It is two weeks since I came to Seattle. It’s been one of the most pleasant and rewarding experiences for me here.
Teaching Film Studies (Indian Cinema) to seniors in Films Studies is a challenge. They have been majoring in Film Studies (a few in Communication Studies) for the last four years. And I was wondering how would the response be.
It is anything but ordinary. It being a small class, it gives me immense advantage to be these youngsters’ facilitator.
Another thing that strikes me immediately is their attitude to learning – though they are seniors in Film or Communication Studies, they tell me they don’t know anything about Indian cinema, and would like to learn. Some have watched a few Indian films; but that -they say- is not enough to understand Indian Cinema.
Over the last two weeks I have witnessed a deep desire to learn. It is not easy to cope with Film Studies. Some take it thinking it is only watching films, and getting easy credits. But, wait a minute! It tougher than most of other subjects!
My Film Studies students have to watch at least Indian 23 films for this Winter Quarter. And all on their own; I don’t screen films in the class for them. Classes are meant for discussing, sharing, challenging and testing one anothers’ views, clarifying doubts, etc. For this, they need to view the films in advance. Then they need to read the articles/ books suggested, and come to the class.
But the energy I see among these folks is tremendous! Viewing, reading, rereading and challenging one another brings the best out of everyone. The classroom comes alive. Bubbles with new ideas. At the end of it all, we have come to our own individual understanding of the ideological positions of the films.
The best one was this: I suggested if someone can take responsibility for screenings. Immediately goes up a hand. ‘I will do it, today itself,’ she says. I will book the Media Production Centre for all the Sunday evenings (!). In case it is not available I will arrange in my own house; you could join me!’
Regular tutorials work as sounding boards, both ways. Helps in clarifying concepts, course demands, assignments, assessments, grading, etc. Above all it indicates where we are headed to!
I have found the faculty really wonderful. Charles has been dynamo! Such young shoulders, but a huge responsibility as Acting Head of the Department. Then, it has been very nice to be a colleague with Georg, the filmmaker!
Russ and Joe have been the gentlemen that only they can be. Today we had a breakfast meeting with the SU Delegation scheduled to visit SJC. What a cordial meeting we had. It was followed by a lunch meeting with the Dean, David. Before that, for the last week to end, Downtown Seattle, Public Market, Seattle Needle, and Starwars- the Force Awakes, with two of my Jesuit friends, here.
Come next week, we will have tea-meeting with Kan, followed by a few more. Above all a visit to Casko, as a cultural shock promised by Venkel!
And we have been on a roller-coaster ride because of this.