Monday, July 22, 2013

My Single Story Experience

As heavy as yesterday was, in both social aspects and in information, I found myself awake at 6:30 this morning despite the fact my class was at 9:00. I was really nervous of all the things that would go wrong. I kept imagining that all the possibilities, saying something portraying the opposite of my ideas, being in a room of pure men haters, or even being criticized for what race I was. 

Our Dinning Hall
I had read the reading for our class last night, and it sounded really outdated and angry toward whites in general for being "privileged". I was afraid I would be attacked for being the material's idea of the dominant person. It wasn't until reading onward and seeing the underlying truth that I realized that the book wasn't just talking about race but all types of social constructions that make someone less "something" than another, or any differentiation.  I was also worried the class would be all man hating hardcore feminists.

I went to the dinning hall to pick up some breakfast with my roommate and then we split ways and headed to our respective classes. I didn't want to be late to class and had no idea where I was going, using only a map as an aid, so I went to class early. I ended up sitting in the class for a half an hour along with all the other Brown II cohort. We dislike being late, I suppose.

Our Classroom for W&L

When the class began, I was a little nervous, I didn't want to offend anyone else. Dr. Almandrez, our professor, lead the class as very discussion based. We did an introduction to the group with what I hope and what I hope not, and I realized that everyone else didn't want to offend anyone either. Then we launched ourselves into beautiful conversations about the things that define us socially. We spoke about the 7 types of "otherness" that make for prejudices: age, sexuality, socioeconomic stature, ability, race, religion, and, of course, gender. We then decided the three that meant the most to us, and discussed them in groups of three. No one talked to each other, we all just listened while one person voiced their opinion. It was really cool to see all the amazing things that can come from someone different than you yet they have the same background.It was a meaningful experience.

I was so pleasantly to find that everyone was open to others opinions and wanted others input. After we had discussed the 7 types of otherness,we broke for lunch. I met up with the girl staying in the next room over and we went to get lunch. Then, at 1, we went back to talk some more. I was surprised at how much I was loving the course. Everything anyone said I respected even if it wasn't my opinion. I really loved the respectful atmosphere. Back in class, we started off with a film ananlysis of a speech by a Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie. The speech's title was "The Danger of a Single Story." She spoke about how she had grown up in a well off family in Nigeria, and had a wonderful childhood. She said she started writing stories about the books she had read, and then later realized that she was writing about something she had never experienced, like characters in the snow, or that eat apples. She also spoke about how her mom gave money to a poor family. One day Chimamanda went over to visit the family expected the story she had been given, a poor family. She saw the poorness, but the family showed her a woven basket of dyed raffia that the son had made. Chimamanda could not believe that they could make that, she had only seen them as poor. It was a single story that made her only focus on one aspect of a person. She also spoke about how when she came to America, her roommate asked her if she could use a stove or if Chimamanda could play her the tribal music. Chimamanda slowly pulled out her Mariah Carey CD. The danger of the single story of African poverty had caused the roommate to become narrow minded. Chimamanda spoke about how the full picture is not realized from one single story. I could go on and on about Chimamanda, I loved her speech, and we spoke about it for the rest of the class session, however this blog would be a thousand pages long if I did. 

The single story did however challenge me to think about everything a little differently and check myself to ensure I see a complete dimensional person. I think everyone should listen to the speech.(It's on youtube) The fact of generalizing a specific thing happens often. I have my own single stories, like thinking my class would be all radical, closed-mined to men, feminists because it was a women's study class opposed to really getting a full picture and realizing that it is fascinating and I absolutely love it. I'm so glad I pushed myself to do this program and expand my comfort zone. 
Sayles Hall. Where we met for our training.

After class we had one last thing to do today. All the other classes don't meet as frequently as the leadership classes, because we have class and also trainings. For this training we did a demonstration of what type of leader you are. The 4 types of leaders were sectioned into the directions of a compass.  We then walked to the place with the type of leader we thought we were and spoke with others about it. Then we traveled to the direction we were most weak in. We then talked with those similar people. It was fun to see what the types of leaders are, but I couldn't decide completely which I was. Then we did a skit portraying what it was like to work with only people of your kind of leader. it wad  pretty easy to act out because we were being ourselves, only magnified. 

Today proved to show me that I'm not just one single story that likes biology but a full book and cannot be defined by one person. I even surprised myself with how much I like my class. Today was a long day.

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