By Vivian Halloran
I teach AMST-A 100 What is America? at least once a semester, but each time with a different topic. Given the question built into the course’s title, I like to use the last assignment for the class, the Creative Project, to help students reflect on their own learning throughout the course of the semester. During the fall of 2015 when Ms. Becker was enrolled, the course was offered in partnership with a larger initiative from the College of Arts and Sciences, Themester. Each fall, the College offers students a suite of courses across multiple disciplines as well as related co-curricular events such as scholarly talks, presentations by high profile speakers, performances, film series, and museum exhibitions all addressing in some way the chosen theme. The theme for 2015 was @Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet, so the subtitle of my course was “Will Work for Food.”
It is in this context that Ms. Becker turned in her video to fulfill the criteria of this assignment. Students had a choice of digital platform, and their task was to showcase their, “new understanding of the role of food and labor on national and global identity formation” as I explain in the prompt. Ms. Becker’s video, “How to Feed a Sorority” stood out from the other 249 submissions in how well it aligned her own skills as a video reporter with her chosen topic—the professionalism of the cooking staff in charge of feeding sorority members three times a day. The finished video showed polish and excellent design principles. The video flows smoothly; it is a well-edited piece that makes its case cohesively. The scope of primary material included in the finished piece—excerpts of multiple interviews, shots of people at work in the kitchen, sorority girls waiting in line to eat, and people milling about as the cleanup gets concluded—all attest to how much time and effort Ms. Becker put into planning the project, juggling schedules, and editing the piece. Most impressive of all, the video itself constitutes Ms. Becker’s thanks and acknowledgement of the professionalism of the sorority’s chef, sous chef, and kitchen staff. By giving them a platform to describe their work, “How to Feed a Sorority” honored their labor most thoughtfully.