Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pieces of Programming: Otaku Training Day

Teens are interesting creatures.  They have absolutely no interest in you until you're not paying them any attention.   
I've learned to use this to my advantage. 

If I visit the teen room and just start doing something, that's the easiest way to get them to wander over and investigate.  I try to remain as aloof as possible, or at least appear as though what I'm working on is truly no big deal and right when they start asking questions, BAM!, I've got them. 

Occasionally, they get me too. 

I am not an Anime or Manga enthusiast.   
By any means. 
In fact, whenever I see it plastered into teen services guides, I usually flip right past it. My teens here are very big on Anime and Manga, but our relationship has pretty much been that I won't bother them about it, if they don't bother me about it.  We live and let live in that way. LOL 
However, my teens don't care that I don't like anime.   
What they saw in my indifference, I've found, was an opportunity to teach.   
So I decided to exploit it.  

On a random day of being lovingly bugged about watching or reading an episode of whatever their latest fandom is, I finally offer them an olive branch; 
"What if I give you all a whole day to just completely engross me in all things Anime/Manga?"   
Eyes got wide.  Activity began to buzz.  There were monsters being created. 

As the weeks rolled on, I began to gently drop little pieces of responsibility on them: 
"You need to come up with a schedule, you know."  I'd say. 

As they began to see how serious I was about it, they would also have tasks for me: 
"We would like a projector and a laptop for the day." They would tell me.  They'd bring me choices to circle, so that they could meet together and decide on their plan. 

These little repartee's continued, and I have to say that their excitement did two things for me: 
  1. It made ME a little excited about it also. 
  2. It reminded me that it really didn't matter what the program was going to be about.  The most important thing was that these teens had an adult willing to sit and listen to them about something that was important and valuable to them, for an extended time period.  It was the driving force behind most of their excitement, and the ownership of it, made them not want to take it for granted.    
On the day of training.  I made sure that all of my work was out of the way.  The teens were in charge of schedule, setup, and even snacks.  At exactly 1:30pm, they were standing in my office giving me the "It's time", face. 

They served popcorn, arranged seating in our activity room to accommodate everyone, and setup the projector and laptop.  A couple of them greeted me by calling me an "Otaku Cadet".  By the time I came into the room, they had tabs open for each anime title they wanted me to view.   

Here's what they shared with me: 
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood  Fairy Tail Reborn Akame Ga Kiru Squid Girl  Medaka Box and Sword Art Online  
Some I liked: FullmetalAkame Ga Kiru 
Some I was kind of put-off by: Squid Girl, Medaka Box 

Three anime titles in, I asked, "I thought you all were going to show me Attack On Titan"?" A room of disgusted faces turned it me and said: "Nooooooooo, Miss Regina. Too mainstream." Then one put a hand on my shoulder and whispered, "Too mainstream..." 

So how did it go? 
I think it went exceptionally well.  There were over 16 participants(with males and females!), including two off-duty staff members who stopped in.  I was so proud of how they handled this event and a couple of hours in, I even ordered a couple of pizzas and sodas as a thank-you.  Throughout the day, they repeatedly asked me my thoughts on what they were exposing me too.  I tried to be honest, but was also careful to be mindful of their feelings, and particular shows they felt strongly about. 

At the close of the event, to show that I was fully respectful of the time they'd taken, I also took a moment to put in orders for any titles they'd shown me, that we didn't have full seasons of in the library.  I also offered them the opportunity to reinstate the long dormant Anime club.  They are going to get back to me about that. 

A full program executed by teens, reverse teen-advisory, and a crash course in Japanese.  Time well spent, I'd say.


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