Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Watching a Field Study: Part 1 - Making a Dent

There are so many different ways of being good with people, or bad with people, we often get stuck in thinking one way is right, or that someone else's way is wrong.  I'm not sure why we do that.  It occurred to me how right I am for a Field Study, and how wrong I feel for a Field Study.

I am good with people, but perhaps in a different way than Field Studies tries to teach.  Asking questions, being so procedural, sincere people asking insincere questions to get sincere results.  It works, but was never the way I imagined doing it.  I know that once people get out into the field that's not necessarily the way they do it, either.  I was just thinking that the moment someone begins asking questions of someone else to get a particular answer, the question stops being sincere.  I do this everyday, don't I?

"How are you?"

But what I've been learning is perhaps how wrong I feel for a Field Study and yet how Field Studies is the only right program for the way I want to go about learning.  What other program would let me go to Paris to study African American expatriates?  What other program?  And what other program would let me go to France to live there, to study there, without being tied to someone else's agenda?  I could study in France doing some kind of Direct Enrollment, but I wouldn't be taking classes about things I want to study because the point would be studying in France, not WHAT I'm studying in France.  I could go on a Study Abroad, but again, the point wouldn't be to go to France for any particular purpose, but I'd be paying through the nose to go to places that have nothing to do with what interests me (or more likely, because everything interests me) have nothing to do with my focus of study, which is American Studies, American culture.

I keep harping on about American this and American that. Mostly because I don't believe in anything American; and I also believe in everything American.  I always liked the sentiment of Plato's: "I am from the world."  And I believe we can have world citizens, rather than American citizens or French citizens.  But, I don't know.  I'm still fiercely patriotic and I don't think anyone has the right to truly criticize this country unless it also loves it.  I am not this way because my country deserves it, or because my country is superior; maybe I am this way for the opposite reason.  Because it is home; because it's got so far to go in my approximation.  Because there's so far it could go.  And maybe I've got a little bit of that mon pays pride.

I teach the Family History class every week at church.  I think family history work is very important, but why the hell are we doing family history work for strangers?  I don't mean, why do we go to the temple and get baptized for strangers, one could consider that service for others.  I mean, why are we searching for names of people we are related to, birth dates, and then ask these people to be baptized and sealed to our families when we've done nothing else to find out who they are?  I mean--why would you want to be attached forever to someone you don't know?  For this reason, I find it so important to find out as much as you can about someone, not necessarily BEFORE you do temple work for them, but during and after as well.

A friend offered me tea  yesterday.  I tried it for the second time in my life.  The last time I tried it was probably about two and a half years ago.  I still don't like it, though this cup of tea had sugar in it, at least.  I still have a box of tea bags that Jake gave me my senior year of high school with a mug.  The mug I use every day, the Earl Grey tea I've never touched.  But I've also never been able to throw it away.  Because Jake was certain that someday I'd try tea.  I always said I didn't drink tea, it was a religious thing.  Now I don't care so much, and I'd drink tea if I liked it.  Two and a half years ago I finally broke down and told Jake I'd try some of his tea.  It was green tea.  He didn't put sugar or honey in it.  Grossest thing I've ever tasted.  But I remember when there was a time tea was just something I wouldn't do.  I thought I'd always feel that way.  Now I don't think I see any point.  Do you think I'll ever get to that point with alcohol?...Just kidding.  I think about Jake often, especially when I think about Family History work.  Because he's made such a big impression in my life and yet I'm not sure if anyone really knows it the way I do.  If someone were to ask my sisters about me, I'm not sure they'd have a clue who I was to anyone other than them.

Why does this matter?  Well, I just think about Field Studies, and how we have these experiences that take a fraction of a second that change who we are.  Or we meet these people that just leave these impressions we'll never iron out.  And who will know?  But worse, who will have those experiences if they aren't taught to appreciate them?  For I fear that every day I have experiences that could change me, if I'd let them, but so often I don't.  Field Studies is about teaching people HOW to have those experiences, and how to let other people make dents in you so that you'll never be the same.  Because what's the point of living life the other way?

I think this is one reason I'm sad to see Field Studies go.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post, Jen. Sarah shared it with me, and I too am desperately disappointed by yet another decision made by the administration.