Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hello Panda

As I start to settle in for the fourth morning, my routine has come together. I am still in the process of adjusting to all of the buildings and directions from one hall to another, but I am getting increasingly comfortable at this university. I think that the culture shock is really getting to me. After my proctor dismissed us to walk to breakfast together, I saw Arnold, and we were both matching with our Vanderbilt t-shirts! It was so weird because it was unintentional, but he did wear his Emory shirt yesterday (traitor), so I should have expected it. As I have mentioned before, three of our friends are from Pennsylvania. We were all talking about the different uses of speech from each coast as well as the stores. I found out that they do not have a Jack-in-the-box there! It was pretty surprising since I thought Jack-in-the-box would be everywhere in the U.S.! We also learned of a term that they call (what is known as shaved ice in California) water ice. It is basically in the middle of what a snow cone and slushie is. 
I guess great minds think alike! 

It was time to walk over to class, again with our TA. Then, when we entered the classroom, we were also given an actual hard copy of the book, the "Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" involving Hmong culture and how their techniques were applied medicine-wise. Our lecture today was shorter than usual, but it was more focused on cultural and biomedical hegemony, and how those two tied into Kleinman's book, the "Illness Narratives". Cultural hegemony is where the dominant classes exercise their power both directly through the state and indirectly through a merging with civil society. Biomedical hegemony, however, is the process by which capitalist assumptions, concepts, and values come to permeate medical diagnosis and treatment. There was a short break in between the first few hours of class and lunch, and our professor brought a whole bag of balls to play with outdoors. I ended up making a new friend named MJ, and played with the nerf football with him and Andrew (another person from our class of M.H.S). We tried to keep up a high record of throwing and catching the ball without dropping it, and the highest that we got to, was 21. 

For the rest of class, or until lunch, we watched two  separate films on Hmong families. The first one was more focused on how Hmong people started "becoming American". It covered the whole process of moving from the refugee camps to being sponsored over to America. The Hmong has this belief of becoming ill because they have lost their soul. They also have a tradition of performing a spiritual dance in search of the spirit, which in some cases involves sacrificing an animal. By the time that the film had ended, it was time for lunch. Lunch passed by faster than I thought, and we were all able to walk to class without our TA this time. We were given a heads up that the class would be divided into groups to be in a wheelchair for an experiment, for a whole 24 hours, so Hummd, Arnold, and I explored around the building that our class is in so that we would find a way to get there. We were able to find an elevator, but from a farther entrance that is not even wheelchair accessible. 
What the cover of my book looks like plus
the candy that our professor gave to us!

The entire last few hours of class consisted of watching another film on Hmong culture with little reading on the Hmong book and it was more in depth on their routines since the camera followed this family throughout the years. It even captured a death from one of the family members, so the ritual was actually real and caught on camera. What I learned from watching the films was that the Hmong has super strong bonds with their family and I was able to take so much from seeing the significance of the medicinal dances because it was really different from the Western version (more of the American version) of taking care of illnesses. Study hall quickly transitioned to getting ready for our Arete class. Today in fencing class, we reviewed over the attacks and defenses that we were taught for the past two days, like a beat lunge (hitting the opponent's sword and lunging towards them to hit them), or parry-4 (defending then reposting by moving the blade to your side). Then, there was a small tournament of three people. Coincidentally, I was placed with two people named Katherine and Kathy. We were Kat cubed, so either way a Kathy would win. I ended up winning between the two, but it was all fun and friendly competition. 

Dinner and free time sort of merged together for us today, but we sat at a different table and because it had a really nice view of the whole building, I wanted to take a picture. During free time, Hummd and Gwennie met me in my room to blog and read a little. My proctor actually stopped by earlier to make sure that we were fine and that we were NOT doing any homework. I really appreciate how much the VSA staff wants its students to all get enough rest and have fun the whole time. Gwennie even showed me a really cool formula to get an algorithm that is complicated in general, the way to find the exact answer to any rooted number. Tonight, at the proctor meeting, it is my turn to name the "talking panda" which is a stuffed animal that gives the person who is holding it the power to talk and others to respect the speaker. I decided on Hello Panda, like the old snack that I often saw when I was a child, a graham cracker with chocolate inside of it. 
Silly picture of the cohort and the rest of the cafeteria!  

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