After a careful review of the available options, and spending some time reflecting on class content thus far, I have found myself attracted to the digital story telling option for the final project. I see this as a natural extension of the opening assignment of the course, the Mo’olelo, but with the added opportunity to reflect on how I might see my own story in the light of course content. I feel as if this will foster a nice sense of continuity for the semester, and a provide a 360 degree view of the course.
The journey through my undergraduate Social Work education and training was a highly reflective exercise, as every semester presented not only opportunities to learn new content, theories, practice methods and skills, but also offered, along the way, insights into the social realities that I live, and have been personally conditioned by. Considering this, it might be easy to see how “yet another reflective assignment” may be a bit redundant, however, it seems apparent to me that these are not so common times that we are living. The larger events that have overshadowed all of our lives politically and socially as a nation, not only over the last few years, but even within these last few months here on campus, have most certainly left an indelible impression, for better or worse, upon the minds and hearts of us all, both personally and collectively. This project, therefore, might serve well as an opportunity to scrutinize my own lens of perception, and the attitudes and assumptions that inform it as a white male, and to hold them up to the rigor of critical analysis, yet again, and at this most interesting time in history.
Reflecting on class content in the light of my personal story, I have, as I have in the past, often felt a bit culture-less. As a white male that never assimilated well into the greater social reality that I was exposed to, and openly dissenting from the dominant cultural views, norms, and attitudes which carefully informed my natural peer groups, I was often left by the wayside, cast out of the dominant stream of cultural expression. Unlike many of my peers, I had my own enculturation process violently interrupted, and while some of my cohorts seemed to recover from that experience more readily than I did, I never took to the recovery process, and lived a life plagued by the cultural imperialism that the majority of my peer group merely assimilated into.
My whole enculturation process become a statement of counter-culture protest, part momentum and part intention, I became the antithesis of assimilation, and struggled to not become a mere parody of myself. Rejecting, with prejudice, everything from cosmological view to mere media expression, I found myself moving further and further outside of any norm of assimilation and cooperative living until I was found homeless and alone, searching for some ground to identify with, and for something to believe in. Because of this, I don’t feel as if I could merely bring some M&M’s to a celebration of my culture’s food, as I still find the shallow commercialism and consumerism that largely defines dominant western culture an utterly repugnant cancer.
More sensitive issues are certainly at play in my life today that add to this sense of cultural in-between-ism, but it ought to be enough to say that, despite these truths, I recognize that I do walk with some unearned privileged in life, and find that it is worthwhile to continually evaluate, and reevaluate my own conditioning. Despite the fact that I may not identify with “whiteness” on a conscious level, or find myself intentionally playing into any sort of masculinity based dominance games, I understand that awareness is an ongoing project, and the cultivation of wisdom must be constantly attended to against the numb conditioning of our blind assumptions.
Therefore, I propose to look at a particular aspect of my life story through the general lens of course content, with an eye on cultural imperialism, and form a strengths based perspective. I will, as I tend to, connect these insights to certain secular Buddhist theories, and demonstrate this as the core of the strengths based portion of the narrative, turning loss of identity into a strength that need not be tampered with.
I look forward to this adventure, and to seeing what discoveries might emerge in the light of any new perspectives that have not, as of yet, presented themselves, throughout the course of the semester.