Extra_Credit North/South Mixer: a Post-Class reflection by Richard Jin

North/South Mixer –

Ten weeks ago, I went to the North/South Mixer with a couple of the people I had just met in class. I think reflecting on this experience ten weeks later – because like a typical college student I’ve procrastinated this post to the max – it brings a different perspective on the event than if I blogged about it immediately afterwards.

Upon entering the CNSI building, I had no idea what to expect. How many of the people would be from class? Would I be able to carry on an extended conversation with any of them? However, when I walked in I was surprised to see that the majority of the audience consisted of adults. There were a couple of students clustered here and there, but I could tell that it was a little awkward. I joined in on a group of people from our class and we introduced ourselves – our names, majors, interests. We were a very eclectic group of students, business/econ majors, biochemistry majors, engineering majors, material science majors, and history majors. After the traditional greetings were made, there were a lot of awkward pauses. I could tell most of us were trying to think of something interesting to say to break the silence; however, nothing came to mind. In the end we resorted to asking “So, what do we do now? Are we supposed to mingle with the adults?” Most of us were confused, it was supposed to be a mixer, but after all of the formal introductions we had run out of things to say.

 Fortunately, we there was an art exhibit there for us to explore.  We walked through the nanoparticle/speaker exhibit and once again, were utterly confused. What followed was perhaps the most interesting part of the night. We all tried to figure out what the white speakers were saying to us, what it meant, and what the purpose of the exhibit was. Coming from different backgrounds, it was interesting to note the various interpretations each of us had and how we went about analyzing the exhibit. I felt as if the north campus majors were more interested in what the speakers were actually saying, whereas the south campus majors were trying to figure out how the sensors worked. Together I felt as if we thoroughly dissected the piece, and many people brought to my attention a lot of things that I didn’t even consider exploring. In the end we decided what the speakers actually said corresponded to our proximity to the speaker box sensors. There was nothing unique about it. It didn’t matter who stood in front it, the set of speakers just ran an audio clip on loop.

In the end, we decided even though collectively we figured out how it worked, we couldn’t understand the purpose of the exhibit. But it was this artwork that brought our minds and focused it to a common goal.

I contrast this experience/mixer to the one that I just came back from - the mixer at CNSI right after the last lecture. I looked around the room and I realized we weren’t so awkward around each other anymore. We have plenty to say, perhaps it was the realization that between us, there isn’t a huge chasm, but rather, despite our different interests, they can and are related in one fashion or another. My group of friends joined another group of people and we talked about various topics discussed in class – the interesting, the dull, and our perspectives on its purpose in the world.

Juxtaposing these mixers, it is evident that the class has opened up our eyes, and broadened our scope of view; there is no longer strictly a north or south campus, but rather, an intermingling of both.

by Richard Jin

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