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Planning and Experiencing Reclaiming Self | Kimberley Africa

November 13, 2013

Kimberley is a junior math major with an interest in sociology from Baldwin Park, CA. She is interested in social justice work and hopes to pursue a career that involves issues of educational access.

I think one of the hardest things about planning an event is actually explicitly stating what the purpose of the event is and fleshing out the different parts of the event that assist with fulfilling that purpose. While planning for Reclaiming Self, a theatre, English, and Africana Studies outreach conference that accumulated in the production of In the Blood, I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out what the goals of the event would be. I knew that the play was an African American retelling of The Scarlet Letter that only 11th and 12th graders could attend. After having many different discussions, it made sense to take advantage of the fact that these students were currently in the midst of applying for college or working on creating college lists. Thus, the following goal was formed during initial planning:

The goal of Reclaiming Self is to: encourage critical thinking around societal norms and values; explore how marginalization is challenged and combated; and allow students to receive a taste of the liberal arts experience.

Activities were designed in order to fulfill this goal including having a speaker, student panel, group discussions, and an interactive tour. As November 2nd drew closer, I had more and more little panic attacks, but I’m so grateful to the CBRL (Community Based Research & Learning) team at the Draper and the rest of Draper for volunteering to partake in the day and various other professors and departments who helped support the event.

I could not have imagined a better day. Things started a little rough with the registration and name tags and we were running behind schedule. However, there were many things that made up for it. I loved how Professor Valorie Thomas gave a fantastic talk that resonated with the group of six girls in my discussion group. From talking to other facilitators, it seems that many other students that I did not have a chance to directly work with were also touched by her talk. In my group, we talked about what social justice looks like and how we as students can work to combat the oppression that we see in our daily lives. I loved how students were willing to share what they talked about in their small group discussions and how there were a handful of students that stayed a little after the student panel to ask the panelist various questions. I loved how the students asked many questions during the tour and how the students were respectful during the play. I loved how Professor Kenshaka Ali shared his story with theatre and how the students asked the cast great questions.

At the end of it all, I walked outside of the theater and watched the last group of kids board the bus. I remember thinking how I hoped that the students had gotten a lot out of the event as I breathed out relief that it was finally over. Then I smiled. I definitely got something out of it.

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