Fri 9 Dec 2005
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My second and final trip to the Carlisle House was an interesting experience in that it was similar to my first visit in some ways and very different in others. I entered the front hallway and came into the main common area, looking for familiar faces. I immediately spotted Ron, whom I had visited with previously. Again, he was sitting at the arts and crafts table, so I decided to join him. For about ten to fifteen minutes, we sat and chatted while coloring pictures and making different drawings. Until my old friend “Peanut” arrived, conversation felt a bit forced. She joined us and immediately made our discussion more comfortable. She asked me if I’d like to go to the kitchen so she could show me what they were having for dinner later this evening. I accompanied her and we eventually sat down at the kitchen tables where we proceeded to talk about various things, such as our days, the snow storm we had last night and what we planned to do for the Holidays. Eventually, we made our way back into the main common area where we visited with some of the people I had met on my previous visit, among other new faces as well. For the last few minutes of my second experiencce at Carlisle House, a group of people sat on the couches in the common area with both members and some staff. Although there were some quiet moments, overall, I had a relaxing and fun time on my second visit.
When I originally entered the front doors of Carlisle House for my second visit, I must admit that I was still a bit nervous. Because of the complications with planning our service Learning experience, I had only had time to have one previous visit. This was my second and final time interacting with the members of Carlisle House and I definitely still felt a bit anxious. When I walked in, I was happy to see Ron’s familiar face but after sitting with him at the arts table for a few minutes, and conversation still felt forced, I was content to have Peanut join us and make the discussion flow smoother. I definitely felt extremely pleased to have seemed to make a sort of connection with Peanut. In some odd way, I guess I had assumed she might not have remembered me, but she was pleased and excited to be spending time with me again and I loved that she remembered me. Although there were still some awkward moments while spending time with everyone in the main common area, I left today feeling happy that I felt as if I had made some sort of a connection with at least one member at the Carlisle House. I was sad to say goodbye to Peanut, but told her maybe I would see her after the holidays.
In class, we discussed five of Mary Douglas’s cultural coping responses to the anomalous. One of these, her first strategy; assigning a non-nomative body absolutely to one category or another, reminds me of my experience at Carlisie House with Peanut. I had assumed that because Peanut had certain mental or psychological disabilities, it meant she was impaired absolutely. I realized I had assumed that she would not even remember who I was. I think most of all this experience at Carlisle House, although short, has made me realize that it is dangerous and unfair to group the mentally or psychologicall disabled into one giant category. Each member of Carlisle House had different capabilities and potential, just as any “normative” person. I think that even though my experience with Carlisle House was short, it was still definitely a learning and eye opening one as well. Not only did I learn how applicable some of the theories we had discussed in class were to the Carlisle House members and my experience with them, but I also was able to accomplish one of my goals written about in my PSR, that is; I found at least one connection to make with someone at Carlisle House.