Arts & Activism: this paragraph will not do justice to my experience

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Jennifer Moreno
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I know that this paragraph will not do justice to my experience during ASB: Arts & Activism. I had the opportunity to be a site leader. The process of planning the logistics and directing the activities during the week challenged me as a leader and as a Duke student. I had the privilege to visit the beautiful city of Chicago and see priceless pieces of art and performances. The most memorable time was working with the high school students. Every ASB has a service component, and in this trip Duke students taught high school students about their identity, various social issues, and the meaning of arts and activism. Throughout the week I built a relationship with the students and they defied my expectations. They were very smart, quick, and passionate. Each high school student had a story to tell and was invested in a social issue. These students have the power to change the world, and I hope they do!

On Tuesday, we had the chance to visit one of Chicago’s landmarks, Cloud Gate, aka the Bean. This landmark is a mirrored sculpture where one’s reflection may be normal or deformed depending on where one is standing. I took several photographs of reflections, but didn’t notice this photograph (found below) until coming back to Duke and it made me think of my experience. Throughout the week, I was challenged on my definition of arts and activism and I was even more confused to where the intersection existed. However, this photo provided me with some answers. Although art has various meanings and purposes while activism has the goal to reform or change a certain imperfection in society, activism through art is possible. As some of Chicago’s buildings are reflected by the bean, we could also see our reflection. However, the bean can only reflect the exterior, not the history of the building, the details, or the reason why it stands.  Throughout the week we analyzed art and social issues, but also our identities. Similar to the buildings being reflected, people make assumptions based on our appearance or how they see us, but we are so much more. Nevertheless, it not only reflects one building or one person, but it reflects the surroundings. One’s identity does not reflect our physical appearance, but so much more. I am still conflicted as to how one can achieve it without being egotistic or misinformed, but I am confident that the answers will be revealed to me in time.  

I also have included this photograph of the participants on the trip. Throughout the week I learned something about each Duke student. Every single one has great intentions and ideas and I’m sure that they can make a positive difference.

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