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by Jenna Weissman Joselit on September 4th, 2016

After weeks of unstructured activity, it’s back to school for me, with its steady round of responsibilities and its seemingly endless array of to-do lists. But first: there’s Mosaic, a whirlwind, two day orientation designed to welcome to town the new cohort of students in GW’s Program in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts as well as those in its sister initiative, the MA in Jewish Cultural Arts.

Mosaic introduces the students to the wealth of institutional and cultural resources they’ll be drawing upon in the course of their training. This year, we attended a rehearsal of a play at Theater J and looked on as its set was assembled, bit by bit. We ventured into the vault where Folkways stores its historic recordings; spent time in the company of the director of GW’s Textile Museum as he escorted us around the building; walked about downtown D.C. in search of its Jewish roots under the direction of a recent graduate of the Program, who proudly — and most ably — strutted his stuff; and engaged in honest and searching conversation about the pull and push of community with two of Sixth & I’s leading lights.

The more I think about it, the more I’ve come to the realization that Mosaic is not only good for the students; it’s good for my colleagues and me, too. After a summer away, it gently eases us back into the rhythms of teaching. Thanks to Mosaic, we have an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with our students, and they with us, in an easy and relaxed setting, before settling into the more taxing business at hand. Mosaic is experiential education at its very best.

At some point in the proceedings, I told the students that if they found that their feet hurt and their head ached, Mosaic had done right by them. And so it has. If their reflection pieces are any indication, the students got a lot out of these two days, learning the ropes and the lingo while forming new friendships.

As for me, my feet throb and my head is swimming. More to the point, I can’t wait to get back into the classroom.

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