(India)nlightenment: Wake Forest University’s Service in Kolkata

For more information, please see http://indianlightenment.wordpress.com

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Bringing Yoga to School

Winston-Salem yoga instructor Crista Baker is working with Forsyth County schools with the hopes of providing teachers “all the benefits of affordable and convenient yoga classes in the comfort of their own school.” With both teachers and administrators on board, Baker’s goal is to bring yoga to all aspects of the school system, from elementary students to university students.

For now, teachers at the Special Children’s School share how the calming benefits of yoga have impacted them, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Like “Bringing Yoga to School” on Facebook for more information!

[A collaborative effort by Ashley Hamati & Tori Mason]

Finding Solace in Somber Times: Three Students Revisit the Loss of Fellow Demon Deacon

Last fall, the sudden death of Wake Forest University sophomore Andrew Pillow shattered the daily routine of campus life.

It overcast the faces of students, and all was palpably somber, even for those who didn’t know him. Ryan Horgan, a junior, says, “I didn’t know him as well as other people did, but you’ll hear the exact same story about him from anyone else—that he was a really selfless person.”

Classmates admired Andrew Pillow as an incredibly kindhearted individual with an uncanny ability to brighten anyone’s day. Photo courtesy of Dean Shore.

Classmates admired Andrew Pillow as an incredibly kindhearted individual with an uncanny ability to brighten anyone’s day. Photo courtesy of Dean Shore.

Horgan lived next door to Pillow in the fall of 2013, and was playing video games with fellow track teammates Kent Garrett and Jimmy McAlister, when he suddenly heard a ruckus coming from outside his suite at around 1 a.m. When Garrett went to investigate, both Horgan and McAlister could sense that something wasn’t right. Garrett, Horgan, and McAlister then tried to help Pillow’s fraternity brothers resuscitate Pillow and called 911.

McAlister describes everything as a blur until the following day. “At first [his death] hadn’t really registered, but the next day it really hit home,” says McAlister. “It was just insane how someone who seemed so happy all the time just all of a sudden takes their life like that.”

Horgan adds that everyone was initially numb and unsure of what to expect in the coming days. He then describes a moment of reflection, standing at the top of the staircase adjacent to Pillow’s suite with those who were by Pillow’s side during his final moments. “We just talked about Pillow, what happened, and how it wasn’t fair but that we had to be strong in the moment,” says Horgan.

However, the following weeks proved to be difficult. Horgan recalls taking an alternate route to his room to avoid the staircase by Pillow’s suite. Garrett adds that over the following weekend, “Jimmy and I both ended up going out of town because we just didn’t feel that great being around on campus.”

McAlister says, however, that “just knowing that, at the end of the day, I had done everything in my power to help the situation as best as I could” brought him peace.

Additionally, campus-wide support was very strong. Garrett says, “Two of my coaches offered to help me move all of my stuff to a different dorm if I decided I didn’t feel comfortable living there.” He adds that while they couldn’t directly help with his emotional distress, “they knew how to help me get rid of anything else that was an added hassle at the time.”

Horgan also notes that this supportive camaraderie mirrored Pillow’s interactions with others in their times of stress. He says, “It seemed like everyone, from his fraternity brothers to faculty members, banded together to support each other. It was reassuring to see Pillow’s legacy of selflessness being celebrated.”

Though they were able to come to terms with the situation, the memory still remains prevalent and sometimes, has not been easy to fathom. Both Garrett and McAlister note that one of the harder moments was returning from Christmas break and seeing people moving into Pillow’s suite.

“It caught me off guard that [facilities] didn’t leave it fallow for another semester, but I guess they had to do what they had to do,” says McAlister.

Pillow’s suitemates were relocated to another dorm for the following spring semester. Photo courtesy of Ashley Hamati.

Pillow’s suitemates were relocated to another dorm for the following spring semester. Photo courtesy of Ashley Hamati.

Revisiting the events of that mournful November night, these three athletes agree that while the road to solace was tough, it gave them great insight as well as a heightened appreciation for friends, acquaintances, and life in general.

“It showed me how you have to look out for your friends,” says McAlister. “For example, I don’t think ‘fine’ is an appropriate response if you ask someone how they’re doing.”

Garrett says that it inspired thought about changing prevalent negative stigmas of seeing a therapist: “There need to be signs posted around campus showing positive statistics on how many people seek help from a psychiatrist rather than pinwheels laid out on the Quad representing the number of deaths from suicide.” The campus counseling center provides great, free resources for students that Garrett strongly encourages everyone to utilize.

Horgan also attests to openness in conversations and exploring feelings, reflecting on a similar experience of his senior year of high school. He says that after witnessing his classmates pour their hearts out, everyone, albeit vulnerable, felt infinitely more connected. “Bottling things up for the sake of others may be altruistic, but you matter, too,” said Horgan.

Gazing through the shutters of his room, he adds, “I think it’s important to know that people aren’t all what they see on Yik Yak.”

In respectful memory of Andrew Pillow.

Costumes Against Humanity

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Racism is a complex word to define.

We surveyed over 100 Wake Forest University students, asking them what one word or phrase came to mind in relation to racism. Many of the responses included buzzwords like “ignorance” and “prejudice”, but there was also a cultural divide regarding issues of color, as words like “n-word”, “white people”, and “black” also showed up.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 11.09.13 PMWake Forest University is mostly composed of Caucasian students, and there is a clear imbalance among different racial representations. Of the approximately 5,000 undergraduate students that attend Wake Forest, only a mere two percent are international, and 22% are of an ethnic minority, according to Forbes.

This leads to the questions of: What is racism? What is discrimination? Do these two always go hand in hand? Do these principles apply to everyone’s lives in some shape or form, regardless of color? What about at Wake, a place that many of us call home?

Racial issues and tensions have been exploding on campus this semester. The “Rap Video” party hosted by Kappa Alpha Order in September was among the first to cause controversy. While this party had been under scrutiny in the past, students on campus this year in particular seemed to take issue with the theme.

Although the party title in itself is not explicitly racist, some students on campus felt that this party may as well have been titled “Dress Like a Black Person” party. Others criticized the supposed sensitivity that these students had, arguing that there are both black and white rappers alike, that students could have dressed as.

In addition to “Rap Video”, on-campus parties at The Barn have been surrounded by much criticism. Many multi-cultural groups and Greek organizations on campus have, in the past, used the Barn as a party venue. The historically African-American fraternities, such as Kappa Alpha Psi, often host parties there, but have received much flack from campus police due to large numbers of partygoers.

There is generally a strong sense of community between African-American fraternities and sororities throughout their different chapters across the United States. Members in these organizations tend to travel more to other schools to socialize on the weekends, and, in Wake’s case, many members from the chapters at Winston-Salem State often add to the size. This increase has often lent itself to issues, such as fights in the past, causing campus police to have a large presence at the events.

Because the campus police show little to no involvement with risk management at other fraternity parties, naturally, the question arises: is this police presence warranted or is it another form of racism in that it implies that minorities are more likely to get into trouble?

One junior student* weighed in on the issue:

“Campus police have no choice but to keep an eye on these events as fights have broken out there in the past with individuals that don’t attend Wake, and issues have come up with non-registered cars coming on campus. It’s not racist; it’s a response to past problems and a step in the direction of protecting students more, especially in recent times when headlines like the murdered UVA student are across the papers and parents are concerned for their children’s safety.”

One prominent way in which dialogue about racism is sure to arise in the coming weeks is with regards to Halloween. It is no surprise that this popular holiday can transform from something fun to something offensive for many because of costumes that people choose to wear. Furthermore, the availability of such costumes in widely-known stores like Party City also aids in the potential to be offensive. A range of some of the more culturally-insensitive costumes is shown below.

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The gallery above shows that while some costumes, such as a Beer Girl or a Gangster Rapper, aren’t necessarily offensive, there is a range of cultural insensitivity which many people often fail to take into account.

When choosing a costume, Kat Lazo writes that it is important to bear in mind that we often do not see the implications of a costume as racist “because [those] implications don’t affect [us].”

That’s the key right there: doesn’t affect us. Costumes that push the envelope may seem harmless and fun, yet they can mean something entirely different to someone else, someone who relates to what you are depicting.

As Lazo puts it, “one cannot just borrow someone else’s culture or race for for a day.” Without understanding the historical context we cannot simply decide we have the background needed to dress up in a certain way.

We sat down with senior Heather Donelson to talk racism and Halloween. Here, she elaborates on this idea:

Continuing on the topic of these ideas of cultural appropriation and historical implications, Heather describes the matter in a very relatable, example heavy way. We also got junior Deborah Marke to say a few words about the topic as it pertains to Wake’s campus specifically and whether this notion applies:

Both of these students agreed that they would definitely say something to a friend if they thought a Halloween costume he/she was wearing was racist. While these two students would take an active stance, it is something to be mindful of regardless of whether one specifically would be compelled to say something to a peer.

Ultimately, the blurred lines surrounding this issue may be at the heart of the main problem. Thus, it is up to us to take into account the implications of our ideas before implementing them into action, even with ideas as simple as those that pertain to Halloween.

If you want to dress up as a taco this year, bring on the salsa. However, it is always important to bear in mind any cultural ties that your costume could hold that could be taken as offensive to someone.

* = name has been changed, or person interviewed requested to not be listed.
[crafted by Briana Vogel & Ashley Hamati]

the minimalist: across the universe

HamatiATUThe inspiration behind this minimalistic movie poster stemmed from the “Strawberry Fields Forever” scene in Across the Universe. Behind the pinned-down, bloody strawberries, the image of Evan Rachel Wood’s character with a tear streaming down her face transparently serves as the background. The idea was to highlight the drama and emotion that swirls throughout the film, and this iconic scene captures it.

Created via Adobe Photoshop for a Wake Forest University JOU287: Interactive Digital Media class.