closure?

Someone told me yesterday that they were somewhat surprised by the open-ended presentation and discussion at the session we did on Nov 2 because they were expecting some kind of conclusion or answer…really, there is no “answer” per se, but still (hopefully) a new thread of consciousness or awareness that the usual way of doing things can (has, and often still does) lead to a perception of indifference to any discourse (or person?) which isn’t US-centric.
I’ve really been enjoying the spaces that have opened up, especially in the rhetoric class but also in private conversations, and the timing of having several CSC talks on topics other than the US has been fortuitous. 🙂
My own key finding from the whole mentoring process is how intolerant many Americans are to spending time engaged in discussion about other countries – especially during classes. As someone else told me yesterday, this isn’t news for international students, but what a great outcome for the project itself.
The personal learning I’ve taken away is the ability to actually notice when this happens…when the discursive space to discuss how theory might apply to different cultural examples is closed down and shifted back to an American context. I am starting to watch for the actual moves made that shift the discourse back to the US at the center…its informal of course.
Now, the tricky part (seems to me) to revolve around two issues – opening up these discussions and spaces in ways that aren’t about guilt (but there is a stage of consciousness-raising when sensitivities are heightened in uncomfortable ways – as far as I know the only way through this is to endure it; it will pass)
And also creating the space without expectation that international students MUST leap to fill it. I’ve got a bit of a question going on in my mind about forcing conformity to the US educational mode – open discussion among students and faculty, questions and answers as a normalized part of the discourse. It seems to me that sensivity to the adjustment process is both necessary and yet also sortof insidiously serves to reinforce the status quo. Simplistically – if participation isn’t the way school is done in India, or China, or Korea (for instance, obviously I’m at risk of revealing my ignorance!), then we can’t expect participation, and if we don’t expect participation then, self-fulfilling prophecy! No (or little) participation.
So I’ve got some sort of half-formed question in my mind about the balance between support of various cultural ways of being and “forced” acculturation. How desirable is it for international students to move concerns of Canada, Romania, China, Japan, Korea, India to the center of classroom discourse? It seems a discussion of pros and cons might be something worth engaging.

One thought on “closure?”

  1. I’m trying NOT to read Too Much into finding a handout on “strange loops” draped over the two boxes with the handouts in them. Is there a judgment lurking out there that I’ve invented my own reality regarding the project as a whole? 🙂 Stranger things could happen…!

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