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Learning as a City Player

Mindy Lu's picture

Learning as a City Player

Yijing Lu

  When I saw the mosaic decoration on the wall of The International Airport of San Francisco, the sentence that“Mosaics celebrated seasonal change and embellished the shrines of the gods of fertility, harvest, and renewal with sensual displays of body and earth” came into my brain; when I saw the fantastic paintings in the libraries of UC Berkeley, I thought of the definition of “critical play”; when I wandered near the Golden Gate Bridge, I felt that I was a “city player”; and, when I experienced all the moments above, I realized that the course “Play in the City” impacted me a lot.

  I still remember that when I first enrolled into this course, I was so curious about how to play in the city and what we can learn from it. Now, at the middle of semester, I have found the answer.

  During the first week we talk about what the city is, and we share our favorite cities and our experience in them. I remember that three of my classmates chose San Francisco as the city they loved most, which not only surprised me, but also becomes one of the reasons why I made a trip there during this fall break.

  After talking about “city”, we started to talk about “play” in the second week and made the first trip to Philadelphia, which was an unforgettable experience to me. That was my first time to visit the center city, thus I was really excited. During my whole trip to the free library, main streets, markets and Chinatown, I broadened my horizon and realized the difference between Philadelphia and my hometown. I was deeply absorbed by this city and finally knew that every city is unique and different.

  In the third week, we began to talk about a more interesting thing—mosaic. We not only read text about mosaic, but also did mosaics by ourselves. When I first got this task to make mosaic, I was confused and did not know how to deal with that. However, when I started to read and think, I came up with various ideas and I really enjoyed the whole process of breaking and combining. At weekend, we visited the Magic Garden, which was a paradise with mosaics. I took photos there and tried to feel the imagination of artists and this special kind of art. When I wrote the essay after the trip, I summarized the feedbacks I achieved and recorded this precious experience.

  During the forth week and the fifth week, we talked about “Critical Playing”. When I first hear about that, I had no idea about its meaning at all. Nonetheless, with the discussion in classes and reading assignments after classes, I learnt more about that and became interested in this topic. During my third trip to Philadelphia, I did a “critical play” by myself and enjoyed it a lot.

  Last week, we started to analyze the book NW by Zadie Smith. Although the book is not easy to read and understand, I tried my best and had fun with it. Moreover, Zadie Smith made a fantastic speech last week and that benefited.

  During the whole process of this course, I did not only learn the content in classes, but also learnt skills of communication, analysis, writing, creation and corporation. I talked to my trip partners; I did research when I made my trip; I exchanged the suggestions with my writing group members; I made friends with my classmates …… In addition, every two weeks, I had a shout conference with my professor who never failed to provide my more helpful advices and help me to improve my ideas in my essays. I still remember that when I first came into Mark’s office, I was nervous and afraid of communicating. But now, after 5-weeks study in this class, I feel much better and become more confident. I have to admit that, at beginning, I though it was unreasonable to let new students have to take this course. Nevertheless, I completely understand the reason now, because this course is comprehensive, which can help us to develop ourselves from aspects of various sorts.

  This course always surprises me with interesting knowledge, new definitions and special experience. I am looking forward to learning more and achieving more surprise from it.