For students enrolled in the World Music class, trying out new things is not just a hobby; it’s a class grade.
At the start of the semester, students received an assignment entitled “cultural excursions” in which they had to decide on a place to go that would enlighten them on global citizenship.
Under the former general education program, the course was listed as one that addressed the student learning outcome of global citizenship.
Professor of Music Trilla Lyerla used the assignment to meet that outcome.
“Many (students) do not stray too far, but it is good to push their cultural comfort zone a bit at least,” Lyerla said.
Lyerla’s main goal for her students is to get them to experience something new.
“(Cultural excursion) means doing something that is not normal for you. If that is going to a country you have never been before or going to part of a large city you never set foot in,” junior Wolfgang Johanning said.
Cultural excursions have included attendance at the Kansas City Scottish Highland Games, attendance at a Greek festival, attendance at the Haskell Indian Nations University Pow Wow and viewing a “pop culture” film or documentary, such as “Gandhi,” “Seven Years in Tibet” or “Genghis Blues.”
Johanning took a different approach when it came to this assignment. He made the 15-minute drive to downtown Lawrence to a restaurant called India Palace. The eatery is famous for its spicy Indian cuisine and atmosphere.
Johanning immersed himself in the experience and came out with a new perspective.
“I thought it was interesting. I never was there before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Johanning said. “The food was great. Not your normal food, but nothing too exotic. Also, theatmosphere was very pleasant.”
After their excursion, students were to write a one to two page narrative of the event, reflecting on what they learned about the culture they explored on their excursion.
The reflective writing assignment helped to address learning outcomes and add value to the course.
Sophomore Erin Wilson watched the movie “Amelie” in order to fulfill the cultural excursion requirement.
“I have to figure out how my movie conveys French culture,” Wilson said. “I hoped to learn how the French culture is similar and different to American culture. I think (Lyerla’s) reasoning for this assignment was to expose us to different cultures, and I love the music in this movie, so I was excited about it.”
Lyerla hopes to expand the course and explore the opportunities of offering the class in another region of the world.
“It would allow them the opportunity to experience the culture first hand and to perhaps acquire a deeper understanding (and) more intimate knowledge of the reasons that certain types of music are created,” Lyerla said.