Thursday, September 22, 2005
creating art, creating a (teacher) community
I just got back home a couple of hours ago from a two day cultural / arts retreat with other students from my grad program at this place called "Rainbow Lodge" near Mount Si. Despite the funny name, it was a nice facility with a beautiful view of the surrounding natural area and very hotel-esque accommodations. Most of the 50 people in my cohort bunked in 2-person rooms, which were furnished with two twin beds, a desk, and sink. Quite plush.
While the focus of the retreat was on integrating the arts (drama, music, painting, etc.) and multi-cultural aspects into how we as future teachers can teach students on subjects like mathematics and history, another unspoken aspect of the time was getting to know each other much more. While for all us, the final goal of "becoming a teacher" is a common aspiration, I'm fascinated by the fact that every person in the program has their own unique story about wanting to start the journey to that goal.
In our free time, I found it amusing how we all wanted to hang out more together, despite our many differences. Evening freetime was spent chatting, walking, playing volleyball, throwing a frisbee, and drinking wine that was generously brought by one of the professors. At one point, I dropped a bracelet that I had bought in Kamakura, but I didn't have to look alone or for very long... a bunch of people volunteered to help me find it after they saw me hunched over, searching around the grass. Night time, most people stayed up late to play cards, board games, speed scrabble, eat pizza, and yep, drink booze together.
Several runs to the grocery store were made.
Since so much of artistic expression comes from personal interpretations, it's only natural that in creating and explaining their "art", everyone was trusting everyone else enough to share parts of themselves. The fact I could share a lot of deep things with people who were just over 3 weeks ago complete strangers was surprising to me, but after building so many different friendships with people, it came naturally.
One of the art projects everybody in the group did individually was make a "culture box" to tell about their family background with materials brought from home. For my box, I covered it with newspapers from Chinatown to represent my Chinese and immigrant heritage - newspaper being the versatile item that you can read, you can wrap fish in it, you can fold it, you can use it to start a fire, etc. In places along the sides, I wrote in red paint the Chinese characters for my parents' surnames, as well as a Bible verse in both English and Chinese. I filled the box with B&W computer printed copies of family pics, including a photo of my dad's parents' wedding. Inside, there's also a bracelet of white, green, and red beads, to represent the sacrifice my grandma made when she sold her wedding jewelry to help pay for my maternal grandfather to immigrate to America.
Finally, what Chinese box would be complete without a pair of wooden chopsticks? I had to rep my love for food.
All in all, it was a busy two days, but I've come away from it with the gift of being a part of a new community, as well as seeing the humanity of my fellow classmates even more. Their stories were so present in mind that when the class was given a silent 45 minutes to create a piece of art to summarize their experience at the camp, I wrote a poem describing both myself and the group as a whole.
My amateurish verse goes:
Who Am I?
who am i?
i'm here at the rainbow lodge
learning, talking, listening...
eating goldfish & sipping red wine.
my hair is black, brown, blond,
red, a little gray, straight & curly
it's long, in a bun, flowing outta my freshly shaved head.
i'm tall, short, skinny but not scrawny,
eyes wide-open, i'm normal-sized,
and no, i don't need more exercise -
i spend plenty of time chasing frisbees, serving coffee,
bumping volleyballs, drinking beer, climbing mountains,
reading long books, making music, and bobbing my head to the beat.
i'm white, i'm asian, i'm latina, i'm black
si, habla espanol! wo keyi shuo yi dianr putonghua!
sumimasen, kimi wa nihongo o shabemasuka? hai, sukoshi dake.
i'm multi-lingual, monolingual,
married, engaged, dating, and single,
i'm an all-american, a woman and sometimes a man.
i'm more than meets the eye,
a transformer that was transformed.
i'm a steward of facts, figures, letters, and numbers,
i'm a distributor of ideas and wisdom,
a hawk spreading her wings, feeding a nest of hungry baby crows.
i'm God's beloved, a missionary of mercy,
a finder of lost children.
i might be under-paid, under-appreciated,
over-worked, and over-looked,
but still i'll step forward, i'll stand in the gap.
who am i?
i'm someone who's crazy enough to be a teacher.
It felt like a weekend, but guess what? I still got 6 hours of class tomorrow, bright and early.
your grad cohort sounds pretty cool. i think thats one of the best parts of (grad) school... the camaraderie.
bwhahahha. i was just thinking about the poor goldfish before i headed here. thinking how could u eat goldfish. but then it came to me. the crackers! haha. all this time i had thought u were eating actual fish. and poor little goldfish to boot! -fPost a Comment