Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Places, new experiences

I am in the Twin Cities to teach a course on Research to graduate students in the Work and Human Resources Education department at the University of Minnesota (The U as they call it here - despite the fact that the Twin Cities are the home of many universities!)

The unique thing about this course, for me, is that the contact with the students is only during a three day period last week (8:30 to 3:00) and then again for another three day period during the last week of June. The week in between is for reading and assignments.

I am enjoying the students in the class. They bring a wide variety of backgrounds and interests and of course I always appreciate the subtle differences between the American and Canadian experience. It is the same feeling I had in Australia - everything was familiar but had an unpredictable twist to it.

The course is intense - for both the students and me but I'm looking forward to the next three days with them (let's hope they feel the same way.)

Another new experience was a play we attended on Thursday night. It was held at the Penumbra theatre in what used to be the Old Rondo area of St. Paul. The play was called Get Ready and is the story of the greatest Motown group that never was!.

The theatre looked like it held fewer than 300 people and was very intimate with quite a small stage. The neat thing was that the seats literally were within inches of the stage. We ended up with front row seats on the right side and I had to continually pull my legs in to avoid having the actors trip over me.

But they weren't just actors. With a small three piece band they blew up a storm with their singing and dancing. And the treat for me was being so close.

The men actor/singer/dancers were all outstanding, funny and exciting to watch. But for me the outstanding person was Jamecia Bennett. You may recognize the name. Her daughter is Paris Bennett of American Idol fame. But she is also the daughter of Ann Nesby. Nesby and Jamecia Bennett were also members of the Sounds of Blackness. If you have never heard of them and are interested in gospel music you should hear their album called The Evolution of Gospel.

It was fabulous seeing Jamecia Bennett sing. The whole experience - small theatre in an ordinary neighbourhood - an unexpected delight

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