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Self Evaluation and Reflection

han yu's picture

In our final meeting, I critically reflected on my experience in this 360 from where I was at the beginning of the semester to how I developed both introvertively and extrovertively. I mentioned my initial feelings of being a “outsider” because of my unfamiliarity of the topics and how I learned to catch up. I mentioned my weakness in sharing that comes from my cultural background in which there is even no equivalent translation for the term “identity” and how I tried to improve through learning and interacting with other people in this 360. And for now in this reflection post, I want to complicate some of the things I brought up.

Concluding one of the factors that lowers my anxiety for other people’s acceptance to be the realization of the benefits of making mistakes, I overlooked a more important point which is I should be more passionate and assertive with myself. Many studies done in psychology have proved that in terms of discrimination and racism, how people perceive the situations are more important than the objective appearance of that situation, and one of the most major factors that influence people’s perception is how they interpret the intentions of others. What I want to claim here is that we should focus our critical lenses on our intentions and put more faiths in them. I remembered the first time of our praxis, one of us started the lesson by saying that “We are all happy to be here”. However, one of the women directly replied that “I am not!” in a playful manner. We all laughed after realizing that the woman was talking about not happy to be in prison. It had been a really biting and bittersweet moment for me and even discouraged me from saying everything I want that I started to cautiously censor my words. However, I shifted a little in the middle of this semester after reading Fraden’s work on how Jones functioned in the Imagining Medea project and putting more faiths in my intentions. I believe the reason of Jones’ courage in being open and honest with the women inside and people’s playful attitude toward that scene in our praxis is that people have that common trust in each other’s intention of both willing to improve the situation so it’s ok to make mistakes or be a little aggressive sometimes. Therefore, I should not censor myself anymore if I believe that my intention is to be helpful.

In terms of reviewing and organizing the things I’ve learned, one major concept that I really want to explain and influence other people, maybe sounds a little cliché now, is complex personhood. It is related to the importance of having multidimensional understanding of different issues. People’s views of the world have been too much shaped by politics, such as their one-sided hatred toward criminals. Governments only focus on law and order, on who hurt the system and what punishments should be issued. Our members in this 360 already have that sensitivity toward politics, certain social constructs and stereotypes. This is reflected in people’s comments on the controversies of that Philly’s Mural Art Project. One of the main reasons, from my perspective, lies in the way the tour guides defined their project’s achievements. Their starting points were on how large amount of incarcerated people and works they gathered and created, and how heroic certain individuals and stories were, rather than the most important aesthetic values and humanity being expressed in different works (they exhibit this when they were criticizing the murals and graffiti that do not belong to them although some of those works are also artistic and powerful). There are already too many “numbers” and hero stories in our media and society. However, as human beings we should have the ability to examine the world differently. We should know how the system is set up, who are being benefited, and who are being exploited (I won’t say who are innocent here since there is never anyone who is totally innocent). The ability to have multidimensional understandings of the world helps people raise their consciousness, and respect other’s complex personhood, as well as their own. We have been accustomed to be living in privileged environment that it is too easy for us to forget the ruthlessness, complexity and vulnerability in humanity. I believe that only by responsibly managed ourselves could we influence other people in more effective and positive ways. Being conscious of how our experiences have impacted us and really recognizing who we are helps us to know how other people would feel when they interact with us.

Respect other’s complex personhood=Respect your own=Self-conscious=Collective consciousness