I see that many of us have been reflecting on the collective course statement as well as the class as a whole, so I thought I might jot my thoughts down as well.
This semester, I have been involved in more group assignments and projects than I ever have. Just prior to the first days of this class, the word “group work” could bring me to tears. I’m practically the poster child for introverts. I don’t know why I am. My mind is constantly bustling with ideas and thoughts that I feel could make a difference, but I am too afraid to speak on them.
I currently have the pleasure of being enrolled in English 414: Topics in Nineteenth Century Literature: Decadent Literature with Professor Harrison. Though the class is largely based on independent work, a significant portion of it was focused on group work. Though this class takes place in an entirely different context, and was extremely intellectually challenging, what I’ve learned in English 101 has helped me tremendously there.
The first few weeks of 101 were filled with that awful, infamous awkward silence that Dr. McCoy warned us about. It was dreadful. The class itself was beyond wonderful and engaging, but it was not easy speaking up. However we quickly realized we would not be able to avoid the group work. As time went by, we became more comfortable both with each other as well as the material we were learning and reading about. Our collaborative statement, I feel, encompassed and proved we were capable of several GLOBE learning outcomes, such as Diversity and Pluralism, Leadership and Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication.
I firmly believe I have grown tremendously over the course of this semester in this class. I now feel comfortable sharing my ideas with others, more so than ever. Being here has eased my fears about speaking in English 414. I’ve thrown around many ideas in that class with my fellow peers, and to my surprise I am always met with eager and support.
Being able to listen to each other and learn from each other is truly a great asset to have. It sort of takes me back to our discussions about medical voluntourism. The ideas were mentioned a handful of times: “We are equal partners in this.” “We can’t go in with the “us” helping “them” mentality.” “We are learning from them.” These same thoughts can apply here in a different concept. We, as classmates, are all equal partners, constantly learning from each other. No one single person has the upper-hand. I guess it is a bit weird to think about, but I think in order for us to establish and practice those things if and when we do volunteer abroad, it would help to start at a local level first. Even if, local means being in the classroom.
I think we were fairly lucky this semester, being that it’s not always the easiest to share your ideas, especially when you are in a place you do not feel comfortable in. Everyone here has been immensely kind, accepting, and insightful when discussing thoughts and ideas. Our classroom became a safe space, in a sense, and so eventually all of us brought our very best to the table. It has truly been the greatest pleasure working with all of you. Like Genna’s analogy in her blog post, we were like a “snowball rolling down a hill picking up more snow as it rolls down.” We were a movement that continued to gain momentum until the very end of the semester.