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A Blog About Culture

Recognition, Situation, Identity, Reality

I’d like to expound on my Blackboard Discussion Board reflection of the residency by explaining an idea that reverberated (pun intended) with me while considering our experiences on campus last week, after beginning a Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability program at Goucher College. Some of my fellow classmates and I felt strongly about the sense of community that we created for ourselves in this program. Over the course of the week, our various backgrounds and lifestyles merged together to form an amazing experience that I believe transcended the individual efforts alone. In other words, the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. I thought of a few metaphors to describe this phenomenon:

  • Dynamite that originates from one point to explode into a great firework
  • Ionization of charged ‘excited’ particles
  • Sympathetic strings of a sitar (see YouTube video below)

I think my feelings about the community of education at the residency can perhaps most accurately be represented with my final metaphor of a sitar. A sitar is played by plucking a multitude of strings, but leaving several “sympathetic strings” untouched. These strings reverberate upon hearing a correct tone (I’m not an expert on musical terminology, Michele), producing a drone sound in the background. I feel like my experience in the residency matched the excited reverberation of a sympathetic string. Hearing other viewpoints, I became inspired to sing with my own ideas.

I do not think that I would have felt that way without becoming included in such a community. Since my groundwork project will revolve around the concept of community and how its members feel connected as a whole, I think that an exploration of that reverberating feeling (if possible) could be a crucial component of my research.

I was thinking that it would be difficult to “cold call” interviewees with such unusual questions as “What shared values do you think comprise your community?” Instead, I think that a more direct approach might be more fruitful. Being accepted for being myself signaled, like a Spidey Sense, that I was becoming part of a real community. During what other events does this sensation of recognition occur, if it ever does? How is the introspective awareness of community felt? Many people associate the holiday season with closeness of community. What specifically creates that feeling? The coming together of families? I’d like to look more closely into the psychological and sociological natures of family, and how those same feelings expand to communities.

That being said, I think that some parts of such a deep connection I felt at the residency stemmed from the discussions of which we were all a part. We all spoke, presenting and defending ideas that are important to us. They touch our cores more deeply; we feel the important worth. Sharing such intimate and passionate ideas becomes emotive, and I believe that the conversational process in which we engaged actually and actively fostered community. Again my interests delve into the psychological. How do talk-therapy sessions help clients? How do hearing stories of trying times build community? How does telling them?

I’m interested in an interdisciplinary explanation of the good feelings we associate with belonging and inclusion. I think that understanding and making conscious these emotions will lead to efforts to sustain cultures.

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