Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Reflection: Arts in Norwich

April 27th, 2010 · No Comments

Before I came to Norwich, I expected it to be a small town with not much to offer a big city girl like me. As an English major and art minor, I have always been interested in the arts. But in New York, and even sometimes at Dickinson, arts events like small music gigs or poetry readings are all kept in a need-to-know or who-you-know circle. When I first arrived in Norwich one of the first few ‘local’ people I met was Stephanie Leal, one of our tours guides for the tour of Norwich. As a published poet, Stephanie told me and a few of my literary friends about the monthly poetry readings at the pub the Birdcage. I went to one of these within my first month here and loved it. As cliché as it sounds, I found being surround by so much creativity and talent really inspiring for my own artistic pursuits.

When it came time to choose something as my ‘Experience’ in Norwich, it wasn’t hard for me to pick out my interests. I knew the Birdcage was great and wanted to pursue the poetry/arts scene in Norwich. But it wasn’t until I began spending time researching and making connections here that I realized how huge the arts scene in Norwich really is. Now, you may be thinking, New York City must have a big arts scene, bigger than Norwich! And while that may be true, it’s hard to make connections with ‘local’ poets in New York. By the time most people get to New York, they are already up-and-coming. Tickets sell out fast, most of the good arts scene is underground, and you have to know how to look for it. And honestly I don’t. But in Norwich few events sell out too quickly and even well known successful poets, like the members of Aisle 16, have time to chat with a uni student like me.

Following the performing arts scene in Norwich led me to discover the Norwich Arts Centre, which holds concerts and various music shows as well as some art exhibits, and the live music at the Black Horse Pub during March. I also got to spend more time at the Birdcage readings. There were also more events and venues I just didn’t have the time to attend. There are various concerts held at the Waterfront and prose and poetry readings at Jurnet’s Bar Wensum Lodge from October to March as part of a series called Café Writers. Art is bursting from Norwich, all you have to do is look.

Besides attending all these great events, my project taught me to appreciate a lot more live music than I used to. I learned that artists of all kind are people who are accessible and want to share their experiences. Through my interview with Aisle 16 I found out about the differences between performance and printed poetry. Several of the members of Aisle 16 graduated from UEA. I began to realize that artists aren’t born out of a vacuum with the ability to create beautiful and moving works. Instead, artists are people who went to school, met up, shared passions, and created together. My exploration of Norwich arts help to inspire me in my own artistic endeavors. Here at UEA, back at Dickinson College, and at home in New York, opportunities are there, people are interested, and creativity can be found all around—even in a small town like Norwich.

Tags: Megan

Volunteering Blues

April 27th, 2010 · No Comments

At the beginning of the semester, I was really excited to start my potential volunteering project, but as time went on a mix of bad luck and poor responses from potential sources made the volunteering requirement for the semester rather frustrating for me. Because my paper focuses on analyzing the quality of treatment offered in the UK for those suffering from eating disorders. My original plan was to volunteer once a week at the Norfolk Eating Disorders Association located in the city centre, but unfortunately the times they had available conflicted with my academic schedule. My next option was to contact various sources around Norfolk and London to try to get a bunch of interviews to help me with my project. I sent out a number or e-mails and made phone calls to these places and mostly got negative responses. Of the positive responses I got, many failed to follow through with actually answering the questions I sent to them or with setting up appointments to meet in person. One doctor offered to give me a tour of his treatment centre, but when I told him that I would greatly appreciate it and would like to set up an appointment, he never responded. The one woman who was kind enough to make an appointment with me ended up having to cancel for personal reasons. For a while it seemed to me as if I would never get my hours completed simply because I was having the worst luck in finding people who would be willing to talk to me.

I had never experience such cold responses when I was looking to volunteer for or research any cause previously, so I was (and still am) a bit shocked by my experience. Upon reflection, I know there are things I could have done differently. I could have been much more persistent with my contact. I also might have gotten better responses if I showed up to these places in person and asked if I could set up an appointment to speak with someone, though I was afraid I would take the time to travel and end up being shut down. Still, I wonder why it was so difficult for me to get in touch with people who could help me–maybe it was the sensitive nature of their work or maybe they were simply too busy.

I eventually refocused my energies into finding any volunteer opportunity rather than just those that related to my project. Now, my volunteer hours will be a combination of both related and unrelated experience. I eventually found Holidays from Home, with which I am currently working. There will be more posts to come about that experience. I also managed to secure an appointment with a counselor at the UEA Counselling Service, who will be helping me with my project. I also plan to go to some GPs in the Norwich area, to see what kind of information they have available to help me with my research paper.

Tags: Sarah