Thursday, May 29, 2008

My son-in-law who teaches sociology in high school is giving an interesting experiential final (a part of the final grade). Students are required to place themselves in an alien social situation, experience it, and write about the experience. A devout Catholic will be attending a mosque or synagogue service, a person who has never tasted Asian food visiting and eating at a local shopping center where Korean is spoken more than English, a young woman who has been much sought after as a date inviting a guy on a date, and a rapper is going to a country concert. The idea intrigues me. What would be alien and interesting for me? For you? I can imagine myself very uncomfortable and out of place at a DAR meeting, or any gathering of conservative, ultrafeminine women. Ruth thinks it would be more of a stretch for me to spend time in a classrooom at an inner city school. The club and bar scene down on Sixth Street would definitely be a stretch.

6 comments:

Ruth said...

I didn't say in a classroom at Reagan--I said the Reagan culture. I think the classroom would be too familiar....

SeaStar said...

OK - not a classroom. You are right, classrooms in generalare pretty familiar so that would take the cultural edge off. How would we stick me in that culture without classroom? Maybe I'm showing how really unfamiliar by not even being able to imagine.

Peggy said...

How about a Catholic Mass in Zulu in KwazuluNatal? Or anything in rural Africa, really. Some of the places we went in western China would also qualify I think. Such very different cultures.

The way I usually deal with these kinds of things is to go into kind of an anthropologist mode. I kind of separate myself emotionally and observe. I really love this kind of thing though.

One I can think of where I was not so skilled at separating myself was when I was 21 and just arrived to live in a tiny Dutch village while Steve was in the Army.

It felt like we had stepped into another age. One evening in particular our landlord ( our verbal communication was zero at that point) indicated by motions he wanted to take us on a boat ride in a small rowboat like craft with an outboard motor. After we were seated several other rural farmers joined us.

We putted and putted through the marsh and reeds of this lake area and I had no idea where we were. It got nearly dark and we pulled up in front of an isolated unlit house. They indicated we should get out. I was getting nervous to say the least. I wondered if these were the "communists" the military warned us were surely out there to get us.

Actually we just visited this very old farmhouse that had no electricity and it was a very unique place. Like visiting an Old Master's painting. The men all gathered around the table and drank a few shots of jeniver (kind of like gin I think) and then we went back. They were actually giving us quite a treat.

The experience makes a great story too!

SeaStar said...

Thanks for your culture shock boat story Peggy. It does sound like a treat, but uncertain in the unfolding.

Mary said...

Alien and interesting...hmmm! Being at heavy metal concert would be alien but not interesting! Being with a bunch of druggies would be alien but not interesting.

Alien and interesting might be being with a group of triathletes. Or with a group of computer geeks.

I think being the only person of my race among a gathering of people who are Asian or African American (for example) would be an alien AND interesting experience.

I think in any large gathering I tend to gravitate with those with whom I sense SOME sort of similarity. Whether it be sex (female) or age or race or religion or profession or a particular interest (writing?) or?

But to be together in a more 'alien' environment where there doesn't seem to be a commonality would be an interesting challenge........

Good question!

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