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Student shares experiences with microaggressions through writing

August 07, 2014

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In a submitted post to Oregon Live’s community blog, mental health counseling student Sara Kendall ’15 tells the story of her experiences with microaggressions.

Kendall, who identifies as Asian American, confronts these split-second acts of racism on a daily basis. A woman stops her at the gym to ask for a good recipe for wonton soup. Customers at work ask if she’s tried the kimchee omelet at a nearby restaurant. A man tells her that he and a friend love “third world women.”

“I have no problem with an open discussion about any of my various social identities, especially those that are more salient, but I want to be more than those, too,” Kendall wrote in her essay, “Musings of a ‘third world’ woman.”

Last spring, her supervisor in practicum, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology Stella Kerl-McClain, invited Kendall to write about her experiences.

“I had never blogged before or shared any of my writing publicly, so it never crossed my mind that anyone would be interested or affected by the things I have to say,” Kendall said. “Stella told me that she thought my title was creative and my story worth sharing, so I took the risk.”

Kendall first explored social justice issues in depth at the University of Oregon, where she earned a degree in women’s and gender studies and psychology. In a women’s studies course, she developed a passion for discussing issues surrounding race, gender, and sexuality.

At Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling, she found an understanding of social justice issues and power relationships essential to her counseling work. She studied how social power dynamics affect counseling sessions and learned to better identify sources of her clients’ distress.

“My education here at Lewis & Clark has only fueled this passion and expanded my awareness,” Kendall said. “Lewis & Clark’s emphasis on social justice and incorporation of critical theory to the counseling psychology curriculum has allowed me look at these power dynamics at a deeper level and understand how they affect people on a social and personal level.”

Caleb Diehl ’16 contributed to this story.

Oregon Live Community Blog Counseling Psychology

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