Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lealtad-Suzuki Center: Xpressions: Self Image Gallery Project

The Self Image Gallery Project by the Department of Multicultural Life’s Xpressions program was intended to emphasize the importance of recognizing the beauty of all identities and capturing the art of self expression in the community.

The images, photographs, and videos were submitted by people around campus, with the option of remaining anonymous. We were hoping to allow students and the community to share their expressive art pieces in a variety of forms. We received several exceptional art mediums such as a self portrait collage and a self shot/self expression video. Since we got fewer submissions that intended, we also gave the community a different opportunity to express how they see themselves and how they want others to see them.  

As part of the display in the atrium space on the second floor of the Campus Center, we put up a blank canvas where people can draw or write their responses to the prompts, “how do you see yourself?” And “how do you want others to see you?” The display ran until the 31st of October. 

By Grace Zhu ‘16, Amy McMeeking ’16 , and Errol Phalo ‘17
Lealtad-Suzuki Center’s Program Assistants

Established in August 2002, the LSC is the programmatic arm of the Department of Multicultural Life (DML).   The LSC provides a range of services, including intentional multicultural education and campus programming; ongoing training and development opportunities for faculty, staff, and students; and personal consultations to discuss issues of identity exploration and cross-cultural communication.
LEARN MORE about the Department of Multicultural Life

Monday, November 10, 2014

Language Lessons Abroad

A few weeks ago, I told my coworker that I like wearing my horse on top of my head because of the heat in Santiago. 

She just looked at me blankly. With an uncertain smile, I pointed at my head, where my hair was piled up in the style I was trying to describe. Realization hit her and she burst out laughing and explained my mistake with a grin. Unfortunately for me, the Spanish words for hair and horse are very similar (cabello and caballo, respectively). I couldn’t help but chuckle as I hid my blushing cheeks in my hands.
Even after two years of Spanish classes, it still takes me a few tries to accurately convey my thoughts. As evidenced above, I frequently confuse words and meanings. Understanding what people are saying to me is not much easier than speaking to them. But I’m still trying my best to absorb everything that’s said to me throughout the day. After about three months here in la República Dominicana, I would say I understand about 68.3 percent of what I hear.

La bandera waving proudly in the nation’s capital, Santo Domingo
However, this still leaves at least a 31.7 percent margin of error (not allowing for distractions caused by the sweltering heat, the constant sunburn, or frequent bug bites). Sometimes it feels as if my time as an exchange student has been largely defined by moments of linguistic confusion.

The view of Santiago’s iconic El Monumento from my bedroom window.
Since August I have been living and breathing (and tripping all over) la cultura dominicana in my host city, Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. As a student in the CIEE-Service Learning program, I spend my mornings in classes at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, located in the heart of Santiago. On the weekends—at least when I’m not doing homework—I explore the island of Hispaniola.

I’ve stopped by the capital, Santo Domingo:

Apparently, you have to specifically ask the street vendors not to put corn in your hair when you buy a bag of corn to feed the pigeons.

A few beautiful beaches:

The Caribbean sun is NOT messing around. Blancas like me MUST wear sunscreen at all times.

 And national parks on the coast and in the mountains:

Bug spray has become this girl’s best friend. No matter where I go the mosquitos find me! 
However, the best parts of my semester are every weekday afternoon. When classes are over for the day I head off to work with the local community organization Fundación Cuidado Infantil Dominicano (Dominican Childcare Foundation, FCID). There I meet up with a community healthcare worker (called a promotora) and we make our way to the poorest neighborhoods in the province of Santiago.

Walking through the neighborhood Parada Siete, named for a nearby bus stop, with my promotoras.

In these neighborhoods, we provide affordable rehabilitation services to children with disabilities and teach their families how to best support and care for these children. The program adapts its services to each child within a broad spectrum of disabilities that manifest physically or cognitively.

At times, my novice-level Spanish catches up with me. The horse/hair/head debacle is just one example of my daily blunders in the world of language immersion. Many visits with FCID put my fledgling Spanish skills to the test as I talk with children who have speech impediments or cognitive disabilities. The ensuing conversations usually end up being a test of vocabulary (for me) and patience (for the kid).

Giving homework help to Luis Eddy.

In these conversations, I’ve added some really useful words, such as oso, cordillas, and pinzas (bear, shoelaces, and tweezers) to my mental dictionary. I’ve also frantically searched my brain for a particular word that is always right on the tip of my tongue. Most importantly, I’ve learned the best coping mechanism for a language barrier is a smile.

When Spanish words fail me (which is more often than not), a smile can suffice as an hola, a gracias, a felicidades, an adiós, or an invitation to play.

I have a means of communication, even if I am sunburnt to a crisp,covered in bug bites, and my hair smells like pigeons and corn. A smile will almost always take the place of a sentence (especially when I can’t remember the difference between cabello and caballo).

- Hannah Currens '17

Friday, October 31, 2014

Coffee around Macalester

There are few things I love more than coffee. The taste, the smell, the energy boost it gives me: I don’t know how I would be able to function without it. Thankfully, I don’t seem to be alone in that front at Macalester. It’s not uncommon to see scores of people walking to their morning class with a tumbler or cup of coffee, and there are plenty of places right around campus where I can get a cup of coffee (or tea, if I’m in the mood.) The coffee shops around campus are amazing places to study, chat with a professor about a paper, or take a study break and catch up with a friend. And as I’ve slowly branched out and explored the Twin Cities beyond Macalester’s campus, I’ve found more and more places that have great cups of coffee. If you’re ever up visiting Macalester, walk around the neighborhood and pop into one of the se shops - you won’t be disappointed! 

Dunn Bros: This is my favorite place to grab a quick coffee on the way to class. Even though Dunn Bros is a Minnesota chain, this is the original location so it still has the feel of an independent coffee house. They roast all their beans in-house (which makes it smell amazing inside) and their coffee is very strong. It’s cheap, too — a 16-ounce cup only costs $2! I’ve had quite few meetings with professors here, and Garrison Keillor is known to frequent Dunn Bros. It’s also open until 10:00, and they have live music almost every night of the week. When it comes to coffee shops, Dunn Bros is hard to beat.

Caribou: Caribou is my go-to place if I know I need to hunker down and spend a few hours writing a paper or studying. Even though it is a chain, Caribou has a really cozy feel inside of it that makes it a great place to spend a few hours in. Their chairs are super cozy, the tables have plenty of room for spreading out, and there are plenty of power outlets which are great for plugging in your laptop. There’s plenty of chalkboards for you to scribble on, and they have a daily trivia question which, if you answer correctly, gives you 10 cents off. I tend to treat myself when I go there and get a specialty drink — check out the Mint Condition Mocha! It’s also located right across from campus, making it super easy to get to and they have pretty generous hours.

Grand Central: This coffee shop/restaurant is one of the newer additions to the neighborhood; it opened about a year and a half ago and has quickly become one of my favorite places on Grand. Everything feels very sleek and polished inside, and they recently started showing different professional photography collections on the walls. I love their coffee (their lattes are huge!) but they really stand apart from these other coffee shops because of their great menu. Try one of their crepes--they have plenty of different kinds and they’re all equally as filling. Throw a cup of coffee in there and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better lunch near campus.

Cahoots: By far my favorite coffee shop in St. Paul. It’s about a ten minute walk away, but if you’re willing to make the trek, it’s so worth it. It’s the coziest coffee shop I’ve been to here, and they have a beautiful patio that feels like it was plucked right out of Europe. This is the one coffee shop on the list where I refuse to do homework — I use this space solely to catch up with friends or get away and read for a few hours. My favorite drink here, by far, is the lavender mocha.

The Grille: Right in the Campus Center, it’s the only place I’m talking about that’s actually on campus. While I love the experience of hunkering down at a cozy coffee shop for a few hours, sometimes you just need that bare-bones cup of coffee to keep you going. That’s where the Grille comes in. If I’m working upstairs in the CC (my favorite place to study on campus), I’ll often pop downstairs and buy a quick coffee to fuel my studying for a few more hours. They also take flex and aux points, so paying for your coffee is incredibly easy here. Plus, for the true night owls out there, it’s open until midnight during the week!

-Joe Klein '15

Read more posts from Joe:
The Chuck Green Fellowship
Halfway to Graduation

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Global Ambassadors Outreach

Hi! I am Lutfe-E-Noor Rahman from Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am currently interested in bio-medical sciences and hope to major in a subject related to it. Besides offering excellent academic programs, Mac is a small community that values diversity, cultural differences and social justice and that is what drew me to Mac. Even before I stepped onto campus, International Students Program (ISP) mentors and staff have been helping me to make my transition into Mac a smooth one. I absolutely love my First Year Course called 'Bodies on Fire' and the professor who also happens to be my academic advisor. I am very excited to be an assistant ambassador for the Global Ambassadors Program at Mac. It will hopefully allow me to reach out to other international students and help them figure out how Mac could be perfect for the college experience they want!

Hello! My name is Eva Grutzner and I am a junior at Macalester from Madison, Wisconsin in the USA. I am studying Political Science, German, and Education. When I’m not studying, I busy myself with co-leading a student organization, Europa, spending time with my friends, working at the Twin Cities German Immersion School’s afterschool program, watching Packer football games, and working at the Global Ambassadors Program on campus. I was drawn to the Global Ambassadors position because it really exemplified my two favorite core pillars of Macalester’s academic mission—Internationalism and Multiculturalism. Global Ambassadors seeks to connect international alumni and current international students or students with significant international experience (like myself!) with prospective international students. We are run through the Admissions department, but we are, essentially, a tool prospective students could use in order to get more information about Macalester. We work to set up alumni interviews for international students who are unable to have an interview with a Mac Admissions officer. We field questions from the students about life and academics here at Mac and oftentimes pass them on to current Macalester students from the same countries as the prospective students. We also create social media outputs such as this one! I think the most essential part of our job, however, is just simply sharing our love for Mac and trying to convey that to prospective students. 

Learn more about the Global Ambassador Program 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Lealtad-Suzuki Center: Tapas Series and “Clicktivism”

The student leaders and staff of the Lealtad-Suzuki Center (LSC), the programmatic arm of the Department of Multicultural Life (DML).  
The Tapas Series had its first program on September 22nd in the Cultural House.  The topic of discussion was “Clicktivism: Social Media Activism.”  The event featured a social media gallery of posts from the ALS Ice bucket challenge, the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, and the Don’t Buy Miss Saigon campaign. We gave attendees notecards to write their thoughts and feelings down about the gallery. CFD Post Doctoral Fellow Juliana Hu-Pegues presented on her own personal activist work on the Don’t Buy Miss Saigon campaign and how she used social media as a tool. We then split into smaller group discussions where we talked about the different uses of social media activism, pros and cons of using it, whether “slacktivism” is an issue or not, and how we could use social media activism in our lives and at Macalester. We reconvened to share what we discussed and brought up questions we had. Students were engaged and interested in the topic and Juliana Hu-Pegues’ work. The overall program was well attended and generated great discussion from the students, faculty, and staff members that attended.

- Kyla Martin '15, Emma Stout '15 and Vivian Liu '17

Established in August 2002, the LSC is the programmatic arm of the Department of Multicultural Life (DML).   The LSC provides a range of services, including intentional multicultural education and campus programming; ongoing training and development opportunities for faculty, staff, and students; and personal consultations to discuss issues of identity exploration and cross-cultural communication.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This place will change you (for the better)

When I decided to come to Macalester, almost four years, I had no idea how this place would change me. Though I still have most of my senior year to complete, and many unforeseen changes yet to come, I owe the person I am today to this institution. As a First -Year setting foot on campus, I had no idea what was in store for me. Sure, I knew I’d learn a lot in classes, make new friends from around the world, and become a member of Macalester’s softball team, but I never anticipated that the shy, virtually uninvolved high school girl I used to be would become the – dare I say - outgoing, confident, overinvolved woman that I see when I look in the mirror today.

My first year on campus was filled with academic awakenings and realizations: I could no longer get by with my standard of work from high school, I was learning about ideas and theories I never knew existed, and I got the first (and only) C of my life. 

"All about that base"

Besides academics, my first year was also filled with early morning weightlifting sessions and springtime daily softball. With my parents no longer driving me to practices or weekend games, the decision to play softball was finally entirely mine and I truly fell in love with the game. My first year was filled with academics, softball, and many new friends, but I longed to be involved on campus more broadly.

Sophomore year began with a new work- study position on the student-run programming. To be honest, I had applied for this position on a whim, fueled by my desire to be more involved on campus. And to be honest, I am so thankful for that impulse. Program Board (image above) became my second home on campus. I was able to create and organize student events both on and off campus, by the end of the first month of school, I knew that this is what I’d been looking for. My life became more balanced and I became more than just a student-athlete. My role on Program Board, affectionately called PB, was my first step in learning that branching out was more than okay, it was wonderful.

Junior year was defined both by time spent both away from campus and time nestled in the heart of my collegiate home. The first semester I lived in an 18th century French mansion in Paris; the second semester I lived in a double with a bay window in Kirk Hall. 

I was absolutely terrified of going abroad. I was intimidated by having to speak a different language, adapt to a big city, and make new friends. One month in to study abroad, I realized my fears were almost completely unfounded. I made friends almost instantly and life in Paris was amazing.

I was initially apprehensive to return to the frigid winters and commitments of my life at Macalester. But while I did miss my Parisian life, I threw myself into life at Mac and never looked back. I added more onto my plate than I had ever taken on before, and the things I’d learned abroad began to shine through. I was no longer afraid to approach people and strike up a conversation because, I’d done the same in French for months. I became more independent, I no longer only went to activities and took certain classes because that’s what my friends did. Instead, I became unafraid to try new things without the security blanket of my established pack of friends.

Then, I decided to become an Orientation Leader. This is probably the decision that really sealed my fate as a newly labeled extrovert and now, I cannot imagine my life without this experience. I shared more of myself with more strangers (now friends) than I ever had in all the years of my life combined. Because of Orientation I learned how to be vulnerable, be a better friend, have confidence, and how to be an effective mentor. All lessons I carry with me every day.

To wrap this up, get ready for the best four years of your life, it may not always be easy, but this place will change you, I can almost guarantee, for the better.

Erin Slater ‘15
Federal Way, WA

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why History?

My final year of undergraduate school is fast approaching. With the impending doomsday comes a question no one wants to hear: what are you going to do with your major? In my case, the major in question is history. My answer to such questions tend to follow a pattern:

  1. crack a joke about the unmarketable nature of a history degree;
  2. present my dream job of writing for video games, TV, or film (which is far from being directly related to a history major);
  3. assure the questioner that I will take any job to pay student loans; and
  4. claim that any grad school worth going to shouldn’t really cost me anything.

But now I have a better answer.

As a history major, I'm (unsurprisingly) passionate about historical awareness. It helps us understand the world we live in today by telling us how we got here. To put it simply: living in 2014 and not having any in-depth historical knowledge is like jumping into Lost, season four.

It could be argued that society is more historically aware than ever. In order to be considered "historically accurate", a historian has to jump through the same all-powerful hoops of the Scientific Method. This leads us to believe that history is as true as it could ever be. Unfortunately, this is an entirely unreasonable expectation.

Reason #1: There is no way to objectively teach history. We can never understand an event from every possible angle. What we can do is create discussion that raises questions and considers previously silent perspectives. Yet this isn't how the subject is taught in school, especially K-12. Instead, disastrously, it's boiled down to dates and names and places and numbers to be memorized. All context is erased. Questions aren't asked, because who cares, when you have standardized tests to study for?

Reason #2: History, like science, is not an exact science (sorry, science major friends). You can use all the numbers you want, but at the end of the day, nothing is exact. Science has made life easier in a lot of ways, but it’s still not ideal. Similarly, I’m not claiming that an awareness of the past will prevent people from being horrible in the future - that will always happen, sorry.

The difference is that no one really expects science to be perfect. A hypothesis is a theory. A theory is a theory. A law? You guessed it. It’s a theory. We view every scientific discovery as proof that we are continuing on a linear progression. But historians are expected to not make mistakes, because all we have to do is present the facts, right? Not possible. History is far from cut-and-dried.

This is a serious double standard between history and science, and is an extreme limitation for history. Society demands that historians use a barely-altered scientific approach. Historians (supposedly) need to be objective and rational and look at the facts, but whether you're examining something that happened ten years ago or ten thousand years ago, you can only claim to "know" so much about what happened.

What I'm finally beginning to understand is that we are less certain than ever before as to what history is. What's the difference between history and memory? What's the point? Does remembering the past do more damage than good? My mathy and sciencey friends ask me these questions all the time. They are super-relevant questions, and I can't provide succinct answers.

Maybe I'm being a bit too optimistic, but to me, the fact that I’m asking all these unsettling questions about my major choice is a sign of growth. It means that I'm learning to see connections where I didn't before. I'm curious about exploring new perspectives, and I'm interested in creating my own. The world is more interconnected than I ever realized and history is the paper-maché that holds the collage together. When I spend years working in the service industry while my bachelor's degree gathers dust on a shelf, I'll look back on this attitude of mine and sob into my Ramen, but right now I'm loving it.