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The satisfaction of the best paper is what gets me motivated to continue to write and to learn how to write better. There has not been anyone who has discouraged me, especially in poetry. I used to get a lot of negative feedback, because the poems were dark and depressing, but only because they were worried for my safety and well-being. They loved my writing! 2. There are hectic schedules in today’s standards. Time is scarce, and when it comes to choosing literacy versus “every day” activities, such as jobs, families, and entertainment, the latter section almost always overcomes increasing literacy skills. 3. The word sponsor means a person or a company will support, represent, and uphold a certain promise to the person they are sponsoring. In sports, companies will sponsor an athlete to not only advertise, but also to encourage the athlete to do well (and trust the athlete in upholding his/her reputation). ———————— 1. According to Brandt, the function of a “sponsor of literacy” is to be a figure of standard or encourager to a person who is less familiar with literacy, human or otherwise. The sponsor is generally more knowledgeable in a particular area of literacy, whether it’s because the sponsor has been in the field longer, or because the person who is under its care needs guidance in general literacy. Brandt claims that “[the sponsors] lend their resources or credibility to the sponsored but also stand to gain benefits from their success”. An example would be a restaurant sponsoring or encouraging a new employee to read over a handbook about their food costs, which helps both the employee to further his/her knowledge in the role they play, as well as increasing the wellness of the company. 2. Literacy is indeed in pursuit of all beings, as without reading and writing, a person is almost completely incapable of communicating with the world. Due to this, a person who is in need of being sponsored or pursued must submit in some form or fashion to literacy. The sponsor can permit literacy knowledge by refusing the willingness to work with the sponsored, such as a language barrier. To permit literacy, the sponsor can provide resources (anything from required reading materials for a job to the simpler access to books that a wealthy family may have) to promote literacy knowledge. 3. The experience I have with literacy, and continue to have, is like that of Raymond Branch. His work experience is very similar to that of school for me, and I have had the near constant access to information that I desire. My sponsors in the past have been my parents, English teachers, church leaders, my restaurant job, as well as myself. I have had access to the internet since I was 12, I have lived in a University town with a large library for 11 years, I worked at the Public Library in town for just over a year, and God has blessed me with the desire to know and understand more about the life around me. The latter requires me to study, research, and experiment with books and other available literacy resources. 4. As stated previously, the key sponsors are my parents, teachers, church leaders, myself, work employers, the small but decent financial status of my family, and the opportunity to live in a town with a University’s library. I know these are my sponsors, as they have pushed me to excel and gain more knowledge through studies and debates. The only way to understand the issues at
hand (such as information about work safety, essays for a class, or what the Holy Bible states) is for me to work with the resources I have and learn about the topics. This increases my literacy. 5. I have not been able to purchase a car, and that in itself can be an agent that prohibits my literacy, due to the fact that it would be less convenient for me to walk to a library than to drive. Aside from physical agents, I was also unable to purchase information-vast textbooks because of the financial situation I was in (with my parents providing all things that money required). But because I was unable to purchase books or information that I desired, I learned to save my own money. Now, I am buying my own school books for college! RJ #2 The prompt for the first Writing Assignment seemed to be slightly looming at first, as we were told to discuss what Brandt’s method is and how we can relate it to our daily lives. I understood what we were to write about, but it was what Brandt had discussed that confused me. Looking over some other students’ essays (found at the back of Literacies in Context), and then re-reading and reflecting over the essay Brandt wrote, I slowly began to understand the concept of the sponsors of literacy, and how dependent humans are upon the idea. Just as with all of my essays, I begin by just writing. I allow my mind to wander over the subject, and my fingers to type without any direct guidance. My first draft ended up describing the earliest memory I have of literacy: my parents reading to me out of a lullaby book. I continued on from there, slowly easing into more detailed memories. From this point on, the essay was no longer a difficult assignment; instead, I was excited to continue writing and stayed at my laptop for much longer than intended. The rough draft was almost complete when I realized that the topic was not just how I came to know literacy, but also how I can incorporate the method of Brandt’s essay into my own. Luckily, Brandt’s ideas had made an impact on me, as I had subconsciously integrated her theories and ideas into my own essay. As of now, I am unsure of what my final project will be. I feel myself leaning towards poetry, as that is what a large majority of my Writing Assignment is about and it is a topic I am comfortable with. I do not have any questions at this time.
RJ #3 The changes I made to WA1 weren’t too far and great. However, I did manage to incorporate Allie’s suggestions throughout the entire essay, not necessarily key points or moments that she hit on. A large addition/deletion was my discussion (or lack thereof) on how poetry from my younger years affected my life in both high school and college. The draft I am submitting for teacher revision is more structured, organized, and finalized. The first draft was never fully complete, though the main ideas were there. I knew what direction I wanted to take with the essay, but I was unsure where the reader saw the essay. After having Allie proof the paper, I knew that the direction I was headed in was the correct path. I really appreciated the comments Allie left me, especially when she mentioned that Brandt’s opinion was not fully understood in my first draft. This helped me realize that I needed to re-read Brandt’s essay and key ideas, and really mold certain spots in my own paper to fit the ideas of the sponsors of literacy.
Because there were several additions towards the end of my essay that were not in the first draft, I have not highlighted the copy for my instructor. Instead, I will list what the major changes are and attach it with the copy I turn in. RJ #4 Literacy in School and Out Lauren B. Resnick Before You Read Resnick believes that “schools are not the only – or perhaps even the primary – source of literacy competence.” I must indefinitely agree with her. I am a ‘90’s baby. Growing up in the era where gigantic, chunky computers can be transformed into tiny hand-held devices has been a huge impact on where and how I become knowledgeable in literacy. The first half of my life (1990-1998), school was the primary source for my literacy competence. Sure, my parents helped me and I enjoyed studying on my own, but my teachers taught and encouraged me while I was sitting at a desk. But the imaginative scale seemed to level out as I began to be introduced to computers. Our family was able to purchase a computer (Dell, I believe) that operated under Windows ’98. Immediately I became fascinated by the advanced brain of the device. Having only owned the original Nintendo, the ability to download games onto the computer without having to blow out dust, restart the consol 50 times, or dig through a slew of boxy game cartridges astounded me. My parents were required to monitor my time on the computer, even though I used my time on the PC to learn about math, reading, writing, and science. Being 9 at the time, and a big sister to a 4 year old, the CDs to the educational games quickly began to show up with scratches, fingerprints, and cracks. Somehow, beyond what my parents can even describe (to this day!), I was still eager to learn… even if it meant teaching myself. It didn’t take long for me to discover programs such as Word Pad, Paint, and Microsoft Office. Using these programs, I taught myself where the letters were on a keyboard, how to type with both hands, and began to incorporate the grammar I learned at school with the short, pre-teen journal entries I saved on the computer’s hard drive. The computer is a major resource for my literacy both in and out of school. For middle and high school coursework, and even now, I use the computer to type up essays, find websites to contribute to my research projects, and I sometimes “cheat” on my English assignments by using Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar correction instead of looking it up in my English book. Outside of school, I continue to use the computer for purposes that, unintentionally, contribute to my literacy competence; I use the internet for information on a vast subject of things, I enjoy typing as opposed to writing as I am able to transfer my ideas from brain to paper faster, and with the help of Instant Messaging and networking sites, I continually find new ways to state my opinions by using different words or making up my own. After You Read 1. Apprenticeship is defined as a person working for a master to learn a particular trade. [FINISH QUESTION] 2. From what Resnick describes, she claims that if literacy is viewed as skills that are preconceived, then the education for literacy is more about organizing the thoughts and gathering up the information that is already stored in our minds. But if literacy is viewed as a cultural practice, then literacy becomes more about socialization. I agree. The apprenticeship concept is when a
person who is not skilled in something follows a leader or a master at the art. Such as a freshoutta-college education major shadowing a teacher; the teacher (master) shows the student (apprentice) the ins and outs of the job. This is applied with literacy. 3. Useful literacy is practical; filling out information, writing letters, typing up an essay, reading recipes, following instructions on how to assemble a table, reading a class schedule, etc. Useful literacy is something that can be, and is used, for every day activities. This type of literacy is useful, hence fitting in this category. 4. Informational literacy helps the reader to understand something more deep than just what is discovered on the surface, and this information is not necessarily needed to have a basic understanding of the world. Examples are advice on personal matters, “how-to” columns and readings, newspapers, magazines, blogs, textbooks, nutritional labels, research papers, etc. I again agree that these papers are informational, though not necessary to fulfil life’s daily needs (except in a situation where the newspaper would advise against traveling due to danger). 5. Pleasurable literacy is a form of literacy practice in which reading is for enjoyment, not because it’s a daily “have-to” or because the information is necessary to understand something deeper. All sorts of readings can be pleasurable, such as a romance novel, closed captioning on a TV, text with a storyline, poetry, comic strips, and even graphic novels. As with the two above questions, I will again agree (and see no reason to disagree) that the information fits into this category. Writing in the 21st Century Kathleen Blake Yancey Is this a safe place to where I can write to my peers and not to impress anyone? Good. The article was INCREDIBLY interesting. I laughed through most of it, I really did… some of it was humorous (such as the “THIS IS SPARTA” clamor), but most of the information Yancey gave made perfect sense. We, as teens, know so much about literacy, and how to spread that, but we don’t know it. Heck, I still don’t think I understand completely! But after reading the article that Yancey analyzed, I felt like I had power. A power to change the world! Okay, maybe not THAT drastic, but a power to voice my opinion. Computers, internet, blogs, texting, cell phones… it all helps me to have a say (with an emphasis on literacy for this assignment). What you’re reading proves it! I felt motivated by this selection, seeing that we (teenagers) can make an impact upon the world, and seeing that we (as humans) can reach a VAST amount of people… without EVER having to see a publisher! Sure, we do run the risk of other people taking advantage of us if we don’t get things copyrighted and patented and blah blah blah… but do we care? Do teens care what we put online, in the risk of having somebody else steal our ideas, our values, our opinions? Obviously not! RJ #5 At first, I found this essay difficult to read; not because of the higher-level language or the length, but because the beginning paragraphs seemed only to pick on William Mayo, the founder of the university at which I attend (debt-free!). As I forced myself to continue reading the essay, I discovered that Gold was not “dogging” on Mayo, but rather finding out – and pointing out – the characteristics of Mayo to set up the basis on which Gold would discuss. While reading more about William Mayo, and how he founded East Texas Normal College, I felt a sense of worth consume me. I began to respect the history upon which this university is built upon, and with further reading, I made the connection that literacy was a big
deal for Mayo. Of course, literacy at the time of the founding was a big deal, but was restricted (in the North) to certain types of people. Mayo allowed, even encouraged, women, different races, all sorts of ages, and those in different social classes to attend the college. Mayo was enthralled with the idea that everyone had the opportunity to learn, especially in the angle of literacy. He deeply encouraged the community to attend school events, which I found really awesome. He believed that Commerce would have a big impact upon the college… and it has! I did skim through Mayo’s background, and though I found some interesting facts about him, felt that it was irrelevant for this journal entry. Overall, Mayo is an incredible man. His legacy lives on, and I wish more students could read about him and the funding he provided for this great learning environment. RJ #6 I wasn’t too fond of this assignment at first. I begrudgingly set out to select a few of my peers’ entries, not wanting to really read them or try to interpret their understandings and findings. Not because I do not care to see what my peers write, but because I don’t want my interpretations to be skewed by others’ thoughts. But, as I am proven wrong again, several others’ entries were almost identical to mine. The largest similarity came from the difficulty of Gold’s essay over Mayo, and how many students didn’t understand the relevance of his history. I intend to continue following a select few of my peers, as I respected their viewpoints, want to continue to encourage them, and hope to give good ideas for their final project. RJ #7 My final research project is going to be based around food service at Texas A&M – Commerce. More specifically how literacy makes an impact upon the quality of food, and how literacy affects the service the employees provide in presenting the food. Looking at the artifacts the university library has in their collections inspired me to look even deeper into the history of the food service here at TAMU-C. The background of how food service was set up will help me in understanding the development of it’s literacy now in 2009. My ideas for WA2 are based around newspaper articles, columns, and letters to the editor that helped to shape the condition of the cafeteria and general food service that the students at TAMU-C now experience first hand. I was not able to find any direct articles from my quick search through the library database, but I do know that I will be able to find old newspapers through the Public Library’s digital and hard copies. Upon observing the different maps, the very first thing I noticed was how simple the first map was. Firstly, the picture looks incredibly hand-drawn. The buildings are very sparse, and with minor detail to street names. As the years progress, the maps become more and more complex. New buildings appear, street details become apparent, and the quality of the maps increase as the technology of the time gets better. The oral histories were incredibly informative… and not all that boring! The interviews gave insight as to how English really developed at the university, particularly with a previous teacher who required that her students rewrite their essays several times (which I would personally find very irritating and aggravating) until a “respectable” essay was formed. The mentions of William Mayo again made me proud to attend the university. He respected his students, and expected his students to reach to their highest possible levels of intellect.
I have not yet read in detail from the Field Working book, but I did scan chapter 1. From what I can gather (at this point), this book will help me construct my final project, and possibly even WA2, in a more formalized, structured way. Groundwork Activity Fieldworking 1. Subcultures upon which I may study -Dining and food experiences at TAMU-C -Restaurants around Commerce -Students’ choice of food, or lack thereof -Employees of Sodexo -Catering employees 2. Specific subcultures I will most likely study -Sodexo employees -Dining and food experiences at TAMU-C -Student’s feelings about the cafeteria (Opinions, Letters to the Editor, complaints, etc.) 3. Ethical concerns/constraints -Offending employees based upon their level of literacy -Offending my boss (John Offerle – Sodexo) -Creating concerns about the food service that are unwarrented 3 1/2. Issues that I will encounter -Not enough time to gather accurate and useful information. Between my several research journals, separate Writing Assignments, my final project, reading assignements, my job, and my 3 Honors classes (plus my 2 other classes) coursework and projects, I have virtually NO time to gather a decent amount of information to contribute to this assignment. I am really excited about choosing this topic (especially because I am a business management major and intend to pursue a career in food service), but I absolutely hate that my WA2 will be – excuse the language – half-arsed due to time constrictions. If I didn’t have RJs, research groups, and other reading assignments, I believe I would be able to have a very nice essay/research paper over this. 4. Issues that will affect my study -I am both a student of TAMU-C and an employee of Sodexo. I work Catering events, the cafeteria during summer camps, and at Einstein Bros. Bagels as the morning baker and line checker. -I also don’t want to create problems and ideas that weren’t apparent before. If a student chooses to eat at the cafeteria for five meals a week, their complaints about the food choices will be limited. But if I ask them to start observing more closely the choices, tastes, and customer service, I believe the student will begin to see things that they had not even thought about before. From a researcher’s point of view (and a student who intends to make her future business BOOMING on customer satisfaction), this is a great idea. But the student may stop attending the cafeteria, spread the bad reviews, and, from an employees perspective, this hurts the business of Sodexo. If business decreases, then my hours do as well… which means less pay. No bueno. RJ #8 I wasn’t too excited by the thought of reading 60+ pages over “how to take notes”. Especially because I felt like I knew how to take “fieldwork” notes… You sit down at some random place. You begin to jot down ideas, feelings, observations, and conversations. How
difficult is that, and why would we need to read an entire book about it? After getting through chapters 1 and 2, I realized how ignorant my initial reaction was. Chapter 1 of FieldWorking is primarily a set-up of how to understand the book, so that each reader is on the same page (no pun intended). The cultures described throughout the selection, especially the “Nacirema tribe”, brought many more ideas to my mind, especially when the others brought up the points of subcultures. For so long, the term “culture” has been made to mean a group of people “over seas” or the way people do things that make them different. For some reason, I grew up thinking in that mindset. But as I read, my definition began to change. I remembered back to the “Punk Literacy” essay we were assigned to read and how the punk-rock group is a subculture. This is where my WA2 began to take shape… The subculture I was going to study is the students in the cafeteria. The questions and steps on how to gather accurate information seemed very familiar to me, as the process and steps the book lays out are things I would generally (and do generally) do anyway. Reading through those particular pages seemed repetitive for me, as I feel I am already up to par just out of how observant I am and how much I appreciate detail anyway. The text of “Friday Night at Iowa 80″ was actually very enjoyable to read! The readings flowed very nicely, as if I were reading out of a fiction novel instead of a non-fiction school book. The author (Rick Zollo) made me chuckle as I read through the way he described the restaurant and how he felt the truckers viewed him. Though the passage was very long, the read was not hard to get through, and the purpose behind the text was clear. I feel I could use the same approach that Rick Zollo did in my WA2. Chapter 2 is where the boredom seemed to creep in. It was at this point that I felt like I was now REALLY going to be going through old lessons and ideas that I already had. “Why fix it if it ain’t broke” is a saying that came to my mind every time I started to read the chapter. After taking a short break, I grabbed some hot tea and really set down to read through this chapter with and open mind. The book begins to discuss how to choose a subject (food service) and what the subcultures are (students, staff, management), as well as events (meals and special occassions) and places (cafeteria at the SRSC). Then the book moves onto freewriting, and while reading, I became slightly more interested. I adore freewriting, and the enjoyment came from my 8th grade teacher who had us do daily journals of “stream of consciousness”. That is partly how I discovered my talent for writing and poetry… I like details, I like the spontaneity, and that all ties very well with freewriting (and for that matter, fieldwriting). The examples of fieldnotes gave me mixed feelings. On one hand, I know the way I take notes is perfectly fine. I have had no issues with it in the past, and if anything, I am able to get good grades. But as I thought about it, and read what the book had to say on it, I know I need to try *their* technique of fieldwriting in order to do well with the rest of the book. We have an assignment due for Thursday, Oct. 1 that requires these fieldnotes. I will be sure to do it in a fashion of how the book describes it. —————————————– For my WA2, I had decided – confidentely – upon researching how literacy is used in the cafeteria, and how students use literacy to make an impact upon Sodexo. The pictures I collected were mainly those of the Comment Board and comment cards, as well as areas in the caf, such as the register and a food line. I believe this is in the direct line of where my final project will end up. (Please see “Writing Assignments” link)
RJ #9 For some reason, when I sat down to read Chapter 3, I immediately felt compelled to read the whole chapter. There was something about the opening sentence, as simple as it is: “We all read differently.” The first paragraph is full of statements, like “no one but you searched the guide words in the phone book for the name of your boyfriend’s family” and “no one but you as stayed up on a hot summer night finishing To Kill a Mockingbird“. These statements became so personal to me, because I know I have lived them to some extent. I have looked for my boyfriend’s number and address in the phone book, and though I have not read To Kill a Mockingbird, I have stayed up endless summer nights to read and reread books like Black Beauty, Where the Red Fern Grows, and the Harry Potter series. Part of the reason I feel such a drive to reread these books is because, with each new time I read them, it appears as though there is a scene, a character, or an attitude that was not there the last several times I read it. I do not believe I skipped over those pages, or simply ignored them, but the reason I feel I have discovered something new in the text is because I now have an experience that relates to it. An example is Where the Red Fern Grows. As a middle school student, I was required to read the novel. At the time, I had not yet experienced the death of a very personal pet. Sure, I had lost hamsters, fish, hedgehogs, and a foster cat or two, but I did not have a connection with them like Billy did with his hunting dogs. A family pet that I did have a close bond with that paralleled Billy and his two dogs was my own dog, a border collie that we raised from birth. Due to a tumor on her spine, we had to make the very heart-wrenching decision of euthanizing her. Later on that same summer, I reread Where the Red Fern Grows, and I could not keep myself from crying as the story wound to a close. I will admit that previous journal entries from me are catty and tend to be, well… bigheaded. I mentioned in one RJ that I didn’t feel the need to read about how to take notes, that I already knew how to take notes, that notetaking wasn’t something I wanted to spend my time reading up on. How I wish I could eat my words! This chapter was a near slap in the face, because I realize how challenging fieldwork can be. I’ve grown up in Commerce, my parents have worked at the university since we moved here in 1997, and I am employed by Sodexo. For my WA2, I was required to interview three of the head managers (John Offerle, Danny Shumway, and Bart Blackburn). The task was in no way out of my comfort zone. Why? John is my boss, and we enjoy discussing random things. Danny is my dad, so there is no stress there. And Bart is also one of my bosses, whom I respect dearly but I am also incredibly comfortable around. Because of this comfort level, taking fieldnotes and interviewing them was like a normal day. But then I started considering some other fieldnotes I would have to take, and who else I’d have to interview: students in the cafeteria, most of which I will have never seen before. The field is a tough place to get involved in, especially if the town is strange, the people are new, or the setting itself is just downright weird. The researcher must step out of his/her comfort zone, be confident in his/her work, and just get out there to get reliable information. RJ #10 Step I I ended up deciding upon an essay in Literacies in Context that was not assigned to us. The essay is Mirabelli’s “Learning to Serve”, of which almost parallels the work project I am discussing… how literacy interacts in the food service industry. Though I have not pinpointed exactly what context I am using, I am floating around the same idea I had for my WA2, which was how the
students are able to use their literacy through comment cards, email, and newspaper articles to impact the quality of food and food service at TAMU-C. Step II A. The location of the analysis was based in a diner style restaurant called “Lou’s”, which was an Italian-American style restaurant. B. The members of the group are primarily waiters and waitresses, though some subgroups are also the cooks of the diner as well as the customers that the servers wait upon. The waiters vary in experience. John was a 10-year employee of Lou’s, and deemed unofficially by his coworkers as the “head waiter”. Harvey has had 30 years of experience, though at the time of the research had only been employed by Lou’s for 2 weeks. Because of his unfamiliarity with the ItalianAmerican style restaurant, he had some difficulties conveying the menu and ingredients to the customers. The third main character is Tony, the narrator. He worked as a waiter at Lou’s for a total of 2 years. The cooks never directly speak in this essay, but appear as intelligent and cooperative beings. The customers vary in attitude and social class. C. The main activities the three waiters are engaged in are reading the menu, conveying the menu to the customer, reading the customer do determine what interactions the waiter should pursue, as well as promoting their own knowledge to have a sort-of power over the customer’s decision. D. One action that really stuck out to me – especially because I am a waitress myself and I love the interactions between myself and the customer – is knowing how to respond to a customer’s body language (especially when a higher tip is involved in the equation). A perfect example is when Tony, the writer of the essay, describes his interaction with a “regular” whom he has never waited on before. Al, the regular customer, enters the diner with three other guests. Tony has never waited upon Al nor the three other customers, and is unsure how to handle him. Al, being a regular, knows the menu, knows the majority of the staff, and may or may not expect a certain level of service. Because Tony is not sure what Al expects, and he doesn’t want to disappoint or offend Al because he is a regular customer, Tony does his best to take the orders and skip the small talk. I have experienced this way too many times, especially because I have grown up in Commerce and know a lot of folks. Occassionally, I have a difficult time deciding upon how to treat a customer… especially if it’s the parents of a good friend. Do I address them like any other customer: formal, friendly, to the point? Or informally, casual, and chatty? I can totally relate to Tony. E. Based just upon the essay, a regular physical item the waiters used was the menu. F. I have described the events in a previous response. G. The events take place regularly, though the interactions between the customer and waiter are more time-constrained during the peak hours of meals, particularly at dinnertime. The interactions, depending upon the time, can take anywhere from a total of 10 minutes throughout the course of the meal or as little as one minute throughout the course of the meal. The time period, the customer’s desires, and the avaliability of the waiter al determine the amount of interaction. H. The members of the group – the waiting staff – hope to accomplish a few things. One is a good tip, as servers do not make minimum wage, but rather (at this point in time) $2.13/hr, whereas the rest is made up off tips. Another goal the members wish to accomplish is good service. A friendly atmosphere (whether intimate and causal or very professional) coupled with
knowledge of the menu will help to promote a customers overall satisfaction, leading to good service. Good service increases the likelihood of a customer returning to the restaurant. I. I have already responded to this question. Questions about my Research Project A. My major research question deals primarily with the interaction of students with the food service at TAMU-C. Essentially, I want to discover how students use their literacy to make an impact upon the food service, whether through comment cards, email, and reviews both online and in newspapers. If time allows, I would also like to see what students – if any – use the text messaging capabilites on their phones to spread the word about the food service. B. The proposed research site will obviously be centered around the cafeteria. With further prompting and maybe some reassurance from Dr. Carter, I would like to extend this research to accomodate for the Food Court (which holds Einstein’s Bros Bagels, Grill 155, and the Marketplace) as well. I am both a student who regularly eats in the cafeteria as well as an employee of Sodexo (in Einstein’s and as a cashier/lobby director). The reasons for choosing the cafeteria versus a site such as the concessions stand or even The Club (where many students choose to eat their to-go meals) is because the comment cards and comment board are located inside the cafeteria… this is my focus point for literacy (at the moment). C. I have almost unlimited access to this community – I am both student and employee. To greater increase my access, my dad is the retail manager for Sodexo (overlooking Einstein’s, concessions, and any and all grab-n-go) and my mom is the general manager for Einstein’s. D. I will conduct my research mostly in the cafeteria, though I will bring all of the information together in a quiet location such as my apartment or the library. I plan on sitting near the comment board over a period of time to evaluate how many students actually stop a the comment board and notice it, and may select a few to interview if they have time. I also plan on sitting near the register/entrance which is where the comment cards are located. I want to see how many students actually pick up the cards, and how many are aware of their location. At some point, I may also stand near the exit (inside or outside the cafeteria) and do a quick survey to find out how many students are actually aware of both the comment board and the comment cards. E. The main point of contact will be the head director (and my boss), John Offerle. I will first send him an email (of which I have been neglecting) announcing what my intentions are. From that point, I will schedule a time to get meet with him in his office so that I may personally answer any questions he may have. Depending upon the meeting, I hope to get his written permission to conduct my research at this time. RJ #11 Beverly Moss’s essay was very much an eye-opener for me. Though she describes what her own personal encounters are with her chosen culture and community (African American church), she also established a very well-thought out basis of general understanding. She quickly points out in the beginning that an ethnographer, particularly when they are active in the field, we need not to assume, nor show a bias. The researcher must view the culture as an outsider, no matter how close the researcher actually is to the culture. I relate very closely with the difficulty of information, because I am already so involved in my chosen field: food service in the cafeteria. As stated numerous times in my previous RJs, I am both a student AND an employee for Sodexo. Seeing the cafeteria, staff, and students without my preconceived notions will be
very difficult. If I can accomplish this, however, my research paper should be absoultely incredible. Not only must the researcher pull him or herself out of a comfortable and familiar zone and become like an outsider, the researcher must literally act as an outsider and approach the culture cautiously. Do not picture a reporter-like papparazzi sneaking into a strange tribe with a voice recorder in hand. Rather, imagine an eager yet respectful child approaching a dog to pet it. First, the child must understand that the trust between the dog and himself needs to be built in order to touch the dog. A mutual agreement – both verbal and non-verbal – must develop between the two characters. The child has to ask permission to enter the dog’s personal space, and the dog may or may not oblige by showing certain signs: tail wagging, a “smile”, teeth baring, or blatant uninterest. From how the dog (culture) responds, the child may then make further decisions: approach and attempt to understand and pet the dog, or stay put and try to gain more trust and respect. As with the story of Momma Day, Reema’s boy has preconcieved assumptions about the community, and searches for those notions without pulling himself from the community and trying to approach the culture as an outsider. Reema’s boy did not approach the community in an inviting, friendly way, but rather seemed to storm in, trying to find the answers without figuring out the context of the area first. Because of this, he was unable to find the true, honest answers that he was searching for. “Never assume anything!” To give the reader a very informative essay, the enthnographer must make the qualified assumption that he or she has no previous knowledge of the culture. The way the researcher forms their own essay must give details and describe everything, almost as if talking to a child, and make them step into the culture… emmersing themselves into something so vastly unknown but remarkably comfortable. RJ #12 First off, before I start the answering the questions, I want to express how much I enjoyed reading this short story by Alice Walker, “Everyday Use”. I’m not sure if it’s because of my own experiences, or because the structure of the story was just phenominal, but I felt so much sympathy for the mother in “Everyday Use”. I was angered by Dee’s actions, and the entire time I was reading, I prayed that I would not become Dee myself, leaving the family and finally returning, only to take many things for granted. The three main characters, Dee, the mother, and Maggie, all have various artifacts throughout the house, though the main ones (as described in the story) are the quilts. The mother and Maggie both view the hand-me-down quilts as family memories and personal experiences, whereas Dee sees the quilts more as “art” that she can steal from the family and pass on to other people (we assume a gallery or museum). The other artifacts, such as the butter church, the table benches, and the style of food, all fill this same role. From birth, it seems that Dee has had an interesting role in the family itself, and resents all things from the family: the old house that burned in the fire, the way she treated Maggie, and how quickly she desired to leave the family to attend college. The time period that the mother grew up in was very culturally proud, whereas Dee and Maggie are of a time that education is much more abundant and avaliable. Maggie is described as not being very intellectual, so when Dee left for schooling, Maggie stayed behind. Because the youngest daughter continued to live at home, the culture passed down fairly deeply into Maggie.
Dee views the artifacts (like the quilts) as cultural objects, not as a family artifacts or traditions. The oldest daughter (Dee) is named after several family members, but rejects the name in the same fashion that she rejected her past culture. The narrator herself understands the relationship she has with both of her daughters. Though the mother tries to position herself in a way to reflect that she still loves Dee, she very clearly feels a stronger connection with Maggie. This is shown at the end of the story when Dee tries to take the quilts, but the narrator refuses to allow it. The oldest daughter ignores her mother, acting in a way of better-than-you. This attitude angers the mother so much that she grabs the hand-me-down quilts from Dee and places them in front of Maggie. The mother cares more about the tradition and honor of the family than the cultural artifacts being “stolen” from the home to be placed as if a peice of art Groundwork Activity I am unfamiliar with what the students feel, and I would like a hands-on face-to-face interview with some of the students and see how they use the comment cards. I also want to know how the managers react. I must be very careful when I talk with management and when I observe management… I have a slight bias towards the members of management because I know them. I also understand that I must be respectful of the students. I must step out of both the employee and student standards… so it’s doubly difficult for me to NOT ASSUME ANYTHING. I am currently composing a list of questions in a Word document. I would like to finish my list (I have some fieldworking to do sometime within the next two days) and I will post that when the list is completed. An outsider would need a background understanding of a few things: one, how often management interacts with the students. Two, what students honestly think about the quality of the food. Three, what a student does on a normal basis when describing the food quality or service quality. RJ #13 Location: SRSC Cafeteria Sub-locations: Register, tray return line, comment board Sub-cultures: Students, management, staff I knew going into this field would be easy for me. I know everything! I know the people, I know how the stations are run, I’m familiar with the customs, I understand what attitudes the management has and I know what students like and don’t like. But as I read Fieldworking, I quickly realized that this assignment was going to be much more difficult than I ever imagined. The largest goal in fieldworking is to NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING. This kills me, even now as I sit and work on some unwritten observations. As fieldworkers, we are to put ourselves into the community, and then immediately pull ourselves out of it. This sounds extremely opposing, and in truth, it really is. But when we put ourselves in the culture we are studying, we are asking the members to accept us and invite us to be an inside observer. By doing this, we are able to hear, view, understand, experience, and live in the culture AS an outsider… that way, when we show our research to others, they are able to hear, view, understand, experience, and virtually live in the culture as well, all through the words and research we put forth. The most recent observations are centered around the students and staff, particularly making note of the students who interact with the staff, their reactions to the food being served,
and the comment board. Watching the students as an outsider – both as a non-student and a nonemployee – gave me a much greater insight to the subculture. I was surprised to see (based off a previous assumption) that many students actually stopped to notice the comment board. I had not expected to see as many as I did. The students seemed to take a much larger interest in the comment board during lunch than in breakfast, though I believe it’s because the students are much more tired and less observant in the mornings. After lunch, however, most students will have taken a class or two, had interaction with peers and awakened the mind, and are just more alert than not. However, because the students are in between classes, and have high energy, they are less likely to stop and look at the comment board. I was actually intrigued by how much the students enjoy the staff members. I don’t think I’ll be able to conduct my research in a way to include this, but I was very curious to know if the friendliness of the staff would change the students’ preference in food taste. Would an angry greeter put a pre-taste of sourness into the student’s mouth? Does the happy, cheerful, friendly line server decrease the bland taste of the mashed potatoes simply because they served with a smile? How do the students read the staff members, and how does that make an impact upon the food? How does the set-up of the food impact the taste? What do students do, and use, to make sure management understands how students feel about food and service? I was disturbed, in a sense, by the lack of management on the floor. I understand that they are busy with many things: schedules, inventory, ordering, managing staff members, etc. However, I still felt like their lack of presence made a difference on the students. I don’t think that the students necessarily noticed that management wasn’t around… but if management engaged themselves with the students, talked with them, and did more than just stand around, I believe the student’s overall experience will be heightened. RJ #14 EDIT: Before being assigned this RJ, I had already flipped through in my Fieldworking book to the Box 8 activity. RJ #13 (expanded fieldnotes) essentially merged with this assignment. I will re-post parts of RJ #13. ——————————————————– Location: SRSC Cafeteria Sub-locations: Register, tray return line, comment board Sub-cultures: Students, management, staff I was surprised to see (based off a previous assumption) that many students actually stopped to notice the comment board. I had not expected to see as many as I did. The students seemed to take a much larger interest in the comment board during lunch than in breakfast, though I believe it’s because the students are much more tired and less observant in the mornings. After lunch, however, most students will have taken a class or two, had interaction with peers and awakened the mind, and are just more alert than not. However, because the students are in between classes, and have high energy, they are less likely to stop and look at the comment board. I was actually intrigued by how much the students enjoy the staff members. I don’t think I’ll be able to conduct my research in a way to include this, but I was very curious to know if the friendliness of the staff would change the students’ preference in food taste. Would an angry greeter put a pre-taste of sourness into the student’s mouth? Does the happy, cheerful, friendly line server decrease the bland taste of the mashed potatoes simply because they served with a
smile? How do the students read the staff members, and how does that make an impact upon the food? How does the set-up of the food impact the taste? What do students do, and use, to make sure management understands how students feel about food and service? I was disturbed, in a sense, by the lack of management on the floor. I understand that they are busy with many things: schedules, inventory, ordering, managing staff members, etc. However, I still felt like their lack of presence made a difference on the students. I don’t think that the students necessarily noticed that management wasn’t around… but if management engaged themselves with the students, talked with them, and did more than just stand around, I believe the student’s overall experience will be heightened. Week on Writing For two class sessions this upcoming week, we will be traveling to two of the events that are involved in the “Commerce Writes” Week on Writing. Because each student in the class is required to attend two sessions and take fieldnotes on the sessions, I will be choosing to use one of my two required events as an in-class session. Just based upon the event description, I believe I will take me fieldnotes on Thursday. The event is “Literacy in the Lives of Three PhD Students at Texas A&M – Commerce”. Although the topic sounds boring, I really think it’ll be interesting and eye-opening. I’m anxious to see if any of the students connect their literacy to food and food service. If so, it’d be great to interview them for my final ethnography project. =D The other event I plan on attending is scheduled for Friday, 1pm-2:30pm. My last class on Friday ends at 12:50, so I will probably be late to the event. The session itself is titled “On Being an Artist: Daily Affirmations and Gang Jargon”. It seems like a pretty cool idea, actually. I’m intrigued by how the session will run, and what information I can gather. I hope that I can use some of my observations/fieldworking and use it in my final project. Maybe students will speak at the event and it will give me an insight into their feelings and how they express themselves. I will post my fieldnotes (probably by scanning my handwritten notes onto my computer and externally linking them) and eventually posting an analysis and/or extended fieldnotes. These will be posted in my blog, under a new (uncreated) category of “Fieldnotes”. =] Peer Review My draft is complete! I had it finished earlier today, around 3pm-ish. I did not write it as well as I should have, but the reason is because I want honest, good, structured critiquing from my peers. I don’t want the simple “you COULD change” or “you MIGHT change”… I want somebody to tell me I did something wrong, they didn’t like something, and to actually go through and CHANGE it… not just suggest a change. RJ #15 Expanded Fieldnotes “The Caf”, as the dining room at Texas A&M University – Commerce has come to be known, is overflowing with students this afternoon. A lunchtime served by the staff of Sodexo is always this packed on a Thursday afternoon. I feel the rush and urgency of the customers, even as I sit at a small, round table by myself. This table is an ordinary round table, stationed about 20
feet away from the entrance of the cafeteria. The tables and chairs around my central location are close together, causing the area to be cramped but maneuverable. My chair is relatively comfortable, and faces the register and cashier. My laptop is on the table, open to a blank word document, and I notice many students give me searching glances. I hear one male ask his friend if I am watching a YouTube video while dining. I chuckle to myself. The cashier is an older woman, I would guess to be about 65. My initial reaction of this woman is curiosity. I have heard many students – before this field note session – mention how kind and wonderful she is. I observe her closely, eager to find out and experience what exactly it is about this particular cashier that causes such great reviews. With the first student walking through the door, I understand. The employee smiles at the student and makes eye contact, asking how their day is while swiping their meal card into the computer. She checks the screen to confirm they have a meal plan, and as the student heads to gather a tray and silverware, she says in a very grandmotherly voice, “have a nice day”, followed by their name. Within a 15 minute observation period, 43/48 students either verbally responded to the kindness of the cashier or reacted positively in another way, such as smiling. The ethnographer inside me can’t help but wonder if the kindness and customer service of the cashier – in other words, the way the student reads the employee – will make an impact upon the student’s overall experience in the cafeteria. How is the experience linked to the actual quality of food? I gather my items and change tables. The location is not but about 15 feet away from my first table, and I notice that a few students are watching me. I try not to draw attention to myself, but it’s hard considering the relatively small size of the cafeteria and the limited amount of moving room between chairs and tables. My new focus point is something that I know a few students questioned about. What in the world is a freshman doing staring at the tray return? What appears to be a close investigation of the revolving caddies are actually a few minutes of observing the board next to the tray return: the Comment Board. The Comment Board is a large blue sign to the right of the return window, with six plastic slots for papers to sit in. The purpose of this board is for students to leave comments or questions for the management of Sodexo, and for the management to respond. Not only does this give Sodexo an opportunity for them to show how much they care about the students and their ideas, but also shares those ideas with the entire student body that reads the cards from the Comment Board. As I watch for students to stop and read the cards, I remember that one student, who was already in the cafeteria at the time of my register observation, picked up a comment card. The blank cards are located at the front of The Caf, directly in front of the cash register. I wonder if he was grabbing a card to complain or to praise, and I wonder if he will actually turn it in. I focus my attention back on the Comment Board, of which I have a clear view of. Many of the students simply pass by without glancing at the cards. How many students are actually aware that there is a comment board? Do they care if they have a say? While taking note of these questions, I watch as two Indian females return their trays, full of food. I notice their plates were filled with tofu stir fry, and not much else. Each student pays $6.20 a meal, yet these two women seemed to not have eaten anything. I long to know if they have mentioned to management the fact that the vegetarian options seem slim. A line at the tray return begins to build up ever so slightly around 11:45am, as the traffic of trays begins to build up. The staff members in the dish room must be small. Because students are waiting in line, the chances of them noticing the Comment Board are greater. I am excited to finally see some interest in the board, and the 3rd person in line is a female. She leans towards the board, and I notice she doesn’t have any dirty
dishes with her. I can tell she is looking at a specific comment, but because her back is to me, I am unable to tell her reaction. Did she write a comment card, or is she reading a friend’s? She stands there for about 3 minutes, while other students bypass her and put up their trays. Because she is in the way of traffic, a few people in line stop to look at the board as well. One girl stops behind her, and the two women talk and point at the card. They laugh and continue to point at the card, but whether it’s because of the comment or the response, I am unaware. Throughout the remainder of my observations at the Comment Board, a time period of about another 10 minutes, I do not notice any other interactions with the cards and the students. A few do glance at the board, but move on quickly. I myself get up to observe the board and notice that all of the cards are at least two weeks old. My curiosity wants to know why the cards are not more updated and current. I pack up my items and head towards the exit. As I am leaving, I hear voices commenting on the food and the service, in both negative and positive light. I make a mental note to resume my observations in this location, while positioning myself near the exit, as well as standing close to the serving lines to watch the interactions between students and staff. Analysis Memo Location: SRSC Cafeteria Sub-locations: Register, tray return line, comment board Sub-cultures: Students, management, staff I was surprised to see (based off a previous assumption) that many students actually stopped to notice the comment board. I had not expected to see as many as I did. The students seemed to take a much larger interest in the comment board during lunch than in breakfast, though I believe it’s because the students are much more tired and less observant in the mornings. After lunch, however, most students will have taken a class or two, had interaction with peers and awakened the mind, and are just more alert than not. However, because the students are in between classes, and have high energy, they are less likely to stop and look at the comment board. I was actually intrigued by how much the students enjoy the staff members. I don’t think I’ll be able to conduct my research in a way to include this, but I was very curious to know if the friendliness of the staff would change the students’ preference in food taste. Would an angry greeter put a pre-taste of sourness into the student’s mouth? Does the happy, cheerful, friendly line server decrease the bland taste of the mashed potatoes simply because they served with a smile? How do the students read the staff members, and how does that make an impact upon the food? How does the set-up of the food impact the taste? What do students do, and use, to make sure management understands how students feel about food and service? I was disturbed, in a sense, by the lack of management on the floor. I understand that they are busy with many things: schedules, inventory, ordering, managing staff members, etc. However, I still felt like their lack of presence made a difference on the students. I don’t think that the students necessarily noticed that management wasn’t around… but if management engaged themselves with the students, talked with them, and did more than just stand around, I believe the student’s overall experience will be heightened. -----------------------------------------
Commerce Week on Writing Writing Local History Fieldnotes 10/20/09 I enter the library with my classmates and friends. A man dressed in a nice suit directs us to the back of the library. As our small crowd of students nears the area, we notice the seats and realize that these will be ours for the next two or so hours. My peers and I are eager to understand what the speakers, four microphones, long tables, and a projector connected to a laptop are going to be used for. As we settle into our places, eager students squirm and twist in their seats. I notice that a man stands along the side of our seats with a camcorder. My peers and I begin to pull out laptops, spirals, paper, folders, and pens. The fact that we all check each other’s note-taking preferences to compare our own ideas makes me chuckle. The microphones sitting on the table are being tested and tapped, a woman in dress pants and a nice blouse places books and folders near the microphones, and the crowd begins to hush as four new faces walk into the room. Three men and a woman, ages ranging from about 50 to 80, search the room. Their interest in the size of the crowd feeds my peers to begin looking around the room some more. I notice that our class of about 20 students has been joined by 15 or so other community members. While the room is buzzing with anxiety and curiosity, a gentleman in dress pants and a nice dress coat begins to welcome us while the four speakers take their seats in front of the microphones. The announcer introduces to us Otha Spencer, Jim Aimsworth, Bobbie Purdy, and John Hanners. The first speaker is Dr. John Hanners. He introduces himself as a trained theater historian, and mentions how much he feels “out of place”. He jokes, saying he is the brown shoe in the midst of tuxes, emphasizing that he does not feel like his talent measures up to those around him. Dr. Hanners is pleasant and smiles while he talks about his projects on micro-history (the small, every day people) and that he tends to write towards a specific audience for each new project. He continues with his speech and mentions that we, as people, no matter where we are, “walk under the shadow of somebody else”, meaning that we are not the first to do what we do. What he looks for when writing are the people who came up with the firsts, who walked, lived, breathed in the first. This kind man mentions a few of the micro-history subjects he has previously studied, all surrounding the local community of Commerce, Texas. He has previously researched murder trials, the Shawnee tribe and Captain Rhea (with an incorrect “Ray’s Creek” named after him), and the history of Hunt County in general. Dr. Hanners rounds his speech to a close with the statements of, “I am more attracted to social villains than I am social heroes. [I am] eager to separate the myth from the fact.” Otha Spencer, the next speaker, is the oldest of the group. Not only has Mr. Spencer been a professor of Journalism and Photography at Texas A&M University – Commerce, but has also been a weekly publisher for the Commerce Journal. He produced a column titled “Bits and Pieces”, all revolving around the central idea of Commerce history. Otha Spencer proudly holds up two books, and I notice that his name is printed at the bottom of these books. He introduces his latest, “Cotton Belt Railroad”, and briefly discusses that the book is a historical document describing the cotton belt railroad located in Commerce. His purpose for writing so centrally on Commerce is later answered, with Mr. Spencer reiterating the fact that he graduated from Greenville, Texas (a 15 minute drive from Commerce) and pursued an education at Texas A&M – Commerce (what was then East Texas State Teachers College). Mr. Spencer is slow to speak, but in his eyes I can tell that he is passionate about his work and dedication to the history of this local community. As he rounds his discussion to a close, he prompts for questions from the
audience. I silently giggled as I noticed he did not wait for a single mouth to be opened or a single hand to be raised in the air before again talking about his life and history in Commerce. His eagerness and passion for writing is incredibly apparent. I lean over to mention this to my close friend, and she nods in agreement. Quickly taking up the reigns after Otha Spencer finishes speaking, Jim Aimsworth – the youngest of the panel – begins to speak. He is wearing a nice button-down, long-sleeved shirt complete with jeans and cowboy boots. To make a stereotype real, one can tell that Mr. Jim Aimsworth is a cowboy. He begins by explaining that he, along with Otha Spencer, is a graduate of Texas A&M University – Commerce. He, too, has books in front of him. Picking up two of these, Mr. Aimsworth explains that he has previously written and published books on finances, and is the author of three historical novels. There is a change in his body language, however, as he holds up a book titled “Biscuits Across the Brazos”. His eyes soften, and I lean forward in my chair to learn what is so special about this book. Mr. Aimsworth says that his father had two biscuits – 50 year old biscuits – and wanted to hand them down to him. The author chuckles as he remembers the story, explaining that as a boy, he was so confused as to why biscuits were so important. It wasn’t until after his father’s death, Mr. Aimsworth explains, that he regrets not taking better care of the biscuits. To honor his father’s memory, he begins a 325 mile journey in nothing but covered wagons and horses from Cooper, Texas to West Texas. His caravan travels across the Brazos River, and as he travels to the origin of these biscuits, Mr. Aimsworth begins to collect names, dates, and stories about the people from his father’s own life and time. As his time draws to an end, he states that it’s because of his love for factual historical fiction and the experience he had traveling along that journey, he has become to love the culture and local history of his community. The last speaker, Bobbie Purdy, smiles at the crowd. She is the only woman on the board, but is confident and alert as she speaks to my peers and I. She is also a graduate of Texas A&M – Commerce, and explains that she is a mother of two, and a grandmother of one. This insight into her personal life allows me to feel that she is connected with family, and I wonder if and how this makes an impact on what she writes about. I realize I have guessed correctly when she goes on to say that she writes memoirs of her life with her parents. Ms. Purdy grew up on a farm and cotton patch in Fannin County in the 1940’s and 1950’s, where her father – and she shows us a picture – picked cotton with a cotton sack hung over his shoulders and his overalls hitched up. Bobbie Purdy says she “dabbled in writing” for several years, but when she heard that the University was offering a memoir writing class, she jumped at the chance to take it. In this class, she learned about the publishing, editing, and writing process of memoirs. After the class was complete, she and her peers felt so connected with their studies that they decided to continue writing and formed an on-campus group called the “Silver Leos”. These authors meet together submit their writing to each other, edit others’ work, and discuss their memories and memoirs. Ms. Purdy reads to the crowd a short selection in one of her memoirs titled, “This Little Piggy went to Market”. Throughout this selection, the family emphasis is strong and the audience can easily visualize the setting: dusty farm, a giant sow killing all but one of her piglets, and then Ms. Purdy as a child taking up that remaining piglet and nursing it to market age. I was immersed in the story, and was disappointed when she stopped reading from her manuscript. It was apparent in the way she wrote and read that the history of her family and the community is important to her. “I want to preserve this for my children, and my children’s children.” After the four guests were finished speaking, a few of the students and community members asked questions. Some questions were directed to particular authors, other questions were general. The panel was very delighted and eager to answer anything, and was more than
happy to stay and chat with anyone as we all gathered our items to leave. I did not have the time to speak with any of the authors, but I have a feeling I will be keeping their names written down for future reference. The overall experience was wonderful, and I am getting closer and closer to realizing just how influential Commerce, Texas and the surrounding communities are to history and literacy. —————————————I was surprised by my own eagerness to listen. I was attentive during each speech and introduction. Aside from my own personal reasons, I was also surprised by how deeply rooted these “historic authors” are with their work. Not only do the authors have a background with Texas A&M – Commerce or the surrounding area, but their lives and much of their income, I’m sure, revolves around that fact. It was incredible to me, and I was proud to live in Commerce. I was intrigued in the same sense that I was surprised. Many of my questions were answered by the authors, such as “why choose Commerce” and “what is so interesting about Commerce that…” and “what involvment and investments do you have in this area”? There was nothing that was disturbing to me. Even as I try to come up with something from my observations and experience, I am having a very difficult time drawing anything “disturbing”. RJ #16 Chapter 5 Analysis Chapter 5 was lengthy, but very helpful (as I have discovered all of the chapters to be). Because my own project will require so many interviews – “oral histories”, if you will – I found this chapter very beneficial for my overall ethnography project. I really took the quote from Henry Glassie to heart: “Ethnography is interaction, collaboration. What it demands is not hypotheses, which may unnaturally close stody down, obscuring the integrity of the other, but the ability to converse intimately.” The reason this hits me so hard is because my area of research, the cafeteria, is already a very familiar place to me. It’s almost like a second home. When I think of this quote, it reminds me to play the role of an outsider while I do my research, and when I do interview and gather oral histories of students, staff, and management, I need to “converse intimately” and not just ask questions. Discovering the different ways to ask questions (closed and open), I realized that the way I phrase my questions will determine the answer. Because ethnography requires that the researcher ASSUMES NOTHING, I really need to be careful in which direction I lead my interviewee. An example: I should ask something like “Have you ever had a bad experience in the cafeteria?” as opposed to “What was your last bad experience in the cafeteria?” Part of the chapter discussed relating good listening and body language together. Again, this is a HUGE part of my research and it really hit home. I understand I use this phrase “hit home” quite a lot, but I wouldn’t use it unless I didn’t mean it. A segment of my research is involving how students ”read” the cafeteria staff… by body language. If a cashier greets them with a smile, no hostility, and cheery voice, what kind of impact will that first impression have upon the student’s experience? How will that change their taste of the food? In the story “I Can Read and I Can Write”, other than the incredible story itself, the most noticeable factor for me was the way Edwards left the dialect of the culture in the oral history. By keeping the dialect the same, I felt emmersed into the culture and I could picture the interaction, I could picture the story. And that’s exactly what it was: a story. This wasn’t another essay that described a story, and the way Edwards phrased the entire selection was just
marvelous. I enjoyed reading this because every detail was in the description, every part of me was involved in the culture of this history. CWoW – Open Mic Night Allie and I enter into the Commerce Public Library at 4pm on Friday, October 23, 2009. We do not see many other visitors, other than the normal patrons at the computer. I approach the desk and ask one of the librarians if the Kid’s Open Mic is still being held, and we are informed that the program is being held downstairs at 4:30. Allie and I head downstairs and we enter a room that is small, an almost basement-like area with several chairs, a podium, two microphones, and some speakers. Two women are in the room and greet us with smiles, and ask if we are there to speak. Allie and I explain that we are both college students and are there to observe for the Commerce Week on Writing. While we are waiting on High School and Middle School students to show up, Allie and I went back to the main floor and visited with some of the patrons and the staff, though not in an intentional interview way. As 4:30 approached, we headed back down to the room and found a male student with the two original female associates. Allie and I sat down in the chairs and pulled out or Fieldnotes. I ended up taking mine on my laptop, and Allie handwrote hers. The student announced himself as a Senior from Commerce High School, and pulled out two composition books. He says he is a poet, and his two books are filled full of poems, both his and others’, as well as lyrics from bands he has grown to love. This student has a very nice speaking voice, and is confident about his love of poetry. I am surprised and impressed by the love of poetry from this male, as most guys shy away from the idea of poetry. I was drawn to him and intrigued by what he would speak about. The poet read a few of his favorite selections from his composition books, and again I was pulled into his personality. His poetry was full of emotion, and only two of his poems that he read aloud were rhyming and “bouncy”. One of his poems titled “Light and Dark” discusses two paths of direction: light, which is full of goodness, love, guiding faith, happiness, and an angel of purity. The other path is dark, which symbolized death, pain and suffering, the urge to kill, and blood. He asked the audience through his poem, “which will you travel?” Another poem that really made an impact upon me was the one titled “Blue Moon”. The flow of the poem was gentle and kind, and the way the student placed the words enabled the audience to ease into the relaxing mood, even with the rhyme scheme. The poet describes a blue light, and introduces two characters who share carnations and roses, who kiss, who are married and who proclaim to one another, “only death can separate us” underneath the blue moon. I was moved by this poem, and was entranced by the way the poet read this. The poet welcomed a question and answer session, where he seemed to shy back a little bit, which I found interesting. He decided to start writing because he wanted a relationship with people, both in a romantic way and in friendship. He wants people to see that he is a sweet guy. This senior also stated that he wanted a way to express himself, and because he felt he did not have an ability to draw, he wanted to write poetry. He felt that the words and rhythms came naturally. When asked about his composition books, he held up the oldest one, with tape on the binding and the cover. The student opened up the book to give us a peek inside, and we found drawings, pictures, lyrics, his auto-biography, and his very first paycheck from his job. I realized that his composition book is not just a place to keep his writing, but a place where he can express himself and keep himself in. I loved it!
Though the audience was small and the poets just one, the Kid’s Open Mic was a success in my eyes. The poet was able to express his writing, and Allie and I, as well as the graduate students who were in charge of the event, were all able to catch a glimpse into the life of another being. —————I was surprised by the fact that so few people attended the event. I felt sorry for the kid, because if it weren’t for Allie and I, the only audience members would have been the director of the event and her camera woman (both graduate students). I was also very shocked and impressed by the student. He is a senior in High School, a pretty big guy, built well. And he had a soft side! There is just something to be said about guys who write poetry, especially poetry about emotions, feelings, and love. (To be honest, it’s a turn on.) I was intrigued by what I was surprised about… no people to show up, and the poet was a softy. =] I was not distrubed by anything. RJ #17 My fieldnote analyses are posted underneath both of my RJ #16’s. ————— Ch. 7 Box Activity: Please see RJ #19 RJ #18 I chose to work on Box 28, titled “A Box on Boxes”. We are to collect an archival box of items to analyze, and map out the items by groups, such as chronologically, by size, by relevance, etc. We are also asked to find different themes about the contents of the box. The best box I had access to is very personal to me, and I know all of the items in the box. The items belong to my boyfriend, Daniel, and all items represent memories. The box is a Sketchers shoe box, and filled with a variety of items. The items are listed in no particular order: • • • • • • •
Name tag from Fox4, with his name on it Christmas stocking with my name on it A stick split in half A party blower 3 greeting cards A camp letter and two word puzzles A survey “Dunk-A-Roo” snacks Tootsie Roll A large roll of Smarties candy A small bag of Cheetos chips 1 Envelope Hand-written instructions on how to take care of your nails and cuticles
• • • • • • • •
Various printed pictures and sayings A small pack of molding clay A 2-page typed letter to Daniel A homemade coupon book for Valentine’s day A broken black spoon Electric fan 1 year anniversary DVD Handmade word search Peice of red cloth (from my 2009 prom dress) Several movie theater ticket stubs Hand-written note from me Peice of sparkly blue cloth (from my 2008 prom dress) Two small “pinatas” A note from Daniel to Daniel during his Sophomore year 3 small strips of paper with various romantic sayings
A few themes I came across: all related to our relationship, all things that made Daniel smile, all special memories that he wishes to remember, and all are relatively happy memories. The food items (Cheetos, Smarties, Dunk-A-Roos, Tootsie Roll) were all sent at the same time: while he was gone during the summer, being a Scout leader at this Scout camp. They were a part of a “care package”, and sent around the same time as the camp letter, word searches, the envelope, electric fan, molding clay, and the various printed pictures and sayings. The split stick is something that I am very familiar with. The whole stick was in a “Y” formation (very similar to a wishbone) and Daniel and I found it while at a church camp during the summer of ‘08. We made a wish in wishbone style, and as we broke the stick, it split in half… in typical wishbone rules, that means both of our wishes would come true. Turns out, we made the same wish. It’s a very special memory of ours, and the wish is still holding true. It seems like the smaller items, such as the spoon, the stick, the ticket stub, the name tag, and the two pieces of cloth, hold more meaning than the bigger items. The smaller items are not things that I made Daniel or sent to him (like the notes, the pinatas, or cards), but rather items he has collected on his own. The spoon came from our first official date, the stick I have explained, the ticket stub is our first movie together, the name tag is a memento of a visit we had to the Fox4 weather station (with THE Evan Andrews) that I got him as a Christmas present, and the two pieces of cloth are part of my dress from the two Proms we have attended together. All of the other items, generally the bigger ones, are all items I have made for him or asked him to keep. As stated, I am incredibly familiar with this box and it’s contents. I know the information about all of the items, but as I did this project, I came to realize that the smaller items are the more important items… especially to Daniel. Sure, the cards and DVD and notes are special to him, but they do not necessarily symbolize any particular important event. The events that Daniel
remembers – and has mementos for – are more precious than anything I could have made him. That’s very important to me, and it shows that he cares about our relationship. ———————— Authors Note: Daniel and I have been dating since October 29, 2007 and just recently celebrated our 2 year dating anniversary. He was a freshman in High School (14) and I was a junior (17) when we first started dating. We come from strong Christian backgrounds, both express ourselves through music, love to laugh, and we have become each others’ best friends. We’ve had our rocky points and scary almost-break-ups, but Daniel and I have managed to make it through everything. He’s a great guy: community leader, Eagle Scout, drummer for the church band, active Youth member, Honor student, Assistant Drum Major of the HS band, and a strong Christian. RJ #20 Table of Contents of Collected Items 1. Comment cards from 2006 2. Comment cards from 2007 3. Comment cards from 2008 4. Comment cards from 2009 5. Gathered surveys from the HC students 6. Fieldnotes from a breakfast observation 7. Fieldnotes from a lunch observation 8. Photos of cafeteria and the comment board
9. Website to Sodexo menu
Analysis of Portfolio The items in my portfolio all revolve around my study: the cafeteria, the staff, the students, and the comment cards. The selection of comment cards in 2006 are welcomed, but will most likely not be used in the study because the date is far back. **COMPLETED LATER** RJ #21 I have not had the chance to interview a person yet, but I do know the general group that I am aiming for. I would like to interview a student who is a frequent visitor to the TAMU-C cafeteria, and preferably not a freshman, so that the information I will gather can be based off of more than a semester’s experience, and the interviewee should not have family in or past work experience of Sodexo food service. This interview will give me an unbiased student’s perspective on the cafeteria and service. I would also like to include in my WA4 an interview with a member of management. Due to time constraints, and a very convenient 2 hour road trip with my dad, I will be interviewing Danny Shumway, retail manager of Sodexo. The purpose for including both interviews is so that I may be able to more closely examine the relationships between staff and students. In other words, I see both sides of the story, both sides of the penny. Although I have fieldnotes, interviews, and surveys, the items I have coded thus far (due to the large number of them) are the collected comment cards that students have left for management. The codes are as follows:
• • • • • • • • •
P – Positive comment N – Negative comment S – Suggestion (to be coupled with P or N) 6, 7, 8, 9 (Year published, as in 2006, etc.) St – Comment about a staff member (to be coupled with P or N) F – Comment about food (to be coupled with P or N) M – Management has responded # – Contact information R – Completely random card, pointless, unhelpful
These codes are extremely important. A positive comment about a staff member (PSt) will tell me what students like about the attitudes of staff members. A comment card from 2006 (6) will show me I should not necessarily use that artifact, as that was written for the old cafeteria. When a comment is rude and negative, filled with complaints about the food and a manager has responded (NFM), I will draw conclusions and discover if the way a student writes a card will influence the way a manager responds. This all leads up to my thesis question: why and how does literacy impact food service at Texas A&M University – Commerce (specifically through the relationships between students and staff). The Caney interview was not accessible in class. I cannot recall whether or not the interview was to be watched and recorded on our own time. Fieldnotes may or may not follow. Expanded fieldnotes (an interview with Danny Shumway, retail manager) is in progress. RJ #22 1. I am in the field at the moment for both my WA4 and my final ethnographic project. I am slightly delayed due to situations beyond my control. I need to interview both Danny Shumway and Arielle McMahon, but due to class scheduling conflicts these interviews must be completed during the dinner hours of 5:30pm – 7:00pm. Also, the camera and the “camera guy” is not available until after 5:30pm due to his own scheduling conflicts. Often times, none of us can get together and meet so that the interview may be conducted. Though I do seem to be very behind, I am acutely aware of the process that my video (via Windows Movie Maker) will be constructed in. I have a list of questions to ask the interviewees, I know what camera angles I am looking for, and I know – as much as I can – what the connections will be and therefore I have a very solid but general idea of the analysis of the two interviews. I am excited to continue to work on this project and get more in-depth of this field. My camera man, the interviewees, and myself should be able to begin this evening around dinner time. =] I could very much use help from my classmates. I would appreciate if everyone could visit the following website and fill out the VERY quick questionnaire (should take about 5 minutes). http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=mZqS_2bUv_2fc_2fwOJia_2fxvdifg_3d_3d 2. My table of contents has not changed since my last post about them, nor have my codes changed up to this point. After my two interviews, plus some gathering of information from the above survey, I will have several more codes and a much more detailed and outlined table of contents. It’s very difficult for me to not have any changes, as I both like change and use change as a measure of progress. But as I have been relatively unable to collect any more data, nothing
has changed. As stated previously, after today’s interviews, I should be able to post more detail and information regarding codes and my ToC. RJ #23 I decided to take my media presentation and just turn it into a written essay. And then again I have decided to make it a media presentation. :) Haha! Go figure, right? So I have audio, video, and text all put neatly into a PowerPoint presentation. Altogether (audio + video + text) equals to somewhere around 20 minutes, but I have the clips set up to where the viewer may CLICK on the video/audio and watch them there. So while just viewing and listening and reading to some of the interviews, the total should be around a 10 minute presentation. It is Saturday and I have one more interview to collect (Danny Shumway, my dad) and then I’ll edit all of the video and place it into my final presentation. Can’t wait! RJ #24 1. I have not read Chapter 8 in Fieldworking yet. I plan on doing this eventually but I’m not sure if I will be able to accomplish this before this upcoming Tuesday’s class, as I am working diligently on my WA4 to get it in the best way possible. 2. Table of Contents has not changed from previous entry, EXCEPT new information regarding my interviews and a few surveys. Again, I am having a hard time accomplishing this at the moment as my focus is on WA4 and completing the final project. I feel, as an individual, that I will be able to do well on my final ethnographic project without keeping this RJs and these checkpoints (ToC, codebook, etc.)… but this doesn’t mean I won’t try to do it. 3. I have come to realize that most students – the 4 online surveys plus the 3 interviews – do not have a direct complaing towards the cafeteria staff. Each person, however, has commented on Gracie (the cashier) and how friendly she always is. They explain that she always smiles, always uses the students’ name, and she does have a positive impact upon their experience in the cafeteria. Two of the students elaborated on the other staff members’ body language – how to “read” them – and described how they stand, how they speak, can really affect their experience. Not so much negatively, but definitely does not help bring up their mood or attitude. 4. Codebook has not necessarily expanded, but I need to sit down and analyze this, with all of my new information, to really gather what I need to do.