Reflections on a Busy Week

This past week for me has been full of supporting young girls in their paths and has been a great reminder of all of the things that led up to me choosing Bryn Mawr.

Last Wednesday, Sadie Nash, an after-school program that aims to promote leadership and activism among young women, brought their high school juniors on a tour of Bryn Mawr. I was able to be one of the Bryn Mawr students to meet these young girls and give them insight into what Bryn Mawr is like. It was so nostalgic watching their eyes light up when they first saw the cloisters and hearing them enthusiastically ask questions about college. It reminded me of when I was in their position, exactly four years ago, looking at colleges and falling in love with Bryn Mawr. I, too, attended a girls-centered after-school program, called Girls Inc., that was like a second home to me and taught me about feminism, social justice issues, and who I wanted to be in the world. After school programs like Sadie Nash and Girls Inc. have a huge impact on the lives of young girls and help support them in shooting for the stars. Girls Inc. was the one to nominate me for the Posse Scholarship, which is what helped bring me to Bryn Mawr.

My sister’s bio in the Girls Inc. luncheon booklet

The day after I led this tour, I flew back to my home in Lynn, MA to attend the Girls Inc. National Luncheon. My sister was invited to be the alumnae speaker at this event and I was so excited to see the women who helped me get to where I am today. The luncheon was such an emotional experience, as I got to see the girls who were freshmen in high school when I was graduating. They were now the ones graduating and picking colleges. They were going to Wellesley, and Brown, and Pomona, and Bowdoin and so many wonderful institutions. I was so proud to see how much they’d grown and succeeded. But it was no surprise to me, as organizations like Girls Inc. always help young girls reach their full potential.

That following Saturday, I attended the Love Your Magic Conference in Boston. It was a conference designed to help elementary school girls learn self-love and sisterhood. I was ecstatic to see so many little girls talking about why they’re worthy of love and how they support one another. I kept picturing where they would be ten years from today, graduating high school and selecting colleges.

the girls were asked “what does sisterhood mean to you?”

There are so many things that impact a person’s willingness and ability to go to college. Sadie Nash, Girls Inc., and the Love Your Magic Conference attempt to inspire girls and to support them in their academic journeys, so that they might one day be at a place like Bryn Mawr. I am constantly grateful to Girls Inc. and all of the people and programs in my life that have helped me get here. And now I am grateful to Bryn Mawr and all of the professors, students, and mentors I’ve met here that are helping me make plans for post-grad.

Bryn Mawr also makes sure to do this kind of work through partnerships with many organizations in and around Philadelphia. Programs like ACLAMO, Adelante, Ardmore Community Tutoring & Parkway West High Tutoring, and Art With Kids are opportunities for Bryn Mawr students to get involved with young people and to support them in their journeys.

This week has been one full of so much love and reflection. It’s been incredible to look back at my past as I gear up towards senior year and make plans towards my future.

 

Community Day of Learning

Once a year, Bryn Mawr cancels all of its classes and activities for the day in order to open space for students, faculty, and staff to have important conversations on campus. This day was designed in acknowledgment of the fact that for many students who want to have these conversations, going out of their way to create space for them gets in the way of everyday responsibilities. Thus, canceling those responsibilities for a full day allows space for these conversations to take place without the added stress of how to do so logistically.

This is my third community day of learning and this year’s overarching theme is “Being Bryn Mawr: Past, Present, and Future.” This theme seeks to delve deep into Bryn Mawr’s complicated history, it’s modern day concerns, and visions for the future. It hopes to generate conversation and shape who Bryn Mawr will be moving forward.

So many sessions caught my attention this year, but sadly, I could only pick one per time block. The sessions I did attend were incredibly thought-provoking and vital so I wanted to share them with you!

Session 1/ The Past: “Reflecting on Bryn Mawr’s Relationship with Mental Health and Disability on Campus” 

In this session, we talked about how Bryn Mawr has historically dealt with physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and mental health disorders. It’s no secret that higher institutions all over the country have a bad track record with people with disabilities.

In 1976 Bryn Mawr’s admissions statement declared that they do not discriminate against the “handicap.” But, as we know, not discriminating is never enough. Simply not turning someone away because of their identity is never enough. What are the ways in which you are actively contemplating the structure of your institution and redesigning it in order to level the playing field? I think Bryn Mawr students have always sought to do this work.

In the year 2000, access services were established. In 2014, the accessibility leadership committee was founded. Realizing there was a lack of student voice in that committee, the Student Advisory Committee was founded the following year. Then in 2016, a new position as an access student coordinator on campus was created. Clubs like the Body Image Council, Active Minds, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and EnAble were founded to help students with physical and intellectual disabilities, students with mental health issues, and allies have a space of their own.

But there’s still a long way to go. In talking about physical disabilities on campus, we need to point out that many buildings on campus are still not physically accessible. Erdman, the dorm that I live in, is only accessible on the second floor. Certain buildings like Taylor and Merion aren’t accessible period. And spaces like the Pensby Center and the ECC are also pretty inaccessible. Those last two are especially important because they are spaces built on the idea of inclusion, and yet are not readily available to people with physical disabilities. In terms of learning disabilities, colleges everywhere need to hone in on holding professors accountable for accessibility and accommodations. The same goes for mental health concerns. During the session, we brainstormed for solutions and said that it would be great if professors could have mandatory training on how to best serve students with disabilities and mental health concerns. Things as easy as providing content warnings in classes and reconsidering the importance of participation grades were things we talked about. We also suggested that more funding needs to be allocated to this matter, especially in hiring more counselors and more counselors of color specifically.

Session 2/ The Present: “Discussions on Immigration in Higher Education”

The Facebook Profile photo of Bryn Mawr’s Migrant Rights Coalition

This session was designed by members of Bryn Mawr’s Migrant Rights Coalition in order to talk about undocumented experiences in higher education. The session leaders gave us background information about DACA, the benefits of a clean Dream Act, and sanctuary campuses. We then shifted the conversation to the context of Bryn Mawr. We discussed how Bryn Mawr had dealt with recent threats from DACA and TPS. We learned that, out of fear of becoming a target of the right-wing, Bryn Mawr decided that it would not officially declare itself as a sanctuary campus but would still act as such. We talked about the costs and benefits of such a decision. We also brainstormed how we could shift conversations about immigration and documentation from a theoretical approach that thinks of this as a very distant issue, to a personal approach that understand that real people on this campus today are living under the threat of anti-immigrant sentiments and laws.

My group got really into thinking about how to bring these conversations into classrooms specifically. We talked about wanting to see more professors trained in this knowledge, as well as more professors who have personal knowledge that is drawn from their own lived experiences. Prof. Veronica Montes was in the room, and as an immigrant, she shared her own perspective and how she tries to bring these conversations into her classes. She is a wonderful example of the kind of professor we want on campus, as she understands the political as personal and seeks to have these difficult conversations.

We ended the session thinking about action plans. Where is there room for improvement? We talked about creating opportunities for non-undocumented people on campus to learn more about this issue and to learn how to be good allies. We talked about the possibility of sending alerts to students if ICE agents are ever on campus so that undocumented students are warned and are not left to fend for themselves. We talked about including students and faculty with real lived experiences into any decision-making process, with the acknowledgment that they provide a knowledge that is vital to the conversation.

Session 3/The Future:

I wasn’t able to attend the last session, but I think the other two sessions I attended already started thinking about the future. There is still a long way to go for Bryn Mawr, but we’ve also come so far. Seeing where we were 10 years ago makes me hopeful for where we can be 10 years from now. Bryn Mawr students have always fought long and hard for a better future, and I have no doubt that this place will continue to grow. It is important for people in positions of power at this college to listen to the concerns and demands that we are making. Only then can we improve. Community Day of Learning is one of the ways that Bryn Mawr shows its dedication to its students.

 

On Making Myself an Avid Reader

I spent this year’s spring break doing something I never thought I’d dedicate “break time” to: reading. I’ve never been much of an avid reader. My professors at Bryn Mawr have always kept me busy reading articles, research journals, anthologies, and all kinds of books. But I have seldom taken the time outside of course material to read for fun. This year, however, because of my “new year, new me” mentality as I returned from study abroad, I’ve been trying to make myself an avid reader.

And in the spirit of Women’s History Month, I wanted to recommend some interesting reads by amazing women authors.

There are so many fabulous authors with incredible books out there, it’s impossible to include all of them. So I tried to keep my recommendation list to a minimum.

From bottom to top:

Presumed Incompetent is the combined work of over 40 authors. It focuses on the challenges faced by women of color in academia through the use of personal narratives and research studies done on this subject. It is a gripping account of the realities of educated women of color.

This Bridge Called My Back is another anthology full of the writings of “radical women of color.” It includes a variety of pieces about intersectionality, feminism, solidarity, and sisterhood. It details the diversity of experiences we have with all of the layers of our identities and gives the reader a lot to think about.

Sister Outsider is a classic, written by the iconic Audre Lorde. It includes a collection of essays and speeches by Lorde and centers the conversation on racism, sexism heterosexism, classism, and all of the other isms that exist. It is one of the most important black feminist pieces.

Women, Race, & Class is another classic written by, the one and only, Angela Davis. This book provides a historical perspective of women’s liberation in the U.S. and looks at black women’s place in society throughout history. Davis is still a very powerful and politically active black feminist today and all of her work are must-reads.

Questions for Ada is an easy read and a wonderful collection of poetry written by Ijeoma Umebinyuo. I re-read it every now and then when I’m feeling low. One of my favorite poems in this book reads “Nobody warned you/ that the women whose feet/ you cut from running/ would give birth to daughters with wings.

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled was assigned to me in my Citizenship, Migration, and Belonging class this semester but I still wanted to include it. It’s very different from the other books in this list because it talks about Syria and is mainly composed of anecdotes from Syrian people, as they talk about Syria before the regime, the rise of the regime, the Syrian uprising, fleeing from home, and more. You’ll definitely need a tissue when you read this book by Wendy Pearlman.

The Border of Dominicanidad is the book that I’m currently reading. It’s written by Lorgia Garcia-Peña and talks about Dominican Republic and Haiti’s complicated history. I really wanted to read this book because currently Dominican Republic is dealing with a lot of anti-Hatianism. Reading this book that explains the historical context of our two countries is helping me understand how we got to where we are today and will provide me with the necessary tools to explain this to other Dominicans. It’s a wonderful book and easy read.

I’m still a very slow reader and have to force myself to start, but books like these are so important and make me a better academic and a better human being. So many women have written incredible books that help educate us all and understand our role in this world. I’ll keep reading this kind of work and will keep you all updated with any new book recommendations!

How I’m Celebrating International Women’s Day

This year, in honor of International Women’s Day, I’m taking the time to support women who are doing incredible work despite all odds.

It’s important for me to not only talk about how amazing I think women are, but to support them and uplift them. I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. For this, reason I wanted to share some really amazing work that women I know are doing today.

The Love Your Magic conference in Boston, hosted by several African American and Afro-Latina women, was created in hopes of helping young black and brown girls learn advocacy, gain self-love, and find sisterhood. This conference will be held in April and still needs funding! Check out their gofundme page.

Helping inspire future female leaders starts young. Bryn Mawr is a space created with the hopes of producing fearless female leaders that will change the world. This conference is attempting to inspire young black and brown girls to be those very leaders. You never know if one of the girls attending this conference will be a future Mawrter!

Recently, I’ve blogged about my experience with coming to terms with the ways in which my ethnicity and race co-exist. Often, experiences like this are left out of the conversations of mainstream feminism. So this International Women’s Day, I encourage us to pay special attention to the women who are bringing these conversations into the table.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-salas-pujols-black-latinos-census_us_5aa03347e4b002df2c603a9f

My sister recently published her first article on HuffPost about black Latinxs and how including them in the census will help us understand how their experiences differ from that of lighter-skinned Latinx people.

I think it’s extremely important to listen to the voices and read the work of women of color this International Women’s Day. These are voices that are often left out of the conversation. We can’t just say we support all women, we have to actually support them by donating our time, attention, and/or money to their work.

I urge everyone to look around them and notice the hard work that women they know are doing. Ask them what they’re passionate about, share their articles, donate to their conferences, amplify their voices. Women have always been fearless advocates and activists. This International Women’s Day, support them in their journeys.

When You Get 75 Degrees in February

Part of what excited me about having a field placement in Philadelphia was that I was going to be able to explore more and spend more time off campus. I’m not the biggest fan of winter, so I was planning on leaving this for when spring came, but climate change made a surprise visit last Wednesday and I decided to take advantage of the 75-degree weather!

After I got out of my field placement, I walked to the Institute of Contemporary Art that was only six minutes away. This museum is free for all and has some really cool exhibits at the moment. I had visited once during my first year at Bryn Mawr but they switch up the exhibits pretty often and this time was so different. 

There are a ton of museums in Philly, and in the fall, CampusPhilly city hosts College Fests, and students can visit museums all day for free. I’ve gone twice and it’s been really fun both times. Museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute are really big, and you can spend all day there. The Institute of Contemporary Art is a bit smaller in comparison, so once I saw the exhibits there, I had a lot more time to kill.

I decided to grab lunch at HoneyGrow which is a really affordable healthy food spot in Center City. I’d usually go for the unhealthiest option, but my sister has been pressing me to eat healthier and I guess that’s the adult thing to do. It’s also surprisingly really good food. I found a place to eat outside and it was right next to an outdoor flower shop and farmers market so after I ate and did some readings, I just explored those two things for some more time in the sun.

 

 

I’m really excited for the weather to get consistently warm, so I can spend more time exploring the city. Now that I’m gearing up towards senior year, I want to take advantage of the fact that I live so close to Philly and have some more fun. I’ll keep you all posted on new adventures!

Posse Plus Retreat: Hope, Hate, and Race

Once a year, members of the Bryn Mawr and Posse community take a weekend off from our academic lives and attend the Posse Plus Retreat (PPR). This weekend event allows for students, faculty, and staff to leave campus and immerse in a long conversation about a selected topic.

My first year as a Bryn Mawr student and posse scholar, the topic of PPR was “Sticks + Stones: Language + Speech in a Diverse Society.” The weekend was all about the impact of hate speech and the very real power that language holds. The following year, the topic was “Us vs Them” and we discussed the binaries and other-ing that operates all over our society. We dedicate a whole weekend to these conversations because they are essential in order to be critical of our communities and to re-imagine what they could look like.

the hall at the Desmond Hotel,  where we have all of our conversations

That being said, these conversations are far from easy. They are difficult and messy and emotionally exhausting. And for people of color who are constantly having to think about these issues, it can be especially exhausting. That’s why this year’s PPR centered something vital to help move the conversations past a certain point; hope.

This year’s PPR topic was”Hope, Hate, and Race in the United States.” Almost 200 members of the Bryn Mawr community (Posse students, Posse faculty advisors, other students, and other faculty and staff) attended this event.

Throughout the weekend, two Posse alum facilitated various activities and workshops to address this topic. For one of the activities, the facilitators asked us to blurt out racial identity groups that we identify with, so that they could generate a list. At the end of that, the list read a ton more racial identity groups than the census usually gives us: black, white, Latinx, mixed/bi-racial, brown, African-american, chicana, Caribbean, indigenous, Asian, Afro-Latinx, Arab, and confused. We were then asked to group ourselves by identity and create conversation.

This activity really resonated with me because my identity has been something that I’ve struggled with for a while. Many people use ethnicity and race as synonymous when they are not. Not acknowledging the fact that there are black Latinxs and white Latinxs, conflates our experiences and the ways in which we walk through the world. But even knowing that, I had a hard time figuring out where I fall within this spectrum that is Latinidad.

Recently after doing some simple google search research and listening to podcasts, I’ve come to identify with this label of Afro-Latina. But, I still have a hard time understanding it.

Society needs to diversify our understandings of what it means to be Latinx. We’re all different shades of skin, hair textures, facial features, etc.

Luckily, pretty much everyone in the Afro-Latinx group was just as confused. We were able to talk about our experiences with our identities and the journeys we’ve had in identifying as Afro-Latina. It was so new and refreshing to be seen and to be heard in the way that I was in that group.

 

After many activities and workshops on race and hate, we were able to move onto the last chapter that is hope. The facilitators asked us to generate a list of things we want to see change around this topic on campus. We then divided into smaller groups based on what we wanted to focus on. I chose to go to the group on creating opportunities for students of color and under-represented faculty to come together. We discussed our experiences and the vision we have of the relationship between faculty and students of color on campus. Then we brainstormed some action steps on how to work towards that vision. Professor Pedro Marenco, who is a geology professor at Bryn Mawr, was part of that conversation. He was extremely helpful in providing the faculty perspective and helping us students come up with ways to build connection with our faculty. He exemplified the kind of professor who genuinely cares for their students and wants to make our experiences as meaningful as possible. I left that conversation feeling genuinely excited for the kind of work we plan to do on campus.

Usually at the end of every PPR, we get free t-shirts related to the topic. This year, however, the facilitators chose to give us journals so that we could use them to make tangible action plans towards reimagining our futures.

This PPR has been the most productive one I’ve attended while at Bryn Mawr. It was still exhausting, as having these conversations will never be easy. But, it added an element of hope and tangible change that made this weekend more than just emotionally draining conversations that don’t seem to have an answer.

I genuinely commend Bryn Mawr for it’s commitment to Posse. And I am constantly thankful to the students, faculty, staff that are committed to re-designing and reimagining our campus and the future of our country. They are the reason things change and get better for future generations. I’m glad to be leaving this weekend with a little bit more hope.

Why “A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words” Isn’t a Cliche

In our society, we are obsessed with statistics. That’s why we’re constantly being bombarded with facts and figures: “There are 43.3 million immigrants in the U.S.,” “84,994 refugees were admitted into the U.S. in 2016,” “There were 462,463 removals and returns in 2015,” etc. etc. (https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states-2)

But in obsessing over these numbers, we miss something bigger: the experiences of the people behind those numbers. Photojournalists Griselda San Martin and Jacobia Dahm seek to bring those people into the light with their work.

Borders and Belonging

I was able to attend the talk and exhibition, “Borders and Belonging“, at Haverford College, where Jacobia and Griselda shared their work and what it means to them.

The photojournalists talked about how they hoped that their work would tell you something that you didn’t know or that you didn’t know in that way. They hoped to change the dominant narrative of immigrants and refugees. By showing the faces and emotions of immigrants and refugees, they’re giving you the context that numbers are missing.

A good picture will always tell you something that you didn’t know” -Jacobia Dahm

Jacobia focuses her work on Syrian refugees and their migration to Germany, a country that is very divided in whether refugees should be welcomed with open arms or turned away to fend for themselves. Griselda focuses her work on both the lived experiences on the Mexican border and the lives of Mexican immigrants in an ethnic enclave in New York.

Credit: Griselda San Martin

Credit: Griselda San Martin

Besides being visually stunning, their work has the power to tell stories. Jacobia also mentioned that her photographs always come with a small text to provide context. She talked a bit about the power in the collaboration of both visuals and text to tell a different story. Something really important about photojournalism is that the photographers develop relationships with the people that they photograph. The ethics of photography can sometimes be difficult to navigate, but being able to develop a relationship with the people who’s stories you’re attempting to tell and getting their verbal consent helps a great deal, I think.

This exhibition prompted me to look back at my experiences from abroad. Although I wasn’t able to develop relationships with people like photojournalists do, I did take a few pictures (while making sure I didn’t take photos of faces without consent). Below I have two photos that I took while abroad that bring back powerful memories. I’ve attached a short description of what story the photo tells.

I took this photograph in New Delhi right before I entered a shrine that we were visiting for our case study. This area is full of people who’s bodies were believed to have been taken over by evil spirits. Because of ethical reasons, I didn’t take any photos showing the faces or behaviors of these women. This is one of my few photos from this day.

I took this photo at a rehabilitation center that we visited in Sao Paulo. One of the patients in the waiting room had a guitar and was playing music. We all ended up singing along while he played guitar and waited for his medical services.

 

I think what’s so powerful about pictures is that they provide a sense of emotion and connection that numbers, even words sometimes, miss. I’ve always been a been a big fan of the way that artists can tie their art to social and political meaning. I’m grateful that I was able to see the works of Jacobia and Griselda as well as listen to how they make meaning of it. Cheers to resistance and advocacy through creative outlets!

What Even is a Praxis?

The other day I attended my praxis independent study orientation, where I learned how the idea of praxis courses sprouted. Bryn Mawr students had been volunteering and interning at organizations for years without getting any payment or course credit. When LILAC noticed this, they decided to create an opportunity for Bryn Mawr students to take three courses and have the fourth course credit come from an internship/volunteer opportunity; and thus, the praxis courses began.

There are some really cool praxis courses offered this semester:

  • Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar (Monique Scott)
  • Human Services and Public Health Seminar (Jim Martin)
  • Activism and Social Justice Seminar (Nate Wright)
  • Psychology in Practice: Community Based Learning (Jodie Baird)
  • Exploring Museum Applications of Augmented and Virtual Reality (Jenny Spohrer)

And Bryn Mawr also offers the opportunity of designing your own praxis course. Which is what I did this semester! I knew that coming back from study abroad, I wanted to really throw myself into my work and make these next three semesters productive ones. I had also just found my niche in what I want to study and knew that an independent praxis study would let me follow that passion.

So, I reached out to a bunch of faculty at Bryn Mawr that could potentially be my faculty advisors. I did so by looking at different department’s faculty and reading their interests. I looked at the psychology department, the sociology department, and the school of social work.

I luckily found a brilliant faculty member in social work who does work that perfectly aligns with my interests. She agreed to be my faculty advisor and I was ecstatic! Check out her work –she does really important stuff! 

Then I moved on to the next step. I emailed probably a bazillion organizations to see if they could take me on as an intern, and whether I could do my field placement there. So many of them did not have any more space, and I was so close to giving up, but finally, I was able to secure a position at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Treatment & Study of Anxiety.

 

 

 

I found them through Bryn Mawr! Bryn Mawr’s website on praxis independent study has a sidebar with lists of local organizations that you might be interested in to help you find a field placement. And if you’re trying to find an organization, don’t give up once it starts getting hard, fight for it!

I worked with my faculty advisor and field advisor to create a learning plan with my class description, class material, learning objectives, field placement roles, etc. Finally we finished it all and now I’m doing the real work.

What’s really cool about doing a praxis independent study is that the course is exactly what you want it to be! I meet with my faculty advisor once a week and we discuss the readings I was assigned, figure out how they contribute to what I’m interested in, choose my next readings, and talk about the big picture of it all. As for the field component, I really appreciate that I get to do real work rather than just read about it. I also love that it gets me off campus and into the city. Once the weather warms up, I look forward to spending time in Philly after working my hours and exploring more of the city. This is something I wish I had done more of during my freshman and sophomore years, so I’m glad I have the opportunity now.

LILAC also helps to simplify the praxis process: they help you find advisors and field placements; they reimburse you for traveling costs; and they’re always there to answer your questions.

I strongly urge anyone at Bryn Mawr (or Haverford) to take one of the praxis courses offered during your time at Bryn Mawr (or to create your own)! This is definitely the coolest thing I’ve done on campus.

Reacclimating and New Adventures

I do love the views at Bryn Mawr, though.

Switching from the hustle and bustle of study abroad to the same old routine of undergraduate studies is not an easy transition. I’m no longer taking auto rickshaws to my classes. I’m no longer being accompanied by the sweet kids in my neighborhood during my walk home from classes. I’m no longer navigating the vibrant streets of Sao Paulo on a daily basis anymore. We learn about culture shock when leaving to study abroad, but it’s also very real when coming back.

Because I knew that I would miss the busyness and excitement of studying abroad, I wanted to make sure I kept busy while re-acclimating to Bryn Mawr and the rest of the tri-co. I’ve been doing a lot of cool stuff this semester: taking my independent praxis course, going to UPenn for my field placement, volunteering at the Center for Creative Works (CCW) for my Haverford class, and trying to make the most of being home!

I’ll do a whole separate blog about my praxis and how cool the fact that Bryn Mawr offers Praxis courses is (because I think everyone should do one!) But, first, I want to take some time to write about my Haverford class and the work we’re going to be doing with the Center for Creative Works. As has been a trend these past two years, I’ve found myself having most of my classes on Haverford’s campus this semester. One of these classes is on neurodiversity, which is a term for the diversity of human neurological differences. In that class, we focus a lot on the autism spectrum and intellectual disabilities. This course has a collaboration with an art organization, the CCW, on Lancaster Ave., that focuses on the artwork and creative potential of people with intellectual disabilities. Every student in this neurodiversity class will be dedicating two hours a week to working with the CCW and collaborating with the artists on their work.

I was able to visit the CCW for the first time yesterday. While there, I got to meet all of the artists that participate at this organization and learn about their art styles and specific interests. I’ve never done work at an organization that works particularly with people with intellectual disabilities so I’m excited to step outside of my comfort zone and help create a bridge between our two communities.

We also have to keep our own journal for the class, where we write about our experiences volunteering and include any of our own doodles or artwork. I am NOT in any way artistically-inclined, so the doodles will be kept to a minimum for me. But after seeing some of the artists at the CCW create art about their favorite singers, actors, tv shows, places, aspects of nature, etc., I was inspired to include some of my favorite in my journal. Since I can’t draw, I printed out pictures from Google and created a collage.

Frida, Frank Ocean, horoscopes, social justice, and traveling (I left space so that I can add more things throughout the semester)

I am really looking forward to collaborating with the CCW and getting to know some of it’s artists better. In my neurodiversity class, we’re talking a lot about de-stigmatizing and de-pathologizing being neuro-diverse, as well as creating a bridge between disabled and non-disabled communities. I’ll talk to the CCW about their policies regarding taking pictures of their art to see if I can share the wonderful artwork they do with you all.

I’m happy that after being abroad, I can come back and get involved in cool projects. I can’t wait to keep blogging about them and to share this all with you.

How I Keep Myself Together: Self Care as a College Student

College can be hectic and busy and overwhelming and stressful at times. The best way to combat this is by continuously engaging in self care. Self-care looks really different for everyone, so I wanted to share what it means to me and suggest some ways you can look after yourself when you’re in need of some extra care.

  1. Listening to Frank Ocean: A Frank Ocean song feels like a warm bubble bath to me. I created a playlists with all of my favorite tracks by him and listen to it pretty much 90% of the time. When you’re feeling stressed, take a pause and listen to your favorite songs. Music can be really healing and comforting!

    New Girl (aka the funniest show ever)

  2. Watching New GirlLaughter is my number one cure for the feels and New Girl is the number one show to provide me with such. When you’ve been feeling extra low, watch your favorite tv show, movie, or YouTube vlog to help you get some endorphins.
  3. Eating Cheese Fries: Okay, so this is definitely not the healthiest self-care method, but who says it has to be?! Cheese fries make me happy and eating them after a long day/week/month/semester is the ultimate “treat-yo-self” act for me. I’m sure everyone has their own version of cheese fries. It’s food for the soul.

    My sister bought me a ton of face masks and I’m eternally grateful.

  4. DIY Spa: I like to set aside a ton of hours on a day to do absolutely nothing other than spa stuff. Wash my hair, do face masks, paint my nails, pluck my eyebrows, etc. Maybe these are things that could work for you! Maybe you’d rather dye your hair or apply funky makeup — do whatever makes you feel good.
  5. Organizing My Room: I honestly don’t know how many people find organizing helpful, but I love it! After I organize my room I feel a lot less like my life is a mess.
  6.  Journaling: I strongly suggest journaling. I try to do this every day, but sometimes I get lazy and forget. Journaling is a really good way to get my feelings out and to put my thoughts together. I write about my day; I write about the things I’m grateful for; I write about the things that are the sources of stress in my life; and I try to come up with solutions, etc. If you’re really into it, you can also do bullet journals (I’m going to try these next year!)

    Smoothies are for self-care!

  7. Making Sure I’m Not Neglecting Myself: This is essential! Make sure you’re drinking water, eating good food, reaching out to people you care about, getting a good amount of rest, keeping the shades open so you can be exposed to natural light, etc. I like cheese fries as much as the next girl, but sometimes I need to make a smoothie instead and really take care of myself and my body. When you stop taking care of your basic needs, everything else fails along with them.

 

These are pretty easy self-care approaches you can take when you’re feeling extra stressed. Sometimes self-care is a bit harder and it’s about dropping unhealthy behaviors, cutting off toxic people in your life, starting counseling services, etc. I’ve been there too! Just make sure you’re prioritizing your mental health and engaging in self-preservation!