Disclaimer: Not many pictures because the BlackStar Magazine livestreamed and took photographs of the event, and asked that past a certain times, no pictures be taken.
In 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TED talk called “The Danger of a Single Story.” It was about what happens when different human beings are reduced to a single narrative or experience. For example, when Africans are treated as pitiable poor, starving victims with flies swarming their bodies. More fitting for this article, when black people are all expected to share beliefs, culture, and history regardless of where they come from and what their backgrounds actually are.
On Tuesday, September 26th, black people of all different shades and backgrounds poured into the Emory Black Student Union (EBSU). The occasion? An event called “The Linkup.” Representatives from the Black Student Alliance (BSA), Emory NAACP, and the African and Caribbean Student Associations came together to begin a series of tough talks in the black community at Emory. The moderator, pictured standing, focused on the power of being an advocate for social change. He emphasized the importance of learning effective communication and being willing to listen to conflicting point of views with the intent to learn, and not sway.
The topic for this debate was in question form, “Do black students find the black community to be alienating despite a large focus on inclusivity?” The debate was separated into a “yes” and “no” side of the argument. It included opening arguments, rebuttal, cross examination, and a closing argument. The “yes” side focused on how many cultural communities are judgmental with the typical “you’re not black enough” narrative. They also mentioned the importance of creating community and safe spaces for people to express and deal with their experiences and their emotions. The “no” side focused on points such as a large increase in participation in events put on by black organizations and the fact that many black communities on campus pride themselves on their stance that blackness is all encompassing and not a singular experience.
In the end, there seemed to a general consensus that there doesn’t always need to be a general consensus. Blackness is not a single story. All black people don’t look alike, all black people don’t eat the same food, we don’t share the same family unit, our hair doesn’t hold the same curl as each other, and our identities as a black person and also as an individual are not exclusive. We do not share a single story, and we embrace that.
A little over a week ago one of my poems, State of Emergency, was published in The Best Teen Writing 2017by the Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards. Every year, they hold a contest, open now, for 7th-12th grade students to showcase their work on a grand stage. Those who earn awards on the national level are eligible to be published in the yearly publication of The Best Teen Writing. Poetry has had a big impact on my life and, in my opinion, helped me to get into Emory. Poetry has also been a great asset to my transition to life here at Emory, so I wanted to explore and bring awareness to the poetry scene around Continue reading “The Poets of Emory: Past, Present, and Future”
In 1916, Emory University established a law school with a faculty of great teachers with degrees from the most highly regarded institutions of the era, a library of over 5,000 volumes, and a class of just twenty-seven students. Today, ranked number 22nd in the nation, the Emory University School of Law now has an annual enrollment of over 130 faculty members, 800 students and up to 301,490 volumes, a collection of written or printed sheets bound together as a book, at the library. Averaging a 90.7% bar pass rate, 97.6% graduate employment and an average score of 165 on the LSAT, the Emory University School of Law is regarded as one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation.
The Emory University School of Law has many programs for students to choose from such as: LLM, JD, JM, SJD and other joint degrees. One of the most prominent degrees is the Juris Master Dual degree program with Georgia Tech. With an annual tuition of $53,350, it is one of the best deals you get considering the ranking of the institution.
The Emory University School of Law offers a practical and disciplined approach to the study of law that engages students in the varied and integral roles the law plays in our community, society, and world. The student-centered focus, innovative programs, and commitment to scholarships prepare graduates to make an immediate and lasting impact. The Emory School of Law provides students a wide variety of opportunities through its many partnerships and programs as well, just to list a few:
The Law School’s Partnership with the Carter Center is an initiative promoting world peace founded by former President Jimmy Carter. The Carter Center provides Emory with exceptional opportunities to understand and engage global challenges such as strengthening rule of law in Liberia, establishing foundations for long-term peace in the Sudans, and fighting diseases like Malaria and Guinea Worm Disease. Emory faculty and graduate students, with the help of the Carter Center programs, have the opportunity to help understand and solve complex problems such as the persistence of gender-based violence in post-conflict societies, the role of elections in transitional contexts, and the gap between theory and practice in disease elimination and eradication. The partnership opportunities are accessible to any and all graduate students of the Law school.
Additionally, graduate students can take part in the the Law School’s own Center for Transactional Law and Practice program. According to Emory University school of Law’s website “Through the Center’s Transactional Law Program, students have the opportunity to acquire a strong foundation in business law doctrine, become financially literate, and practice contract drafting and other critical deal skills”. The program provides a roadmap for every student interested in studying transactional law. Whether through in-class simulations of deals or transactional law externships with actual clients, students in the Transactional Law Program get the chance to experience what being a deal lawyer is really like. This program is accessible to virtually all Emory law school students.
Within this listing, it would be a shame not to mention Emory Law school’s Moot Court Society. The Moot Court Society is a competitive, student-run organization that, according to Emory University school of Law, provides “experiential opportunities to develop oral advocacy and brief-writing skills.” Emory Law students organize and host the annual Civil Rights and LibertiesMoot Court Competition, held at Emory Law in the Fall semester. This year’s competition will be held on October 20-22, 2017. Five professors and professionals will be reviewing the briefs. This program is accessible to all JM degree seekers.
Last but not least, is Emory Law school run Emory Law Mock Court. Graduate students undergo a selective process where they get involved with presenting and debating prosecution and defensive sides for real world cases in a Law school run Mock court. Emory College undergraduate students also have the opportunity to aid graduate students involved in the program as assistant or “secondary lawyers.”
I interviewed Cale, a prospective student, to hopefully hear a different perspective on how he views the School of Law. I thought it would be interesting to see what makes a student want to apply to the Emory School of Law, how an outsider who wants to be an insider views the institution, and what advice he can give that he has learned his process. Ultimately, I wanted to collect evidence to help guide students at Emory on whether they should attend the Emory School of Law.
In preparation for our interview, I emailed Cale questions that I was going to ask him previous to our meeting so that he would be prepared and well versed. We talked about the Law School in a study lounge in the Woodruff Library. Below is the transcript from our dialogue.
Hunter: Hi Cale. You are considering applying to Emory School of Law, correct?
Cale: Yes, I am thinking of applying.
Hunter: What would you hope to get out of the Law School?
Cale: I wish to get an education on how to practice law. Hopefully a strong foundation in law will help me enact my own moral compass. Not to sound like I am a personal savior, but I hope that law school will provide me an apparatus to right the wrong. Also, I think being a lawyer would be a practical and tangible job for me.
Hunter: What makes you want to apply to Emory School of Law, and what makes you not want to apply?
Cale: Emory School of Law is a highly revered institution. It is ranked by U.S. News as the 22nd best law school in the nation, but it only matters if you give heed to their rankings, like if they actually mean anything. What they do mean, no one can really articulate. I would go for the connections. Emory School of Law has an incredibly noteworthy alumni base.
Honestly, I would have a tough time committing to Emory School of Law as an undergraduate student. After the undergraduate experience, I don’t think I can do Emory again. From what I have heard, there is little difference between the undergraduate experience at Emory and the graduate experience. I want something different. I think that’s how most kids would put it. It’s not social enough, Emory School of Law is a very solitary experience. Students compete with grades; it is very cutthroat.
Hunter: What could Emory’s law school do to give its students a better experience and consequently make it more attractive to prospective students?
Cale: I think they should do more to reach out to the undergraduate students who are not pre-law. I am a philosophy major, a major in which students often continue to law school. I am yet to receive contact from Emory School of Law. As an Emory student who is considering the Law School here, I think they need to do better marketing. Maybe a business degree would have benefited the Law School professors and Law School management.
Hunter: What advice do you have for other students applying to the law school?
Cale: My biggest piece of advice is study the LSAT for at least 200 hours. Take your time. The LSAT score is clearly the most important part of the application to do well. Effective articulation in arguments and correct comprehension of readings is crucial. It is a very technical test. Internships also help. An attractive résumé is always beneficial.
Hunter: Thank you! I wish you the best of luck in the application process.
Cale: Thank you for your wishes. Best of luck to you too. It was a pleasure meeting you.
Here are my conclusions and my advice:
Cale and likely the majority of other prospective students at Emory see Emory School of Law as a potential graduate school of their liking predominately because of its high ranking and how highly revered it is. Students may be shied away from the school’s perceived solitary experience where the environment is highly competitive. Perhaps if Emory did a better job of its, for lack of a better phrase, public relations, they may find a way to change how the school is perceived.
Furthermore, I concluded something about the undergraduate experience in relation to the graduate experience here at Emory and likely at other schools. If you are an undergraduate student at school X, you probably don’t want to be a graduate student at School X. Expand your world. The two experiences are likely too similar.
My advice to Emory students on the pre-law track, if you can get into Emory School of Law, you will likely get into many other law schools of which many will be better suited for you. You should be willing to expand your horizons and be open to applying to different law schools. Moreover, you should not simply attend a school because of its ranking. Apply for more compelling reasons. Also, regardless of your major, be open to considering law because of the many doors it may open in the future. Study the LSAT tirelessly; it is arguably the most important aspect of your application.
By Sandro, Josh, and Hunter
Ranchod-Nilsson, Sita. “The Carter Center.” Emory University main site, www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/issues/2013/autumn%20/stories/ranchod-nilsson/index.html. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.
“Emory Law | Emory University School of Law | Atlanta, GA.” Emory University School of Law, law.emory.edu/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.
“How Does Emory University School of Law Rank Among America’s Best Law Schools?” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/emory-university-03039. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.
I have had my heart set on Emory ever since the beginning of my junior year in high school. I attended an information session having never heard of Emory before, partly out of interest, and partly in effort to miss my English class, which conflicted with the session. Every photo and fact about the school that was presented only piqued my interest even more. I left knowing that Emory was high up on my college list.
I attended Emory’s Pre-College Program in the summer before my senior year to take a class in Human Anatomy and to spend more time on campus. I left the program knowing that Emory was my first choice school and that I wanted to apply early decision. I had fallen in love with the brightness and friendliness that radiates off of Emory’s campus, and I knew my heart belonged right there in Atlanta.
Writing my application was stressful, to say the least. After weeks and weeks of ripping up potential essay responses, scratching out grammatical errors, and feeling like giving up, I pressed the submit button, not knowing that the most agonizing part was yet to come: waiting.
I waited and I waited. Finally the day came: December 15. I sat by the computer all day, waiting for the clock to strike 5:00 P.M. And once it did, this is what happened.
The sequence of me getting into Emory.
What came next was just pure excitement that lasted for the eight months leading up to school starting. I found my roommate, I signed up for classes, and I was ready.
Of course, the first few days of college were a little bit difficult for everyone. College is a huge a adjustment–one that nobody is really ready for. I had to say goodbye to my parents, learn how to do laundry, and get accustomed to sustaining myself. But, I was never sad. I never wanted to go home and climb into my own bed, because every single new friend I met made me feel more and more at home. The warm smiles and the friendly faces I was greeted with only served to reassure me that I was in the right place. The people at Emory truly reflect the warm vibe that the campus gives off.
Although I met incredible people all over campus, my current best friends just so happen to live on my floor. These girls are the reason why my experience at Emory has been amazing so far. I go to bed after our daily movie and game nights with a smile on my face, having comfort in the fact that my support system is right outside my door.
My friends and I love to hang out together on campus and have chill nights inside, but when you’re living in Atlanta, some nights you just have to go out and explore. I went to the Fall Festival at Old Fourth Ward Park, the Lantern Festival at the Beltline, and shopping at Lenox Square Mall. For those nights when I didn’t feel up for leaving campus, however, Emory had me covered. I have attended a comedy show by the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, a foam party, and a silent disco–all on-campus and Emory-sponsored. The fact that events such as these happen all the time remind me that Emory really cares about students having fun and being social as much as they care about them succeeding in academics.
The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had have been wonderful, but what has stuck out to me the most has been the community support. Everybody is here to lift each other up and encourage each other to accomplish their goals. Coming from a competitive high school, it’s a breath of fresh air to witness others genuinely wanting me to succeed in everything I do. Rather than my classmates secretly wishing I have a bad interview so I don’t get the position I’m trying for in a club, I receive multiple texts from my friends before and after the interview wishing me good luck and asking me how it went. Having such a strong and reliable support system makes me feel at home and as if I really belong here. I couldn’t be more thankful to be surroundedby people who want the best for me, just like I want the best for them.
So my advice to high schoolers applying to college is this: follow your heart. It sounds cheesy, but seriously, do it. Students from my high school applied to schools based on their rankings and their names, but in the long run, this only hurt them. Just go with your gut. I did it, and I wouldn’t wanted to have ended up anywhere else. It’s only been four weeks, but I can honestly and truthfully say that I am home.
(Above is the beginning of a personal project I am working on. I am recording one second of every day of my first year at Emory–minus a few when I forget–and the final result will be a compilation of my first year in college. I also started about a week late.)
“To Be or Not to Be”. Hamlet’s soliloquy left me with unanswered questions as I picked up a pamphlet from within White Hall. “Resisting Fascism” was the theme of the screening as I found myself sitting with baby boomers from all over Atlanta browsing the newest addition of The Emory Wheel. The lit lecture hall contrasted perfectly with the dark night and eerie mood following the school lockdown. The apprehensiveness on campus following the incident seemed to be spreading as I noticed only a few students in the room with me.
As I hid myself in the back left corner of the hall, Paul Buchholz, a German studies professor, introduced himself on stage. Though everyone could tell he was quite nervous, Mr. Buccholz did a fantastic job emphasizing the historical importance of the film. It was at this moment that I became very puzzled. Professor Buccholz explained that the film was a dramatic comedy on Hitler’s dominance of Poland. I was pleased to see that I was not alone with my confusion as everyone checked to see if they had heard Mr. Buccholz correctly. Comedy and Hitler? How did that make any sense? He went on to praise the director, Ernest Lubitsch, for his unique approach to the film as he broke many barriers in the world of dramatic comedy. Mr. Buccholz said that Lubitsch’s use of comedy was to “unsettle the audience not relieve it” and called this technique “the Lubitsch touch”. Combining this approach with the delicate topic of the Nazi regime, many contemporary critics considered Lubitsch to be tasteless and inappropriate. Though his work was not exactly respected at the time, modern day researchers and film enthusiasts around the world praise Lubitsch’s forward thinking. Mr. Buccholz talked about the new wave of European filmmakers making their way to Hollywood in the early twentieth century and how Lubitsch served at the forefront of this revolutionary change. I was suddenly fascinated. Professor Buccholz then dimmed the lights after his conclusion and the film began.
The trailer (would not allow me to insert into post):
Within minutes of the movie the audience was already jumping out of their seats in laughter as a man dressed up as Hitler was mocked in the streets. The film revolved around a Polish theater couple and their experiences with the invading Nazi regime. It almost seemed as if the comedic presence of the story increased with Hitler’s power. Whether it was mocking Polish culture or poking fun at the brainwashed Nazi officers, To Be or Not to Be seemed to shed light on the lack of humanity in the early 20th century.
I noticed a perfect example of Lubitsch’s technique with the use of the Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To Be or Not to Be”. The scene revolves around a man, Mr. Tura, and his performance of the soliloquy in the city theater. As Mr. Tura steps on stage with hundreds of people in attendance, his soliloquy is cut off by a man who gets up from the second row to meet Mr. Tura’s wife backstage. The awkwardness and irony of the scene left the audience bursting in laughter, but what makes it so interesting is the meaning behind the soliloquy. Written by Shakespeare, the monologue is about Hamlet and his suicidal thoughts as he compares death to a peaceful sleep. Though Professor Buccholz did not speak on this after the screening, I believe Lubitsch chose this soliloquy as the title to point out the irony of his own film. Though the monologue has a tense and depressing mood, Lubitsch makes the bold decision to combine it with the comedic value of romantic comedy. I believe this connects perfectly to the overarching theme of the movie as Lubitsch combines comedy with the dark topic of World War II.
Writing this exactly four days after the screening I still have not made my final stance on Lubitsch’s work. His ability to take something so sinister and transform it into a playful matter was a skill Hollywood had never seen before. Though many praise the film today, I started to think about the other perspectives such as the Jewish community and all those affected by Hitler’s reign. With art often acting as a catalyst for conversations regarding social change, I began to question whether there should be a line in what is appropriate for mainstream works. When do artists take it too far? Though I am a firm believer in freedom of expression, it is important to be aware of the feelings of others and how different cultures might view your work.
If you are interested in future screenings from “Resisting Fascism” I would highly recommend attending. Below I have listed the dates and films.
Wednesdays 7:30pm, White Hall 208, Free
9/27: Hangmen Also Die
10/4: The Stranger
10/11: Naked Among Wolves
10/18: Army of Shadows
10/25: The Conformist
11/1: The Tin Drum
11/15: The Counterfeiters
Danios12345. “To Be Or Not To Be (1942) Trailer.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 Sept. 2011, www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W_B10VbYjI.
Lemaster, Dana. “Dana Lemaster.” Thinking Cinema, 19 June 2015, www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-to-be-or-not-to-be/.
“Paul J. Buchholz, PhD.” Department of German Studies, german.emory.edu/home/people/faculty/buchholz-paul.html.
“To Be or Not to Be (1942).” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt0035446/mediaviewer/rm3433567232
Jenna: Friday afternoon, Janet, Jenna, and their two friends Ashley and Camille ventured into my eccentric fashion district known as Little Five Points. As they stepped foot into the vastly undiscovered world of L5P, they came to recognize how my life is not only shaped by various groups of people due to differences in historical foundation of spaces, but of my location in proximity to other influential spaces in Atlanta. With my Greenwich Village vibe, they glanced around a bit, and reminisced upon our unique street layout. Because of my deep rooted iconic culture of city living and freedom of expression, my area has not developed into anything more than just that throughout these past 50 years. As I have been known for a certain type of merchandise and culture, you can seemingly find thrift shops and boutiques, complemented by eclectic street musicians, on every corner you turn.
Janet: My ambience intrigued the girls, with the friendly people that roam my streets. I’m a great place to rap in, sell art, and have a good time with loved ones. Although my streets aren’t the safest, I am nonetheless an inviting neighborhood. My one-of-a-kind boutiques offer distinctive items and an experience like never before. Young or old, I have stores that suit your soul.
Jenna: Soon enough, my shoppers began to develop the streets of L5P from anonymous into quirky in no time. My vintage apparel, vinyl and smoke shops, independent bookstores, burger joints and pizza parlors will have you leaving with a smile plastered upon your face. Along with the many things to do, culture has played a significant role in my upbringing. “People watching” has been described as a sport, as my town is inviting to individuals stemming from all cultures.
Janet:As corporate chains have threatened my existence, a special type of zoning rule has limited my number of stores and their sizes to a mere 5,000 square feet. This ensures the prevention of large chains such as hotels and shopping malls. In fact, in 1975 my communities united as one to fight for my future endeavors; I hope they continue to keep my neighborhood the way it is. Families from all around the world come to my shops, and I can guarantee you will always have a fun time on my streets. If you’re ever looking for a marvelous meal or the best second hand clothes, then I am meant for you.
Jenna: Junkman’s Daughterisn’t just the name of Pam Majors’ Little Five Points store. When she was a child, her father would come home each night with his truck filled with random items he’d purchased that day in metro Atlanta shops that were going out of business. Her parents would sift through the day’s haul, which her dad would then sell in one of his salvage shops. When her father retired in 1981, Majors, then in her early 20s and living in Candler Park, went through the flotsam and jetsam of his life. She discovered rare finds and gems such as old Beatles notebooks and 1950s leather jackets, and saw a chance to put her spin on the wares. In 1982 she opened a shop next to a former methadone clinic in the business district nearby called Little Five Points. The store’s name was biographical and authentic: Junkman’s Daughter.”
Janet: Overall, it seemed that Janet, Jenna, Camille, and Ashley had a wonderful and unique experience exploring my uncharted world. With Halloween approaching, they’ll be sure to come back and visit my stores for some boisterous costumes.
Jenna: The reality is that I have been continuously changing through the years, yet my DNA has remained stable. My location, sandwiched between Candler Park and Freedom Park, is home to individuals sharing the same values of commitment to diversity. The people entering my little village congruently maintain the desire to live in a neighborhood with varying economic classes, spiritual traditions, and races. However, to continue my flourishment is dependent upon our future advocators in generations to come.
Christian, Scott. “The Junkman’s Cowgirl.” Creative Loafing, 25 Mar. 2004, www.creativeloafing.com/home/article/13014204/the-junkmans-cowgirl. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017.
“Do the thing that feeds your soul.” These are the words that sealed the deal on my matriculation to Emory University. The Essence of Emory program allowed black and latino accepted students to experience Emory before committing. This is where I met Professor Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor, Chair of African American Studies, MMUF Coordinator, Author of multiple award winning books, and so much more. She advised my current roommate and I in so many aspects of life in the small amount of time we spent with her. We both mounted our decision to choose Emory over schools like Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern on words of wisdom from Professor Carol Anderson.
Carol Anderson came back into my life when I received an email from her regarding a nomination for the MMUF or Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. I was ecstatic, because that meant there was a possibility that I could receive funding for research in the humanities. The meeting was from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM Thursday evening, so I rushed from my National Politics class that ended at 6:45 to Candler Library 207. When I walked in, Professor Anderson’s face lit up! I could not believe she had remembered me. She continued her presentation on MMUF and eventually opened the floor up for discussion and questions. When the initial rush of questions died down, she looked to me and mentioned to the room that I was an “essence baby” in April and kept saying how glad she was that I chose Emory.
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is a fellowship program for minority students that aims to reduce the under-representation on the faculties of colleges and universities throughout the country. It acts as a support system for minority students who plan to eventually pursue a Ph.D in core fields in the arts and science and join academia. The MMUF program has 48 American colleges and universities , 39 UNCF member institutions, and 3 South African universities on its roster. The program funds approved undergraduate research and GRE prep. There’s also an integral mentorship program and partnership program. People eligible to apply are rising seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.2, but if you are interested contact one of the three program coordinators as soon as possible.
Prostitutes and Pederasty. The two words kept circling my mind as I tried to fathom the message in my inbox. The thought of the lecture was already making me uncomfortable as I envisioned the eerie and somber ambiance of the room. I then pictured myself standing in front of the class having to reiterate and analyze my newfound knowledge of prostitution and child molestation. I was anything but enthused. After my initial concern gradually faded away I looked deeper into the description of the event. Prostitutes and Pederasty: Men and Morals in Roman Comedy. Prostitutes, pederasty, and comedy. With those three words my anxiety was quickly replaced with curiosity.
Having studied latin since 7th grade, I have grown a passion for the roman culture as the ancient civilization shared many similarities to our own. Whether it was studying the gladiatorial fights or the simple phrase of “veni, vidi, vici”, I admired everything about ancient rome. As I excitedly strolled into room N-116 of the Callaway Center, I was quickly puzzled by the age of the people in attendance. I was given awkward looks as I scurried to a seat and checked to see if I was in the correct place. It turns out I was as I immediately took out my computer for notes and typed “everyone here is very old”. I guess the lecture on prostitution, pederasty, and comedy was the place to be for everyone’s grandma and grandpa. As the limited amount of seats quickly filled up, Dr. Martin Dinter of Kings College stepped up to the front and introduced himself. Coming from London, Dr. Dinter described his studies of roman culture, specifically in epics and theater. After his short introduction to the audience, Dinter took a seat and began his presentation.
As Dinter started to read his notes he addressed the edgy title of the presentation. He instantly relieved my original apprehension as he explained how prostitution and pederasty were representations of the principle of roman culture, not the focus of the lecture. He said that “roman comedy parades concerns about public morality”, a theme that embodied his entire lecture. Dinter went on to give specific examples of this theme from roman playwrights and rhetoricians such as Plautus and Calpurnius Flaccus. Though Dr. Dinter’s format of presentation was lifeless as he simply read his paper word for word with a slideshow, the content was truly amazing. Dinter explained how these comedies mocked family life, politics, sex, and marriage. After hearing this I immediately made the connection to current shows like Modern Family and Seinfeld. While the ancient plays were created to mock and entertain roman culture, Dr. Dinter showed how there were many underlying life lessons. Whether it was a mock on a father son relationship or the selfishness of a man raping a prostitute, each comedy represented the rhetorical exercises of roman playwrights.
As Dinter slowly flipped the last page of his lengthy paper he opened up the audience for questions. Immediately, an older woman in the back raised her hand and asked about the progression of roman morality as a result of these comedies. During the presentation, Dr. Dinter subtly explained how each comedy seemed to end with the happy ending of marriage. The woman questioned this pattern as almost every play exposed the underlying strife and lack of morality in roman culture. She questioned how the audience was supposed to learn from these themes if each story had a happy ending, ultimately making the themes unnoticeable. She wanted to know why the playwrights would focus on the lack of morality of romans if they did not want to encourage social change and revolution. It was easy to tell that Dr. Dinter had never truly researched that perspective as his answer was a simple reiteration of what he said before. This almost felt like a perfect way to end the lecture as it served as a cliffhanger for further research and analysis.
Overall, the content of the lecture was very compelling. Though Dr. Dinter’s actual presentation was quite dull and lifeless, I was able to understand the overarching message of morality and social interaction. Though these plays were created thousands of years ago, it was truly fascinating to see the similarities with modern comedies and how social themes are expressed on entertainment platforms.
Growing up, I always felt stuck between two worlds. My family has always observed Jewish rituals and commandments, and therefore, belonged to a traditional congregation. However, we also identify with the more modern Jewish community’s ideology and warmth, where observance is often less common. While I was partially drawn to Emory because of its active and vibrant Jewish life, I did not consider that, despite the large number of Jews, the observant population would be quite limited.
One of the most central aspects of Jewish observance is the Sabbath, or Shabbat. Friday to Saturday evening marks the Jewish day of rest. For this period of twenty-five hours, acts of creation and work, such as the use of electricity, writing, and driving, are prohibited. Disengaging from these activities can be isolating, and therefore, having a strong community to celebrate Shabbat with is integral to the experience. As my first Shabbat at college approached, I grew concerned about how I would sustain my observance without a community to support me.
I began my Shabbat by attending Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life that hosts weekly Shabbat dinner and prayers. With tunes reminiscent of my summer camp and a traditional Friday night meal, this experience certainly gave me the familiar sense of community that I was striving to find. However, as I arrived at my dorm, I immediately returned to my apprehensive state. Twenty-four hours of Shabbat still remained, and I did not know who I would spend them with when everyone was busy binging on Netflix, doing homework, or exploring Atlanta while I was restricted to reading in my bed.
I frantically called my parents, willing to use my phone on Shabbat if it meant gaining some insights and support. “Be easy on yourself,” they told me, and this was not the first time I needed this reminder. “This is a period of adjustment, and you can only do what feels manageable. Give yourself time to find an arrangement that you feel comfortable with.” Until then, they encouraged me to strive to maintain the spirit of the day, even if I found it unsustainable to adhere to all of the legalities.
As my parents spoke, I began engaging in an internal dialogue about my thoughts on the matter. They had been so understanding, but was their approach too generous? I had been observing Shabbat my whole life, and I let it go so easily. Too easily? My failure to practice Shabbat alone must indicate a lack of commitment to Judaism, I judged. And what will my friends and teachers – who invested so much and were so confident in my religious connection – think about this sudden development? Even though I am using my phone, should I resist opening the Facebook app, so my friends do not see that I am active? No matter how much justification I could offer for my personal choices, I could not help feeling ashamed, blaming myself for taking the easy way out, even as I repeated the motto “be easy on yourself” in my head. The dialogue persisted, and I felt little relief.
Even though I did not immediately arrive at a conclusion that I had full confidence in, there was nothing to do but compromise. I spent my day resting, taking a tranquil walk at Lullwater Preserve, and joining a community for a traditional Shabbat lunch. I also settled for a little Netflix watching. Of course, there were still holes in my day, but I felt fairly positive about my approach, despite its limitations.
My experience of this single day spoke to a larger truth about the college transition. I cannot expect it to be effortless, and there will be unforeseen challenges. It will take time to adjust and make choices I feel comfortable with as I gain independence. Sometimes I miss the comfort of spending Shabbat at home, but I know that as I find a way to sustain this practice in college, I will develop true ownership over it, and that will be incredibly meaningful. Isn’t that what college is about?
Finally,” I thought “No more class. I can just relax before I have to drag myself to work.” Like any other college student, I had been anticipating the weekend. No more class, no more lectures, just me, my music, and my bed. Swiftly, I jumped onto my lofted bed, propped open my laptop and turned on Daniel Caesar. Next, I quickly pulled my throw blanket over me. Under my blanket, I closed my eyes and dissolved all my thoughts so I could focus on the music.
“What? Uh huh… yeah sure,” Ashleigh, my roommate, uttered into her phone as she slipped into the room.
With each word she spoke, my barrier of placidity slowly dissolved until only I laid there desperately trying to regain my tranquility. Lying there made me think of the good ole days when I had my own room and could keep it as peaceful as I desired. I missed being nearly the only person with authority over what happened in my space. After a few minutes, she finally turned and looked at me. “Hey, did you want to go to the beach after you come back from work today? T’ambra’s boss gave her tickets for a club’s anniversary so we can go there on Saturday night too. I didn’t know if you wanted to come or not, but I am going to go,” Ashleigh questioned. A trip sounded amusing, and I needed more fun in my life. Since arriving, I had found myself complaining about not experiencing much and only staying in my room. Now was my chance to have a fun new experience. Quickly, I tried to think of all the reasons why I should not go. Homework came to mind, as well as sleep and the fact that I loathe beaches, but I could not really think of anything else. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” Ashleigh offered.
“No, I want to. It’s not like I have anything better to do,” I admitted.
“Okay, great. We will leave when you come back from work” Ashleigh declared. As Ashleigh returned to her phone conversation I glanced at the time. Unfortunately, I had to leave for work. I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and set out to the Telefund. Once I returned from work, I found Ashleigh packing for the trip and I began to pack too.
“Hey, did you want to text your mom that we were going to Florida?” Ashleigh asked. I stared at her baffled. Florida? I assumed we would be in another town in Georgia. “Oh, sorry. I keep forgetting you are not from here. Yeah, the beach is in Florida.” Ashleigh stated. Telling my mom sounded like the right thing to do, but I had a strong feeling that she would not approve. I could already see how the conversation would go.
“Hey, mom. Can I go on a road trip to another state in a car full of strangers so I can go to the club tomorrow?”.
“Ha, oh lord Faith. Why would you want to do that? You have homework you should be doing. You do not know these people or their parents and neither do I. You have no phone. What if someone is trying to kill you? How are you going to call me? Are there going to be boys? And why do you want to go to the club? Remember Jesus and school come first,” my mom would blurt with her Congolese accent.
“So…I cant go?”.
“I don’t have time for this faith, tsk” she would retort before hanging up on me. I made a rational decision; my mom did not need to know.
“No, my mom’s probably really busy. I will just email her later,” I affirmed to Ashleighy. Part of my reasoning behind leaving the state for college was that I would have more autonomy. I wanted to make decisions for myself without the influence of my mom, and that is exactly what I did. After we finished packing we left the Plex to meet Ashleigh’s friends downstairs.
Once we finally squished our bags into the back of the tiny white Honda Accord, we disembarked on our journey. Three other people accompanied us on our trip: T’ambra, Ashleigh’s friend from high school, Jay, T’ambra’s godsister, and Trey, T’ambra’s younger brother. Previously I had met T’ambra, but I did not know anyone else in the car.
“You’re quiet Faith” Jay observed, “are we to ratchet for you?” They were not too ratchet for me, I just did not know them and had never been in this environment before. They seemed like genuinely nice people, but I could not relate to them. While I do admit that I have been in unusual situations before, they were not like the ones in what they described as their ratchet small town. Especially since I spent most of my life in towns with mostly upper-middle-class conservative Christians. Instead of talking, I laughed along at their stories and listened to the mix of gospel and hip-hop music blasting from the car stereo.
After five long hours squished in the tiny car, we arrived in Panama City. Immediately after we checked into the hotel, we went to Walmart to buy food.
We purchased food that we never ended up cooking and eventually returned. Once we returned to the hotel, we spent the rest of the night having our own dance party until we all started falling asleep.
The next day, Ashleigh’s dad, who was in Destin, invited us to eat dinner with him and his family to celebrate Ashleigh’s little sister Aubrey’s birthday. Before we went to dinner, we decided to go to the mall. On the way there, I got a better view of the city. Panama City reminded me of Galveston, Texas.
The shops and the pier reminded me of all the cute shops and Pleasure Pier in Galveston. In fact, I even saw a Whataburger, a Texas fast food restaurant, and I nearly screamed. I gladly embraced the feeling of nostalgia and let my memories of home slowly drift into my head. Nights spent on the beach with my friends and my drill team came first. This reminded me of Friday night lights in the stadium. I smiled at the thought of doing my drill team officer strut and doing high kicks on the field. Whataburger was always the move after games and I could not help thinking of all the nights I spent there after games and when I was an employee. I never really appreciated those moments back in high school. Accustomed to them, they just seemed like a part of life, and once they were taken away I appreciated them more.
Later that day, we arrived at the seafood restaurant Ashleigh’s family chose for dinner. Seeing the adorable little kids run around immediately made me think of my own little sister. Even though she drove me insane I still missed her. When Ashleigh’s sister ran to hug her, it reminded me of all the days I came home to find my sister, who was two at the time, running to the door eager to see me and ready for my embrace. Following dinner, we rushed back to the hotel to get ready to go to the club.
At the club, I did not like most of the songs the DJ played. In addition to all the sweat dripping off people’s backs, vomit appeared on the floor in corner of the club. To make matters worse, some creepy Jamaican guy would not stop harassing Jay. Despite this, I am glad I went because I had wanted to experience what it was like to go to a club. After an hour, we decided to leave.
On Sunday morning, we finally made it to the beach.
Unlike Galveston beach, this beach had blue water. Seagulls and butterfly flew around and seashells covered the sand. Unfortunately, trash also covered the sand. Dirty diapers, cigarette butts, and bottle caps were among my findings.
Despite the unsettling presence of trash, I did enjoy the beach. At one point a little girl swam up to us and asked if we had seen any mermaids. Before I could respond, her sister blurted, “mermaids aren’t real, stupid”. Although I am not a fan of beaches, I enjoyed taking the time to relax, something I was still struggling to do in my first few weeks of school.
Eventually, we had to leave so that I would get back to school in time for work.
“Only an hour and thirty minutes left,” T’ambra announced. This would leave me nearly two hours before I had to report to work. Satisfied, I stopped worrying.
“Clink, clink, clink,” screamed the car. Next one of the wheels started to wobble. We had to pull over.
“Really God? Not cool man, we were almost there,” I protested. On the outside, however, I maintained a sanguine façade. Unfortunately, we did not have a way to get off the road quickly. Internally, I prayed that someone would come help us so I could still make it to work. Suddenly an RV pulled up. “Finally! We are saved!” I thought. I thought wrong. It turns out the RV had a similar issue. After waiting for an hour, a man pulled up to help us. Once again, I was deceived. Sadly, the serviceman could not help us. As if I did not already have enough problems, my own body turned against me and kept complaining that it had to pee. Since we had exhausted all our options, we decided to wait for T’ambra’s parents to pick us up. While we waited for T’ambra’s parents to rescue us, we decide that we should try to get off the highway.
Shortly after we left the highway, we spotted a gas station. To our dismay, the gas station was no longer in service. Trey decided to change the messed-up tire. As soon as he finished, he took off in the car without us. Fortunately, after a nice phone call from his parents, he returned. Once he returned, we decided that we should try to get back to Emory. After turning on some gospel music, we took off hoping that we would not die.
Thankfully we made it back to school safely. Even though I missed work and had to pee behind the old gas station, I am glad I went on the trip. Although the trip did not end the way I had hoped, I still had a wonderful time. The trip made me more appreciative of what I left behind in Texas: a loving family and many wonderful experiences that I cannot find anywhere else. The whole trip made me realize that to some extent I did miss my family, friends and my life in high school. Despite some setbacks, I am glad that I made the decision to go on my own. As I stated previously, my purpose for leaving the state for school was to be more self-reliant. While I do not think it is a problem to get advice from my mom, I think it is time that I learn to do things with as little help from her as possible. Too often I find myself stopping myself from doing things because my mom would not like them. The problem with that is that my mother and I are very different and some things she sees unnecessary are things I enjoy doing.
This whole process forced me to think harder about what I expect to get out of my college experience and how I am going to go about doing it. Hopefully, more opportunities for me to venture outside of the Emory bubble will surprise me soon.