ReConstructing Mentoring

“When the dawn comes, the night will be a memory too, and a new day has begun!”
We have yet to see about the “new day,” but by most accounts the combo presentation/play Li and I provided Sunday about the mentoring project was a success. ­čÖé
Several folks asked about next steps. We have no further plans for group process within the department, although we encourage any and everyone who wants to do some kind of “follow-up” to do just that. Of course, I am wondering…will anything change? Will we just go back (more accurately, maintiain) things the way they were/are?
We probably won’t look at the tapes of the concluding small group sessions until January. Did anyone actually talk about indifference? It seems to me that, if everything is boiled down to the most basic “point” of what we learned in this project, it is that many international students experience the cumulative effect of domestic behavior, communication, etc., as indifference. I’m slowly becoming more able myself to notice when, how, where, etc., this can occur. I don’t know if anyone is interested in using my weblog as a place to continue discussion, but I will continue to keep talking and thinking about it here.
For instance, last night in the rhetoric class Stephen overtly created a space for the Chinese and Romanian members of the class to have some time at/in “the center of the discourse.” We were able to manage a little more than five minutes (maybe even 10!) trying to sort out places in Chinese politics where the discourse of candidates for elective office might be open to scrutiny. Of course, there is a huge learning curve for most of the U.S. students – who’s knowledge base is sketchy at best and completely misinformed by stereotype at worst (and I’m sure witnessing this is not exactly fun). But it was fascinating to see some parallels emerge between Chinese and US national politics, and consider whether Hariman’s four styles of political style could be applicable to the Chinese system or not.
I can’t recall how the transition occurred back to US national politics…but it did, so the Romanian system didn’t get explored, and what we could have learned from a three-way comparison also was lost. Does that mean we were somehow “bad?” No, I don’t think so. But we did revert to US cultural models rather quickly. I wonder, is this the kind of discursive activity that lends itself to the perception of indifference? In rough quantitative terms, we spent 95% of our discourse on American cultural examples.
I don’t bring the example up to bash it! Indeed, that 5% is a significant attempt and arguably a larger “space” than seems to typically occur. Is it helpful to note these instances? Has anyone else noticed a difference, or any other “effects” of Sunday’s session?
btw, I didn’t feel I did a very good job of thanking everyone who came. You know it would have been meaningless without you; I am very appreciative. I also invite anyone who wasn’t able to attend to dive right on into our discussion here or in any other ways that it makes sense to you. (If you’re shy about posting publicly, you can email me and I’ll post for you…both ways have already occurred in the comments over the past couple of weeks.)

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