A part of distance education is an insane amount of reading, especially as a humanities student. When we are not reading, we are writing about what we read, which often means rereading some of the previous readings. This can get mundane, and I tend to lose focus. My mind will wander and after a few pages I will realize that my mind was elsewhere and I now have no idea what was on those two pages, despite having highlighted certain passages.

I had a course that incorporated small 1-2 minute audio slideshows with certain unit chapters, and this was a great way to break up the reading and allow me to refocus. Some courses include movies to help highlight issues at hand, but most do not. But this does not mean that we cannot find our own movies that relate to the subject, drive home some of the points of the course, and bring it to life.

I have started working on WGST 421: Advocacy from the Margins. In the beginning there is a lot of reading that is quite interesting. But, as with any readings, my mind can grow weary after trying to cram too much information in all at once. I left my office to refill my coffee in the hopes that the caffeine boost would refocus me, but instead, I was sucked in by a movie my husband was watching, Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013), this movie depicted the civil rights movement. A story that related to my current course. I watched as people fought for their rights and were beaten, thrown in jail, and denied basic human rights. I always find it shocking how recent these events were in our history. I find it inspiring about how far people can come in this same relatively short amount of time.

It can be easy to become disheartened when studying our history with human rights. How we suppressed a population for no reason beyond their sex or race. However, when one stops to consider just how far people have come in attaining these rights, it gives me hope. Hope for further change in the future, hope that one day everyone will be seen as equal?without pockets of sexism or racism. When I consider how far things have come from my grandma’s generation, to my mom’s, and then to mine, I can see a dramatic change in these short years. With the expansion of education and inclusion of studies dedicated to understanding these suppressions, I believe that these advancements will only continue?and accelerate.

Watching Lee Daniels’ The Butler replenished my desire to learn and understand. It reminded me that I was not just wading through readings, but learning how to effectively communicate to promote change. Sometimes we need to take a step back from our studies to remind ourselves why we are studying this. It is not just for credit towards a degree, there is another motivation there, though sometimes that can get lost. But, sometimes, all it takes to get it back is to approach the subject from another angle.

Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature

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