Monday, July 13, 2015

I Promise The Human Scavenger Hunt Is Not As Scary As It Sounds

My first Medicine, Health and Society class started today! I know that it is too early to make any judgement regarding the course, but I adore it already. So when we walked in, Ms. Talley was sitting in a wheelchair. I have a friend that is a wheelchair user, and the way that she sits as well as her overall body language greatly differs from the way Ms. Talley was sitting, so I knew what was inevitably going to come. About fifteen minutes into the course she stood up and asked us to write about our reactions to seeing that she was able to walk without support. Many people were surprised by it, but everyone was generally pretty supportive. Then after a short course overview she explained how the snap judgement that many people make seconds after meeting someone absolutely affects how you will view them for the rest of the time that you are in contact. Oh, and the most interesting is, sometime over the next 3 weeks, I will be confined to a wheelchair for 24 hours, with no exceptions.

The mood in the room was a little somber, so she had us pair up for an icebreaker where we asked a classmate about an array of questions. They were all fairly standard questions, so I won't really go into detail about this, but at the end Ms. Talley told us that she had caught and held a sloth while in a canoe in flooded, piranha infested water. This actually sort of relates to her dissertation, (I promise that this is relevant!) which has to do with the role of açaí in the lives of Brazilian children. Many of them drop out of school to harvest and export the berries, as a way to support their families. The class was actually not quite what I expected; It seems to focus a lot more on anthropology and psychology (such as Ms. Talley's dissertation) than I assumed it would, but I really do like that. I do feel like I am rushing it, but if the class is this interesting when it is only the first day, I think that I am going to love learning about anthropology. 

We started off discussing the four fields of anthropology: Biological, Linguistics, Archaeology and Cultural. There are also the two sub-fields of applied anthropology and medical anthropology, the latter of which is the main focus of our class. Then we moved on to a "Garbagology" exercise, where we discussed all the things that one could possibly learn  while digging through trash. As a class we came up with over twenty, and I contributed by suggesting socioeconomic status, family size, as well as their level of health consciousness. 

This book might be the most fascinating non-fiction book I have ever read. 
Then we took a break to start the required reading, with some people moving out into the lobby, few choosing to stay in the classroom. The preface was a little gory, but it drove home the fact that real people suffer through terrible things every day, and their stories are really important to recognize. Others complained that the first chapter was really dry and hard to get through (it outlined the differences between disease and illness), but I loved every second of it. I sped through the first chapter, and asked for what we could do next. Ms. Talley glanced up at the clock surprised, and told me to go on to the next chapter. I was soon done with that as well, and she listed off the next three chapters we were to read, (7, 10 and 15) adding that she didn't expect anyone to go past that within the next day or two. After reconvening to discuss what the similarities between disease and illness really are, she released us to study hall, where we all continued reading the book. I almost reached chapter 15 within the allotted hour! 

A small part of the list we had to choose from.
Part of library lawn
Next we moved on to Arete! As an actor, I love improv with all my heart, but I was kind of hoping for the chance to spread my wings with this extra class and moving out of my comfort zone. I suppose that I will next week with boot camp. It's kind of hard to describe an improv session and definitely loses its humor when attempted so I think I will just move on. We had dinner and then moved onto the quad. 

There, a scavenger hunt was announced! The person announcing it  misspoke and called it the "human scavenger hunt" and I think the name just stuck. I'm under the impression that it had dual functions as a  campus tour and proctor group bonding exercise. So, we had to take creative photos with common -objects, where each picture was worth five points and an extra 1-3 points for creativity. We took about three hours going around the campus as a group! We solved riddles that gave us clues about the most common objects, like towels and clocks. We also found four leaf clovers on the Library Lawn, did the macarena in CVS as a group, I fought a vicious toy dragon with a roll of  wrapping paper, and we serenaded a stranger. We sang Smalltown Girl because the classics are the classiest. I was the proudest of the 15 extra points I got for my proctor group by interpreting one of the clues a bit...creatively. We were supposed to find a "massive anchor" which I assume was some sort of statue, but we were running out of time. My proctor leader, Victoria, happened to have a giant anchor made out of duct tape in her room since she had previously been head of A House and I guess I was the only one who remembered that so I suggested we use that instead. 

We don't quite know who the winner is yet, but I expect we will know within the next few days. I have a feeling that my group will be high up there in ranking. We worked together very well as a team and utilized each others strengths to maximize our productivity. After a house meeting to discuss our "Soft Night" where we are allowed to go out into Nashville in groups of three or more, we had Victoria discuss our boundaries in a little more detail, and then made our way off to bed. 

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