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Experience Design transports students to the Crusades

Posted on 04.24.2013

The University of Indianapolis Experience Design program held the Crusader’s World event on April 10 in UIndy Hall. Designed to present visitors with a hands-on approach to learning, Crusader’s World showed what life was like in Europe and the Middle East during medieval times.

One of the stations was run by sophomore business administration major Rabab Bo Khamseen. On display were silk pillows, a jug for drinking, and several other items that were traded along the Silk Road, the first major trade route between Europe and Asia.

“Jewelry, spices, and silk were the things that were traded the most along the Silk Road,” Bo Khamseen said.

Freshman undecided major Jay Al Nasib showed visitors the most prominent language that the Crusaders would have come across—Arabic. After explaining the different letters, Al Nasib wrote each of the visitors’ names in Arabic on a name tag, which most wore for the rest of the evening.

Senior international relations major Katie Smedema showed participants different bookbinding techniques from the past, and she allowed visitors to her booth the opportunity to try to make their own books.

“Treated animal skin was gathered. Nails were then used to make holes to bind it all together. The cover was usually made of wood with leather coverings over that,” Smedema said.

Sophomore experience design major Austin Baker was in charge of researching and presenting Crusades era entertainment.

“I had to research what they did for fun, especially in winter, to pass the time,” Baker said.

The night concluded with a storytelling session. Set around a light designed to look like a campfire in the darkened UIndy Hall C, four students shared stories that would have been commonly heard during that time.

Director of Experience Design and Associate Professor of History Samantha Meigs said that the goal of the experience design program is to combine teaching with experiential methods. With a personal background in both history and theatre, Meigs said that she found herself drawn to experience design, which UIndy uniquely offers as a major.

“We’re certainly the only one in the Midwest [that offers XD]. We modeled the course heavily on a British program and a Dutch program,” Meigs said.

Senior experience design and archaeology major Ingeborg Slegers said that she was in charge of making Crusader’s World seem real.

“I was in charge of designing the environment. That meant I needed to make sure everything was accurate but also aesthetically pleasing. We started planning Crusader’s World during Spring Term of last year. It took us that long to work out all the kinks. We also planned for the event to teach people more about experience design,” Slegers said.

Sophomore experience design major Kristen Williams said that her minors in communication and marketing served her well when promoting the event.

“I was able to bring in new ideas for different ways to do things. For my marketing, it taught me ways to promote things and be more interactive,” Williams said. “Last year, we had a 1920s theme and a flash mob. In the future, I want to do PR for Disney, so this is a good way to find my creative outlet.”


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