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Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project » The Carolina Summer Reading Program

Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project

The Carolina Summer Reading Program

It is mid-August, already. The summer has concluded and a new semester is well under way (although our first full week of classes has yet to be completed). Am I forgetting another 08-09 academic calendar year milestone? Certainly. The Gender Project has begun, officially.

This marks an important start in my year for many reasons. One being that I have spent my summer, and will continue into the fall, as an intern in the Office of the Executive Director for the Arts, working with Reed Colver on campus and community engagement. I will be posting on this blog periodically to track my experience and to offer not only my perspective as an intern, but as a student as well. I think that Carolina Creative Campus, the larger subheading above The Gender Project, is an asset to this campus because it inspires us to create dialogue surrounding the arts. There are many opportunities for discussion found throughout an academic climate, but none so unique as the arts. Particularly none so unique as the season created by Carolina Performing Arts and the performances specifically labeled The Gender Project.

I can’t think of a more appropriate start to an initiative based on dialogue than The Carolina Summer Reading Program. Reed and I had the opportunity the Monday before classes began to meet with a group of first-years to discuss last summer’s choice, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights written by NYU Law professor Kenji Yoshino. The book, in short, does a fantastic job in sparking discussion. Yoshino clearly articulates a theory about civil rights that is based in the context of litigation, and largely in the context of his own story. He crafts an approachable read that manages to be far less alienating than other examination of civil rights I have ever encountered. He uses his personal reflection, as a gay Asian American male, and appropriately applies those experiences to all who have suffered any sort of, as he calls them, covering demands. It was fascinating to hear discussion, minimally facilitated, that came from young males and females from a variety of backgrounds, races and experiences. The discussion that emerged was a testament not only to Yoshino’s book, but to the climate of this campus and the integrity of the students who populate it.

I will openly admit that I was nervous walking into a room full of new students. I was worried that what I had to offer would not be enough. That I would get 35 blank stares and two hours to fill. But what I learned is that facilitation, particularly in the case of The Gender Project, comes not only from what I have to offer, but primarily from what the group has to offer. This I find most exciting about the year ahead. A dialogue is a collaboration; it isn’t two parts me and one part you, placed side by side for examination. It is a blending, a mixture, of the catalyst (in this case Covering), plus my thoughts and yours. A relief to all, and hopefully not just me, who choose to participate this year in our discussion. There are no right answers, there are no expectations; there is only participation.

Yoshino asks for that in Covering. He relays a message of communication and acceptance. An appropriate and much needed tone for this project. Here’s to a fantastic kick off. Thank you to all who participated in the summer reading program, and to those of you who did not have this opportunity I invite you all to participate in some form or fashion this year. I look forward to our collaboration.

ERIN

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