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My Critical Play

Mindy Lu's picture

My Critical Play


In Critical Play, Flanagan made the definition that “Critical play means to create or occupy play environments and activities that represent one or more questions about aspects of human life.” Before I read this text this semester, I had never heard about critical play at all. Thus, with strong curiosity, I decided to design an activity which can be considered as a kind of critical play. This Saturday, I went to Chinatown to combine play and research with the question about human life—Why people choose Philadelphia to live in?


I will not ask natives this question, because the reason why they live in Philadelphia may be that they are born in the city, or there house located in the city. I want to ask settlers, which specialties of Philadelphia absorb them to let them stay here-- far away from their hometown. Thus, as a player, my goal is to find out the answer during my trip to Chinatown. I rambled along streets and visited stores there. I talked to different people with different jobs and did some interview to collect information.


I firstly went into a baker’s called “Da Jia Le”. I bought an egg tart, and then, began my conversation with the cashier. She is a Chinese woman whose hometown located in Fujian, the southeast corner of China. She and her whole family members are now settled in Chinatown, Philadelphia. She told me that when she and her husband decided to immigrate, they did not choose Philadelphia. Actually, they immigrated to Ecuador at the beginning to achieve more opportunities of business. However, when their children grew up, they realized that the quality of education in Ecuador is not satisfying. Thus, they moved to Philadelphia, and then, their daughter enrolled into a local college. I asked why they choose Philadelphia instead of other cities in the United States, she told me that Philadelphia is a wonderland to live in—it is modern but not as crowded as New York; it located in Pennsylvania that is a state with high level of education; it has a good Chinatown which is just like their home land.


Later, I also interview an owner of a variety store. He and his family lived in the Chinatown as well, but he has a different story. When he was young, he had a job in a Chinese company. He felt boring and wanted to do some business abroad to improve his ability. Firstly, he went to New York, but the high price of rent and the nervous atmosphere of business let him to search for another settlement—Philadelphia, a developed city nearby. He came here and felt comfortable. He found the Chinatown and enjoyed his life here. Quickly, he developed his business—Chinese variety store and achieved profits. After that, he built up his family, and his little son is now studying in the middle school in the center city. He also told me that, every time when he went back to China to purchase goods, he missed his hometown a lot. However, fortunately, the Chinatown in Philadelphia has great atmosphere of tradition China, which is, to some degree, able to release the homesickness of settlers.


During my research, I found out that most of the settlers are come from the southeast part of China, such as Guandong and Fujian, and they came here for business opportunities or better education for their children. These results are disappointing for me. Because, in my mind, when you choose a new city to live in, you should be deeply absorbed by something special of the city. Nevertheless, my opinion is not realistic at all. Some people live in Philadelphia even feel painful because they are far away from their motherland.


On my way back to school, the critical play ended. I finished my assignment and got some feedback. I realized that critical, unlike the regular play, brings me not only some fun but also deeply thinking about lives.




Claire Romaine's picture

Mindy strives to make her

Mindy strives to make her readers understand that the concept of critical play can be understood not just through the technical definition of it but also through her own personal experiences.  Gives me a sense of curiosity as she ends her paragraph not with a statement about critical play, but a question about the city of Philadelphia itself.  Beginning with this, she sets out quite a bit of work for herself which prompts me to think about the attractions of Philadelphia that have less to do with tourism and more to do with habitation

Muni's picture

In her first paragraph, Mindy

In her first paragraph, Mindy introduces the concept of critical play. She gives a brief preview of her prior experience of critical play, and draws the reader into her essay with a question we can assume she'll answer in the essay. My experience was that I wanted to know the answer to Mindy's question. I also subconciously thought about my own answers to her question, why would I live in Philadelphia? She plays the game of critical questioning as bait for her audience to read on.