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Goucher Still Lily-White Teach-In Series Continues

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By Neve Levinson ’21 and Jake Pellett ’24

Since its founding over fifty years ago, Goucher’s Black Student Union (GBSU) has published lists of demands necessary for combating anti-Black racism in Goucher’s community. Current GBSU members released their most recent list of demands to their Medium page in June. While it has been updated since then, the demands serve as a clear and present outline of what changes are necessary for us to dismantle white supremacy within our institution.

Accompanying the demands, the GBSU has committed to hosting a series of teach-ins entitled “Goucher is still Lily-White” to further explore the need for, and background behind, many of the demands.

As both a white first-year student who had not previously known of these demands, nor how to navigate allyship at Goucher, and a white senior who has tracked their growth in college in relation to this movement, these teach-ins have been incredibly informative. The first teach-in began with a small-group activity involving both exchanging introductions and reviewing the Administration’ section of the demands list. From the perspective of a first-year, I had many terms (such as the Race, Power, and Perspective requirement) and unique Goucher historical events (prior hate crimes committed on campus) explained to me for the first time. Following this brief discussion, the GBSU led a presentation highlighting the necessity of each stated demand, again drawing on key events that have transpired in recent Goucher history. To conclude, a Q&A session allowed participants to ask clarifying questions regarding (but certainly not limited to) the provided demands.
Throughout the teach-in, it was revealed that the GBSU had extended requests to discuss these demands with President Devereaux, though it is unclear if any lengthy or notably significant conversation has yet transpired.
The second teach-in centered on the Education demands laid out by the GBSU. Movements members have focused on each year of the undergraduate experience, choosing to highlight existing gaps in the still-being-built Goucher Commons curriculum, offering their time and expertise as they have experienced these gaps firsthand.
The main theme throughout this section of the demands list centers on the Race, Power, and Perspective requirements laid out by the GCRs. GBSU members are calling on the general administration (that is, staff members in the President’s Cabinet who have decision-making power on curricular issues) to make the program more comprehensive. By recommending that we fold in the required first-year reading into the first year WRT 181 course, Black students are asking for more integration of thought and deep learning about systemic racism and white supremacy into every facet of our undergraduate education. The third teach-in focused on the two demands related to the Hallowed Ground Project. The first demand calls out white virtue signalling, reframing how we anti-Blackness on campus. The second demand centers around building traditions to celebrate the successes of Black people both on and off campus.

The demands list details ways to expand the RPP requirement generally, giving specific guidance on how to challenge students studying abroad to recognize and name systemic oppression outside of a United States-centric worldview. In doing so, GBSU is offering a vital roadmap for how to mobilize ourselves to truly pursue justice. The Quindecim firmly supports GBSU and these demands. We look forward to the the third installment of this series. We will keep you updated with when it is happening. See you there.

Goucher Is Still Lily-White. PC: GBSU Umoja

An Interview with Aarika Camp

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Conducted by Jibril Howard ’22 and Neve Levinson ‘21

On July 9th, Goucher announced the appointment of Aarika Camp Ph.D. as the new Vice-President and Dean of Students (VP & DOS). Overseeing the administrative division of Student Affairs, Dean Camp is tasked (among other things) with overseeing student life, Title IX compliance, tackling and or addressing diversity and discrimination, and helping students naviage and manage life at Goucher college in myriad ways. The VP & DOS position was among several filled over Covid-19 lockdown and summer including that of Associate Dean of Students for Diversity Equity and Title IX Juan Hernandez; Vice President of Campus Operations Erik Thompson; and Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Elaine Meyer-Lee. The Q staff will be interviewing all these new staff members – below is our conversation with Dean Camp. 

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Jibril: Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, such as your previous position, what led you to Goucher, and your top three fun facts about yourself?

“OK, so before Goucher, I was at Nova Southeastern University. It’s a school in Fort Lauderdale [Florida] and it’s about 20,000 students, we had seven campuses, and most of the students were professional or grad students so I’ve worked with every type of med school student you could possibly think of from orthodontics to osteopathic medicine – like everything. I was there for 13 years. I’ve been in housing most of my career before I started being upper administration (loved it) and before there I was at Florida International [University]. I was in Florida for a lot of years at different types of institutions.

I realized – I think through the pandemic a lot of people had reflection – and being locked in my condo for months and going through obviously social unrest and figuring out what was important to me and my values. I was going to try and do that type of work, now being at a school that…is still trying to push it and the students are pushing it as well. It’s really important to me. That’s what attracted me to Goucher.

Three fun facts? Well no one would be surprised if anybody else was here…my first fun fact is I’m obsessed with BTS. I’m definitely a member of  BTS I’m a definitely a member of Army [US BTS fan group] so this past weekend I watched about 16 hours-worth of BTS live concerts and all in Korean Time not in Eastern Standard Time so Saturday it was 6:00 AM and Sunday Morning it was at 3:00 AM. Anything BTS I’m on it. Another fun fact: I don’t wear colors. So, you’ll never see me outside in navy blue, grey, or black. This is actually the most fun print I have [black and white polka-dots]. Another fun fact is I’m the shortest in my family and I’m six feet tall. Even my nephew who is 15 is already 6’2 and he’s turning 16 in two weeks.”

What drove you to take on this position at Goucher?

“So it really kind of started…I felt like I had been proceeding according to my career goals there but then once everything really started happening from the pandemic it really started…I had always been a proponent in trying to get students to be more engaged in not only their experience on campus but also so they’re just experienced in the world and helping them to find what their identity was, and it was time that I start pushing the students and myself more in those types of conversations and so just it came to a point where I had written with a bunch of faculty to our president about how the social unrest was impacting us and the president received the email and the letter but I didn’t feel like it was received well enough to do work and so even now [at Goucher] GBSU [Goucher Black Student Union] has reached out a couple times and I’m about doing the work. We can have all the conversations in the world but until the pen hits the paper and things start happening…that’s where I felt like here would be the right place, in the right position, for me to start doing that whereas I didn’t have the position there to do that. I think also doing my interview process, the students that I met with all are looking for someone that could speak that same language of “how do we do this?” “How can we push the needle forward?” Not everything is going to go the way that they want but knowing that somebody is willing to listen – because I know that was important to me – that’s really what led me here.”

That leads me into my next question. What do you kind of see as your long- and short-term goals for your position? And you brought up working with GBSU, do you see their goals as being intertwined with your own?

“Well I think part of my short and long-term goals is to really assess what the student experience is, and not just for GBSU, but for any student on campus. I was always one of those students in college, I didn’t really know what group I fit into most of the time, and even now it’s not often you see a 41-year old African American woman at a BTS concert. You just don’t usually. Making sure students can find their niche on campus takes a lot of digging and investigating and asking questions about what your experience is, what are you looking for and what you want. Really trying to figure out what students are not tapping into that we really need to understand what their experiences is [sic]. I think again that with GBSU that would fall into the category for right now. The students who identify as Black and or African American don’t feel as engaged on campus and so how do we address that? Every year it can be a different population and so I just always have to be open to hearing that and addressing that.

 I think another goal is that I haven’t worked with GCC [Goucher Consent Coalition] yet, but I’ve heard the safety concerns on campus. I think that’s another important goal I need to tackle in my role is what does a safe campus look like and not just safe in regards to Title IX issues. Just safe in terms of even if there is a student that doesn’t go with the norms of the college, so let’s say if it’s an extreme conservative student, they still have the right to share their opinions and be heard. Making sure that there is a safe campus for all of us to share our ideas in a constructive way that doesn’t hurt anyone else but that we still feel like we’re celebrated for who we are is important.

I think another goal is really trying to find what students expect out of a Vice-President. Some students here had Bryan [Coker] before, some of the grad students [who] went here for undergrad may have had somebody even different than Bryan. And so what the expectations are; I think another thing is I’m very authentic and transparent if you can’t already tell by conversation with you so just making sure that I’m able to forge relationships with students where they do feel right there is an upper-level administrator that they could go to and we may not always be on the same page but there going to always be heard.”

Neve: I think one question we have…it’s related to the GBSU demands out right now, you were talking about putting in the work and not just talking about stuff. How do you see that moving forward and where do you see your role in that besides being a listener?

“Well I think it’s open communication with them. We’ve exchanged some emails and trying to figure out when is a time we could meet to collaborate. I also think the ownership is the cabinet as well – I shared that with my interview process as well. I was born up Black and I’m probably going to leave this earth Black. My experience has been trying to understand what their experience has been and that some of their demands they shouldn’t have to tell us. As a person and as a part of the community I should be able to identify some of the demands on campus myself and start addressing them separately than GBSU. I think that’s where my philosophy is: what work can I be doing separately without them having to point to me and then what issues can they point to me that I can also address?”

Such as building those partnerships you were talking about before?

Exactly. I think the other part is we can’t rely on the students to always identify issues. We also have to be able to identify some issues that they may not see readily. That means also building a rapport where hopefully in years to come there won’t need to be a demand letter because I would’ve already had conversations where we can start fostering that regular communication that doesn’t have to lead to that type of request. If you think about our global society now, Black people have always either tried to vote to get that respect for their rights, tried to peacefully protest, tried to peacefully write to people, have done all of these things that didn’t necessarily pan out in the way we wanted so yeah people are mad now. My thing is if you’re responding appropriately along the way you don’t have to wait until people get so frustrated and mad that it turns to anger if you’re doing it the right way before. In my ten-year year that’s what I want to get to the point where people don’t have to write demand letters because we’ve been communicating and talking and looking at issues before it got to that point.”

New Vice President and Dean of Students Aarika Camp PC: Goucher College Official Website

Jibril: You brought up GCC earlier and their work obviously falls under the national context with the Presidential Election coming up and with the new Title IX guidelines that Goucher has had to adapt to which of course may change another six months from now. Can you address and speak to how you’re managing the [uncertainty surrounding the new Title IX policies]? Can you set expectations for students?

“I think the hard part right is that none of us can set expectations around it. I mean just in the last three and half years there’s been so much change that no one can even predict what will come out next. I mean there’s been a recent recension of the Clery Report, the Clery Handbooks that come out, that none of us expected. Who would’ve expected the recension of a reporting book such as that! That’s where I could have all the expectations in the world but until I get a real understanding of where we’re going to stand politically it’s just going to keep coming down the pipeline. I was talking to one of my colleagues probably a couple months ago and I can’t believe now the opportunity for cross-examination and an in-person cross-examination as a part of Title IX. I mean none of us would have expected that year ago and so that’s where it’s hard. It’s hard because as Student Affairs and as open-minded people, and as just people, we want to do what’s right by people involved in situations like this but then if we have regulations that we have to abide by or we’re going to get in trouble then there’s not a whole lot we can do. We’re kind of bound to that. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the next regulations are going to be. You’re absolutely right – after six months it could be something completely different if the government shifts [or] if the government stays the same it could be something even more different in three months not even six. I think that’s where we’re all concerned about. There hasn’t been enough consistency. There hasn’t been enough time. I mean even to put out regulations during a pandemic and give it when colleges aren’t open. I can’t even begin to tell you why the expectation was “Hey! Colleges aren’t open so let’s put out new Title IX regulations” while we’re trying to stay alive in a pandemic.  It’s those sorts of things where I think every vice president of student affairs is frustrated right now. We’re trying to implement things on our campus to keep people safe but then we’re given regulations that kind of make it difficult to do that in certain aspects.”

You’ve already touched on this a little but how are you adjusting to your job in the middle of the pandemic? How is it different to what you were envisioning coming into your position?

“The hard part is I’ve always been a student-centered type person. Even on social media I still keep in touch with students from my last institution and I’m trying to connect to a student here. It’s hard when you’re trying to forge relationships with people that you haven’t met in person. I can pick up social cues from you over Zoom but it’s very different than if you’re sitting right here and so I think that’s different. I haven’t met a lot of people yet so that’s been interesting. What I’m trying to do is that anytime anyone has asked me for a meeting, kind of like how you emailed me the other day, I try to respond quickly and say “when are you free?” and so I think that’s trying to be accessible in that. It’s also helpful where no student feels like they can’t get time with me. That’s a good part about Zoom and I’m a night owl so it’s like I’ll find the time. That’s been the challenge…setting that identity and tone now where if you have emailed me and say, “can we meet?” [the response would be] “absolutely, let’s find the time.””

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This interview with Dean Camp is the second in a series of interviews with new staff hires. We have included the entire transcript of the interview because we are in a critical position on campus right now. The enormous amount of administrative turnover that has taken place in the past two or three years is finally culminating in the hiring of people to hold key positions of influence. As Goucher’s independent student newspaper, we see ourselves as students tasked with the responsibility of seeking out information from members of our community and re-expressing it to our readers. The transmission of information is crucial to give our peers access to this knowledge so we can shape student activism moving forward. Please stay tuned for future interviews.

I Will Not Buy Upvotes

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By Marquis Kurt ‘22

Getting exposure on a project you’ve worked for long is a gratifying and difficult process. Marketing takes time and effort to master and you’re guaranteed to make mistakes along the way. However, taking the time, effort, and motivation to get your project known to the world pays off; people notice your project and others may reach out to work with you. One of the ways you can get a project noticed is through Product Hunt, a website and platform that lets creators publish their product and receive feedback from the community as people tumble across your product. If people are interested in your project, they may upvote it. I joined Product Hunt this past Friday morning in hopes of getting exposure on two of my major projects this semester: The Costumemaster, a puzzle game about switching costumes, and Unscripted, a visual novel video game about software development. When I woke up the next morning, I was greeted with a handful of emails and Twitter messages regarding my work on Product Hunt.

At first, I was ecstatic: I was getting more traction than before with the marketing on Twitter and other social media. My reaction quickly changed its tune when I began reading the emails and messages. All the messages were business pitches, which I am familiar with since I get many of them as a result of Unscripted. These requests, however, were unusual; these requests offered “guaranteed top spots” on the homepage or an influx of upvotes (i.e., buying upvotes). Thus, a moral dilemma arises. Getting on the front page or having a lot of upvotes is ideal; it indicates that your project is popular enough and that people will notice it more than before. However, is it worth it to pay for a shortcut or cheat the system to get there? Should you have to do these kinds of things to get the exposure you want?

A Screenshot of the ProductHunt website PC: Marquis Kurt ’22

For your work to be the best it can, you need to have integrity in your work and the people you work with. Having this integrity shows that you deeply care about the work you’re doing and the people that look at that work. It shows that you prefer to go more honest and transparent routes to benefit you, the people you work with, and your customers/consumers/players/what-have-you. This integrity is a small portion of the pride you have for accomplishing your work, and taking those shady deals undermines that pride and integrity. Furthermore, you may be like me where I value upvotes as more than popularity points; they are a crucial piece of feedback that gives you a sense of how people understand and react to your work. Taking the aforementioned deals and routes takes that information away from you, leaving you clueless as to how people honestly feel about your work.

In the end, I went through every email and message with those deals for front page privilege and guaranteed upvotes, declining every single request. I posted to Twitter as a warning to everyone who attempts to pull the same stunt. Let my experience be a lesson to all who are getting started with publicizing their work; don’t let anyone persuade you to be dishonest with your work.

An Interview with Juan Hernandez

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Conducted by Jibril Howard ’22

In an August 28th email to the Goucher Community, Kent announced the appointment of Juan Hernandez as the new Associate Dean of Student of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Title IX. This mouthful of a title, with its acronym “ADOS DEI & TIX” is still irritatingly long. The DEI & TIX position was among several positions created and or subsequently filled over Covid-19 lockdown and summer including that of Vice President, Dean of Students Aarika Camp; Vice President of Campus Operations Erik Thompson; and Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Elaine Meyer-Lee. The Q staff will be interviewing all these new staff members—below is our conversation with Dean Hernandez.

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Tell us a bit about yourself? What are some fun facts you’d like people to know?

“What I can come up with really quick on the spot is I’m a huge sports everything. I love watching basketball, football, baseball, soccer…you can’t get me away from the TV if there’s some sports happening so obviously, I was struggling pretty much since March with Covid-19. It was a struggle. I’m originally from Chicago; so Chicago everything, Chicago Bears Chicago Bulls, [Chicago] Cubs, specifically no White Sox please…another fun fact is I was a former elected official…I ran for office and was elected as a member of the Board of Education here in the capital city of Connecticut so that was always which was a wonderful experience. It was actually a really good time to be able to learn policy.”

New Associate Dean of Students: Diversity, Equity, and Title IX Juan Hernandez PC: Goucher College Official Website

What led and or attracted you to Goucher?

“I was really interested in the Study Abroad [requirement]. Not necessarily because I’m going to be able to study for fun but for me that tells me as students are hopefully going away and coming back coming back with a bit more of a global perspective. The fact that you know a lot of the problems that we’re dealing with here in the United States don’t only the belong to us; there is discrimination and bigotry all over the world and people are dealing with those with those issues in very different ways. I love the fact that students are required to have some sort of global perspective via the RPP [Race, Power, and Perspective GCR] but then also specifically study abroad.

I also really wanted to get back to some big city living. It’s a very different experience being in a bigger city or being near a bigger city where you can see you can see the impacts of systemic racism, in homophobia, transphobia, those phobias and isms you can see it right in front of you in a big city it is very easy for us to avoid them in cities like Towson or Hartford or West Hartford where I lived. In cities like Baltimore you can’t ignore [the systemic racism] its right in front of your face. I’ll also say I’m very happy to be working with and working for people who seem authentic when it comes to their conversations and their commitment to anti-racism, to battling hate, to making sure our campus is as safe as possible and as healthy as possible. I’m also excited about working with [new Dean of Students] Aarika Camp who is amazing and that’s not just because she’s my boss. It’s also because she’s authentic and her leadership style is one that I’ve been craving for a while.”

How does this position compare with previous jobs you’ve held?

“This position certainly comes with more responsibility and visibility than any of my previous positions. But it is similar in the sense that my job is to be present and supportive of all who are not at the tables that I am privileged enough to sit at. I hold that responsibility very close to my heart.”

In terms of this position, what do you see as being your primary objectives? And do you feel like you have the space and freedom at Goucher to accomplish those goals?

“I’m gonna answer that in two ways. The first one is a very typical new employee answer but I’m going to give it anyways because I really mean this. I really do want to sit back a little bit and listen to what you all want.

I’m not going to go around and do a listening tour. I think that listening tours are technically pointless in the sense. What I really want to do is I’ve been trying to schedule time and with students as much as possible now that I’ve had a couple weeks to get acclimated to the campus. I really want to hear what you all have to say because two of my bigger goals are to try to change the culture around CREI and specifically around the Office of Title IX.

What I mean by that is I want the Office of Title IX to be an office where you can go to receive education. It’s not it’s not just an office where you need to receive resources as a survivor or as a victim; it’s also an office where you can come and have conversations with someone like me about areas where you as a student, or you as a faculty member, or you as a staff member need more knowledge and maybe I can provide some of that knowledge and if I can’t provide it myself I will put you in contact with it with the folks that can give you some of that knowledge.

I want CREI to be a center, a space, that people can come to and sit down and do homework and hang out and meet new people and do that without being worried about being judged because you might not look like everybody else in the space or you might not come from the same spaces or places as the folks who are using the space in that moment. I want it to be a center where we offer programming and trainings and workshops and conversations that are very random and impromptu but can be heated. I want that space to be because I think that that’s when we’re craving. We’re craving a space where we can be ourselves and breathe for a moment instead of being out on campus in that moment and having to code switch just to survive. I want CREI to be that space for everybody. And it’s my job to make it that space for everybody.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the new Title IX regulations. I was wondering if you could provide like a little bit of an idea or an update on where Goucher stands on implementing the new policies?

“I’m very glad you asked that question. This is one that I’ve been struggling with and through a little bit. We do have interim policies that are that are in place for right now. It is my job… it is on my plate to organize a working group of folks, faculty, staff, and students 100 percent, so that we can review those policies and so that everybody has a say in where we go permanently right starting moving forward. Where I’ve been struggling with that…we’re in the middle of a presidential election and that election is going to impact we’re trying to accomplish right now. I’m struggling because let’s say for example that we create this working group to examine these interim policies and to offer feedback. [Because of the Presidential Election] we might actually have to change these interim policies within the next six months again. That’s where I’ve been struggling with that a little bit. All I can do is laugh because in my head I want to cry – it is sitting in my to do lists that we’re going to be creating a working group of folks that includes students.

Either [myself] or Aarika Camp will eventually be sending out an interest form for students to fill out if they are interested in joining the working group…I want people to actually be interested in this work and…so students will be able to express some interest in helping us review these interim policies and have some input in the development of the permanent policies moving forward.”

GBSU has been mobilizing recently around specific demands that they like to see about changing the culture and conversations on campus around discrimination and racial justice. I was wondering how you see those demands fitting into the scope of your job. I know you’ve at least at one the GBSU teach-ins so I was wondering if you could speak to that a little bit?

“What a very good question. I see that I almost see that as a personal mandate for myself. I am in a position of what I think you all will consider to be pretty significant influence, right. What I consider my relationship to those demands to be is I am going to be using that as part of my platform as I determine what my long-term and short-term goals are moving forward. Will I be able to tackle everything on GBSU’s demands? Absolutely not. But I think we know that. I can tell you that I am having conversations with Aarika Camp every day; she is going to be taking on some of those things personally on her own plate, I will be taking some of those demands on, the President is taking some of the demands on. I’m using that as guidance, believe it or not, on how to do my job for the first year my first thing to do is to say thank you.”  

Many students favor a restorative justice approach towards dealing with issues of racial bias and TIX issues. Do you plan to incorporate this approach into your work as ADOS DEI & TIX and if so, in what way?

“I am a strong proponent of restorative justice. I have actually, in the past, utilized restorative circles in my work. I also led an initiative during my time on the Board of Education to prioritize the use of restorative circles and peer juries for high schools. While I am confined by the TIX regulations and the Code of Conduct, I will always support restorative approaches.”

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We have included the entire transcript of the interview because we are in a critical position on campus right now. The enormous amount of administrative turnover that has taken place in the past two or three years is finally culminating in the hiring of people to hold key positions of influence. As Goucher’s independent student newspaper, we see ourselves as students tasked with the responsibility of seeking out information from members of our community and re-expressing it to our readers. Mr. Hernandez has named his stances on issues of systemic racism and the process of addressing harm within the community. The transmission of information is crucial to give our peers access to this knowledge so we can shape of student activism moving forward. Please stay tuned for future interviews.

But Are We Filipino Or Not? Celebrating Filipino-American Heritage Month

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By Mich Rouse ’24 & Jibril Howard ’22

In October 2009, Congress passed House Resolution 780 officially designating October as Filipino-American Heritage month. Due to the history of the American colonization of the Philippines, there has been a long but understated Filipino-American history. The 1960s and 1970s saw the largest waves of Filipino immigration to the US – largely driven by the (often false) promise of American citizenship and escaping poverty back home — as they came to provide work initially as “low-skilled” farm laborers, then as nurses, and now as teachers in rural areas where there are shortages. Since the first waves of immigration there have been some famous Filipino Americans who have broken into the mainstream including High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens, comedian Jo Koy, labor leader Larry Itliong, among many others.  

As biracial Filipino-Americans struggling to find our way in the Asian-American diaspora and in the modern so-called “mainstream” American context where Eurocentricity remains supreme and where almost everything, especially identity, is constantly being packaged and categorized and placed into boxes. The following is a condensed conversation where, thinking on Filipino-American Heritage Month, we reflected on what it means and what it has meant to identify as part-Filipino and to ask ourselves, perhaps inconclusively: are we Filipino or are we not? 

What are some things you connect with as a Filipino-American? 

Mich: Balikbayan (care packages sent by the Filipino diaspora to family living back home), anything ube, lumpia, and whenever my great-grandmother comes to the U.S.

Jibril: Visiting my grandmother and cousins in California, ube ice cream, tinikling (traditional Filipino dance), and halo-halo (traditional Filipino drink) made by grandmother, and rolling lumpia (Filipino spring rolls) in the kitchen with my grandma and mom.

Where in the Philippines is your family from? Where do you self-identify as being from?

Mich: To most people, I say that I’m born and raised in Durham, NC, but I await the look of confusion (and sometimes disappointment) in their eyes. I keep it short and simple. When I was younger, I’ve definitely had the question followed with, “Where are you really from?” – And again, I say Durham, NC. They still look confused so I end up explaining how my mother was born in the Philippines and my father was born in Raleigh. My mother is from Cebu City, in the Cebu province of the country’s Central Visayas region. Honestly, my response varies from person-to-person, though. If it’s someone I won’t have much interaction with in the future, then I keep it to Durham. In other settings, such as college and activist/organizer spaces, then I’m comfortable providing a bit more detail. 

Jibril: My answer will depend a lot on who’s asking since “where are you from?” is often a loaded question asked of people from non-white backgrounds. I tend to say I’m from Atlanta which is where I was born and have lived my entire life. If someone is genuinely curious I’ll explain my background. My Filipino roots come from my mother – her family is from the northern city of Loag, in the province of Ilocos Norte. My grandfather, my “papa,”  immigrated in the 1960s as a farm laborer in Hawaii and California. As someone involved in left-leaning politics I often like to talk about him because he was involved in the labor movement spearheaded by Cesar Chavez in California which pushed for equal rights and equal protections for farmworkers. My papa eventually went back to the Philippines and married my grandmother before returning to settle down and live in Sacramento, California where my mother was born. 

Have you visited the Philippines? What was that like?

Mich: I visited Cebu when I was 13 around early July for my mother’s birthday. I remember the nauseating taxi rides from my Lola’s (great-grandmother’s) home to the hotel and back and wherever else we went. Sadly, upon arrival, I got sick, and I was sick for 4-5 days because of the 12-hour time difference and the humid climate. Another thing: for some reason the hotel pancakes were the best things I’ve ever had in my life, yet I’m certain they’re just boxed mix. During the trip we also went to the beach and had a cookout, but most of the time it was raining. The beach was very beautiful regardless. I do wish I took more pictures, but I guess that brings me more reason to visit again (post-pandemic, of course).

Jibril: I visited when I was around 8. I don’t remember much except how beautifully tropical it was. We drove from Ilocos Norte to Manila through Luzon which was amazing. I got to go swimming in the South China Sea which I remember being crystal clear. I also got a horrible sunburn. We also visited Baguio which was a resort town constructed in the mountains by the American colonial government (I didn’t learn this history until later) but it was a beautiful and picturesque city, and surprisingly chilly despite being near the Equator. 

Crystal-clear beaches in Cebu, Philippines. PC: Mich Rouse ’24

Did you learn about the Philippines in school? What about since you came to Goucher? 

Mich: Nope. There were snippets of Filipino “history” in some of my history classes but never in-depth. I’m tired of having to seek out my family’s history. I just wish it was common to know stuff about the Philippines and have it easily accessible to learn. I guess that we live in a world where it is very much possible to do so, especially with Wikipedia, Youtube, and general Google. However, I can’t help but feel this intense void of immediately not knowing enough about a huge part of my identity primarily because the American education system just doesn’t cover that. 

Jibril: Nope. Never. The first time I felt people actually cared about what was happening in the Philippines was when current President Rodrigo Duterte was elected and everyone started to compare him to Trump. I think the lack of discussion about the Philippines is somewhat deliberate since the Philippines was colonized by the US for 48 years, fighting a secretive but brutal war of oppression against the Filipino people. Given the international image the US likes to project of itself as “a liberator” standing for freedom and human rights it makes sense to exclude the atrocities the US committed against Filipino people since they wouldn’t fit into the national narrative. The US only granted the Philippines independence after World War Two as it began to set up the United Nations and European powers began to decolonize. 

Since I came to Goucher I’ve taken an International Relations class called “Democracy and Violence in Southeast Asia” where among other issues we discussed terrorism in Mindinao in the southern Philippines. It was overall a very interesting class, but I left feeling a little disappointed by the limited frame of the class – learning about terrorism was fascinating but I was left wanting more. I probably had too high an expectation thinking that one class would fill the 14-year void of Filipino history and politics but I was disappointed nonetheless. 

Did you ever feel excluded due to being mixed-race? From which group or both? Did the experience of exclusion feel different?

Mich: There’s this constant battle of belongingness and self-worth that I find myself immersed in. On one hand, I feel that I’m not “Asian enough” to have discussions on the whole “Asian-American experience” because aside from my mother and her friends at annual parties, I don’t hang out with many Asian people. I really only began hanging out with Asian people when I started high school. Before high school, I went to majority Black and Latinx student-populated schools, and only knew of barely a handful of Asian students. I recognize that social interaction doesn’t define overall experience; however, I’d argue that it’s a great factor in my own understanding of what it means to be “Asian.” On the other hand, I’m also not “white enough” because my skin color is literally brown, yet I know I have privileges with my father being white and even my eurocentric birth name. Whenever I spend time with the white side of my family, I’ve always felt uncomfortable because I’m uhhh “built different.” Overall, exclusion from both groups, and I have no clue how to navigate that. 

Jibril: I’ve often felt excluded from both groups to be perfectly frank. I feel like for me, being biracial is often seen by people as not quite one thing and not quite the other. And there has always been enormous pressure to choose one group over the other, to sacrifice one identity for the other but never quite fitting in either way. To my Asian grandmother I was always the “puraw” or “white” grandchild while to my white family any issue of race was a topic generally left undiscussed. As a result, I learned from an early age I learned to code switch between “appropriate” topics of conversation depending on the side of the family to make myself feel comfortable in a given space. Because of this experience, I feel like I can trace some of modern-day anxieties around personal space and boundaries to my struggle as a kid trying to appease half a dozen different types of people.

Have you ever been to Jollibee, the Filipino Fast-Food Restaurant?

Mich: I haven’t been since last summer. The one closest to me is in Virginia Beach, approximately 4 hours away. When I do go, I make sure to get nearly the entire menu – from the Chickenjoy (fried chicken) to the Jolly Spaghetti (spaghetti but with hot dogs) to Halo-Halo to multiple Mango Pies.

Jibril: I’ve only been to Jollibee once or twice several years ago because there are none of them anywhere near where I live in Atlanta. It’s hard to describe but Jollibee is Filipino chain restaurant that is basically a KFC on steroids. It’s never occurred to me to check for any Jollibees around Goucher until now but I’m already making a mental note for if/when we return to campus. 

The very welcoming Jollibee mascot PC: Mich Rouse ’24

What have your experiences been like in conversations regarding POC identity? Have you participated in any affinity group settings?

Mich: I went to a PWI (Predominantly/Private White Institution) for high school where I was introduced to Affinity Spaces. I loved the idea of having a space where I can feel that I finally belong somewhere and not be in this in-between zone of Asian and white. However, I found myself feeling the same thing, only exacerbated.

Jibril: I didn’t have much exposure to affinity spaces prior to Goucher. I had the privilege of attending private/predominately white institutions (PWIs) from elementary school through high school where I was typically one of only three people of color in the room and usually the only Asian. While Goucher isn’t exactly known for its racial diversity it was a significant breath of fresh air to not be the only Asian and Filipino I knew.

The only affinity space at Goucher I’ve been involved with is Asian Identity Alliance started by Claire Anderson’22 and Lia Fukuda’22 last year. They only had a couple meetings and it was nice and I hope to get involved more if it’s restarted back when we’re in-person on campus. I’ll also hope to attend a few meetings by the Asian Student Union.

What’s your favorite Filipino dish? Do you make a lot of Filipino food at home?

Mich: I don’t really cook Filipino food, but I enjoy lumpia (egg rolls), adobo (meat stew), leche flan (caramel custard), and halo-halo. My mother cooks pollo arroz caldo whenever I’m feeling unwell. I’m hoping to learn how to cook Filipino desserts such as biko (rice cake) and turon (fried bananas).

Jibril: I don’t really know how to cook much of anything American or Filipino but I love bibingka & suman which are rice-based sticky desserts my grandmother made. It’s also hard not to love halo-halo which is a cold drink with shaved ice, condensed milk, tapioca, and a mix of beans, ube, coconut shavings, among other things. I want to learn to cook lumpia which is an ambition of mine.

Do you consume Filipino entertainment? 

Mich: Sometimes. I enjoy my dose of Jo Koy comedy specials from time to time. My mom and I actually watched him perform a couple of years ago. I also listen to Unique Salonga, who is this indie-rock musical artist. 

Jibril: I don’t listen to a lot of Filipino entertainment unless I was at my grandparents house growing up when they always had soap operas or game shows on. I did go through a phase in high-school where I was super into Jo Koy who is a Filipino stand-up comedian. 

So, reflecting on all our unique and individual experiences as a Filipino-American growing up in the US, do you consider yourself Filipino?

Mich: (sarcastically) I’ve decided to be Filipino for only this month – Yes, I do consider myself to be Filipino. I’ll always continuously struggle in understanding my place in the world – and more specifically in the Goucher community – being biracial, but I’m hopeful that I’ll meet people who share somewhat of the same experiences as me. I’m also hopeful that they’ll let me know that I’m not alone in this.

Jibril: I always try really hard not to define myself and or tie myself to any one label or group but I do consider myself to be Filipino. I may not speak one lick of the Tagalog or Ilocano (Filipino languages spoken by my family) but I have ties to the community in other ways. I grew up with very unique experiences eating fish eyes on a dare, finding sketchy warehouses to pick up or drop-off balikbayan boxes, and rolling lumpia with my grandma and mom on rainy weekends. With these individual experiences I don’t think it’s possible for me to not self-identify as Filipino. 

Filipino-American Heritage Month. PC: FilipinoStarNews via Pinterest

Comedy, Tragedy, and “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend”

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By Madeline Tredway ’24

I don’t think there’s anything I could say about the 2020 pandemic that hasn’t been done to death. Loneliness, existential doom, constant fear, Animal Crossing — it’s all been reiterated over and over in so many different ways, to the point where it doesn’t really mean much anymore. However, when you look closer at what is being said, it seems like all the poetry, the articles, and Instagram stories practice what is becoming so common among people: stating what they’re feeling in a clinical manner, but refusing to be truly honest in fear of other people’s reactions. “I’m feeling sad and lonely today, but I’ll just post a picture of my friends and I hanging out from three months ago so I don’t seem too sad and lonely.” “Fear is hard to manage in these times, but let me make a joke so I don’t look like I’m really upset about the situation.” 

Conan O’Brien hosts the TBS talk show Conan. PC: NPR

All of these are completely understandable reactions to the different things we’re all suffering from right now, but as a person who leans into hardship for better or for worse, it’s isolating to feel like you’re going through such awful things alone and to know that the problem might be alleviated if we all weren’t so scared of intimacy. So who do I, a female college student, look to for this gritty, heartbreakingly real depiction of reality I so desire? None other than Conan O’ Brien. 

O’Brien’s podcast “Conan O’ Brien Needs a Friend” started in late 2018 and was met by praise from critics and listeners alike. O’Brien, who is the longest-running current talk show host with 26 years under his belt, is truly one of a kind—he’s generally adored by his cult following, and has a strange sense of humor that comes off as refreshingly different from a lot of talk show hosts. So to hear that Conan O’ Brien was starting a podcast was great news for many, especially since he was allowed to choose his own guests, read his own ads instead of going to a commercial break, and potentially cut through the Hollywoodisms that plague talk shows. Its success seemed inevitable.

Now that the podcast has been active for a few years, it is safe to say it lived up to its prospects. Its gimmick is that Conan’s only friends are his staffers, therefore he is in desperate need of new friends, hence the “needs a friend” part of the title. It’s simple enough to work with the freeform discussions on the show and also meshes well with his self deprecating humor. In fact, his style of comedy works well with the somewhat straightforward structure of the podcast — each episode begins with a little bit of banter with his assistant Sona Movsesian (media personality from O’Brien’s television show) and producer Matt Gourley (a podcast legend in many circles), then the actual interview, and finishes with closing banter with Movsesian and Gourley. Sprinkle a few ads in between, and that’s the entirety of the podcast. But O’Brien’s humor is intelligent and weird, at times even being nonsensical, so the podcast is never boring. Even with guests that aren’t known for comedic prowess, notably J.J. Abrams and Michelle Obama, O’Brien coaxes the humor out of discussions of movie-making and politics. With a perfect host & structure, along with producer Gourley who edits masterfully to make cuts seem unawkward, this podcast is genuinely well-made.

Although “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” is wonderfully funny, this alone is not what makes it unique. Other podcasts like “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” are among my favorites that make me laugh just as much as O’Brien does, but I keep coming back to “Conan O’Brien” for re-listens more than I do the others. So what is it about the podcast that makes it so special? The short answer is truth.

On Nikki Glaser’s episode, Glaser speaks openly and honestly about her eating disorder and how it affected her self-image throughout high school and college, and still affects her eating habits today. She remarks that she thinks her disorder was her way of wanting to die, and although she isn’t tearing up when saying this, it’s understood that this was a pivotal point in the comedian’s life. It’s a very tense moment, and for the listener, the obvious context of this being a comedy show is more apparent than ever. A lot of podcast hosts express their want for the guests on their podcasts to feel comfortable talking about “anything and everything,” but I’ve noticed that in a lot of these podcasts, as soon as that “anything and everything” comes to something serious, the hosts don’t know how to handle it. They either make a joke and move on, or stay so silent that the guest doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it anymore. It’s immediately obvious that the promise at the beginning of the show isn’t able to be fulfilled, because for a lot of people, that kind of confidentiality about somber topics is uncomfortable. But with O’Brien, he asks questions about her experience and comments on it truthfully, telling her he hates hearing about her being in that kind of pain, not shying away from the emotional implication his honesty carries. 

I mentioned earlier that O’Brien’s humor is refreshing, and since listening to the podcast, I’ve learned his honesty is also refreshing, especially recently. The pandemic has really amplified the tendency of people to hide from veracity when it relates to suffering. It’s too much for a lot of people to be honest about mental health during the pandemic (and honesty does not mean making a joke about your loneliness that’s veiled under five layers of irony). Yes, comedy is healing, but people like O’Brien understand that it is not simply a shield. Talking to people and sharing experiences is one of the only means of connection we have right now, and I’m afraid that connection is becoming severed as people use humor to fortify their own walls. It is absolutely true, however, that comedy and candidness are not completely separate, but burying serious things under humor is not combining the two. It’s only isolating humor and causing others to feel as if confidentiality is not welcome. 

For instance, after Glaser confides in Conan about her eating disorder, Conan makes a comment about how a lot of comedians weren’t the class clowns in high school, and instead the kids people remember as being incredibly serious. He quips that the class clowns often died in motel shootouts. This joke is funny, but saying this doesn’t detract from Glaser’s intimacy, and doesn’t serve just to move past it. He acknowledges Glaser’s suffering and by making this joke, he’s not making light of it—he’s trying to alleviate just a little bit of sorrow. This is truly combining comedy and candidness.

At the beginning of one of the podcast episodes, O’Brien talks briefly about the pandemic. He speaks of his sadness at seeing young people accepting that this is their new reality, and says that he’s confident that science will come in to save the day; we will live to see another unexpected pandemic to seize upon us! That made me laugh, but it also assuaged so much of the stress and fear I had been feeling at the time. It’s the most honest and human response to the pandemic I’ve heard from a comedian, and it’s moments like those that make me realize why I listen to this podcast over and over again: O’Brien truly understands the adjacent relationship between comedy and tragedy.

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. PC: Earwolf.com

Cosplay Culture

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By Trinity King ’24

Ever since I was a child, I have always been obsessed with TV shows, movies, and books. I loved fantasy in particular, because it allowed me to escape into realities unlike mine, and unicorns and dragons are just really cool. Growing up in a city with several conventions certainly didn’t help me leave all those stories and nerdy stuff behind. I don’t remember the exact first time I saw cosplay, but there are several conventions in my city, and one of them has a huge 2 ½ hour long parade with floats and cosplayers from all genres. It is completely free to the public, but in order to get good spots you have to get up super early. I remember going a couple times as a kid, and it was really cool to see everyone’s creativity and expertise on their costume pieces.

DragonCon 2018 PC: AtlantaMagazine.com

The first year I went into the events for this convention, I borrowed a friend’s badge and my family, friends, and I walked around the hotels for hours looking at all the people, vendor’s halls, and events. I loved every minute of it, from meeting cool artists, freaking out meeting one of the My Little Pony comic artists, and getting a lot of fan art to plaster my walls with. Ever since, I have attended every annual running of this convention, called DragonCon.

Slowly, I dragged all of my friends along and it became a yearly weekend party with lots of chaos, makeup, and last-minute costume shopping. It was the highlight of my year; being able to goof off with my friends and strangers while fangirling and compulsively purchasing art. This year would have marked my fifth or sixth year attending, and part of what made it special was cosplay. Cosplay is personifying a character through embodying their personality and clothing.

My friends and I would meticulously plan for each day, scheduling who wanted to go to which panels, when to nerd out and meet celebrities, and what cosplays to wear that day. We would plan to wake up at dawn, inevitably wake up around 8:45 AM, and hurriedly eat food and throw makeup on in a blur to take a half-assed photoshoot before piling in the car like clowns and arriving at the convention spaces. Our group cosplays were always fun, especially the more people we persuaded into coming. We all got so many compliments, ran into other fans, and took photos with other people in cosplays from the same fandoms.

I love conventions because they give me an excuse to wear a Rapunzel costume with a matching set of ears and tail as a grown ass adult without getting too many strange looks. It is so liberating to be able to escape into the role of a character one admires. I get to stand out to others while still being a stranger, connect with unfamiliar faces just from a shared interest/hobby, and nerd out over other people’s creations. Some of my favorite creative cosplay moments I’ve seen was Beaker from the Muppets dressed in full war gear, the snow queen from Narnia taking badass photos, and a huge conga line of Deadpools jamming out to someone’s loudspeaker. Where else would you see that?

Interactions while in cosplay are just the coolest thing. I’ve seen many battles against sworn enemies, huge photoshoots between total strangers in the same genre costumes, and children’s faces lighting up as their idols walk up and greet them. Seeing how excited people get (including me) is a big part of why I enjoy it so much. I remember last year was my first-time dressing as Wonder Woman, and I was a little nervous because it was different from what I would normally wear. But as me and my friends rushed out of a hotel to head to the next panel, a man spotted me and asked if I could take a photo with two young children. They seemed excited to see me, and I wish I had the photo because it made them and myself so happy. I loved every minute of taking that photo because I knew it was special for the kids to see me dressed as such a strong, bold character.

Many people might have (and did) say that my cosplay was a little too revealing. And honestly, it got to me. But then I remembered why people cosplay. It is not for attention as some outsiders believe, but because I feel confident in being such a badass character. I dress the way I do because I feel confident in my body in that outfit; it empowers me to be someone who I respect. Cosplay is about having fun, being with other nerds, personifying characters I admire, and seeing other people enjoy what I’m doing.

Many people believe that cosplay is super weird, and it has no benefit. They’re not wrong that it is weird, but to me, weird is not always a bad characteristic to possess. I’m weird as hell, but in the words of Luna Lovegood, “I am just as sane as the rest of you, for the most part.” The cosplay community and conventions may be perceived as weird, unprofessional, and unnecessary, but they have a huge positive benefit for the participants, businesses, the local economy, and charities. Conventions generate thousands of dollars for charity every year and support the cities they are hosted in by boosting their economy. By paying for hotels, restaurants, travel, and merchandise, the guests spend loads of money on businesses big and small. In 2015, DragonCon added around $65 million dollars to the Atlanta economy. While smaller conventions don’t generate nearly as much revenue, they still make a direct impact by helping cities and charities. In 2019, FWA’s attendees raised $50,000 dollars to donate to the Animal Park at the Conservator’s center, a park that educates about and cares for endangered species. These cities, charities, and businesses rely on conventions in order to stay well-funded and open, especially the smaller ones.

Going to conventions and cosplaying also shouldn’t be perceived as unprofessional or strictly for older audiences. Both are hobbies that allow people like me to take a break from the stressors in my life while hanging out with friends and meeting new people. Everyone has hobbies, and both are just hobbies that allow me to be creative through making art and designing and wearing cosplays, all while enjoying the positive chaos of conventions.

Many conventions are child friendly, and heavily encourage younger audiences to attend. Going to conventions as a child is like going to Disney World on steroids. I got to meet several of my character idols in person, meet other people who nerded out over the same things, and see all sorts of amazing art. I am so grateful to have gone to conventions as a child, they were so magical and really boosted my confidence in myself. They assured me that there was nothing wrong with my hobbies, and to pursue what made me happy. Cosplay and conventions are such a huge part of my life because they inspire me to keep on pursuing what makes me passionate, while making strangers happy along the way.  

Adjusting to Goucher under Quarantine

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By Nicholas Enoch ’24

Walking on Van Meter Highway and being told the stories of students walking into Mary Fisher Hall with large groups of friends at night and sitting outside the Big Lawn, it felt weird seeing an almost empty campus coming to Goucher for the first time.

All residential students are living in Welsh Hall, with the option of getting one suite to themselves or having a roommate. For the first five days all residential students were on campus, everyone was required to be quarantined in their rooms, which means no leaving campus for any reason, and the only things we were allowed to do were walking around campus with no interactions. With meals being delivered and no roommates in my suite, I felt lost, alone, and totally up a creek. While the meals were exceptional, I had little to no motivation to go outside longer than 15 or 20 minutes because of my sluggish energy during the first five days on campus.

Van Meter Highway without students. PC: Nicholas Enoch ’24

When the day came, we finally got our test results back, it felt like the campus was lifted from all of our shoulders. With six-foot guidelines in effect for all on Welsh Hall and campus hotspots like the Mary Fisher Dining Hall, Athenaeum, and common rooms. After nearly a week of seeing no one and feeling separated from people, it was a refreshing surprise to be able to see people, eating outside Mary Fisher Hall, having conversations, and getting to know each other.

Two weeks later we all got retested for COVID, just to make sure that all the students did not develop symptoms once restrictions were lifted. All the tests came back negative, and so far, as I know, no students who are living on campus have COVID-19. Things felt like they went back to normal; my RA made a socially-distanced ice cream social with the residents on my floor, I got to have dinner with some students, and I felt like I was finally getting that Goucher Community feel, but I wanted to be able to get involved in clubs, get myself out there.

Thanks to events hosted by Goucher’s Office of Student Engagement, from the open houses, social hours, and the Student Involvement Fair, I have been able to meet and interact with clubs and organizations that sparked my interests. From engaging in the Involvement Fair, I have joined four organizations, from becoming a member of the Student Engagement Team, Secretary for the Goucher Eye, part of the Editorial Board for the Preface, and becoming the Foreign Language Editor for the Quindecim

After being on campus for the past five or six weeks, I think Goucher has done a good job of keeping the CDC guidelines and enforcing them. From only allowing certain people to come on campus to only having certain numbers of people allowed to be in the laundry room or being in a common room, these restrictions have helped keep COVID off campus or have people develop symptoms on campus. While I do wish we could have more on-campus engagement for the residential students who currently live on campus, I feel like Goucher Residential Life Staff and Public Safety are doing a good job of containing COVID on-campus.

While at the beginning, coming in as a transfer student, it was challenging to adjust to a new environment, but being willing to put myself out there and getting involved I have grown to find my community, friends, and happy to call Goucher my home away from home.


A Deserted First-Year Village. PC: Nicholas Enoch ’24

WONDROUS (A FUTURE ASSOCIATED PRESS PUBLISHED STORY)

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Gal Gadot in the 2017 film Wonder Woman. PC: Vox.com

At the CCXP Comic Con Brazil Festival that took place earlier this year, Wonder Woman 1984 film director Mrs. Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman Mrs. Gal Gadot took center-stage to release and unveil the Wonder Woman 1984 film trailer globally. Joy and excitement filled Brazil’s CCXP theater arena space as the courageous Wonder Woman Mrs. Gal Gadot debuted the Wonder Woman 1984 trailer. “My life hasn’t been what you probably think it has. We all have our struggles,” Wonder Woman 1984 picks up where she left off from Wonder Woman 1, and spreads Wonder Woman’s timeless message of “we all can be the superheroes of our own life stories.” Superheroes go through struggles because struggle arms our humanity with the resilience and perseverance to triumph over evil. Gal Gadot, as Wonder Woman, through her W shaped crown and her lasso of truth teaches us, that no matter how daunting our obstacles can be, we can achieve any impossible dream and goal we have in our hearts and souls, no matter how many times our humanity gets counted out. Mrs. Gal Gadot’s main makeup artist Mrs. Sarah Brock has two older adult sons with High Functioning Autism, and they lead loving, kindhearted, empathy filled, and compassionate and gratitude led lives. Why should people with disabilities be judged for them loving themselves unapologetically? All we need to live the lives of our dreams and to direct the film stories of our souls is to be ourselves.

Mr. Pedro Pascal’s character in Wonder Woman 1984’s main trailer, Mr. Max Lord, shows us with the quote, “Life is good, but it can be better, so why should it not be. All you need is to want it. Think about having everything you always wanted,” that there is no goal humanity cannot achieve. Following Pascal’s words of hopefulness and faith, Mr. Steve Trevor as a resurrected and revived warrior spirit returns fully alive by telling Gal and Wonder Woman herself, “I can save today, but you can save the world.” Once Gal said Steve, and Gal embraced Steve with a loving hug and true tears of love, I cried as much as Gal cried because I myself reflected on where I was when I saw Wonder Woman 1 in Jerusalem in November 2017. In Jerusalem’s Cinema City Theater, during the premiere of Wonder Woman One in November 2017, I remembered Wonder Woman say, “I stand for love,” when finally defeating Ares The God of War. Not only do I believe in love, I believe we all have a place for everyone.

On November 28th, 2016, I earned my Israeli citizenship despite my High Functioning Autism. Today I daily save lives from car accidents for the Jerusalem and global safe driving startup Mobileye Intel as a computer algorithms Quality Assurance technician which is directly responsible for saving peoples’ lives from car accidents with safe running Mobileye car GPS systems.  As a 25-year old Israeli living in Jerusalem with High Functioning Autism and as a writer, I know that God has made our souls and hearts to achieve the impossible. Joaquin Phoenix, 2020 Oscar Academy Award winner for The Joker, eloquently quoted a beautiful message from his brother River: Joaquin’s words ring true: “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.” In togetherness and love, the world will truly know hope.

Alumni Submission from Jonathan Trauner ’16

How Did I Lose My Bed Sheet? A Model UN Story

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In Model UN, we had a toga party for our first simulation. I had a dark blue polyester bedsheet. Luckily, it was my extra sheet, so I still have one. Our first simulation was that of the Roman era when the king had just been overthrown so at that point, we had to deal with forming a government. I was the slaver which, in my opinion, was the best role to have because I knew a lot more about the topic whereas I knew little to nothing about the other characters. 

 In the simulation, we had a slave rebellion. Now, that I think back to it, I am not sure what ended up happening in that regard. We wound up electing our chief executive as a military dictator for a rule of one year. I voiced that that would be too short. At the end, she was ruler for 40 years and it became a hereditary rule meaning that her children would become the next rulers. 

 Another interesting aspect was that we had two pretend crucifications at the end because some of the members were political enemies. We might have had three had one of them not left early for another meeting. I overheard someone saying, “that is what the gavel is actually for.”  

 Our second simulation was a simulation of the Trump 2020 reelection campaign. In that case, I was the Health Care Advisor. I found that I didn’t speak up as much because I knew little about that area. What made this simulation so much fun was that other delegates were using accents to play into character plus we had a graph up front to measure our progress. We wound up promising that we would declare war on Iran which dropped our ratings. However, eventually we regained our poll numbers and were successful in our goal of reelection but this came after we had a crisis update where we had a breach in the US-Mexico border wall. Our solution, as part of our final resolution, was to give guns to everyone who was, I believe, in a 50-mile radius of the border. If we had more time, a few of us planned on dissolving Congress and making him eternal dictator. I recognize that this can be a serious topic in real life, but we were having fun with the topic in our mock simulationWhen the SI tutor walked in a few minutes before the end of the session, she was laughing when she saw what was going on. 

 I started my Model UN experience in my junior year of high school. I joined my school club which led to two years going to the John Hopkins Model UN conference also known as JHUMUNC, two weeks of the Best Delegate summer Model UN program at Georgetown University, and a semester long course on Model UN. Throughout, all of these experiences I realized that crisis committees were my favorite as you could do secret behind-the-scenes actions. You also got to see the consequences of what happened with the directives and had to deal with it. Another aspect I enjoyed was the midnight crisis which I thought I would hate at first, but I loved! The midnight crisis entails getting woken up late at night and having to go down to do a special committee session.

My first crisis committee, in my second year of JHUMUNC, was a joint crisis committee on India-Pakistan in 1999. Our crisis was that of the Indian side when our newly-elected fictional prime minister was assassinated during a cricket match. The Pakistanis had a few people assassinated as well. We wound up going to war with Pakistan that night. Despite it being rather late, others were being quite descriptive about the weapons being used. I wonder if war would have broken out had it not been the midnight crisis. Nevertheless, war makes the crisis more fun even if it isn’t the most logical step. 

 I have found that high school and college Model UN aren’t that different. Goucher Model UN is going to four conferences this year. They are Georgetown, Norfolk, Harvard, and Gettysburg. Crisis here at Goucher is different than my previous experiences because we do not have back room crisis notes. I fully recognize that this is impossible as we wouldn’t have enough people. I’m hoping that I will be lucky enough to make it into a crisis committee at one of the conferences. To be honest, it would be fun to be behind a delegate assassination. Depending on the simulation, it is likely that an assassination will occur in most crisis committees. 

 As I can still remember my JHUMUNC experience from last year, it is proof that it is a memorable experience. One thing I find ironic is that I tend to remember character names better than actual names. If I do remember their name, I will always think of them as that name and then their previous character or country names for a long time too come. I have no idea if that is the case for other participants.       

 Model UN is great for both those with or without previous experience. I would recommend giving it a try so that you don’t miss out on the fun. 

By: Meredith Schulhof 

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