Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reflection 15

Well it looks like this is pretty much it for the semester. This is the last blog post and i am not quite sure what to say. I did enjoy this class, no matter how many tons of reading or strenuous group projects we had to do. I guess that I wish I had maybe talked more in class, but that is something I always wish for when I am finished with a class. I know I am really quiet in class, but sitting in a room of 20 people, most of whom are more outspoken than me and seem to pull outside information into the class that I didn't even know existed, makes me severely intimidated. I really don't generally speak my mind unless I am having a conversation with a small group of people about something i know a lot about. Otherwise I just worry that i am going to get something horribly wrong and people are going to call me out on it.
But besides that, I did generally enjoy the class, and we did hit some issues I feel very strongly about, which I am sure will be quite obvious in my blog posts. I think more than anything I enjoyed having a class where everyone knows each other and can come talk to you about what you said in class later. It was slightly relieving to walk into the lounge the day before the mid term was due only to find seven people just as stressed out as me sitting in there rapidly typing on their computers. Luckily, that is not something that is going to change next semester, but it is something I think I will miss very much next year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reflection 15

My first semester at American University was life-altering to say the least. Through the University College Program I was exposed to numerous rich educational opportunities and experiences, and I met some of the best friends of my life. I learned how to manage my time as a full-time college student, balancing friends, extracurriculars, classes, and work. Most importantly, however, I have discovered the merits of attending a first-class university located in what is a global center for international relations. The numerous chances to attend events that affect constituencies world-wide and that demonstrate the importance of global awareness is an opportunity only offered to a handful of university students in the United States.

FIeld trips to places such as the French Embassy, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Kennedy Center as part of the UC allowed for a broader understanding of the world and a plethora of new experiences. Additionally, the many stimulating class discussions that occurred over the course of the semester exposed both myself and my classmates to new ideas and differing perspectives. Overall, I would recommend UC world politics to any and all prospective students as it is not only a very effective social outlet but also a wonderful educational opportunity that should not be passed by.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reflection 14—

The simulation…would have been better if we had simply had one or two more class periods to hash out all of the different issues. The topic was extremely stimulating and interesting and I just wish that we had been able to see it through to at least some sort of conclusion. However, overall I would deem the experience to be a success given the parameters of the assignment, although it would have been beneficial if some groups had participated in the representation of their entity more thoroughly. This would have been a good stimulus for discussion and also prevented other outside groups from influencing their decisions based on outside interests rather than internal facts about their organization. Despite this minor setback, the different constituencies brought to the conference introduced a variety of interests that were on the whole well represented. This simulation was a great way to employ some of what we have learned this semester, while forcing us to once again represent a group that we might not typically side with. As a representative of McDonalds it was difficult to separate my personal thoughts from the objectives of the McDonalds Corporation. However, as a group I though McDonalds was extremely well represented, even if some views were manipulated to support what we as individuals thought was important. Overall the simulation was engaging and informative and left the class on a good note. Thanks for all the time and work Class, Erin, and PTJ.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Simulation Forecast

Tomorrow is the simulation. I am already anticipating being marginalized as the WWF. Many of the guidelines proposed are economically based and I don’t think groups are going to have the environment on their agenda at all. Although we are connecting our own purposes to the economically driven guidelines, I still feel that we are going to have to make an extra effort for our voices to be heard.
I am pleased with the way our video turned out, thanks to Rachel for taking ownership of its creation, and I am confident with the extensive research we have found. Kate was successful in finding relevant case study and her and I have combined our research on a few topics in a way that I think will make our presentation effective.   
I do expect to have to fight a little harder to keep our objectives from being pushed aside but with what we’ve prepared, I think we’ll be able to do it.

Reflection 13—

The Museum of the American Indian is inherently ironic in its formation. The dismissal of reality is an unfortunate product of our cultural and political contempt for the indigenous people of America. The government displays the mirage of honoring and representing Indian culture and history on our national mall, when it is more of a glossing over of the past and present Indian reality. We have to make the conscious choice of whether to fully acknowledge Native American history or at least do it the service of honestly ignoring it altogether. Instead of choosing one of these two truthful options, we have decided that it is better to misrepresent the Indian past by focusing on the rich and diverse cultures. This would be all well and good accept for the fact that it was these cultures that America dismantled, discounted, and disrespected. It is a futile enterprise of reconciliation to now acknowledge the cultures without also recognizing the gross misdeeds we have performed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reflection 14

The correlation between Thanksgiving and our discussion of Native Americans (as well as the “discovery” of America by Columbus) could not have been more appropriate. Over the break, I became acutely aware of the flaws within this widely celebrated American holiday. Most striking was the realization that my younger sisters have been corrupted by grade-school ideas of peace and understanding between the pilgrims and Native Americans. Similarly throughout my childhood, it was taught that Thanksgiving was a time in which all the problems between “Indians” and the settlers had been alleviated. While I understand the importance of fostering a sense of thankfulness and acceptance within young children, it is wrong to do so by basing a holiday on a story which may or may not be true. Either way, many students are told that the Native Americans helped us out of good faith with no mention of the atrocities that were undoubtedly committed by settlers.

Regardless of its historical backgrounds, I believe that the festivities have become overshadowed by enjoyment of good food. While decent eating is a crucial part of Thanksgiving, the key word in the name is “thanks”. Before eating, my family takes turns explaining what they are thankful for, but is this really still following the spirit of the holiday? In a resource-rich society such as the United States, are do we actually still have the ability to understand how lucky we are? This year, I was appalled to see that chain stores such as Sears were open on Thanksgiving and would extend their Black Friday hours to 3 a.m. - it seems that more than anything else, this time of year has become associated with mega-sales and shopping sprees. But does anyone take the time to think about how fortunate we are to have the ability to even go shopping on that Friday? Ultimately, I think that everyone needs to take a step back and realize where they are living and the richness of their lifestyles, while also realizing where this holiday truly originated and understanding the true ramifications of the historical context.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reflection 14

I find it really ironic that we are reading the Todorov book this week. Of course, this week is thanksgiving, where we celebrate being together and being alive with mountains of food and time off of work and school. Of course, on the Original thanksgiving, the feast they made came from the help of the Native Americans, who taught the settlers of the Mayflower how to farm and hunt, and they celebrated the fact that the native Americans pretty much saved them from death. Then we go on to read Todorov, that offers deep insight into how the European settlers destroyed the Native American populations by killing them and giving them diseases. When I actually realized what was happening, I kind of laughed a little bit.
I thought about it a little more, and I realized how much the institution of thanksgiving in general directly correlates with constructivism. Thanksgiving is a purely American institution, where people spend hundreds of dollars traveling to family homes to spend a long weekend together, while for the rest of the world it's just another weekend. Thanksgiving gives the American public an identity completely unique to them, which distinguishes them from the rest of the world. And so thanksgiving also contributes to the theory of constructivism.