I’ve been working at Paul’s Place for more than a year now, and writing about it is starting to feel redundant. I don’t say this to be reductive of its importance or its impact on me; but rather to illustrate my frustration with being continuously unable to capture the feeling of volunteering there. I’ve taken prac 4 times which means i’ve written about it every week (when i have school) for more than a year now, but I still cant quite get it.
It was when Dr. Kate presented us with the concept of using art as a form of activism that the idea of creating a literary journal first came to me. The specifics were foggy for a little while – I cycled through dozens of topics until it occurred to me that the narrower the subject, the more difficult it would be to gather submissions. So I broadened my category to one singular noun – woman. Any undergraduate student that identified as a woman was permitted to enter poetry or prose for inclusion into what I was then calling a journal or anthology.
Take Back the Night can be a life-changing event for those of us who regularly experience sexual harassment, misogyny, body shaming, or objectification. UMBC’s Take Back the Night, for those reasons, has the ability to be life-changing for absolutely anyone by caring enough about themselves and others to notice that these themes really matter in the overall shaping of rape culture and the extent that the “small stuff” can reach to. The speak out at this year’s event was something I have been preparing for a while now because of the mark it had on me at last year’s event when I was only one month off of a traumatic sexual assault. At last year’s speak out, a woman confessed her struggle about her rape and ended with, “I can now confidently say that the word ‘broken’ is no longer in my vocabulary” about her long recovery to better-than-before. I fell apart at that moment. Not only was I simply not “there” yet in my process (considering it had happened one month ago at the time), but I was just so inspired by the fact that she had gone through something that made her feel stronger. She was honestly broken at one point and is now unfamiliar with the word. Hearing those stories, knowing I was not the only one, it was everything to me.
I decided to combine the ten years of theatre experience I’ve acquired in my life and write a monologue. This was meant to be more of a performance, but turned out to be detailed letter to myself at the time of my assault, alongside a letter to my offender. I was inspired to write something after a year of the occurrence because I felt I had gained some knowledge about things I wish I had known when it had just happened. It feels like nobody actually understands, and like it can’t get any better. And honestly? In a few ways it doesn’t. Sometimes it even gets worse. However, there’s some things in our lives that we can think about that keep us holding on. I guess I just feel as if holding on was worth it, and I want other survivors of rape and sexual assault to know that. Continue reading
Our project focused on spreading awareness of affordable health and reproductive care options for students. As a group, we created a few pamphlets that described the options students had available to them, both on and off campus, for general health care, mental health and addiction services, and reproductive care. Continue reading
We started the You Can Play Day at UMBC when we recognized the lack of recognition and inclusion that LGBTQ students received in collegiate-level sports. From our very own experience with UMBC sports, we realized that there is a deep level of fear and stigma around having close contact between homosexual and heterosexual athletes, such as in the locker rooms. This, along with the problem of trans-inclusion sports, are the main focuses of our event.
Mention of the term “refugee” is likely to incur a wide array of reactions in our present social economy where the word has been highly politicized. Exploring this word in terms of politics often overshadows the reality that refugees are in fact people representing a broad spectrum of class, race, religion, and gender. They find themselves in the harrowing position of choosing between their homes and their lives. Being a refugee is not an elected identity, but one of dreadful circumstance.
The Refugee Youth Project is working with the community to create a sustainable solution to the affected people displaced by war and other hardships so they can thrive in new spaces. My job within this program was to act as a tutor and mentor for middle and high school students, mainly from Burma/Myanmar. Previous to entering into this program, I had little understanding of the circumstances of military dictatorship which have shaped the great divides within this country over the past sixty years. Continue reading
When we first started this project, we knew very little about UMBC’s Gender Inclusive housing option. The information available on it was scarce and outdated. In addition, both our individual experiences and the experiences we’d heard about from others who had applied for Gender Inclusive Housing (GIH) in the past made us concerned for the situation. We’d heard that RAs and those in Living Learning Communities were not allowed to participate in Gender Inclusive Housing. We experienced being assigned an apartment instead of getting to choose where we live like those in standard housing. We were told that someone’s Gender Inclusive Housing application was denied. It seemed to us as though many aspects of the Gender Inclusive housing process were at best, inconvenient, and at worst, outright discriminatory. Continue reading