Entries Tagged as 'Uncategorized'
April 13: 10-3:30, Norwich Cathedral, Supervised by Juliet Corbett
On the second day of the Easter Experience, I had the same job as the previous day: supervising the crafts table. Again, I had a great time with the kids and their parents. It was really interesting watching the interfamilial interactions, and I was able to infer some things about the community based on my observations. I was interested to learn how far-reaching information about the event spread; it seems that many people came a decent distance to come to the Cathedral today and a lot of families who don’t normally come into town ventured over to participate. At first it was surprising just how many people came to a religious activity but, since the Church of England is such a prominent institution, it began to make sense.
Today, after the Experience was over, we helped clean up the area and carried some things away for storage. I’m so glad I decided to volunteer again (and to help clean up) because, in doing so, the coordinator Juliet decided to take us on a tour of some of the parts of the Cathedral that are inaccessible to the general public. We got to see the old classrooms in the Cathedral and explore the triforium, which was amazing!
Photo courtesy of Stephenie McGucken
Photo courtesy of Stephenie McGucken
Juliet, as well as the other Cathedral staff, was amazing and friendly and not at all what I expected from someone who works at a religious institution. Everyone was so welcoming and really made volunteering a wonderful experience.
(Image found at ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/norfolk/content/images/2009/01/09/dragon_fest_span_203x152.jpg )
Sunday at the Norfolk Beer Festival at Dragon Hall was much better than I expected it to be. Saturday night was just as packed as Friday night, and those two days drained the beer supply that had been purchased for the festival. Thankfully, there were bottled beers, two types of cider, and someone was able to grab two casks of beer from a local brewer for Sunday. No one expected Sunday to be a big day either, and it turned out to very well be an easy going day. There was only an afternoon session and it worked out very well.
I was surprised because no one seemed extremely upset that there was almost no selection in beer there. At the door the prices were altered and costumers were made aware that the festival was basically out of alcohol, so everyone was well aware of the situation before purchasing admission into Dragon Hall. However, this did not stop a good number of people from showing up. Sunday afternoon welcomed the same amount of visitors that Saturday afternoon had. The bottled beer sold well, one of the cider casks was completely consumed, and both the new casks of beer were drunk by the end of the day.
Looking back on my experience at Dragon Hall and my time volunteering at the Norwich and Norfolk Beer festival, I’ve come to realize that I could not have chosen a better place to do my mandatory volunteer/internship hours. This experience opened the eyes of an American boy who used to prefer a cold Fosters to warm local ale. I tried so many different types of local beers, all tasting different with unique qualities in colour and texture. My favourite would have been one of the Fat Cat’s contributions called the Cat & Canary. It was light and refreshing, with a fruity taste.
At the end of my time there, I remembered something that another volunteer, Dodge, had mentioned to us before we started working on Friday. He reminded us that we should have fun, that the whole point of this festival was to have fun, try some new and interesting beers, and help others try them as well. Of course, the whole “have fun” part is something that you hear wherever you may be putting in effort to get something done, whether or not in reality it has any chance of being fun. I’ve heard it before starting a summer of sailing lessons with a bunch of bratty 11 year old girls (…not fun). But now I realize that Dodge meant that, and that it was possible. I spent a weekend serving delicious beer to interesting people, working alongside other knowledgeable and friendly volunteers, learning a lot about what kinds of tastes I like in a beer, and enjoying the beers myself. Not once were any of us volunteers without a glass at least half way full. This was actually encouraged, we were supposed to know the beers, we could only help customers with their decisions if we had made our own. I did have trouble describing the differences, beyond the colour of the beer, to costumers, but I was reassured that this skill will come in time, and for now I should just learn as much as I can. So that’s what I did, I drank beer and learned (probably the only place in the world where the words “beer” and “learned” accurately can describe an experience).
After working on Sunday, I went out with some of the volunteers and some of the men playing in the band. We walked to a pub that was having another beer festival that weekend. I am only mentioning this to show how my relationship with the other members of the team developed throughout the weekend. By the time I was in the pub Sunday evening I was talking about where I was getting advice about where I should visit in Europe and how to handle life after college. Many of the other volunteers became my friends because of how close and well we all worked together. They all said that I need to do the Norwich Beer Festival held at St. Andrew’s Hall, but unfortunately I had to tell them that I was not going to be around for it.
So I have this one last thing to say: If you have been to a beer festival, you should try working at one. You meet the best people on both sides of the bar, you get to drink amazing beers for free, and you learn so much about what makes beers special.
Date: 31 April 2011
Total Hours: 27
Location: Dragon Hall
Supervisor: Rachel M.
Tags: 2010 David · Uncategorized
On my second visit to the allotment, I found myself handling more intermediate tasks. Ok, still brainless busywork, but I at least felt that I was gardening. My job was to sow seeds into black plastic trays, each tray containing mid-size holes filled with dirt. I sowed 2 trays of sweet corn, 1 tray of sprouts and 1 tray of squash. Each tray consisted of 84 holes for planting; with 4 trays planted, we’re talking about a lot of potential food.
Just before I left the allotment for lunch, the initiative supervisor Mahesh, showed me what would be my project for the rest of the week. He showed me a patch of grass that ran behind four plots, overgrown with grass. This patch had once had plants growing there, and it was my task to dig out the weeds, leaving bare soil for planting. I thought back to the seeds I had spent the morning sowing. My space to clear was about 4 feet by 25 feet, so, again, we’re talking about a lot of potential food. Mahesh gave me a pair of gloves and said “The shed is always unlocked, so you can come down here whenever you like to dig out the grass.”
I took a break at my flat, ate some beans on toast, and then headed back to the allotment to get started on my task. I prefer tough manual work rather than small busy work, so I was glad that I had a big physical task that would take me awhile to complete. I spent the afternoon digging out a patch of grass, shaking out the soil and chucking the remaining grass and its roots in the compost.
Time: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-16:00
Location: Grown-Our-Own Allotment
Tags: 2010 Luke · Uncategorized
After volunteering at Dragon Hall on Friday night, I believed I was equipped with what I needed to know for Saturday. Unlike Friday, when I had to stay from 5 o’clock to midnight for preparation, the evening session (the only session on Friday), and clean up, Saturday was going to be a lot longer though. I had to be there at 11:30 in the morning and I wouldn’t be let out until midnight that night. There were both and afternoon and evening session this day. Also, the work I did was a lot different than the work I did on Friday night.
I was placed at one of the two bars. I would have to dispense the beer from the casks and collect the tokens from the costumers. Although this may seem easy, and although it proved to be less difficult than I worried it would be, at the beginning I was very worried. All of the volunteers that were working with me that afternoon had done this work the night before and I was very nervous about messing up. However, there were some things that made my life easier behind the bar.
Firstly, all the glasses were marked. Along with the image and logo of Dragon Hall, there were measurement marks for a third of a pint, a half a pint, and a full pint. The committee that ran the festival had decided before that a third of a pint should not be sold, so that mark was irrelevant. But it is extremely important to pour the correct amount of beer into your costumer’s glass. I was warned many times that there is a committee that goes to pubs and beer festivals to make sure that the pouring was accurate and that the buyer was getting what he paid for. With the marks this was something that should not have made me worry, but I poured a little past the lines every time just to assure myself that I wasn’t going to rip anyone off. Secondly, all the beers were sold at intervals of 20p. Each token was worth 20p as well. On the casks there were labels with the names of the beer, the brewery that created it, the alcohol content, and the price and token amount for either a half or full pint. All I had to do was look at the token amount and ask for it, not having to deal with money or change. Thirdly, at the bar I was working at, there were two experienced beer festival volunteers who made sure everything was working smoothly. I made one mistake that thankfully was not a major issue, but it could have been.
The beers being served at these CAMRA festivals all have sediment that lies at the bottom of the cask. That means that after the cask is transported or put into its location at the bar the cask must rest for a certain amount of time in order to let the sediments settle back down under the liquid. This also means that after tipping a cask, which is what you do when the beer is running low and you need to heighten the rear of the cask to increase the flow of liquid to the nozzle in the front, you have to be extremely careful. Only experienced people were able to touch these casks in order to tip them because the adjustments had to be done slowly and accurately. Sudden movements could shake the sediments afloat. The cask would then have to sit, possibly for hours, before the beer was ready to serve again. So at a festival, where beer is needed and needed fast, this would be a terrible problem. I did almost cause this to happen when I was trying to be helpful. One of the experienced volunteers, Andrea, was tipping a cask that was running low, and I decided that she needed a hand, so I started to push the rear of the cask upwards. I was quickly scorned and I let go, and she had a tight enough grip on the cask to make sure that it didn’t fall back down when I let go. I never touched the cask again, except for the nozzle, which I was allowed to touch. Although I was yelled at for my mistake, the group of volunteers behind the bar was supportive. There were some volunteers my age, and a couple older volunteers. As long as we listened to what the older, usually more knowledgeable, ones ordered and as long as we were productive and putting in effort, us “virgins” (as we were called once early on Friday because of our lack of experience working at beer festivals) were treated respectfully, and eventually even friendly.
The festival as a whole ran into problems by the end of the afternoon, before the night session. We were actually running out of beer. No one had expected Friday night to be such a success and the men and women who organized the event did not order enough beer from the breweries. By the early hours of the night session we had to cross off beers on the beer menu that was offered to costumers. One by one the beers dropped off and the selection began to dwindle. My bar literally sold out of beer Saturday night and had to resort to selling the few options of bottled beer that were available. These bottled beers were from the same breweries that provided the casks of beer but we far less popular because they were more expensive and they had an altered taste because of their packaging. A lot of costumers were very disappointed and I was sympathetic to them. They came to a beer festival expecting abundance of beer to choose from, to taste, to consider, and to discover, but for those who came later on in the evening that was impossible to do. I felt horrible turning people away because we didn’t have any of the beer they were interested in having. It wasn’t like I had a choice though.
There was a little bit more cleaning up to do Saturday night than there was on Friday. I had to remove the trays that were placed on the floor directly under the nozzles. These were meant to collect all the drippings from the casks. I collected random glasses that were left around and placed them by the sink in the kitchen. After this long but successful day at Dragon Hall, I was able to catch the bus home.
(Image found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/norfolk/your/a-z_norfolk/images/dragonhall.jpg)
Date: 30 April 2011
Total Hours: 20
Location: Dragon Hall
Supervisor: Rachel M.
Tags: 2010 David · Uncategorized
(Image found at http://www.creativesponge.co.uk/images/branding_5.jpg )
I fulfilled my volunteer/internship hours at the Norfolk Beer Festival held at Dragon Hall last weekend. This event was sponsored by the Campaign for Real Ale, or CAMRA. This is an organization that, based on all I witnessed during my time as a volunteer, supports the local breweries. It is a national organization spread throughout the United Kingdom. The Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA puts on beer festivals, holds tastings, and publishes Nips, a magazine that contains reviews, calendars displaying scheduled events, opinion pages, and many other types of articles that describe the up-to-date happenings in the local beer world of Norwich and Norfolk. It pays to be a member, as discounts are offered at various events to people holding the CAMRA membership card. (Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA’s website: http://www.norwichcamra.org.uk/ )
Friday was my first day as a volunteer. I arrived at 5 o’clock in the late afternoon at Dragon Hall. The students on the Dickinson program have all seen it before because of the walking tour we were assigned. This was one of the locations that someone had to explain the significance of. It is located across the river from the movie theatre near the train station. It’s only a five to ten minute walk from the train station when getting off the 25 or 35 bus. Dragon Hall is a fifteenth century building that has been used as a venue for commercial, social, and domestic purposes. However, this weekend it hosted the beer festival as a fundraiser to maintain the building and its historic merit.
After arriving on Friday, I was herded up stairs to the big hall. There were two bars lined with casks (I learned never ever, ever, to call them kegs), two shelves high. The festival itself was scheduled to start at 6, so the hour between was used to divvy up the jobs that the volunteers were going to be doing. The older volunteers, the CAMRA members, and the more confident of the volunteers were given the tasks upstairs where the bars and beer were located. I myself volunteered to go downstairs, to the door and help with the till (cash register). Before the night started, all the volunteers were given food vouchers, because food was being provided by a catering service downstairs, and a pint glass, which could be filled with beer.
That night I worked at the first table that the costumers came to. I was working with an old man who volunteers regularly at Dragon Hall and is also a well-educated-in-beer CAMRA member. Sean Nam was there too, working alongside me and this old man, named Mark I believe. Initially, Sean and I worked on passing out glasses, along with £2 worth of tokens (which were actually raffle tickets) to the men and women coming in. These tokens would be put into the glasses that the arriving costumers would receive after paying an admission fee of £5 or £4 for CAMRA members. At a table located across the room, more tokens would be available for purchase. The initial £2 worth of tokens could buy a half pint of beer. Friday night turned out to be a lot busier than expected, so Sean and I were constantly opening new boxes of pint glasses and putting tokens inside of the glasses. When Mark left to get food, he left me in control of the till. I did one transaction that had to be voided, but soon I got the hang of it. I’m glad that I didn’t work upstairs with the beer Friday night because working down at the front door helped boost my confidence, relax in this new environment, and get comfortable with the beer festival vibe. I’d never been to a beer festival before, let alone worked at one.
The people coming into the beer festival seemed to all belong to different crowds. There were the older people, usually coming together as spouses or pairs of spouses. The CAMRA members were usually these people, which I was not surprised about. Mark would continually jest with the older people who showed their membership cards, either knowing them or pretending to know them. I was surprised at how many young people came though. Lots of the attendees looked to be about my age or a little older. There was a policy set in place that nobody under the age of 18 should be allowed in, but everyone seemed of age. These younger people, the ones that could have been my 21 or older, were extremely friendly and I was able to joke with them.
I worked the door until it was time to leave around midnight. The last call was sometime before 11, I believe it was around 10:45. People started to file out soon after that, everyone seeming very happy with what they had experienced that night, saying goodbye and thank you. I felt as if I had done a good job that night, no big mistakes had been made, and by the end I had adjusted to the venue and the crowd. It was a very good night.
Date: 29 April 2011
Total Hours: 7
Location: Dragon Hall
Supervisor: Rachel M.
Tags: 2010 David · Uncategorized
September 22nd, 2010 · 1 Comment
As I and many others have mentioned in previous posts, examining religion and religious life in London has been a big part of our course. Central to increasing our knowledge and understanding of a number of religions has been visiting the various houses of worship. We have visited a few churches, a mosque, a mandir, and a synagogue. We have gone into these institutions with varying levels of welcome, and we have observed a variety of rituals, customs, and traditions.
Beauty has also been a recurring theme in the course. Almost all of the houses of worship that we visited had put serious thought and effort into the beautification of their buildings. The only exception was the mosque, but I think it is ok to assume that this was due to the financial circumstances of the community than lack of desire or appreciation for a beautiful space. In addition to all being beautiful, these spaces were all aesthetically very unique. The Mandir was extremely ornate, but not to the point of tackiness or fussiness. All of the stone and teak carvings were well executed and the building as a whole had a feel of luxury to it. The synagogue was a more simple, paired down building, but even as a more streamlined space, it still packed ample visual drama in the floor to ceiling red and gold mosaic behind the ark and tall, dramatic stained glass windows, which unfortunately had to be obscured by anti-terrorism curtains.
Comparing St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, aesthetically, St. Paul’s is the clear winner. Westminster Abbey is cluttered with tombs and plaques and statues, it is mostly dark and parts do look kind of shabby. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a place of great historical significance and cultural value, I’m not denying that, but on looks alone…. ehhh. St. Paul’s on the other hand, is light, airy, and spacious. It has a regal, elegant exterior and strikes a nice profile. The mosaics on the ceiling close to the WWII memorial were exceptional. As John explained to us, the tesserae had been set in at a specific angle, not flat against the wall, so that the sunlight reflects off of them just enough to allow them to glint and glitter. Perhaps over stepping here, but I think the visual atmosphere, the aesthetics of the particular houses of worship, reflect something of the character of the congregations who pray there.
Tags: 2010 Rachel · Uncategorized
September 22nd, 2010 · 1 Comment
The fact that the high holy days of Judaism fell during our time in London gave me an opportunity to visit and pray at several different synagogues. On Rosh HaShanah (the New Year), I first went to the Central London Synagogue in the morning. It is the Orthodox Synagogue which we visited as a class. Most of the congregation wasn’t participating in the service so it didn’t really feel very spiritual. Part of the celebration of Rosh HaShanah is to hear the shofar blown. A shofar is a hollowed out ram’s horn and it has been used to communicate in Judaism for thousands of years. I was able to hear the shofar at the Central Synagogue so I was glad I went there for that. Later in the day I headed out to the Northern suburbs of London. I attended an afternoon service with one of my flat mates from my year in Israel. His synagogue was also Orthodox but I felt a lot better about that prayer experience because everyone was participating and seemed very focused.
For Yom Kippur I had a unique opportunity to attend the only Independent synagogue in the UK. The Belsize Square Synagogue was originally founded by German immigrants but has since evolved and incorporated a number of other types of Jews. However, it still hangs onto its origins in the German Haskalah. Haskalah means enlightenment and it is the name given to the beginnings of the Reform movement. The movement began in Germany and was later adopted in the United States and elsewhere. Reform Judaism holds that a Jew should be entirely educated about the whole of Jewish law but then should be allowed to choose those elements of practice which are individually meaningful. In the United States, this is often perceived as a lax sect of Judaism and so, in most congregations that I have experienced, the members end up being mostly secular Jews and largely uneducated about Judaism in the least. At Belsize, however, I met a strange and unexpected contradiction. The service had the most obvious characteristics of a Reform service in the U.S. It had both a choir and organ and was given to churchy tunes at times. You see, the origins of the Haskalah were in a desire for German Jews to emulate their German Christian counterparts. This is evident not only in choir, organ, and tunes, but also in things like synagogue architecture and design. A Reform shul is far more likely to have pews instead of chairs, for instance. At first glance, Belsize Square appeared to be akin to Reform, in fact, the synagogue belonged both to the Reform and Liberal streams of British Judaism at different times but eventually decided it had to be independent. As I sat in services Friday night and all day Saturday, it became obvious why it was so different. The synagogue and community are amazingly traditional in their practices and attitude towards the service. I also noticed how well Jewishly-educated the whole of the congregation seemed to be. While I don’t usually go for the choir and organ, I was able to find more respect for it in the context of this shul because it seemed supported by more than just a desire to remain Jewish while acting as Christian as possible. The service was informed by a desire to remain close to the roots of the immigrant community which founded it but also to remain inextricably tied to traditional Judaism. I’ve never come across a synagogue and community like Belsize in the United States.
Tags: 2010 Daniel · Uncategorized
September 21st, 2010 · Comments Off on My Bit on Theater
One thing that I appreciate about London is the accessibility to see theater without creating a dent in your pocket. Seeing shows on Broadway are the complete opposite, hence the reason why I’ve only been to a couple of Broadway shows although, my money has always been well spent. In London I haven’t spend more than thirty pounds to see a production, not to say that they’ve all blown me away. Les Miserables was my favorite and was similar to the style of production that I am used to seeing. Performance wise, everything was spot on- the acting, costumes, set, music, the list goes on. It took real skill for the actors to maneuver the rotating stage, which I’ve never seen before. The most unique experience for me would have to be at The Globe Theater seeing The Merry Wives of Windsor. Never in my life would I opt to standing for three hours to watch a play, except for in London of course. I’m not a fan of Shakespeare but I had some good laughs. The cast was very talented, and the transitions between scenes were very creative. I would say most of us liked the production, even though we all despised Professor Qualls for making us stand.
The funniest play would be The 39 Steps, in which there was never a dull moment. What I really loved about this play was their creativity and enthusiasm. This four- member cast created magic on stage, and engaged the entire audience. With limited crew and crops, they really encouraged viewers to use their imagination. While glancing at the audience during intermissions, I couldn’t help but notice how homogenous the crowds each play attracted. Being located in the West End could have been a reason for the very white audiences, however it’s not like ticket prices prevent anyone else from being able to see a show every now and then. Is theater going only prominent in white culture? I also wonder if there is such a thing as the same show being better in the West End than it is on Broadway. Somehow, I just can’t see it happening that way, probably vice versa (statement could also be very biased). If its one thing, I wish I did set aside more of my time in London to see more theater. I know this is something that I won’t to do when I get back to New York. I find it ridiculous that now movie tickets are over twelve dollars each, which is the equivalent to a fifteen pound ticket to a play. It is so unfair that Londoners have this choice! I do hope to come back to London a couple times before my stay is over to further immerse myself in theater culture.
Tags: 2010 Melissa · Uncategorized
September 21st, 2010 · No Comments
Probably Les Mis was my least satisfying theater going experience in London (and I did enjoy it: I enjoyed every play that I went to). It’s strange to say, because I had been wanting to see Les Mis for years. And don’t get me wrong: everything about the play, from the acting to the lighting to the music was top notch. But somehow, the nearly perfect production left me unsatisfied. My main problem with the play was that the plot was so full and neat that I had trouble being swept up in it. So many important and often tragic events happened in so little time that I found myself lagging behind emotionally. The ending was a little too neat to feel genuine; by the end mostly everyone is dead but the male and female leads (who of course end up together). I left wanting something more, although I thoroughly enjoyed the music.
39 Steps, while probably not very innovative, and definitely not deep or reflective, felt full of energy in a way that Les Mis was not. I think that this was because I did not know what to expect going in, and the play was hilarious and unafraid to make fun of itself. Probably the funniest moments in the entire production were those in which we were made very aware that we were watching a play: the use of windows an doors as props, and the scene on the train in which the actors responded physically to the train’s imagined movement. More interesting and funny surprises were in the staging of the play than in the plot. 39 Steps was as much as a crowd pleaser as Les Mis, though in a different way, and it felt more alive to me.
I even found the Habit of Art more interesting than both in way, although it certainly did not hold my attention in the same way. Risks were clearly taken, right down to the bright florescent lighting used throughout the play to create the feel of a rehearsal. Although I had trouble sympathizing with the characters, and had a negative visceral reaction to some aspects (like the urination in the sink, and the apparent stench of the apartment), but I guess that even my negative reactions were an accomplishment on the part of the play, since they were clearly intended. The Habit of Art stayed with me longer than the other plays we saw because it had me reflecting on why it was written as it was, and on the connection between the lives of the actor-characters and the lives of the two famous “artists” in the play within the play. So although I was not amazed at the end of The Habit of Art, I was definitely satisfied.
I am definitely glad that London is home to so much innovative theater, and that we had the opportunity to experience some of it. I wish that I had time to see more plays in London, and I look forward to finding out what the theaters in Norwich have to offer.
Tags: 2010 Emily · Uncategorized
September 21st, 2010 · 2 Comments
Of all of the pubs which I frequented during my one month stay, the Rising Sun was my favorite. Now, you might ask why I would be interested in going to this tiny pub with limited outdoor seating, and frankly food which was lacking in sophistication and cooking skills. Seriously, Dave got frozen peas with his Fish n’ Chips. And the answer is, of all of the pubs I went to during a football match, the clientele at the Rising Sun were the only ones that I saw as being truely interested in the games at hand. And I think that the smaller atmosphere of this pub actually facilitated this.
Tonites game was Tottenham Hotspur versus Arsenal. From the reactions of the pubgoers to each of Arsenal’s four goals against the Spurs, they were vastly Arsenal fans. When an Arsenal player was fouled as he brought the ball through the penalty box, the fans were outraged. And the exitement of the sucessful penalty kick got the entire pub cheering afterwards.
During the second fifteen minute half of the extended time period, the fans would also cheer as a group whenever an Arsenal player gained possession of the ball or stole it from a Spurs player. For example, if the Arsenal player avoided losing posession, a large contingent of the pubgoers in front of the bar would exclaim say “OHHHHHH!” in unison. This actually reminds me quite a bit of the reaction towards gaining possession during football games at the sports bar I go to back home. At many of the other bars, it seemed that the football matches on the flatscreens were more of an afterthought, and most of the customers were ignoring them. However, that may be because Arsenal wasn’t playing in those games.
If you want good food and an excellent selection of beers and spirits, go to the Jack Horner. The food is quite a bit more expensive than the other pubs, but the Fish and Chips are some of the best that I have had throughout my stay in London (and that is many a fish n’ chips). I would also recommend trying the Fullers ESB. Another favorite pub of mine was the court, mainly because they served Everards Tiger, an ale with light coffee notes.
Tags: 2010 Tyler · Pubs · Uncategorized