May 30, 2010 - 6:33 PM
Friends and readers, the thesis process is over! After all these months of researching, outlining, questioning, reading, working, writing, and editing, the thing is done. On Friday I defended my thesis before my three faculty advisors and a group of some of my best friends and UO faculty and staff. I presented for twenty minutes, then answered questions for almost an hour.
Afterward I went out in the hall with all the people who had come to see me to wait while my committee decided if I passed my thesis.
I passed with distinction, the highest honor possible for an undergraduate thesis.
Even now, days later, I feel such an incredible mix of emotions when thinking back over my defense. I passed with distinction! I'm so happy.
The defense went really, really well. I was nervous, of course, but I've always kind of enjoyed public speaking, so that didn't scare me too badly. I also have been thinking about the project more or less nonstop for months now. They asked me some questions that were difficult to answer, and made me think about some things I hadn't explored yet. But I know the Inside-Out Program on a myriad of levels that no one else even gets close to. I know my project and the motivations and implications of the research and writing I have done. I have also managed to learn a good amount about larger issues of incarceration, crime, and criminal justice.
I was surprisingly calm for the whole thing.
Now, I'll admit freely to spending about ten minutes walking around campus before the defense, mumbling ideas to myself and trying to remember all the important points I'd wanted to discuss. I needed some movement to get the nervousness under control.
Another reason for my calm was my incredible group of friends. We've all gone to each other's theses and encouraged each other through the process. So I knew I'd be defending my thesis not only to my three advisors, who are professors I respect deeply and know well, but also to a room full of my closest friends. They were great audience members, too: they laughed at the right moments, made eye contact when I looked at them, and asked thoughtful questions when it was their turn.
In addition to the help they gave me during the defense itself, they were also incredibly helpful before and after my defense. My friend Madeline took me for errands in the morning, and we actually had some successful shopping therapy. I guess many of you don't know me well enough to know that shopping is usually something that stresses me out to the max, and not an activity I engage in without real need. However, on Friday we were shopping for a graduation dress, and we were at thrift stores. I found two perfect dresses and bought both, which seemed like a good omen. Then we ate at Cafe Yumm, my new favorite restaurant in Eugene. By the time I got back to campus for my pacing and muttering stage, I was feeling accomplished and full of good food. Then, after the defense, I went out for a celebration dinner with eight friends. It was wonderful.
I guess I haven't said much about the defense itself. I'll have video to post soon, when I figure out how to shorten the video to put on Youtube. And, if you're in Eugene, my thesis will be available in the Honors College library, printed and bound, for your reading pleasure.
I am overwhelmingly grateful. I am thankful for my friends, for the experience, for my fabulous advisors. I am so, so happy about this process and project, and the opportunities which arose from it. And I'm grateful to be done. Ready to have some more time for my other projects, and ready to know that this huge undertaking has been satisfactorily completed.
May 26, 2010 - 6:00 PM
Yesterday we, the Zumba participants of the University of Oregon, held a highly successful flashmob at the EMU on campus. For those of you not familiar with the concept of a flashmob, here are some great Youtube videos that will help you get a feel for them:
Essentially, this is a pre-organized activity, such as a dance or other dramatic activity, that is held in the middle of a public place and is planned to seem as though it were a group of random individuals, all doing something spontaneously.
Well. The Zumba flashmob at the UO was extremely successful. Our instructor, Lindsay Tandingan had the campus radio station play one of our favorite songs. When it came on, she walked out into the middle of the amphitheater by herself, and began to dance alone. Then a couple of students joined in. Then a few more. By the time I joined, there were at least fifty of us. I'd say that, by the end, we had almost seventy.
Zumba is so fun. It's a cardio dance class I've joined this term: one that takes world dance moves and tempos and creates a workout. I spend so much of my time being serious and scholarly that my twice-weekly Zumba class is an extremely welcome escape. I get to salsa, shimmy, mambo, and hip-hop dance my little heart out for an hour. It's fabulous.
So imagine combining my classtime love for the dancing with an unexpected public performance. It was great. We all wandered toward the EMU, talking on the phone and pretending to read the newspaper etc, not acknowledging all the familiar faces from our Zumba class. While I was waiting for my moment to join the dancing, I got to watch everyone busting a move together. I even heard some audience members make comments like "is this a group?" and "who are these people?"
I was in super-agent-of-the-dance-world mode.
Then, once I was dancing, it was a totally goofy opportunity to be out in front of the world for all the campus to see, dancing my heart out.
Stuff like this is what makes college so fun. Obviously I love my studies and my classes, and my routines of life and the time I get to spend with my friends. But every once in a while something totally unprecedented takes place. Something spontaneous and fun. Something lots of people miss between their other commitments. Something that makes a week special.
Once our dance was over, we all walked away like nothing had happened. I resumed an interrupted phone call with my mother, my friends headed back to class, Lindsay was almost skipping back to a Zumba class, feeling so proud of the turnout and the event overall. The EMU amphitheater was clear in mere moments, and the day continued.
I hope you'll take the opportunity to watch the video of the flashmob.It starts about twenty seconds in, so you can't see the intro part. But the woman in front in jeans and a purple sweatshirt is Lindsay, our instructor. I'm on the left side of the screen, in a dark green shirt with a white tree on the front. Try to watch it and not giggle a little bit. I dare you.
May 23, 2010 - 9:09 PM
It's the focus of every single day.
My thesis defense is drawing near at an alarming, exhilarating rate. By this time next week I'll be done with my thesis.
On Tuesday of last week, I turned in the edited draft of my thesis to my committee of three faculty thesis advisors. The draft was one hundred and thirty-one pages of content, plus the works cited and appendices. I edited, rewrote, redrafted, rearranged, and edited again. I surrendered an idea of absolute perfection.
I am extremely proud of what I have written.
Now I have what's left of this week to prepare for an oral presentation and questioning by my three faculty advisors. My thesis defense is at 3:00 pm on Friday, May 28th in Chapman 303. As I already described for my friends' defenses, I will present my topic for fifteen to twenty minutes, then my advisors will ask questions for about half an hour, then my audience will have a short opportunity to ask questions, and then my committee will discuss whether or no I pass.
I'm nervous, but I'm mostly excited. As things have drawn to a close, I have realized that I am extremely prepared. I don't know everything there is to know about wide issues and questions of incarceration, education in prisons, and pedagogical theory. However, within the scope of my specific topic, I really can't imagine a question I wouldn't be able to answer. I know the Inside-Out Program without any hesitation or confusion. I have lived this thesis for a year: it is my passion, my employment, my hobby, and my aspirations for the future. If my committee has questions about aspects of Program rules, about the classroom dynamics, about the impact of these classes on my fellow classmates, etc, I will have an answer. I think I'll even have a good answer.
For four years, I've had this thesis project on the horizon. When you apply to the Honors College, you know there will be a huge research project at the end of the four years. When you tour the Honors College, you walk through the library and see generations of CHC student theses lining the walls.
It is both intimidating and inspiring.
If you've been following my blog for long, you know that my thesis has been a focal point for all of senior year. I started my serious research in July, months and months ago.
I want to send on my table of contents for my thesis. Mostly because I worked darn hard on this document, but also because it shows what I have done. It's a testament to the scope and detail of my thesis.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is Inside-Out? 2
Program Philosophy 3
Mission and Vision 12
Foundational Literature 15
Pedagogy of the Oppressed 16
Teaching to Transgress 21
We Make the Road by Walking 26
Conclusion to Foundational Literature 31
Program Structure 32
Steering Committee 33
Individual Instructors 33
Think Tank 34
Training Institute 36
Inside-Out at the University of Oregon 47
III. CLASSROOM METHODS................................................................................53
Description of Classroom Methods 53
Briefing and Debriefing Meeting 53
First Class Meeting 57
Developing Course Guidelines 61
Weekly Class structure 64
Weekly Response Papers 66
Final Group Projects 67
Prison Tour 70
Graduation Ceremony 73
Course Content: Literature and Inside-Out 78
Literature in Inside-Out Context 80
Prism of Prison Applied to Literature 87
Crime and Punishment 88
Don Quixote 92
IV. PRAXIS: PRACTICING THE PEDAGOGY......................................................96
Turned Mission and Vision 98
Inside-Out Ideology and Turned 102
Selection of Editors 104
Others involved 105
Selection Process 107
Introductory Pieces 109
Format and Layout 111
Creative Pieces 113
Contributors' Profiles 117
Division of Labor 117
Turned Conclusion 130
Works Cited 134
Works Referenced 135
APPENDIX A Turned Inside-Out 137
APPENDIX B Turned Inside-Out Proposal 138
APPENDIX C Inside Looking Out 140
So, friends and readers, this is it! Friday at 3:00 is the defense. I'll have an opportunity to make small rewrites and adjustments, based on the feedback of my faculty committee. Then I'll do some final formatting, print it on high-quality paper, and send it to the Honors College to be bound and placed on the library shelves. I'll be a permanent part of this place, and my thesis might be read again years from now.
I can't wait. Can't wait to defend, can't wait to be done.
Please send good luck and confidence vibes on Friday. Come watch my defense if you'd like. And then get ready to celebrate-it's all downhill from here!
May 22, 2010 - 5:20 PM
If you've been following my blog, you'll know that I'm almost done with my undergraduate honors thesis. This is the biggest single project of my college career, and something I am immensely proud of
Most of my best friends area also in the Honors College, and are therefore in the process of writing and defending their own theses. I promised a series of blogs about my friends' theses, to give a better feel for what we undergraduate scholars are capable of, and to demonstrate some of the great creativity of my friends. I have now seen five thesis defense presentations, and each time have been incredibly impressed by my friends and their ability to research, write, present, and generally take ownership of a single massive project. I'll be adding more blogs to this series soon, but you can find the first at http://www.isupportuoregon.org/my_duckstory/blog/katie_d/thesis_series_part_one_miles.
This blog is about my friend Maddy G, who wrote her thesis about a project she undertook with two organizations that support survivors of domestic violence. She is a Family and Human Services major, and has applied her study of social work in innovative and incredibly dedicated ways. Here in Eugene, she works with Womenspace, a fabulous organization and resource for women and children who are living with (or have recently left) situations of domestic violence. She also worked with an organization in Malaysia for almost three months, working with the children of women who had been abused as a for-credit internship through the study abroad program at the UO. In addition to doing the work of the two organizations, she also developed the idea of linking the children served by these two organizations through a pen-pal project. Because of her own love of sending and receiving mail, and because of a profound belief in the potential for human connection, she sees this project as a step of healing and reinforced self-esteem for the children.
Her thesis is entitled "Letters Across the Pacific: International Pen-pals for Children who have Experienced Domestic Violence." Her abstract reads:
Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that can have an impact on people in all kinds of relationships. Organizations worldwide are working towards educating their communities and spreading awareness about the issue of domestic violence and its consequences. Children are greatly affected by domestic violence, often as witnesses of abuse. Resilience is a child's ability to cope with their experiences of domestic violence and is contingent on both the innate qualities in a child and external forces that have an impact on them. Solution-focused interventions are a supported method in the human services field for bolstering resilience. A pen-pal correspondence was developed between the youth at two domestic violence agencies in the United States and Malaysia in an attempt to establish a preliminary solution-focused intervention. This project serves as a pilot study for international pen-pals as a resource for bolstering resilience in children that have experienced domestic violence.
Aside from the quality and creativity of her research, it was a joy to be present for her thesis defense because of her profound love and passion for these kids and the principles behind her work. Her presentation was a joy: she included anecdotes about the children she knew at Womenspace and in Malaysia, and relayed some of their reactions the first time they received the letters. She said that the kids in Malaysia decorated their letters with stickers, because they wanted to send a gift for the American children with the letters. She told us about a little girl in Eugene who was so surprised and happy to hear that another child's favorite sport was soccer, just like hers.
I also loved being a part of her huge supporting audience. Some of my peers choose to invite no one to their defense except for their faculty advisors. Some of my friends have had ten or fifteen member audiences, including parents and friends. For some people, each additional person is a source of stress and anxiety: another person who might witness a mistake or cause some lapse in concentration.
Maddy had twenty-five people at her defense. That included not only her family and her college friends, but also several members of one of her classes, and (most moving for me) several of her professors and supervisors from Womenspace. It was a room full of love and support, witnessing her at a wonderful moment of poise and triumph. Not only was her presentation clear and engaging, but the section with questions from her committee members was also a beautiful moment where her knowledge and passion were able to shine.
Maddy's been an amazing friend since freshman year. I am so, so happy to have seen her complete this last huge hurdle of the Honors College requirements left standing between us and graduation. And I loved to think of those kids receiving their mail. The letters will keep going. That fact makes me so very happy for what Maddy was able to accomplish.
May 14, 2010 - 2:20 PM
Each year, the Clark Honors College holds a dinner dance celebration for the soon-to-be graduates. Last night approximately a hundred 2010 grads gathered in the EMU Ballroom for dinner, reminiscing, and a lot of dancing.
It was a great night. The Honors College has been my surrogate family at the University of Oregon: the most important facet of my college experience. The atmosphere of the place is such an amazing sense of support and camaraderie. At least that's how I experience it: that I'm working together with my fellow students in dialogue, and that we generally notice and care about each other. The faculty have so much to do with this: their engagement and enthusiasm in the classroom creates a space in which we can all be present in the experience of the course material. The dinner dance brought us all together: students, staff, and faculty. I saw some of my favorite HC personnel bust a move on the dance floor, and witnessed some pretty funny stories being told on our professors during the open mic portion of the evening. One of my favorite professors mentioned repeatedly that some of the music playing (notably Journey) had been played at his college graduation as well.
I had a very intense moment of preemptive nostalgia while sitting down to our meal. There were about twelve people there with me at the table, and I had a moment of full realization that each of the young men and women around me were people whom I love deeply, and with whom I have shared scores of meaningful times. We've been classmates, travel partners, romantic interests, dancing buddies, and best friends. My seven best friends (collectively known as "The Group") have been together as a full and identifiable group since February of Freshman year. The roots of The Group date back to Introduction, the orientation program months before our first classes. I have always felt that we came together by some magical combination of fate and luck. Really, I can't imagine it any other way. We were all in the Walton dorms together-the Honors College Halls. We're all in the HC. None of us share a major, and none of us studied in the same countries. We are as eclectic and as fractious as we can be-a huge squabbling family that has been my touchstone through everything these four years.
Now I have to shift gears: I'm getting all teared up.
The great thing about last night, though, was that there were five or six other people who joined us at our table. They were other people we have shared stories and adventures with over the years, including several who have been as consistently dear to me as The Group itself. I looked around and realized what I had gained in college, and what I would lose with graduation.
Again, that's a sad blog for another night.
David Frank, Dean of the Honors College, volunteered me for a quick speech to start the open mic rolling. I don't know that I did a great job-I was caught between being honored and being horribly embarrassed. So I told an embarrassing story about some freshman year shenanigans, and passed the mic on to other members of the audience. We all have so many memories from these years, and it was wonderful to hear them voiced in that room full of peers.
We graduate in a month. One full month from now, and we'll be turning our tassels. We've come a long, long way together. I'm glad this evening was spent in good company, with more memories being made. Plus, you should have seen some of the staff dance!