The beginnings of the proficiency exam article will follow in my next post, but I first thought I’d blog about the expectations I have for students in Italy.
I’ve started with several exercises, and I’ll add them here as a place to begin – I’m trying to brainstorm these, which might be appropriate in a google doc, and I’ll probably transfer them as well…
From a list sent to the head of the Global Studies department…
This list encompasses some of the journal entries I’ve been thinking about doing. They’ve probably been done before, but I thought I’d check to make sure. If you’d prefer plausible deniability, I’ll be happy to pretend that this email never got sent…
>> These are to be done in teams of 2 or 3 (depending upon if I end up with eight or nine, and I might pair up with someone as well). I tend to approach these sorts of exercises from a writing perspective, and in this context we’ll talk relentlessly about expectations and borders as ways to situate themselves in this context.
>> 1. Interview someone for whom Italian is their first language. Language will be a barrier, so communicate however you need to. Your goal is to find out some basic information about this person – where they are from, what they do for a living, etc. You will also need to try to ask them one question about their experience in Rome. Try to frame this question to get a specific answer – for instance (and feel to copy this question or come up with one of your own), ask them their favorite restaurant or place to hang out, and then ask them to explain their answer. Record this conversation in a dialogue that you then contextualize, and post it to your weblog. (I’m hoping they will be sort of aggressive and seek people out for these).
>> 2. Interview one fellow traveler from another country. Finding someone who speaks English might be easiest, but if you speak another language then feel free to try someone in that language as well. Find out their impressions of Rome and Italy, but again find something specific – what was the first thing they ‘saw’ (framed how you will) when they got to Rome, for instance. Record this conversation in a dialogue that you then contextualize, and post it to your weblog. (as I remember there were several places where foreigners, esp. young folks, hung out, and I’d like them to get this part of the experience as well).
>> 3. (This entry requires approval of your destination). Jump on the train and get off at a stop you have not been to you yet. Find the first public place with a seat and park yourself in it. Spend the next hour observing your surroundings and taking notes: anything is fair game, including the people you see. Tweet at least five of these observations. Once you’re able, write these observations up in a journal entry, and post it to your weblog.
>> 4. Working with your instructors and other resources you have at hand, identify a place that has had more than one function. Go visit it, and discover as much as you can about it. If you are able, ask people you see about their impressions, but if not then do as much observation as you can. Include photos, video, drawings, and any other type of visual representation that will help you make your case as to why this site is a compelling one to investigate. (they’ll do this twice, mostly to give them a head start on one of their final projects).
>> 5. (Pre-approval of your destination is required). Find a venue with live music and sit in (don’t pay more than a cover charge, and don’t see a band that you already know). Observe your own reactions to the music (reactions to music are intensely personal, so please be respectful of other people’s tastes). Observe, and think about the questions you’d like to ask the musicians. See if you can arrive at answers.
>> Each journal entry will require responses as well, and I’ll tweak my rubrics a bit to make them more compatible with experiential learning.
>> I also want to have them use Twitter to create a live dialogue that everyone can see, especially as they do these sorts of expeditions. If they don’t have the Internet on the phones that Walsh gives them then I’ll scratch that plan, but if possible I’d like to create a live class using either Twitter or Google +.
>> I’m still working on some of the other journals I’m planning, but they’re looking similar to this sort of style. I’d really like some of our outside of class time to be spent doing this research, and I’m working under the assumption that for every one productive hour they will require at least two (and probably more like four) in trying to figure these types of assignments out. I’m very comfortable with that, because in my mind providing these sorts of opportunities to observe, discover, personalize, and contextualize will be beneficial in the end.
>> I’d also like to create some sort of chart that will help us bound, one that we can create in Google docs (or +) if need be. The chart would include things like 1) first successful ordering of a coffee or drink or whatever, 2) first time lost, 3) first time communicating with a cab driver, 4) first time negotiating with a merchant, 5) first time changing money on their own, 6) first time successfully plotting a course using a subway or city map, and so on. Any suggestions would be welcome, but we’d make this sort of a friendly competition that will hopefully trigger conversation and other entries.
>> This all rough, of course, and I’m sure pretty naive in many regards. I also understand if my plans go beyond what we want to do at Walsh (I’d love to have them go to a dance club and write about that for instance, partially because I so fondly remember doing that in my college trip abroad, but that might be problematic from Laura’s point of view). I’m more than willing to tweak or work with you and/or Danilo. But I firmly believe that we can make these sorts of experiences work, and if we frame them as team exercises (I’m thinking consistent teams for three weeks at a time and then switch offs) we’ll minimize safety concerns.
I’d like to add some other experiential exercises, and I’ll need to work them into a couple of entries, but I’m thinking something along these lines:
- see a sporting event – soccer would be preferable, and a college game would be fine…
- observe store fronts – what goes in them, how are they arranged…
- observe the types of stores – where do Romans buy groceries, etc.
- what do you see Romans reading? mobiles? newspapers? Magazines, books? etc.
- what do Romans wear? can you make distinctions? do you see subcultures?
I’ll keep working on these, of course…
What I think I can emphasize, especially in connection with Barzini’s book, is the idea of identity…maybe we can read Alcoff’s essay, although I think that some essays on identity might be more useful…