Relg 120 F15: Site Visit Instructions

ASSIGNMENT: Encountering the worship, activities, and leaders of "unfamiliar" religious traditions can be rewarding ways to experience at first hand what one has studied in the course. Two reports on such activities will be required. From one report to the next, contrasting traditions will be explored. These reports should be typed, double-spaced in 10-12 point legible font. They are due at the beginning of class on the dates listed in the schedule. 

LATE ASSIGNMENTS:  Any paper turned in more than 15 minutes after the start of class on the day for which it was assigned will be considered late. Late papers turned in before the end of the class for which they are assigned will be docked one letter rank (an A becomes an A-, a B+ becomes a B, a B- becomes a C+, etc.). After that, papers will be docked one letter grade for each day they are late (an A paper that is two days late would be given a C; a B+ paper that is three days late would be given an F).

PURPOSE: The main purpose of these assignments is for the student to engage in informative activities (during the current semester) which bring the student into direct contact with some of the religious traditions studied in this course. 

The primary requirement for an acceptable activity is 
that it bring the student into a direct encounter with one of the world's major religious traditions. The student should seek out those traditions with which he/she is the least familiar. 
Acceptable activities will consist of a personal
(= physical, bodily) visit to an appropriate religious institutional site in San Diego County, during which visit the student will accomplish one or more of the following: observation of a worship gathering; an interview of an appropriate (and official!) religious leader; attendance at an appropriately relevant lecture; participation in a guided tour; etc. Students will select the sites for their visits from a list that will be provided by the instructor. Only those sites that are explicitly included on the instructor’s list may be visited for the respective activity reports of this course. 
All activities must have taken place during the current semester. Reports on inappropriate or unacceptable activities—or on sites that the instructor has not expressly listed for the respective report—may be refused by the instructor. The general options are listed below, but the instructor will discuss elsewhere some important parameters and restrictions. Do not attend an activity within your own faith tradition. I.e. if you are Christian, do not attend a Christian service; if you are Muslim, do not attend a Muslim service, etc. This defeats the point of the assignment, and you will receive an F on it.

FOR REPORT 1, students will visit (as listed by the instructor) a site from one of the following traditions:
  1. Hinduism 
  2. Buddhism
FOR REPORT 2, students will visit (as listed by the instructor) a site from one of the following traditions: 
  1. Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or 
  2. Christianity (Eastern Orthodox, Roman 
Catholic, or Protestant) 
  3. Islam (Sunni or Shi’ite)
THE REPORTS: The reports will consist of some basic information and a few short essays discussing the experience. The report should be typed, double-spaced in a 10-12 point legible font. They are due in class on the date listed in the syllabus. Each report must contain the following elements:

Cover Page: This is a sheet that lists the basic information about the subject of your report. This page should contain, exactly as enumerated, all of the following information:
  1. Religious Site. The name of the site you visited. This must come from the list found elsewhere on this website. 
  2. Tradition Visited. Identify the tradition and the sub-tradition (sect, denomination, etc.) represented by the religious site you visited.
  3. Date and Time of Visit: List the date(s) as well as the starting and ending times of your visit.
  4. Person(s) Interviewed: If you interviewed someone for the report, you must list his or her (a) Full name, (b) Official title at the religious site, and (c) contact information in case I want to contact that person.
Essays: The bulk of the report will consist of a series of short essays. Each essay should be written separately, but there is no need to put each essay on a separate sheet of paper. The essays vary in length, so read the directions for each essay carefully.
Essay 1: Briefly explain why you chose this tradition and religious site for your visit. This essay must be a minimum of 50 words.
Essay 2: Using terminology that is correct and appropriate for the tradition you visited, describe in a concise manner the sequence of events that took place from the beginning of your visit through then end. Your description should also acknowledge the relevant sub-tradition (denomination, sect, etc.) through which the institution relates to its primary tradition. This essay must be a minimum of 250 words.
Essay 3: In your own words, identify and discuss the insights that you gained about this tradition through your visit to that site. Be sure to pinpoint specific experiences, events, and new information that prompted these insights. This essay must be a minimum of 250 words.
Essay 4: In your own words, identify and discuss some specific interconnections between the events/experiences of your visit and the concepts we have been studying in class and in the text. You will need to cite specific pages when referring to the reading. This essay must be a minimum of 250 words.
Essay 5: Express any conclusions you have derived from this activity, and include your personal evaluation of this experience. This essay must be a minimum of 50 words.

GRADING: Each report will be out of 100 points, assigned as follows:
  • Essays 1 and 5 will be worth 5 points each.
  • Essays 2,3, and 4 will be worth 25 points each.
  • 15 points will be assessed for the technical correctness of writing. This includes grammar, spelling, punctuation, intelligibility, style, bibliographic citations as appropriate, etc.
GRAMMAR, SPELLING, etc. Although the content of your report will furnish the primary basis for evaluation, other grading criteria will include: correctness of grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization; appropriate language; adherence to these guidelines; etc. Reports with excessive shortcomings in these areas may be refused, or given a grade of "D" or "F", at the discretion of the instructor.

QUOTATIONS and OTHER REFERENCES. These activity reports are intended to be “field- research” reports rather than “library-research” reports. With that in mind, references to published resources should be used sparingly and only to support and clarify the discussion of what you saw, heard, and experienced during your site visits. Nonetheless, when you do quote or summarize any material from the texts, brochures or any other relevant source, you will need to cite the source (author, title, publisher, date of publication, website, etc.) and the page numbers of the specific passages cited, either in an endnote or in parentheses. By doing this, you will fulfill an important requirement of academic honesty, and you will avoid plagiarism (which is a serious offense). 

Some General Recommendations from Students: Below are comments from other students about their experiences with this assignment.
  • I suggest that future World Religions students bring a camera. Although photos are not necessary for the activity report itself, they are however extremely helpful when trying to recall specific details of shrines or statues. I was very cautious when opting to take a photo and always asked permission from a temple official before doing so. 
  • I would advise anyone planning to visit there to bring a list of questions that you might have ahead of time and have an idea of what information you are seeking out before you go, especially regarding any particulars about their sub‐tradition. They are extremely informative and helpful, but you are the one who needs to ask the questions. I guess I expected them to just already know what to tell me about their temple—which they did—but it would be wise to ask more and probe deeper, since it is your report and only you know what information you need to collect. 
  • Don't' be afraid to speak up and ask questions because you will only regret not asking and the staff is more then happy to answer any and all questions. 
  • One thing I missed out on during my site visit was speaking directly with a member of the congregation. I did ask a few questions to the speaker in my pre‐service informational course. For my next visit, I will make it a point to do this as I think it would make my activity report stronger. 
  • I recommend definitely doing your research before hand. You need to know what dates or days the temple/s meet, always call in advance. Make sure you have somewhat of an understanding of the religion, do not go in blind otherwise you will be lost from the start. If you have questions don't be hesitant to ask, just make sure you do so at the appropriate time. 
  • I would recommend finding a person that is expecting you, so that they can guide you while you are there and answer any questions you might have or come up with. 
  • Prepare a list of questions before visiting: I think this is important to do before you go because it gives you more time to really think about what you want to know and be able to keep the conversation alive. This was a con in my visit because I did not have many questions prepared to ask the monk whom I interviewed. I think that if I had sat down and thoughtfully written out questions to ask, my experience would have been better.