Well, it would be a lie not to say that this week's event was a little disheartening. For this past event we decided to do our own type of event solely through IEP on more of a community level. We planned a trip to go down to the Haymarket to the pajama party Friday's at Paint Yourself Silly. From me and Ariel's perspective we thought this would be so fun! We overly advertised, told everyone about it, and really tried to get people excited about going to the event. With a Facebook post every day, reminder emails, and face to face reminders we hoped to at least have a decent turn out to come paint with us. Well.. That was not the case. We ended up waiting in front of the Union alone in our pajama pants.
What I realized after trying to put on this event and reflecting on why nobody showed up that this 'pajama painting party' is so completely American. What other country (with the known exception of China, but many Chinese students are not a part of IEP because of their knowledge of English) is it actually acceptable to run around in what you sleep in? I realized that when I did try to get some of the IEP students to come to the event and understand the idea I got a lot of weird looks and had to clarify that yes, this is something that is completely acceptable here. The main assumption I can make for our lack of attendance is that a majority of students that have been attending our events have been Saudi Arabian men. In relation to social norms of their culture in comparison to the ones here this is not something that would be acceptable to be around, especially with two women. Not only because of the dress code, but also because of the huge presence of sex segregation in Saudi Arabia as well. (http://wikitravel.org/en/Saudi_Arabia) All over the world women are seen as inferior or there are strict laws used to keep women and men in separate groups.
Now I am not saying that this is for sure the reasoning that the IEP students use when deciding to come to our events or not but it could definitely play a role based on their own cultural normality. It is definitely something to take into account. On the other hand, though, Friday night was quite cold and maybe wearing pajamas and walking down to the Haymarket just wasn't that appealing. Even though this was the first disheartening experience, Ariel and I are confident in getting attendance in the future. By being a little more conscious of opinions, weather, and time maybe we will be able to get higher IEP attendance. We plan on visiting the classrooms this week as well to let them know of our upcoming event and also emailing the teachers to let them announce the events as well and push attendance. Though this week's event wasn't what we expected, it was a learning experience and something to grow from.