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Journal #2 - Let's Play!

student with a gaming device

Starting my research into gamified education!
Photo credit: Chris Stone '23 (Vietnam-virtual, SIT, summer 2021)

Howdy folx!

Internship things are starting to pick up! My mentor asked me to write up a work plan for my responsibilities. I was able to lean onto my skills from the President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship program, where I had to write a work plan for the fall, winter, and spring semesters. Even though I’m designing an educational curriculum, there were a lot of components from my PSRF project, where I was developing an energy efficiency plan, that also could be applied here: preliminary research, interviewing stakeholders, identifying SMART Goals, and Impact/Effort assessments, to help us turn a vague vision into a tangible set of strategic actions and tasks to achieve our goals. 

Maybe it seems like a lot to get done in the remaining weeks. Luckily, I was introduced to another ICS volunteer who would help me focus on aspects of longevity and feasibility as I present to them my research and program proposals. With their help,  my contributions would be ensured to be considered in the continued development of the program even after my internship is over. They also described to me how they’d done a similar project for ICS before, developing a workplace LGBT+ inclusion assessment tool that now will be distributed in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion toolkits: “As long as there is an interest and need for this work, it will have meaning.”

I started my research by taking a dive into Tripod—Swarthmore’s online library tool—as well as Internet Archive Scholar—the Internet Archive’s collection of Open Access research papers. Gamification is an emerging field, so trying to learn about it at the intersection of both Vietnamese culture and LGBT+ education requires me to pull in threads from all different fields. I’ve moved between both academic papers and more specific blog posts to explore questions like: Why is there a need? What is the way to go about it? What are the different contexts to consider? What are the limitations of this research? What makes this approach (in)accessible? What does care look like?

We also had our first seminar session. The SIT staff members began class by telling us about the current COVID-19 situation in different parts of Vietnam, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Even though the COVID-19 rates are low overall, there is difficulty with trying to obtain vaccines. Three students from Hoa Sen University in Vietnam also joined us for class and shared how the social distancing restrictions had impacted their learning experiences as schools have been closed. The staff members are still overall hopeful about the situation, as Vietnam has been able to sustain positively in the past year.

We then moved on to discussing our readings, particularly the first three chapters of Development Theory (Pieterse 2010). It is really different from anything I’ve read before, as it is heavy on referencing different social theorists, economists, and scientists I’m not quite familiar with. Pieterse calls for new dialogues in development while noting the colonial implications that have existed historically in the field of development over the eras from its inception, especially in terms of modernization as a vehicle of Westernization.  "Accordingly, the deconstruction of development is the prerequisite for its reconstruction. This cannot be a single reconstruction but should be polycentric reconstructions, given the varying itineraries and circumstances in different countries" (Pieterse, p 35).

During the lecture portion of the seminar, the Academic Director recounted the history of Vietnam, especially through the post-War era, along with the history of the development theory that was framed in the book, which helped to situate the theory perspectives into this course on Vietnamese development. 

A collage of some of the highlights of my week! Trying to do a 10-minute typing test, listening to a new podcast called Elixir, beading things for Swatties, having my Astrobotany plant reach its third generation, trying the “Blend” feature on Spotify with my friends, and caring for a new plant I received as a gift from my mom.

Photo credit: Chris Stone '23 (Vietnam-virtual, SIT summer 2021)

Having multiple meetings a week at 10 pm has definitely taken a toll on me, my sleep habits are completely off-kilter. Thankfully, I’ve still got enough waking hours to do the work I need and take time to care for myself by doing things that I love! I’ve also been trying to learn about new ideas and tools, doing a close reading of As We May Think (Bush 1945) and the concept of the “memex”, as well as trying out Orca, an esoteric programming language, in WebUxn to make music in a brand new way.

Trying to make a simple tune after watching the tutorial video for Orca.

I’ll see y’all again next week where I’ll be organizing my research so far to share with the ICS staff and do more readings on development theory. Will I be able to fix my sleep schedule too? Unlikely but not impossible!