Rose Hickman studied African cultural identity, not in Africa, but in Ecuador and Mexico.
She studied an Afro-Ecuadorian community in fall 2005, and then in the spring of 2006, she studied an Afro-Mexican community on the coast of Oaxaca.
“I’m really interested in people living outside of their context,” she said.
It seems that’s all Hickman does: push herself out of her “context.”
A self-proclaimed free spirit from San Diego, Hickman will test her boundaries once again when she works with AmeriCorps for a year as a community liaison and teacher’s assistant at an ethnically diverse high school in southern Seattle.
“When I was abroad, what I took away was that in order to be effective on an international level, I have to be knowledgeable about my own country,” she said.
After AmeriC orps, Hickman plans to work with an immigrant advocacy group fighting for immigrant reform. Motivated by social justice and her belief in equity, she said she wants to experience the role of cultural identity and racism in the United States before she tackles these problems in other countries.
“In the U.S., there is a big push for immigrants to become American, whatever that is,” Hickman said. “In Mexico and Ecuador the indigenous culture is alive.”
Hickman is not Latina or a person of color, but she is out to discover to what extent she can participate in these foreign worlds within her own country and abroad. An idealist, she sees a path for change and a path where everyone learns from everyone else.
“I’m interested in policy reform and international and immigrant policies, but I don’t have the answers,” Hickman said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m just trying to figure out what the questions are.”