Thursday, April 10, 2008

"God Grew Tired of Us" and What is the What

Freshmen- after viewing "God Grew Tired of Us", consider and respond, with highly specific and well articulated analysis, to the following prompts:
1. A benefit of this documentary lies in the opportunity to view our own (American) culture through the eyes of the Dinka. What aspects of our culture, which we may or may not take for granted, are polarized by this different perspective?
2. Construct a "mini-essay" which compares and contrasts the "American Dream" with the "Sudanese-American Dream". Use specific references to the film and the novel.
3. In the film, John is reunited, after 17 years, with his mother. She expresses her elation through a Dinka song and dance, a traditional expression of joy. How does John respond to this? How does this poignant moment illustrate the paradoxical experience of East African immigrants?


Anonymous said...

1. When the Dinka men first got to America they seem confused on how to use the escalator at the airport, which to Americans is very unusual and somewhat amusing. Also, when they got to their hotel they had to learn how to use all the electronic devices. Even turning on a lamp seemed impossible to the men, at first.

2. The American Dream and Sudanese-American Dream are two very different things. Throughout the film, “God Grew Tired of Us”, the Dinka men were faced with many struggles that a life long American citizen does not have to deal with. The Sudanese-American Dream has to do with gaining more freedoms and opportunities by coming to America. The American Dream is something that Americans forget about from time to time and about have a lot of opportunities that many foreigners do not get to experience.
The Sudanese-American Dream is about gaining many rights and liberties. When the Dinka men came to America they gained many more freedoms than they previously had in Sudan. The men also gained well paying jobs, that didn’t involve risking ones life. The Sudanese that come to America also gain new customs, so when one man saw his mother after a very long time he seemed quite shocked at her behavior. The Sudanese realize they are lucky and seem to not take their new freedoms for granted.
The American Dream is about speaking out and not being persecuted for it. It is also about having freedoms that people in other countries don’t have. When I think of the American Dream I think about Martin Luther King Jr. and all the problems he faced in his life so that one day his children could have the same rights as everyone else. Martin Luther King Jr. made it clear that everyone should have the same rights and that everyone should be created equal. Many Americans lose sight of what the American Dream is really about; it’s not fair to others who don’t have what we have and watch us waste are precious freedoms.

3. John was surprised to his long lost mothers reaction because it had been awhile since he had been are many Dinka people in Sudan. After a moment or two John begins to realize that this is how the Dinka reacted way back when, when he was in Sudan. John was somewhat taken by surprise by this paradoxical experience that he had with his mother.

-Kristin Murray

Anonymous said...

1. The part of our culture that is based on self-efficiency and independence is shown in this film. Independence and self-efficiency are portrayed as very positive things, but also negative things in the film. They are viewed as positive things in the film through the Sudanese’s believes that if they become self-efficient and self-reliant in the United states, they can help their family and friends in Sudan. They are portrayed as negative things through the film because as the Sudanese refugees become more self-efficient and independent, they become increasingly lonely and alienated. This film showed that anything can prove to be good or bad.
2. The “American Dream” and the “Sudanese-American Dream” are very similar. They are basically comprised of the same characteristics. The difference is more in how much they value each characteristic and also why they are valued so much. That is best shown through family, money, and education.
The “Sudanese-American Dream” values less material things more compared to the “American Dream”. The “Sudanese-American Dream” values family and education more than anything else. The refugees also value money highly but only because they feel that if they make enough money they will then be able to help their families out of the situation in Sudan. The “Sudanese-American Dream” is based mainly on bettering oneself and putting others first.
The “American Dream” is much more superficial as compared to the “Sudanese-American Dream”. The “American Dream” is based generally on putting yourself first. That is easy to tell by the most highly valued things which include money, cars, houses, and other material things. Things like education and family and friends are ranked much lower as far as importance in the “American Dream”. The “American Dream” shows how much people that are used to the American culture take advantage of important things like family and education, unlike the Sudanese that have an extreme gratefulness for just about everything.
3. John responds to this in a very awkward and surprised way. American culture which he had lived in for a year or so had taught him that things like that were unacceptable. So when his mother starting screaming and dancing in public John seemed very uncomfortable and almost embarrassed by his mother’s actions. This shows the contradictions that Sudanese refugees experience because of the two cultures that they are experiencing. On one hand John wanted to tell his mom to stop because she was making a fool of herself, but on the other hand he seemed to remember and connect with his old culture through his mother’s outburst.

~Jill Wry

Anonymous said...

1. When the dinka men came to america they seemed overwhelemd by the little things we take for granted. Like when they get off the plane they were amazed by the escalator, when we get off the plane it seems so natural to get on the ecalator we don't even pay no mind to it.When one of the dinka men was in the kitchen he did not know how to use certain foods and how to cook he took crackers and milk and mashed them together to us thats not how we eat but they are not used to american cooking so they do things there way.
2. The sudanese dream is diffrent from the american dream in many aspects. The sudanese dream is to be free and to be able to live their life with out fear of being killed. In the film god grew tired of us the dinka men struggled with the life they were living in america. they were struggiling more than your average american man. the reason why they were struggiling ws because they do not know about all of our customs and how some things work around here. Even John didn't know the meaning of a christmas tree on christmas.
Even though they are diffrent they are a little bit the same because they both want freedom and a good life gor our kin. They both want to be able to say whats on their mind without being judged or hurt because of it. Both also want to be able to get a good paying job and be able to support their family.
3. John seemed as if he was uncomfortable and embarrased. i think it was because he hasn't been around his culture in so long that he had forgotten about his culture. Another reason i think he was embarrased was because he has adapted to american culture and knew that the way his mother was acting was not appropriate in public areas here and that people are not that familiar with the Dinka culture.

Anonymous said...

1. In America, a lot of people take a variety of things for granted. For instance, we go to the grocery store every week to get as much food as we want and in different varieties. In Sudan, they struggle to get food and rely on one meal a day at most. When these Dinka men in “God Grew Tired of Us” went to the grocery store, they had no idea what all of these foods were, like when they were tasting the donuts. Also, we take our families and friends for granted. In Sudan, they live with their immediate families, grandparents, uncles, aunts and possibly strangers. They are also almost always in groups, as opposed to being by themselves. In America, most people only live with their immediate families and are afraid to go near strangers, and we have a lot of alone time with ourselves. These men in the movie thought it was hard to be by themselves and not in groups like they are used to being in.

2. The Americans and Sudanese have different ideas on what the American dream is, but hey both rely on money to fulfill the American dream. In an American point of view, we are more determined to get a good job to make a lot of money for themselves. Sudanese also have these aspirations to get a good job in America, make a lot of money, but they give a lot of their money to their country and to their family. In “God Grew Tired of Us”, some of the men get three jobs so that way they can give a lot of money to their families in Sudan, while still having enough for paying rent in their apartments. In What is the What, Valentino has a couple of different jobs to keep up with money.

3. When John’s mother meets him at the airport, she is very happy to see him and performs a song and dance to express her happiness. John, however, sees his mom and is almost embarrassed by her behavior. In America, people are expected not to behave this way in a public setting, and John realizes this when he sees her. East African immigrants are beginning to take in the American culture and behave as the Americans do. His mom does not know about this culture and does not realize how weird it is to act this way in public, so she just says “hello” as she would in Sudan.
- Charlie Switzer

Anonymous said...

1. I did not realize that people in other countries did not have trash at there home. In the movie the lost boys got so excited when they learned how to throw things away. Also, I thought it was interesting when they did not even know what a cucumber was. They did not know what things were that we take for granted everyday.
2. The American dream is different from the Sudanese dream for a few reasons. The American dream concerns getting rich and having a family, but the family in America is different than the families in Sudan. For example, the family that Americans see everyday is their direct family like mom, brother, son, ect. In Sudan they think of their family as their cousins, uncles, grandparents, and people like that. They see them everyday. Also, in the American dream we always think of saving money for ourselves, but for the Sudanese as soon as they have some money to spare they immediately send it to their family to help them survive, even though they have not seen their families in years.
3. When John and his mother are reunited he gets kind of embarrassed when his mother was singing that song. Even after just a year he has changed because if he was in Africa he would have thought that the song was completely normal but in America he found it to be weird. It shows that even some of the immigrants own cultures start to end when they come to America.

-Austin Tocci

Anonymous said...

1. When the Dinka men went to America they didn’t know how to use a shower or electricity which was weird but sounds funny to the Americans or very weird in some points too.
2. The “American Dream” and the “Sudanese- American dream” are similar and different in some ways. There are three things that they had in both “dreams” Money, Education and Family. But two way different cultures think of it differently.
The American dream is more about being successful in life and being on top to live great and get a lot of money, But by doing that you have to get a good education at a good college. For money people usual save it for later in life or spend it on your house or family needs. For family when people get older usual you want to get married and have children of there own , and that money and education you went threw for future things like for your kids they can now have a good and healthy life.
The Sudanese American dream is different from American dream. The Sudanese dream is mostly about money and families because like in the movie when they men were saving up money to send home to there families or villages, that’s why they had more then 1 job in America. There dream are mostly about caring for other people and helping those people a lot.

3. John was thrilled to see his mom but was kind of embarrassed by the way she was acting in the air port. John knows in America that people don’t do that there but he knows that his mom never been to America or that she never knew people in America dont do that dance in public.

Steve Tessier

Anonymous said...

1) In this film, basic American lifestyle proves to be a major task for the Sudanese. The Sudan people have troubles from the start with what Americans find to be common sense tasks. Most everybody has known how to turn on a light, go up an escalator, use the refrigerator, etc. since they can remember. This is not the case in the Sudanese situation. They come from a lifestyle with no modern technology, and a much tougher environment. Americans take for granted the basic everyday liberties such as electricity, basic appliances, and more. The Sudanese who have never seen these before are able to appreciate them much more because of the fact they have never had anything close to this in Sudan.

2) The American Dream is different for the Sudanese and the Americans. Both value family, education, and money. However, the views upon these 3 items are much different. For the Sudanese, the value of money is to have enough to live fair lives, and to send money over to help there people back in Sudan. In America people want money to keep it, and to run a rich life with nice cars, a huge house, and more. The American Dream involving money is mostly made around self-indulgence. The Sudanese view of family is also much different than that of Americans. In Sudan the people view almost everyone as family. They call many people uncle, and father. In America, only Immediate family (real mother, father, aunts, uncles, etc) are considered your real family. The Sudanese and American view on education is somewhat different. The Sudan people take education as a gift, whereas Americans take it for granted, and dismiss it as not so important.

3) When John’s mother sees him for the first time in along time and starts dancing, John responds with embarrassment. He adopts to the American style of living, and realizes that people don’t act in such a way in a public area. This shows how different the two cultures are. The Sudanese are more open and happy. John is stuck between his embarrassment and his amazement at finally being reunited with his mother.

-Mike Costa

Anonymous said...

In the film “God Grew Tired of Us” Jon is reunited with his mother after 17 years. His mother is so excited that she breaks out into the Dinka’s song and dance, a traditional expression of joy in her culture. Jon also is excited to finally see his mother but, living in America has changed his way of expressing emotions. Jon seemed embarrassed when his mother was on the floor crying and embarrassed when walking through the airport with her screaming and dancing. Here that is not a normal tradition to show joy, it is rather embarrassing to make a scene like that. This poignant moment is illustrates the paradoxical experience of the East African immigrants. Jon has walked hundreds of miles struggling for survival and was probably half naked the entire time and now he can just simply embarrassed by his mother screaming and dancing for joy. Just how Jon reacted to his mother shows how different our cultures are.

Lindsay White

Sara. said...

PLEASE NOTE: I was absent when the class first started watching ‘God Grew Tired of Us’ and I only got to see about 1/4 - 1/3 of the movie.

1.) I don’t think I can answer this; not enough information.

2.) I don’t think I can answer this; not enough information.

3.) John responded to his mothers very dramatic by what seemed to be happiness marked by great embarrassment. The look on his face when she broke out singing and dancing was that of someone that just wanted to run away. As she fell to the floor, however, he was doing everything in his power to calm her down and console her so she would not burst out again; although that did no good and she did anyways. I bet that if his mother had came to the U.S. around the time when John first arrived here, his reaction would have been similar to hers. U.S. customs taught him that things like the Dinka’s joy expression is usually frowned upon in society; even laughed at because it is so taboo. This moment illustrates paradox of East Africa immigrants because it shows that no matter how ‘in touch’ they may be with their home country, just a short while in another society and having to conform to its ideals can change someone greatly. I think that if John had gone back to his homeland and when every one was dancing and singing with joy while he just hugged everyone and smiled and talked; they’d think he was a madman. Things that are taboo here are the norm in other places and it’s the same way around for us because a few of our customs are seen as downright wrong.

Max Wiese said...

1. I think some aspects of our American lifestyle that we take for granted can be seen as a grand luxury to a Dinka. One of which I see as a casual outing to a restaurant. In Kakuma is hard to come by and sometimes not there for days on end. Whereas, in America you can walk into almost anyone’s house in America and find an abundance of food.

2. It has long been sought after by many immigrants to come here and realize the “American Dream.” Though, the American dream can come across in different varieties depending on the person’s beliefs and background. Even us, as Americans, have our own version of the American dream. Our dream may not be the same as those of the people of Dinka descent.
As an American, I believe that the American dream is to grow up well, go to college, get a well paying job, get married and have kids. Dinkas have similar dreams, but have a little more too it. They want to send money back to help the refugees more than anything. They all want freedom, education, a job, a Dinka wife, and to help bring peace to Sudan.

3. John is very Americanized in this scene, yet his mother is still the same. She celebrates and he almost seems embarrassed by her song. This makes this a paradox and almost sad. John was overjoyed to see his mother, yet almost sad to see her still so true to her heritage. Ironically, he is the one preaching to stay true to your culture at the Lost Boys meeting.

Anonymous said...

1. The aspect of the American culture differs from the Dinka culture because we have more than they do. Out in Africa they do not have microwaves, escalators, or grocery stores full of food and we take those and many other things for granted. The Dinka have practically nothing so they appreciate everything. The worlds that we Americans and the Dinka’s were born into are completely different from each other.

Lindsay White

Anonymous said...

1. When the dinka men came to America, they found the simplest things to the Americans more complicated. Here in America, we take a lot for granted. We have a whole closet full of clothes and always have food to eat if we are hungry. In Sudan, none of them are used to the way life is in America. We don’t even notice the difficulty in the way we live, until the Sudan arrived. Also, at the grocery store, there were so many different kinds of bread, and the dinka men got very confused. In America, we are all used to the different kinds of food, but the dinka men have never seen so much. Basic and simple ways of the American life is very complicated for the dinka men to get used to.

2. The “American Dream” and the “Sudanese- American Dream” both rely on money. They are similar, but the Sudanese American Dream is more difficult to overcome. Money, education, and family are the key goals in an ordinary Americans life. But, in Sudan the dream is to get enough money, and help out family.
In the film “God Dream Tired of Us”, the Sudanese were suffering of education and money. They wanted to come to America to get good job payments, and maybe someday have there whole families come to America. As the men get good payments, as though it seems to them since they have such small amounts of money in Sudan; they are enjoying the American Life. Though it is complicated to them, they want to gain enough money to send back to there family at home. The “Sudanese- American Dream” is to be with there family, have peace, love, and money. It will be complicated to them since they have to adjust to the way the Americans live. For example, in the film, the men thought that it was normal to show up at a neighbor’s house. Here in America, we are friendly, but we don’t show up to places uninvited. In Sudan, everyone there was like family.
The “American Dream” consists of getting a good education, having a loving family, and getting a good payment. American dream is also about maintaining freedom and peace. The main idea of the Americans is money. This compares to the Sudanese. Both want money to have a good way of living. Money also is different between the “Sudanese- American Dream” and the “American Dream”. The Sudanese only want enough money to support there families and have a home and food, but the American’s want to become rich. The amount of money is a different idea for the two. Also, freedom is another idea. The Sudanese want freedom and no war, and the Americans live of freedom and peace.

3. When John’s mother arrived to America to see John after seventeen years, John notices how Americans act. As she came in, dancing and singing, he didn’t know how to react. He knew how the Americans acted and he was adjusting well to them. Once he saw his mother, in an American airport, he was surprised on how she danced and sang loudly in front of all those people. In Sudan, it is normal for everyone to do such a thing, and many would join along, but here in American people aren’t used to that. He was very surprised on how excited his mother was and how happy she was to see him. He knew he has finally started to live the “Sudanese- American Dream” when he was in America being successful, and finally seeing his mother again after such a long time. While we were watching the movie, we were all wondering what she was doing, but it is a normal greeting to the mother.

-Val Hall Block F

Anonymous said...

1. In the United States we take a lot of things for granted. For example just going to the grocery store and buying food, the men thought it was crazy to have so much food in one place and to be able to just take whatever you want. Also the simple things like knowing what goes in the freezer, or how to cook things. The men didn't know what crackers were for and they acted as if it was cereal and added milk to it. These simple things that we do everyday seem crazy to these men.

2. The American and Sudanese dream are different but also similar in many ways. Americans just want to be sucessful and have a nice job that pays well. The Sudanese want this, but they want even simpilar things than that, like just to be happy. The Sudanese want freedom, and thats something the Americans already have and take for granted. Us Americans never really realize how easy we have it, until you watch movies like "God Grew Tired of Us."

3. When John saw his mother after not seeing her for 17 years, he was really excited but over whelmed. He didn't really know how to act when his mother started doing a Dinka dance, at first he was a little distant but lightened up and welcomed her. He was like this because no one in America acts like this, and since he's so use to our culture now he wasn't use to how it is back at his country.

- Emma Jackson.

Anonymous said...

1. We in the United States take many things for granted. First of all, Sudanese people , when coming to America, have to adjust to things that was don’t even think about. The showers and toilets were one of the first things that they had to adjust to. Over in Sudan, people just go to the bathroom in the woods, using leaves to clean themselves. Also they rarely showered, making the shower seem like rain falling from the ceiling. One of the men said that the biggest problem in moving to the U.S. would be only able to have one wife. These things and more just show you how many things we take for granted.

2. The “American Dream” and the “Sudanese Dream” are different in many ways. We as Americans dream of having a large house with a luscious lawn, two beautiful kids, and a wonderful wife/husband. As little kids, we are raised to dream about what kind of job we want to have and to strive for the perfect life. But the Sudanese dream is vastly different. When coming to America, they want to go to college and to make money to send back over to their village. They want to then get their family over to the United States and then start to rebuild their community back home. But all of these dreams aren’t possible without coming to America and working your hardest to achieve your dream. “If you can manage, it’s a land of opportunity!”

3. When seeing her son for the first time in over seventeen years, John Bul’s mother breaks out in song and dance. John responds to this by calming her mother down, only because he was embarrassed by his mothers actions. Now that he was in the U.S., he knew as much as to know that no one did this type of celebration in this country. This is strange only because he was accustom to this years before, but when he moved, he changed drastically.

Sarah Tenglin

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