Writing for May 8th

Research Resources:

Two readings that significantly affected the focus of my CERP were the Arts Activism reading and the "To Hell with Good Intentions."

The first opened my eyes to how rich in meaning graffiti can be. It is expression, most of the time speaking out against the status quo. I am interested in the fact that this art takes its power in part from the space that it physically takes up. It is part of people's lives, whether they embrace it or not. After looking at the Maxim Gorki's work (reading on their website, and watching many of their videos on their YouTube page), it struck me that there is a barrier in getting people physically to the theatre to see the work there, and the focus must be on the art itself because there are so many people coming to the show you can't tailor it to each audience member personally. I would love to focus on art in Germany, but more importantly I want to focus on the people I work with. So, this arts activism reading eventually brought me to the conclusion that I want to work closer to the community at an organization such as a museum with community programming.

The second reading focused my intentions for the study abroad, or rather began the conversation that changed my perspective. I wanted to "help the refugees" but having that reason alone made me internally uncomfortable. Of course, I want to help people when I'm there, but there is something more and something two-way about the opportunity that I was not picturing clearly. But then I realized that this all comes back to why I like to travel in the first place: to connect with people and reach out across cultural and physical boundaries. Understanding international situations and other cultures allows us to think more and more as a global community sharing common interests. Being a part of that gives me a better sense of why I am doing this study abroad, and we will also have our partner organizations for advice, support, and an already established place in the community from which to start. This further informs my decision to work closer to the community to have more personal interactions and embrace the challenges and possibilities of cross-cultural work.

Key Points of Readings:

The Davis article brings up a question to keep in mind: after the service work, where will the service have put the served versus the server. However, I would venture to reject the ideas of served and server for our program. Both us and those we'll be working with have things to learn about the other, and most importantly we are all working together.

The idea of an individualistic citizenship education based on character being more prevalent than a political, public policy education rings true for me. I wonder if educators do not want to instill political beliefs in class (perhaps with parents in mind), so avoid the subjects in the hopes that the focus on "good" character will bring them to "good" opinions on policy and cooperation. I think it is unreasonable to expect people to do something they do not practice doing. Like we say in theatre, you practice as you perform. Engagement as a citizen is no different. I hope we get many chances to discuss policies and politics to learn from the perspectives in Germany.

Identity can be closely connected with our communication. If we reflect, then we give ourselves a chance to form opinions and developed thoughts, feel more confident sharing this with others, and then form a foundation for specific conversation. We no longer talk in terms of broad concepts, but are more inclined to think of society as an active member in it.