Mini-Course Applications Now Open!

Check out our Spring 2022 mini-courses here! We are also happy to share an article written by Douglas Labadin (MA student, Chulalongkorn University), about his participation in our Fall 2021 mini-course, The Performing Arts and in Southeast Asian History and Society.

And I thought to myself:

“Do I REALLY want to wake up at 7 in the morning every Tuesday to attend this online course offered by GETSEA?”

When I found out about this amazing opportunity from the consortium for Graduate Education and Training in Southeast Asian Studies (GETSEA), I was excited to apply immediately. As a student who used to study dance and the performing arts, I was eager to dive into these topics again. However, since I was physically in Bangkok, Thailand, the time difference would mean that I would have to wake up quite early in the morning to attend the classes that were being offered. On top of all that, I also had to attend my normal classes with my home institution (Chulalongkorn University) right after that – that would mean five hours of continuous learning, a daunting prospect. It was worth it.

The first class started out with a bang, as we were welcomed by three experienced instructors in their respective fields – Supeena Insee Adler, Helen Rees, and Maureen Russell. As a graduate student in the Southeast Asian program of Chulalongkorn University, this course was helpful in that it helped me to understand the history of the various forms of performing arts in Southeast Asia, and how that history affects the current society as well. This course has also provided me with new perspectives when it comes to observing a certain situation related to the performing arts, and I am now more equipped to assess a certain issue using multiple aspects, which in return helps me with my critical thinking.

During the classes, the instructors provided a multitude of external resources such as videos, films, songs, and many more. Personally, I feel that this mode of teaching not only kept the classes interesting on a weekly basis, but also helped the students to visualize the lessons better, allowing for a higher level of understanding of the material. The readings that were required for each class were also selected beautifully, as most of the articles that we were asked to read were very interesting and helpful to the current theme of the class. We were introduced to many different authors that specialize in the field of the performing arts of Southeast Asia, and this opened the door to a whole collection of literary resources for myself and my classmates.

Apart from that, we were also given the opportunity to utilize several open access websites that offer different forms of audio recordings and field study findings, which proved to be very helpful in my own research. Websites such as California Revealed and Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings were filled with so many resources that can be used by students for their own research topics, and I am grateful that through this course, I was able to learn how to use these websites properly to obtain the best results. It was confusing in the beginning, especially when I was unsure about what keywords to use when looking for specific recordings or findings, but after a special lecture that was given during the course, I find it easier now to access these websites to look for what I need. It just takes a little practice, and patience!

Another aspect that I admired about this course is that the students were allowed to engage in discourse almost every week, and the instructors would always make us feel comfortable about sharing our feedback and concerns during the class. The instructors provided space for students to share about their thoughts on the required readings, and we were also asked to post at least one question about every article in the allocated website. This helps me to understand the perspective that each student might have about each article, and thus providing me with more tools to understand the article better and the current theme of the class.

In addition to that, my classmates were also very happy and willing to share about their own knowledge about the topic in each class, and which helped us create a more comprehensive discussion about the current theme. Although the classes would definitely have been more engaging if it was conducted in-person, the good thing about having it executed virtually is that anyone from all around the world is able to join the class, without having to incur extra costs that come with physically migrating to another country to attend classes there. I am truly grateful to have been in the same class with a group of knowledgeable and respectable individuals, who have also taught me so many new things during the course. I am eager to see what connections and collaborations can be made in the future.

Overall, I find that the online course that was offered by GETSEA to be quite rewarding, as I was able to learn more about the various forms of performing arts in Southeast Asia such as shadow puppets, traditional musical ensembles, different renditions of pop songs, masked performances and so on. Although sometimes I dreaded waking up so early in the morning to attend these classes, all those frustrations disappeared once the class started, and I was able to interact with the instructors and my classmates. I will miss seeing those happy faces every Tuesday morning! I hope that these online mini-courses will be offered again in the future as it is an effective way for students to forge global connections and create meaningful networking.

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