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The Classroom - Opening the Doors

             By framing her discussion of "contacts zones" with the story of an ancient text representative of a verbal communication, Mary Louise Pratt implies that the most interesting communication is created through a mix of several voices. She describes the "contact zone" as a "social space where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power." (Pratt 584) Pratt suggests that this highly diverse "contact zone" creates a much more interesting and conducive environment rather than a standard, homogeneous group of people. This type of setting is created because those estranged from the dominant group skillfully use the tools of those in the majority in order to create conversation with them. However, when this happens, those among the minority group often restrict themselves or hide their true characteristics to assist them as they interact with the dominant group. .
             As I look back on previous experiences throughout my life, differences in cultural identities have placed me in the midst of various "contact zones," the most recent being in my high school right in the heart of upstate New York. I was subject to witness my African American companion, Darius, who was engulfed by the presence of an overwhelming white population, struggle and conform to the characteristics of that community. Pratt describes this as "transculturation," the phenomenon in which a dominated culture or someone from a dominated culture adopts some characteristics of the prevailing culture as their own. Darius eventually marginalized a point of entry into the dominant circuits of the existing culture by "transculturizing," much like Guaman Poma's New Chronicle in Pratt's essay, the "Arts of the Contact Zone." .
             After evaluating Darius" situation of being one of only three minorities present within the classroom, I recall how each of them "transculturized" into the dominant group, often altering their normal speech and attitude while in the classroom.

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