On September 4th and 11th, Morgan and I attended two of the classes within the FYI Series at the Downtown Art Gallery. These classes are developed to broaden the horizons of the freshman class and teach them about what Bucknell has to offer. For those of you who remember the Transition to College class, which used to be required of all freshmen, this new FYI Series was established to take its place. Instead of being told this is good so you should do this, and that is bad so you shouldn’t do that, as the Transition to College class curriculum was laid out, these classes are about furthering your interests and learning about Bucknell. The Freshman class is required to attend at least five of the classes within the FYI Series. The class isn’t a credit class, but as an incentive to attend the required minimum of 5 classes, the first few people to finish will be given prizes.
These classes at the Downtown Art Gallery discussed the works of the contemporary artist Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, who currently has an exhibit on display in the gallery. Originally from Hong Kong, he left China after the country began censoring art, and is now based out of New York.
The classes were taught by Vincent Stephens, the Director of Multicultural Student Services. His main focus was the idea of cultural literacy, how we read other cultures and how they view us. The conversation started with an explanation of Multicultural Student Services at Bucknell and how he wants to stress multiculturalism in terms of actually learning about the variety of cultures in depth, not just hosting an event with food from that country. A food related event is fun, but isn’t a very big step into understanding another culture.
The students were asked to list ten things that every American should know. The answers that the freshmen provided were very different, which just goes to show that you can’t take one person’s set of ideas and apply them to an entire county. The responses included historic knowledge such as The Statue of Liberty, George Washington, and Neil Armstrong, as well as a knowledge of other countries. One student said that he was very upset when people continued to ask him where his country was, when he had learned geography in middle school and expected them to have done the same.
The class encouraged students to think beyond facts and data, but instead to merge them into a way of life to fully understand a culture.
This transitioned perfectly into the works of Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, which demonstrate the culture that was born out of the intense censorship in China. “He who climbs the Great Wall is a great man” has been a Chinese saying for quite some time, but now it has taken on a modern twist as Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung painted this old saying around the gallery with his pieces: “He who climbs the Great Fire-Wall is a great man.” His prints incorporate animals and symbols which came to represent certain things that were banned from the internet in China. As the censorship became even more strict, this counter-culture, which the censorship was trying to prevent, became even stronger.
These classes in the FYI Series is a continuation of programming with the Bucknell Galleries. First year Bucknell students, be on the lookout for an FYI Series course lead by Gallery Director Rick Rinehart and Weis Center Director Kathryn Maguet in late October. Both the Samek and Downtown Galleries are welcoming to professors who would like to teach a class in the spaces. If you would like to schedule a class in one of the galleries, please contact Pam Campanaro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to learn more about Multicultural Students Services’ Programs and Events, click here: http://www.bucknell.edu/x6045.xml
Katrina Hefele ’13
Samek Art Gallery Intern