Saturday, July 23, 2011

Two Worlds Collide

There is almost always the wonderful joy in sleeping in on a weekend, but unfortunately, today was an exception.

Aiyana and I decided to wake early to grab breakfast in the lobby of Hank Ingram, and soon after, we headed over to the Wyatt Center to watch a deeply moving movie about Mohandas K. Gandhi, who was one of the most influential leaders, both politically and ethically, of India.

I had already viewed this movie in my world history class at my high school earlier this year, but it was still a treat to be able to watch it again with a broader understanding of the happenings due to my previous experience with it. Gandhi is an inspiration—not only to me, but in the eyes of millions throughout the world. His advocacy for defying unjust laws nonviolently is above admirable.

Dr. Dunn was kind enough to bring some delightfully buttery popcorn for us to snack on during the (approximately) three hour-long film. We of course did not complete our viewing of it since class only ran for two hours with today being Saturday; we will wrap it up on Monday, where we will also present our Minority Religions Projects. My partner, Aiyana, and I are researching UFO Religions—to be more specific, Scientology. After we obtain a more in-depth understanding of this relatively young faith (around sixty years old), I shall elaborate more on it.

In the evening, the whole Summer Academy was loaded into three school buses and headed off to the local arcade, where our proctor group played a fun game of bowling. Afterwards, we engaged in an intense game of laser tag, spun around in the roller skating rink, and collided vehicles in the bumper car arena.

It was very entertaining as well as hot. Tomorrow, we have a breakfast scheduled with an admissions officer of Vanderbilt, and I am excited to learn more about the institution in which we are all currently studying.

Roller Skating, Laser Tag, and Bumper Cars, OH MY!

Today was a long, but exciting day. It all started at the too-early-of-an-hour-for-a-Saturday-morning at 7:15. The plan was to wake up early, take a shower, get breakfast at the dorms, and then do some research for Scientology because Julia and I thought we had to have something ready for today. The first two plans were carried out well. I recall that last Saturday, I slept in too late to get any breakfast. Now that I was early, I realized I didn’t miss out on much. I ended up just getting some bread and orange juice. Before starting our research, I asked Grace, who’s in my class, if we needed to have our research done. Thankfully, she told us no, and Julia and I were free for the rest of the morning.

For class we watched Gandhi the biographical film from the 80s on Mohandas Gandhi. I thought I knew the Gandhi’s story pretty well, but it turns out I actually knew nothing about him. I learned that he was a lawyer and he led a revolution in South Africa. I was also amazed at the number of times he was thrown in jail. But the hardest part to watch was the massacres of over a hundred innocent Indians when a British officer ordered an attack on a non-violent demonstration. Yes, I know it’s a movie, but it’s based on a true story, and I can’t handle violent shooting movies very well. We’re going to finish the movie on Monday.

We had lunch at the Rand, on the far side of campus, like every weekend. Afterwards, Julia, Kye and I went shopping for Vanderbilt memorabilia. I bought a super cute grey hoodie that I am in love with, a yellow commodores t-shirt, and another hat to add my collection at home. For the next hour, I kept smiling at the items I bought, since buying perfect things makes me extremely ecstatic.

For the rest of our free time Julia and I chilled out in my room. At 5:30 we headed down to the buses to go to the local arcade!! It was a bit run down, and had some creepy clown paintings and gorillas, but regardless, we all had a blast. Our proctor group split up and played bowling in teams. I am absolutely atrocious at bowling, I still love to play it for some strange reason. I ended up placing fifth out of sixth, but who’s counting?

Julia forced me to go roller skating in the rink with her. After coming close to death many times, we had pizza in the parlor. A large group of us then went to play laser tag. I’m not good at that either. I think if I was in a war, I wouldn’t last more than 3 seconds, because that’s how long it took me to get shot, and continuously shot afterwards. Bumper cars were next, and we had a blast running into each other. I played Julia in ice hockey, which is one of the few arcade games I’m actually good at. It was an intense game, but I finally won.

I love that VSA keeps our summer program fun and active. There are always activities and outings! Today was one of the best days of my summer so far. Tomorrow Julia, Kye, and I are going to have breakfast with Ms. Bulls and a college admissions officer, and then Julia and I are going to the Parthenon!

The ILC’s Maiden Voyage to Vanderbilt: Pool parties and Misunderstandings

Friday always seems to be the most interesting day of the week here at VSA. We have class like every other day, but after, we perform our new talents we learned in our ArĂȘte classes in front of the other students and we always have some themed dance. This Friday was unique because in class we visited the Islamic center of Murfreesboro; I participated in an unplanned performance, and finished today with a fantastic pool party at the Vanderbilt Recreational Facility.

The Islamic center of Murfreesboro Tennessee is a small one story building behind an engineering school. One would pass right by if they had not placed a sign on the street, the problem is it doesn’t clarify that the engineering school is not the mosque which resulted in some confusion upon our arrival. The center is looking to move to a new larger facility, but they are under heavy opposition from the surrounding community who oppose the mosque for various reasons from conspiracies to a victory for al Qaeda. Before venturing to the center, we watched some news coverage varying from late night talk shows to CNN, and we talked about the misunderstandings between religions which cause drastic consequences like the hate expressed by the people of Murfreesboro toward the little Islamic center. In fact after talking to the Imam and watching a service I found the people to be quite straightforward, peaceful, respectful, law abiding(Qur’an and the Constitution), and ultimately normal. Not like the Taliban or al Qaeda jihadists that attack countries and kill innocent people. The Islamic center is in need of more space, men and young boys sit packed together across the floor. Before totally submitting to the facts stated in a news report, one should research a controversial topic themselves or even visiting the place or object of controversy.

This week I studied the ways of improvisation in my ArĂȘte class so far our showcase performance we decided to play a game called freeze where a scene is created and acted out, but when an outsider has an idea about what’s going on, they yell freeze stopping all movement within the scene allowing you to select one person to replace and then you continue changing the entire scene. I chose to incorporate a rap battle in which I beat boxed while my classmates battled; I was able to stay in for another round, so I also acted as a Quarterback. We were a huge hit and laughter from the cloud allowed me to feel relieved.

After dinner my group arrived early to the Recreational Center, allowing us time to play some basketball. When it was time for the party we were called down to the pool where we were adorned with glasses, candy, and leis then asked to find a spot to sit. The lifeguard came out to address the rules then we were free to swim. Instead I decided to play more basketball before swimming which resulted in an extremely sweaty shirt and a deep desire to escape from the heat. I dove into the deep end of the pool, immersed in the water it felt as though I was enlightened by this new feeling of moisture; I found the escape from eternal humidity and heat. I swam for as long as I could, until I hopped out for a conversation with Gina. Fridays seem to introduce the weekend in ways no other can. I’m glad to have experienced a Friday as such because next Friday we will be packing to leave.