victor sAad + the nitty gritty

I must admit I was stumped when trying to pair Victor Saad, founder of the Experience Institute, with a dance move and it’s held me up from posting about the guest speakers that followed. When it comes to the Experience Institute, I find myself conflicted. Here’s why…

One great piece of advice that Victor had was that we need to learn how to tell our story multiple ways depending on whom we are addressing and acknowledge that by changing the way the narrative is crafted, the meaning of our story may change as well. It was clear Victor is really good at telling a story. He’s enthusiastic, finds relatable moments and most of all, passionate about the Experience Institute. And why wouldn’t he be? After all, the Ei is based on his own experience. 

Fittingly for our class, Victor is also all about the hustle. Hustle, positivity, self-awareness and socially conscious people are what Ei is looking for in its students. These sound like people I want to be friends with both professionally and personally.

Looking around the room, our class seemed equally sold. 

My unease about the Experience Institute stems from two major pillars of Ei: lack of theory and being a for-profit academic organization. I carry the bias of accepting a lot of student debt and as I have to define who I am through my research when looking for jobs, I can’t help but think about how grateful I am for the program I’m in. Much like Victor, I want to create social change, but for me it’s using museums as the vehicle. My entire first year was based on understanding the theories and historical practices of museums and similar institutions. These fueled amazing, thought-provoking discussions on current and future practices. History and theory isn’t for everyone. I get it. But if Ei is promoting design, business and social change, it seems somewhat negligent to not provide historical context for the social change that needs to be created. I think this is also why I appreciated Bradley Price’s talk the following week. He acknowledged his dual degree in art history and industrial design has better informed his work. 

Secondly, the Experience Institute is a social enterprise, simply put by Victor as a for-profit, for-purpose model. I have a super basic understanding of social enterprises and I am mostly for them. It’s mixing social enterprise with education that makes it muddy for me. I know it comes down to me being naive to the nuances of funding the two types of education. At the moment, I don’t buy into $12,000 a year.

I do appreciate at most, that the Experience Institute is providing an alternative to traditional academia and I believe that Victor has the best of intentions. I also like the idea behind providing an individual scale of the project through the Leap Kit. With all these mixed emotions, I recently stumbled upon the Nitty Gritty. It’s a mostly forgotten song from the 1960s with no official music video that I could find and hence, no “official dance.” There is however, this gem of a clip from the Judy Garland show in 1964 where a few people performed to the song by Shirley Ellis. Unlike all other posts, this dance isn’t about Victor as a creative. Rather I think it captures the awkward clunkiness of how I feel about the Experience Institute. It’s fun, I’d go along with it, and there is a slight timidness and uncertainty in it all.