Internship Reflection Week of 2011-11-21 [13] (Exhibition Form, AG Essay)

Before we could leave for Thanksgiving break last week, we had a few more exhibitions to do.  Recall that these conferences are run by students and give them a chance to demonstrate the progress which they have made on their learning plans.  The invitees to these meetings are the student’s advisor, other staff from the school, students and any family or friends that the students wishes to have in attendance.  All attendees to an exhibition fill out a feedback form.

I have to say that the exhibitions are quite informational and often emotional.  It is clear when students have prepared, and when they have not.  It is clear when they have pushed themselves in the past quarter, and when they have not.  Questions frequently asked of students are:  "what part of the portfolio that you have shown us today do you consider your best work?",  "how long have you been doing activity ‘x’ and what new skills have your learned (or what new things about yourself have you learned)?", etc.  Some have compared an exhibition to a legal proceeding where discovery and evaluation of evidence of learning is the main agenda item.

A most powerful part of the exhibition lies in the ability for the student to rank herself or himself (on a scale of 1 to 4, 4 being A+) and then for the family members, other students, other staff and advisor(s) to also suggest a grade or score.  Some advisors use an average of all scores suggested during the exhibition and some use a consensus score for the final exhibition score for their student.  Either way the conversation about the score can be uncomfortable or can be quite laudatory.  Students often under-rate their presentations, just as parents often over-rate their child.  These are both understandable as the learner does not always see all the learning they are really achieving, and parents see a side of their student and their work habits outside of school.  The conversations around

Some of the more powerful exhibitions are moving because of the depth of experience and self-expression that students achieve.  Recall that they are writing autobiographies (across all four years) and must have an accumulated length of 100 pages—after  4 years—in  order to graduate.  The reflections generated along that journey can be quite profound.  Some students weave together learnings from internships, with their academic discoveries, and their personal journeys.  What results is some incredible writing.  I close this post with an essay from a student, which they read at the end of their exhibition.  (With permission from the author.)

Bottom

What happens after you’re finished spiraling to nothingness? After you feel like there’s nowhere else to fall? What happens then? You hit bottom. There is no lower to go, the whole world pressing down on you all around you. You feel there’s nothing you can do to escape what the world says. You’re lost, you are nothing, nobody. Too weak to face the challenges, you collapse to an innocent ball and retreat to a place mixed with wonders and horrors, this limbo coma where nothing is real but the past.

All memories is what it comes down to, years of falling down, years of being stepped on, stepped over. This becomes your hard, cold, faceless reality. You live here for a long time, going through the days which blend together. Memories blurring, life in a whirl, the world in a hurry to go nowhere, and it seems you’re here in the center watching as all the people continue to meet an endless deadline. As you sit and watch, the people of the world cry over a loss. They die a hard death. People of the world rejoice in the death of another; people of the world rejoice in a new life. People of the world tear at each other, then come together to be there for one another. People of the world do not care for anything; people of the world live in drama. People of the world end up forgetting the good and embracing the bad, resorting to living with hate, disrespect, and an absence of liberty – of pride, of joy – of all the goodness humanity could achieve.

Here, in this pressured, dark state, this observant state, I rise from the cold earth on which I’ve sat for so long, breaking through the weakness that bound me, that held me to the ground. Then this light from above, from the heavens shines down on me, and through the darkness so long and deep a figure is awaiting me, a voice that speaks “I have waited, and now you have risen, your life is truly yours, now live it through me, live with the light, live with love.” As I step out of the shadow of the darkness, I am shaken, revived with an energy to face the world, the goodness of humanity is out there. I am here to bring it together. This is a place where people have fallen into a hate, a rush, a horrible place. To bring them out is a challenge I stand and face, but one to take for I have already been to the bottom, I can only go one way. People of the world let this warmth awaken you, this light shine on you, see the goodness you can achieve. Be awake and live, love holds the key to all the gates, you must walk through now.

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