What a great semester it has been so far! The Polished Pebbles mentorship program at Duke University kicked off this year with a wonderful group of women of color spanning all four years at Duke and from a variety of backgrounds, all coming together with one purpose in mind—success at Duke and beyond. In collaboration with the Duke Women’s Center, we were welcomed to this year’s cohort with a networking event featuring food from all of our cultural backgrounds.
Dear Duke Families,
As I look out my office window, I have the privilege of seeing our students walking (and rushing) by between classes, meals, meetings and study venues. So many things are apparent on the rare occasion that I get to just pause and admire the passersby. I notice that many seem either immune to the winter chill or in denial about the need to wear warmer clothes! I notice that rarely is anyone walking alone. Students travel in pairs, groups and masses! I notice that some kind of technological device is apparently welded to their ears or their palms (hopefully talking or texting with you). But, I also notice how remarkably different they are, reflecting the substantial and wonderful diversity within the Duke student body.
We had just wrapped up at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, drained from taking in all the incredible history exhibited in the museum’s three buildings. The consensus was to take the tram to a spot for lunch, then hop on it again to find a baklava shop we’d heard is amazing. The tram is one of several fantastic methods of public transportation used by what feels like everyone (at the same time) in the city of Istanbul. A seat on the bus, metro, or tram is a highly coveted spot that is not easily attained. In fact, sometimes just getting on any of these vehicles is a nearly impossible feat because they are so crowded. “Maximum Capacity” doesn’t seem to be a concept as firmly held here as it is in the U.S.
Maya Angelou entered my life at a time when I very much needed to see someone who looked like me, both in body and in spirit, doing and being something unconventional. I remember reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and hanging onto every word. I was in my first semester of college, at Pace University in New York, and dealing with a particularly trying and debilitating trauma that had recently occurred in my life. A dear friend had recommended this text to me. I didn’t know then that it would serve to reconnect me to pieces of myself that had been silenced/I had silenced.
Each day this week, a member of the Duke community will share their memories of Dr. Angelou.
Collaboration & Change for a Common Good
A Reflection on Collaboration in Campus Life
India Pierce and Sean Novak
One way that we can work effectively to create change for a common good is to work collaboratively across communities. With this in mind, India Pierce from the Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity (CSGD) came together with Sean Novak from the Center for Multicultural Affairs (CMA) to create a program that explored the intersections of race and sexual orientation. As part of the CMA’s En/Countering Racism series (E/C), they created a program for students to gather and explore intersectionality. This was done in order to deepen participants’ understanding of themselves and others as a means to building stronger coalitions for social justice.
I recently read the book by Daniel Bergner, “What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire.” After my initial eye rolling “who but a guy can talk about female sexuality?” thoughts, I opened my mind and read. Then I heard him in an interview say the following beautiful words. I was so moved that I pulled over to the side of the road in order to fully attend to what he was saying.
“I sometimes think we have to be a little braver about just caring more. Caring, and being open about caring about sex, with one’s partner sounds like it should be easy, but I think often it’s not because you can fail and you can feel hurt. And so I think that candor and caring are important and might well be the root to maintaining passion.”
The five-day festival of Diwali was this past week, and Duke community still has no idea what it is.
“I figured out it’s Diwali because somebody posted about it on Facebook,” said one Duke University student, who declined to be named for fear of sounding culturally unaware. “I don’t know what it is, but I haven’t asked. It would totally ruin my reputation as a social activist if people knew I didn’t know what it was. If I asked, people would think I was uninformed. It was Indian kids posting it online, so I guess it’s a Hindi thing."