Substitute teacher pushes multicultural tolerance
During Thursday's third-block class, Blazers were invited to the auditorium for a one-man play called Globalize Me , written and directed by actor Dave Moktoi, who is currently a substitute teacher at Blair and a professor at Montgomery College.
The plot follows an African chief on an historic journey to America, "the paradise on earth,” and the unfamiliar customs and regulations he puzzles over during his travels and stay. The Chief plays witness to both the drawbacks and benefits of cultural diffusion and discusses the tools, such as cell phones and television, that make cultural diffusion itself possible.
The piece, which ran approximately one hour long, was based on Moktoi's initial views of America, which he cited as among the largest nations to welcome cultural integration into their societies.
Moktoi, being one for humor, used to imitate teachers as a student to the delight of his former classmates. Now, as an improviser and comedian, he incorporates humorous anecdotes from his native Cameroonian culture as well as American culture into his pieces.
Although the play focused greatly on the singular Chief and didn't fully define globalization or actively explain the Chief's views, Moktoi's message was clarified during a question and answer session following the performance, during which he fielded students' questions about his life, overall message, opinions on globalization and even one about his income.
"Where are you from?” asked one student. "That doesn't matter to me,” replied Moktoi. "I did nothing to be born where I was born.” He went on to discuss the principle of a global village, pausing to explain that every part of the world, every little village, belongs to everyone else, to people of every other village. Merchandise, he continued, is subject to globalization; why shouldn't people be? People bring their cultures to a vast global crossroads, at which a "cultural give-and-take” occurs. Only when manmade barriers drawn along lines including race and religion are eradicated, he said, can the positive impact of globalization be realized. Moktoi went on to talk about the need for global unity. "Problems with adaptation,” Moktoi said in French, make it hard for some to transcend cultures through expression.
He began writing the play while living in Africa but did not revise it until after a year of residency in the United States gave him a better understanding of American culture.
In the audience, two girls whose first language was French asked an American friend seated beside them to pose Moktoi a question on their behalf, as neither believed she spoke English well. Additionally, although Moktoi spoke in both English and French throughout the show, translating lines back and forth, only one student posed a question in French, although at least two others who got up to ask questions were fluent French speakers.
Cultural diffusion, a sort of social globalization, has clear social benefits but also has a long way to go, said Moktoi-and he would know. Moktoi has traveled to several countries in Europe and Africa and has previously visited the United States three times, returning, as he told one student, "because Hollywood is in America.” The piece Moktoi performed was an excerpt from a play he hopes eventually to turn into a film.
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