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Ethnography - A Christian Youth Group

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Ethnography: A Christian Youth Group ? Veronica Diaz-Reinhagen Ethnography Seminar Professor Janet Siskind April 23, 2002 Acknowledgements I would like to thank my informant, Amanda Q. for taking the time and energy to follow through on her commitment to each of our scheduled interviews for this project. She has made the experience of developing this work, a truly enjoyable one. I would also like to thank Professor Siskind for her guidance and advice on this ethnography. She has also help me discover a newfound excitement and interest in Cutural Anthropology. The Informant My informant for this project is Amanda Q. Amanda is a bright, articulate and "bubbly" seventeen year old senior at Albertus Magna High School, in New York. She is an honor-roll student who enjoys participating in all kinds of sports and also belongs to the Spanish Club. She recently received a scholarship from Hofstra University where she eagerly plans to pursue a career in journalism, beginning this fall...or maybe Drama...or maybe Film... But above all, like most teens, she is looking forward to "flying the nest", to live on campus in Long Island, and "explore her freedom" for the first time. Amanda also has a part-time job, working three times a week, at a Starbucks coffee shop, in Suffern, NY. The short hours of her shifts give her enough time to engage in some other kind of activities that she enjoys. During her leisure time, also akin to many teenagers, Amanda takes pleasure in dancing and listening to music. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are her "idols". She also enjoys shopping for "funky clothes and shoes", attending concerts and, particularly, "hanging out" with her many friends. "Hanging out"-spending time-- can involve any activities from window shopping at the mall, to talking, or just watching television in the basement. Every weekend she also makes time to regularly attend "youth group" (Christian Youth Organization or CYO). ...read more.


and most celebrated of all retreats! "Antioch" comes around once a year, on the first weekend of February and takes place at the church's "community room". It begins on a Friday evening, at six in the evening and ends on Sunday, at nine in the morning. Participation is open to all "candidates", from freshmen to seniors. This retreat by and large has a great turnout, recruiting on average over one hundred teens, as well as, thirty to fifty "young adults". Therefore, organization amongst those running this event is key to its success. "Young adults" are responsible for planning the schedule of activities for the retreat; however, as we will see, parishioners from the church volunteer their help in other areas, as well. "Young adults" organize themselves in five "committees" of three to five individuals. The details are worked out during their own weekly "young adult" meetings. Each committee is responsible for carrying out different tasks, throughout the duration of the retreat. They are the Welcoming committee, Nametag committee, the Prayer committee, the Music committee and the Reconciliation committee. One of the Welcoming committees' responsibilities is to decorate the "community room" for this affair. They hang banners and posters they design along the large walls and across the high vaulted ceilings of the room. Cheery bright banners and colorful balloons welcome the "candidates" to that year's Antioch retreat and also advertise the, long awaited, "theme" of the retreat. As in the "youth group" meetings, "talks" are central to the event. However, in this case, the "theme" is not revealed to them in advance. Trying to guess the "theme" always adds excitement to the anticipation of taking part in "Antioch". Another job of theirs is to stand by the "committee room" entrance to greet and "check in" each "candidate", as they arrive. They do this by checking off attendees' names from the headcount list and carrying their sleeping bags and carry-on luggage, out of the way, to the far end corner of the room. ...read more.


In the end, the "cleaning crew's" job is to make sure that the church is left in the same orderly fashion that it was originally found. Posters are taken down and the flower arrangements and podiums moved back to their previous locations. ? My thoughts During teenage years, peer groups and leisure time activities play an important role in the lives of teenagers. In most cases, they replace their families, and as specialists would find normal, these do become central during the transitional period of adolescence. Often, as I have learned from this "youth group, "peer cultural scenes" encompass different sets of norms, customs and values which can be good. They can become sources of positive support not only to the teens, but also provide a sense of ease to parents, during these difficult years. Hence, the traditional perception of adults, with regards to peer relationships and leisure activities, as being a source of much anxiety, is not necessarily accurate. This, somewhat limited paper, only describes the cultural scene of one organized group for teenagers. Many exist throughout the country: Girl Scouts of America, the Boys Club, Girls Club, etc. However, not a significant overall percentage of teens or parents take advantage of them. Personally, I believe that it would be a worthwhile endeavor for parents and professionals to explore further their place in our society and encourage mass participation. As we have seen, more often than not, these types of peer relationships and activities reinforce family values and also provide a sense of ease to the entire family. Although the negative influence of peers and activities continues to be greatly over-emphasized in our society, it is obvious that more needs to be done to help youths and their families during this time. By exploring these constructive environments further we can come to understand the benefits of some of the resources we already have in place and take advantage of them. Furthermore, we may be able to begin to understand how it truly takes a village to raise a child 7 2 ...read more.

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