May 1, 2008

Overall Reflections on Service Learning

Having done my undergraduate education at Marquette University, I am well aquatinted with the service learning program. At Marquette, the connection between the class and the service projects was always very clear as it was a Jesuit institution that made a point to integrate service into the overall education at every level.

In this class, I felt a disconnect between the service learning and the classroom material. The project I worked on was one that could have been associated with any class and therefore I think a lot of the meaning and learning opportunities were lost. While it is important to serve the community, I don't think the emphasis in the class was placed on helping your OWN community enough. Instead, we often learned about hurricanes, famines and wars far from us. Our impact, as students, in reality cannot be that great on a problem going on thousands of miles away, but we can have an enormous impact on problems going on in our own community. If the problems of hunger, education and homelessness were emphasized for our community as well I feel that the service portion of the class would have been more meaningful and worthwhile.

Additionally, because of the disconnect, there was little accountability between the students and the organizations. My experience, overall, was fairly stressful and difficult due to logistics between the organizations and the service learning department here at the school. Because the original location I signed up for was presented through service learning I assumed they were excited about having student volunteers. The cold response I got from the head of the location and the problems I had getting started really made the service learning experience unpleasant and not something that would encourage most students to want to continue service after the class.

Fortunately, I was able to hook up the Volunteers of America High School and work with a student on getting his GED. This really opened my eyes to the need that many immigrant students have. Literacy is a huge problem for them, and the expectation of a high level vocabulary for the GED tests is not one that is easily achieved. The student I worked with has very interested in his education and future, but lacked the tools to get any further before his literacy improved. It was a frustrating but motivating experience to work with him.

Overall I had a pretty mediocre experience with service learning. I hope that in the future it is more organized so that students are encouraged and excited about helping others rather than burdened and bored with the experience.

Review of Presentation (Part 2)

The second presentation that caught my eye was the one that focused on education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Frankly, I was surprised that more of the groups didn't choose architecture as the lens through which they examined the problem. (it was only because of the different topics my group had that we didn't use architecture to attempt to solve our problems).

The solution created by the group was thoughtful and creative. There was obviously a lot of research done to create a product that made and attempt to wholistically solve the design problem. It was interesting how they took a problem that initially doesn't seem design based and use an architectural solution to improve the lives of others.

The presentation was well thought out and cohesive and I thought there drawings were both beautiful and informative.

I think this was a great presentation and I was very impressed with their work.

Review of Presentation (Part 1)

The first presentation last night looked at the Mississippi River and the detrimental effects it is having on the ecosystems of Gulf of Mexico.

I thought their depth of research was evident in their presentation and they had a cohesive focus which made for a strong message.

Their hand out was informative and summarized their presentation well.

The topic of the project, the Mississippi River, unlike the other groups', was on that really resonates with those living here in Minneapolis as the River is just outside our doors. I feel this further increased the strength of their presentation.

Overall I think it was a good project.

April 17, 2008

If I could live anywhere....

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Service Learning Update 2

I am enjoying my service learning but continue to find it horribly frustrating.

Last week I showed up to tutor my student but he didn't show up. Luckily there were some other students who needed help with their studies there that I could work with.

Because the culture in the school is so different than I am used to I continuely find it difficult to figure out any type of organizational structure or order that is in place in the school. The students seem eager to learn but the constant chaos and movement within the building does not seem to promote learning at all.

I am hoping my student will show up next weekend as I enjoy working with him and hope that I can help him achieve his goal of an GED.

April 8, 2008

Volunteering Update

I have been volunteering now at the Volunteers of America High School for three weeks.

This has been a very difficult assignment for me as I work with my student Muhammad. Muhammad is preparing to take the Minnesota Basic Standards test in order to obtain his GED.

I am working with him on his "inferences and conclusions" on the reading test. This is very difficult because Muhammad struggles with his literacy. He is a very smart guy and understands the concepts of inferences and conclusions and is able to work through problems with me. Unfortunately, the reading level required for the test is high. The passages include readings from literature, plays and other sources which have a high level of vocabulary. Muhammad doesn't have a vocabulary that is developed enough to understand the nuances of the passages that are tested.

I hope to help Muhammad pass his exam, but since I am required to work with him only within the parameters of his work book, I cannot help him improve his vocab dramatically.

I can't imagine how difficult it would be to be an instructor in a school with many students that have language difficulties.

I enjoy working with Muhammad and hope he will do well!

April 1, 2008

Group X Cover Ideas

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March 11, 2008

Modes of Presentation

I think this is a beautiful, informative and succinct presentation

I think this is a site that is well put together, offering a fresh take on an old concept
http://www.a-nt.com/

These are examples of great graphic design, powerful use of images incoporating text

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The importance of the message and content behind each presentation mode cannot be underestimated. But at some level the reader has to want to read it. The viewer must be engaged. Through beautiful graphic work a presentation with a great message can be much more meaningful and reach more people.

March 10, 2008

Total Frustration with Service Learning

I don't think I could be more frustrated with service learning. Here's the story...

As a continuing education student I've got a pretty full plate: full time student status, working 10 hours/ week on campus and then also holding a job in Rochester. Because of that, I didn't have many hours that worked with service learning organizations, but I found one and signed up.

I was accepted to the organization and I heard from the head coordinator. I set up and completed my orientation and contacted my center manager.

After I week I hadn't heard from my center manager so I contacted her again. She requested both general and specific dates that I could come in. I provided these and didn't hear anything from her regarding when I could come in and start volunteering.

I continued to attempt to contact my center manager for a week or two then became frustrated after not hearing anything from her and contacted Laurel and my program coordinator. I have been in communication with them but it hasn't seemed to help as the center coordinator still will not contact me or give me any times I can come in.

After a half of a semester I've decided to try to get in with another service organization. I am beyond frustrated and feel like my grade and I am at the mercy of a center manager who isn't very interested in having a student volunteer.

So, in lew of a post regarding my service experience, this is one on my service frustration.

I hope that I can get into an organization very soon.

March 6, 2008

Another Random Fact

I got into Archtiecture Graduate School

I'm very excited

Find my portfolio through the link below:

Download file

Random Fact

I stayed at the Burj al Arab

it was insane

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My Home Town

In an effort to explore the concepts of frameworks, clockworks and phenomena I'm going to take a look at my home town and more specifically the Mayo Clinic which really represents the center of the city and the hub of activity.
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The Mayo Clinic fits within many frameworks: healthcare instutions, academic centers, large corporations, non-profit organizations among others. It is an important player in research and an integral part of the health care system within the United States.gonda.jpg


As for clockworks I think a health care center is especially interesting in this respect. People go there throughout their lifetime, some are born there, and some die there; so the entire life cycle is represented by the institution. People also go through disease process there, so the disease stages people endure is also a type of clockwork. A big part of the Clinic is research and education, so one could see the clock work of the educational and research processes.
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Phenomena can be seen in the disease processes and the development of new medications.

The Mayo Clinic has really shaped my life. Both of my parents worked there and I enjoyed spending time there as a child. It is interesting that I loved the place that so many went to when they were sick. I was fascinated by the underground tunnels, the secret "staff only" ways to get places, the neat architecture and the wonderful art collection. Looking back I think the main reason I chose to go to medical school was because I loved the feeling of the Mayo Clinic (not a good reason to go to medical school!)

February 26, 2008

What Would I Do?

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On a trip to Vancouver I stopped in to see an exhibit on Pre-Fabricated Houses at the art museum (little did I know it was a traveling exhibit from Minnesota!) and it was the push I needed to finally change career paths.

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I was amazed at the beauty that could come from a "kit" of parts.

Then I saw the prices it cost to create these houses. These were not homes that were accessible or practical for the average individual. Instead, these were high end structures that were out of the reach of most people.

If I was able to do what I wanted, I would find a way to create beautifully designed- prefabricated homes that utilized sustainable materials. I would create a system that allowed buyers to put together the home they wanted with a little help from an architect.

I think great design should be more accessible. This does not mean that I don't think there is a role for an architect; rather, I believe that architects should guide the user in creating a space that is wonderfully designed and well suited to their needs.

A company that utilized the design talents of architects to create beautiful components, out of sustainable materials, for consumers to mix and match into their dream house is my dream.

February 19, 2008

How can architecture possibly make a difference?

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“You and I want our lives to matter. We want our lives to make a real difference - to be of genuine consequence in the world. We know that there is no satisfaction in merely going through the motions, even if those motions make us successful, or even? Werner Erhard

Prior to coming to the University of Minnesota I was a medical student at Mayo Medical School. There I developed a concern for the AIDS epidemic in under developed nations. While I feel a sense of loss over the fact that I will no longer be directly involved through medical care, I am inspired to discover ways in which architecture can make a difference in global health issues. I firmly believe all human beings deserve basic health care, and I also believe that architecture can aid in achieveing that goal.

“AIDS is no longer a death sentence for those who can get the medicines. Now it's up to the politicians to create the "comprehensive strategies" to better treat the disease.? Bill Clinton
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“It is important to remember that it was indifference that allowed the Holocaust to happen and it was the indifference that allowed the Rwanda Genocide. And it is gross indifference that has allowed and continues to allow this preventable disease to take the lives of millions. In my mind there is no reason why we shouldn't care about those infected or affected with HIV/AIDS whether they are in Africa or down the street from us. They are all human beings, just like us.?
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"To see so much hope from people who have so little made this an inspiring and life changing journey for me. The promises America and other rich countries have made to Africa must be more than words. Those promises need to put hopeful children in school; help parents put roofs over the heads of their children; and get life saving AIDS medicine to the patients who need them now." Matt Damon
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“The situation of people living and dying with AIDS in parts of Africa is so desperate that even the most basic help will bring solace and hope? Stephen Lewis

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Inspirational Play List:
Don't Give Up - Alicia Keys and Bono
All You Need is Love - The Beatles
Live AID concert soundtrack

February 12, 2008

Social Architecture

Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and other religious buildings often are built in a distinct style. Because of this those who were not raised in a faith may feel uncomfortable entering into an unfamiliar building. While for those of the particular faith a holy place may be comfortable and support their spirituality, for those who are looking for a faith community the distinctive architecture may be un-welcoming, disorienting and confusing.

I discovered the Bigelow Chapel while on a run here in the Twin Cities

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I think that this provides a new perspective on religious social design. The architects have created a space that welcomes all, and is non-denominational in appearance so that all are welcome. It makes people of all faiths feel at home in the space.

As the United Theological Society puts it

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities welcomes you to the Bigelow Chapel. The chapel is a religious building offering both the seminary community and the wider community an exciting statement of God’s presence and mystery in the world. As an ecumenical seminary of the United Church of Christ, the Bigelow Chapel is our front door to the community, and we welcome people of all faiths and walks of life.


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It seems that social design can do so much more than just house the poor, create a space to watch sports or place an ideological philosophy upon the society. In a way, social design is able to bring people together, make them feel welcome, help them define where their place is within society.

Rather than attempting to change or develop society in some way, the Bigelow Chapel is able to make everyone feel as though they belong and to help them define herself in a way that suits her best.