Friday, October 9, 2009

More on the Maya Angelou event

Almost a week later and I'm still energized by the Arts and Issues afternoon with Maya Angelou event. This morning, I read Jeffery Hudson's post Cultural Landscapes, a short reflection on attending the Angelou event, from his Redbird Blog.

Hudson is an English and creative writing teacher at Alton High School. He works with us on the "Poetry Correspondence Program;" his students exchange letters about African American poems with our Black Studies contributors.

In his blog post, Hudson explained that getting his students and members of their families to the Angelou event, and not just attending Angelou's presentation, proved to be an important educational experience. His group planned to meet at Alton High School (AHS) and carpool to SIUE. One student and his mother arrived at the school in a cab. "We piled into cars, found 255, rode it south to Poag Road, then east to campus. It was a postcard fall day, bright, cool, the leaves just starting to smolder. Redtailed hawks circled."

According to Hudson, "Maya Angelou was absolutely amazing. Booming voice, a humor I wish could be taught, epic!" He also noticed one of his students taking notes--always a pleasant scene for a teacher, especially when the note-taking hasn't been mandated.

And here's how Hudson describes the drive back to Alton:
On the way home, [one of the student's] mother chattered away. She’d barely made a peep earlier. She told an amazing story of singing in a choir and how an elementary school teacher had inspired her to try new things and not give up or give in to fear, a story inspired by stories Angelou had shared.
The weight of the afternoon landed with a thud when [the student's] mom directed me into one of Alton’s more infamous projects. And I have to be careful here in writing about this. Pity is NOT what I felt, not appropriate, but I’m not sure how to describe it. The contrast between the SIU campus and the Angelou speech with the projects was impossible to ignore.
That inspiration, that contrast, yes. Those are things I'll really have to think on more.

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