Friday, April 4, 2014

Scenes from Spring Break, part I

Spring break was March 8th to the 15th and I'm still in denial. Though North Country temperatures have finally crested the freezing point, we have no semblance of new life yet, and we have to go through mud season first.

I traveled 20 hours south with my ultimate frisbee team, the Ruckus Bus, to southeastern Georgia to play in High Tide, the largest collegiate ultimate tournament in the country. Georgia is honestly a different world; we forgot what it takes to defend against sunburn and bug bites, but we adjusted quickly. Traditionally, the team has rented a house on St. Simon's Island, but the home owners are tired of the liabilities and trouble caused by a month's worth of college students. However, we snagged a house a bit farther north situated on a marshland estuary, called the Baisden Bluff House. It sleeps 14 and we actually fit the 25 of us comfortably, and we filled the lawn with games, strung hammocks, paddled down the river, spent mornings and evenings in the enclosed patio, biked under moss-covered trees, played kan jam from sunrise to sunset, slacklined, played bacci, corn hole (the bean bag game), wiffle ball and just reveled at our lovely Ruckus commune.

Forty hours down and back with these fools (Elizabeth was driving at that point)!

The Baisden Bluffhouse lawn, before we filled it with activities. 
With four bedrooms and three baths, couches also became beds at night, though fortunately not too many people had to sleep on the floor. 
The first night we all arrived at the house, everyone was so exhausted! All we could do was collapse in the living room together.
The beautiful estuary. The boys challenged each other to climb onto the beams and catch a frisbee while laying out into the river!

We paddled out to this sand bar at low tide and claimed it as Ruckus Island!
Exploring the roads around Crescent with Elizabeth.

It's raining, and the snow is finally melting away, but we're still playing frisbee indoors. This winter has been harsh, which I took for granted because I was in China at this time last year. Three weeks later, my tan has disappeared, but that makes me appreciate sunshine and summer that much more-- right?!

Listening: "If I Ever Feel Better" by Pheonix

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bylines Under My Belt

Happy first day of spring! Snow flurries are currently swirling around the student center where I'm writing this...

I'm somewhat back in the groove of doing school work, but I'm pining for last week when I was gearing up for a week of hot, dusty spring break bliss in Georgia-- a post with photos on that to come! In the meantime, I wanted to share a few articles that I wrote that were published online:

March 18th: "A Taste of Shanghai" personal essay for GapBrave on RoosterGNN, the global news agency.

March 20th: A press release on Shannon Moroney, an advocate and author who will be presenting at St. Lawrence in the beginning of April. This was a flash assignment given to me from the University Communications office, with whom I'm interning this semester. I'm looking forward to meeting her at the talk!

An unfiltered shot from St. Simon's Island in Georgia exactly one week ago. It's nice to know that other parts of the world are actually radiantly sunny and warm.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Body Pride Project

I love my lips. I was born in China with a cleft lip, then adopted at two months old by my current U.S. parents. Because of them, I underwent plastic surgery as an infant then again at age seven to reform my upper lip. Some children aren’t as lucky, because cleft lips and palates can severely impair your quality of life. When I was younger, other kids would ask me, “What’s wrong with your lips?” These comments hurt but I realized that the scars simply reinforce the luck, stories and love that guide my life. This is my body, and I am more than just my appearance, but beautiful for my imperfections. This is the meaning of St. Lawrence’s Body Pride Project.

In February, we turned a Student Center room into a photo studio for the project. BeyoncĂ© music bumped in the background. So many women, some friends and others I’ve never seen before, laughed, watched and cheered. Each of us took turns striking a pose in front of the white board while my friend, Raina Puels ’16, snapped away on her camera. Some ladies flexed their arms, sat on a table, whipped their hair, or revealed scars, birth marks and tattoos. We all highlighted what we loved about ourselves and tried to express in a single quote why.

My friend, Chelsea Draper ’15, who lives in The Women’s Resource Center theme house, (better known on campus as The Dub), led the campaign. Chelsea was inspired by body-image campaigns such as Dove and Seventeen magazine’s Body Peace Project. She wanted to create the Body Pride Project for St. Lawrence because, as she put it, “college can be a bed of judgments.” “We’re so quick to look in the mirror and find what we don’t like about ourselves, so this is about boosting your own esteem, while encouraging others to do the same.”

Last spring was the preliminary trial for the project, and though feedback was enthusiastic, this year we received even more support. There were over 80 volunteer participants, with three photography sessions across two weeks. The result was 76 portraits of St. Lawrence women expressing their pride for who they are. Whether ladies featured something about their bodies that they’ve loved forever, reminded them of family, or an insecurity they’ve battled with, those few minutes in front of a camera were inspiring.

Raina, the vivacious lady behind the lens, was honored to be part of the Body Pride Project: “Some participants emailed me afterwards told me how empowered they felt. It’s incredible what having your photo taken can make you feel.”

The Body Pride Project is also a collaboration with Body Beautiful Week/Love Your Body Week and the Advocate’s Program “Campus Peace Project” from last spring. Those portraits featured male students and their thoughts on granting sexual consent. As the project—or perhaps the movement—gains traction and reaches more eyes, Chelsea thinks that it could possibly expand to other campuses and become an ongoing project.

I couldn’t agree more with Chelsea’s hopes that the Body Pride Project “keeps the positivity going all year and the good vibes from the photo shoot.”

I hope you’ve caught a glimpse of the Body Pride Project posted around campus! If you missed it, all 76 photographs can also be found in the Body Pride Project album of the Women’s Resource Center Facebook page.

This post was originally written for St. Lawrence's Admissions Blog.

Currently: catching up on everyone's spring breaks-- post to come soon!