American Culture 101 : Music, Party Culture, and Food -CLG workshop at IHouse

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Triveni Raghavan (International Spouse)
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Written by: Triveni Raghavan

During my last trip back home, my niece started asking me questions about life in America, especially about college life. I knew Dukies worked hard and partied hard, but beyond that I was clueless. The CLG Workshop on American Culture, hosted by SangHee Jeong, IHouse and presented by Duke students, Joanna Blaszczak and Ellen Gambrell gave us a brief peek into American Music, Party Culture, Food and more.

American Music
Joanna started the presentation with the National Anthem – not singing it, but talking about it. Then we were introduced to the various genres of American classics like
Folk –    Bluegrass, Appalachian, Indie folk
Blues – Originated in the Deep South
Jazz – New Orleans, Jazz Capital of the world. You can listen to Jazz at Duke’s Mary Lou
Williams Center @ 9:30 pm on Wednesdays.
Country – Originated from American folk and Western music


Through the decades, the classics evolved into new styles of music like Rock N Roll, Pop, Classic Rock, Rap, Hip hop, Disco and Soul, made popular by stars like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Rhianna... We had great fun listening to short pieces of music and trying to discern the difference in rhythm and tempo of each genre.

(No Reason Not to) Party in the USA
Ellen’s presentation gave us a very clear picture of how and why Americans party. She enriched my vocabulary by explaining the meaning of terms like House Party, Dinner Party, Tailgating, Binge Drinking, Starting a Tab… We also learned about Do’s and Don’ts of partying and how to party safely. I liked the way she used photographs to make her point. She shared with us the importance of tipping, since waitstaff may not be paid minimum wages. The rules of tipping are: 10% if service is bad; 15% if okay; 20% if good; 25% if outstanding.


American Food Culture
The presentation covered different categories of American food, Ethnic & Regional blends and Soul food.

Wait, it is not over yet. After the presentations were done, the presenters faced a barrage of questions about peer pressure, frisbee (!), music, radio stations, music sites, balancing work and partying, Southern hospitality, attending church and just about everything the participants could think of. I was amazed by how readily they fielded all the questions. It was a refreshing evening, I went home feeling younger.

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