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Group Effort.

As my first semester as a college student comes to an end, today we had our last regular class in Sociology 101. I have loved this class the entire term and I have to admit that I’m a little sad to see it ending. It has really sparked my interest in conversation and debate as to what is going on the world today. The professor has kept the class interesting. I’m sure there are many taking the same course throughout The Empire State that see it as a requirement, personally I have regarded the entire experience as a delight.

Today was part two of our last exam (before finals). On Tuesday we had the standard multiple choice/true or false/scantron sheet type exam testing our knowledge on several chapters in the required textbooks and the class conversations over the past six weeks or so. I didn’t ace the exam but I feel that I did really well on it. The score from Tuesday’s task was 75% of the exam score. Today’s part made up for the other 25% of the score and it was a group effort.

The class started out with 80 or so students. Over the course of the semester it has shrunk down to around 40 or so. We broke off into groups of six and each group had a simple task: create utopia. Based on all that we had studied, debated and discussed, we were to create what we felt was a utopian society. After 30 minutes, we shared with the class what our community was like and if we gained members we earned more points towards the final, if we lost members we lost points.

Since the division of groups was left up to the students, it was interesting, although very predictable to see how the groups formed and the outcome of their efforts.

The young crowd that sat in the back row the entire semester, listening to their iPods for much of the discussion, formed a society called “Gotham” where there were no restrictions on drinking, drugs or sex.

The religious crowd that sat in the front row the entire semester (and whispered constantly until I ‘accidently’ kicked them in the back of the chair on more than one occasion) came up with a society who’s name escapes me but was focused on family values. They made a big deal about marriage being limited to between a man and a woman. No shockers there.

My group was an eclectic bunch. It was comprised of Maria, who is a mother of three and a year old than me, Sean, the student that tries hard to maintain that “C” while working a full-time job, Samantha, the cross country runner who always has fresh, wet hair, Brigide who made one of her handful of appearances this semester, Yurki, the very chatty 20 something that is not quite fluent in English and me. I was the spokesperson and note taker for the group (another shocker).

Our society was christened “Aipotu”. Given the task of making a civilization in 30 minutes or less (Domino’s couldn’t even deliver one in that amount of time), we were an all green society that home-schooled their children by rotating them through all the participating households (for cross-cultural and intergenerational benefits). The people of Aipotu believed in “live and let live”. The only crime would if you infringed on the rights of another, or if you did not prescribe to the “live and let live” principles. Punishment involved working manual labor (I proposed men had to be shirtless, which garnered smirks from my groupmates) in our planet friendly mines or building windmills.

In the end, no one moved from one community to another. Aipotu earned us all 25 points of this part of the exam. While that in itself was quite groovy, I must say that having an open and honest discussion with my classmates while formulating this backwards version of Utopia was an excellent way to bring this course to a close.

Now to get through the final next Thursday!

Listen.

This evening Earl and I attended “A Conversation with Diane Rehm”. Diane Rehm, host of the appropriately titled “The Diane Rehm Show” on NPR by way of WAMU in Washington, D.C. was in the area to speak about her experiences as a talk show host for over twenty five years from inside the beltway.

The discussion was absolutely fascinating.

Ms. Rehm opened the conversation talking about the recent Don Imus controversy and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much listening going on anymore. World leaders are no longer listening, the American public doesn’t seem interested in listening, no one is listening anymore. She pointed out the importance of listening to all sides of an topic, even if it’s difficult to do so because of one’s vehement opposition to the other viewpoint.

That last point is something that I am going to try to better myself at.

Ms. Rehm spoke for about ten minutes before opening the forum to questions from the audience. Many people asked questions from a wide range of topics, including the war, the news sources she uses as prep for her show, her favorite interview (Mr. Rogers, the last interview before he died) and more. I wanted to ask the question but the forum came to close before I had the opportunity.

I was going to ask her for her opinion on the blogosphere.

“The Diane Rehm Show” is broadcast daily from WAMU in Washington, D.C. It is carried on most NPR stations, including WRVO-FM here in Central New York.