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Common Reading

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Agnes Reads Response for Fall 2012

From the desk of Susan Dougherty, Manager of Faculty Services:

[Follow this link to the website: http://www.MyJourneywithHenrietta.info 
Also, here is the Agnes Reads Blog link.]

Ashley Cloud has created a beautiful and moving tribute to the places in the book. She’s produced a photographic essay and web journal from visiting all of the places mentioned in the book. Her photographs are stunning, and her journal of the adventures on the road is well worth your time. I’ve posted it on our Agnes Reads Facebook page, but I wanted to call your attention to it! I’ve pasted below her abstract and the link to her website. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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My name is Ashley Cloud, and my project is part photographic essay, journal entry, and website. For my project I travelled to the places with significance in Henrietta’s life including Lacks Town Cemetery, Clover, South Boston, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sparrows Point, Turner Station, and Crownsville State Hospital for the Negro Insane.
I had no idea while reading this book that I would ever have the chance to experience the life of Henrietta Lacks in such a personal way, so I hope my story helps inspire those who did not have the same opportunity. My process for starting my project started by researching, then ideas started forming, and the next thing I knew I was climbing through the woods and walking inside the Home House! My main goal for this project was to capture in pictures significant life events and places in Henrietta’s life. At the beginning, I had no idea how much I would learn from this journey and how it would open my eyes. In the end, my experience and emotions throughout the journey will be a memory I’ll never forget! I met incredible people along the way, and learned so much about the way life was for Henrietta and her family. I am so thankful to have been able to have this experience!

The first portion of the project is in the form of a website that plays a slideshow of the pictures from my journey. The website also contains my detailed journal entries sharing my experiences and people I met along the way. To supplement my journals, I included detailed maps, an About Me section, and Behind the Scenes pictures to complete the documentation of my journey with Henrietta. A slideshow of images with captions can be found under the Places heading on the website as well.
I hope you enjoy reading through my journals and looking at my pictures! It’s felt like such a long journey since I began planning this project, and I am so glad to finally be able to share My Journey with Henrietta with anyone who is interested!

Follow this link to the website: http://www.MyJourneywithHenrietta.info 

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New Challenges and Exciting Adventures.

(cross-posted to my other site … )

This weekend/next week, I’ll be attending my first-ever academic conference. I’ll be part of a roundtable discussion/presentation for “Uncommon Ideas for Common Reading Programs” at the 30th annual Conference on the First-Year Experience, held this year in Atlanta, alongside some Agnes Scott Common Reading Committee members. That was a mouthful. To say the least, I’m excited and a little nervous!

We’ll be talking about the common reading project, which is an important first year tradition at ASC. I’ve written a little about the project in the past, but it’s a topic worth revisiting. The idea is just as it sounds: every incoming first year student is assigned a selected book to read over the summer before arriving on campus. This past year, that book was Outcasts United by Warren St. John, which profiles the Fugees, a soccer team in Clarkston, Ga. comprised of refugee children from all over the world, and their mentor, Luma Mufleh. First years are then required to compose a reading response open to any medium they choose — whether that’s a poem, written reflection, or artistic response. Those responses are then given to each student’s academic adviser, and then … well, what happens to the responses after that? That’s where I come in. Ever handily.

So, at the conference, the committee members and I will be discussing our “uncommon ideas.” One of those ideas has been utilizing blogs (and social media, by proxy) as a means to get first years engaged with the material they’ve been assigned. The eventual goal is to archive a sort of “Best Of” list of student responses, thereby showcasing students’ intellectual work and creativity in the short pre-college months. User Education Librarian Casey Long and I created an official blog for the Common Reading project during summer 2010, which currently houses some reflections on the book and announcements on related programming from Agnes Scott faculty and staff. On February 8th at 10:30 am, I will discuss the blog’s statistics and impact it’s had on the ASC community, and how we can better our efforts to WIN THE FUTURE for the Common Reading project.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, and the Internet increasingly accessible, it’s necessary not simply to imagine the future for even the most staid of traditions at Agnes Scott, but to actualize that future, and create goals accordingly. Amongst other things, it’s one reason I’m so excited the Digital Design Fellowship exists. I work to encourage students (and faculty and staff, natch) to incorporate responsible, thoughtful blogging into their academic lives. I don’t just do it for my health, but so our students will be better-acquainted with the demands of a competitive, technology-centric society. While the current Common Reading blog is an experiment in making students aware of blogging as a viable means of academic communication across disciplines, one of its goals is to get students blogging on their intellectual experience, thereby establishing a habit that continues over the course of four years.

How’s that for ambition? Anyway, so my first grown-up, super-fancy academic conference. I’m sure I’ll be the youngest participant there, which I find simultaneously amusing and exciting, so I’ll try not to embarrass myself (… or the College). The last time I was at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis was as a late-night spectator at Dragon*Con 2010.

Wish me luck for next week! Oh, and happy Monday.

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