Danielle Wickingson—she goes by Dani—recently won a scholarship for using her ePortfolio to demonstrate her excellence. In high school Dani took part in a short student exchange program in Japan, and then was able to spend the next year studying and living in Japan. Upon returning to Utah, she enrolled at SLCC and one of the first courses she took was Culture and Human Experience. In her ePortfolio she wrote the following:
“Taking Culture & Human Experience was really the beginning of realizing my potential, as well as my love for learning. Everything I was taught in this class made me understand why a lot of things happened during my time in Japan: the mistakes I made, my cultural misinterpretations, my ethnocentrism, but also my triumphs and accomplishments. It shed a whole new light on my year abroad and made it that much more meaningful.
Over the course of the semester, I was able to apply every bit of information I learned in class to my own experiences in both Japan and America. I developed a particular interest in the topic of gender roles, an aspect of culture that I had never given thought to before. I started to realize the type of things that I do because I was of the female gender, and because I was socialized in American society. It allowed me to understand the differences between American and Japanese women and what I could have done better during my study abroad to fit in with Japanese society.”
As her signature assignment in Culture and Human Experience, Dani wrote an analysis of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Her reflection continues:
"Writing this report caused me to be hyper-aware of my cultural and societal surroundings. I am always analyzing how gender roles have shaped the method in which men and women speak, act, fulfill their responsibilities, and interact with each other. Through this process, I have discovered how to identify these roles and their functions, as well as understand their significance to a functional society.”
When reading this, one can see that Dani is acting as her own educational navigator. She’s triangulating her ever-evolving academic self by drawing upon her experiences in Japan, what she learned in the Culture and Human Experience course, and the specific task of analyzing Things Fall Apart. She is claiming an education rather than simply receiving one.