Community Awareness — Final Empathy Exercise

This issues discussed in Global Health this semester combined with a heightened awareness of my community that I have developed through writing weekly blog posts for “Movement Matters” have led me to form new opinions on problems that Middlebury students face and where those problems fit in on a global scale. Early in the semester, Pam asked us to anonymously write something that others might not know about us on a piece of paper. She later read those answers aloud, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that said they were depressed, had anxiety, or were struggling with body image. I remember thinking, “wow, I never would have guessed that SO many people who look so put-together are really struggling inside.” I carried this thought with me this fall as I began to focus more thoughtfully on my surroundings and the students that make up the Middlebury College community. Using our global health class as a random sample of college students, I figured that if that many people in one class had mental struggles, mental health must be a rampant issue on this campus. I kept that sentiment in mind when noticing other students going about their busy lives. We are trained in our society to display a high level of function and self-control, which is often just a façade. Underneath the many well-dressed, high-performing students are individuals who are struggling with something not visible from the surface. When viewed on a global scale next to infectious disease, violence, and malnutrition, these mental struggles may seem insignificant. However, it is undeniable that they have a large impact on our community. We spent all semester discussing global health issues, but before we can change the world, we need to able to empathize and understand our own community. Becoming aware of the issues within my community is a good first step.

Supportive or Offensive?

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But are you really? Changing your facebook profile picture may be a tribute and act of support to those who died or have been affective by the terrorist attacks in France, but adding the French flag to your profile may also be viewed as offensive. It emphasizes selective empathy and dehumanization of others. Why isn’t there a Lebanese flag option in support of the attacks in Beirut?




Appreciating the “Little Things”

As work loads and consequently stress levels increase at Middlebury, it’s pretty easy to get sucked into “the grind”. Sometimes I find when I put my head down and push through hours and hours of work a night that I forget to recognize and appreciate the small accomplishments or little things around me that make me happy. Those “little things” suddenly seem insignificant in comparison to a looming paper or exam because I have my mind on the “big thing” — the relief of it being over. When I take the time to appreciate the little things… a nice shower, a good practice, a compliment from a teammate, a perfectly ripe apple, stepping on a crunchy leaf, setting a new personal record for hours spent in bihall (just kidding!), the difficult parts of being a college students seem less stressful. I’ll leave you with one of the best “little things” from today, a quote that I found on my tea bag this morning that brightened my day:

Live light,

travel light,

spread the light,

be the light.

Skimping Out for Halloween

Halloween on a college campuses has become an excuse for girls to dress as promiscuously as possible and “blame” it on their costumes. Add the word “sexy” to an idea and you’ve got yourself a costume (e.g. sexy cat, sexy cop). While I’m certainly not opposed to having fun and wearing something a little skimpier or revealing, why can’t the goal be to look cute and creative? Looking sexy often ends up looking desperate.

In the Spirit of Fall

I memorized this poem in second grade and recited it to my entire class. It was the first poem I ever had to memorize, and to this day, 14 years later, I still remember every line. Even though the poem is entitled “September”, I think it captures the essence of fall.

“The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

–   John Updike, September

The Last of the Garden

The first frost, the last of the garden. I was lucky enough to go home this weekend and savor the last kale leaves from the few remaining stalks in my family’s vegetable garden. I love the first “real” frost, the one where the ground really does freeze for the first time since last April. That cold, nippy feeling early in the morning, the frozen condensation crystals frozen on my window–all signs that winter is on its way. But as I welcome in my favorite season I already miss the sweetness of summer. As I sat down to what I’m sure will be my last kale salad from the garden until next summer, I found myself appreciating the hardiness of this vegetable and it’s ability to span the transition of seasons, the lone survivor in the garden.

Midterm Tunnel Vision

We all know that feeling you get the week you have a midterm… or two… or three. Your shoulders tighten, daily routines seem strenuous, small inconveniences feel like colossal disturbances, and every ounce of extra time must be devoted to studying. During this time of cramming information, you seem to brainwash yourself, and you fail to the recognize your environment. It’s interesting how external pressures have such an impact on internal awareness.

This tunnel vision is one that I found myself subconsciously caught up in this past week. It’s shocking how in the span of just busy five days I was able to numb myself to every outside distraction except for my studies. Even though this “hell week” is now over, I’m surprised that I am currently unable to snap out of this tunnel vision trance.

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