By: Millie Brasser
The Penn State New Kensington Fundamentals of Civic and Community Engagement class with Dr. Andrea Adolph has been assigned to read “Soul of A Citizen” by Paul Loeb this semester.
After reading the book, I felt very positive and motivated. I was feeling connected with the characters and totally inspired by her story. One of the points that touched my soul was the how she discovered her hidden inner strength. The character Virginia Ramirez came to realize the importance of what is in her heart. This led her to challenge her community.
She underwent the process of finding her voice. This process helped to strengthen her faith. Ramirez’s journey was difficult. She stood up for herself including when her husband criticized her involvement. He told her, “That’s not your role. Hispanic women weren’t supposed to do these things.” I relate to this because I have heard this quote many times before from family and friends. Personally, I feel that it is difficult not to have a voice when you have different cultures than those around you. I feel like no one listens. However when you look at Ramirez’s story, she spoke out and stood up for her beliefs. No matter what she did she made a difference.
Throughout the book, Loeb uses different stories to show how people were involved in their community to make a difference and why we should do the same. Loeb conveys that we are all able to fight in this life. He tells us how sometimes when we are silent, we keep our opinions to ourselves. This has happened to me. Sometimes I stay silent either by fear or society itself. Silence hurts and can be frustrating.
Paul Loeb expresses his thoughts on having everyone’s voice heard. We all have to fight for our rights. We must change and fight for what is true. We must also get involved to enrich our own spirit. Loeb tells us not to be victims. This way we can choose to be larger than the result we’re seeing. If only we look within ourselves, since the power to enforce is our hands.
Loeb also conveys that perhaps the most challenging experiences teach the most valuable lessons. He also expresses that when times are difficult we must not pretend. We must also confront the reality and do something about it. This makes us understand that getting involved will give us a greater sense of satisfaction and helps us grow as people.
I encourage everyone to read this book, and if possible take Dr. Adolph’s Civics class.