Veterans Day: What’s the holiday all about?

What is it that we are celebrating or commemorating when we observe Veterans Day? Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all who have served, living or deceased, but in particular the living veterans among us.

In contrast, Memorial Day specifically commemorates the men and women who died while serving our country. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day in the United States, commemorating the signing of the agreement that ended World War 1 at 11a.m., Nov. 11, 1918. President Woodrow Wilson celebrated the first Armistice Day in 1919. 

My favorite movie is “The Pianist” (2002) directed by Roman Polanski.  It is a story about a Polish-Jewish radio station pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody), who survives the ordeals of  World War 2 in Warsaw, Poland. Adrien Brody starved himself to 130 pounds to portray the role of a victim of war in Polanski’s film.  In an interview by GQ Magazine, Adrien Brody describes his process and experience. Brody said, “I wanted to show a transition from Szpilman’s lowest point, after being in hiding and not eating, so that- you can’t act emaciated.  You have to become emaciated.  And that was a technical process that led to a discovery about the hollowness and emptiness, that one feels when you are literally deprived of sufficient nutrition. Then the physical metamorphosis affects your self-esteem, and your energy levels, and your will power, and your strength.” Brody added that The effects of war include long-term physical and psychological harm to children and adults.” 

The official journal of the World Psychological Association, World Psychiatry, published research on the mental health consequences of war. The authors wrote, “As happened in the first half of the 20th century, when war gave a big push to the developing concepts of mental health, the study of the psychological consequences of the wars of the current century could add new understandings and solutions to mental health problems of general populations.” 

Veterans Day is a day of reckoning.  What is the cost of war?  It is a time to remind ourselves that we can do our part to heal society. If you know someone in need or want to help, you do not have to look far. As the only food pantry in Radnor Township, Wayne Church, A United Methodist Community accepts non-expired, non-perishable items as well as monetary donations. They can be reached at: (610)688-5650 or via email at learnmore@wayneumc.org. Sources:  https://www.almanac.com/veterans-day, https://youtu.be/WUzeOF_QTWY, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472271/, wayneumc.org/food-pantry/

The Science of Gratitude: How an attitude of thanksgiving can change your brain and body.

I’m sure we have all heard the common phrase “an attitude of gratitude.” Countless inspirational speakers and clergy alike have used to phrase to encourage their listeners to evoke a more positive attitude. This idea of adopting an attitude of gratitude has been scientifically proven to produce greater positive outcomes and a more fulfilled life. Here’s what you need to know to be most successful in this practice. 

Typically gratitude studies focus on people with no mental health concerns. Greater Good Medicine took a different approach to their research study on gratitude. They wanted to determine the impact of gratitude on individuals with mental health concerns.  They performed this study with about 300 adults, mostly college students, that were receiving counseling services. There were three test groups who were each given different tasks such as writing a letter of gratitude to someone for 12 weeks and writing about their deepest thoughts and feelings of negative experiences. 

The results found were incredible. They can be summed up into four major points. The first is the idea that gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. The results assert this idea that gratitude letter writing can move a person’s thoughts away from negative emotions such as envy or resentment. The idea is that in writing these letters of gratitude to others, it becomes harder for you to focus on the negative experiences. 

The second idea is that gratitude helps even if we do not share it with others. The study asked the first group to send their letters to people they were grateful for but only about 23% actually sent them. They found however that everyone who wrote a letter about gratitude, despite not sending it, still received the positive benefits. Taking the simple act of writing a letter of gratitude allows the writer to cherish the people in their life more and move the focus from the negative feelings and thoughts. 

The next concept is the idea that the benefits of gratitude take time, they do not simply happen overnight. The positive benefits of gratitude found in the study were the results of twelve weeks of writing letters. They suggest being patient when starting out with the gratitude writing activity and not expecting immediate results. 

The final idea is that gratitude has lasting effects on this brain. When analyzing the brains of those who wrote letters to those who did not, the results propose that practicing gratitude trains the brain to be more receptive to encounters of gratitude, leading to improved mental health. So whether you take the time to write gratitude letters for the people in your life or simply think of reasons to be grateful every day, be intentional about practicing gratitude. It will help you in the long run. 

 

Source: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

Psi Chi’s Stress Less Week: The honors society for Psychology hosted a variety of events to educate and support stressed students.

November is probably the most stressful month of the fall semester. Midterm exams fall during this month, and it feels like every possible important project, paper, and assignment is due at this time. Students and professors alike are catching up on work that they’ve fallen behind on. And in addition to all of that, registration opens for the next semester, so students need to be thinking not only about the ever-demanding present, but also about the future as well. Thanksgiving break looms in the foreground, but for many students, there’s the added stress of making plans to get home or finding someone to stay with if they aren’t able to go home.

For all of these reasons and more, Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, decided to host their Stress Less Week during the first week of November, from the first to the fifth. They had events all week long to help educate students on stress and how to deal with it, as well as providing ways to reduce stress.

Stress has been proven to not only affect your mental health but also your physical health. It’s important to pay attention to the signs your mind and body are showing you to indicate that you are stressed, like feeling tired or irritable constantly, struggling to focus, and experiencing headaches. If you are concerned about your levels of stress, try the tips below. If your stress levels are causing distress, contact a healthcare professional, CCAS, or a call center line designed to help you find solutions to manage your stress.

On Monday, they set up a table in Walton and greeted students with packets on stress, tea bags, and a sticker of their choice. There was also a table where students could make their own stress ball by filling an uninflated balloon with rice. Stress balls have been found to be useful in improving the focus of sixth graders in a study by Sheryl Stalvey and Heather Brasell, so anyone who took a few minutes to make their own stress ball may be finding that their focus in class improved.

Tuesday’s event was an art night in McInnis, where students could bring their own project or start a new one. The term art therapy was firts coined in 1942 by British artist Adrian Hill. It was used to improve the mood of tuberculosis patients confined to santitoriums, and by 1964, the idea of artistic expression as a metnally healing practice was cemented by the creation of the British Association of Art Therapists.

Psi Chi also partnered with Wednesday Night Worship for their mid-week event. The tag on their poster read, “Give your worries to God!” There are many Bible verses that are often quoted in tandem with that idea, such as Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 Peter 5:7. Music is also a source of comfort and an emotional outlet for many people, whether they play an instrument, sing, or just listen to music. Many people find it cathartic to sing along to songs with lyrics that express their worry and fear while also allowing them to give those emotions to God.

On Thursday, they held a Yoga Night where students were encouraged to bring their own mat. Yoga originated in South Asia as a practice connected to the Hindu religion, but today, many people in the West practice it without connecting it back to its origins. Many yoga practices involved stretching and regulated breathing.

Lastly, on Friday, Psi Chi concluded their Stress Less Week with DIY Self-Care Night, where they encouraged students to implement the practices that they’d found most helpful over the course of the week and to make them a regular part of their routine. Stress isn’t something that can be banished with one night of yoga or an hour doing art; because the causes of stress never go away, the solutions need to be consistent as well. Hopefully, Psi Chi Stress Less Week showed students how they can form consistent habits to reduce their own stress.

Sources: https://adelphipsych.sg/the-history-of-art-therapy/, the Bible

The First Thanksgiving: How the history affects the celebration of the holiday today.

  In 1620, the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. During their first winter, half of the original 102 passengers died. At this point, they met a native to the continent and a member of the Patuxet tribe named Squanto. Squanto had been captured by an English sea captain and taken to London where he learned to speak English before escaping. Squanto taught the pilgrims many things that proved key to their survival including how to plant corn. He also helped them make an alliance with the local Wamponoag tribe. When the first corn harvest was successful, the pilgrims held a celebratory feast of thanksgiving and invited a group of members of the Wamonoag tribe including the chief Massasoit. 

We do not know exactly what was served at this meal. We do know that William Bradford sent four men “fowling” but we do not know what birds they were hunting. The idea of turkey comes about because of the vast number of turkeys in that region. We also know the Wamponoags brought five deer as a gift to the dinner. Besides this, we can assume they ate many crops and vegetables native to the area. We also understand that there would have been no desserts because the pilgrims lacked any kind of oven.

This meal was not called “Thanksgiving,” but the purpose of it was to give thanksgiving to God for what He had provided them with. This meal was by no means “the first thanksgiving”. It is more likely copied off of some European thanksgiving celebration. The meal set a sort of precedent among the new colonies, and it continued to be celebrated in different places throughout the coming years. After the Revolutionary War, multiple presidents dedicated days of thanksgiving. In 1817, New York became the first state to declare an official day of thanksgiving. Finally, in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln encouraged the last Thursday in November to be a day of thanksgiving and to pray for the ongoing war effort. Since then, except for a few years during the Great Depression, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the last Thursday in November. 

  One of the important things to think about when you celebrate a holiday is, what are you actually celebrating? Put simply, Thanksgiving is a national day where we are encouraged to be thankful. We are also celebrating and remembering the meal that the Wamonoag tribe and the Pilgrims shared together. Some people seem to take offense at this second portion of the holiday. The argument seems to be that it is falsely painting Native American and European relations. 

When we celebrate thanksgiving we are celebrating the moment of peace: the meal that was shared between two peoples. We are not denying the war between them, or the atrocious acts of violence. It is a day where we give thanks for the peace we do have. This does not mean things are perfect. They are far from that. But I believe it is healthy in the midst of whatever trial or sad event currently controls your life to stop and to be able to be thankful for one thing you have been blessed with.

Sources: Britannica, History.com

Black Voices in Classical Education: How the Black intellectual tradition has been shaped and been shaped by the classical tradition.

On the evening of Friday, Nov. 12, Eastern University had the privilege of hosting three distinguished guests for a conversation on classical education and the Black intellectual tradition. The event was organized and hosted by the Templeton Honors College, and the conversation was led and moderated by Dr. Brian Williams, the dean of the Templeton Honors College and the dean of Eastern University’s college of arts and humanities. Dr. Williams is also the co-director of Eastern’s Masters in classical education program. The event also featured Dr. Eric Ashley Hairston, an associate dean and professor of humanities at Wake Forest University as well as Dr. Angel Adams Parham, an associate professor of sociology at University of Virginia. Perhaps the biggest privilege of this event was that Eastern University was able to also host Dr. Cornel West. Dr. West is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and is the author of “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters”. 

Dr. Williams opened the event by welcoming the three guests and giving a brief introduction to what classical education is and its connection to the Black intellectual tradition. After his introduction, Dr. Williams presented a water-color painting to Dr. West that featured West and the 19th century Danish theologian Søren Kierkagaard enjoying a conversation over tea. West warmly and enthusiastically laughed at the painting and accepted it before moving to the podium to give his introduction to the importance of classical education and how it is closely tied to the black intellectual tradition. West has been a prolific voice in the Black intellectual tradition as well as the classical tradition for many years and sparked controversy in April of this year when he spoke out against Howard University’s decision to dissolve their classics department. In his opening speech, West emphasized the importance of “raising every voice.” West layed out the significance of classical education in three parts: the formation of attention, the cultivation of a critical sensibility and the maturation of a loving soul. He outlined how the questions raised in classical texts are not only timeless questions, but timely questions: they are “enduring and timeless and timely questions.” He laid out that we need to turn our minds and souls and attention to things that really matter; we need to attend to things that are truly important as we ask the question “what does it mean to be human?” Questions in classical texts provide the formation of attention away from our “quest for insatiable pleasure” and towards what is important. Next, West affirmed that classical education also helps cultivate critical sensibilities in us, and most importantly, leads to the maturation of a loving soul. West went on to emphasize that the “black freedom movement is an important leaven in the democratic loaf.” He plainly admitted that we don’t know if the American experiment will last, but that every single generation must be up for the task. West concluded his speech with a question: how do we sustain hope? West answered his own question by saying that we sustain hope by coming together, and having conversation (not chit-chat).

The conversation was opened up to all three guests as Dr. Williams began to ask Dr. Hairston and Dr. Parham about their own work in their respective fields. The conversation stayed centered around the values of classical texts and the power they have to promote a better society. Dr. West spent some time discussing how the figures in the Black intellectual tradition provided themselves as examples of integrity and virtue and how we need to come to terms with suffering, not just in our education but in our daily lives. He contrasted popular figures in the past with celebrities by comparing current celebrities to peacocks: “peacocks strut because they can’t fly”; we need to fly, we need to leave the Aristotelian cave in order to fly back in and have influence on those still in the dark. Dr. Parham spent some time discussing the reality and dangers of “historical amnesia,” and how ancient classical texts along with black literary classics can help counter historical amnesia.

Before opening up the conversation for a very brief time for audience questions, Dr. West gave a message to our generation of students and young adults: be great, not successful; let awards and titles go because “great is the highest level.”

Rocking and Rolling: SAB’s roller-skating event provided a night of fun for everyone.

Eastern’s Student Activities Board (SAB) is currently composed of 11 students and 3 advisors who are responsible for planning and hosting events for the student body to attend on a weekly basis. This past weekend, we decided to go with a classic event— roller-skating. However, sometimes we cannot do events like this alone. So, we enjoy inviting outside vendors onto campus to share their resources with us. Last Friday, October 22, we welcomed Neon Entertainment of New York to help us bring a night of glow-in-the dark roller-skating to life on the tennis courts for our undergraduate students. Neon has partnered with us on multiple occasions, with roller-skating being our usual joint event. We always look forward to working with them to ensure there is a smooth set-up process and the event is fun and safe for everyone.

While setting up and cleaning up any SAB event may seem easy to some non-members, that is not the case. Like our other events, this event required lots of assembly so that it could happen. However, without a large enough team, the setup process for this specific event could have easily taken up to, or over, 4 hours. To make it happen, the tiles had to be laid down and locked into each other to create the rink. After the event was finished, a specific pattern had to be followed to ensure the tiles were properly stored away for future uses. No matter the amount of work put into an event, it easily pays off when we see the students that attend are having fun after a stressful week.

Entering the tennis court last Friday night was just like entering a classic roller-rink, just outside and maybe a bit less smelly. Immediately off to the right were the skates; freshly cleaned and ready to be worn by the excited students. Neighboring the skates was the snack table, decorated with ice-cold water, hot apple cider, chips, and candy— the college student essentials (Well, at least some staples…). Then of course, the main attraction was situated right behind both tables. Bordered with chairs on three sides and a DJ station, the rink came to life with students, black lights, and music. Admittedly, there was a slow start to the event. Only a few students appeared within the first hour. However, once 7:00 PM came, attendance was no longer a concern. 

Soon, the rink became so full that there was hardly any room for new skaters to join! Despite the tight space, students came and enjoyed themselves for an hour or two, or maybe even the entire four hours! Skaters of all skill levels were there: from those finding their balance to those doing three-sixties as if it were breathing. “I think the high energy of the event made it feel as if midterms weren’t even happening. Everyone was just having a great time”, said Alexis Schenberger, executive chair of SAB. If there is one thing that our event attendees bring, it is definitely energy and good vibes. Sure, the music may have helped, but it was the students that truly brought this event to life. And to us on SAB, that is how we know we have done our job well at the end of each night.

Don’t Forget to Registration: Class registration begins early November.

It’s that time of the year again, when the semester still feels like it’s in full swing, and yet, we have to start thinking about next semester. The schedules and class lists for Spring 2022 have been published; to find them, log into your MyEastern page, click on the Academic Plan-Registration tab, and click on Student Planning. This will take you to your current semester’s schedule, and from there, you can click on the tab for your progress or the tab for planning and scheduling.

Getting the classes you need for your major is important to stay on track for graduation. I’ve found my progress page to be super helpful for that! I can see my GPA, my credits earned, and a breakdown of my required classes in various categories highlighted in red, yellow, and green. If you’re having trouble organizing your classes or figuring out the right sequence to take classes in, that’s what your academic advisor is for! Most of them will make time to talk you through your course load if you reach out by email, and everyone has to have their courses approved by their advisor before they can register.

However, if you have some extra time in your schedule, you might want to check out some classes that will nourish a different part of your brain! If you’re a STEM major, try out a theatre or a dance class; if you’re a humanities major, see if there’s an entry-level class in a subject out of your ballpark that has openings, like an astronomy class or a psychology class. There are a handful of one credit elective classes as well, which are only an hour each week. I always try to balance my course load so I’m not doing too much of the same thing. It’s easy to overload our brains and burn out in college, and scheduling carefully is one way to avoid exhausting ourselves.

Registration is staggered depending on the quantity of credits you have. If you have more than 73 credits, you can register Nov. 2. If you’re between 32 and 72.99, you’re on the third, and any amount below 30 means you register on Nov. 4. Make sure to set a timer and have your classes organized by then to make sure you get the schedule you want; good luck!

Favorite Fall Drinks: Which fall beverage will rule them all?

Only a select few members of our society truly enjoy cold weather. Most of us enjoy the fall season for its activities, colors and fashion, but not for its colder embrace.

For those of us who seek some kind of enjoyment in spite of the cold, we often turn towards warm and seasonal drinks. Some folks love to dive head first into the seasonal flavors of fall and choose drinks like a pumpkin spice latte, while others prefer to stick with classic drinks like hot chocolate.

To write this story, I had a pumpkin spice latte, chai tea, hot chocolate, and warm apple cider. I am not a pumpkin spice enthusiast, although I fully support those select people who are able to enjoy the seasonal latte. If you are a fan or fanatic of pumpkin spice, by all means, enjoy it.

But if you, like me, are hesitant to try it or are simply ambivalent about it… I suggest staying that way. Chai is fantastic as tea or as a latte, but only if you enjoy spices (not “spicy”, “spices”). The rich aroma and flavor of a chai mixture will warm you right up.

For those who don’t really want to bother with spices or too much flavor: why mess with the classics? Hot chocolate not only warms you up, but it leaves a sweet aftertaste in your mouth. If you can obtain a rich and creamy hot chocolate, your night is complete.

All of this being said, if you want to indulge in the fall season but not worry about spices or flavors you’re not used to, look no further than apple cider. A mug/cup of hot apple cider will warm you up as you enjoy the familiar taste of apples without the drink being overly sweet.

When it comes to fall drinks, it really comes down to preference. If you are willing or curious enough, go for the spiced drinks. But there is never any shame when enjoying a warm cup of chocolate or apple cider. Stay warm out there.

ACE Week 2021: An introduction to asexuality awareness and activism.

This year, Ace Week is October 24th to 30th! According to the website of aceweek.org, “Ace Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness, build community, and create change around the world.” But raise awareness for what?

Despite asexuality becoming more visible each year, there are still many people who don’t know what the A in LGBTQIA stands for. It stands for asexual (ace), aromantic (aro), and agender, and just because someone identifies as one of those doesn’t mean they necessarily identify as all three. During Ace Week, the focus is on the first of those three—asexuality.

Asexuality is defined as experiencing little or no sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is when someone feels an attraction that is sexual in nature towards a specific person. Just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean that they’ll never want to have sex; it just means that they don’t experience sexual attraction directed towards anyone, regardless of whether or not they experience romantic feelings for that person. People who identify as asexual can identify with any form of romantic attraction (just change the -sexual to -romantic, like saying biromantic, homoromantic, heteroromantic, or panromantic) or no form of romantic attraction at all (aromantic).

Our society places an enormous value on sex and romance. People who don’t experience sexual attraction can often feel isolated from or confused by those who do (generally referred to as allosexuals). Asexuality has historically been seen as something that is wrong with a person and should be fixed, and asexuals can experience marginalization in relationships, in the media, under the law, and in the medical field. Asexuals have also been seen as or portrayed as people who don’t have emotions or who lack the ability to love others. This simply isn’t true. As AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Awareness Network, says, “Unlike celibacy, which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are, just like other sexual orientations. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about asexuality, there’s a growing pool of resources for you! The book Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and The Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen is a great resource to jump into. There are also online advocates like Yasmin Benoit, a Black model, writer, and activist from Britain who often speaks on the intersection of being Black and ace, or the channel called Ace Dad Advice on Tiktok, Twitter, and Youtube, where Cody Daigle-Orians gives advice as an older mentor figure within the asexual community. There are also many wonderful fiction books that center ace characters, such as Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, and Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee.

Refuge is also a great on-campus community for queer people and allies at Eastern! If you have questions, they can help you find the answers or come beside you as you search for those answers.

This week, take some time to check out one of these resources. The ace flag has four stripes of black, grey, white and purple; keep an eye out for it. If you know someone who identifies as ace, ask how you can support them! 

Swing Dance – It’s a Protest: The story of swing dance and its radical beginnings.

Swing dance: think Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, 20’s Charleston, 40’s big band, 50’s rockabilly. Maybe you’ve never heard of it, maybe you’ve done a bit of it, maybe you’ve seen it in a movie, maybe you’ve gone to one or two ETHELS meetings (Eastern’s Toe-tappin Heel-stompin East Coast Lindy Hoppin Swing Club). Many people today think it’s this old kind of dancing that’s from an oppressive era that no one under the age of 60 does anymore. 

Did swing dance get its start in an oppressive era? Yes, in fact, but it was a bug, not a feature, of that oppression. Let me explain. Swing dance was created and developed by Black Americans during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, building on many aspects of African-American dance, alongside their development of jazz and blues music. The 1920s, of course, were during the Jim Crow era–during segregation. Hence swing dance’s start in an oppressive era. However, the Harlem Renaissance in all of its facets and glory was progressive–it birthed Black American art so popular that even mainstream art today has appropriated its styles, it saw significant economic and class mobility among many Black Americans–and all of this progress occurred in spite of the racial segregation and disenfranchisement of the era. Swing dance, and its music, was a part of that progress. Live jazz music or big band music with a wooden floor in front of the stage for dancing was cheap, accessible leisure, even moving into the Great Depression of the 30’s and wartime of the 40’s. Furthermore, spaces for swing dance were some of the few places where Black and white people of opposite genders could (relatively) freely and openly interact and touch. This is an incredibly important note, because the era of segregation harbored nasty, politicized hatred of multiracial relationships. Historically, swing dance has roots in the progressivism of its day, artistically, economically, and racially. 

Today, if you find yourself in front of live jazz or rockabilly music with a dance floor, the majority of swing dancers will probably be white. This is partially due to white Americans’ appropriation of successful and popular Black art, and partially due to the fact that the progressive Black music and dancing of our day is in other genres: rap, hip hop, etc. However, if you look closely at today’s swing dance, you’ll also see something relatively new: gender progressivism. Swing dance’s boom was just after the 19th amendment was passed (giving white women the right to vote), its heyday was decades before Black women were enfranchised, and the country was deep in the throes of heterosexist patriarchy, in Black communities and in white. But now, if you go to a swing dance venue or maybe an ETHELS meeting, you can see two men dancing together, two women dancing together, and even women leading men. During lessons, you’ll hear less of “Ladies, over here, gents, over here,” and more “If you’re learning to lead, over here, if you want to learn how to follow, come here.” 

Swing dance (with its many forms, including Lindy Hop and jitterbug) is still alive and well today. A not-insignificant number of young people enjoy swing dance, and there’s even international competitions and conferences for swing dance that are mostly attended by millennials and older Gen Z’ers. Its inextricable connection with Black American progressivism from the Jim Crow era cannot be forgotten by white dancers, and it is a home for expressions of gender progressivism today.

Sources: Sinead McGrath for Medium; Nicole M Baran for Bitter Southerner, Saint Savoy Ballroom, Camp Hollywood