Students act out indigenous people's strife
May 4, 2010 7:50 PM
A class of anthropology students never knew that when they signed up for a class on dying cultures that they would be asked to act.
As part of SF State's 7th annual Human Rights Summit, Assistant Professor Mariana Ferreira's "Endangered Cultures" class took to the stage to illustrate the plight of indigenous people.
The summit, entitled "Survival Rx: Knowledge for Health Equity," focuses on health care, indigenous peoples' rights, education, women's rights, human rights education and protection of the environment.
In addition to educating her students in a unique way, Ferreira doubles as committee chairperson and co-founder of the summit itself.
"The purpose of this summit is to raise awareness around human rights issues, at SF State, in this country and internationally," Ferreira said.
Students wrote and performed eight one-act plays based on real world scenarios, using the book "Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Globalization" as inspiration.
'These are stories of life and death," said theater director Jiwon Chong. "We as a people are a luxury ocean liner propped up by an ocean of suffering and at some point, we must delve into that ocean."
The messages in the short plays were clear- corporations or governments refuse to try to understand indigenous peoples and insist they assimilate the values and culture of the modernized world.
The plays featured villainous corporate heads rivaling the peaceful, earth loving indigenous peoples. The whole performance played out almost like the hit sci-fi movie "Avatar," sans machine guns or giant blue aliens.
Students used self-made props and costumes, and seemed to enjoy the expanded experience of the stage as opposed to the classroom.
"I know that if I had just written a paper on this, I would have forgotten it by next week," said Katelyn Leaird, who played a tree in her performance. "I'm pretty sure I'll remember this whole play thing for the rest of my life."
The summit is being held May 4 through 7 in the Cesar Chavez Student Center and features films and panel discussions.
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