Saturday, 23 May 2009

GX Week 7

Monday 4th May 2009

Pretty much just slept all day. It was good.

Tuesday 5th May

Today I helped a learner finally write a halfway decent CV and had my one-to-one, more accurately two-on-one supervision with Ali and Malika. Finished the day with a Mid Phase Review meeting, which was very welcome as I got to eat Grace's delicious sweet potato soup and some cake.

Wednesday 6th May

Was very annoyed today for all sorts of reasons. Though watching Wolverine at Harlow cinema cheered me up a little.

Thursday 7th May

Sorted out most of what annoyed me yesterday, then spent this evening working with Gulnara on a conversation in Russian about ourselves to present at tomorrows GCD.

Friday 8th May

Anne-Marie and Nina's GCD on Individuals and Society in Community Development. It was a very interesting and engaging day but I think I would have just called in individuals and Society as there was nothing about Community Development in the day and I have filed it in my Learning Journal under Diversity rather than Community Development. We began with an engergiser where we acted out the parts of objects in a story. The point of this was really rather good. Objects are definied solely by their uses. They have no individuality. Next we definied an individual as, 'a person separate from other persons with their own unique combination of characteristics, psychological traits and idiosyncrasies and possessing their own needs, goals and desires', followed by listing the elements that constitute an individual. A list that is frankly too long for me to repeat here. After this we drew a picture symbolising our individuality which was very interesting . I drew a symbol of a sun and a moon that I designed ages ago. I guess it kind of represents my light and my dark side, something everyone has but with the light sheilding the dark. However there is a path in if you know where to look. Our pictures were given to others annoymously to interpret, with most people being pretty accurate. The exercise demonstrated the differences in the way we see and describe ourselves and others. Next we started to look at the individual within society working on the idea that historically people have always organised themselves into groups and that 'individuals only exist within the context of society'. We definied society as, 'a group of people characterised by its own system of relationships between individuals, their ways of interacting and means of uniting'. However we discussed how there is no set definition of society as it is quite an abstract concept despite the evidence being all around us. We then brainstormed the different aspects of society that influence individuals, such as, the mass media, Global Xchange, family, friends, 'heroes', discrimination, religion, education, class, wealth, authority and discipline, books, politics, music, street life (gangs), fashion, illness, violence, historical period, employment and culture. After this we took part in an energiser which was designed as a mini-model of societies influence on the individual with all members of the team shouting phrases and slogans at an individual at the centre of the circle. We then focused on the media with Anne-Marie and Nina conducting an amusing role play of a television documentary interviewing people around the world on how they spend their free time. Americans spend an average of 2 months a year watching television. That's four hours a day. In the UK 80% of people chose to watch television in their free time and 1 in 3 of us are on facebook, having overtaken the Americans. In Russia, the number of parents reading to their children has fallen from 80% to 6% in the last 20 years in favour of watching television. Following on from this activity we debated the positive and negative aspects of the mass media. On the positive side we had easy and cheap access to information, employment opportunities, the creation of a global community, internet dating, greater freedom of speech, increasing awareness of issues, charity fundraising, helps personal development allowing people access to online education and advice, communication, allows disabled and housebound people to interact and shop etc, allows people to see things that they wouldn't be able to otherwise and can connect people with similar interests which is especially useful for fringe or discriminated groups. The negative side presented the following the arguements. The mass media replaces other benefical pastimes, reduces individuality, harms development of lifeskills and real communication (Kate's highschool English teacher hypothesised that young people binge drink because they have so many virtual conversations they don't know how to communicate normally), erodes childrens innocence, creates a weaker grasp of reality, lack of privacy, increased chance of peadophillia, increased opportunity for crime, decline in mental and physical health, difficult to assess suitability of content and to monitor access, influence of advertising, bias and inaccuracy of information, promotion of violence and terror. From this discussion a number of interesting arguements arose, such as the idea of the internet as a mirror of society. The internet does not exist separately from society. The problems that we see are problems that are present in society. The internet only displays and to some extent can fuel the symptoms. It is not the cause of the problem. What we mostly managed to agree on was that we must accept the the good with the bad, as we do with society. We are aware of the problems but we all use the media. Next we roleplayed some situations where individuals find themselves in conflict with society, such as a person living on benefits not looking for work, a child who does not want to go to school and an openly homosexual man in a conservative society. We discussed the idea of the 'rules of society'. That individuality is not acceptable when in harms other members of society. A person living on benefits who is capable of work is taking money from other members of society and a child who does not want to go to school will not gain the education needed to make him a vauable member of society in the future. We talked about the idea of freedom within limits such as the clear and present danger clause in the American Bill of Rights and laws against inciting racial hatred. Ben brought up the interesting idea of whether we need limits on freedom in order to appricate and understand it, which we didn't have time to discuss so there is something for you all to think about. At the end of the day we conducted an experiment on society's reaction to individuality. Painting our faces and then walking through Bishop's Stortford and Harlow. It made me feel very uncomfortable. People did stare at us, probably didn't help that we were in a large group. It was horrible to be stared at for something that was not harming anybody, although I can understand why they stared, I would have too. However only two people, a bus driver and a shop onwer, actually commented or asked what we were doing. In an appropriate end to the day we witnessed a group of goth/emo teenagers being harrassed by three girls of about 10 for their appreance.

Saturday 9th May

First day of the Mid Phase Review. I think it's going pretty well all things considered. Everyone was on time for the bus at least. The majority of the discussions were pretty boring. We argeed to try and make it easier for the translators and to try and sort out problems within the team before involving the Programme Supervisors while discussing the team contract amoung other things and everyone agreed that they hated being referred to as exchange students rather than volunteers as it implies that they are there only to observe and not to contribute. Basically the aim of the MPR is to review the teams and our individual progress so far, resolve any problems and sort out what we need to do in the community in the time that we have left. The French chef threw a strop over dinner as we didn't all arrive at the same time because Dina wasn't feeling well. Now Grace, Aigera, Misha, Gulnara, Baur, Olga and I are heading into London to have a drink and see the lights of the big city, while the others stay in or take a turn around Holland Park.

Sunday 10th May

Last nights trip was strange. Due to the circle, district and jubilee lines all being partly or completely closed we had to take some strange routes and do a lot of walking to see the lights of Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, The London Eye and Tower Bridge. After which we headed back to Kensington where we rather surprisingly found a reasonably priced bar just down from the station and enjoyed a drink before heading back to the youth hostel. On the walk back around 12:30am I suddenly exclaimed "S**t! It's my birthday!" That's right I am now 22. It's a shame. I always wanted to stop at 21. We spent the morning doing the last few sessions of the MPR with a break interupted by a cake, cards and presents for Rory and I as we share a birthday. I got some chocolate and a new diary as I keep banging on about how I've nearly finished the one I got for Christmas. After the last session we had lunch in Holland Park and then departed for the science museum, which took longer to get to than it should have due to the groups persistent habit of walking very slowly. Once there we only had an hour and a half during which Sarah took Rory and I to the members room of the Natural History Museum for a coffee and I completely failed to find the machine that generates an image of what you may look like when you're older. We embarked on an epic journey back due to the central line being closed between Liverpool Street and Leytonstone but still made it back in time for the last bus.

My pretty awsome picture of Tower Bridge by night

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