Inside The Studio: An Exploration of Bucknell’s First Visual Artist-in-Residence Shani Peters’ Workshop

Peters explaining her work to Bucknell students
Peters explaining her work to Bucknell students

Behind the canvas, the frame, and the lights, is the studio where the artist creates. It is a rare opportunity to go inside an artist’s studio and even rarer to talk with the creative individuals themselves. When such opportunities present themselves however, I have always found exploring the artist’s workshop is the most fulfilling way to discover new artwork. By observing how they work, the media they employ, and their strategies and styles, I see the percolation of ideas, the inspiration, and, most interestingly, the rejection. After noticing images depicting contemporary and historical civil rights activism on display in Academic West, I discovered that this artist is currently working here at Bucknell. Last Wednesday, I was granted the opportunity to see inside Bucknell’s first visual artist-in-residence Shani Peters’ studio right here on campus.IMG_3122

Shani Peters, a Lansing, Michigan native turned Harlem hipster, focuses on video, printmaking, and public projects. Her work reflects “interests in social justice histories, cultural record keeping, media culture, and community building.” 1  She employs and juxtaposes historical and modern cultural and social tensions in her artwork through her messages, symbolism, and duality and contrasts of color. By comparing historical to contemporary problems, she instigates in the viewer a meditation of life cycles.shani

Many of her images investigates and celebrates the concept of self-determination. For example, the Crown Project in Academic West imagines “crowns as symbols for self-determination and the complexity of the experience of the African people following the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.” 2 Half of the photos on the crowns have historical photos of Black Americans engaged in political protests, whereas the other half showcases contemporary images, still engaged in similar protests. On the Westernized crowns, as a satire of African headdresses and diaspora, Peters’ also depicts African American tribal people contrasted against the public figures in the Western world such as the late Notorious B.I.G and the late Michael Jackson. While raising awareness about the struggles the black community face, she also strives to show the pride in the black community.

Shani’s inspiration comes from her father who was a black history professor. IMG_3129Her father studied and taught through various mediums, such as literature, theater, and music, because he wanted to do more than just teach history – he wanted to create narratives around the subjects’ lives. James Baldwin, whom her father introduced her to, was especially influential in how Shani processes her work. Baldwin famously stated, “Our crown has already been bought and paid for, all we have to do is wear it.” Shani’s crowns reflect this message by urging us to acknowledge our personal worth, take ownership for the life given to us by the sacrifices of our ancestors, and find meaning and comfort in our lives.

Her own studio at the Art Barn gives us insight into her own consciousness and techniques as she makes, remakes, layers, and undoes her work. The works that make it out of the studio are the ones that “open up a strand of thought.” In her exhibits, she wants to facilitate a space of healing, freedom, and self-reflection for all the viewers – especially for Black Americans. However, her work appeals to all, because, no matter our background, many of us understand the difficulties of the human life. With Shani’s studio at Bucknell, we have the chance to explore this perspective in depth, actualize the fullness of ourselves and backgrounds, and share stories with the artist herself.

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**Shani’s studio at the Art Barn is open until May 1st.

  1.  “SHANI PETERS.” Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. N.p., 06 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
  2. Stuart, Greg. “Shani Peters: Nesbitt Artist in Residence : Samek Art Museum.” Samek Art Museum RSS. N.p., 19 Feb. 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

The Unbreakable Ellie Kemper

Bucknell Speaker Series featuring Ellie Kemper, famous for her role as Erin Hannon in the NBC series The Office and current star in the Netflix series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. 

Actress and comedian Ellie Kemper, who gained IMG_3001prominence for her role as Erin Hannon in the NBC series The Office and now stars in the Netflix series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, spoke at Bucknell’s Weis Center for the Performing Arts Monday night. She is the final speaker in Bucknell’s forum series “Revolution Redefined,” which brings in speakers with multidisciplinary and diverse viewpoints to explore how society has – or has not – evolved over time. The various speakers grant us unique perspectives on how we can have meaningful impacts on society. In this particular talk, Kemper focused on her journey to success as a female comedian, encouraging the Bucknell audience to take risks, challenge opposition, and be agents of change.

Philosophy professor Sheila Lintott, who has taught courses on feminist philosophy and the philosophy of laughter, moderated the conversation. Lintott began the discussion by asking Kemper about how she got into comedy in the first place. Kemper, with her expectedly sweet and bubbly charm, answered that she had always had an interest in acting. In fact, in high school, Jon Hamm taught her improv in her theater class. However, she enrolled in Princeton to study English Literature and play field hockey, letting acting fall to the wayside. After too many games on the bench though, she quit field hockey because she believed her time could be better spent elsewhere. She honed her comedy skills and joined the Princeton’s improvisation group Quipfire! and the musical theater group, Triangle. Yet again, she didn’t think she would pursue comedy in the future. Instead, she continued her studies of English at Oxford after graduating. After a year, however, she left Oxford for New York when she took the risk to make her dream of acting into a reality.

Throughout her story to success, she kept using the word “quit.” Though a word loaded with negative connotation, Kemper explains we don’t need to view it that way: “There is no euphemism for quit. But, sometimes it is okay to take a step back to consider what your strengths and weaknesses are in order to reevaluate your decisions.” This is often a key step to discovering true passions. Many studies substantiate that the risks taken when quitting are often worth it. Every step Kemper took led her to land her role as a co-star of The Office. In an audience full of questioning college students, Kemper’s story resonated deeply.

Kemper, rather than considering her gender as an obstacle to overcome in order to achieve success, uses her gender to promote feminism – and with a humorous twist. In the discussion, Lintott referred to Christopher Hitchens’ 2007 article for Vanity Fair “Why Women Aren’t Funny” that “investigated” the “humor gap.” He ponders, “Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny?” Predictably, this article received serious backlash from the female community. Kemper explains why she wrote a response to this in GQ in 2013. After Bridesmaids came out in 2011, people regularly asked her, “How did it feel to be in a movie with so many funny women?” This question, Kemper explains to the Bucknell audience, “makes no sense to me because all women are different. Some are tall. Some are short. Some women are funny. Some aren’t.” In her satiric “investigation” for GQ, she incorporates evolution, science, and logic in the same completely backwards way that the Hitchens did to challenge his senseless conclusions. Kemper aims to stop such gender stereotypes from perpetuating in order to create more opportunities for females.

During the Q and A with the audience, Kemper answers that her favorite IMG_3004scene was the airplane scene in Bridesmaids – “it was like having front row seats to a circus. Throughout the scene, there are various actors cracking up who weren’t supposed to be.” She also finally settled the question for devout Office fans, on what it was like saying goodbye to Michael Scott as a character and Steve Carell as an actor. Kemper says, “It was a very dramatic moment for me. In one scene, I am just in the background at my desk crying and I am not even supposed to be a part of that scene. I was just so choked up. Steve Carell is such a kind person, which is the reason why Michael Scott is so ultimately endearing. I am so lucky to have been able to work with him.” On this nostalgic note, Lintott concluded, leaving us in anticipation of Kemper’s second season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt coming April 15th.

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-Carly

“Empty Bowls, Full Hearts”

800 million people go to bed hungry every night. 3.1 million children under the age of five die of malnutrition every year. Almost 50 percent of people living in extreme poverty are 18 years old or younger. In September 2015, the United Nations set a goal to end world hunger by 2030. This may take a lot of work, but it does not require a new scientific breakthrough nor are the costs expensive – we have the tools and the resources, it’s just a matter of implementing them. What it truly takes is the power of many to make a concerted effort to fight hunger. This week Bucknell hosts the Empty Bowls Project which is an international grassroots effort in which potters and artisans donate ceramic handcrafted bowls which are then bought and used as soup bowls for guests attending the event. The event raises money for Community Harvest Meal in Milton as well as awareness for Bucknellians and the local community in the fight to end hunger.

This year the Empty Bowls Project focuses specifically on how women are disproportionately affected by hunger and poverty. Discrimination against women is a major cause of persistent hunger. According to The Bread For the World Insitute’s annual report, females’ lack of bargaining power, unpaid care work, insufficient political representation all worsen the effects of poverty on their lives. Just by “increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor could help stem the worldwide epidemic” 1.  Additionally, with mother and fetus as an inseparable biological and social unit. female health and nutrition are inextricably linked with their children. Maternal malnutrition increases the risk of stillbirths and newborn deaths, intrauterine growth restriction, low birthweight (LBW), preterm birth, and birth defects. Thus, improving female nutrition will result in healthier mothers and babies. When we empower women and give them the tools they need to survive, we stand a much better chance of overcoming not only poverty but also intolerance, disease, and even extremism 2.

The Empty Bowls project at Bucknell helps in the worldwide effort to end hunger, extreme poverty, and gender inequality. This annual event, in which people can buy bowls that have crafted throughout the year, raises money for the Community Harvest Meal in Milton. This event has been providing people in our neighboring community with no income in this community meals for a decade now. This year, the focus on women is not only to highlight how poverty adversely affects women but to also promote International Women’s Day which occurs at the beginning of March.

Lynn Peterson, head of the Bucknell Empty Bowls project, explained that apart from highlighting women’s rights and gender equality, it also is a great way to raise awareness in Lewisburg about the ways we can help our community throughout the year. The Community Harvest, which serves a weekly hot meal program that serves 80-120 people every Monday evening and the Lewisburg Community Garden, which donates organic produce to local food programs, are always open to volunteers. Such programs enable people struggling with food insecurity to put their limited funds towards other expenses in their lives like heating, medication, and other necessities. Lynn’s favorite part about being part of this initiative is that “it is great to see not only our campus community but also people from the Lewisburg area come together to support the EB event.”

The effects of hunger are long-lasting with long-term effects that “can be felt for the rest of a person’s life, impacting a child’s ability to grow and learn, and even snuffing out their chances of survival entirely” 3.   For a simple donation of $10, we can enjoy a simple meal of soup and bread served in a hand-crafted bowl  and then take home the “empty bowl” as a reminder of the many individuals suffering from hunger. With the momentum gathering throughout the years to end this silent pandemic, there is never a better time to act. Famine gives us the chance to transform lives and stop hunger in its tracks.

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Event time & location: Thursday, March 10, from 11:30 A.M. to 2 P.M. and 4 to 7:30 P.M. in the Walls Lounge inside the Elaine Langone Center.

Hope to see you there!

Carly

  1. “When Women Flourish We Can End Hunger.” (n.d.): n. pag. Bread for the World Institute. 2015. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
  2.  “To End Hunger, Empower Women: Study.” Common Dreams. Common Dreams, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.
  3. “The Long Term Effects of Hunger – 2 Degrees Food.” 2 Degrees Food. Union Street Media, 21 Apr. 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Bill Nye The Science Guy Brings the Energy to the Bucknell Campus

“In elementary school we knew it was going to be a great day when the teacher wheeled out the TV,” Bucknell student Devon Wasson reminisced during his introduction for Bill Nye. Bill Nye, best known as the host of the Disney/PBS children’s science show Bill Nye the Science Guy spoke at Bucknell’s Weis Center last Tuesday in what could be possibly be one of Lewisburg’s most anticipated visitors all year. The auditorium was packed with students who had stood in line for hours to get tickets and for good reason. Bill Nye “The “Science Guy” was an inspiration for us all. He simplified complex matters, encouraged us to ask questions about the world and challenged us to find the answers, and even pursued some of us to pursue science as a degree. Apart from his role as science educator, he is an unapologetic champion of social reform. “Most importantly,” in the words of Wasson, “he showed us that science rules!”billnye3

Once Bill Nye jumped out on stage with his same energy and zany dance moves we know and love, the law of energy, as we learned from him years ago, was transferred from him to the audience. Like little kids again, we eagerly awaited what we would learn next. Projected on a screen on stage was photo taken of Earth on December 24, 1968. This photo was the first time human kind had seen the Earth from this perspective –as tiny little sphere suspended in the all-encompassing black mass of space. After setting the theme for his speech based mainly on space exploration, he begins his story here on planet earth.

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Ned Nye “Boy Scientist” – not to be confused with Science Boy.

Before Bill Nye was born, his father Ned Nye was a construction worker during the summers on a little atoll in the Pacific called Wake Island. In 1941, however, his father and mother decided to stay on this pacific island for the year. On December 7th, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese also bombed Wake Island among with many other Pacific Ocean targets. Nye’s father fought back for two weeks but on Christmas Eve, he was captured. His father spent 44 months as a prisoner of war- “longer than anyone else in the United States.” While Bill Nye’s father was prisoner, he used his science (and a photo of his wife) to keep him sane. Ned became fascinated by the FullSizeRender_2sky and used the shadows from the sun on a shovel handle to gauge the time. After surviving imprisonment, he continued to pursue his interest of the sundial, going on to write books about the simple yet significant scientific instrument.

Bill Nye inherited his father’s fascination with sundials. In 1998, when Bill Nye learned about the U.S. Surveyor mission to Mars, he saw that one of the scientific instruments they would use had a vertical pole attached; “It’s a sundial!” he exclaimed in striking realization. He foresaw an opportunity to merge his interest of sundials, science, and space exploration into this mission and campaigned to have sundials aboard Spirit and Opportunity Mars exploration rovers. The MarsDial revealed to be huge implications for the intergalactic world. NASA scientists were able to determine Martian time from the sundial shadows and, along the way, discovered something unexpected. Mars casts a different shadow than that of Earth. Nye coined this term orangidescence to describe the orange Martian sky (think: the poster for the movie the Martian). Since, then more Mars missions have had major discoveries, such as the evidence of water flow on Mars, proved that there is evidence of life on Mars, “which just totally rocks!”

The moment the world population changed to 3 billion at the New York City World Fair
The moment the world population changed to 3 billion at the New York City World Fair

The exploration of this planet also led to the finding that the Martian atmosphere is .007 times Earth’s. But that was in 1998 when the carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere was .03 parts per million. Now, in 2015, Earth’s carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is .04 parts per million- a discovery of major concern for Nye. Bill Nye, a strong advocate for scientific rationalism, argued that this is due to human induced climate change. In 1965, the United Nations had a total board at the New York City World Fair that estimated the world population at 2,999,999,999. Now, in 2015 it is 7.3 billion! “This has substantially more than doubled,” Nye says, “that is why the climate it changing.” Nye’s message was loud and clear: we need to be the generation that stops climate change.

To be the catalysts for change, Nye encouraged us to be like his mother’s generation. While Ned Nye and many other men were either taken prisoner or fighting in the war, she was recruited by the Department of War to work on the enigma code. She, along with most other US

The photo of Bill Nye's mother working as a Cryptographer on the enigma code during WWII. Also the same photo that Bill Nye's father had during his time as a POW.
The photo of Bill Nye’s mother working as a Cryptographer on the enigma code during WWII. Also the same photo that Bill Nye’s father had during his time as a POW.

citizens, was doing all she could to contribute to the war effort.

Such perseverance of the “Greatest Generation” – the diligence, the courage, and the optimism all contributed to winning the war. If we think about our planet like this, with climate change as our enemy, We Can Do It too. This might be the most important thing that Bill Nye has taught us yet: “with our brains, we can know our place in space with the cosmos, and with our brains… we can CHANGE THE WORLD!”

Pointing at US!
Pointing at US!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I asked a few students why they are such big fans of Bill Nye:

Bill Nye made science interesting and fun. Science doesn't have to just be confined to books but is all around- we all feel experience, feel, touch science. Even years later, he is also still present in science education. - Abigail '17 Spanish/Biology Major
I remember the first episode I watched. I was in third grade and it was about earthquakes. I wasn't good at science but he showed me how to simplify and see the basic concepts. This philosophy has stuck with me since. - Rus '19 Undeclared (most likely English)
Everything he does, I like to do! - Katie '19 Environmental Engineering

-Carly

Salthouse

Art, as a series of rejection, absorption, and relentless uncertainty, portrays the mystery of humankind. Bucknell’s Samek Art Museum currently hosts Salthouse by Stephen Althouse, featuring unconventional photographs that capture such paradoxes. In his seemingly sculptural works, he embeds passivism, religion, the blindness to atrocities, and the lamentations of suffering and sorrow. He seeks to “acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses” while pondering human contradictions. I visited the gallery with Greg Stuart, Samek Art Museum public programs manager, to experience the physical presence of Salthouse and fully comprehend how he accomplishes this mission.

Upon entering Samek, I noticed the photographs’ intimate level of details that could not be portrayed on the internet. Looking in person created an entirely new experience. “Althouse spends hours getting his camera into the right focus,” Stuart explains, “Then, after capturing many images with different focus points and exposing them for eight minutes, he photoshops the images so all the different focuses are together in one image.” This technique creates a seemingly sculptural three-dimensional work.

The presence of bold shapes set in negative space, with the tonalities of grey and black, sets a meditative environment. Knot III, a photograph of horse armor set in the distance, ignites a tranquil yet emotional response. Althouse, as a Quaker and conscientious objector to the Vietnam war, sends an antiwar message through this image. On the helmet, braille script reads, “Are we not blind” and “My harp is broken.” Interestingly, we must remember that this is a two-dimensional image so someone who is blind cannot trace their fingers to read this and those who have vision cannot read braille. Stuart explains that this adds to “a sense of mystery and a power of the unknown.” Additionally, the helmet appears worn signifying an unknown war story behind the object itself. We are left in the dark, like the object itself, so we embed our own emotions and interpretations into the historical story, adding our own personal meaning.

I asked Stuart what resonated with him when Stephen Althouse visited Bucknell: “Stephen talks about the little moments in life, like the Broken Bow image. He was exploring a city and heard beautiful violin music playing. As he followed the source, he found a poor man playing. There was such a contrast between the beautiful and the impoverished.” Like the horse described above, none of these objects are inherently beautiful but are objects of everyday moments. Althouse uses this contrast in his photography to capture the beauty in atrocities. And the atrocities in beauty.

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Open until March 20. Location: Third Floor, Elaine Langone Center, Bucknell University

*All photos provided by Greg Stuart of Samek Art Museum

“I Am Because You Are” – How Bucknell’s Ubuntu Club Is Changing Lives Across the Globe

Ubuntu is a foreign but beautiful concept. This humanist philosophy means “I am because you are,” embracing the idea that humans cannot exist in isolation. We depend on human connection, community, and caring – simply, we cannot be without each other. Gabriela Palumbo founded the Ubuntu Club at Bucknell in November of 2014 to remind students that we belong to a greater whole and what we do here can improve the lives of others across the globe, specifically South Africa. Post-apartheid South Africa is still recovering from a long period of severely constrained and social, political, economic, and cultural turmoil that left  highly divided and unequal education system. Ubuntu looks to overcome these barriers to promote a harmonious and successful community by raising awareness and funds to enable children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to attend school everyday. Inspired by this unique opportunity Bucknell has to help assure the education quality of South African children, I chatted with Ubuntu’s Vice President Amanda Waller.

  1. First off, can you expand upon the meaning of Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is literally translated in a few different ways. Mainly though, “Ubuntu” is an African philosophy that means, “I am because you are.” By extension, this means that an individual is not its own, independent entity, it is part of larger communities it has found itself exposed to throughout its lifetime. For example, say a Bucknell student were asked how they got into Bucknell. That student didn’t get in completely on their own merit but they got in due to the collaborative efforts of the communities they were apart of throughout childhood. Their guidance counselor recommended the school, their sophomore math teacher put in a recommendation, their parents drove them to extracurriculars everyday, their coaches instill responsibility into them, and so on. All the components that made this student who they are contributed to their acceptance into Bucknell. A community is inextricable to your individuality, and one doing something to better the community is amongst the most important things to do in life; this is Ubuntu.

  1.  How do you incorporate the philosophy of Ubuntu into your club’s values?

The Ubuntu Education Fund is based in South Africa and it incorporates Ubuntu primarily through the notion of having aid from abroad play a large role in development of the Port Elizabeth community. The Fund, founded by people outside the Port Eizabeth community, provides numerous services–psychological counseling, education, career development, medical services.  Additionally, there is a sense of Ubuntu in the Port Elizabeth community itself seeing as the fund strives to take abroad expertise and instill it into the community so that one day the need for foreign aid will not be necessary and the fund will be self-functioning by the community.

  1.  Why are you passionate about this particular organization and mission?

The answer to this is twofold. First, there is a need for community bridging on Bucknell’s campus if we want to accurately assert we are a strongly knit community. Second, if we can have the power to grant aid to this community, why not? We have an impact greater than we can begin to imagine. Every bit goes a long way, so it’s worth participating in the cause.

  1.  What has been your favorite part of being part of Ubuntu?

Personally, I love the people I meet that are involved in Ubuntu. The president of the club, Meg Belinsky, our Ubuntu NYC office liaison, and other students trying to start Ubuntu college clubs that we’ve been put into contact with. Everyone has a little bit of a different personal interpretation of Ubuntu. Hearing what those different meanings are, and why these individuals find it important to spread the philosophy is continually refreshing and, at risk of sounding corny, pretty inspiring. And Ubuntu catches on pretty easily. So another joy of working with Ubuntu is watching how easily people resonate with the philosophy after being educated about it.

  1. What have you learned about yourself that you may never have learned had you not joined?

When I thought of a grass roots organization like this, I automatically thought it would have low impact, that people would wave it off as a too optimistic effort and that only the people who worked with the club would be the ones that care about it. This has proven to not be the case. So I’ve learned that as students passionate about a cause, we do hold water and we have the capacity to make a difference. I’m not saying we’re changing Bucknell’s campus entirely, but I do see small impacts Ubuntu makes. Our capacity to influence some thought has been an unexpected lesson learned.

  1. Have you met other members of Ubuntu that have left a significant impact of your own life and learnings? 

Certainly. Our president, Meg Belinsky, has been such an inspiration. She is incredibly passionate about the philosophy and works pretty relentlessly to come up with new ideas and organize club events to spread awareness. As I stated earlier, I can be skeptical about grass roots efforts like this, but having Meg as a president definitely keeps myself and the members believing in the capacity and purpose of our organization.

Leo Fotsing Fomba is another individual that has played an incredible role in Ubuntu. He is originally from Cameroon and an ardent believer in Ubuntu. We sat down to interview him last semester on what Ubuntu means to him. Every word out of his mouth made a philosophical statement, it was incredible! I think the largest take away I took from that conversation was a point he made that went as follows: As an individual, you are equipped with particular talents and strengths. Though you might want to use these for self progress and success, you have a responsibility to your community to use these qualities to better the community you find yourself situated in. You don’t have to sacrifice personal success for the community success, but you must balance it. There is a reason you have these strengths, and the only way to utilize them properly is to distribute them equally to personal and community benefit.

  1. Barack Obama has a quotation about making a difference: “[I]t is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself, that you realize your true potential” What do you think about that?

Desmond Tutu once said, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” It was his translation for “Ubuntu” ironically, and it’s what came to mind when I read this quote. I think this is about how the potential humans have collectively for achieving goals is infinitely greater than potential of the individual. President Obama I’m sure has seen this first hand with him winning two elections and all–and running the country. Those kinds of activities take tremendous collaborative effort that simply cannot be done on an individual level. Everyone has great individual capacity but it is only enhanced when you latch on to a larger working group that aligns with a like end goal. This is essentially Ubuntu, the idea that humanity is based on the plural and not the singular.

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Get involved TONIGHT!
Thursday February 4th in the Terrace Room, from 7 to 8 PM. The Ubuntu Club will be making “Ubuntu” bracelets that will be given out in exchange for donations the following week. The donations will go to the Ubuntu fund headquarters back in NYC. You can show your participation as a bracelet maker by placing a paint handprint on a big poster and they will have there that we will be using to advertise our sales the following week.

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Carly

 

If you have any questions about the club and/or want to join, please contact Amanda Waller at aew002@bucknell.edu

 

Loss, Grief, Forgiveness, and Hope: Four Fathers Speak at Bucknell about Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy

Just yesterday morning a gunman stormed into a Pakistan University and shot at least 80 people, twenty of which have been declared dead and 60 injured. Gun related tragedies happen every day around the world and as well as right in our nation. In America alone, there have been 90 mass shootings in the past fifty years. America accounts for a mere five percent of the world’s population, yet almost one third of the world’s mass shootings have occurred in the US during this time period 1. The second leading country had a relatively lower number of 18 mass shootings during the same time period, substantiating that the exceptional nature of America’s mass shooter problem is unparalleled around the globe.

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L-R: Jeremy Richman, Mark Barden, Scott Wolfman, David Wheeler, and Ian Hockley

Tuesday night, a neuroscientist, a guitarist, a graphic designer, and an IBM executive came to Bucknell to speak about gun violence in America. What brought together these men, from all different backgrounds, was one thing: they each had a young child who was shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Fathers Jeremy Richman, Mark Barden, David Wheeler, and Ian Hockley entered into the packed ELC Forum with a mission. They didn’t come just to speak about their incomprehensible loss and the tragedy that took place that day. Rather, they came to Bucknell to enlighten students about our social responsibility to advance the world to a point where massacres like this do not take place. Topics of the night’s discussion ranged from researching the biological and chemical factors of the brain, increasing awareness about compassion and connectedness, and recognizing violent behavior. They also touched upon more personal subjects regarding grief, forgiveness, and hope.

President Bravman introduced the four fathers. “As a father of four, “ Bravman said, “it is every parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child. I can relate to that because I have lost a child.” After his quick yet heart-rending moment of silence at the mike, he continued, “I am deeply honored to be with these men tonight. We have the power to turn this experience into something positive.” He concluded by urging us to not just listen but show that we heard. If we listen with our soul, heart, and mind to these fathers speak, we can make this community however incrementally better.And with that, the Q and A with mediator Scott Wolfman, began.

Q: Why are you doing this public discussion work and what is your motive?

Jeremy (Neuroscientist): As a father of a child murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School along with her 19 friends and classmates, I have learned that this world needs clean up. I am here to engage this innovative audience to think of solutions.

Mark (Guitarist): Daniel was seven when he was shot to death. My former life was magical – I was blessed with happy, smart kids who slept in the same bed together out of choice. After the shooting, I had two questions – simple but important. How did this happen? Why would someone do this? It became immediately apparent I had to find the answers. I have learned in my search that complacency is our biggest enemy. Despite what many people think, we aren’t helpless. We aren’t hopeless.

David (Graphic Designer): I moved to Sandy Hook in 2007. It had a good school system, good lawn, made sense. I had two kids, Nate who was nine and Ben who was six. They were best friends. I have had lots of experience public speaking, [so when Ben was killed], it seemed like a natural process to deal with this tragedy by speaking about it. It is almost a cliche, the term, “you are the future,” but it couldn’t be more accurate. Whatever happens in the country has a lot to do with how you live life. We can find tremendous hope and optimism from all different walks of life but it is really important to remind people to go out and create it or find it.

Ian (Previous IBM Executive): My son Dylan, who had autism, was found in the arms of his aid that day, both shot and killed. I have always been shy and stayed out of the media but after this shooting, I realized I had to use my voice to advocate for people with autism.

Q: What is your source of strength. What serves as a constant in your respected life?

David: That is a complicated question because I don’t have one source of strength. My wife and kids, certainly. In November 2015, my wife and I had another child and it has brought a lot of joy into an unnaturally quiet house. Nate has now formed a new and powerful bond with his new sibling. It is a great source of strength for us to see this and to know that there are good people everywhere, wanting to help.

Ian: Many sources. The days and weeks after [the shooting] the friends we had made a wall around us and protected us. They lifted us up when we were down. The Tuesday after the shooting, I saw a pile as big of stuffed animals and toys that would fill this room. It showed that this tragedy had affected everyone – it emanated love.

Mark: After the shooting, I was meeting with President Obama. As I was talking with him – the president of the United States – my daughter Natalie called me. “Hi Dad, I am going to the library, want anything?” My heart just melted. She is my source of strength. My neighbors, who came to my door almost every night with dinner, were another source. And these guys [gesturing to the other speakers] nourish me. We don’t need to talk about our common shared tragedy all the time. Sometimes we just like to goof off.

Jeremy: Sometimes it is hard for me to get out of bed. I have different motivations to get me out. Some days are hard and some easy. Sometimes I just have to pee really bad. But in all reality, it is usually friends and family.

Q: How has your grief evolved from the first days until now?

Mark: I don’t know if it has evolved. It goes back and forth. Last night, I didn’t sleep at all [David nodded his head in agreement]. I recently saw a video of my son singing in a Christmas concert. Seeing him and hearing his voice was so raw, fresh, and palpable. I can go along for days and be fine but then I know it is coming, like when you are sick and know you are going to vomit. It just hits me and takes me down.

David: Grief is like having incredibly heaving stones we have to wear in our coat pocket. We have no choice. They are there and we cannot ignore them. As time goes on though, we get used to them until one day you don’t notice them. Then out of nowhere, you’ll make a move and there they are, bruising you again, taking you down. The ways to deal with these stones in our pockets, however, are as individual as a thumbprint.

Ian: I had to move out of my home. I shut down entirely. I have been sent many books on grief and looking back, I am glad I didn’t open a single one.

Q: How do you feel about forgiveness and does forgiveness have application to your journey?

Jeremy: “Few are guilty but all are responsible.” The human species have evolved to share a common experience and if something goes wrong, that means I played a part. We can also take responsibility in helping. However, I am really effing far from forgiveness.

Mark: Forgiveness is intangible to me. It’s a slippery notion that I can’t get a handle of. When my daughter asked me, “Daddy, how do we know who the bad people are?” Since then I have been on a philosophical journey to find the answer. 

David: Forgiveness doesn’t mean letting them off the hook. You’re not going to carry anger and let them have that power over you. If you don’t forgive, what are you left with? You thought those stones in your pocket were bad but now you have just added more.

Ian: I ask myself why did we move to Sandy Hook. Why did he go to school that day? But I first need to forgive myself. What is unforgivable is the lack of action of not just tracking guns but tracking mental illnesses.

Q: Where would you want our society to be in fifty years and what needs to happen in order for this to occur?

Jeremy: Unfortunately, brain science is one of the least explored sciences of all. We need to support the research in order treat and understand this mystical organ.

Mark: When my son was in kindergarten, he really connected with a girl who was nonverbal. To him, her silence was not a barrier. Kids should learn this compassion and awareness of connection at a young age. No one should sit alone at lunch. If we can solve social isolation, we can solve a lot more problems that happen as a result of that.

Ian: The human race has an obsession with violence. Think of the media. Violence and sex sells. Love and compassion just sells Valentine’s Day cards. This mindset needs to change.

David: Violence does not happen if humans don’t have the capacity to see violent answers as the solution. If we can research the brain and find the genetic marker that causes certain people to be violent, we can catch it early and treat them. Think of the medical advances in the past fifty years. It’s not impossible.

Q: How has your relationship with your immediate family changed?

David: A year ago I lost my father to a heart attack. I don’t think it is hyperbolic to believe that event was related to his grandson’s murder. My family has been shattered. However, I think we are going to make it. We have made it to the three year mark. The first year is shock. Second year is planning how to come to terms and deal with this tragedy. The third year is realizing that everything we planned won’t work.

Mark: James [his newborn] and Nate have rescued Jackie and me. They have seen us in a strange territory – wrapped in each other’s arms crying on the kitchen floor. And they have lifted us up. Some outside relationships were closed off while others became stronger.

Jeremy: Nothing really has changed. My friends bring me a lot more tequila but other than that my inner circle of friends has always been profoundly important in my life and have stayed so throughout this.

Ian: I got divorced. I was married for twenty-two years. My wife and I couldn’t look after each other the way we needed to and it was the right decision for us and for our remaining son Jake.

Q: What was your reaction to President Obama’s decision to halt gun violence?

David: This entire country has a fatally benign relationship with these consumer products that can just be so easily made, bought, and sold. However, we do not regulate firearms like any other consumer product. [This exemption has allowed gunmakers to innovate for lethality rather than safety.] All I am asking is for a level playing field.

 

After a few more student questions, the speakers concluded with advice for us. 

Engage with each other, with the local community, with the nation. “Think of scenarios like a row of Dominos,” David said, “if we stick our hand in one space we can prevent the rest from falling. All it can take is one action.” In light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past Monday, it is our responsibility to recognize, understand, and act to undermine all the hate and violence in the world. As educated students, we have the power to do so. To conclude with MLK’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, “I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land.”

Learn more about their organizations:

Jeremy: The Avielle Foundation, named for his daughter stresses compassion and mental health, or as he puts it, “brain health.”

Mark: Sandy Hook Promise Prevention Program. The goal of the program is “not to push for a ban on firearms but rather to promote safe and responsible firearm use and ownership” 2

David: Ben’s Lighthouse. Extra events and activities in the months and years following the shooting to “guide and protect” children and promote “resiliency skills, friendship and mentoring for those kids who needed it most.”

Ian: Dylan’s Wings of Change. The foundation’s mission is “to help children with autism and other related conditions achieve their full potential.” 

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L-R: Jeremy Richman, Mark Barden, Ian Hockley and David Wheeler
  1. Hellerstein, Erica. “A New Study On Mass Shootings Has Some Stunning Results.” ThinkProgress RSS. CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND, 23 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.
  2.  Ziv, Stav. “SANDY HOOK PROMISE: TURNING PAIN INTO PREVENTION.” Newsweek. Newsweek, 13 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.

Miracle on Market Street

A guide to celebrating and shopping for the holidays in Lewisburg

Lewisburg Holiday Activities

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On December 3rd at 7 PM, the heart of Lewisburg will be illuminated with season cheer at the annual Holiday Tree Lighting at Hufnagle Park.

Three Free Screenings at Campus Theater

On Friday, catch Frozen with complimentary candy canes and hot chocolate for all! On Saturday, holiday favorite ELF and Sunday, It’s a Wonderful Life will air. If you show a receipt of a purchase you made in downtown Lewisburg over the weekend, you get a free popcorn. The next weekend, How the Grinch Stole Christmas will play, “bringing cheer to all who’s far and near.”

Frozen: 8 PM; Elf: 7 PM; It’s a Wonderful Life: 5 PM; How the Grinch Stole Christmas: 5 PM

13th Annual Art for the Holidays’ Opening Reception at Faustina’s

Waltz through the gallery doors to check out original oil paintings, pastels, and watercolors from nine innovative and inspirational artists.

Show opens at 10:00 AM on December 4th and runs through December 24th (Tues – Sat), 229 Market Street

Strolling music by Cracked Walnuts

“A nutty banjo and washboard duo” will be strolling the grounds of Market Street performing pure American, old time music.

December 4th, 7:30-10 PM.

Late Shoppers’ Night

All stores on Market Street open late – many until midnight.

Danu:  A Christmas Gathering (Celtic Holiday)

Celebrate the holidays with the the acclaimed Irish ensemble, Danú, featuring fiddle, flutes, button accordion, percussion and the incredible voice of Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh.

December 3rd, 7:30 pm, Weis Center

Jazz Night at the Smiling Chameleon

Unwind with jazz artist, Jay Vonada. His smooth-flowing soundscape features melodic and stylish guitars, saxophones, pianos, trumpets.

Check out three of his songs here

December 10th, 2015, 8:00 PM, Smiling Chameleon, 235 Market Street

The fall bucknell dance concert

In a collection of seven dances choreographed by students, faculty, and guest artists, the Fall Dance Concert showcases the technique and discipline of Bucknell’s dancers. According to choreographer and dancer Emily Meringolo, “you will laugh, you will cry, etc. etc.”.

December 4th and December 5th, 7:30pm, Harvey M. Powers Theatre

CANDLELIT YOGA

glowing candles for yogaThe many candles’ light creates a lovely, luminous quality, reminding me of winter and the holidays.

December 1st, 5:30-6:30 PM, Davis Gym, Bucknell

dive In Movie

Watch the holiday classic “Elf,” like you have never seen before – in a pool! Kinney Natatorium will provide free food, drinks, and floatation devices.

December 1st, 9:30 PM, Kinney Natatorium, Bucknell

HOW TO TALK ABOUT ART AT COCKTAIL PARTIES

At this evening cocktail party, learn how to perfect talking about art to make you seem accomplished and worldly at art museums, galleries, and galas (no prior art education needed!). Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served. Alcohol available to those over 21.

December 3rd, 5:00 PM, ELC Samek Art Gallery, Bucknell (must RSVP)

And remember to save the date: 2016 Polar bear plunge

Take a icy cold dip into the Susquehanna River. Proceeds benefit the Lewisburg Ice Festival and the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership.

The event will take place Saturday, February 6th at 2 p.m. on the St. George Street Landing. Registration will come out in next few weeks.

Lewisburg Holiday Gift Guide:

(Click name for link to website)

  1. Street of Shops: Classic records, Christmas ornaments, kitchen 20110228_oneDayStory_0001gadgets, and millions of antiques to discover at this indoor country village.
  2. Purity Candy: Over fifty varieties of chocolates such as coconut clusters, peanut butter puffs, and maple cremes to satisfy all palettes
  3. Ard’s Farm: Homemade jams, hand-dipped chocolates, baskets filled with nuts, fruits, and cheeses, and many more inspired delicacies.
  4. Country Cupboard: The acre of shopping features a Christmas wonderland shop; a pantry filled with jams, pottery, tea; and a country shop with old world ornaments, candles, and decorative accessories
  5. Pompeii Street Soap Co.: Handcrafted natural bath & body products featuring gourmet-style soaps, lotions, and body buttershomemade_soap_by_andreeagruioniu-d5cuo95
  6. Black Dog Jewelers: Buy gold, silver, and diamond encrusted jewelry all for the love of dogs! Proceeds go to help forgotten dogs find new homes.
  7. Good Habits:  Handmade jewelry, incense, essential oils, and more
  8. The Gingerbread House: Carries lotions, home décor, glassware, barware, candles and seasonal items (attached to Retrah)
  9. Urban Post: Jewelry, handbags, clothing, scarves, pottery, and more. Don’t forget to check out the gallery in the back!images
  10. Colonial Candlecrafters: Wide variety of candles and candle related items to decorate your home
  11. Advanced Skin Care Spa and Salon: Services include therapeutic warm stone massage, aromatherapy massage, facials, spa packages, and more
  12. And then the frequented Market Street apparel shops of Retrah, Dwellings, Wilson Ross, and Fusion, to name a few

Fatima’s Story: The Impact of the Taliban on Her, Her Family, and Her Hometown of Kunduz, Afghanistan

In the quaint town of Lewisburg, it can be easy to forget that there is a War on Terror going on across the globe. However, for Fatima Arabzada, a native of Afghanistan and Bucknell senior, she thinks about it every day. Fatima left her family in Afghanistan 8 years ago to attend high school and college in America. She is one of the first three women in her providence to leave and study elsewhere, violating the Taliban’s anti-women ideology on education. Last Thursday, Fatima shared her story in the LC Forum about the impact the Taliban has had on her, her family, and her hometown of Kunduz, the northern Afghan provincial capital. 12109044_852277168226573_4949948530725155894_n

 

Afghanistan-Kunduz-JPG

 

 

On October 1st, the Taliban gained control of Kunduz’s food, water, and electricity, and, in a mere three hours, overtook the entire city. As the biggest Taliban victory since 2001, the loss of this major city is an ominous sign for many reasons. One, it highlights the weakness of Afghanistan’s NATO-trained forces. Two, it complicates the next move for the U.S. We had a plan to drastically cut U.S. troops presence in Afghanistan but now this plan seems unwise and obsolete. Lastly, this takeover shows the power of the Taliban forces. Fatima explained how ISIS and the Taliban have recently united – ISIS fighters are supporting the Taliban and training them to gain more power and control. However, in order for the Taliban to fully gain ISIS’s trust, the new leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mansour, wanted to show ISIS how powerful and cruel he can be. During the invasion of Kunduz, Mansour ordered Taliban troops to commit significant human rights violations against citizens, such as rape, torture, and extrajudicial murders. The Taliban, upon entering the city, had a hit list including working women. Once they invaded the homes, they gathered more information of which women worked where. Had the Afghan government itself been not as corrupt, this violence and information gathering might have been contained.

The invasion of Kunduz verifies the pervasive corruption of the governor and government as a whole. Fatima explained how the governor knew this was going to happen and did nothing to prevent it. The Taliban had been planning this attack for months. There were storage units placed throughout the city with food and ammunition for the terrorists. Fatima’s own family was unaware that their direct neighbors were Taliban members with a storage unit. Had the Afghan government put more energy in putting down the insurgency, Fatima believes this attack could have been prevented. Also, the Afghanistan government took two days to get anyone to Fatima’s province to fight agains192514Taliityt the Taliban. Two entire days. Once the troops arrived, it took two weeks for the Taliban to withdraw, enough time to cause mass destruction, trigger fear and panic, and complete the terrorists’ ultimate goal of suppression and control.

Fatima expressed how hard it was to talk to her family during this time. Every day, there were two 30 minute intervals while the Taliban members prayed when her family could come out of the basement, “even though I don’t get the point of them praying, because everything they do contradicts Islam” Fatima joked. Her brother told her on the phone how he was “going insane” – struggling between accepting he was going to die young and the hope of staying alive long enough to become an engineer. Fatima also expressed her concern for her mother, who has high blood pressure, kidney stones and asthma.  Fatima felt truly helpless. Despondent and demoralized, she couldn’t pay attention to her studies, which she values highly. She could only think about her family’s situation overseas.

On the third day of the invasion, Fatima’s father asked her to get her family out of the country. Fatima said, “I couldn’t pick up the phone back up. I couldn’t call them because I knew I needed to say no to them.” In the following moments, the packed LC Forum was completely silent as students tried to imagine how hard this must be for her, with her mother, father, and siblings trapped there. One sister is in the U.S. as well, studying at Hobart and William Smith College in New York, and three other siblings have passed away since the war began in 1979. As so many of us students trotted around campus happily this fall, Fatima has been dealing with the immense pressure to save the rest of her family from a hazardous situation. However, Fatima is grateful of Bucknell community’s support, especially from the members of the campus club ATHENA, throughout this difficult ordeal.

Bucknell ATHENA has partnered up with Save the Children to send aid to Kunduz. This week, Bucknell ATHENA will be tabling in the LC collecting cash donations in exchange for a beaded bracelet incorporating the Afghani flag colors.* The funds will be going towards helping misplaced children and their families in Fatima’s community. Please come by and support Fatima. A simple donation from can make a world of difference for these children and families, and for Fatima, one of the bravest, strongest woman I have met during my time here at Bucknell.

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Fatima receives a standing ovation. Photo credit: Bucknell Athena

*Must donate at least $10 to receive a bracelet.

Photo credit: Bucknell Athena
Photo credit: Bucknell Athena

Link to donation page: here 

Link to Save the Children in Afghanistan: here

Link to Bucknell Athena Facebook page to see pictures from Thursday’s event: here 

If anyone wants to donate in cash and/or pick up a support bracelet, Athena will be tabling in the LC Student Space every day next week from 11-1 pm!
We thank you for all of your support and encourage you to spread Fatima‘s story and the donation page to any person you believe will be willing to contribute to this worthy cause!
-Carly & the Athena Chapter at Bucknell

Reduce Your Stress and Read a Book

Literature invites us into a coffe and book
fictional world that can be a wonderful escape from our daily tasks and stressors. When we read, we create a beautiful stillness between us and words on the page. As much as we college students don’t want to read for our leisurely activity when we have so much required reading, it is a proven fact that reading is the best and fastest way to calm nerves. Picking up a book for pleasure, even for just six minutes, can be enough to reduce our stress levels by more than two thirds. 1

Cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis found that reading reduces stress levels by 68 percent, as compared to listening to music which reduces levels by 61 percent, having a cup of tea or coffee, which lowers stressors by 54 percent or taking a walk, which lowers stressors by 42 percent. 1 Psychologists “believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.” When we find the time to relax during college, what matters is how we define our priorities rather than our capabilities. We could either flip on the television or reach for a book, but if we are searching for the key to ultimate relaxation, studies suggest the ladder. 

From my own personal experience, I have found the correlation between reading and relaxation to be true. Three years after spending far too long trying to fall asleep, in my senior year, I discovered that reading before bed, something I had done before college, is my antidote. A mere fifteen minutes of reading is all I need to feel the soporific, ataractic effects.

If you don’t see yourself seeking the company of a friendly book, but you want to set aside the worries of life for a little, you could be read to. This sounds childish and odd and I am not suggesting you ask your R.A. to read to you after a stressful day… but there are other alternatives. Bucknell offers many poetry and fiction readings throughout the semester. Last night, I attended Bucknell’s Stadler Center for Poetry to hear an exceptional fiction writer and poet, Mark Brazaitis, read aloud his award-winning prose. His enrapturing imagery, impactful anaphora, and enchanting metaphors allowed the audience to easily enter into his character’s world and forget about our own. And, by stimulating our senses, he adds to the creation of our alternative existence. For example, he spoke of how the “night radiates with brilliant indifference,” with the “the moon blazing above,” and how the fur was “like the leather of her father’s jacket.” I never have felt so relaxed in those uncomfortable wooden pews.

I believe that this is the time that we, as 18-22 year olds, need literature the most. Unfortunately, this is also the age that we highly neglect leisurely reading due to our other habits of relaxation and our hesitation to read for pleasure instead of for work. Yes, reading helps us relax and unwind but the benefits extend far beyond this. Literature expands our world view and perspectives and allows us to reach a deeper understanding of ourselves, helping us grow morally and ethically. However, that is a whole different topic, so for now, reap the benefits of reading as you lose yourself in the dusty pages of a long, lost friend.

 

Next readings at Bucknell (located at Stadler Center for Poetry, also known as Bucknell Hall):

October 6, 7 PM-8 PM: Harold Schweizer and G.C. Waldrep Poetry Reading

October 26,7 PM-8 PM: Paula Closson Buck Fiction Reading

bookcher

  1.  “Reading ‘can Help Reduce Stress'” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 30 Mar. 2009. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
  2.  “Reading ‘can Help Reduce Stress'” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 30 Mar. 2009. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.

Stories That Shape Us

book“Stories shape our assumptions, expectations, and realities. Stories, whether personal, cultural, academic, or otherwise, teach us about the world.” Provost Bridget Newell’s introduction to the Stories that Shape Us presentation at Bucknell’s Weis Center quieted the chattering, sociable audience of Bucknell students. This event featured seven professors of various departments presenting their own stories that have shaped them. In college, Bridget told us, “we have the chance to examine, revise, and explore our own stories.” These professors’ wisdom and diversity of voice can help us develop new perspectives and insights or substantiate our personal values and beliefs. They might even help us shape our own stories.

Provided is a summary of the impactful speeches Bucknell professors delivered. 

  1. The Inextricable Link of Sexuality and Gender

Nikki Young and Coralynn Davis – Women and Gender Studies

Professor Nikki Young and Professor Coralynn Davis of the Women and Gender Studies department walked onto stage and asked us to close our eyes. They asked us to reflect on when we first began to realize we were a sexual being – that is, associating with one gender or another. After a moment of reflection, they numbered the various possibilities that might have popped into our minds. Was it when our room was painted blue or pink? Our first kiss?  There is no right answer because an individual’s sexuality may shift over time and in different spaces. They then narrated a crucial moment of their own gendered identity – when they came out as lesbian. The pain. The freedom. The confusion. “Aren’t we still the same people we were before?” Coralynn wondered. “Maybe, maybe not,” she answered herself.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are inextricably linked. They explained, “sexuality, (our own and the category itself) intersects with other social identities.” When we associate with being female or male or heterosexual or homosexual, society unconsciously ties signifiers to our identity. One piece of identity creates another piece, causing sexuality to be shaped “by history and cultural context.” Coralynn and Nikki substantiated this through personal anecdotes. Coralynn spoke of her time at college during the 1980’s. It was the height of feminism which helped shape the course of her development as a lesbian. Nikki talked about her extreme minority status- an African American lesbian. What does it mean, she wondered, to be a black queer woman? She didn’t answer her own question.

The middle-aged professors both proved that any examination of oneself is a lifelong process with no concrete answers or directions.

 

2. One Week in June: Making Race, Making History

Michael James- Political Science

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.” – Marx, The 19th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

Professor Michael James noted that Karl Marx’s assertion from 1852 relates to the racially spurred events that occurred in June 2015. Professor James spoke of Rachel Doleful, the African American female president of NAACP, who was revealed to be white and he spoke of Dylann Roof, the suspected white male who entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, killing 9 people. The farce and tragedy of June substantiates Marx’s argument that “we make our own history but we don’t choose it, we inherit it.” Whether good or bad, history’s omnipresence haunts us “like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” We can try to change the norms of the institutions and societal standards around us but, that is exactly it, all we can do is change. There is no blank slate we are born into.

Professor James, relating Marx’s thought to race, counts four ways that we make race:

  1. Collectively, not individually
  2. Unintentionally, more than Intentionally
  3. Under circumstances inherited from a history (and present) of racial oppression
  4. Under conditions of unequal power

He left the audience with two questions: How will you make race? How will you make history?

 

3. Religion and Spirituality

Rebecca Joseph – Chaplain for the Bucknell Jewish Community

Rabbi Rebecca Joseph began the presentation of her own story through song. After the last note, she asked us to raise our hands if we were wondering what is she doing, why is she doing that, why is she doing that here. She explained that this song celebrates the Jewish ritual Havdalah. Havdalah, literally meaning to separate, is the distinction between holy time and daily activities – the blessings that discern darkness and light.

This ritual provides her meaning and purpose to the rest of her week. More importantly, this ritual grants her the power to actively shape and create her own story, a story that involves trying to make the world a kinder place. By letting the audience observe her intimate ritual, she showed us her way of making change in the world. Just in that one song, she made an impact on the hundreds of people in the audience: people quieted, listened, and some may have relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful song. It caused me to wonder, how can we engage in our own rituals to do better for the world?

 

4. Gender Through My Lens

Atiya Stokes-Brown – Political Science

In Atiya’s family, football reigned supreme. Fall was about buffalo wings, jerseys, and “the game.” When Stokes-Brown was ten, her uncle said to her, “football is for the guys. It’s never too early for a young lady to learn her place in the world. Now go back to the kitchen.” She wondered how her biological presence determines her place in either the kitchen or living room. She asked us, “How do we reconcile demands for equality with sex?” Sex is pure biology and gender is the social construct. So, to be a woman means to be the female sex biologically and have the feminine characteristics and behaviors that different cultures attribute to women.

Different cultures attribute different behaviors to women and men though. Gender therefore can’t be constructed independently of race, class, ethnicity, and nationality – the equation of womanhood or manhood would be incomplete. Atiya then brought up Serena Williams. As we have seen this week and as we have seen for years, the discourse surveilling her approach, her competitiveness, her appearance “creates her as an ‘other.’” As a strong black woman, there are everyday challenges to her womanhood. Atiya finished with an anecdote of her own challenges as a black woman. A white man didn’t offer her his seat in the pediatrics office. Yet, when a white female walked in, he jumped up and said, “I always offer my seat to woman, as I gentleman should.” Atiya bluntly asked him, “Ain’t I women too?” Who is to say whether Atiya, Serena Williams, or any woman who doesn’t fit into the social constructs of womanhood, “ain’t a woman”? Atiya left us with the dates “1851-2015” in boldface letters on the presentation screen.

 

5.  Being an Ally, Advocate, or Active Bystander: To Be is To Do

Sheila Lintott- Philosophy

We have all heard the term “bystander effect” ad nauseum. Strategically, Professor Sheila Lintott approached the bystander effect in another way. She presented us with the term upstander: a person who stands up for his or her beliefs. “Doing nothing”, Sheila noted, “is easiests. If someone takes time to talk to you [for doing something they disapprove of], you are worth their time.” She gave an example that resonated in the audience: the controversy surrounding Caitlyn Jenner. She was talking with a friend who made an inappropriate comment regarding Jenner’s gender change. Sheila, not agreeing with the comment, simply replied “certain people’s experiences go far beyond your own.” By holding her friend accountable for her words, she hoped she made a difference in her friend’s mindset. She also noted that she would want to be held accountable for her actions so she can learn from them. Maya Angelou’s inspirational quote summarizes Sheila’s story beautifully: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

 

In Closing

Throughout these presentations, students were asked to engage with the speakers through the social media forum Yik-Yak. Students had a lot to say. Comments covered all aspects of the various emotional spectrums – positive, negative, enlightened, angry, interested, confused. The presentation had reached a goal that can be difficult to achieve among college students: engagement. Students had heard their professors’ stories and now were developing their own insights and reactions to them.

Provost Bridget Newell left us with this: “we have the power to shape our community, how will we do that?”

whats-your-story