Monday, 20 January 2014

Day 11: Martin Luther King Day

Today was Martin Luther King Day, so I joined a few people from Stouffer College House on a trip organised by a GA, to a celebration at the African American Museum.

He said, "Beat me at Connect 4 and you can choose anything from this table." I lost.
Artwork by Ellen Tiberino. This one's called "Health Care." I found her work really disturbing, shocking and therefore powerful.
Another one by Ellen Tiberino.
We watched a Civil Rights Hip-Hop performance at noon. I waited too late to get a free ticket from the front desk, so the GA very kindly insisted on giving his to me! But in the end, he was allowed in too, after they checked to see if the auditorium was really at capacity. It really illustrates the way that giving isn't always zero-sum and can expand the pie. I was glad that we both got to see it, because the performance was really powerful. I thought it was a really effective way of communicating the messages of oppression and protest.

So much cuteness! Check out those pigtails. #awwwwwww. BTW, all of these kids could dance 200% better than me. A few of them could legit breakdance.
When we left, the line was even longer than this. Hence why we got there before it opened in the morning!

This evening, I went to my first Ancient Voices rehearsal. Everyone was really friendly, and the group stayed in tune really well. I think I'll enjoy being a part of it. I can also get 0.50 credit units for singing in the group (won't count towards my degree at UniMelb, but I'll get an extra grade on my transcript).

After rehearsal, I spent the next 2.5 hours at the library, arming my academic arsenal with books for that 6000 word paper. I think I am now well-equipped:

I think I cleared the shelves of anything to do with mindfulness and Buddhist meditation.
They even have mini shopping trolleys at the library for ridiculous people like me. It was pretty embarrassing checking all the books out. But at least I've basically gotten the (physical) resource-accumulation phase of research out of the way. More journal articles to download!

Anyway, here's where I'm at with the topic I'm planning to explore. As I wrote to my professor:
"After some reflection, I remembered that it was Western psychology (I'm a psych major), and in particular, a mindfulness meditation course, that drew me to Buddhism in the first place. So I'm thinking about investigating how Western psychology has drawn from Buddhist teachings to form secularised mindfulness practices, as seen in programs like MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) and (MBCT) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. I might consider how modern day mindfulness differs from the way that traditional Buddhist meditation is described and portrayed (i.e. how it's been interpreted through the lens of Western psychology), and what is lost and gained by this approach. I've started gathering some sources and there seems to be a decent amount written on this topic (but I'll need to identify the "gap")."
What went well? 
  1. The GA giving up his ticket for the Civil Rights show so that I could have the opportunity. It was such a kind act, and it ended well for both of us!
  2. I was looking for a particular book on the shelves of the library, and couldn't find it. Just as I was searching for it in the catalogue on my phone, the library assistant walked by with it since she was in the process of re-shelving the books.
  3. My professor likes the topic that I'm planning to explore in my research paper. And he replied really quickly (10 minutes). People are ridiculously efficient around here.
  4. The security guard at Stouffer buzzed me in since I was carrying a huge stack of books. Usually you have to swipe your PennCard and enter your pin number to get through the barrier, so that was really nice of her.
What did I learn? 
  • Hip-hop is actually a really effective and powerful way of communicating ideas, especially to a young audience.
  • I get way too enthusiastic/ambitious about research.
  • The photocopier can be really annoying when trying to photocopy big books, and tell you that it can't detect the right size. To avoid this, a more effective way is to centre the book in the middle, rather than in the corner.
  • The photocopier is still annoying regardless, because if you're inactive for even 5 seconds it makes you reswipe your PennCard.

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