All posts by Signal Contributor

Freeman shows religion behind iconic heroes

By Amanda Vuocolo
Correspondent

Renowned voice actor and mythology scholar Crispin Freeman offered wisdom on life, mythology and anime on the evening of Wednesday, April 16, at Mayo Concert Hall.

An expert and fan of anime, Freeman presented his lecture highlighting the differences between American and Japanese storytelling. “Giant Robots and Superheroes: Manifestations of Divine Power” is one of Freeman’s many topics from his Mythology and Meaning series of lectures.

‘Gundam’ is a Buddhist vehicle. (AP Photo)
‘Gundam’ is a Buddhist vehicle. (AP Photo)

According to Freeman, the purpose of the lecture was to explain “why Americans talk about superheroes and the Japanese talk about robots.” He did so with the help of an interactive PowerPoint presentation featuring text and video of crucial scenes from Superman and Astro Boy.

Freeman’s formalist analysis of Eastern and Western storytelling revealed that their respective story arcs are often derived from religious tradition: American superhero stories tend to have a Christ-like protagonist, while Japanese giant robots often represent Buddhist vehicles to enlightenment.

Freeman cited the Gundam franchise as a perfect example of a Japanese giant robot story. In this series, Gundam are gigantic mechanical suits that are piloted by humans. According to Freeman, the Gundam storylines feature these giant robots as “yana,” or “fairyboats,” which are metaphorical vehicles to enlightenment in Buddhist tradition.

Freeman’s most conclusive example to support his argument revolved around one climactic battle scene in the Gundam series in which the protagonist, Amuro, left his Gundam in order to survive while his opponent remained inside of his suit and died.

After the presentation, Freeman opened the floor to a robust question-and-answer      session, which covered female hero stories, dragons and Western themes in anime.

When questioned about his own knowledge and success, he replied, “In order to be an authority, you must author your own life.”

Freeman concluded with a mantra. “Amuro did it, you can too!”

This event was sponsored by the Japanese Club, the Department of World Languages and Cultures, The International Studies Department, the Society for Creative Endeavors and the Asian American Association.

Steve Mumford documents Iraq War with art

By Sarina Gupta
Correspondent

When he first arrived in Iraq in April of 2003, artist Steve Mumford took out his camera and began taking pictures, only to find himself feeling like a fraud.

Stuck with two reports and no way back to his hotel in Kuwait, Mumford pulled out his drawing pad and began the first sketch of many depicting America’s war on Iraq.

Originally from Boston, Mumford attended The School of Visual Arts in New York, and after multiple tours overseas, Mumford now teaches at The New York Academy of Art.

As part of the Visiting Artist Series, on Wednesday, April 16, in the Library Auditorium, Mumford told students how he began his project on the Iraq War in April of 2003, in an attempt to document life in Iraq in a way that mirrored Winslow Homer’s depictions of the Civil War.

Mumford found it difficult at first to feel as though he belonged among the American soldiers he traveled with, but he soon realized he was an artist in a war zone and therefore had the right to document what was going on.

In the early days of war, Mumford would go out into cities and see what he could find.

“I wanted to draw from life,” Mumford said. “The war was going on, but it was surprisingly hard to find.”

Battles began late in 2003, and this shift is evident in Mumford’s work, as sketches appear more frantic and red ink splatters the wounded bodies of Iraqis and American soldiers alike.

He spent time in the Baghdad Emergency Room, witnessing amputations and surgeries of all kinds, as well as the reality of death in a time of war.

Mumford recalls seeing stretchers drying in the Baghdad sun after being washed clean of blood. He also saw ceremonies for American soldiers who passed with the deceased’s boots, rifle and helmet on display as a memorial and how his unit and his doctors would stand at attention as the body was carried away.

Although Mumford was in Iraq as an artist, he definitely felt the sting of war, recalling that one day he just started sobbing.

“(The result was the) pent-up emotions of all this mayhem,” Mumford said.

Mumford describes his time in Iraq as a powerful, moving experience and hopes his work “might relate to all wars on some level.”

He wants more artists to consider the “notion of being an artist and applying yourself to current events,” as he did in Iraq, because, “it just feels like now is the time.”

Lions Playlist: End of the semester pick-me-up

By Jhemarr Anderson
Blogger

Holy Cow! School is almost over and you need a playlist to help get you through the last couple weeks?! There’s a playlist for that!

It’s mid-April and it’s almost time for us to call it a semester. During this time of year, you may find yourself overly stressed out with not a second to spare. Well, for those precious moments when you do have a few moments to catch your breath, here are some awesome songs scientifically proven to uplift and/or inspire you.

“Jenny Was A Friend of Mine” – The Killers


Usually when I’m writing these I like to play the song just to refreshe my memory of it. No need with this one. This happens to be my second-favorite song from my favorite musical act in the WORLD. It’s also the first song you hear from their debut album, “Hot Fuss.” “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine” is about as bold an opening statement an artist can make. That baseline man … killer. Ha!

“She’s A Handsome Woman” – Panic! at the Disco


“She’s A Handsome Woman” is a cut off Panic’s sophomore album, “Pretty.Odd.” I’m not sure what their motivation was for experimenting with their sound or making an album basically paying homage to Sgt. Pepper, but man! It turned out pretty beautifully, if you ask me. If you like this one be sure to check out “Nine in the Afternoon,” “That Green Gentleman,” or “Pas De Cheval” … anyone seen these guys lately? I couldn’t resist.

“Understand” – The Sheer


I honestly couldn’t tell you where these guys are right now … but this song is awesome. Throw this on if you need a little uplifting, or even just something to sing along to.

“Frankenstein” – Tokyo Police Club


This song is delightful. Certain songs you have to be in a certain mood to listen to, and certain songs you can listen to in any circumstance. “Frankenstein” is definitely latter. Tokyo Police Club is like a more indie version of Death Cab for Cutie in my opinion; also Canadian.

“Happy” – Pharell


Okay, I know this song is being GROSSLY overplayed (yes, like Airplanes by B.O.B. and Haley Williams overplayed), but it’s with good reason! It’s a delightful little tune! People say they can’t stand it, but when I hear it I just wanna get up and do the “Carlton.” To each his own

“Say that”  - Toro y Moi


Okay, a little background. Toro y Moi is a pioneer of the “chillwave” movement that started back in 2011. Chillwave is a genre that basically lays simple melodic lines on top of heavy synths, samples and vocals. It definitely has a summer vibe to it — it may take some growing on you but it’s really chill if you can get into it. Try longboarding to it if you’re into that sort of thing.

“Carmencita” – Devendra Banhart


This song proves you don’t need to understand what an artist is saying to find the tune groovy. I also chose it because songs in English are basic.

“No More Running” – Animal Collective


Animal Collective is trippy — there’s no real way around that. But it’s something the band embraces. It’s certainly different, what more could you expect from a psychedelic band, but the melodies and sound effects, and ambient sounds do an excellent job of keeping the listener engaged. Animal Collective’s main goal when making music is to make music that “plays with the listeners ears” so to speak. It’s not traditional, but give it a few listens and you may find you like it.

“Lose Yourself to Dance” – Daft Punk


More brilliance from Pharrell! I don’t think this song got the attention it deserved. “Get Lucky” definitely stole some of it’s thunder; winning a Grammy and all. I thought Lose Yourself to Dance was the best cut off the album personally, but I can’t blame the world for falling in love with “Get Lucky.” Pharrell co-wrote both of them, how funny.

“Marathon Runner” – Yellow Ostrich


“Marathon Runner” is a beautifully-written, beautifully-composed and easily-relatable song. What more can you ask for?

Lime Correspondent: Picking and juicing the perfect lime

By Patrick Gallagher
Blogger

In times like these, you need to get all you can from this green little citrus. With lime prices on the rise, and no end in sight, consumers need to be smart about what they buy at the grocery store. No one wants to pay top dollar for a crappy lime. In this article, you will become a more enlightened consumer, and learn how to squeeze the most out of this limepocalypse.

(buzzle.com)
Squeeze the most out of this limepocalypse. (buzzle.com)

Limes are typically sold by the fruit, not by weight or any other metric — use this to your advantage. Most uses for the lime require its juices, so picking out a lime with optimal ripeness and juice is a definite. Ostensibly, larger limes contain more juice, so always opt for those over smaller ones. Before selecting a lime, squeeze it and make sure it is not especially firm. While firm limes can be juiced, it will be harder and not necessarily worth it. A hard lime has no guarantee for plenty of juice. On the other hand, a lime that is soft and almost squishy should provide an excellent amount.

Most recognize a lime by its bright green color, but limes of optimal ripeness actually have a bit of yellow in them. Partially-yellow limes are the perfect ripeness to be juiced, so be on the lookout for them. Smell can also be indicative of ripeness. As odd as it sounds, smelling a lime for its familiar fragrance is also a test for a good lime. If it has a subtle citrus aroma, it’s good. A lime that doesn’t smell like anything doesn’t deserve to be in your kitchen. You’re better than that.

Now that you have bought an optimal batch of limes, what remains is another challenge in and of itself: juicing. Juicing a lime may not look very difficult, and I’ll admit, it’s not. Most people find it is satisfactory to cut the lime in half and squeeze it into their food or drink. However, with limes as pricey as they are now, it’s practically a sin to waste any drop of juice. With these techniques, you can make sure to get the most juice out of your limes. If you went through all the trouble of selecting the juiciest limes, you may as well reap what you harvested.

One technique is called rolling. Simply roll the lime on your kitchen counter forcefully until it is extremely soft to the touch. This way, all of the membranes within the fruit have broken, and the juice is much easier to squeeze out. In fact, be mindful of slicing the lime after this, since juice tends to practically seep out of a well-rolled lime.

Other techniques include microwaving or simply using an electric juicer. Keep in mind to only microwave for less than 30 seconds — prolonged exposure to microwaves causes limes to burst out in volcanic, acidic fury. This phenomenon, while extremely interesting, is not for the frail of heart or weak of wallet, as watching lime juice go to waste in this economy is essentially settling for bankruptcy.

And there you have it, folks. A tutorial on how to make the best of your lime. The juicing techniques and ripeness tests can also be applied to small citrus such as lemons. Now that you have your lime juice, you need to find some recipes for it. Because of their astounding sour and bitter taste, limes have found their way into cuisines around the world. Next week, I will cover some dishes where limes are a culinary necessity, so that you, the well-informed lime consumer, can transform into a well-informed lime chef.

 

Students go ‘All In’ for fundraising

By Christine Aebischer
Staff Writer

The campaign raises money for scholarships and campus developments. (Julie Kayzerman / News Editor)
The campaign raises money for scholarships and campus developments. (Julie Kayzerman / News Editor)

When choosing a college to attend, students weigh many factors, but when it comes down to making a final decision, the one that weighs most heavily is money — how much tuition costs and what scholarships are being offered. Besides the low tuition at the College, three out of four students also receive some kind of scholarship, according to Donna Green, director of annual giving.

The College’s newest initiative, known as the “All In” campaign, aims to gain the support of the entire College community to continue raising funds for scholarships and other campus developments.

“TCNJ is a place to be proud of and excited about,” Green said. “(The ‘All In’ campaign) is another way for people to be engaged with the campus.”

“All In” is directed at the entire community, including current and future students, faculty and staff, alumni and parents. Donations from these groups not only directly benefit students and the school, but they also help the College receive outside donations from businesses and corporations, according to John Donohue, vice president of college advancement.

“It’s really about growing a sense of ownership and loyalty to their alma mater,” Donohue said.

The “All In” campaign stresses participation more than anything else, meaning a donation of any size makes a difference. The amount of people who donate, not the amount of their donations, is what makes a difference, both for potential outside donors and for college rankings.

“It’s not the size of the gift that matters,” Green said. “It’s about participation, commitment and the idea to pay it forward. Every gift truly does make a difference — it’s not just something we say.”

The campaign also allows participants to choose where they would like their gift to go, meaning they can designate their gift to a specific school, department or athletic team — anywhere they would like to support.

“We want to keep people engaged in the life of the institution,” Donohue said.

The campaign also intends to grow the culture of giving by getting students in the habit now to give back. Alumni typically do not start donating until about 10 years post-graduation, according to Donohue, so the campaign is also meant to get them engaging with their alma mater sooner. While Donohue acknowledged that it can be difficult for students to donate, their participation in the program is significant.

“Part of the reason (current students) are enjoying their experiences is because of people before them doing the same thing,” he said. “Even a small amount drives our numbers up.”

Besides raising money, “All In” is meant to increase the energy and enthusiasm on campus.

“It’s a good time to celebrate TCNJ as a community,” Green said.

A call to arms for Eickhoff volunteers

By Sarah Holland
Correspondent

Ask any student at the College about their favorite employee at Eickhoff Hall and they’ll more than likely respond with enthusiastic praises for Big Larry or Eve, two of the most animated ID swipers.

Whether Team Larry or Team Eve, anyone would agree that the reason for the popularity of these beloved workers is their friendliness. Waiting in a slow-moving line that trails all the way out the door of the dining hall becomes totally worthwhile after getting a high five from Big Larry or a cheerful grin from Eve.

“When Big Larry says ‘hi’ to me, it makes my day,” freshman special education and Spanish dual major Jenna Finnis said.

Her fellow students were passionately in agreement.

“Eve is an angel,” freshman open options humanities and social sciences major Megan Vantslot said.

One sincere greeting from a pleasant  Eick worker is enough to make a student’s day. But what students may often forget is that it’s a two-way street. They don’t consider that their own greetings could have the same effect, potentially making an employee’s day with just one friendly conversation.

That’s why dozens of students participate in Siked for Eick, a program in which volunteers help clean the dining hall at closing time and chat with the employees. With the extra help, the cleaning gets done faster and the employees are able to go home earlier. As the volunteers eagerly return week after week, they become more familiar with the dining hall staff and eventually form lasting relationships with them.

Junior biomedical engineering majors Adriana Chisholm and Anasha Green have been volunteering at Siked for Eick since its formation two years ago. Chisholm recalls talking with Green their freshman year, before the program was created,  about how kind the dining hall workers are and wanting to do something in return for their hard work.

Unbeknownst to the girls, another student on campus had the same desire. Yohan Perera, Class of 2013, proposed the idea of an Eick outreach ministry within the College’s InterVarsity chapter, New Jersey Christian Fellowship (NJCF). Perera was a leader in the fellowship. Chisholm and Green were thrilled.

Already active members of NJCF, the two best friends saw Siked for Eick as an opportunity to serve the people who work so hard to serve the students each day. They eagerly participated every single week.

“We loved it so much,” Chisholm said.

Chisholm said that her and Green’s involvement started as cleaning tables, but eventually it became “more than just cleaning, and (they) got to know the workers behind the counters.”

The following semester, the ministry was in need of a new leader. Since Chisholm and Green were so involved, they were jointly asked to helm the program. Now as a junior, Chisholm leads the ministry on her own, gathering the eager volunteers on the second-floor Eickhoff lounge every Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. for conversation and prayer before heading into the dining hall.

Since its inception, the ministry has grown tremendously. Volunteers include students who are already members of NJCF, but also “random people who saw us cleaning and wanted to join,” Chisholm said.

TCNJ Circle K, a student-led community service group, cleans up Eick after hours. (Julie Kayzerman / News Editor)
TCNJ Circle K, a student-led community service group, cleans up Eick after hours. (Julie Kayzerman / News Editor)

Not only has the Wednesday night group grown from five or six to 10 or 15 regular volunteers, but also other groups on campus got involved. Now, there are students doing Eick cleanup four nights a week, each night organized by a different on-campus group.

“It was really great to see it get this big all of a sudden,” Chisholm said. “Being able to collaborate is really cool.”

But Chisholm strives to make NJCF’s involvement in the program unique among all the groups.

“We want to stand out apart from the group, by doing things like praying and making cards for the workers,” she said.

These acts of kindness are part of furthering Chisholm’s mission for the ministry.

“The purpose is not only to show appreciation through cleaning and giving back, but also show Christ’s love by being in relationships with (the dining hall staff) and having conversations with them,” she said.

Now, when Chisholm gets meals at Eick throughout the week, she’s able to relate to the workers on a personal level.

“It was cool to go from barely knowing the workers to knowing all of them by name,” she said.

Chisholm has advice for students at the College looking to show appreciation to the Eick workers.

“Ask them about their day, and it turns into a 20-minute conversation — ask them about their families and their kids, (and) they really appreciate someone caring about them,” Chisholm said. “Saying ‘hi’ with a big smile makes a difference. They notice that.”

Going the distance for charity

Franc celebrates his finish at last year’s NJ marathon with the executive race director Joe Gigas (left) and his father (right), who also ran. Photo courtesy of Gabe Franc)
Franc celebrates his finish at last year’s NJ marathon with the executive race director Joe Gigas (left) and his father (right), who also ran. Photo courtesy of Gabe Franc)

By T.J. von Bradsky
Correspondent

For many, running a marathon is something that is simply talked about in the abstract. Maybe it’s even put on the bucket list. But this is not the case for junior interactive multimedia major Gabe Franc.

Franc decided to take action toward achieving the grueling task of running 26.2 miles in one sitting.

“I wanted to do it as a challenge and to push myself by accomplishing something that is fairly unique,” he said.

But Franc is helping others overcome their own personal challenges in the process.

Franc has raised thousands of dollars for brain cancer research through The Kortney Rose Foundation. He ran his first race, the annual New Jersey marathon, as a 17-year-old high school senior in 2011. Since then, he has completed each New Jersey marathon, as well as participating in the Philadelphia Half-Marathon.

Franc knew he wanted to help others, so he began searching the New Jersey Marathon website for potential charities. The Kortney Rose Foundation stood out to him, so he began his first 26.2-mile-long journey with a purpose.

“I felt attached to the Foundation since brain cancer is really terrible and since it is affecting children who are innocent,” he said.

organization itself was created by the parents of Kortney Rose, a 9-year-old girl who passed away from a rare brain tumor in 2006, according to the Kortney Rose Foundation website. It is a nonprofit charity with the goal of raising awareness and money for pediatric brain cancer research.

Brain tumors are among the most commonly diagnosed tumors in children. On average, about nine children a day are told they have a brain tumor, according to the Kortney Rose Foundation website. But funding for research is not nearly up to par with other common diseases. In fact, money available for childhood brain cancer research has decreased every year since 2003, the website says.

Knowing this, Franc continues to do his best for the cause. He will be competing once again in the New Jersey Marathon later this month.

The inspiration he draws from children like Kortney Rose helps him to stay motivated and consistently place amongst the top runners in his age group. He runs six days a week preparing for marathons. In the past two races, he has been one of the top-three finishers in his age group and finished last year’s marathon in three hours and nine minutes.

“The sense of accomplishment with a challenge like a marathon is definitely fulfilling,” Franc said.

Franc identifies with the extremely long process that the Kortney Rose Foundation is undergoing in helping to find a cure. Marathons are 26.2-mile-long expeditions that require a tremendous amount of persistence, just like the fight for a cure.

“As I start to get closer and closer to the finish line, I think back about how far my journey has been to get to that point,” Franc said.

Pediatric brain cancer research may be stalling, but Franc is helping it pick up its pace. After all, he is a pretty good candidate for the job.

Breel shares the struggles behind his TED Talk

By Paul Kibala
Correspondent

Kevin Breel, outgoing, funny and confident TED Talk sensation, appears an unlikely advocate for mental health.

“It’s rewarding to see people bring this conversation to campuses,” Breel said of the organization To Write Love on Her Arms, which helps people talk about and overcome issues of depression, anxiety and suicide.

Breel tells students to find a positive outlet in their lives. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)
Breel tells students to find a positive outlet in their lives. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

In a talk given at Roscoe West on Tuesday, April 8, the 20-year-old writer, stand-up comedian and British Columbia native, realized he must openly discuss his depression and contemplated suicide after winning a high school basketball tournament.

“I felt like I was living two different lives: one on the surface and another that lurked beneath,” Breel said. “I felt alone, like I was living a lie.”

In the forthcoming weeks, Breel talked to coaches and counselors and finally a therapist, realizing that the prospect of social exile mattered little compared to keeping his detrimental feelings hidden.

Though initially finding it “difficult to be honest, vulnerable,” Breel said this outlet had a positive influence on him.

While attending these sessions, Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old who had comitted suicide, became an international story in 2012, but faded fast from the headlines.

As she was also from the British Columbia area, Breel recognized the persisting emotional toll the community felt long after the news media had forgotten the tragedy, which spurred him to take action.

Twelve to 15 teenagers commit suicide every day in North America. In Canada, suicide is the leading cause of death for people above age 20, and yet it remains a taboo subject and is largely ignored.

At 19, Breel gave a talk at his former high school, sharing his personal battle with depression.

Afterward, most of the students approached Breel to say how they related to his story. This eventually led to Breel’s TED Talk. After creating his TED Talk, Breel received an estimated 20,000 letters from people encouraging his candor and courage.

“Kevin was incredibly relatable,” senior elementary education major Amanda Zabel said. “I kept thinking how he’s 20 years old and has accomplished so much in the face of his own struggles.”

He shared one such message with the audience. It was from a girl named Amber who credited him with saving her life by way of his TED Talk.

Breel concluded by urging the audience to “be a character in someone else’s story who’s looking for hope, for redemption. And maybe we’ll have a lot less stories like Amanda’s, and a lot more stories like Amber’s.”

“I thought this was just going to be funny, but Kevin opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know,” senior marketing major Alex Black said.

Theorist talks US trust and transparency

By Jenna Rose 
Correspondent

Presenting his lecture “Trust vs. Transparency in Modern Democracy” to the College, famed communications theorist Michael Schudson filled the Education building on Thursday, April 10.

Schudson is an accomplished writer of multiple books and articles dealing with history and sociology of American news media, advertising, pop culture and cultural memory. He is currently a professor at Columbia University.

Schudson gave real-life examples depicting the non-existence of transparency in the United States during the 1960s.

“In 1960, in the dark ages, there was a land where both the press and the public were unable to learn how their representatives in the national legislature voted on,” Schudson said. “In this same land, 90 percent of doctors of patients who had cancer did not tell their patients … Cartons of milk were stamped with a ‘do not sell after’ date in a code so that store employees would know and so that the consumers would not.”

Other examples Schudson cited from the “dark ages” prior to transparency being a common practice include the lack of books written about women’s health by women for the intended purpose of educating women and the ability for lenders to hide information about loans from customers.

“There was no uniformity that would allow consumers to make comparisons,” Schudson said.

Schudson’s lecture expanded from there by discussing the rapid changes that America underwent in 15 years. He explained that by 1975, transparency increased dramatically.

Though he cited multiple factors, key individuals and businesses that catalyzed this shift to transparency, Schudson and other scholars are still trying to find the actual specific roots to these changes.

Giant, the supermarket conglomerate, was an example of a major player in the movement for transparency. The chain was one of the first supermarkets to partake in showing expiration dates and nutrition facts on their goods.

The speaker remarked that over time, journalists also came to show more distrust in government leaders, which also pushed for more transparency.

The discussion shifted from transparency to a talk focusing on trust. Schudson said that the American people have a great amount of trust in ordinary people in democracy to vote the correct people into office but a great amount of distrust for authority and individuals who hold elected positions.

Schudson explained that the intentions of the founding fathers were not for America to be a democracy. In his research, Schudson discovered that the Founding Fathers wanted the American people to never question their elected leaders and allow them to act in the way that they thought was best for the people.

Schudson elaborated on this topic by referencing the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law limiting the freedom of speech, press, assembly, or religion,” but explained that the Founding Fathers meant to grant these powers to the states to limit these rights instead.

Schudson himself was personable and generally regarded as a remarkable speaker.

“At major conferences, he’s a rock star — he fills rooms to (their) capacity,” said communication studies professor John Pollock, who spent the day with Schudson. “He was very humble and just as accessible interpersonally as he was in his presentation.”

According to Pollock, Schudson even joked that his best-selling book was his Harvard dissertation and that “it’s been downhill ever since.”

Pollock believes that the lecture was beneficial for students because it not only enlightened them on the issue of transparency, but also showed that individuals could truly make a difference and mentioned the importance of journalists in the shift for more transparency.

Students found the lecture to be enjoyable and valuable as well. Freshman Brooke Buonauro was surprised by much of the information presented to her.

“It seemed ridiculous to me that things like finding out which foods had the most calories or grams of sugar was not something that people had access to,” Buonauro said.

And so the question of trust and transparency has been sparked in a new generation.

Skateistan assists to empower youth

By Carly Choffo
Correspondent

Last Wednesday, April 9, many students gathered in the Library Auditorium for the presentation “Skateistan: Using Skateboarding to Empower the Youth of Afghanistan,” which displayed skateboarding as a platform for learning in Afghanistan.

The lecture was presented by Benafsha Tasmim as part of the College’s “Art Amongst War: Visual Culture in Afghanistan.”

“It’s been extraordinary,” history professor Jo-Ann Gross said as she introduced Benafsha Tasmim. “I’ve learned so much.”

Tasmim gave a presentation of video representations and slideshows displaying the life of the skateboarders at Afghanistan’s first skateboarding facility: Skateistan.

Skateistan, founded in 2007, aims to provide education for youth, foster relationships and communication amongst kids in Kabul, and build confidence in kids and give a voice to both boys and girls living amongst war in Afghanistan.

Skateistan is essentially a school. Skateboarding lessons are what keep the children coming to the facility, but the main goal is to educate them with an art-based curriculum.

Skateistan’s mission, as told by Tasmim, is to use skateboarding “(as a) tool for empowering youth, to create new opportunities and the potential for change.”

Every day, 400 students — 50 percent former street workers — attend Skateistan. Of these students, 40 percent are girls. Thus, Skateistan is currently the largest female sport facility in Afghanistan, Tasmim said.

When creating Skateistan, founder Oliver Percovich realized that even if they’re taught at a young age, girls stop skateboarding at a certain age because it’s socially unaccepted in Afghanistan, Tasmim said. So, he created Skateistan, a gender-neutral place where girls can learn to skateboard because they like it.

Every year since 2009, the children of Skateistan showcase what they learn during an event they have created called “Go Skateboarding Day.”

Besides skateboarding, Skateistan aims to build community, education and leadership through their art-based curriculum, Tasmim said.

“We have very different students, but art is something everyone can do,” Tasmim said.

Skateistan believes that art is the best way for these children to express themselves and to bridge gaps between students of different education levels.

Skateistan also has a “back-to-school” program for street-working kids. This is a 12-month program that teaches kids three grades of school in one year so they can attend school with their age group.

One of Skateistan’s other extraordinary programs is the Children’s Shura, which is a mock council meeting where children are allowed to discuss and propose solutions to their daily problems.

Skateistan is not just skateboarding. Skateistan fosters positive growth for the youth of Afghanistan because the youth is the future of their country, Tasmim said.

Guitarist rocks recital

By Tiffani Tang
Staff Writer

Friends and family filled up Mayo Concert Hall on Sunday, April 13, for Steven Thompson’s installment of the College’s senior recital series.

Armed with a black suit and his guitar, Thompson began his first piece, “Prelude No. 3 in A minor,” by Heitor Villa-Lobos — a nice way to start the program.

In one section, there was a build up to hit one high note before going back to the repetition of a high melody into blocked notes.

The next piece, also by Villa-Lobos, was “Prelude No. 4 in E minor,” which started off with a slow prominent melody answered with a piano response.

The song built up to a high intensity before slowing down to twanging high notes. The high notes melted away back into lower ones, and the song ended with a single clear strum.

“Ricercare,” by Francesco da Milano, was the third piece played.

It was very reminiscent of a folk song from the Renaissance, bringing the audience back to that time period.

In the middle of the performance, there was a slight pause to retune and Thompson began again. This part of the song took a braver tone, with more prominent dynamics and a smooth ending.

“Danza,” by an anonymous composer and arranged by Oscar Chilesotti, followed. This short piece had slight rests between measures, giving off breaths and the impression of passing off partners while dancing.

The fifth piece of the afternoon was “Variation on a Theme by Handel, Op. 107,” by Mauro Giuliani. The melody was very strong and he was singing straight out to the audience.

Notes climbed up by half steps in a crescendo and then they climbed back down in a diminuendo and ritardando. It was as if the piece was running back and forth between two very different sections.

The mezzo forte music accelerated into a new melody with constant bass notes. It took a lighter, sillier feel before coming to an end of three notes, the pretty little bow on a present.

Thompson stretched his fingers before performing his last piece, “Capricho árabe,” by Francisco Tárrega.

It started off as a slow piece integrated with spurs of fast rhythms. Then the piece took on a calm and casual tone. Although the music was complicated, Thompson played through it with ease.

It was a lovely piece that mirrored the beautiful weather outside.

As he stood on stage to take his bows, the audience gave him a loud and long standing ovation.

Thompson beamed, grinned largely and mouthed “thank you” to everyone in attendance.

When he walked out into the lobby, everyone began clapping again.

“The rush after you’re done is amazing,” Thompsom said. “For the next four hours, you’re on adrenaline.”

He paused to take some more pictures and to thank friends for coming.

“The last one,” Thompson said in regard to which song was his favorite piece to play. “I heard it my freshman year and I thought, ‘I need to play that for my recital!’”

Thompson has been thinking about his senior recital since he was a freshman, and all of his hard work has finally paid off.

Women’s reproductive rights are human rights

By Stephanie Cervino

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development where nations across the globe, including the United States, declared that reproductive rights are human rights. Over the past two decades, much progress has been made. Yet, around the world, 222 million women in developing countries who want to plan and space their families still lack access to modern birth control and 47,000 women die from the inability to access a legal abortion with an experienced provider. While right here on our campus students can visit the Planned Parenthood office within Student Health Services to obtain sexual and reproductive health services and birth control, off campus and abroad, we still have our work cut out for us.

While students are offered resources on campus through Planned Parenthood, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure reproductive rights. (AP Photo)
While students are offered resources on campus through Planned Parenthood, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure reproductive rights. (AP Photo)

To tackle these significant challenges, in 2015 government members of the United Nations will set new global development goals. And they’ve issued a call for people around the world to contribute to this process by defining the “World We Want” in an online survey and on social media. Beginning last month for International Women’s Day and continuing this spring around major UN conferences, including the Commission on Population and Development, supporters of women’s health and rights are responding to that call with a manifesto defining the world we want.Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey (PPNJ) work to make the world we want a reality every day. For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has worked to improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices. And PPNJ is uniquely positioned to engage in UN processes as global citizens — over 20 percent of our state’s population was born in countries other than the U.S., so lawmakers in the state have a particular duty to represent the interests of these global stakeholders. To that end, here’s a little more about the world we want.

In the world we want, access to health care doesn’t depend on your postal code. Or your gender. Or your sexual identity. Or the language you speak. Or the color of your skin.

In the world we want, the College has zero sexual assaults, zero unintended pregnancies and zero obstacles to comprehensive and respectful health services for all students.

In the world we want, politicians don’t come between a woman and her health care provider.

In the world we want, girls are just as likely as boys to stay in school, go after the jobs they want and become leaders in their communities.

In the world we want, there are no new HIV infections, and those living with HIV are able to make decisions about their health and lives, just like anybody else.

In the world we want, young people are empowered and trusted with information about sex so they can prevent unintended pregnancy and protect themselves from STDs.

In the world we want, all people have equal protection and equal benefit under the law.

The world we want is free of stigma, discrimination and violence. And reproductive rights are recognized as human rights. The world we want acknowledges that the only way forward is to protect and expand these rights. In the world we want, all people control their own bodies and their own destinies. This is the world we want. And this is the world we’ll fight for.

Standing together for Ally Awareness Week

The Day of Silence ended with a coffeehouse. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Assistant)
The Day of Silence ended with a coffeehouse. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Assistant)

By Tiffani Tang
Staff WriterFrom Tuesday, April 8, to Friday, April 11, the College’s LGBTQ alliance club, PRISM, held Ally Awareness Week.

Ally Week is held in order to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT, bullying and other forms of harassment.

“An ally is somebody who is willing to go out of their way to fight for a cause that is important to them,” junior computer engineering major Kari Gilbertson said. “An ally is not a label, it is an action. Every cause needs allies to spread the word and recruit more allies. They are the gateway for success toward our cause.”
This year, the first event was “Different Spectrums within the Spectrum,” an activity that required everyone to stand up and walk between two pieces of tape, which resembled a “spectrum” of extremes. When prompted with a question, attendees would have to choose a side depending on their answers.

The questions started off light and jokingly, asking attendees if they preferred subs or hoagies.

As the night progressed, the questions became more serious. The topics ranged from privilege to confronting people who made harmful decisions to bullying to gender policing to standing up for personal beliefs.

And with each question, participants were encouraged to expand their views and explain why they chose their position on the spectrum.

“Reporting a hate crime is one way to be an ally,” event coordinator and freshman criminology major Robin Schmitz said.
The following day, “RENT,” a famous show and movie about six friends and their struggles with AIDS, was shown in the Cromwell lounge.

On Thursday, April 10, students were joined by the College’s professors who stand by the cause. The professors spoke about the importance of being an ally, as well as the different types of allies.
Ally Week ended with the National Day of Silence and a “Breaking the Silence” coffeehouse.

Students were encouraged to not speak in order to bring awareness and represent those who could not speak up for what they believe in. There was a table set up in the Brower Student Center for allies to sign a banner against LGBT hate crimes.
Later on that night, students performed poetry and music that was inspired by the week.

The first act took the stage. Bernard Miller, a 2013 English graduate, performed Bob Dylan’s “Tangled up in Blue” before being joined by Daniel Fitzgerald, a junior interactive mulitmedia and communication studies double major, and Connor Mullin, a sophomore political science major, to cover “Here Comes Your Man” by Pixies.

Mullin played “It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Nat King Cole, a sweet solo that left the audience snapping along.
He was rejoined by Miller and Fitzgerald for their last piece, an original, “Jessica’s First Love.”

Sophomore communication studies major Jared Sokoloff followed next, armed with a guitar and his voice.

He dedicated Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” to a friend who wasn’t present and then dedicated “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2 to anyone who wanted to break down walls.

Ryan Eldridge, a freshman political science and Spanish double major, played two Chopin pieces for attendees. “Nocturne in E major” and “Nocturne in E minor, E5 major” were both sweet waltzes that enchanted listeners.

Senior women’s and gender studies and sociology double major Remy Lourenco and Gilbertson sang a cover of “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.

At one point, the background music stopped, but the audience began to clap and the duo continued a capella. It was great to see such a supportive group.

“Awesome performances,” Eldridge said, smiling with approval.
The floor was opened up as an open mic and several people jumped at the opportunity.

There was some more singing, a poetry chain and several more impromptu performances.

“It’s not angry, but it’s about unrequited love,” said the final performer, incoming freshman Amanda Skriloff, about her piece.

The piece represented the internal struggle of keeping silent and keeping those strong feelings hidden. It inspired audience members to be an ally so these struggles might one day cease to exist.

College worker excited for the future

By Liane Librizzi
Correspondent

You don’t have to be a student at the College to learn here.
Though the thought seems rather paradoxical, it’s a proven fact that to work diligently at achieving your goals and furthering your passions doesn’t necessarily come with a tuition price. As a matter of fact, quite the contrary — you can even get paid for it instead.
Just ask Bessie Gardner.

Gardner, of Trenton, N.J., has been wearing many hats since she began working at the College eight years ago. Her day typically begins at 8 a.m. when she works with building services until 4:30 p.m., keeping Travers clean and aiding in snow removal on days that require it.

“I like helping out wherever it’s needed,” she said with a smile.
Yet, her eyes began to glisten with true satisfaction as she began to tell of her night shift in the TDubs kitchen. The sound of clanging pots and pans in the background, Gardner stood in front of roughly 60 pieces of wheat and white bread, preparing to make more than 30 sandwiches that would later be sent to the Library and C-store as “To Go” options. It takes about an hour and half to make the orders of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with the buffalo and chicken Caesar wraps that would be set out as options for students in a hurry the next day. Gardner, though, is slow to complain — she’s too driven to be drained.

“My goal now is I’d like to go to school to further my education … I want to go for culinary arts,” she said with excitement. “Once I (pay off my vehicle this year), I am looking to move forward.”
Gardner further went on to explain how her 28-year-old daughter is soon opening a restaurant in Texas, and she projects that she may be able to work with her there once she obtains her degree.

“I love what I do, but I also try to keep my mind focused on trying to move ahead,” she said, wiping the counter before beginning her sandwich-making.

Little does she know, with every sandwich she makes, she’s one step closer to achieving that dream, reminding all of us that our work at the College, though sometimes unnoticed, can be just the beginning to greater things.