C.R.E.A.M. (Capoeira Rules Everything Around ME =0))
If you know me then you understand just how important dance is to me. My mom tells me that I used to dance even when she changed my diapers. As she described, “you used to move your but from left to right, and your legs had this rhythmic flow to them, that I just knew you were going to love dance.” As the years passed I knew music videos artists and dances to numerous songs just at the age of three, I even had my little ambiance which acted as the settings of my performances. My costume a big red sweater that wore on my head, a huge silver “boom box” complete with cassette tape and huge antenna. In this space I was in my element and grew to become a very passionate dancer. Throughout my future years I trained in West African dance, contemporary, jazz, and my strength hip hop and became so passionate about this art form that I had it written on me. Some people know the saying, “cash rules everything around me” as it was said in a famous hip hop song in the 90’s. While home in the summer I heard that saying altered in a slightly different phrase, “Dance rules everything around me” I fell in love with it and since it was so fitting, I decided to get it tattooed on my back. However after I arrived in the UK the significance of dance diminished in this chapter of my life because I didn’t have an outlet in which to express myself.
Once I arrived at UEA Capoeira become one of the most influential aspects of my time here. But it was not until this past weekend when I truly realized that my passion for dance became rivaled by Capoeira.
On the morning of Saturday February 20, 2010 a Brazilian Capoeira Master visited the Norwich Capoeira group and his visit changed my world forever. It was the first sunny day of the entire week. The previous night I had refrained from going out because of the anxiety and nervous feelings I had for the following day. I woke up refreshed; the sun shined brightly the window of my Village flat, the sky blue with beautiful dashes of white clouds. It was the warmest it had been all week, so I wore a simple coat jeans, and my basketball shorts under, so I could be ready to begin the workshop. As I walked I put my favorite playlist on my ipod and I walked to the recreation center just 30 minutes away down Earlham road from the village, millions of emotions raced through my mind. What did he look like, how fast was he going to go, how was his methods of teaching, what was his focus in Capoeira , how many years had he been training, and most important was he going to kick my ass? Needless to say no matter how much I pondered the questions I would not be able mentally prepare myself for what I was about to experience.
I walked into the recreation center, my palms sweaty, and my stomach filled with “butterflies” and as the rest of the Norwich Capoeira and I anticipated the arrival of the Capoeira master the thought flowing through everyone’s mind was, how intense was this going to be? He arrived 30 minutes behind schedule but wasted no time. There was a brief introduction and immediately afterwards class begun. Master Biscuim started the class with each of us picking up two sticks, and began conditioning exercises with a timely speed increase after each run through. My heart began to race as I dramatically wondered if I would make it out of this workshop alive. The stamina needed to make it through the exercises was illustrated by few, and the rest of the class struggled in an attempt to keep up with even our original Capoeira Professors showing some difficulty.
As the class continued the more my interest grew. In the second phase of the class the Master demonstrated a sequence of moves that we were expected to follow. Normally in class I don’t have difficulty keeping with the choreographed set of movements, but the speed that was required was indescribable, and what was worse was that before I could even get through one set of the movements Mestre Biscuim was already beginning his 3rd set. Although I could not even pretend to keep up, the joy I felt was insurmountable, I had not been able to recall a time more physically demanding then that moment, and I was loving every minute of it.
Soon we broke off into pairs practicing certain sequences of kicks and tricks, and as the pace quickened I felt my adrenaline began to rise. Each motion took more energy than the one that preceded it and yet, I still found more to draw from until it was time to switch partners. I found myself surpassing limits with each motion and it was not because of something I felt I needed to prove, but instead there was a passion that made those limits disappear. Then we formed a Rhoda and the whole class participated and as I saw kicks, shamada’s, Gingas, and numerous kicks fly at indescribable speeds, I discovered just how deep I had fallen in love with Capoeira, so much so that it rivaled my passion for dance. As the workshop went on the joy felt grew, and as my friends would say, “I was cheesing” the entire workshop, even when I was walking home I felt a certain type of joy that I hadn’t felt since performing at dance competitions in High School. Out of this entire time of being abroad, the capoeira workshop has been one of the most memorable experiences that I will take with me and look on with joy.
As the weeks progressed more and more movements became introduced to me, some I tackled with ease and others not so much. The interesting thing I began to learn about Capoeira was how intricate it was as an art form. Although many of the movements were big and about opening and closing your body to your opponent as a means of attack and defense the variety of movements that could be used in either situation were endless. Depending on the skill level of you and your opponent determines the speed and interaction of the game, but Ash, the Wednesday instructor expressed was that regardless of the skill level, whether it’s someone’s first day or 30th year, anyone can play capoeira.
The next few classes became more and more rigorous but one thing that I definitely appreciated was the fact that after two weeks I was no longer waking up sore. After the first day of class I woke up with an indescribable pain, my bones, muscles, head, feet, and body hurt to no end. It felt as if a sumo wrestler played a practical joke on me and Jumped 20 feet in the air and landed on me. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to tolerate the pain, anymore, but Ash assured me that after the fourth class I would be used to it. We learned a couple new kicks, and counters but what interested me the most was the history of Capoeira, and when it was created. At the last 15 minutes of class the beginners and the more advanced come in and form a Rhoda and either learn songs or discuss the history of Capoeira before we work our last Rhoda.
Rod, the Friday Capoeira instructor, described to us the early teachings of Capoeira and some of the early beliefs of how it was played. In one such class he stated that Capoeira Angola the traditional of Capoeira was believed to be played underneath the slave owners houses. Like America Brazil was colonized by European powers, and brought enslaved Africans over to help cultivate their new founded territory. The slaves of Brazil were believed to be placed underneath the slave owners house and practiced Capoeira in these confined spaces. This is why the theory exist that Capoeira Angola is so close to the ground because in order to be able to play the slaves had to use the little confined spaces available to them. A second part of the hidden culture of Capoeira that Rod revealed was the purpose of the Rhoda. Besides being the cultural space of Capoeira its significance holds more meaning than just the cultural space it represents. Because Capoeira was outlawed in Brazil Capoeiristas/slaves needed to be secretive about their games. The Rhoda allowed the identities of those playing to be concealed, and although the games would get broken up the individuals playing could not get arrested because the Rhoda protected their identity. The Rhoda also made it possible for the audience to always be watching. Because the Rhoda is a circle if the police were to come and try to break up the game, someone in the Rhoda was able to keep watch from all sides and would be able to signal when the police were coming. Although secretive Capoeira has survived over the last three hundred plus years because the culture and its practices have been protected by its people, and its cultural significance is still respected and practice today, even in Norwich………Who Knew?
“Head down, as I watch my feet take turns hitting the ground”……. The Instructor tells me to look in his eyes, never at the ground, because you never know when your opponent can strike. As a Capoeirista you owe it to yourself, the instructor, your opponent, the Bid-im-bow, and the Rhoda to focus and properly carryout the culture of Capoeira. My first day of Capoeira was about 5 months ago, but I still remember that class as if it was yesterday. I walked into class really not knowing what to expect, other than a few sightings and Venice beach and playing the game Tekken, with Eddy Guardo being one of my favorite characters, I really wasn’t sure what Capoeira was.
The only reason why I entered the class in the first place was because a few days before, I was informed about the signing up for Societies in the LCR. Apart from ACS (Afro-Caribbean Society) nothing really caught my interest, until a student jumped out in front of my face and said, “Ever try Capoeira.” Instantly my mind took me back about a good 12 years when I was at the beach with my family. I was running around in the sand, burying one of my Spiderman toys when I heard faint drumming in the distance. Normally I equated the sounds of drums to West African dance because I had been trained in it since the age of four. But as my feet coerced themselves into the sand the noise became louder. Once I arrived at the sound I discovered a circle of people looking like they were “break dance fighting.” I immediately became intrigued, flares, kicks, and a rhythmic swaying contributed to this foreign sight where the music and the body served as the inspiration for the movement. Once I returned back to my reality I put my name on the list immediately.
Walking into that class that day took me all the way back to when I was 8 because I was going in with the exact same curiosity. We began class by running around and getting our cardio up. We warmed up each of our muscles carefully and attentively as to not betray our bodies because in the latter part of class we would get more physical. As we went through the warm up I realized that Capoeira was going to feel very familiar to me, because as a dancer I was used to moving my body with the sound of music, I would just need to learn this new style and adapt to the movement and music as best as I could.
The instructor gave us the basic movement a swaying motion back and forth switching you weight from right to left, this movement is called “GInga.” The Ginga is the most fundamental part of Capoeira because it provides you the basic fundamental movement that you need in order to play Capoeira. The second major purpose of the Ginga is that it determines your own style, and no one persons Ginga is the same as another’s and once you have acquired your own Ginga you can begin to further explore the culture of Capoeira. Of all the classes I have taken the first one was my favorite because it seemed like second nature, and the instructor really challenged me to push through and not be inhibited by those more advanced than myself.
In the last portion of class the instructor gathered us all up in order to form a “Rhoda” (the circle in which Capoeira takes place. He named the various instruments used in the “Rhoda” some familiar some foreign and discussed the importance of the songs and the role they play in Copoiera. Once we learned a few hymns two people bent down, faced each other in the Rhoda, cart wheeled in and my curiosity began to take me on my journey. I was infatuated with the whole culture of Capoeira, and as the music and body became one, a new vocabulary of movement was opened up to me that I had not yet known existed.
Like much of London, many of the parks in London range in appearance. This might come as a shock seeing as how parks mainly serve as green spaces. Yet, each park has a unique characteristic, appearance or vibe the moment you walk into it. Walking into Regents Park to have class was one experience I will never forget. Since Mrs. Dalloway was sent in the park it gave me more of a connection to how the characters lived, and interacted with each other. But as we sat down to have class and I observed the park, I felt as if we weren’t supposed to be there. Everything was so neatly placed that I literally felt rude for invading the space. The tone of the park gave off a “poche” vibe, making me feel even worse for sitting on the green neatly cut grass.
I can say that I felt completely opposite when I entered Green Park. Green Park felt like any other park, being noticeably smaller than Regents Park. I felt as if I entered a regular communal park in Los Angeles, until I saw Buckingham palace. Serving as the center piece for the area Buckingham palace, took all of Green Parks dignity. It made sense to me that Green Park was so small, simply because the purpose of the park was not to draw attention from the surrounding area like Regents Park but simply serve as a modest green space.
Hyde Park however, was the most beautiful parks I have ever witnessed. Regardless on which entrance you walk through the park will immediately leave you speechless. Housing over seven major sights, and a beautiful lake the park is one of the most spectacular symbols of London’s history one could see. The Diana memorial alone gave me chills. It really opened my eyes to how much she meant to the United Kingdom and emphasized her impact on not only the Uk but the world. Going from the lake, to the July 7th memorial one could get lost in the beauty of Hyde Park, as well as Hyde Park itself.
The point of the parks in London, are to illustrate the ever changing beauty that is London. Not only through the parks can you see the diversity of London’s appearance, but also the importance of its history.
When you think about identity the person you are, the person you wish to become you never truly recognize that ultimately you have no control on your identity. What makes up one’s identity; Race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, job, degree? The list can go on forever, and the major commonality among all of these aspects of one’s identity is that they are all socially constructed. You never get to decide what you wish to be, and it is unique. Of course not anyone person in the world is the same, but an individual is never able to define themselves without conforming to society in one way or another.
In the novel Second Class citizen Adah is trying to escape her confined gender role as a woman in Nigeria. In order to do so, she flees to Europe in search for a better life. She discovers that her societal role in Europe is far worse than it was in Nigeria and she is further oppressed because of what her identity. If we examine the oppression that Adah faces in both Nigeria and Europe we can get a better understanding of identity. In Nigeria the only obstacle that Adah faced was the fact that she was a woman. Adah was a much respected woman in her society, but because of her gender she faced oppression that affected her subjectivity in society. It is this reason that led her to flee to Europe. However when she arrived in Europe other parts of her identity was realized. In Nigeria Adah was just a rich woman, but in Europe Adah was a middle class black woman. This realization of her racial identity is something she never had to acknowledge because in Nigeria she wasn’t a minority, but when entering Europe her identity becomes altered. In essence she has not control of her identity because identity is not self defined. Identity is defined by society.
Everyone in this world from birth is given their name, gender, and sex. As they grow they are allotted a certain number of social constructions to add to “their identity.” No one born in today’s world can exist without being defined by society, and even choosing to remain as an “other “or remained undefined you are still conforming to a societal role. The human race has become so compliant on social construction, that they have become our norm. And what makes matters worse is that so many people are unable to realize that by simply existing they are being forced to conform to society. To answer Jeyla’s question, Identity is always societal defined.
While you walk down the streets of London you will see; fashionable people, a variety of restaurants, small and big businesses, tourist venues, and of course pubs. But where as in America we have bars, Pubs are much more distinct. When you walk into a pub, you are not just walking into a social venue for you pleasure, because it is so much more complex. When one enters a pub they experience and deep rooted part of London’s culture, and might even discover what historical figures have done the same.
Having been to a few pubs, over these past four weeks, I can tell you first hand that when one enters a pub, it is unlike any other experience. The type of people that you will encounter will range in age, class, and ethnicity/race, but will all be seeking the same thing as you, a drink, and a good time. Something small yet so significant in British culture pubs serve as a venue for people to come together and simply enjoy the company of friends while unwinding from the stressed of the day. Although I am not a huge fan of beers, ails, or any other hardcore alcoholic beverages I will say that I thoroughly enjoy pubs.
It isn’t so much that I like being able to drink legally (although I do enjoy this very much) but the fact that there is a place where you can just unwind and enjoy the time spent with friends, reflecting on the days past. The overall atmosphere of a pub is what really adds to the experience, in that once inside can only be described as “chilled.” Pubs, are understandably a huge part of British culture, a distinctively the Court is a big part of Dickinson student culture. I guess it’s one of those things that you will have to experience yourself.
So this past week has been filled with a variety of theatre experiences that have made me laugh, think, cheer, clap, be moved, and even ask “wtf.” The two pieces that I would like to focus on, completely juxtapose the other, but nevertheless illustrate London’s diversity in the theatre going experience. Both this play and the musical made me ask questions, but in two completely different ways.
On Thursday just after finishing my practice for the Brixton group walking tour, we rushed over to the Globe theatre. Since we had been there before, we knew that the play was going to be wonderful, and to our surprise it didn’t disappoint. However it was the evening play,that would make me fall in love with British theatre.
After grabbing a bight to eat and relaxing at the hotel for a moment, Flo, Jeyla, and I headed towards the National theatre. I was not at all excited for this performance, in part because I was exhausted from the days’ events and partly because I didn’t want to sit through a second three hour play. Little did I know that from the beginning of the play I would be on the edge of my seat, completely drawn in to the characters of The Pitmen Painter’s. Immediately when the play began I was forced into the lives of these diverse men of the working class. The “realness” and authenticity that each actor/character brought to the table was extraordinary and noticeable from the first moments in the play. As the play continued I was lost in a world that I had a deep connection with. The symbolism for art and their understanding of it was beautifully connected to how these men lived. They learned that it wasn’t fame, or money that made u successful as artists but their ability to paint. This had a profound effect on me and my connection to dance. For years and even to this day, I imagined my life as being a professional dancer, but because of this amazing opportunity I had to grow as a student in a higher academic institution, I put my plans on hold. The Pitmen painters made me realize that not only do I still have time to do all that I want and more, but that what makes me a dancer and choreographer is not the fame and recognition that o would receive for my pieces, but my ability to create dances and the satisfaction that I get from performing. It isn’t about anybody else, and I thought that the Pitmen Painters taught me something that I was never ever to realize before and I am grateful to have experienced such an amazing piece of work.
However, on Saturday going to see Blood Brothers I felt like I my ears were going to bleed to death because of how terrible it was. Blood Brothers is easily the worst “musical” I have ever seen in all my life. In the beginning it seemed as if it would be a great performance and because it was a musical I was way more excited than the other performances. But I was sadly mistaken. The play began with the potential of being a well performed musical, until Marilyn Monroe. She was, throughout the entire bloody musical, and the funny thing, is that she has been dead for decades, but I can tell you after Blood Brothers she is no longer resting in piece. The singing was great but I could not stand how everyone overacting. The most dreadful part was the narrator, playing god. At every turn he would come in and ruin a scene that had the potential of being somewhat descent. At the end of the performance the rest of the crowd gave a standing ovation, while the Norwich Humanities group looked in awe questioning the sanity of the rest of the audience.
Overall my theatre going experience in London was phenomenal. London has the most diverse performing art venues I have ever witnessed. From Shakespeare to Dickens and all the in-between whatever you want to see you can find in London. Most of the plays were amazing and the theatres and their architecture was unique in every way. All in all I can say that I have fallen in love with British theatre, and I can’t wait to return.
Flo , Jeyla and I visited the The Sir John Soane Museum last week and to our surprise it proved to be quite interesting. We were greeted by a wonderful doors’ men and when he asked why we were there, he really made me think. Of course we went to visit the museum as a requirement for class, but was there any personal significance in going. As I traveled up the steps to what used to be Sir Johns’ house I kept replaying that question over and over in my head.
The security guard checked the girls bag in, and took ice cold coca-cola from my hands as I entered the museum. Having just bought the drink I became a little sad, until I made an abrupt right turn into the library of Sir John’s house I was stunned by the collection of books that he owned. I saw a huge variety, even books from the author Jean Jaque Reasoue. I could not believe my eyes, this one man possessed some of the most famous pieces of literature ever published. This became the motif of the house, as the man collected am array, of rare items throughout his home and museum.
Not only were the pieces of art amazing but the architecture in the home was phenomenal. Having been one of the most famous architects of his time, Soane designed his home and museum with natural light, in a way that gave a surreal tone to the pieces on display. There was a vibe in each and every room different from the one previous to it, making it unique and special in its own way, and I found myself appreciating each section in a different way. It was an amazing experience to be able to walk into the many rooms and levels of the house and feel as if I was in a different room, just by turning the corner.
I had a sudden realization of why I came to the museum. Besides it being a requirement, and Sir John being a very important part of London’s history, was that the museum in its own right adds to the collective experience of London. To see one of the most famous architects in of all London’s house was so breathtaking. He created some of the buildings that define London as such a unique city. Not only that but his appreciation and passion for art allowed me to see a world I had never known existed. The building and the experience was one like any other.
For the past few weeks we have been bombarded by tours, museums, tube maps, and sightseeing. We have been living the life of the London tourist. However, just last night, for the first time during our trip here, Anthony, Flow, Jeyla, Audrey, Rebecca, and I got a chance to play tour guides to fellow Dickinson students Gina, Luis, and Leslie on layover on their way to study in Malaga. Having been on many Karl-Qualls-Tours, the six of us were fully capable of navigating the city and hitting all the major tourist attractions in the four hours our friends had before they needed to get back to the airport. We took them to the South Bank, Big Ben, Parliament, the Roman Wall/Tower of London, the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, and St. Paul’s.
But having already seen these sites, and been in London now for about three weeks, another tour didn’t seem that exciting to me. I went along just to be with my friends, but ultimately I learned something about myself along the way, and it has to do with IDENTITY: I’m now a Londoner. Leading the way, knowing the tube routes, does that make me a Londoner? Knowing the history, the significance of each spot, does that makes me a Londoner? Or was it feeling so jaded the past few days that the thought of more sightseeing made me a little sick? I think it was a combination of both. But seeing the look in Leslie, Luis, and Gina’s faces, the excitement they felt at seeing Big Ben for the first time, made me realize that now, we members of Humanities 309 are no longer tourists, but rather Londoners. And it is not because of any reason other than our ability to give that moment of awe to a group of our friends. -Megan
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On Sunday night three members of my posse Leslie, Gina and Luis flew into Europe. For the academic year they will be studying abroad in Spain however their layover for a night was in London. A couple of students decided that it would be great idea to take them out and see our new home, London. Granted they would only be here for a night so we decided to cram in our best London Tour in the span of literally 5 hours.
Jeyla and I wasted no time, and rushed on the tube towards Heathrow airport. Our tube cards only go up to zone 3 on the tube, and whenever Jeyla and I passed the boundaries of a new zone we felt petrified that we were venturing out too far. However we got to the airport safely, picked them up, and quickly returned to the hotel. As soon as we arrived they visited some other Dickinson friends of theirs, ate, and we headed out on the town.
Now when I say that London is a beautiful city at night, I am not giving it enough credit. It was definitely a night to remember, in that we saw, what we as “Londoners” thought were the most important tourist attractions in such a short time span. We walked bridges, greeted Big Ben, climbed statues, took pictures, walked skate parks, saw bridges rise and fall, and of course had an amazing time with great friends. I felt so blessed that I was able to take my friends out in the city that I have grown to love, and even more amazing, that I knew my way around. The time spent that night is one I will cherish forever. Next adventure will definitely be in Spain!!!! See you then. -Anthony
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Arrival Time 3:00 pm Sunday
Last Sunday we got a visit from three of our Dickinson friends, who on their way to study abroad in Malaga, stopped by to get a taste of London! Luckily, we had the day off on Monday, so Audrey, Megan, Jeyla, Rebecca, Anthony and myself decided to show Gina, Leslie and Luis everything that we have seen in the past two weeks. Interesting enough, we all had the opportunity to see something we had never before witnessed. For instance, Tower Bridge was raised, gracefully, to allow a ship to continue to make its way down the Thames. It all happened in a matter of about fifteen, maybe twenty minutes, but it was my first time seen a bridge being raised, and it was Tower Bridge for that matter! It was a magic moment.
(Video of Tower Bridge rising coming soon)
We walked along the Thames, from the National Theatre to the London Eye to Big Ben to the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge and over the Millennium Bridge towards St.Paul’s. We spoke of everything we knew about, taking the time to explain to them (the “new tourists”) why St.Paul’s was so special and why London Bridge isn’t as cool as Tower Bridge, and to answer their questions on what is Westminster Abbey so important or what is inside the Tower of London… among many, many others. I definitely took some time to show off my knowledge of Nelson Mandela, as we made a quick stop at his statue located near Westminster Abbey. It was a night full of fun, recollection of knowledge and moments that will always be unforgettable.
This night will be remembered as the time when we all felt like true Londoners! The night when “Professor Qualls [(or Quallzie, as Jeyla calls him)] would be proud!,” the night when I described the system of Apartheid as a system where “whites segregated that shit to the T!”
Departure Time 2:00 am Monday
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I’m normally pretty good with directions, but for some reason during our stay in London I have managed to disrupt that pattern in some pretty fantastic ways. My group has had to run for a good 20 minutes because of my decision to take the wrong tube line when we could have just walked to our destination in 10 minutes in the first place. I led a friend on a two-hour walk trying to find the hotel that was only two blocks away. Oopsies. But when a few friends stopped in on their way to Malaga, my sense of direction seemed to be right on. They were incredibly jet-lagged so taking any additional steps than those that were necessary was not even an option if we wanted everyone to be happy by the end of the visit. To get from the Tower of London area to St. Paul’s Cathedral isn’t necessarily that difficult, but the way my luck has been going I was nervous about how we would get from point A to point B without stopping at any tube or bus station. Thank goodness for our walking tours. Just when I was getting nervous about where we were, I looked up and saw a pirate ship on the sidewalk. Normally, such a site might throw me for a loop, but in this situation it was a sign that said ‘don’t worry, everything is working out’.
It was at the pirate ship that I realized that London has become more than just a big city with a confusing street lay out. This bridge connects to this theater which is caddycorner to that cathedral. It’s not a home for me yet and I’m not sure that it will be any time soon. But it’s not a place in which I feel completely out of place anymore. I am familiar with some of its alleys, I have a good-ish grasp of which tube stops are on which line, and I know which areas of London have which personalities. The pirate ship is in quirky Southwark and not in the swanky West End. It’s also something that can help a group of Dickinson students around London on a fun night of exploration. I only wish that I was more at home in the city that I could have climbed aboard and said Argh. Another time. -Audrey
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Seeing Big Ben lit up at night, running across the streets, crossing the Millennium Bridge, witnessing the Tower Bridge being lifted. This was all experienced in one night when my three good friends from Dickinson had their 15 hour lay-over in London’s Heathrow Airport before going on their way to Malaga, Spain for their study abroad program. The adventure began when Anthony and myself decided to pick our friends up in the Zone Six area of London which is farther than one would expect to be from our “regular” Zone Three expeditions. It was fairly easy to get to the airport on the Picadilly line on the tube and we were pleasantly surprised to see out friends hanging out at the arrival gate. As we made our way back to the Arran Hotel we explained to them what we have seen so far of London and of course they have seen our facebook photo albums to go along with our stories. Arriving at the Hotel, Anthony, Flosha, Megan, Audrey, Rebecca and myself decided that we wanted to show Leslie, Gina and Luis the “real London” which meant a lot of walking in the few hours that they have had left to spend in England. It has been a great experience to have spent a month exploring London with my fellow Dickinson class mates, some whom I knew while attending Dickinson and some whom I got to know better by living in the Arran Hotel. However, a whole new appreciation came upon me when three of my friends, whom I have known for almost three years, were able to explore London with me. As we made our way to Embankment stop, we made sure to show them Big Ben peaking through the bridges, the Westminster Abbey, the statue of Nelson Mandela, the Tower Bridge, the Globe, London Bridge, and of course the magnificent Saint Paul’s. We ended the night by taking a ride in the legendary London double decker bus. I can just imagine how exciting it must be to be able to see another European country before heading to their destination of Spain. Their arrival to London also made me realize how easy it is to travel across Europe, and seeing London full of lights gave the city a romantic notion for me instead of the historical side that I am used to.
I am so happy that we were able to not be tourists for a night and show someone else around this beautiful city. Quallzie would be proud! –Jeyla
In the past week the Norwich Humanities group have visited numerous cathedrals, temples and Gurdwara ‘s and in these visits I have learned a great deal. In many of these religious venues I was uncomfortable simply because the ideologies/beliefs of these particular religions did not complement my own. Being taken out of my comfort zone to learn an experience the ways of other cultures, has given me some insight as to how these groups must feel when they are in a culture, and the majority is viewing them/. But as I went into these diverse places of worship, one major similarity caught my attention. In fact the concept of religion itself is all very similar to me.
Religion, in my definition, is when people have a shared belief in some form of the supernatural or higher power. It is a man made construct, that gives some people meaning and purpose for their lives. When visiting the places of worship over the past few weeks, this as a very prevalent commonality. But what was even more interesting was that the ideals and beliefs of these different religions were not all that different. Each form of religion has a belief system of what is “good religious behavior” and then “sins”. Every religion, has a written documents that tell the story of their lord, and some form a prayer, followed by various religious customs, and of course commandments or laws that must be followed accompanied by a place of worship. Why is it then that there are so many religions?
Visiting the different cathedrals temples etc. I found that when people have a faith, it can potentially be the strongest force that a man or woman can feel. So much so that even if others are unable to understand another person’s religion, to that specific individual, their religion is like second nature. I found this true for every religious venue I went to. Each person speaking about their faith had such a strong passion and emotional connection, that even if I could not understand “why”, I could not deny that their faith was beautiful.
The idea of religion is something that I can definitely appreciate but the reason that I am indifferent to religion in general (or at least the ones I have studied) is the prejudices and hypocrisy that comes with it. When I used to attend church I found that most of the people, who were attending this place of worship, were not holding true to the beliefs of Christianity. They would come in and do the general routine work and then leave. No one that I encountered had true faith or belief in not only what they were doing, but why. Then I began to research the history of various religions, and discovered that many besides being sexist, were prejudice and hateful towards other people in the past. Religion in my eyes became something that people followed blindly never questioning its routes or asking why, and as people began to ask why, newer religions began to form and others just followed along.
Religion is a very touchy subject, one that can never be understood. The fact that their now exist over 200 religions that all claim to be the truth or the chosen people is a battle that I don’t wish to enter. People have faith and I can respect it, but that is as far as I am willing to go, because at the end of the day, religion is just another hegemonic apparatus that is used to keep the subordinates in line. At least in my opinion. I have faith in people and their abilities and do believe that there is some force that is watching over me. This maybe lost loved ones, people who are far from me, family, or a higher power, I am unsure yet, but for right now faith is enough for me.