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Descriptive Auto-Ethnography: Now and Then

4 pages
876 words
Harvey Mudd College
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Last semester, I met a lady who wore a perfume similar to that of my favorite aunt. We met in the elevator in the library. Within those few seconds that the elevator takes ascending from the ground floor to the upper floors, I had grown fond of her. She was easy to talk to, and so even though we were total strangers to each other, we decided to go to the same floor and study. Coincidentally, we were at the library to study different units but offered by the same department. Strange how some coincidences work out so perfect. We stayed in the library for close to four hours each engrossed in our books, after which we both left. Given that I was a resident student and that she was a non-resident, she had to leave. However, I managed to convince her to have lunch with me at the University Cafeteria. It is during the lunch that we even became so fond of each other sharing even the most personal stories with each other. Amidst the chit chats, we exchanged contacts and after finishing up our food, I saw her off to the campus gate where she could catch a bus.

This was not the first time I had such an experience last semester. I often got attracted to ladies with certain features that resembled some exhibited by my favorite aunt. I could start conversations with complete strangers as long as they had something that hooked me up. Bright colored clothes like lilac or scarlet played a major role in getting me hooked to ladies, not necessarily to form an intimate relationship with them, but just be friends. I just got an assurance that they were good people and that I could trust them. Whether some meaningful relationship developed between me and them or not, I at least always start conversations with them. It then dawned on me that familiar stimuli produced a more natural, reaction.

One day, when I was fifteen, my parents left me with my aunts as they traveled to attend a graduation of dad's friend who was getting his Masters of Science in Endocrinology. I was strangely okay without them, so staying with my aunt was all fun. My aunt even in my childhood was like my mother. She was a representation of my mother simply because she used the same perfume my mother used. I felt safe with her just as I would when with the mother. Later that day, news reached us that the car they had been traveling on had collided with a tanker head on and they had died on the sport. It was truly sad news but my aunt provided me with a shoulder to lean on. She did what she had always done best- assuring me that everything was going to be alright. After the burial, I moved in with her permanently. She took care of me and nowadays during summer, I always go to her place for she has always been the only family I had. Therefore, anything that triggers my memories of her makes me feel safe. Even during my rough days, I could always hear her voice telling me that all would be alright.

The connection between colors and perfumes used by the aunt and the assurance of safety and indication of love and care challenged me a lot. I always gave the phenomena a careful thought even when taking a walk. I always asked myself questions such as; what if we created spa, or lounges that could be customized to the requirements of the restaurant guests? What if, event organizers could use exact colors that remind the bride and bridegrooms of a time in the past defined by true love? What If perfume consumers were given a choice to determine how their perfumes got scented instead of just buying something fashionable or that which has high market ratings? What if doctors could use colors or perfumes to trigger memories of patients who have lost it?

That experience challenged me so much that I decided to major in Industrial Design. I want to lead in the production of products that can be used as stimuli that can make the world a better place. For instance, if a wife is clearly having a bad day, the husband can play her favorite song subliminally amidst their conversations or spray the house with her favorite air freshener moderately. Im also aiming at coming up with an education model which establishes a connection between learning and the stimuli learners come across on daily basis. This could help improve the memories of learners. I then realized that this whole discovery had a name by which psychologists referred to it, that is a stimulus-response theory. So, my career path is now clear in that I will use my major to emphasize the effectiveness of stimulus-response theory in day-to-day life activities. Ivan Pavlov had actually discovered that human learned through conditioning whereby a familiar stimulus could trigger a predetermined response, in this case, a reaction. My goal is to improve on this theory by increasing the level of customization in Industrial Design, so as to enhance learning just as I have learned how to cope by relating to familiar impulses.

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