Open Letter To Phoenix residents:

When I first heard that Dr. Koptiuch was offering a course that would use South Phoenix as a base to do field research and document the changes occurring in South Phoenix, I thought, "here is a professor who is offering a course exploring such a controversial community, I doubt that there will be much interest". The ASU-West campus located in Northwest Phoenix is made up of mostly non-Black and non-Latino students, what interest if any would they have in South Phoenix? I  expected the class to be very small. The first day our class met there was literally no where to sit, there were even students waiting to get the professors approval to enroll into the class. "Again, I thought the time is convenient and that is why there are so many people in the class." I was soon proven wrong.  I was surprised to see how many students genuinely and actively participated throughout the course to the fullest.  Coming from so many diverse educational backgrounds I was impressed to see the students use their current knowledge and "dig in" to the activities that we participated in. I was mainly impressed by the interaction with the guest speakers. At times I believe they too were impressed and sometimes even unable to answer some of our intellectual questions

In the beginning when my group and I got together for lunch we discussed what South Phoenix is like to me. Living in this community for almost five years I have my own perspective on issues, however being such a new resident I cannot speak collectively for the community as a whole. What I do know is that the community is a very diverse one. There are people who have lived all their lives here, others who are recent immigrants and some like myself who moved in and have become so use to the environment and culture that we don't want to move out.  It wasn't until several classes later that my group members finally shared their apprehensions and preconceptions of what South Phoenix was suppose to be. I was content to hear that if nothing else was accomplished the stereotypes where slowly losing ground among my group. And the rest of the class confirmed this with their interviews and observations that they shared in the discussion board.

Overall the experience was an eye opening one, however the lack of time cut our experience short.  The changes happening cannot be prevented. This part of the city is going through a process of transformation,  the changes occurring may in fact be what South Phoenix needs to promote income and hopefully more money in the community will manifest itself in the forms of safer neighborhoods, better schools, and an overall change for the better in the roughest and forgotten areas.

 I truly encourage those who have not been south of Bank One Ball Park to take a ride and experience all the culture that lies in your own backyard. Believe me we are friendly and you may find that we have more in common than you think.

It's been fun...

Elda Luna

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