A Letter to My Inner Artist: A letter to my childhood self.

Dear Inner Artist,

It feels strange to have you back after you seem to have been gone for a while. Even as you’ve been enjoying the process of writing more poetry in one semester than you have in a while, it still doesn’t feel like you’re back in your entirety.

I know the reality is that you’ve never left. You’ve always been with me. But I look back to the days when you would spend hours excited after dreaming about a new story, breaking out your crayons and construction paper, sprawling out on the floor and writing for hours, decorating your words with doodles and stickers, borrowing Mom’s stapler off the desk, and showing off your newly finished book with pride, and I can’t help but feel like that liveliness, that joy, isn’t as strong anymore.

Perhaps it comes with growing up. Throughout my childhood, adults warned me that my imagination would slip away, and I had always stuck out my chin, straightened my back, and thought, No, that won’t happen to me! You’re still here, so my imagination hasn’t slipped away entirely, but I am saddened to think that, to an extent, they were right.

Looking back, I can pin the point where you began to fade slowly: my sophomore year of high school. My schedule got busier. There was more pressure put on me for grades because college was getting nearer and nearer. I had pushed you away to study and sleep and socialize. It was me who began to rely on you less and less. Your absence was not your fault.

But then came college, and you must have recognized my newfound amount of freedom. I guess you took to heart the advice everyone around you was giving you
before graduation, that college is a time of exploration and self-discovery. You were the voice in my head encouraging me to take a creative writing class my first
semester. We haven’t written for fun in so long. How great would it be to try it again? Little did I know that decision would bring me more joy and confidence than I had felt in the few years prior.

As time went on, slowly but surely, you made your presence stronger. So strong, in fact, that you pushed aside any and all logic and dismantled all of the plans I had for my future in one fell swoop. It was your turn to make your vision come to life, the vision you’ve been harboring since you learned what stories were, since you absorbed the lesson on poetry in fourth grade with wide eyes and open ears, since you came home from school every day and raced upstairs to fill up notebook after notebook with drawings, nonsense rhymes, and characters based off of your favorite dolls.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Though I don’t think you will ever be as powerful as you were when I was a kid, I am eternally grateful that you have stuck around, and I can rest easy knowing that you won’t ever leave me for good.

Earth-Friendly Fashion: A look into planning Earthkeepers’ clothing drive.

A change in the weather means it’s time for a cleanout, and that means going through your wardrobe only to find that you don’t actually wear half of the clothes that you own. This is what senior Business Administration major and founder of Earthkeepers, Claire Kasari, noticed when talking to her friends before winter break.

Kasari and her friends wanted to do a clothing swap with the items they no longer wanted after going through their summer clothes to prepare to bring out their winter wardrobe when she had the idea to make it a campus-wide event. “I thought to myself, You know there are probably a lot of people on this campus who are doing the exact same thing who don’t know where to put their clothes, how to organize a clothing drive, don’t know how to organize a clothing swap and don’t have the resources to do so, and I was like, I could probably do that! Let me see how feasible that would be,” Kasari said.

What started as just two clothing donation boxes – one in Gough and one in Eagle – led to a box in every dorm building on campus, all of which would be filled with clothes that students no longer wore and wanted to go to a good cause.

“We got so many clothes! I don’t know if this is environmentalist but I did 22 loads of laundry for all of the clothes. It was insane. It was a lot of laundry to do because I wanted everything to be clean for COVID too,” Kasari said,

All of the work putting out the boxes, having students donate, and washing the clothes to prep them for distribution paid off on Saturday, April 17 when the Sparrowk tent became a place for students to find new clothes without spending a dime.

“It was so successful and so many people came by and were like, ‘Wow! This is actually good stuff!’ and I’m like, ‘Right?’” Kasari exclaimed. Any misconceptions students may have had about thrifting were tossed aside quickly as the clothes were all in good condition and some pieces even still had tags on them.

As for the clothes that were left over after the event, members of Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today (YACHT) volunteered to take them and prepare them to give out to those experiencing homelessness in the city so that none of the clothes would go to waste.

The grand success of this clothing drive goes to show that sustainability can be very stylish indeed.

Emerging from the Shark Tank: Enactus Shark Tank winner, Karl Golden, talks about his entrepreneurial experience in this competition.

Over 45,000 people apply for the chance to appear on ABC’s competition show, Shark Tank, every single year for a chance to promote their business and hopefully land the best deal of their lives. That number may seem incredibly intimidating for many students with product and business ideas, but Eastern University’s student group, Enactus, believes in encouraging young entrepreneurs on Eastern’s campus by hosting their very own Shark Tank competition every year.

For those unfamiliar with the television program, the concept is this: each episode, several business owners or hopefuls get a chance to pitch their business or product to a group of 5 successful and business-savvy experts in the industry, referred to as sharks. If one of the sharks likes the idea or sees promise in the company, they can make an offer to give the business owner a sum of money for a share in their company. If they get an offer, or multiple offers, it is then up to the business owner to decide whether or not they want to take it.

Enactus’ event operates in a similar manner, with a panel of judges made up of local entrepreneurs and students pitching their ideas with the hope of winning a $1000 grand prize to put into their business. Senior Sociology major, Karl Golden, was one of the students who took on the challenge of presenting his business idea in front of the sharks.

“I saw a flyer, and I was interested in entrepreneurship, so I thought, I’m gonna apply, I’m gonna submit my proposal when the deadline opens,” Golden said regarding his interest in participating in the event. “I studied Entrepreneurship in community college, but never got the opportunity to apply it, so this was a chance for me to do so.”

Golden then met with Dr. Socci to go over his proposal and a one page overview of his business, Kingdom Candles, LLC, and was then entered into the competition. Kingdom Candles is a faith-based candle company where the candles come with a prayer based on the scent. Golden sees these candles as being great to give out as gifts to friends, family, and others.

“I know oftentimes, it’s really hard to break the ice about sharing your faith, but this can be a way to do so. My vision is just about sharing faith with others and giving other people the opportunity to do that through candles,” Golden said.

Aside from the faith aspect of the business, Golden chose to start a candle company because the start-up costs are comparatively lower than a lot of other businesses. During his sales pitch in front of the sharks, he presented all of this information with charts and graphs, breaking down his budget and detailing what he would use the $1000 grand prize for in starting this company if he were to win.

His hard work and dedication impressed the panel of sharks, and he was ultimately chosen as the victor. Though Golden is busy finishing up his undergraduate career at Eastern and will be serving in the U.S. Army for full-time active duty after graduation, he plans on starting his business and making his own product in the time between graduation and his service, getting it up and running with the $1000 prize money.

If you have a small business idea, and are thinking of participating in next year’s Shark Tank event, Golden offered some words of advice and encouragement. “Think
about how you can solve problems or how you can help people. I don’t consider myself to be an entrepreneur, but a social entrepreneur, so I want to help people, and I want to do that in the business world,” Golden said. “Don’t have any fear because experience is the best teacher. If you win or if you lose, you’re still going to gain a bunch of experience, and a bunch of feedback on your idea.”

Golden emphasized the idea that experience is the best thing you can gain from a competition like Shark Tank whether you win or lose, and this is certainly an experience he will carry with him for time to come

Give Poetry a Try

Poetry overall tends to have a reputation as being overwhelming, dense, hard to understand, and highly intellectual, and much of that stems from how many people’s only experiences with poetry are in educational settings where the poems are written with antiquated language, and the reading experience is one solely based on analysis. Since April is National Poetry Month, and all across the US, there are events and readings held to celebrate poets and lovers of poetry, I wanted to talk about how reading poetry can be enjoyable outside of academia.

For starters, poetry as an art form is incredibly diverse. Because poetry is a much older storytelling device than fiction that can be found in almost every culture around the world, it’s a way to learn about history and folklore from all parts of the globe! Even in America today, poets of color, poets of different sexualities and gender identities, and poets with disabilities or mental illnesses are gaining more and more recognition, as poetry is something that allows them to tell their stories the same way people all over the world have for thousands of years with as many restrictions or creative liberties as they would like.

For those who may not know where to start when reading poetry, spoken word or slam poetry is probably the most accessible since the language tends to be more colloquial and you can listen to the poet read their work with the intended tone and inflections, making it easier to understand. Button Poetry is a great resource for finding spoken word poets to listen to, and many poets have been able to publish physical collections of their poems through them as well.

Contemporary poets also tend to write in more familiar language, describing the good and the bad of the world around us through the minute details comprising human experience. I find poets like Mary Oliver or Ada Limón to be easily digestible due to their conversational tone and the vivid imagery they create with their words, however there are many other poets whose style you may enjoy more.

Part of the beauty of poetry is its subjectivity. If you don’t like the work of one poet, don’t give up on poetry completely. Poetry.org is a great free resource to browse the work of a multitude of amazing poets, some you may have learned about in the past and many you may have never heard of. With so much poetry at your fingertips, I encourage you to give reading poetry a second chance!

Dyeing to Know About the Eggs: A brief history on the dyeing of Easter eggs.

For many, dyeing Easter eggs is an annual tradition and a way to spend quality time with family and friends before the Easter holiday. I’ve always wondered how the tradition of making and hiding colored eggs relates to Easter besides getting children more involved in the holiday festivities. So why do we dye eggs for a holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus?

Upon making a quick web search, I was inundated with information about tons of different theories and origin stories about this tradition. While no one seems to know for sure which one is the most true – some being perhaps completely fictional – these stories cover a wide range of cultural backgrounds and geography. Some have more history behind them while others seem like stories passed down as a way to try to explain the tradition.

Perhaps one of the most common theories is that Easter was originally celebrated as a pagan holiday in different areas around Europe, celebrating the coming of spring and, in Anglo-Saxon England, the goddess Eastre.

In an attempt to get more people to convert to Christianity, missionaries turned this festival into a Christian holiday by turning a celebration about the resurrection of nature into a celebration of the resurrection of Christ, however they kept some of the elements of the original festivals so there would be a sense of familiarity for new converts. One of these elements was the importance of eggs, which were symbols of fertility, life and growth. The eggs would be served to eat or buried in the ground during these celebrations.

According to this story, it wasn’t until King Edward I of England supposedly ordered 450 colored and golden eggs to give out to his nobility in the year 1290 that colored eggs began to become a part of Easter festivities. It wasn’t until the Victorian period several hundred years later that dyeing and hiding eggs became a more family-oriented affair, bringing in the image of the Easter Bunny to the holiday and beginning the American tradition of the annual White House Easter
Egg Roll.

Another story originated in Ukraine where eggs were again associated with growth and life because of the yolk’s resemblance to the sun and the new life that forms inside. Each spring, people would write on eggs using beeswax and dye them to reveal patterns, typically resembling a sun or simply consisting of lines and triangles. This practice is known as pysanky, and was carried over to Christian Easter celebrations when missionaries arrived. Pysanky is a tradition that is still around today, and there are some people who can create beautifully intricate designs in a multitude of vivid
colors.

Some stories date the practice of dyeing eggs back to the days of the early Christian church and before. One theory states that Mesopotamian Christians would dye eggs red to symbolize the blood Jesus shed on the cross, another that Jesus’ mother Mary brought eggs with her to Jesus’ crucifixion site and that either his blood or her tears turned the eggs red.

One of my favorite stories tells of Mary Magdalene telling Emperor Tiberius that Jesus has risen. Tiberius scoffs and gestures to an egg in front of him, saying that Jesus is as alive as the egg is red. With his words, the egg immediately changed color to a brilliant crimson, proving that Jesus was, in fact, alive again. Though the different stories may differ in laying claim to the beginning of this tradition, there is a common thread of hope through them all, and ultimately through symbolism, a focus on the reason for the season:
resurrection.

Sources: Country Living, TIME, Mental Floss

In the Home Stretch: Ways to push through the last weeks of the Spring semester.

After Easter break, there are only three weeks left of classes before finals season begins. With the news about in-person Commencement ceremonies for the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021, there is a lot to look forward to at the end of this year. For some, the break may have invigorated them so they’re ready to tackle the rest of the semester head on, and for others, the break may not have felt long enough. Regardless, here are some ways to keep moving forward for these last few weeks of the semester.

Work may be piling up at this point in the semester in preparation for final papers and exams, so take a look at your syllabi for the rest of the semester. What big projects do you have coming up and when are they due? Take a little bit of time and make a tentative plan for when you can work on these projects little by little, dividing them up into smaller tasks to work on every day or every other day. Writing out all of your assignments now can help you manage your time more wisely. Though the urge to procrastinate is almost inescapable at times, having some sort of breakdown of steps for bigger projects and papers can maybe lessen it a bit.

Along those same lines, if you find yourself struggling with understanding certain topics, planning out papers, or managing stress in these last few weeks, reach out to CCAS to make an appointment with a peer tutor, a writing tutor, or a counselor. All are more than willing to help you process whatever is causing you stress and hopefully leave you feeling more confident, accomplished, and at peace than when you came in. Many of these appointments can be held online as well, so you can get help for whatever you need from the comfort of your own room.

Of course it is also incredibly important to spend time with friends in the midst of all of the schoolwork. Enjoy the nice weather of spring and purposefully set aside time to go on
walks or hikes with friends, rejuvenating yourselves outdoors and taking your mind off of the stress and pressure of the school day even for a little while.

The end of the semester is also a really great time to talk to your professors and get more involved in your department or program. Chances are, there will be plenty more events at the end of the year for each academic program, and going to these events can be a great chance to meet others with similar interests or to network, especially for graduating seniors who may also be looking for post-grad jobs.

Lastly, remember that we are all in this together. If you are really struggling these last few weeks, reach out to others and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. By working together and leaning on each other, we will make it out of this semester stronger.

Book Highlight: “The Miracles of the Namiya General Store.”

This year has had many of us wishing we could time travel to a time where the pandemic doesn’t exist—all of the stress, trouble and loss would be gone with it. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but there have certainly been times this past year where we could have all at least benefited from well-meaning advice from someone wiser or with more knowledge of what the future may hold. Keigo Higashino’s book, “The Miracles of the Namiya General Store,” takes those ideas and combines them, creating a tale full of hope, love, and growth for each of the characters that the story focuses on.

The novel is a work of magical realism that takes place over several decades in Japan. Magical realism is a genre that takes place in our world but with hints of magic that are integrated into everyday life. In magical realism, there may not be an explanation for how that magic came to be or why it exists like in fantasy novels; the magic simply is.

The magic in this novel is centered in the Namiya General Store, a place that was once thriving and run by a caring old man who answered people’s anonymous requests for advice, but is now abandoned and a shelter for three criminals who find letters from the past showing up at the back door. As soon as they respond, another letter shows up for them to answer.

This story is broken up into five distinct sections, each focusing on a different period of time and a different character either seeking help or giving it through the general store. Though at first, the sections felt more like individual short stories connected only by the Namiya General Store – one about the young criminals, one about a musician, one about the store owner and his son, one about a grown-up Beatles fan looking back on his youth, and one about a successful real estate mogul – all of the stories become intertwined with one another as you turn the pages.

It is difficult for me to say what stuck with me the most about this book because I could give you a multitude of different answers.

Perhaps it is the idea of connectivity that I find so lovely and fascinating: the idea that all of our actions are not without their own effects and consequences, even if we don’t see those effects in our own lives.

Or it could be the idea that asking for help is okay. In fact, this story shows it as a human necessity. One of my favorite quotes comes from the character of Mr. Namiya, the owner of the store. When asked about why he responds to every letter he receives, even joke letters, he says, “Harassment, pranks, it doesn’t matter to me. I treat every letter that comes in as a cry for help. These people are no different from the rest of us. They have a hole in their hearts, and something vital is bleeding out.”

Reading this book is like taking a journey through your own mind. You learn and grow along with the characters. You get your heart broken alongside them, you feel their victories, and though you may not agree with some of the decisions that they make, the book is the kind of book that leads you to think about what you would have done in their place, what advice you would have given or asked for.

“The Miracles of the Namiya General Store” shows us what it can mean to be human, how to treat each other with compassion, and why you should never be afraid to reach out for help if and when you need it.

The Art of Taking Walks: Insight on being surrounded my nature.

For as long as I can remember, I have always appreciated taking walks. Long walks, short walks, walks with others, walks by myself, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps it’s because, when I was really young, probably around 4 or 5, I began going on walks with my grandmother and my great-grandmother, and they taught me how to develop and appreciate the seemingly simple skill of observation.

My grandmother would make up songs for us to sing as we walked from my house to the school and back again. They were all about the things we saw in the neighborhood or what the weather was like that day. One Christmas Eve morning, we went for a walk in the mild, but windy weather, and came back to the house with our own rendition of “O Holy Night” titled “O Windy Morn” to sing to the rest of our family over mugs of hot cocoa. We still sing it every Christmas Eve.

When I went on walks with my great-grandmother, she had me point out all of the flags, flowers and birds that we saw along the way. I was little at the time, probably only 4 or 5, but I looked forward to seeing the different flowers and birds in the neighborhood and seeing what decorative flags people put in their yards to celebrate each season. There was even a time I used these as landmarks to get us back home after she pretended to forget the way back. It’s a memory that she cherishes even to this day, one that’s retold every time I see her.

While taking walks has sentimental and emotional significance to me, it’s also something that I find to be calming in general. If I’m ever feeling stressed, worried, or anxious, and I don’t know what to do with that energy, more often than not, going on even a short walk around campus can help me clear my head and calm me down.

I enjoy listening to music or audiobooks on walks, however there is also something magical about taking time to be outdoors and listening to the sounds around me. I find that I feel more inspired after walks with just my thoughts and the sounds of the fountains in the ponds, leaves rustling and birds chirping.

Now that students are permitted to go off-campus in order to take hikes for their mental health, I highly encourage people to go out and do so as the weather gets warmer and the schoolwork continues to pile up. While campus and the surrounding area are full of beautiful spaces to walk through and admire, sometimes a change of scenery is beneficial.

So while taking walks may not sound like an art form to many, to me, there is not much that is more artistic, or at the very least inspiring, than dedicating time to focus on the beauty that’s around you, to get some fresh air, and to spend more time outside of the dorms doing something mentally, emotionally and physically stimulating.

A Letter to My Role Model: A daughter expresses her love and gratitude towards the most impactful woman in her life.

For Women’s History Month, I think it’s fitting for me to take the time to thank one of the most influential women in my life: my mother. Though I have always looked up to and admired my mom in the way many children look up to their parents, it is only in recent years that I have begun to deeply appreciate what she does and what she has gone through.

Whenever I asked her what she wanted to be growing up, her response was always, “I wanted to be a mom.” That road was certainly not an easy one for her for a long time, yet she has made it so far despite the roadblocks that life put in her way.

She married and started a family at a younger age than most, choosing me and my father instead of going off to college. She had to grow up quickly to help put a roof over my head and make sure I was as happy and safe as possible while she herself was stressed, tired, and undoubtedly scared about starting her new adult life with a husband and an infant earlier than all of her friends.

Life has thrown her even more in the past 21 years, and being old enough now to hear about all of her experiences, I truly admire the way that she carried herself with strength, dignity, and courage through both the good times and the bad. Her dedication to her faith in God has gotten her through every period in her life, and that’s one thing she strives to exemplify in her day to day life.

Mom, I want to thank you so much for all that you’ve done and continue to do for my sisters and me. You are one of the strongest and bravest women that I know, and I am extremely grateful that I get to say that I’m your daughter.

Habitat for Humanity: Building homes and building community.

As students on campus in the winter, there are many things we may take for granted, like having access to running water, electricity, heating, and a roof over our heads. For many people, getting through the winter is a struggle because, for them, these amenities and things we consider to be a part of our everyday lives are hard to afford.

Habitat for Humanity is an organization that builds homes for others with the help of volunteers. Some of these volunteers are students at Eastern University, where Habitat for Humanity has its own student club. Freshman math major, Christopher Metheny, joined Habitat for Humanity after hearing about it from some of his friends who were interested in it at the club fair in the fall.

“I had heard about Habitat before, and it sounded like it could be a good time and something that I could be of use for since I’ve done Scouts and building things before,” Metheny said.

In a normal semester, students who want to be a part of Habitat for Humanity go out and help construct homes on Habitat’s build sites, building community with one another in the process, however this year, students on campus aren’t able to go off-campus to help out, leaving the club leaders to come up with ways to help the cause in the meantime.

“Last semester, we reached out to our local Senators … to ask them to notice Habitat to try and get more awareness and funds possible,” said Metheny.

Students in Habitat for Humanity have also been fundraising to give donations to homeless shelters until they are able to get back into building houses.

If you are interested in the cause behind Habitat for Humanity and are interested in helping out, but feel like you aren’t handy or skilled enough to help build a house for someone, Metheny emphasized that there’s room for everyone in Habitat.

“If you think you can’t build, it doesn’t matter. No matter where you come from, even in the beginning, there’s always a spot for you to help out in some way, shape or form, not just building up a house,” Metheny said.

So if you are interested in helping others stay warm this winter, consider checking out Habitat for Humanity and seeing how you can help!