Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cheyenne, Wyoming

On Monday, October 20, our cast reached Cheyenne, Wyoming. In each city on our American tour, the cast and I have taken part in a series of workshops based on global interaction. The workshops are some of the most interesting aspects of our tour and allow our multicultural group to discuss universal issues that are shared among people no matter where they come from. They generally take place on Regional Learning Day and the topic we discuss is exercised throughout the week. For example, our topic in Utah was centered around student's perspectives of religion. During our time in Cheyenne our topic of the week was gender.

Our cast studied the different roles of men and women around the world. Each International Relations session is given by cast members from different countries, so the perspectives and ideas that are added to each discussion make for an incredible life experience of learning. Just like any Up With People workshop, the message that is conveyed during these sessions is incredibly well-rounded because of the differences in opinions brought forth by students that represent opinions from a variety of cultures. Our Cheyenne gender studies were given to help the cast better understand the past and present rules for men and women in different societies. Its purpose was to encourage people to think about how they can change or facilitate change for future generations. Our group was presented with several elements of introduction and then broken up into group rotations.

Our workshop was broken up into four topics: children's gender roles, the media's effect on gender roles, women's role in the workplace, and women's roles in the communities of different cultures. Many of these topics may seen like normal topics for discussion, but imagine having the ability to travel to the 22 different countries that are represented in our UWP cast and hearing the opinions of a vast number of cultural opinions.

Gender Workshop created by Up With People students

Children’s Gender Roles:

The children’s gender roles session, was geared towards raising children in certain molds. The main topic was how parents and society influence children on how they look, act, and participate in society. This group was a discussion group. The beginning of the 15 minutes was dedicated to facts found on the internet through various sources and then opened up to general discussion between the students and the coordinator of the workshop. The conversation evolved around personal experience, ideas and opinions.

Media’s Effect on Gender Roles:

The media group was designed to bring up issues on how both men and women have standards to live up to based on how the media portrays each gender. This too was a discussion group with facts given throughout. The main focus was how women have been given the passive role as well as how they are portrayed in most of the sex driven commercials. The focus was also on men as well, due to the fact that they have pressures put on them to look masculine and tough. The group discussed the feelings and opinions on the media in their own culture as well as how they felt about it in the western media. They discussed how it effects the girls and boys who these ads are geared towards and the standards it sets for each gender as they are discovering who they are.

Women’s Roles in the Business World:

This workshop was an interactive workshop with facts given throughout. The goal of this workshop was to give statistics on women and men in the workplace. It pointed out how women were habitually paid less and advanced slower than men. It gave examples of women who actually responded better in leadership positions and how women are just as capable of doing the same job as men and should be paid accordingly.

Women’s Roles in the Community in Different Cultures:

This workshop was an informational workshop with some discussion. It was geared towards how women are treated and expected to act in various communities around the world. It brought up issues on roles they play in the family, roles they play in society, and how they are pressured to be subservient in specific cultures. They discussed how to create change so that women are no longer oppressed or treated unfairly in those societies.

Cheyenne, Wyoming is the home of Cheyenne Frontier Days which hosts the largest rodeo in America. Our cast had a blast learning about the culture of the rodeo at the Laramie County Community College. Rodeo students had a blast sharing their experiences and knowledge with our cast through the art of roping, riding, and storytelling. Personally was able to try my hand at working with a lariat and riding the mechanical bull.

Our show in Cheyenne was performed at the Cheyenne Civic Center and was a great way of ending our week of working with The United Way community impact partners. On show day we were given the opportunity to see a cultural presentation on the Netherlands. Students dressed up in traditional Christmas costumes and gave out plenty of holiday treats and information about their country's heritage.

During my community impact projects in Cheyenne I was able to work at local homeless shelter and help the local Parks and Recreation Department get ready for their family Halloween Events. Our travel day from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Aberdeen, South Dakota started a day earlier than usual because our cast was given the occasion to spend a night in the Black Hills of South Dakota and visit Mt. Rushmore.

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