Friday, December 4, 2015

A Look Back on Fall 2015 on Alumni Quad

This semester was a trying time for everyone. We watched as terrorists executed mass murders, schools participating in racist behavior, and the many occurrences of police brutality. The programs I've pushed for this semester, Mirror Mirror, The "F" Word, and Sushi Night, attempted to address the issues that plague our society in an interactive way.

My first program with CPE Faerie was Mirror Mirror which specifically focused on the issue of body image in America. It was a moving program with a great turn out. The students that attended readily spoke up about how irritating it is to look a certain way or be a certain way to receive the attention they want. We discussed topics ranging from plastic surgery to makeup to music to clothing options that accentuated specific body parts. This dialogue was not merely a conversation for women, many of the male students identified with the beauty standards that this society pushes on them and how these pressures have effected them as well. The interactive activity was having a few volunteers write on a mirror all the positive and negative things they see in themselves. Afterwards, the remaining audience openly spoke up about all the beauties they saw in the volunteers from personal experiences and first time impressions. It was heart warming to see the community of Alumni come together to ignore the standards of society.

In The "F" Word program, I took it upon myself to address the bullying towards the LGBT community that was still occurring. After witnessing an incident where some words ended up hurting a member of the LGBT community, a program like this was necessary. Again, turnout was amazing and all of the students were very engaging. First, I took a moment to debunk some of the remaining myths of the LGBT community. Then, we did the four corners exercise to get a chance to understand one another and openly express our feelings on many issues. Shocking things were shared and stories were appreciated, all over hot cups of coffee.

Sushi Night was my favorite program because it was our second annual program. It was more successful than before and a great way to continue building the community down on Alumni. Another RA and I explained the cultural significance of sushi to Asian countries and then taught the students how to make it themselves. We provided rice, crab, avocados, shrimp, cucumbers, and nori to make them. We explained the process and watched as some students made their first sushi rolls ever. RDs and the QC of Alumni even made some rolls. It was a great bonding experience with a couple 30 people.

Honestly, this semester was intense for me and that significantly inspired the programming I pushed wanted to do. I have experiences trauma and loss while dealing with the pursuit to a higher education. It was tough, but I know that just as I am going through somethings, others are experiencing things too. I have personally dealt with body image issues and it has affected the way I feel about myself and acted around others. It took a long time for me to become happy with the person I am. I think that can really relate to The "F" Word program and obviously Mirror Mirror. It can be annoying when someone else who barely knows you tried to state who you are. But, getting upset about these comments and critiques only continue the cycle. Gaining confidence, being consoled by friends, and believing in yourself makes it easier to push past all of it and pursue my own goals. And, I want the same for others who have felt this way or still do feel this way.

Carmel Joseph- Alumni Quad CHARGE Peer Educator