Thursday, July 12, 2012

Patience is Rewarded

Working with Lisa is a true process.  There is no instant gratification when dealing with the Theatre of the Oppressed and many of my classmates and I had this realization today during the third and fourth workshops Lisa guided us through.  Prof. Lamas understood the difficulty that some of my peers had with the work we were doing yesterday in class, and in response to people's concerns he provided the option to work, for the day, on a different project along the subject lines of Social Justice.  While a few student's decided to go out into other areas of Philly and create videos, or work on other projects, I wanted to stick out the time I had with Lisa today.  Even though yesterday was different and the work much more structured than we are used to, I still had a fun time learning new activities and getting to know everyone in class better.  We were really able to bond yesterday, so I had hope that even if I struggled with Lisa's activities today, I would have the satisfaction of growing closer with the people in my class.

In workshop three, the morning portion, we began class with our special handshake and then split up into two circles to play more nonverbal games.  I think these "gamsercises" (games and exercises) have helped stop me from immediately blurting out my thoughts to someone, and instead I am beginning to think more consciously about the words that come out of my mouth and what meaning they really carry.  We went on from these activities to making "machines," by having one person at a time make a sound and movement that the next person would try to connect with.  For example, Lisa would give us the phrase "cookie machine" and we would go up one by one to the front of the class and create a movement and noise that we think would make an appropriate piece for a machine that produces cookies.  The next person would then jump up and create their own part of the cookie machine that works with the first movement, and so on.  It was challenging to think of machine pieces so quickly, but I had fun with it because I was able to be a little spontaneous and act out what came to mind without feeling that embarrassed around everyone.  Later on we broke up into the same two groups we were in at the beginning and discussed pressures that teens commonly feel and the forces responsible for putting that pressure upon us.  My group came up with a number of general and specific examples, and then Lisa asked us to write down the generally stressful categories on post-its.  Once both groups had done this, we had a short reflection and then departed for our lovely two hour lunch.

In the afternoon, we continued class from where we had left off with the sticky notes.  Prof. Lamas came in for a minute to discuss the option of taking two days of to work on another project next week or the week after, but the option to leave the second half of class today was off the table; no one wanted to miss the fourth workshop anyways so we were happy to stay.  In this workshop we broke into five or six different groups and each group was labeled a different category from the post-its we wrote on this morning.  My group for instance was labeled relationships, so we took that category and each of us had to separately sculpt our group in relation to that topic.  However, these sculpted scenes were not random, but they had to stem from our personal experiences.  This way we were really able to connect to the sculpture and convince the rest of the class that we had true understanding of the image depicted when we presented them all at the end of the day.  For me, it was easier and more fun to be the "sculptee" than the sculptor because I was able to get a sense of how the sculptor was feeling and learn a little bit more about them through the scene.  This activity was awesome!  I have done this with my dance company before, but I felt that the messages were deeper during this workshop with Lisa.  I am so glad that she is spending so much time with us because I have already learned, to greater extent, how to appreciate work that doesn't immediately reveal its purpose.  I have so much respect for Lisa for being so patient and passionate with us, and for tomorrow I am extremely excited to end the week learning more about her work with The Theatre of the Oppressed and her methods on achieving justice.  Besides, these gamesercises we're doing are awesome!

Day Two

As I walked to class I didn't quite know what to expect. Her teaching methods aren't like anything I am used to, so I was excited to see what she had planned for today. We began the class with a small speech from Prof. Lamas, and after that we dived right in. There was more working with shaping our bodies to express how we felt. That was one of my favorite workshops from yesterday, so I was happy to get another chance to work on that. I have enjoyed the past two days so much, because I think it has really brought our class together. All the different work shops have allowed us to interact with one another aside from our normal class discussions. The other thing that I enjoyed about the different workshops we've been doing is that everybody has their own interpretations. For example, today we all had topics that we had to shape our bodies into, and the audience has to interpret it the full image into words. It was really interesting to hear what others had to say about it. It really did just make me stop my train of thought, and just try to view it from their point of view. It makes you think about everybody around you, and how they view the same things you do.

Clara, Chloe, Alysa, and I went to dinner together, which was surprisingly pretty empty. The rest of my evening was spent with the girls from my cohort, except for Mariko who was participating in a friendly game of soccer.  A long visit to the gym followed dinner, and then a blogging party in my headquarters. As for now, I am just getting ready for bed, and looking forward to what's in store for us tomorrow. One thing is for sure, Lisa Jo does not disappoint!

Something Different

Today was a day that I did not necessarily look forward to for one  reason.First off, today would be a continuation of what we did yesterday , of which I didn't understand the significance of what we were doing.So I got up , ate breakfast , and headed to class. 

Many people from yesterday's session , were somewhat disrespectful in regards to cell phones or having small side conversations. This is because in our regular class we have a lot more freedom to ourselves and discuss issues that are bothering us in this world. Mr lamas actually gave all of us an option to take a break for that day or an option to work on our website. I just thought this was a test to see who would actually stay true to there commitment to the class along with professor Lamas himself. I decided to stay because I was taught that once you begin something, you ride it through till the end. I believed in this and thought that there was a underlying theme to all the" madness" going on.

When class started we sat in a circle and everyone stated something that they loved and were obsessed with. Not only that but once we were done we had to pass the turn the next person with our eyes. I wondered what this could mean , but couldn't yet grasp the concept. We then played "gamecercise" which are intended to be fun sorts of mental exercises.Today they seemed more fun and actually interactive and it also seemed like the people that weren't necessarily comfortable speaking were coming out of their shell and not having to worry about being judged by what they say. This brought the whole class closer together. I was finally starting to get what all of this was building up to. Now it was lunch time, another 2 hours until class would start again.
One of the gamecises

One More.
When lunch was over we all headed over to the same room as yesterday afternoon. Its full of space for us to move and around and interact even more so than the first room. When then picked groups based off of things that happen in our teenage life that we all can understand in one shape or form, such as stress, cliques,love, parents, etc. We than all came up with a picture using the students in our group as statues to represent certain things we were experience regarding that subject. We all then presented, and it was open for interpretation. It was interesting the way people analyzed what the picture could mean and how it differed from what the actual meaning was supposed to mean. This just allowed us to see how different people see things differently and its the experiences or the certain circumstances that cause that meaning to come forth in that individual. Today was a very successful day and I am very glad that I made a wise decision to stay and actually put use to the "nonsense" my parents teach me .

Preparing For Hershey

I sat in my seat, filled with excitement, ready for tomorrow’s journey. Today, we went over the preliminaries for research our project at Hershey Park, where we will measure the acceleration and make a complete analysis of one roller coaster. Professor Bill then gave us a couple of examples of the physics behind the thrill rides. We then meet the equipment that we will take onto our ride, along with how we were going to carry it on the actual ride without dropping it. Then we broke up into groups of 3 to 4 of our choice, which I like because I gave me another chance to meet as many people as possible. My partners for this epic project are Kim, who is from Spain, and Michael. After getting to know my partners and the equipment, we were dismissed for lunch.

Interns Showing Off The Equipment

After lunch, we came back to an incredible lab, that even came with a warning, “Try Not To Get Shocked.” Well back in the early 1900s, Robert Millikan was performing oil drop experiments to discover the charge of an electron. Today, we did a similar experiment with similar results in less than two hours. It really fun doing the experiments that the famous physicist used, which led to their discoveries.  I feel that I understand the concept a whole lot more than if I was just to read a book. Also, no one in my group got shocked, but I did hear that other groups weren’t as fortunate. Just before we were about to leave, Craig told me that I was chosen by the random generator to pick my roller coaster. Many of the other rides were chosen, but I was still able to pick one that seemed very scary, which means it is going to be fun. I chose the Sidewinder because it has loops, looks fast, and is not made out of wood, which is too scary for me.
Neil Performing The Oil Drop Experiment
After class, I went to play soccer with the same people as Tuesday. It was really fun, but my legs were quickly killing me after playing Tuesday and yesterday’s run with Clara. And just like Tuesday, random joggers joined in our game, which made the game more exciting. I think it is just crazy that everybody in the Penn area are really friendly, it adds a lot to the fun, which is why it is impossible to be bored at Penn.
Tomorrow is Friday! It’s going to be my favorite day at Penn, I can just feel it. The day begins with Hershey Park, and then ends with a movie, The Amazing Spider. It’s getting late and I am going to need a bunch of rest so that I can enjoy tomorrow to the max.

Pick (Me) Up

Most of this week has been dominated by preparations for tomorrow’s trip to Hershey Park, and today was the culmination of all the prep work. Morning lecture consisted of familiarizing ourselves with the different equipment we’ll be using tomorrow, as well as choosing our groups and rides. I’m in a group with Clara, Alysa, and Jessica (from Connecticut). Tomorrow we’ll be analyzing the Wildcat rollercoaster by recording the accelerations on the x, y, and z planes and linking our data to video feed of the ride.
The vest that looks like terrorist gear is actually a great way to carry a GLX
Bill shows off the homemade car track
In the afternoon, we learned about the Millikan Oil Drop Experiment and conducted a form of the experiment ourselves. The experiment was originally conducted to find out the charge of an individual electron by using X-rays to knock electrons off of tiny drops of oil suspended between two charged plates. Our experiment didn’t use any X-rays, but we were able to simulate enough of the experiment to gain a profound respect for the difficulty of sorting through all that data and coming up with conclusive results.

I went to pick-up soccer again today. A group of about 14 Summer Discovery kids walked over to Penn Park together and we stayed for two hours. The softball people relegated us to a small portion of the field, but we still had a blast. Just like on Tuesday, various college students joined our pick-up game, but this time there were a few women, not just guys, which made me happy. We made it to Houston 5 minutes before closing time, but thankfully we didn’t have any trouble getting our food. After dinner, we returned to the quad, saw a game going on in the lower quad, and joined in for another hour.

I’m so happy to have found other people who love soccer just as much, if not more, than I do. I didn’t have that kind of network last summer at Brown, and I really appreciate it here. It’s been a great way to meet new people who share the same passion that I do, and talking with these new friends over dinner has been quite eye opening. Ed and Eli were absolutely right when they told us at orientation that the best learning experiences here would be gained from each other.

I talked with Ricardo (Spanish, taking a six week econ class) during dinner and it was really interesting to hear what he had to say about differences between the American and Spanish cultures. I was really surprised to hear that not many girls play sports in Spain, and especially surprised to learn that not that many girls play soccer. Spain obviously has such a huge soccer culture–Kim, the other Spanish guy, has never played on an organized team but he’s better than most of the college players–yet Ricardo told me that playing with Kaley, Gabby, and me is a new experience for him. However, he also told us that we play like Spaniards, which was an incredible compliment. I’ve noticed that U.S. girls tend to play more cooperatively (we actually pass to each other) than U.S. guys, so that’s probably the main reason that Ricardo formed that opinion of us. I’m so grateful to have this soccer experience before I go back home and join my new team. I think that thanks to pick-up, I’ll have the confidence I need to do well this season.

Can't Wait Until Tomorrow!

This morning in class was spent in preparation for tomorrow's trip to Hershey Park.  I could tell you that I am not looking forward to this at all, but that would be a boldfaced lie.  I love roller coasters.  We learned how to use the data logging equipment and we picked the ride that we will be analyzing.  My group, consisting of Mariko, Alysa, and our friend Jessica, will be analyzing Wildcat, an aggressive thrill ride (or so it says on the website).  
Well that doesn't look too aggressive
Our outfits for tomorrow
We practiced taking data with our new toys for a bit before regrouping and changing pace.  Craig took over and gave us the background on the Millikan Oil Drop Experiment.  In the early 1900s, Robert Millikan and his two grad students performed an experiment where they shot an electron off a drop of oil and studied the behavior of the charged drop.  After many hours of oily concentration, the trio found the charge of one electron, a number used frequently in science today.  Millikan got the full credit for the experiment, hence the name, and he received a Nobel prize.  Apparently, snubbing the grad students is a common theme in the scientific world.  

We broke for lunch a little earlier than usual, and I discovered that the salad bar options at lunch are much more extensive than the ones at dinner.  Trying to stay healthy, I skipped the soda and drank a bottle of milk, which went very nicely with they insomnia cookie I bought before returning to class.

In the afternoon, we broke into our lab groups and actually got to perform the Millikan Oil Drop Experiment.  It was difficult to focus on the tiny drops of oil, and the apparatus we were using had 200 volts running through it, providing a nice risky experience.  It felt amazing to experience practically the same experiment Millikan did 100 years ago.

My afternoon was very relaxing.  I mailed some letters, read some of my book, and ran some errands, all before going to dinner with Alysa, Chloe, and Ivette.  I tend to eat a lot at dinner because it is purchased through a meal-swipe and served all-you-can-eat style.  I finished the day with a nice, long run. Tonight I will try and get some rest because tomorrow is a big, big day.

Rollercoaster Prep

This morning I decided to try a fruit salad from one of the street vendors right outside of the front gate. The fruit was all very juicy and sweet, I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed my fruity treat on the way to the david Rittenhouse Laboratories. 

Today in class we discussed the Millikan Oil Drop experiment. This experiment, performed by Robert Millikan and his T.A.'s, was to determine the charge of electrons. Prior to discussing the oil drop experiment, we were given information about our trip to Hershey Park that we will be making tomorrow. Our task at the amusement park is to log data about one specific roller coaster that we ride. My group consists of me, Clara,  Mariko, and Jessica. In addition to logging important information such as acceleration using a cool device strapped to our bodies, we have to do a complete analysis of the ride. The ride my group will be analyzing is Wildcat, which is very similar to Roar at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. 

Wildcat at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania.
Roar atSix Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California.

For lunch we went to Houston market as usual, but today I was prompted to try something new. Just when I thought I would have to start repeating food selections, something special caught my eye. I stopped by the sushi station I normally just pass by. Boy, was I surprised! I ordered Bento Box A and it did not disappoint. The bento box came with teriyaki chicken, white rice, two dumplings, a small salad, and a California roll. The food was just delicious; my stomach is growling as I think about it. I have decided that for the next few lunches I will get sushi until I have tried all of their seemingly endless possibilities.

After being released early from lab, I headed back to campus to clean up before dinner. I tidied up my room a little bit then met my cohort for dinner. Following dinner was a routine visit to the David Pottruck fitness center. 

It's getting late and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. So long!