For me, my initial learning goal for this University studies course was to learn how to better interact with culture in this country. Popular culture is something we are surrounded by everyday, and interact with whether we want to or not, especially in our careers and studies. Related to my communication goal, I originally wrote, “…my job has had me practicing many forms of communication for a while. I often have to engage in consultation with individuals and groups through electronics, as well as in person. In addition, I have to often represent my ideas visually and orally for others to understand.
This term I can probably best see the ability for this group to learn together when it comes to how groups of people collaborate… As far as this group, I would hope that at the very least it would be able to communicate without long periods of absence this term. I have had many experiences with online groups dissipating due to inactivity from members, which just causes the other group members to suffer as they struggle to a. figure out what is going on with their group and b. try to keep up with the often difficult work that groups are assigned.” I do believe that I (as well as the group as a whole) was able to accomplish this goal. Almost every week’s workshop group is a testament to that as almost all of the members communicated well and in a timely fashion. This is definitely a strength I can see myself developing. Especially as I become more and more committed to my own studies, simple things like communication become a higher priority. Luckily this is an incredibly useful skill that manifests itself both within temporary online groups, as well as their real life counterparts in any of the careers any of us may go into.
As far as a struggle, near week 8, I began to take on more responsibilities in my job, and as a result I began to fall behind in terms of the work I was doing for school. I was encouraged through email by the professor of the course to communicate with my group members that I would be a little late on turning in a rough draft for the mirror essay. I was able to communicate to them, but unfortunately it didn’t communicate very well. This wouldn’t have normally been a problem, except this week required additional peer reviews from two different members. As I was a day late on it, I only received one peer review, which may have affected the overall quality of my essay.
As a reviewer, however, this peer review assignment helped me improve. Up to this point, almost every peer review I have ever done has been anonymous. While I understand this helps to be “truthful and blunt” in many cases, I have always seen a disconnect between anonymous reviews and those done by professors of a class. The way the groups were established from the beginning, and the way the review assignment was introduced and carried out, allowed us to give actual advise, without worrying about what people may think of what we have said to them. In many cases I can see that being anonymous allows us to be protect our identities for this, but I believe that having a name of a person we have gotten to know attached to the review letter helps to make the compliments more genuine, and the critiques more friendly. For example, in some of the compliments I gave to Penny and Aubree: “Wow! Right from the beginning your thesis stood out and I knew exactly what your essay was going to be about. You were very clear about how these stereotypes existed in each of the popular sources, and Im glad that you went from a movie that exaggerated everything about being a ballerina, toward what you believed to be more realistic portrayals of the art form” “From the very beginning, I can tell you are very passionate about this subject.” “I definitely enjoyed that you identified all the stereotypes that you have experienced, and then found them in different movies”.
At this point in the term, these comments aren’t just empty compliments for the purpose of completing a project, but instead genuine friendly compliments for real people that I want to see do well. The assignment allowed for the critiques to be real as well: “But I kind of wished that you would have expanded on some of the later show that will be released in the fall (or at least what you have been able to find about it).” “I’m not sure if it was intentional for you to wait until the end to begin to really bring your own personal experience into the essay, but I could see this being used in some kind of magazine article as a result. Otherwise it would be cool to get your own personal perspective on these topics woven throughout. This also might allow it the essay flow consistently.” “Otherwise the only thing I could see as missing were your sources cited. But even without them, it was clear which sources you used, which thoughts were yours, and which were summaries or references to the sources. The only other thing I would expand upon again have to do with your own experiences as a result of these examples. One of the questions for the rubric asks how your experience compares, and another asks how these things influence you or others. This would also be an interesting first hand account because you don’t often hear about what dancers say about things such as eating disorders and drama.” “The only thing I would have liked to see is where these stereotypes come from. Did they exist before these movies existed? Or were they made up for these movies, and as a result society began to mirror them when they saw them. This could be a good thing to use secondary sources for (I didn’t notice any in the essay), as otherwise it just seems like you are responding to these stereotypes personally.” As I watched these ideas form throughout the term, I knew where they were coming from, and had some kind of investment in seeing my group members do well.
Additionally, not being anonymous allows real connections to be made with a topic. For example, I wrote: “I have had the opportunity lately to interact from many people from both Hawai’i as well the Caribbean (I know they are definitely different, but hear me out), and you definitely bring up all of the same things that I can see they deal with on a daily basis when they leave the islands. For instance, my girlfriend is from Barbados, and she is almost 100% of the time asked how her English is so good, when in fact, everyone on the island speaks English. I can definitely see the same response in your letter as she often gives; the ignorance in people of other cultures is SO present in today’s society.” Coming from a “faceless” person on the internet, I imagine these kinds of comments would not mean much to the person being reviewed, and in many cases might even be straight up inappropriate to make. But this allowed for a discourse to take place between real individuals with lives connected to the work they were doing.
In regards to my own life and career moving forward, this course has helped me learn about tools I can use for the analysis of artifacts and types of culture I come across. As an international studies major, this will especially be helpful when I begin to come across aspects of popular artifacts when analyzing other cultures throughout the world, or interacting with people from different countries.
In addition to this, the mirror essay has helped me analyze who I would like to be, and popular artifacts related to my being. My final paragraph in the essay will stand out in my mind as an ultimate conclusion to this project: “Even though many of the musicians I have been surrounded by growing up show these qualities, I have a much greater awareness that it is easy to become assimilated to that type of lifestyle, and in the end I decided that I didn’t want to live like that. This doesn’t mean that I am any less of a musician than before. I chose to affiliate myself with this life, and of course have to interact with those that do unfortunately show many of these characteristics. But when comparing the documentary It Might Get Loud to some of the ‘mocumentaries’ such as Parks and Rec and This is Spinal Tap, it has shown that perhaps musicians aren’t like this in reality. This tells me that the stereotypes that exist in many of the ‘not-yet-professional’ musicians throughout the world are merely mirroring what we see in media, and not an accurate portrayal of what actually exists.” I had never analyzed artifacts related to myself, nor have I taken into account how they relate to me. But this assignment helped (and required me) to think about how they are associated with my life. They even allowed me to make real decisions on how to change my life for the better when interacting with other musicians that I come across.
Ultimately, this course was unique in how intertwined it can be with one’s own life. By opening yourself up, the assignments have real implications related to how to interact with the world.