Today was an extremely eventful day here at Vanderbilt Summer Academy.
We started the day off by walking to breakfast at the Commons together with our proctor group and enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and more. I could not find the orange juice dispenser, so I just filled a cup full of Coca-Cola and brought it to my table instead.
After finishing breakfast, Aiyana and I explored around the Commons area, where we discovered an area adjacent to the dining hall where people could engage in games such as pool and foosball. When breakfast ended, we walked outside to find our Teacher Assistants, also known as TAs, standing with signs of our respective classes. We found our TA, and when everyone in the class was present, headed over to our classroom, which is relatively close to the dorms we reside in.
We played a quick game to introduce everyone in the class and a brief oral evaluation of what each student expects to gain by the end of the three-week session. Our professor, Dr. David Dunn (who just recently received his PhD), passed out syllabi outlining the expectations and materials that will be covered in our fast-paced course of comparative World Religions.
Essentially, we will be learning about the history, teachings, and practices of the five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) and compare one to another in order to develop a better understanding of them, including the conflicts they create and sometimes even resolve.
We received our reading texts, The World’s Wisdom by Philip Novak. We also read an article as well as listened to a radio broadcast that described real-life situations where the ignorance of religion and lack of respect for a people’s culture led to heartbreaking consequences and useless frenzy. It stressed the importance of understanding and knowledge of religions and the effect it can have on daily situations.
Later on, we took a short trip to one of the campus’s many computer labs and did some research on about four different religions (some sectoral), working in pairs of three. Aiyana, our floormate Grace, and I researched Buddhist monks and the many assumptions and stereotypes held against them. For example, many believe that Buddhist monks are pacifists and peaceful people. However in reality (in most circumstances), to them, violence is justified. For example, some Buddhists (keep in mind, not all) believe that killing or fighting something that threatens the Laws of Buddhism is justified, even though they themselves condemn murder.
We presented our research to the class. Basically, the project was to show whether the certain group were extremists or not, once again demonstrating the many stereotypes people possess regarding religions. Ours was not.
After class, we had Study Hall with our TA and began our first assignment: a reflection/essay about our reading for the night, which was around fifteen pages about the foundations of Judaism. I did not completely finish the two-page reflection during the brief hour of Study Hall, and I will do so later.
We had arête classes afterwards, which are basically non-academic classes that we have in addition to our regular course load. I am in Teen Scene, a theater/acting class. We spent most of our time today introducing ourselves, so I look forward to what is in store for tomorrow. I have never tried theater or acting before, so I am very excited to see how I like it.
During our limited free time (before dinner from 5 PM – 6 PM), Aiyana, Kye, and I decided to do laundry. We made our trip to the first floor of Hank Ingram House and washed away. The laundry machines were a bit different to what we were used to, so although we knew how to do our own laundry, utilizing the unfamiliar machines took some time, but we managed to successfully do so.
After dinner, we had a recreational activity set up for us by the VSA Activities Coordinator. It was, essentially, a huge scavenger hunt of all the proctors who were hidden around the huge entire Vanderbilt campus. The air was very, very hot, extremely intense, and competitive; the House (V-House, S-House, and A-House) were competing against one another and whichever house found the most proctors and received a token from each of them wins!
It was so much fun; the only downside was the heat. Other than that, we found seven of the proctors (it sounds like a small achievement, but is the complete opposite) and learned to work as a group as well as our way around the whole campus (although we usually are restricted to a small section of the university, with the exception of tonight).
We will find out the winners tomorrow morning during breakfast. GO V-HOUSE!
The meals are actually very decent here at Vanderbilt. They provide a lot of options, so there is usually something for everyone, especially picky eaters.
My dorm is very large and roomy and has both AC and Wi-Fi, which is very convenient.
I am excited to begin the second day of class tomorrow and look forward to the activities.