Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

i keeps it real. . . real creative


What's wrong with student work? It's not real. It has no substance, no solid foundation from which students can speak about. This is partly why it is hard for students to talk about their work, and get the job they want. They want to be honest about what they did, but in their honesty they forget how to creatively express what it is they did, and how they did it. Well, lets give them something to talk about. Professors, teachers and lecturers have the responsibility and power to provide their pupils with projects that not only teach them technical skill, but provide exposure to client/designer relationships, all while improving their community.
-me, a lecturer that keeps it real, see who else kept it real

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gender Psychology

Where are my psychology majors at? I need your expert observations and knowledge.

Is there something in the chemical DNA of the male gender that causes males ages 18-22 to have Attention Deficit Disorder, or at least start showing signs of this disorder once they enter a classroom setting? My "color for designers" class is majority guys, only 4 girls out of a class of 20. I speak to the class loudly, and clearly, I have power point slides, and I write on the dry erase board for the students that read English better than verbally comprehend it. Yet, still after all of the explaining I do, and repetition of phrases, "This project will be turned in at the end of class", or "Only use A3 size presentation board for your final work," most of the guys still don't get it. If I say a project is due at the end of class, they mess around for 70% of the time remaining, and then scramble at the end to finish their work. Can't they just shut up and work? And follow directions! My girls on the other hand, well 2 of the four are my star students. Always neat, always on time. They ask for the power points after class, so they can study and actually get a good grade on the quizzes I give.
Is it just me or are guys naturally inclined to selective hearing?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

English Names

I've told a few people about the English names the Vietnamese students give themselves. It helps the lecturers remember who they are, and it is easier to pronounce. I don't pressure my students to give an English name. I try to learn there real name, and pronounce it correctly. Most of the names I've heard are common; Tommy, Katie, Kevin, Mike, etc.

But occasionally I will get a student who decided to get "artsy" with there name change. For example, I have a girl named "Po". I'm not sure how she came up with this nick name, but she definitely looks like a "Po", with her cute round face and button nose. She got excited when I shared with her my friend's handbag website www.PoCampo.com. Po's ace boon coon is a girl named B.C. Not sure where this came from because her real name starts with an "H". Then there's the best name of all "Princess". Her reasoning for choosing this name is that if her real name is mis-pronounced, it sounds like a negative word in Vietnamese. Okay, good enough reason. So, Ms. Princess is quite prissy, always late, always dressed up, never hands in projects on time and after cutting her hair to a short bob, she recently got some new weave put in (crimped tracks glued in).
No, I'm not on the south side of Chicago, this in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fight the Powers? Stifling, Isn't it?

After viewing the post on KissMyBlackAds about Shepard Fairey, I'm thinking of how his work would be influenced by Vietnamese culture or lack there of. . . Does street art exist in Ho Chi Minh City? Not that I have seen. Today was the first day I saw true graffiti, an oblong cartoon shape with x-ed out eyes. The only stencils I see are numbers on the buildings. Perhaps the authoritative government, or the majority religion has something to do with the lact of an original artist culture. Yes, there are a plethra of galleries and "artist studios" on the streets, but, these are tourist driven, and most canvas works are a copycat of what someone else did. Vietnamese are great at copying, but like I tell my students, I respect originality.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I would say I didn't sign up for this. . .

but technically I did. . . :-/
The man and woman who BLAST kareoke type music in the house across the alley from me. . . I'm sure the rats & roaches love to hear your voice, but I have an early morning ahead of me, I need peace and quiet. Please.

The rats and roaches. . .

The ornery, old, never-satisfied divo at work who can't get over the fact that I used his plastic bowl for my oatmeal, and got his papers wet after I cleaned it. You asked me to wash your bowl didn't you? Ask, and you shall receive. . .

The lazy mentality of my students. Is this a Vietnamese thing? Yall make me sleepy, and I teach the class. Can I get a little enthusiasm, please. . .

The "OMG IT'S A BLACK PERSON!!!" stares I get, sadly enough, from the same people I pass everyday, as I make my way through the alley from my house, to the main street. Yes, we come in ALL shades and tones.

to be continued. . .

Friday, May 14, 2010

Be Ab-Original

I've always had an interest in Australia and the people of this part of the world. I knew of the Aborigines from geography class, and Janet Jackson's song "Runaway". But it wasn't until a friend of my cousin Kai, mentioned his experience in Australia and the surprising connection the Aborigines felt to the Black experience in North America. Now I am on a mission to meet an original Aboriginal. I'm curious to know what they eat, how they style their hair, do they know where they originally came from?

I found this photo on Corbis.com, circa 1988 in Sydney, Australia. 20+ years after we began to fight for our civil rights, Aborigines were fighting for theirs. Today the fight continues, to stop discrimination against our brown skin Australian counter parts, and make them healthy active participants in Australian society. United States may have our first Black president, but Australia just gained their first Aboriginal Olympic gold medalist, Cathy Freeman, in 2000. Let's not forget about our Aboriginal kin, and I'll keep you posted on my search for an original Aboriginal.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Be Careful. . .

HCM is a city of motorbikes. Imagine everyone in the city of Chicago driving a motorcycle, or Vespa to work everyday, with a sprinkling of Toyotas, BMW's, taxi cabs and CTA buses that won't stop for anything, not even pedestrians, running through the chaos. Also, imagine nobody follows any rules of the road. . .
Don't stop for traffic lights. . .
Dont yield to pedestrians, EVER. . .
There's know clearly defined turn lane. . .
Nobody yields to oncoming traffic. . .
Nobody uses turn signals. . .
You can drive on sidewalks, gas station lots, public parks. . .
I could continue but I think u get the point.

And surprisingly, with all the chaos I have not seen a major accident, yet. But I do see my students everyday except for the days when they're absent. . . due to an accident. . . and then come back to class with gashes on their forehead and badages on their arms. poor things!

Monday, May 10, 2010

If you want to play the game, you have to know the rules.

So, I've realized these students aren't as focused as my coharts and I were back in the good ol' days at Miami University's Heistand Hall. They lack a sincere interest in the professionalism of their projects, and showing respect in the classroom. Understanding that the school gives them no set of standards to design by, I now have to proclaim a list of "rules" for classroom conduct and project expectations. What?!, you don't know what "critique" means??? okay, okay, let's just start with the basics. Here are my top five:
1. Turn OFF your cell phone in the class room. This is not your personal business hour, even if it is your family business.

2. We LOVE to speak English. LOVE IT, or leave my class room. I wasn't hired to be an ESL teacher.

3. Always ask questions.

4. Always carry your sketchbook.

5. Come to class on time and ready to work. I couldn't believe how many students came to class with no pencil, or paper. What are you here for? And who's money are you wasting?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

1 Month in, 23 more to go

May 8th, 2010

It has been 1 month since I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. The strange thing is, I feel like I just got here. It's a weird feeling knowing that my "overseas travel" is no longer a 3-week long college study, but a 2-year long college lecture. And since I'm not here to be a tourist, my days and weeks are not jammed packed with touristy things to do: I get up, go to work, have lunch, work some more, come home, eat dinner, prepare for the next day, go to sleep. Wow, doesn't that sound exciting!!! Of course along the way I see and smell the culture. Pacing myself is key to having a successful Southeast Asian adventure, and key to keeping me sane. I'm taking it all in one day at a time. If I skipped my lectures and saw everything in a month, I'd have nothing left to do but work. However, since this is the reason why I'm here, this blog will focus on my successes and pitfalls as an underdeveloped, overworked, purpose-seeking lecturer of visual communication and as artist of the word, (otherwise known as a graphic designer).