Coming into this class as a first-semester senior I had my doubts as to what I would be able to gain from this course, knowing just how close I was to leaving Geneseo and being released into the real world. I walked in with a preconceived notion of what to expect and after spending some time with the material and looking over our course epigraph I knew I was destined to be wrong about my first impressions. “My job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice”. This quote from Dionne Brand shut up my senioritis and proved that I had much more to learn with my time left in Geneseo than I initially thought. After some time I began to notice how each of the pieces that we spent time with linked to each other, and how our thought process as a class seemed to flow seamlessly from one topic to the next, allowing us to form strong conclusions that not only taught us something about the course but also the larger world outside of Wells 119. For the first time in my time in Geneseo, I took the opportunity to step back, slow down, and truly notice what I was learning and why. I gave myself the chance to notice what my peers around me were writing and what ideas they were coming up with. Considering their ideas I was able to not only learn more from the connections I was making on my own allowing myself to notice that I was being noticed but also opened my eyes to a perspective I would have never known without listening and noticing them. I learned more from my peers, by taking the time to step back and notice than I have during many hours of studying for a test that I would have inevitably forgotten the answers to right after turning in my scantron. I think that is the true power of our course epigraph: the level of learning that you can get out of something really has to do with the level of noticing you allow yourself to do, for others and for yourself.
While I believe that the majority of the learning that I gained from this course came from my peers and the ideas and questions that they proposed throughout our time in class, these questions and ideas stemmed from the various readings that we covered. Now looking back I can see how our course epigraph truly does find a way to link each of these pieces. The readings we looked at revolved around the idea of medicine and racism and how those issues have been portrayed in literature. I think that the pieces that we looked at did a great job of indirectly or directly looking at these issues, but also gave us the opportunity as a class to come up with our own findings and ideas about what we were reading. Rather than just looking something up in a textbook and memorizing it we were able to constructively take what we were learning between a number of texts and come up with an organic thought that we could apply to the world that we live in. We were able to notice not only what the text was trying to teach us, but we were also able to notice within each of our individual experiences different ways to apply what we were looking at that we couldn’t have gotten without the constructive format that this class took. This format is something that I wasn’t used to after a year of only being able to do school work through a screen.
Last year brought many hardships to us all and because of our distance from each other, I felt it was hard for me to stay connected to what I was learning. I believe after last year in which we lived in a world that was so separated and isolated that coming together like we were able to do in this class allowed us to get back to what really teaches us and I was able to connect with what I was learning again. The opportunity to listen and notice others’ thoughts was monumental to my success this semester. Hearing all of our different perspectives throughout this semester was incredibly refreshing after feeling so far away from the college community for so long. We were able to work together throughout all of this semester, constructing collaborative essays, having meaningful conversations with each other, and fostering a classroom community of a bunch of special individual stories really allowed me to be successful this semester, in this class but also in the rest of the classes I have been taking. I think that while we learned a lot about racism and the medical malpractices that have been committed throughout our history on African Americans we also were able to learn a great deal about the world that we live in now, and in a sense reintroduce ourselves to said world after a year of shutting ourselves off from it. We not only taught each other about the course and what we could take away from it, we also learned how to communicate and work together again which I think is possibly more helpful to me at this point in my life than what the course itself could have given me. The power to sit back and notice others, or notice what you are doing is being noticed by others is such a fundamental strength that this course has taught me for the classes I’ll be taking next semester but also all of the jobs that I will find myself in after this year. I think back to my expectations walking into class the first few weeks and the anxious ignorance that I found myself in, while I sit here now at the end of the semester feeling ready to take on the world, noticing as much as I can from here on out.