Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as '2010 Jamie'

Easter Time at the Cathedral!

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

For the last portion of my volunteer hours I decided to have a change of scenery and volunteer down at the Norwich Cathedral for the Easter festivities. Again my volunteer hours included small children. This was my first time actually visiting the inside of the Cathedral. To my surprise the Cathedral’s interior  appeared to be much more enormous than its  exterior. But just like every Cathedral I have visited in England there were dead people and monuments where ever you looked and stepped. I guess some things don’t change. For the volunteer services I was assigned the arts and crafts table. I predict they knew of my quality background with the Brownies. The arts and crafts table consisted of making Easter Baskets for the egg hunt, Easter Card making, coloring, Jesus fortuneteller making, Easter word searches. Luckily both days I had help from Jess and Sheila one of the nicest older persons I’ve met in Norwich . Together the three of us were able to handle the multitude of families that came our way.

The days were long from 10 am to 2pm. However, unlike the Brownie pact the Cathedral seemed a lot more organized in their event coordination, especially when taking into consideration the amount of people that arrived. In addition, unlike my Brownie pack there was a lot more diversity in the people who visited. The truth is the Brownie pack costs money, which many working class families can’t afford making the pack itself very one dimensional. At the Cathedral in contrast I saw people of different economic backgrounds, races, and nationalities. It was refreshing in a sense to meet different people while simultaneously be scrutinized for my accent and complexion.

In my short time in the cathedral I also made a best friend of four, named Charlotte. She called me her best-friend because I told her the basket she made was the best even better than my own. My life is complete I have a best friend!

After coming home and reflecting on my experience in both the Brownies and the Cathedral I have convinced myself that a career with children is not for me. I have the highest respect for the adults who have the patience to work with children day in-and- out. I also have accepted that not joining the scouts back at home was possibly the best thing for me. And I have resolved that if I ever have kids not to make them participate in such things. Instead I think I will make them join football or Karate, something normal. The experience I have had in both locations and the things I have learned were completely unexpected but very valuable.

Supervisor: Julia Corbett

Volunteer Hrs on April 12th: 4hrs

Volunteer Hrs on April 13th: 4 hrs

Total Volunteer Hrs to date: 22hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie

Brownie Munchkins: Mother’s Day!!! Wait isn’t it April?!?

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

Did you know that Mother’s Day is different in England? Apparently, the English decided Mother’s day is the first Sunday of April.  Day three of Brownie Munchkins was Mother’s day arts and crafts. The girls were allowed to decorate wooden frames for their moms and make cards from scratch. I was put in charge to patrol the girls’ sleeves from all the wet paint lying on the tables. However most of the time I was hoping the girls’ would let me squeeze in between them so that I could use the rubber stamps to make Momma Lopez a card. The plan quickly failed as I was reminded by a seven year old that I’m an adult and I was suppose to be watching over them and not playing next to them. When did that happen? I still love arts and crafts! I mean I still know how to color within the lines. Oh well I guess it’s time to accept I’m old.

But before I run away with how depressing it is to be called old by a child, I want to relate what I learned about the Brownies today. I learned from one of the girls, Summer, about the origin of the name “Brownies.” The name brownies originates from the title of one of the first ever children’s stories, written by Juliana Horatia Ewing in 1870. In the story two little children go in search of a “Brownie” is suppose to have magical abilities and tidy up houses without anyone’s knowledge. The children’s quest leads them to a pond where the children say “Twist me and turn me and show me the elf, I looked in the water and there saw…”.’
“Who? Who? Who?” hooted the Owl. “Look into the water and you’ll find your Brownie looking back at you.”This is part of the story is how the brownies of today get initiated, by going with a friend who knows the way to a pond where they see their own reflection. I found it very intriguing that the whole story is basically a morality story for children to behave as they are told by adding a little magic to it. If you’re interested in reading the full text of the story click on this link: http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/pud/browniestory.html

Supervisor: Sam Hubbard

Volunteer Hrs on April 1st: 3 hrs

Total Volunteer Hrs to date: 14hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie

Brownie Munchkins: Brownie Intelligence Meeting

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

Pampering Evening-

The night had arrived, two girls were going to be initiated into the group. However, before I tell about that part of the night I must tell you about beginning of the night. Unbeknownst to me until late Thursday the 17th of February my flat mate Vicky and I were in charge of planning two activities for the beginning portion. Vicky and I had a Brownie intelligence early Friday morning.  We carefully read the description of the night “Pamper evening- yoga, relaxation, incense, lip gloss, face masks, nail varnish.” I thought to myself all these tips were either messy or an opportunity for one of the girls to get hurt. After all, the week before I arrived one of the girls (Mary) apparently could not hit the brakes on time and stopped with her face in the wall. Seeing as the girls harm themselves all on their own I was not going to egg them on. Just like light bulb turning I got an idea. Vicky and I immediately proceeded to go to Tesco’s. We bought three king size slabs of milk chocolate, oranges, apples, and marshmallows. Our activity for the girls was fondue chocolate with fruits or marshmallows. The perfect solution for the girls, taste good and they won’t get hurt. WIN!

Like every child activity though the adults (i.e. me, apparently) end up doing most of the work to set up everything. Followed by intense cleansing of the girls sleeves. Whoops, guess we forgot the messy part. But it was completely worth it.

The final and anticipated part of the night had finally arrived. The initiation ceremony was equipped with the pond (blue construction paper) a tree ( a small pot with leaves) and a brown owl ( not a live one). Each girl was escorted from the back of the pack through the “woods” to the pond where they are suppose to see their own reflection and realize “they are brownies” (Brownie Munchkins being the indicated terminology). The Brown Owl, or Emma as I refer to her, asks the girls a series of Brownie questions with the final one requesting the brownie oath. The brownie promise is as follows: “I promise that I will do my best, To do my duty to God, To serve the Queen, And help other people, And to keep the Brownie Guide Law.” After this recitation the girls officially became Brownies equipped with first badges and pins for their sashes.

Again, I was taken aback with the weight of the words within Brownie promise. Girls of seven to ten are expected to take an oath stating to “do my duty to God, To serve the Queen.” It was at this point where I became fully aware of the enormous effects these organizations have upon new generation. I’m sure that at this point the girls of the  38th Norwich Brownie pack do not yet begin to understand the words they repeat every week, but they have them memorized, and one day they will realize how engrained this notion of patriotism is. The United States is not any different. The oath the girl scouts take is: “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.” Just subtract the queen and insert country and presto same Oath. The fears of older society that the new generations will not be loyal to their homeland are still very prominent in the 21st century.

Supervisor: Emma

Volunteer Hrs on Feb 18th: 3 hrs

Total Volunteer Hrs to date: 11hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie

Brownie Munchkins: “We’re Brownie guides….We’re Brownie guides”

May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

“We’re Brownie Guides, we’re Brownie Guides

We’re here to lend a hand

To love our God and serve our Queen

And to help our homes and land

We’ve Brownie friends, we’ve Brownie friends 

In North, South, East and West

We’re joined together in our wish

To try to do our best”

My second day with the Brownie Munchkins took place on February 11th. On day two I am happy to report that I effectively learned the Brownie Guide song! My life as a college student is complete. If you have noticed the lyrics it definitely illustrates the original intentions of this organization: to create patriotic God fearing women citizens. The theme for day two was board games evening. Surprisingly, the Brownie Song was not the only thing I learned this night.  On this occasion the girls were asked to bring their favorite board games from home that can be played with at least four people at a time. Out of ten board games seven of those brought were Chutes and ladders or as the British people call it Snakes and Ladders. Can you guess which game I had never played as a child? That’s right Snakes and Ladders. Thankfully, my awesome Brownie Munchkins taught me how to play legally and illegally (7-10 year olds always want to win) seven different times. By the end of the night I was an expert class 5 snakes and ladders athlete. Also, Emma the supervisor (just for two more nights) announced that the following Friday would consist of the planned theme (Pamper evening) and the initiation into the troop of two girls. I was stoked to see how you initiate 7 year olds.

On side note, if you happen to be as cool as me and don’t know how to play Snakes and Ladders but arent surrounded by 7 year olds please follow this link:


Supervisor: Emma

Volunteer Hrs completed on Feb11th: 3hrs

Total Volunteer Hrs to date: 8 hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie


May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

On 4th of February, I embarked on a remarkable journey- volunteering with the Norwich Brownies. If you do not know who the Brownies are, do not worry I didn’t either. The official title of the Brownies I volunteered with is Girl Guiding UK 38th Norwich Division Brownies. Essentially, the Brownies are the equivalent of the Girl Scouts in the States, ages 7 to 11.  The Girl Guiding organization was first initiated in 1910 by Robert Baden-Powell following the creation of the boy scouts at the crystal palace. In its centennial of existence Girl Guides and Brownies in particular has grown astronomically. Girl guides is currently the largest all girl organization in the UK. According to their website the mission of the organization is to teach young girls how to be honest, reliable, polite, considerate, respecting all living things caring for the environment, and to be helpful using their time and abilities wisely. They also want to teach girls to face challenges and learn from their experiences. Most importantly they want to teach guides to be good friends and sisters to all Guides. For more information on the origins of the guides and their mission feel free to visit their website. http://www.girlguiding.org.uk/about_us/centenary_2009_-_2010.aspx

Before I relay my first experience with the Brownies I want to establish my reasoning as to why I volunteered for the Brownies. First, as a child while in elementary school I always wanted to join an organization like the girl scouts; except I really wanted to join the boy scouts because they were allowed to go camping, however because of the lack of financial support this was never possible for me. Second, I have already decided in the past that a career in the field of children is not for me, but I wanted to give it one last go before I shut the door. Third, one of my flat mates is currently working with the Norwich Brownies, therefore making it easier for me to volunteer somewhere new. Which reason impelled me to volunteer with the Brownies more I can not say. The truth is they were all equal factors.

My first time volunteering with the Brownies was five hours. Now before you label me a horrible blogger by not providing any pictures I have to say in my defense that it is illegal (I really am unsure if there is a decree specifically saying this) for me to take pictures of minors in England. In any case of its legality I was asked not to do it by the leaders of the Brownie pack.  Now back to my experience, we (my flat mate Vicky and I) arrived at St. Thomas’ Church Hall around quarter past 5. Upon my arrival I was informed that the theme for the day was Chinese New Year’s.  By 5:45 pm the Brownies began to arrive. Most if not all were wearing their traditional uniform of yellow shirt with brown bottoms and a brown sash that contained all their badges. As they trickled in and ran around they reminded me of the Munchkins. From then on I referred to them collectively as the Brownie Munchkins.

I was caught off guard when the then leader Debbie “Brown Owl” asked me to form part of the circle to commence the session. Before I knew it the Brownie Munchkins began to line up form arches and skip around singing their Brownie pack song. Now if you know me, you would know that singing, skipping, and doing all sorts of girly stuff is not in my nature. However, I rolled with the event nonetheless as I was there to help.

Next came the theme stuff, otherwise known as celebration of the Chinese New Year. In order to celebrate the Chinese New Year the Brownies were to construct lanterns out of paper, write their name in Chinese characters, followed by egg fried rice. As you can guess the organization of the day was as stereotypical as you can get. There was no mention as to why the Chinese New Year occurs on a different day every year, or different from our new year for that matter.  The answer is that the Chinese mark the year in a lunar-solar system, and therefore the New Year happens on the 11th month or two new moons after the winter solstice. Besides, the girls not really learning anything about the Chinese culture on such an important day they had fun. It was definitely a success that none ended with their fingers stuck together.  By half 7 we were done and heading home. The other half of my volunteer work took place on Sunday morning mass in St. Thomas’ Church, to which only three Brownies made it.

Supervisor: Sam Hubbard

Volunteer hrs Completed on Feb 4th: 5hr

Volunteer Hrs to date: 5hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie


September 20th, 2010 · No Comments

Throughout this last month I have been to so many museums I have lost track of the number. However, within this plethora of museums there have been two that impressed me so much that I remember all the exhibits I saw within them.

The first museum that put me into a state of awe was none other than the Cabinet War Rooms. I first should mention that I am a war history buff. I love to learn everything that led to conflict, during the conflicts, and the general aftermath. Therefore, hearing that there was a museum specifically dedicated to the Cabinet that endured one of world histories most massive conflicts; it had my name written all over it. Once in there I expected to see the duplications of the map rooms, the bed rooms, kitchens, etc. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was a whole floor section dedicated to the life and death of Winston Churchill. In the history courses I have taken in the past we have always blown past Churchill’s contribution to the war as the British Prime Minister. (http://cwr.iwm.org.uk/) It was surprising to see his trajectory from child to leader of a country in a time of chaos, and how he came out on top. By far Winston Churchill has some of the best quotes in history. Some of which are:

“I always believed in staying in the pub until closing time”

“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal to meet me is another matter.”

And my favorite….

“I have no more ambition… but to ease world tension, and pave the way for peace and freedom.”

Although all of this was completely amazing and I have never seen anything like this before it had Britain’s imperialism written all over it. They just needed to add at the end, “For the Glory of the Empire.” I think it is healthy for a government to show and flaunt its successes especially if it’s as great as surviving WWII.

The second museum that was just as amazing was the Victoria & Albert museum. Based upon its name I knew nothing of what to expect. Upon entering this enormous structure they call one museum I was taken aback by the amount of valuable items of history in one structure. Just to give you a little sense of what I saw I will write a small list of items. I saw sculptures and door fronts from the Medici family, paintings from the Renaissance era, gorgeous structures from the ancient Greek era, rugs from the Persian Empire, the Grace Kelly: Style icon exhibit, and lastly but certainly not least doodle notebooks from Leonardo Da Vinci himself.  There was so much more that I didn’t explore because my legs were tired. The Victoria & Albert could best be described as a building of world treasures.

No doubt, England did not get these invaluable items through benevolent methods but rather through force.  The fact that it is in one building open to public viewing free of charge almost negates the method it was gathered in. Again, this museum showed the British Monarchy’s greatness because it was able to conquer the greatness of all previous world Empires and display them in London.

The museums of London pay tribute to the greatness of the British Empire, what once was, and what the government hopes for it to be again.

Tags: 2010 Jamie

London A Green Space?? Really??

September 20th, 2010 · 1 Comment

London is always described as a global city, a city of history, a city of movement. I have never heard it being described as a city of green space. So I was completely thrown off when I saw the number and magnitude of parks in the city. Literally in every community there is a park whether it’s a well off neighborhood or a less developed neighborhood; it has a park.

In Los Angeles, specifically in the area I live in there are hardly any parks or any parks that you really want to go to. Thus, it was a complete shock seeing such a populated city with so many parks that range in a variety of sizes and functions. The biggest that I have seen by far is Hyde Park. Hyde Park is right next to Buckingham Palace, making its size very logical. Its scenery ranges from fountains surrounded by beautifully well kept flower beds to fields and fields of grass and trees. This park is obviously surrounded by a lot of money to keep up its appearance as well as it is kept.

Around the area we are currently dwelling in, Russell Square is on a significantly smaller scale than Hyde Park but it is likewise surrounded by a well off community. The park is always well kept and sometimes sealed off to the public making access only available to those who live in the square. The park is used by children, yoga instructors, and readers in general. Overall there is a stark difference between life within this park and the surrounding fast pace community. It almost seemed that they have brought the suburb to the city.

Not all parks look as amazing as Hyde Park or Russell Square. In the East End, a community that is largely composed of immigrants from Bangladesh also have a community park, called Altab Ali Park. This park was the first I had seen at the time in London that was commemorating someone rather than being named after its location. Altab Ali was a young 25 year old Bangladeshi clothing worker who was murdered by three white teenage boys on his way home. Just learning about the nature of the name of the park gives you a different feeling about the surrounding community. The community in the East End is tightly knit but it is not necessarily based on their income but rather a form of protection to their neighbors. This park unlike the others is visibly un-kept and run down, a complete difference to those I have mentioned before. So even within British society I  see that with money comes political power, sad but true.

Tags: 2010 Jamie

A Place to Convene, A Place to Ponder… Are you really talking about a Pub?

September 20th, 2010 · No Comments

We were asked by our professor to investigate the culture and society that revolves within and around pubs in London. I honestly think he didn’t even have to require us to do it; we did it instinctively. But nevertheless I did what I was asked to do grudgingly, just kidding, I definitely did it willingly. And what I found in my short experience with pubs was that to the British or Londoners in general the pub is the equivalent of the American coffee shop with just a little more pizzazz.

Since our first day in London we have been to a variety of Pubs ranging from overtly tourist pubs to a bit more native pubs. In all the pubs that I visited there is a sense of privacy. Some people who have just gotten off of work go to pubs with co-workers discussing the day’s events over a pint. Others go to pubs alone seeking a sense of solitude to relieve some of the stress. Yet, others attend a pub to see the playing field pick up on someone and maybe have a good night. That is why drinking in the United Kingdom has a largely different connotation to that of the United States. I believe it has more of a positive air than back home. Yes like any other place there are alcoholics here but the majority that I have seen are able to compose themselves and carry on with life.

I definitely had to learn a couple of things when it came to ordering drinks and food at pubs. I first had to learn that customer service in the UK is virtually non-existent. Second there are no waiters what so ever, you go to the bar and order for yourself. Third and this is the most important part, you have to KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU REACH THE BAR. If you fail at any of these three unwritten guidelines there is no ale for you. Considering I am a fast decision maker I had no trouble with this but I have definitely seen people get some glares of annoyance when they reach the bar and hold up the line.

As George Orwell wrote in his essay entitled The Moon Under Water, people favor not over the beer that they sell or the furniture they but instead its based upon what they call “atmosphere”.  From the pubs I have been to my favorite by far has got to be the Marlborough Arms. What makes this my favorite from all the other pubs I have been is based on two aspects. The first is simply that I have been there so many times the staff already knows me and they crack jokes with me. It makes me feel like I am part of the establishment and above all makes me feel welcomed.  And second they always, always have the best selection of American music. They play music that I haven’t heard in years. The place just simply lifts up my mood.

Pubs have been a place for people of diverging backgrounds to convene and have in depth conversations of life, politics, and religion. This has been true of London in the past where great minds discussed the status of the general welfare, like Karl Marx, and it is still true today. I have grown to love and appreciate the pub scene in London, and I look for forward to this next year.

Tags: 2010 Jamie · Uncategorized

The Creativity Of London At Its Best….

September 20th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Back home it never sounded appealing or entertaining to me to see people run around in less than a 30ft area singing and jumping. Much less did I find the price tags of theater plays appealing, with prices generally starting at $100. Therefore, it is safe to assume that beyond school functions I had never seen a professional theater play in America.

That all changed, however, the minute I landed in London. In England people generally value art and the art of performance itself a lot more than in the United States. In the United States for example a performance always has to be entertaining above all this I feel has lowered the quality of shows. In England the people will continually go see a play even if the ending does not leave you with that warm fuzzy feeling and example of which is Billy Elliot.

My experience with plays here in London began with none other than William Shakespeare’s the Merry Wives of Windsor. It was a very good production, but it did not leave me with a feeling of must go see more plays. My second experience was Les Miserables. This show was not a required viewing by my professor but instead I decided to go with a large group of people from my program. I have always heard such good things about Les Miserables I had to just go see it. What a good decision that was. For only £15 or ($22) I not only got one of the best vocal performances I have ever seen, but I was given a political message throughout the storyline. In just 30 ft of limited space a group of 25 people were able to show me all of that. I was sold on the idea of theatre; I finally understand it and am now so willing to go to more. To this point in time Les Miserables is my favorite play.

After this show the group switched gears and went to see a show called 39 Steps; which although it was set in the time period leading up to World War II it turned out to be a comedy. The cast of this show was only a whopping 4 people. Props were limited and the space even smaller than before. These people, however, were able to not only make me laugh but make it seem that they had gone to the country side, on a train, in a manor, and in an apartment. It was amazing, the creativity of such a production. The last show we have seen was The Habit of Art, this show like the one before was also a comedy. The organization of the show was a play within a play, like a behind the scenes movie. The messages from the show and social commentary were surprisingly dead on with what I believe. If there is one thing these shows have taught me is to definitely be willing to go to performances that are little known because sometimes they will be some the best times you’ll have.

The last aspect I noted in all these viewings was the type of audience they all have. Unlike America since the price of shows in London are significantly more accessible the class range of people who attend is astronomically different than back home. I also saw more of the younger generations attend shows here rather than the typical Grandma taking their kids to the show. The only type of people I didn’t notice, which could have been a result of bad observations on my part, was people of non-british backgrounds.

Overall my experience with the theatre in London has been extremely positive and I only look forward to expand my horizons by possibly going to see Operas like La Boheme.

Tags: 2010 Jamie

I Say “Rubbish” To That…

September 19th, 2010 · 2 Comments

In America I have always had the feeling that one thing or one aspect you do not talk about at school is religion and your personal religious beliefs. I believe this stems from the thought that people’s feelings will be hurt, that it is too personal. I say “rubbish” to that way of thought, if there is one thing I have appreciated on this trip is the amount of religious discussions we have had in our group. Never had I had full on discussion about religions and my own personal religious beliefs with my own peers before this month. So, I would like to take the time so say Thank you Britain for allowing us to be a little bit more open in our beliefs.

Throughout this month we have visited a number of Cathedrals, Churches, and Religious Centers. As a Catholic I definitely identified more with the Cathedrals and Churches we visited. My favorite of these was St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is a magnificent structure that really attests to the power and might of humans. When I see gorgeous structures like St. Paul’s I always wonder how a great architects mind, like Christopher Wren, see when they see an empty space. People who are born with the ability to express through creation always impress me and make me just a little bit jealous.

On other note I was really uneasy and uncomfortable with Britain transforming these Cathedrals and Churches from spiritual dwellings into semi- museums. I feel it makes them very impersonal and looses a little bit of its beauty. However, on the other hand it is also a way for people of different sects and beliefs to learn and experience these religions. I guess with every decision made there is a positive and a negative.

After seeing all these really old places where kings and queens were crowned we moved on to religions that I know little to nothing about. The first of which was the Mandir. Let me just say that before this day I had never even seen what a Hindu place of worship looks like or known much about the religion. I was surprised to see another magnificent place of worship, with such high precision of architecture. The religion itself is radically different from what I am use to but nonetheless I felt welcomed and curious at the same time. Perhaps, what struck me the most was the fact that in the place of worship and veneration women and men are separated.

After the Mandir we visited a Mosque in the East End. Unlike my learning experience within the Mandir I felt my opportunity to learn about Islam and the community was lost in such a quick and impersonal tour. The Mosque was pretty well developed but the interior was not as interesting as I had expected it to be. I was actually excited to wear a head covering to visit this temple just because I had never been required to do it.

The last place of worship we visited was a Synagogue. This was not my first visit to a Jewish temple but it was very different to my last experience. In my last experience I attended an actual service and I had to go through security check prior to entering the premises. In the actual services I felt like a complete outsider I hardly knew what was going on. This time, however, we were expected. We did not have to go through security and were given a very comprehensive lesson on the history of Jewish people in England. All around it was a great experience.

From all my visits to these largely different and sometimes similar sects of religions I came to my own conclusion about religions in general. Religions will always be necessary as long as man live. Religions were at first the first form of government for communities stipulating how to act, how to work, how to live as a unit, etc. Now religions provide for man a sense of purpose beyond our own physical existence, they attempt to explain the unexplained, to give hope, to give a sense of identity, and lastly to create a sense of community. Therefore, I think that all religions will continue to existence as long as man lives.

Tags: 2010 Jamie