I think the lectures that were most interesting were one’s that spoke on personal experience with a region or group of people that allowed me to gain appreciation and insight for a particular region. So the two lectures that I distinctly remember being very interesting were the lecture from the guy who lived with the native tribe in Canada and the two girls who are from Nigeria and spoke on their culture and traditions (I’m sorry, but I am not very good at remembering names and for some reason I forgot to write them down).
I think the guy who lived with the native tribe was really interesting because he was able to make explicit unifying beliefs and core tenants of that particular native tribe that informed various elements of the culture. Obviously, it is incredibly hard for an outsider to infiltrate any type of community and learn enough about them to identify that community’s core values and connect them to that community’s rituals and traditions. But I would imagine that it is especially hard to do that as a white American entering a Native American community given the history between those two groups of people. I also really appreciated his enthusiasm for the topic. He was really passionate about what he was talking about, and that helped me engage with the issue more. Plus, I remember him being very forthright in his discussion of that tribe, specifically regarding the idea that not everybody in the tribe thought he was honest or was welcoming to him. I think that sort of nuance helps bring credibility to his research and grounds his discussion in some level of reality, and because if felt like a real and honest discussion, it made the conversation much more interesting.
I also really enjoyed the discussion held by the two study abroad students from Nigeria. I think they had really interesting things to say about Nigerian culture. Nigerian culture is something that I am personally becoming more and more interested in, and so it was nice to hear them explore, for example, Nigerian fashion or Nigerian food. Plus, I’m also becoming very interested in speech patterns and accents, and so I am not ashamed to admit that I was enraptured by their accents and speaking styles the entire time. Maybe that was not the most educational part of their lecture, but for me it was incredibly informative and it entertained my curiosity greatly.
In researching my country, I was able to learn more about the climate of French politics and government. Specifically, I was able to understand why the French government and French political figures have a reputation for being hardline and uncompromising. For example, I learned about how the French government sent spies to blow up the Greenpeace main sea vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, in order to prevent them from protesting a nuclear test that they were conducting. I think behavior like that was a revelation to me, and I think it epitomized the way the French government handles its affairs both domestically and internationally.