I started this online reflective space as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College. On my graduation day, I thought that I would say goodbye to this page and dedicate my typed musings to a new hyperlink. It turns out I couldn’t bear to part with “growing up in America.” This is probably because I still have a lot of growing up to do.
Today, I write as a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member and as a twenty-something defined by plenty of questions a critical mind. This is my place to vent and connect and remember the thoughts I had once. To keep track of how I’m changing and why.
I’m still not sure who reads this blog. Everyone comes across it for different reasons… because it was linked somewhere in the St. Olaf archives, because its many topics fit a random google search, because another blogger you’ve read made a comment here, or because you know me and we’ve crossed paths. Whatever your reasons, I hope that you enjoy your stay.
By taking the time to explore, you have become a part of my story. I hope you’ll share what you think about it–writing your piece along the way.
When I first dreamed up this blog, this is how I introduced it:
This blog is a space for me to record and react as I make my way through the independent major I have just created at St. Olaf College. Titled “Growing Up in America: A Study of American Identities,” it’s a whirlwind study of why Americans do what we do and what makes us who we are. From child rearing, to schooling, to technology and social media use and the ever changing meaning of the “American Dream,” this major is a multimedia collage of the habits that shape the way the world sees us and the way we see the world. It combines American Studies, Psychology, Anthropology, and Education, to create a complex depiction of what it means to grow up in America.
Specifically, these pages will chronicle my work on two separate independent study courses: “Child Rearing Across Cultures” with St. Olaf Anthropology Professor Tom Williamson, and “Education in the U.S.” with St. Olaf Education Professor Maria Kelly. They will also serve as a place to share articles from my daily breakfast dates with The New York Times and the Star Tribune–a place to write about an article pertaining to the hidden curriculum of the world outside of the classroom, and to make connections that go beyond the idyllic Hill that is St. Olaf College.
Eventually, this ongoing blog will become a large part of my Independent Study Web Portfolio, and will likely serve as a source of inspiration for my Senior Project.
My fascination with American identities stems from my own struggle to find my identity as a young woman in this country. I am always curious. I want to know why I do what I do, and why I think what I think. I want to know how the experiences I’ve had (academically and outside of the school system) fit together to explain who I have become and how I see the world. Still, I’m not just a self-interested American individualist. I also like to observe the people around me. I love to imagine where they have been and where they are going and what they see, and I love to think about the cultural patterns that shape the habits of our hearts. And here you find the meaning of the title of this post. I have always been, and will forever be, a people watcher.
This project takes my passion of sitting on the peeling benches of parks across this country, taking in the details of strangers in moments that no one else would notice, and brings those moments together to paint a portrait of what connects us. The mother in spandex jogging behind an eco-friendly brightly colored stroller meets the man with the course white beard living beneath the bridge, and the minority student working two part time jobs after school and dreaming of the day he can finally leave this good-for-nothing town and start living this “Dream” he’s heard so much about but never seen meets the overachieving glasses-wearing all-around athlete with straight A’s who was pushed her whole life to make some sort of ambiguous “difference” that involves a high paying salary and her name in print somewhere prestigious.
Let the adventure begin.