I thought that this avatar project was definitely the most unique project that I’ve ever had in a course, especially a history course. I had always experienced history class as classes where I read textbooks and did my best to learn the facts of the situation. I was always aware that history is largely written by the winners and that facts were distorted, but I had never attempted to analyze the past in a story format.
It was a great experience for me to assume another character and another set of circumstances, because while we learn about actions of another group and the political speeches made by others, we (people in general) rarely delve deep into the motivations of other people. Understanding the context of other people makes us judge situations less harshly, because we were able to understand (or at least try to) the motivation behind why people might have done terrible things or might have retaliated in a way that we don’t understand, having never been through that situation. It’s so easy to avoid thinking about the emotions of other people, but when we’re forced to bring up a story using the circumstances that we know, it makes the emotions and stories of individuals an integral part of history. When I wrote about the death of Esteban, it reminded me of the deaths that others have to go through, and the numbers felt like a lot more when there were stories attached to them. It wasn’t difficult for me to assume another voice and another perspective, since I’m an actor and do that on a regular basis, but it’s a practice that is really valuable for those entering a situation and learning more about it
However, I didn’t feel comfortable writing from these perspectives, mostly because I don’t feel that I was equipped with the proper tools to understand any person’s perspective in Argentina. We spent the vast majority of the class studying Chile and I in general felt that I was lacking tools such as culture (food, music, etc), which is really important when attempting to understand context. I felt as if the reading materials provided were not enough to prepare me to write such a deep perspective, and I ended up doing a lot of research on my own to find out more about Argentina so that I could feel better about writing from a character’s perspective. While it is good that I was forced to do extra research, it felt like a task that required a lot more time than the time allotted for it with all of the videos and readings that we did. Overall, while I felt like it was good to try and write from a different perspective, it felt like a project that deserved a class of its own and certainly required more class discussion on Argentina to help the students understand the situations better. The understanding of perspectives is so important that it can’t afford to be one part of a course that requires a lot of other work with it. It deserves to be the course itself (maybe a seminar with this class as a prerequisite).