Spring ’17 Student Reflection: Coraima Delgado Hipp on Otherness and the Power of Voice

Coraima Delgado Hipp, a Health Science major, was enrolled in the Spring ’17 colloquium The “Other”: Shaping the Future in the Midst of Difference taught by Jennifer Lucko and Julia van der Ryn. She spent the semester working with RotaCare Clinic and analyzing discourses and structures that marginalize people and perpetuate inequity. Here she reflects on the journey that she made over the course of the semester.

Speaking Truth to Power

“The struggle for justice is not some particular action; it is a way of life that finds room for transformative action in every domain” — Ronald David Glass, “Staying Hopeful” (in Anti-Racist Education)

My time at RotaCare clinic has shown me that if one person acknowledges an issue in their community and actually decides to take action and figure out how to help, it can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. ​

Today was a bittersweet day for me because it was my last day (for now until fall!) volunteering at the clinic. I will definitely continue to volunteer at RotaCare clinic during my senior year when I can. Going into this whole experience, I was not expecting to “fall in love,” and enjoy going every Monday at 5:30pm to interpret for doctors and nurses. I was not expecting to feel so comfortable and welcomed each week by the nurses and supervisors, who were always there when I needed help or had questions on what I needed and should do. I thought I knew what I was getting into when I first started volunteering, but I did not expect to become so involved and in a sense, attached, to the many faces I met this semester.

I remember my second week at Rotacare there was a patient who, from what we speculated, was an immigrant from Florida and had been in jail there, maybe because was undocumented? He had some type of ankle bracelet, that for some reason, was still on him. I met the man, I interpreted for him. He was no criminal. He was timid, perhaps a little fearful, as to be expected when you are living the life of an undocumented immigrant. Something about his story just validated even more the reality of our nations immigration issue and the reality of what these people have faced and are facing.

This story among the others I have lived and written about are now all pieces of me and my “social consciousness.” I am more attuned to the stories heard on TV, to the faces of the patients who come in the clinic, and to the words spoken from my mother’s mouth and the fear and distrust she has for our nation. To all these things, I am more attuned. I am more attuned to my actions, my faces, my words and how speaking my truth is much more powerful than staying silent. This course has taught me the power of my words and the power of my writing.

That is the gift that RotaCare clinic gave me this year. They showed me the larger context as to why I was there and why it is so important to participate in community service no matter how big or small. It also showed me that the work is never done. There is always more to do and more to be said. I have become more of a careful observer because of RotaCare, but more importantly the course. Without it, I do not think I would have been reminded (once again) as to why I am so passionate about getting justice for people who cannot share their stories or have their voice be heard.

I definitely have to acknowledge Lisa and Morena for making Dominican students, and many of the other volunteers, feel welcomed and appreciated for the work that they do. The environment is warm and not at all “businesslike.” The one thing that really was apparent from the beginning is that everyone just wants to provide patients with the best care that they deserve. Of course there were days when some patients were not being treated correctly from doctors, but there was always a solution on how to solve the issue, or a way of how to provide the patient with better care next time they came in for a follow-up. Every time I came in I felt safe and confident.

Thank you.