Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's Getting Better Every Day Here!

It's the second day at VSA, and I have been getting to know more and more people. I don't know why I was so worried about meeting new people and making new friends, when it was only the first full day yesterday. Friendships really do grow fast here, and everyone is so friendly here. I just wish  some proctor groups could split up a bit, because I can't meet some people because of their attachment to their proctor groups. 

Still, I've made a ton of new friends today--especially a group from Chicago. Five of them are in this scholarship program that sends them to different college programs as well, except they get to go for four years. They're a very friendly group of people. But, of course, they weren't the only people I met; there were many others today. I will take pictures of my new friendships sometimes and let you know who these people are, okay? Well, this one's sort of odd looking, but it was the weird lighting I guess.
My new friends (and old)!
Candid moving picture of the friends
And I'm sorry, girls, if you're reading this; I really missed you guys. We will get another laundry/blogging party with all the 4 reps. from Pinole, okay? Speaking of missing the cohort, it was great to see Ms. Kronenberg and Mr. Mannix again! It's been ages that we've seen Ms. Kronenberg, and although it's only been a few days that we haven't seen Mr. Mannix, it's felt just as long as not seeing Ms. Kronenberg. It was great to get updated on what everything was happening with them and the Ivy League Connection. I know that this program will keep expanding all over the country, and perhaps it will expand out of the country?

I've realized yesterday, and especially today, that the San Francisco Bay Area is a very unique place. I didn't realize how many slang terms I use on a daily basis, such as "hella", "hecka", "dope", "raw", and etc. I guess some terms I use are known as "ghetto slang", but everyone at my school uses these terms, so it's peculiar and pretty funny. I guess some of these terms aren't even "California"; they're "Bay Area".

One of my friends, Christien, asked me before my religion class if I surfed or not. I said, "Are you serious?" He looked at me with a straight face waiting for my answer. He told me that when you see California commercials you see beaches, surfers, and skaters. Well, the skating part is right, but there's definitely no surfing without a wet suit in San Francisco beaches. The misconception people have about California as a whole surprises me.

I've also realized that growing up in the West Contra Costa Unified School District has made me experience all sorts of diversity that many of the students here don't have the opportunity to experience. Many are actually jealous or curious for what it's like in  my area.

Anyway, in my Lived Religion class today, we did our crash course presentations of the three different monotheistic faiths that we will explore for the next 3 weeks. All the three groups of students' presentations were very thorough and gave me a good summary of what I should basically know about these three religions before diving in deeper to their religious practices. I'm glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the Islam slide show, because nearly everything I researched (as well as what my group researched) was something new that I never knew.

One major aspect of Islam that I've really got to learn was the Koran. The Koran is pretty much the continuation of the Bible. However, Muslims take the Koran literally, because it is God's word in first person point-of-view. Many people believe it to be sacred, even mystical, so they believe if the Koran were to be translated, it would lose its spiritual uplifting it has on Muslims. I also learned that the Koran is the most memorized book in the world. This just shows how passionate Muslims are about their faith. Well, the Koran is only 4/5 the size of the New Testament, but still, that is something. The Koran isn't as historical than it is doctrinal, unlike the Bible, so it was interesting to see that irony.

The second major aspect of Islam that I've really got to learn was Muhammad's role in the Muslim community. I pictured Muhammad to be a prophet and looked up to (like Jesus); well, he was looked up to as a prophet. However, Muhammad was more than just a holy prophet; he was a politician/conqueror. Muhammad fought wars, and he won them--helping future conquerors to spread the Muslim empire from Spain all the way to Persia. He also had several wives.

I could go on and on, but those were the things that popped out of me the most during the first half of class. The second half of class was mostly reading a few very complicated texts, and finding out what the writers' essays were trying to tell us. I'm not sure why, but I found this pretty difficult to do, and it was a little hard to concentrate until we got into groups. The essays were basically about how sociologists and anthropologists study different cultures and/or societies. There's this concept called, going native, where observing isn't enough to understand a culture; you have to be involved and immersed in it. This concept was basically what the essays were about. The essays brought to the table the question about whether we should preserve our own beliefs or fully immerse ourselves in the society's beliefs. Should we be fully open to what the society is like, or should we build a few walls in the places of our minds? I didn't expect these essays to be like this, and I realized they were a pathway for us to get more personal about how we will observe and analyze the various religious communities and places of worship these three weeks.

That's pretty much it today. I can't wait for tomorrow, because I know VSA is only going to get better and better.

1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    The problem you referred to with that photo is that the shutter speed was so slow and the camera shook while the photo was being taken. You needed a flash if you wanted to freeze the action and end up with a sharp photo.

    This is what happens when you buy a new camera juts a day or two before you leave for a major trip. You need to get your new toys early and practice BEFORE you leave. :-)