Thoughts and Feelings Regarding our Trip
Something about yesterday’s trip made me feel as though I was on the verge of tears all day. I had a hard time understanding it – especially because when I explained what happened to friends I said, “Well, it was just a tour of some of Philly’s murals and of Eastern State Penitentiary – and people do that all the time.”
I was feeling a lot of things during the trip. Something about guided tours has always made me uncomfortable, I suppose, because they make me feel like an outsider (it’s ironic that I work as a tour guide here!). This particularly struck me during our trolley tour because there was such a strong sense both of being in a fishbowl and of viewing the world outside as an aquarium scene. I also felt emotional because of the murals and their meaning for those who were involved (particularly, this is relevant when looking at the memorial murals). I was struck by the impact on the community that our tour guide stressed because I felt in many ways he was over emphasizing it. I could see that there was no graffiti on the murals, but I also wondered why we were looking at graffiti simply through the lens of it as a negative thing (in this sense, the artist wall we saw covered in intricately designed tags was beautiful and I viewed it as a positive addition to the community, even if it wasn’t a sanctioned mural).
At ESP, my emotions grew even stronger. I was incredibly uncomfortable walking on our tour with the knowledge that this same space is used as a haunted house. In fact, since Dan mentioned how problematic she felt it was that we could take a place of real suffering and punishment and turn it into a spectacle, I’ve changed the way I thought about the haunted house program. After our tour of ESP (which I felt was really well done!), I went to the art exhibit and watched the monologues on the transgender experience in prison. That was something I’d never even considered when thinking about prisons and I was horrified by the cruelty that regularly goes on but is almost never talked about. Looking towards the future of our class, I’d really like for us to think not just about how we define prisons and schools, but also how we define women – particularly since “women” is in the title of our 360.
I’m also interested in exploring the place emotions have in our shared experience. I touched on it a bit in my most recent web even – which will be available just for our class – but I’m also interested in other’s thoughts.