by Mac Galligan
Last Thursday at the Walker, I participated in the ping pong tournament and karaoke with Wing Young Huie as part of the Living Classroom. I must admit, I was pretty skeptical about the amount of fun I would have. As a student fresh out of the public education system, I’ve grown suspicious of any “fun” activities focused on things like “community building” or “exploration” because generally that means a lecture from someone I’ve never heard of that has been deemed an “expert” by someone else I’ve never heard of.
Fortunately, I was wrong. What actually happened was I met some pretty cool people. Some of them turned out to be prominent local artists like David Petersen and Peter Haakon Thompson, but that didn’t really matter here (ironically) because they were just David and Peter then and they just wanted to play some ping pong like everyone else. There were no “experts” in community present in that gallery full of music, laughter, and ping pong tables. There were only people, and maybe that’s better. The answers to Bamuthi’s question “What is it that sustains life in your community?” were all around that room; an audience’s support of a timid karaoke singer, the shared excitement of a favorite song about to be sung, the conversation spurred on by intense rallies at the ping pong tables, and the shared experience of a little competition when the game is all over.
I’m not sure if it is the amateur nature of ping pong, the collection of fun-loving participants, or the surprisingly talented karaoke singers that kept the atmosphere so warm after many spirited games of ping pong, but win or lose everyone seemed to have a really great time. I ended up staying and entering in one of the tournaments, where I was lucky enough to win a small photo from Wing’s collection and a wonderful memory to go with it. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one.