An eye-opening activity

Trip Start Jul 09, 2009
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Trip End Dec 12, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Monday, July 20, 2009

Hello!

I took a break from blogging :) I hope you didn't mind! Yesterday was my first day off and Helen (my roommate) and I spent it resting and relaxing. It was glorious! 

Today (Monday) we participated in a 3-hour leadership session. I was a bit worried when I saw the words "lecture" and the time frame of 3 hours together but, thank goodness, it wasn't a lecture :) It was an active 3-hour session dedicated to the concept of leadership. (Thanks, Linda, for teaching me all there is to know about leadership during my junior year!)

After lunch we worked on blocking and movement. I practiced with the band for half the time. Everything is coming together nicely and we're all getting really excited to see the final product.

This is a short entry but I wanted to conclude by writing about an activity that we did on Saturday. Our educational session was on stereotyping and assumptions. We discussed how easily we stereotype those who are different than us and make assumptions - sometimes broad and far-fetched - about those whom we do not know.

The staff had pasted blank sheets of paper around our rehearsal hall and on each paper was the name of a country represented in our UWP cast. We were given writing utensils and asked to write the first word that came to our minds about each country. This was difficult as many in the cast are not international travelers. People wrote "model" and "tan blondes" under Sweden. "Chocolate" was commonly written under Switzerland. Foods such as "tacos" and drinks such as "margaritas" were written under Mexico.

The following words were written under the United States:
Materialism
Fast food
Highways
Lazy
Ignorant 
Arrogant
Attitude
Too much
False Idols (things)
Dirty 
Greedy
McDonald's
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Disneyland
Consumption
Segregated
Big
Wasteful

After everyone had a chance to write what came to mind about each country, those from each country got together to discuss what was written on their poster. There are 36 cast members in UWP that represent the United States; more than half of the cast. 

We were the most silent of any group. We were astonished by what was written on the posters but, unfortunately, no one could deny that any of words were false. For example, all of our representatives from Sweden are brunettes. Thus the assumptions that those from Sweden are "blonde, tan models" as false. 

As a group representing the United States, we understand that not all of the words on our poster describe the collective American population. One must ask oneself how a group of students with no previous international experience came to use such descriptors about our country's people? We decided, as a group of American citizens, that we wanted to change the world's viewpoint. And we think that this international experience may be a stepping stone on the journey to recreating America's image.
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