Ben Sheppard takes a look at the places, practices, institutions, events, and cultural patterns that contribute to our cultural context in the American South, the city of Athens, the UGA campus, and the surrounding communities. Check out this post for an explanation of what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.
Watch this video before reading further: http://youtu.be/3PvX2qZy5m4
My question for this week: what does Rice University’s International Student Football Clinic assume about the way the world is?
Let’s shrink “the world” down to the American South. As different as Houston is from Athens, we’re alike in that football is as important in Texas as it is here in SEC country (well, let’s just say it’s close). The game can be difficult to figure out, even for people who are born here, and there’s so much that comes with it: fight songs, cheerleaders, face tattoos, halftime shows, mascots, and tailgating. But the clinic isn’t meant to be just an informational session for the intellectually curious. It’s intended to make international students “feel welcome,” to invite them to share our cultural world by introducing them to a phenomenon that they might not be able to explore on their own. Their assumption is that teaching students about football is an act of cultural hospitality.
But is it really the best way to make international students feel welcome? From another perspective, the whole idea might seem a little hokey. Wouldn’t these students get a better understanding of our culture by going to a rodeo or a diner or a museum or a park? Is something as pedestrian and lowbrow as football really the vehicle we want to use to introduce foreign students to our culture? Does a football clinic actually provide real insight into what it means to live in the American South or is it just a blatant attempt to assimilate foreigners into our (better) way of life?
Watch the video and let me know what you think.