organization, the Global Refugee Center of Greeley, Colorado, made up of many people; from a hard working staff and group of volunteers to the refugee population the organization serves. So, as a responsible new member of this organization, I would like to take a brief introductory post to discuss Words with Dignity.
Words with Dignity is a concept that I learned as an education student at the University of Northern Colorado. In the education program it meant that, as future teachers, we needed to be exact and appropriate when describing a particular student, either in a writing assignment or in an oral presentation. This meant using person-first language (i.e. the student who is African American instead of the African American student) to convey the standards of equality and inclusion that we were learning to implement in our classrooms.
In real world writing, and in real world experience, the exactness of Words with Dignity that I had learned previously was more difficult to apply. Writing my first blog post, I found myself in a strange new form of writer’s block; one fueled not by procrastination or lack of inspiration, but instead by a fear of political correctness. How can I use Words with Dignity to describe the bustling first day crowd at the GRC when I couldn’t ask someone to describe the exact country of origin of each of the approximately 40 students who walked through the GRC’s door on my first day?
I can’t is the short answer. However, the concept of Words with Dignity still applies to my writing, especially in this blog.
The dignity of my words from this post onward comes from my great respect for the GRC and everyone and everything it represents. The GRC’s mission to work “with the refugee community to improve their quality of life by implementing programs in Education, Health, Finance, Culture, and Civil & Human Rights that lead to self-sufficiency and self-reliance,” is one that I believe in, which is why I’m doing this in the first place. My internship with the GRC is learning experience for me and I will do my best to represent the GRC with dignity and respect.