Tours

Our first tour was to Chipotle.  Nicole led this tour, and it started our interesting touring adventure, especially as we had the mike and amplifier to add to the touring experience.  Nicole’s soundtrack were the sounds of Chipotle. I liked how she communicated what Chipotle meant to her — that it had a connection with her and her best friend here at American.  It gave great insight into her making Chipotle a choice.  That she did not have a Chipotle in Hawaii, and here this is where she could gather with her friends and have a comfort away from home were great explanations to make her tour more special.  She also gave great background on Chipotle’s food practices, its history about its creator and his using his friends as his advisers and on his board. I think that echoed her experience with Chipotle and her friends.  One of the best moments was inside while she ordered what she loves to eat there.  The rest of our tour group were in back but by the line.  Continuing the tour in such a public and used space added to the artfulness of the experience, especially those moments when patrons thought we were in line as well.

My tour was next.  I wish there wasn’t as much snow, and that it could occur in the daylight.  I think it’s a completely different experience at night.  I didn’t mind it being nighttime however.  Just the ice.  The snow and the ice.  I was happy with how my tour turned out because I wanted it to feel like Anthony was having a conversation about his journey, and I think that turned out well.  I did have to remember to slow down my pace cos I’m tall and usually walk pretty fast.  My tour was supposed to go on a couple of blocks beyond Wisconsin and then swing back up to go to James’s but those sidewalks were completely ice-ridden.  It was the perfect place to end it, though.

This leads us to the next tour, which was James’s at the National Cathedral.  I really enjoyed his tour.  His had the spirit of the Cathedral built within it.  He started out by asking us if anyone had visited the Cathedral, who was familiar with it.  He gave us the history of the Cathedral and its being an Episcopalian church as well as national.  He gave us a nice tidbit about George Washington wanting there to be a national university and a national church, and how American University and the Cathedral got their starts around the same time which fulfilled Washington’s desires.  You could see his loving the space, and how it meant something personal to him.  We didn’t get to go inside, but the bells rang nicely and he took us round the building and up close.  It gave us a great sense of the size of the building.  He also gave more details about the gargoyles and architecture and took us to see the park where he (and others ostensibly) likes to study and hang out.  We couldn’t venture down because of the snow and ice, but you got the message.

After our walk back to campus we did Yaba’s tour.  She took us to Anderson and Letts.  She stumbled in the beginning.  You could tell she had a script plans and that it was nerves that got to her.  I’d only say,  even with a script planned — don’t get bogged down by it or just read it!  We all read from our scripts; it made it easier.  Plus, the audience doesn’t know what’s on or not on your script, so if you add some embellishment here, forget a part there.  It won’t make it any less effective.  She gave us the history of the buildings, how it had been for boys first and then made coed in the 60s.  She then spoke about her time there in a very sarcastic and witty manner.  It was hilarious.  It was Yaba’s observations on a special place on campus.  It got the attention of passersby.  I liked it because I’ve never lived on campus at American, and it gave me a good insight into how that is, especially from a place that as Yaba described it, seemed so insular to itself.

Next up was Todd’s tour on Katzen.  He took us up the staircase from outside which I feel not enough people know about.  He gave great history on the building and its architecture.  His soundtrack was the most instrumental, and that was fitting because of the kinds of classes (music, dance, and art) that go on in Katzen.  It really encapsulated the sound of Katzen.  We got a sense of his emotional attachment to Katzen, but not enough of it.  I would like to have known more about his Dad and how he felt about Katzen.  He didn’t connect with us enough, though he gave us details about Katzen like it’s curving walls which I would have never observed before. (It’s a feature I look at all the time from outside the building now).  I wish his tour would have had more about his personal relationship with Katzen as well as the wealth of information he gave us.

We had a break in our tours and they resumed Thursday.  First up was Anais.  She took us on a tour of a field next to Katzen.  I think it was Turtle Park or some such.  I know it was named so because of the turtle statues in the playground.  Her tour was so poetic.  Great reading voice Anais has.  The field was covered in ice and mud.  It made getting around an adventure, but I think that echoed the same adventure that her poetic reflections took us on.  She started with the soil and gave us info about DC and its soil and soil problems, and how soil erosion was one of them — that and the lack of iron which she compared to the lack of iron in her blood.  She took us to a metaphysical space and spoke about the layers underneath the earth’s crust.  She compared the roiling core of the earth to molasses and thought of her blood like that — well the iron in it.  That we had to navigate around mud and through ice and snow just helped relax us even more.  I think it was like walking a labyrinth in reflection.  Anais carried us through a tour that was like on long meditative moment.  Some parts of her tour I can’t remember the details; I can only remember the experience.  That, to me, is not at all to the detriment of the tour but an asset and compliment.

Last on our touring was Elena.  She gave a very passionate tour of the Rotunda at Katzen and by extension Katzen itself.  Her tour was also from her perspective of what the space meant to her.  She gave us a brief amount of history and then played her sound.  I have to say it was easily my favorite sound especially as it echoed and reverberated around the rotunda.  Perfect place to play that sound.  She spoke about how the rotunda was like the locus of the arts at American, her remembering singing with the choir on the steps of the rotunda.  I liked her descriptions of the building, how it stretched out like a cat.  I liked in her soundtrack how she asked students what the rotunda was to them/how they used it and got their responses.  Those were a direct echoing of how she saw it.

These tours were fun.  Like Naoko, I wish ours was a daytime class and that way someone could experience the outside tours along with us since the camera couldn’t get the good recordings outside in the dark.  It was fun how our tours were an artful project and then we became an artful project to those watching us have our touring experience.  It was cool to experience places that one would not typically tour in a “tour-ful” manner.  It gave me new perspectives on places that were so familiar and a great introduction to places not familiar but for which I will now have a great perspective when interacting with them in the future.

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