New Orleans – day four

before I dieby Suzanne Unck

Yesterday we took a day off and we went on Steamboat Natchez at the Mississippi. Quite an experience, live jazz on board. In the afternoon we wandered around in French Quarter. A part of New Orleans with shops, galeries, bars and restaurants. Today was our first NCHC conference day. After we registered, we went up to a briefing on ‘City as Text’. This is a learning concept in which you experience the learning outcomes by investigating a part of the city. It is all about seeing, thinking and processing information. Immerse yourself into the experience and observe patterns and characteristics. ‘If you’re lucky you’ll get lost.’

groepI was in a group with Francis and Naomi, both students and we visited the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. We had an instruction and some questions to research. We had to walk 15 minutes to the museum and when we arrived, we saw this blackboard wall with ‘Before I die…’ written on it a lot of times. People had finished the sentences by writing their wishes down with coloured chalk. It was very impressive, and sometimes funny too. We asked ourselves what the dreams would have been a hundred years ago. There was also a book on this international project, that I bought immediately. It brings such positive energy to ask people about their dreams and wishes.

NOIn the museum itself we noticed that nothing was predictable. A lot of different kinds of art, various artists, not chronologically sorted. It was quite an experience to discover the main theme. I was expecially struck by the exhibition of Gina Phillips. In a lot of paintings she shows her background, family patterns and her experiences moving to New Orleans. Her work is colourful and every painting tells a whole story in itself. We observed, analysed, saw patterns and asked some people about the paintings and the museum. Before went back to the conference, we had lunch in a small restaurant with huge cups of Pepsi.

buildingWe shared out experiences in the group and later on all groups shared their stories. City as Text is a great way to discover and learn; I can think of a lot of different ways for experiential environmental learning possibilities within our courses. It would be great to regard students themselves as a source of knowledge and experience and use their harvest in a learning environment.

Before I die I want to…. Live

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