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clarsen's picture

When choosing my top three choices for my ESEM this summer, I remember being stuck between “Arguing with Songs” and “Play in the City” yet I am so grateful that I was placed in this class.  I expected Play in the City to be much more theatre based but I have found that interpretations and observations are much more the backbone.  Like most college classes, students are asked to contribute their perspectives and different points of view.  We dig up our past experiences, childhood memories, thoughts and notes we’ve shared on trips, and what we’ve seen in and on our way to Philadelphia. 

            When we first began, we visited our destinations in groups, yet as the class unfolded we began to break into groups to self organize our trip and visit.  I think this worked to our advantage as it gave us the ability to individually experience something different and become more independent.  I especially enjoyed the assignment a couple of weeks back where we were given the opportunity to personally choose and present a specific place to visit.  This research aided our exploration of the city and hearing each person present their research made me aware of how much the city of Philadelphia has to offer.  It also allowed me to reach to students I hadn’t previously spoken to.

            My favorite trip by far was to Magic Gardens.  I absolutely loved exploring the gallery and seeking out Isaiah Zagar’s surrounding murals in the neighborhood.  His ability to turn trash into an amazing work of art was very inspirational and impressive. Terry Tempest Williams’ Finding Beauty in a Broken World prepared me for the exhibit and helped me understand what it truly meant to create a mosaic.  I enjoyed our following assignment, which was to create our own mosaic.  I used photographs from Magic Gardens that helped me consider how mosaics were organized to draw attention to particular quotes and words, which I was able to tie back to my writing.  I’m glad that I was able to connect his work along with the art of South Street to the Mary Flannagan passage in an essay and hope that we will spend additional time visiting and evaluating other art galleries and performances. 

            Although I enjoyed our visit to The Free Library and The Quiet Volume performance, I’ve noticed that in nearly every trip my favorite parts of the day have been exploring the city streets.  The street art, somewhat relaxed environment (especially when compared to New York), interesting looking people, and small shops have made these trips both exciting and enlightening.  I enjoy the freedom we have been given and how flexible the word “play” is.  For some it may be shopping and for others exploring a museum is more of an appeal. 

            Mark’s teaching skills have allowed the class to be very enriching, helpful, and enjoyable.  I have enjoyed nearly every assignment and his biweekly meetings have improved my writing and evaluating skills.  His questions asked allow me to pay attention to various perspectives and portions of Philadelphia that I normally wouldn’t.  I know I have grown a great deal already as both a writer and a thinker and hope the class continues much the same as it has been.