Promoting Plasticity (Especially for Freshman)

This past Monday, we attended “Developmental plasticity and language reorganization after pediatric stroke” at 4:00 p.m. in the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies (PAIS) building. As we entered the room, we noticed that the audience was composed of many adults, most of whom were faculty in the Psychology Department. Hannah and I even saw our psychology professor and his TAs. The audience was also very dressed up, showing off their fedoras, blazers, and dresses, which made us feel out of place as we looked like we had just finished our day at the gym. As a graduate student introduced Elissa L. Newport, the presenter for the lecture, it quickly became clear to us that Dr. Newport is very well known in the realm of psychology. She began her lecture by stating that she was about to present newly discovered information, which sparked excitement from the crowd. Dr. Newport was also very modest, frequently mentioning her esteemed collaborators from Georgetown University and John Hopkins University.

Dr. Newport framed her lecture by introducing the research questions that she and her colleagues explored during their study: “Is everything endlessly plastic? (Brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and change). How could this be true?” Their questions provided the audience with a map for Dr. Newport’s lecture. Upon presenting these questions, she gave a disclaimer – “I’m of course not going to answer them, but we’re going to try.” This playful comment added some charm to the lecture and engaged the crowd members, who were responsive to her jokes throughout.

To answer these questions, Newport tested children with perineal strokes, strokes that occurred anytime from the 28 days preceding birth to the 28 days following. These subjects all had left hemisphere strokes, impacting the brain area that is dedicated to understanding and producing language. To determine how the strokes affected the subjects’ language abilities, if at all, Dr. Newport performed several tests on them. The first was the Weschler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WAIS) test, which evaluates intelligence on multiple scales. Rewardingly, I had learned about the WAIS in psychology, and was proud of my familiarity with the terminology. Dr. Newport also gave her subjects an Auditory Description Decision Task (ADDT), in which they had to listen to a sentence, such as “a big, gray animal is an elephant,” and press a button if the sentence is correct. She then compared each subject’s results to his or her sibling’s to determine if the stroke impacted their abilities.

Dr. Newport concluded that when children have left hemisphere strokes, damaging their brain networks for language, the brain reactivates language networks in the right hemisphere. She used brain images to demonstrate that following the stroke, areas in the right hemisphere were activated during language tasks. As the pictures flashed on the screen, Dr. Newport remarked, “I’m assuming that most people in the audience aren’t used to looking at brain imaging,” and preceded to explain their meaning and significance in regards to her research.

Finally, she presented two explanations for how this reorganization occurs. The first and more popular opinion, “Reorganization of Function,” holds that healthy areas of the brain can take over the functions of injured areas. Dr. Newport presented her contrasting thesis called “The Developmental Origins Hypothesis.” In her thesis, Newport asserts that language is more bilateral in children than in adults because children astonishingly utilize both hemispheres of the brain. Therefore, if a child injures one hemisphere, the other undamaged hemisphere is prepared to compensate for any lost abilities.

While the room was intrigued and excited by Newport’s lecture, her presentation was clearly catered to an audience full of other experts in the neurological field. She made jokes for “all of the radiologists in the room,” and as she used complex terms, the crowd rhythmically nodded their heads while we innocently consulted Google. Despite our confusion, the audience’s expert knowledge was inspirational. The room was clearly full of experts in the psychology field, and it was motivational to see that these established individuals were so passionate that they committed their Monday afternoon to learning about new psychological discoveries.

At the end of her lecture, Dr. Newport said “Feel free to ask me questions,” consistent with her accessible demeanor. The passion-filled audience took her up on her offer. Inclined to learn more about the subject, nearly all audience members, uncharacteristic of Emory, remained glued to their chairs during question time.

Unfortunately, lectures that require prior knowledge can be daunting and unappealing to freshman. Although we may not have understood everything in Dr. Newport’s lecture, we found the experience worthwhile. Dr. Newport’s presentation not only taught us groundbreaking brain research but also gave us a true experience of learning for learning’s sake. Emory should advertise these lectures in a way that encourages undergraduate attendance, particularly freshman. Because we know that Emory is busy fixing its wifi (we hope), we took advertising lectures into our own hands.

Attention Freshman


“Elissa L. Newport.” Association for Psychological Science,

“Elissa Newport, Ph.D.” Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery | Georgetown University,

“Human Brain Pictures, Images and Stock Photos.” Human Brain Pictures, Images and Stock Photos – iStock. Accessed October 18, 2017. brain&sort=mostpopular.

“Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics – Current Episodes – RS 149 – Susan Gelman on “How essentialism shapes our thinking”.” Rationally Speaking Podcast,

“Emory Infant and Child Lab.” Philippe Rochat,

“Arnon Lotem.” Https://

SpelHouse outdoes Emory


Morehouse College and Spelman College are part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUC), which comprises of one co-ed school, one all male school, and one all female school; Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College respectively. Each of the colleges in the AUC are also Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), meaning they have an overwhelmingly high black student population. Morehouse and Spelman celebrate their homecomings together in what is known as the “SpelHouse Homecoming” every year. They have events throughout the week, including a concert on Wednesday and a homecoming football game on Saturday.

Flyer for the concert.
The chaotic line outside Forbes Arena.



Michael: I jumped out of my seat during film class as I received a text on my phone. The words “Travis Scott this Wednesday at Morehouse” made me ecstatic as I quickly flipped open my laptop and purchased a ticket. My favorite artist was performing in Atlanta and all my friends were coming with me. Two days later we found ourselves in a swarm of people 6,000 deep. We were pushed, shoved, and even cursed out as everyone made a mad rush to the door. The shouts of the security guards only made the crowd even more disorderly as students began to bang on the glass. “Move back! We need everyone to move back!”, but nobody was listening as the crowd of people slammed into the doors like a wave crashing into the shore. The reflection of red and blue police lights on the glass windows illuminated the excited faces of the crowd. The concert started at 8pm and it was already 9:30pm. Suddenly a scream was heard from the right side of the mob as multiple student were seen frantically wiping pepper spray from theirs eyes. With the fear that the chaos would only escalate, many AUC students began to disperse, but we were not ready to give up. Being one of the few white students in the crowd, some people were giving me dirty looks. They tried to tell me that I would be denied at the door because I was not an AUC student. I tried to tell them it was open to the public, but they refused to listen. Although I was frustrated by this, I understood their perspective as it was SpelHouse homecoming meant mostly for the AUC students. As I received these dirty looks from all angles, one Morehouse student named Hilliard took us under his wing and led our entire group to the doors. Once we finally made our way through security, we rushed into the gymnasium and found some great seats on the bleachers. Though we tried to find space on the floor, the gym was clearly reaching maximum capacity as it was extremely packed. After Travis’ expected late arrival, the concert began and the whole crowd went crazy.

Saturday’s tailgate.

Zion: My older sister Ashia is currently a Junior at Spelman College and this weekend happened to align perfectly for my family. Emory University and Spelman College both had their homecomings on the same weekend and this weekend was also parents weekend at Emory. Our mom decided to come down from Maryland to Atlanta and we got to spend the weekend together. On Saturday, my family and I attended the SpelHouse tailgate before Morehouse’s homecoming game later that day. The plan was for my sister to meet us over there, so my mom came and picked me up from Emory that morning. Trying to find parking was an absolute nightmare given the amount of people who showed up for the event. We ended having to pay $25 to park a few blocks down, but we were determined to have a good time. Once we finally arrived at the tailgate we were met with a huge crowd of people. There were families with children, current students, and alumni who had come back to visit. The air was filled with a sort of electric energy that I can’t quite describe. We quickly found my sister and she introduced us to some of her friends before disappearing again into the crowd. My mom and I didn’t stay long, however, as I had to get back to Emory for a track meet later that afternoon.

Since our blog comes from the perspective of two outsiders, we decided to interview Chris Moye, who has attended Morehouse homecomings all his life.

Tell me about your experiences at Morehouse homecomings when you were younger.

“My experiences at homecoming consisted of going to the tailgate before the football game, and meeting alumni. It was always one of the things that I looked forward to in the fall when I was growing up.”

What do you think about the Morehouse community and AUC?

“I love the Morehouse community and the AUC. I have dealt with many Morehouse men and members of the AUC since childhood, and I have yet to meet someone who makes me think negatively about Morehouse, or the AUC as a whole; Morehouse and the AUC as a whole is essentially a giant family.”

How have the homecomings changed since you were younger?

“The access that I have to certain homecoming events has changed as I have gotten older. In years past, there wasn’t as much corporate involvement in the Morehouse homecomings, but they are now hosted by large companies like Ford and Viacom.”

Morehouse Homecoming 2017

After attending both homecomings, there was a clear distinction between the two schools. Though the endowments of both universities are quite disparate, it was evident that Morehouse puts more effort and creativity into its homecoming compared to Emory. The energy at Morehouse was significantly greater as the community was extremely tight-knit and lively. Whether it was the thrill of the concert or the celebrations at the tailgate, we both realized that the AUC truly moves and acts as one big family. Traveling to Morehouse was more than just a change in environment, it was a change in spirit and morale. The school showed signs of unity and harmony that we never knew existed on campuses. After interviewing Chris it was clear that the AUC homecomings continue to grow as more money is put into events through sponsorships with large companies. Without a football team, we expected Emory to focus heavily on community events, but we realized that our school lacks one essential aspect of campus life: school spirit. It seems that nobody is excited about campus events unless it is required for PACE. Following our visits to Morehouse and Spelman, we both walked away with a newfound understanding about what campus culture truly should be. When talking to Zion’s sister, a current student at Spelman, she noted that at this year’s concert there was an unusually high number of people who did not attend one of the AUC schools. She also explained that while each school is its own entity, the level of school spirit is unparalleled to other schools. The AUC is much more than a community, it is a family, and to see people who aren’t part of that family at the events understandably rubbed some students the wrong way, but it truly shows the excitement it brings.  The sight of thousands of students all coming together and celebrating the year was quite incredible and really inspired us to create this same community and awareness at Emory.

Emory’s lack of school spirit.


EliDaGreat420. “MAMACITA Instrumental.” YouTube, YouTube, 13 Dec. 2015,

“Home.” Atlanta University Center Consortium,

“Travis Scott In Concert – Atlanta, Georgia.” Getty Images,

-Michael and Zion

A Dream Parents Weekend

This past week was crazy for me. Being that it was Homecoming Week and I’m in Student Programming Council, the student organization that runs Homecoming, I was so relieved that I got Saturday off because my family was coming for Parents Weekend. I thought that this would be a perfect time to go out on the town and give my family a taste of Atlanta by going to the historic site of The King Center.

King Center Sign

The King Center was established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King to continue Dr. King’s Dream and preserve his legacy. This living monument educates patrons about non-violence and civil rights in an effort to inspire future generations to carry out Dr. King’s legacy. The King Center does more than memorializing Dr. and Mrs. King. It also features many other important champions of civil rights, past and present. The first place I stopped on my self-guided tour of The King

The tile of Rosa Park in the Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

Center was the Civil Rights Walk of Fame. The Civil Rights Walk of Fame was established to honor people with significant contributions to equality. Some of those featured include Rosa Parks, Magic Johnson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Bill Clinton, NeYo, and Dr. Maya Angelou just to name a few. The Walk of Fame is updated each year with new inductees. The Walk of Fame ended with a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired Dr. King’s non-violent philosophy. It’s hard to explain, but the whole area exuded an air of enlightenment and reflection. All around there were plaques with passages and quotes from Dr. King with one-word titles like “Mandate” and “Motivation.” Thos definitely added to the aforementioned feel.

After passing the World Peace Rose Garden, I went to the Historic Ebenezer

The Sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church

Baptist Church. Ebenezer Baptist Church is the pastoral home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr. The church was restored in 2011 to its 1960s state. Being in the church was really nostalgic. Going to church was a big part of my life when I was younger.  My family is pretty religious, so being in the traditional style church made me feel like I’ve been there before. Whether it’s was the beautiful kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows, the wooden pews, or the red carpet, I was just so fascinated by the place. Even my dad felt that there was just something about being in there that interested him and it was his favorite spot of the tour.

Stained Glass Windows

After leaving the sanctuary, I went downstairs into the fellowship room. It was a small room with tile floors. There

The Fellowship room

were rows of chairs that people could sit and watch a video about the church.  Different fact boards line the walls and there were two glass cases with artifacts such as photographs, Bibles, and shards of glass from the original Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The final part of the tour ended at Freedom Hall. I didn’t have much time to explore because I had to go to work, but this area didn’t have too much to explore because of construction. In preparation of the 50th anniversary of Dr.  King’s assassination and the establishment of The King Center, there are renovations going on in Freedom Hall, the Crypt, and Reflecting Pool. Even with the renovation, I still enjoyed my experience. Going to the King Center made me really reflect and think about

Freedom Hall

how much of an impact Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement had on my life. Without going through the obvious historic and political route, references to civil rights are all around me.  I was always very involved with Black History Month in school and for a while, I’ve been that person to always talk about black issues and address civil rights in general. Weirdly, Dr. King has had an impact on my poetry because of his performativity when giving speeches. Going back to the Civil Rights Walk of Fame, one of the people I didn’t mention was Roberto Goizueta, who’s the namesake of the b-school. I’m also a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar and my sponsor is Hank and Billye Aaron, Hank Aaron is also featured on the Walk of Fame. My dorm is decorated with MLK and Malcolm X posters and other nods to black culture.  And overall I want to work in a career dealing with civil rights, education inequality, etc. I’m not saying this to say to have some theory of fate. I think the bigger picture is that a lot of times we don’t notice how the things around us shape our futures. Being that we’re college students, it’s nice to just think about how different experiences guide our decisions. It’s great to do this now because soon we’ll be able to declare our majors and a little later down the road, we’re going to be choosing career paths. These are very big decisions, but I think that reflection is a good way of preparing for a big decision.

The King Center is open seven days a week from 9am-5pm. If you want to learn more or plan a visit, you can check out their website by clicking on this link

The Law School Panel: Emory BLSA & Emory BPLS







On Wednesday night, the Emory Black Law Student Association crossed Clifton Road and met up with the Emory Black Pre Law Society to answer questions regarding the dos and don’ts of undergraduate life when you are preparing for law school in the future. The attendance for this event was lower than any other Black Pre Law Society event thus far, surprisingly. It was mostly law school students and seniors in the college. The discussion took place in the form of a panel.


Who was on the panel?


  • A first year law student (referred to as a “1L”)
  • A third year law student who also had the perspective of working in the law school admissions office and is a transfer student (“3L”)
  • A non-practicing attorney who attended Hampton and Mercer Law, she has a law based Youtube channel(“AT”)


The moderator asked a question to the panel and they could respond as they felt appropriate and often times would “piggyback” off of each other’s answers and throw in more tips and strategies. Some of the most fitting questions for first years and their most helpful and common answers are listed below!


Why did you decide to go to law school? What type of law are you planning to practice?


1L: I had no intentions of going to law school until my senior year of college. I had a fashion degree from FIT and found a way to combine that with law after having tons of discussions with one of my professors and just went from there.

3L: I have known since high school. Law school was just always the route for me. I plan to practice labor and unemployment law.

AT: I have a weirder story. Everyone in my family has been divorced at least once, so I just knew divorce law was for me. I wanted to have a huge billboard off the side of 85. Now I am in law school recruitment instead so you never know where your JD will take you.


How did you study for the LSAT?


1L: I used the Blueprint test prep course, and a whole lot of brutal self study.

3L: I used the Kaplan test prep, but would not recommend it at all. Kaplan isn’t individualistic enough and if I had to do it all over, I would get a private tutor.

AT: I did the Kaplan live online course, and very little self study. I only got a 140 the first time, so I did the in class Kaplan to bring up my score. If I could do it all over, I would take at least 30 practice exams.  


Do you have any tips for writing the personal statement?


3L: Emory wants to know what you learned from your experiences and how you plan to implement that in the Emory community. Your personal statement doesn’t have to be some life changing event, they would rather see something you’re passionate about than a really prestigious award.

AT: BE PERSONAL! Stop being hella generic. If I never have to see the sentence, “I have been through so much adversity,” I would be happy. For most law schools, there is no interview aspect so your personal statement needs to be very telling.

  • tell a story or have a consistent theme
  • talk about specific law school plans (what kind of law you want to practice)
  • talk about specific reasons you are applying to the law school you’re applying to


What was most important when you were choosing law schools?



  1. Scholarships
  2. Connections
  3. Location



  1. Diversity
  2. Location
  3. Scholarships



  1. Diversity
  2. Black Law Student Association Presence
  3. Location/Cost of Living


Overall, I feel that the small crowd size made for a comfortable, more informal environment. The panelists were open and really wanted to see the undergraduate students succeed. They offered their cards to attendees and encouraged us to keep our studies first. I also think the panelist’s different backgrounds allowed them to have a wide variety of perspectives on the law school application experience, yet they still firmly agreed with each other on certain things.

NY for the Weekend

It all began with a text I had received from my mom approximately four days prior to Fall Break: “Clear your schedule for this upcoming Saturday,” it read. “We’re going into the City at 5:45 for your final birthday surprise.”

As I had celebrated my birthday just a week prior to Fall Break, it was the very first time I had not been awoken to the sweet aroma of freshly made chocolate chip pancakes, steaming hot coffee, all accompanied by a side of extremely ripe berries, prepared by Mother Dearest. It was the first time I hadn’t been home to see the jolting excitement gleaming from my mother’s eyes as I had turned one year older. Rather, this year had been spent in close proximity to a variety of new friends, new adventurous foods, and a completely contrasting city than my hometown of New York. While all of these factors were of course enticing, and being away from home on my 18th birthday sure had its perks, I maintained an utter void within my heart that seemingly could not be filled.

Bailey & Nala

The days before break truly could not have moved slower, but I had finally arrived home after an exhausting trek through Hartsfield Jackson into Laguardia Airport on Friday evening. I was initially tackled down by my two dogs, and was welcomed into the familiarity of home once again.

“Okay so, I didn’t want to cook too much, but I’ve prepared a few things for your arrival this weekend,” my mom began to emphatically recite every meal she had cooked throughout the past week ~ WITH a broken wrist. “I made you roasted chicken, your favorite Maztoh Ball Soup, sweet potato pie, brisket and a variety of vegetables. Oh, and I also made a Kugel with this new recipe I tried. I also bought a turkey, so you’ll tell me if you want me to make that too, okay?”

Sweet Potato Pie

My mouth dropped wide open and I began to crack up. “Ma,” I said, “you really didn’t have to go through all that trouble. But thank you so much, I’ve really missed your cooking.”

And I meant that sincerely; Becoming a first-year college student has allowed me to recognize and appreciate all that I was granted while growing up, and just how lucky I’d been to have someone in this world who cares so deeply for me. I took a walk through the kitchen, and wow, the aroma truly smelt incredible. I guess since I was absent for the Jewish holidays she wanted to replicate every single meal for me. And, well, that is what she did.

NYC Skyline

As Saturday evening approached, my patience was wearing thin. My mom came into my room with a blindingly bright smile, exclaiming: “I got us tickets to Dear Evan Hansen!!!!”

I was booming with enthusiasm. Up until the age of nine, my annual birthday celebrations would usually entail seeing some form of Broadway Show with my Mom: either Mary Poppins, Wicked, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, and many others. With that thought in mind, I immediately harkened back to those special moments we shared together when I was a child. Excitement prevailed, so we quickly scarfed down some steaming hot soup and went on our way. As we arrived, we made our way to our respective seats and awaited the performance.

As a spectator, I initially noticed the purposeful lighting on stage: blue lighting to represent sadder moments; whiter tones to represent suspense; warm yellow tones to represent happiness. I began to analyze the performativity of the show, not only while enjoying the vibrant song and role play, but to better comprehend the producer’s intended rhetoric for the audience of Broadway.

Momma & I

I had been looking forward to seeing this Broadway show for quite some time. The story line is as follows: Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) is a seventeen year old High School student, diagnosed with an anxiety disorder simply out of his own control. Wearing a striped short-sleeved shirt, he sits on his bed and pecks away at his computer, only somewhat hindered by the hard white cast on his left arm. As he types on his computer — FaceTimes, iChats, Facebook images, and Tweets — are projected onto walls which surround him. But the person Evan is writing to is in the room; He doesn’t have many friends, and on the advice of his therapist, he addresses supportive letters to himself in order to improve his self-esteem.

As a culprit of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I too felt extremely moved and consistently taken back at how relative and spot-on Ben Platt’s performance was; Tears, laughs, and wales erupted from all members of the audience. Almost every person was wiping their eyes at some point or another. However, what truly struck me was the main actor’s iconic mannerisms: the hunched posture he maintained throughout the show, the facial tics and nail-biting with repetitive worrying of his fingers at the seam of his pants, the way in which he never for a moment lost his finely grained physical expression of Evan, even in the midst of the 11 songs that he performs (three of which are wrenching solos). He conveys such longing, loneliness, guilt and shame in those songs through his vocals – of course – but also through the many pained contortions of his body and face.

Dear Evan Hansen Playbill

It’s hard to envision a character in a musical who is so relatable to so many people in the crowd each night — teenagers struggling with anxiety, parents clinging to whatever fine thread still connects them to their kids, people who are ashamed of something they’ve done or who fear that they are unlovable. It seems like a more intense level of responsibility, psychologically speaking, than most Broadway stars have ever had to bear.

As the show came to a close, my mom and I were emotionally drained. With a look of exhaustion and sadness swept across our faces, this profound performance moved us in ways in which I’ve never really experienced before.

We then took a long stroll to the parking garage and decided to stop for a classic slice of pizza on the way. The show was so moving, insightful, and unique that it truly left us speechless. We shoveled mouthfuls of pizza into our faces and smiled. We weren’t speaking, but we both just happy. My mom maintained her genuine grin and muttered, “I couldn’t have imagined seeing this show with anyone else; It was just so perfect.”

I nodded and agreed, and thanked her for such a wonderfully special evening. As we stepped into the car and took our quick ride back to Long Island, it struck me: I was never able to view just how unique and worthwhile the maintenance of such a close mother/daughter relationship can be. I felt so lucky that night to have seen such a heart-wrenching performance next to a woman with a heart bigger than this world. I will always cherish how close we are, the laughs we share, and the cries we’ve endured simultaneously, as I believe our relationship will remain strong for the rest of my life.

Sandro Hijacks Jared and Hannah’s Blog Post

“Maybe we can just pretend that we went,” I thought to myself as our Uber’s estimated time of arrival extended from seven minutes to half a century. After 15 minutes of waiting and two missed calls to the Uber driver later, we canceled the ride and ordered another one. This time, a lovely gentleman named Daran picked us up. Little did I know that this man would soon become my best friend. After discussing his graduate studies at Georgia Tech, war, my family origins and global warming, I wondered whether I could ask Daran for his number, knowing that I would probably want to catch up with him later and find out how he and his girlfriend were doing. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world dictated by social norms that deem asking your Uber driver for personal information to spark a friendship “weird”.

Sandro befriending our Uber driver Daran.

When we arrived at Centennial Olympic Park, I shook Daran’s hand, wished him and his girlfriend the best, and sadly bid him adieu. “Wow,” I thought to myself as we exited the Uber to see the historically significant and beautiful Centennial Olympic Park before us, “this is about to be really boring.” All I could think about, besides Daran, was that I would finally get to walk backward with Jared.

We began our journey by learning about the park’s origins. The park commemorates the 1996 Centennial Summer Olympic Games, which Atlanta hosted. The city dedicated $75 million to developing Downtown Atlanta, ensuring it was fit to house the games and creating a commercial center in Atlanta, including the Georgia Aquarium, Center for Civil and Human Rights, College Football Hall of Fame, CNN, Delta Airlines and the World of Coca-Cola. Centennial Park continues the legacy of the 1996 games and its subsequent impact on Atlanta.

Confused about where to begin our exploration of the park, we were relieved to find that it had an accompanying Audio Tour. Today, we will take you along with us as we tour the park and share our experiences.

Allen Family Tribute

The Allen Family Tribute has been fenced off during construction of the park.

Our tour begins with the Allen Family Tribute. This 15-foot-tall structure pays tribute to the three generations of the Allen family, who helped shape the city of Atlanta. On the note of family, this part of the park always reminds me of my first experience at Centennial Olympic Park nearly six years ago with my family. My parents were so excited to show me and my younger brother the spot where they watched the 1996 Olympic Games together, and I vividly remember them pointing out this landmark as a testimonial to the importance of family. Come along so we can see what else this place has in store…

Gateway of Dreams

Stop Two.
Sandro poses alongside Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

The Gateway of Dreams is a monument of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games. Coubertin’s sculpture is three times his height, representing his legacy and impact on the Olympics. The plaque below the sculpture describes Coubertin’s “dream of a world united in peace through sport.” But the only thing going through my mind was that this man could rock the stache, and honestly, not everyone can. I bet Hunter could, though.

Androgyne Planet

Stop Three.

“What do aliens have to do with the Olympic Games?” I thought as I looked up at the vast statue before me and put on my tin foil hat. This totem represents the Games’ spirit of international unity. To create this spirit of unity, each host city donates a piece of art to the next city. At least my tin foil hat won’t let the statue’s telekinetic powers into my brain. This is what the planet must really be built for, let’s be honest.

Children’s Garden and Playground

Stop four.
An activity at the accessible Children’s Playground.

We are now stepping on the rubber floors of the Centennial Olympic Park’s Children’s Playground. This play space is dedicated to the younger kids that frequent the park and is designed for children with all ranges of physical abilities. The aisles between various activities are wide, and all activities on the playground are accessible, capturing the essence of the park as an all-inclusive venue. I am reminded of my frequent trips to Aiden’s Playground, an accessible park in Los Angeles, with my mother, previously a Disability Rights Lawyer, who was highly supportive of its design.

Paralympic Legacy

Stop Five.
The four pillars of “Paralympic Legacy.”

On the note of inclusivity, the monument that we are now approaching commemorates the Atlanta Paralympic Games, a sports competition for athletes with disabilities. The pillars that surround the monument represent the commitment, leadership, diversity, and excellence that characterized the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. “Paralympic Legacy” serves as a reminder of the pursuit of excellence that the Paralympics inspire.

Quilt of Nations

Stop 6.
The Quilt of Nations.
Sandro planking on the water that weaves through the five quilts.

A man-made series of beautifully landscaped, cascading water features weave through the five Quilt Plazas, including the Quilt of Nations. The Quilt of Nations honors all 197 nations that participated in the 1996 Games. This was the largest number of countries ever represented in the history of the Olympic Games. Seeing the flag of the Country of Georgia, I feel a sense of pride that Georgia was a part of this historical Olympic Games. For the first time, I began to realize the significance of the park.

Quilt of Olympic Spirit

Stop Seven.
Jared pointing to his parents’ brick.

This landmark salutes the 10,000 athletes who participated in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Inscribed in granite is a list that names all 184 medalists. The names “Soso Liparteliani” and “Eldar Kurtanidze” immediately catch my attention. Not only did I meet these Georgian Olympic medalists personally, but seeing these names reinforces the park’s focus on international unity. These names were engraved beside those of fellow Russian athletes, citizens of the same country that occupied Georgian territories and bombed our cities 12 years later.

Quilt of Origins

Stop Eight.
The Quilt of Origins.

We’re now at the Quilt of Origins, a sculpture that depicts the advancement of the Olympic Games from ancient Greece until today. The work of art weighs eight tons and features three figures: a nude man (representing Greece – where the first Olympics were held), another man who looks much more contemporary (representing the style of the modern Olympics), and a female (representing the Atlanta Olympic Games). As you can see, there are bricks implanted in the pathways all around us, covering the entire park. These bricks are the names of the individuals who donated in securing this structure that stands before us. My parents even purchased one, serving as a unique reminder of their time that they spent living in Atlanta. Let’s now go on to the Quilt of Remembrance.

Quilt of Remembrance

Stop Nine.
The quote that captured Hannah’s experience at the park.

This mosaic acts as a reminder for those who were injured from the bomb that went off during the Atlanta Olympics. 111 stones are placed here from all around the world to pay respect to the 111 people hurt by the bombing. My parents remember hearing the bomb at the Olympics, and the chaotic scene that followed. They, like the rest of the world, also remember the Games reopening soon after this domestic terrorist attack, serving as a triumph of the human spirit and great character of Atlanta. Alice Hawthorne was the only person who died from this tragedy, and the eternal light is always shining at this site in her memory.

Quilt of Dreams

Stop 10.
Sculpture of Billy Payne.

The quilt above us holds tribute to Billy Payne, CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. Payne is responsible for bringing the Olympics to Atlanta, a 10 year quest that was successful on its first bid. Another dream of Payne’s, this park is the physical manifestation of countless inspirational feats. As we walk along the quilt, I would like to point out a quote that encompasses the importance of the Atlanta Olympics: “I can think of no better event than the Olympics to introduce the world to the progressive capital of the new South” (Andrew Young). In a sense, exploring Centennial Park has introduced me to downtown Atlanta – to its many opportunities and its deeper significance.

Hermes Towers/Centennial Plaza

Stop 11.
Centennial Plaza and the stormy clouds above.

Even the dimensions of our next stop are symbolic. Centennial Plaza is 100 meters squared, equivalent to the distance of the 100 meter Olympic race. The flags of the 23 past host cities circle the Plaza. Eight “Hermes Towers” are also mounted around the Plaza to emulate the indicators that directed Ancient Greek spectators to public happenings.

Fountain of Rings

Stop 12.
The Fountain of Rings during its daily water show.

We’re now at one of the most iconic landmarks in this park and the city of Atlanta…the Fountain of Rings. The fountain has four daily shows (at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 9:00 p.m.) that combine music, lighting, and, of course, water. The fountain is also a great place to play and relax. I still see a view of the fountain whenever I take an airplane ride from Cleveland to Atlanta, and this reminds me of the Olympic Games my parents attended as well as my family’s Atlanta history.

Southern Company Amphitheater

The 13th and final stop.
The Southern Company Amphitheater.

We will now conclude our tour at the location that embodies the true purpose of Centennial Olympic Park as a communal space. This open venue hosts events on 186 days of the year, committed to providing free entertainment for the whole family. Olympic Park is central to the Atlanta community, appealing to individuals of all ages and all ranges of ability. All visitors need is the openness to learn and to be inspired.

Our Uber ride back simply wasn’t the same. I did not connect to our driver in a powerful way. Perhaps this is because I didn’t get to tell him about the public executions of my great-grandfathers or because I was too side-tracked reflecting on my ultimately positive experience of Centennial Olympic Park. The park inspired thoughts about unity, peace, and internationality. But a single thing I had learned from the day’s outing truly stuck out to me: “Humanity is always being tested in some way, shape or form” (Daran).

“God damn it Daran, why didn’t I ask for your number?”

To follow along on the official audio tour that inspired this post, please visit

Westboro Baptist TRIED It Yet Again

Over 20 years ago, October was named as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) History Month by the National Education Association.  October is also known for National Coming Out Day which is held on October 11th. Every year since its conception in 1971, Atlanta Pride, one of the oldest pride parades in the US, was held around this time every year. This year the Atlanta Pride Parade was held on October 15th. Pride, in general, is a sea of bright colors and rainbow flags, but the parade took this to a whole new level. The parade had a record-breaking turnout with over 250,00 people in attendance.

For some background information, the LGBTQ+ community is a minority group of different sexualities and gender identities.  Pride parades started after the Stonewall riots in 1969. The Stonewall Inn was a club that was very accepting of LGBTQ+ patrons; many other clubs prohibited gay people from having liquor, people dancing with the same sex, men in feminine clothes as well as women with less than 3 articles of feminine clothing. The Stonewall Inn even took in homeless LGBTQ+ youth and let them stay there. However, on June 28, 1969, the police raided Stonewall and roughly hauled off employees and patrons which destroyed the sense of the place being a place of refuge. For six days afterward, there were demonstrations and clashes between law enforcement. Fast-forward a few years and Pride was established to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture and pride and serve as demonstrations for legal rights such as same-sex marriage.

Now let’s get to my Atlanta Pride experience. I asked my best friend from back home if he wanted to come to Pride and he was like “that’s not a question because you already know we’re going.” Fast-forward a few days and my friend’s 4-hour bus ride to Atlanta and we arrive at my first Pride. The air was electric from all of the excitement and energy. We saw floats from businesses, radio stations, and even some churches. As we got lost trying to find Emory’s space in the parade lineup, we kept saying how different this was from Pride back home and it’s to be expected since Atlanta was once ranked as the most LGBT friendly city by the magazine The Advocate. Atlanta Pride blocked off a whole chunk of Downtown Atlanta from the MARTA Civic Center Station to Piedmont Park while South Carolina Pride is just about one street of Downtown Columbia. Atlanta Pride had floats as far as the eye can see and it was amazing to see so many people coming out for an event like this. As we talked about these differences, we passed by vendors selling all types of LGBTQ+ flags and memorabilia. We also noticed peoples’ style choices from drag to very liberal showings of skin. Eventually, we found the Emory van. At first, there wasn’t a lot of people with Emory, but that was probably because the van was so hard to find. After a while, the Emory area was a sea of students and faculty from Emory’s numerous schools: Emory College, Oxford, Rollins, etc. It was so much fun just hanging out with so many LGBTQ+ people and allies. We painted each others’ faces, sang together, and there was a ton of discussion of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

As the parade got started, I was reminded of my old days in marching band. There’s just something about the environment of a parade that increases your own performativity. It’s natural to me to give a performance and have the crowd respond, but during Pride, the crowd was the ones giving the energy and excitement. The air was electrifying and there was not one sad face in sight… well except for the Westboro Baptist Church who comes to Pride every year to preach their anti-gay agenda, but there a special case. Originally, I thought that would have more of an impact, but honestly, their bullhorns were nothing compared to our music and loud cheering. The organizers of Pride specifically put people in front of them with big flowers to try to block their hateful signs and stuff which they did a really good job of. Even with the ones left, we just waved rainbow flags in front of and laughed like “Y’all thought. You tried it, but we’re still gonna have a good gay old time. You can have several seats.” As we passed the corner of haters, we had the final stretch of the parade all the way to Piedmont Park. There was a ton of different vendor and they were setting up the stage for a performance, but my group of friends and I didn’t stay for too long because we were so tired. We didn’t realize it during the parade because of the amount of energy, but once we stopped and sat down it hit us like a truck.

Overall my Pride experience was great. I can definitely say that it was one of the highlights of my freshman year so far and I’ll definitely be back next year. It’s great to see that Emory really supports the LGBTQ+ community and the fact that Emory has “the 10th oldest LGBT campus office in the nation.” LGBTQ+ youth are at a significantly higher risk for depression, suicide, and substance abuse compared to heterosexual counterparts, according to the CDC. The CDC also has studies that find that LGBTQ+ students are “140% more likely to not go to school at least one day during the past 30 days because of safety concerns” and also ” nearly one-third of LGBTQ+ youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6% of heterosexual youth.” It’s important that LGBTQ+ youth have places where they can feel accepted and supported; this is why I highly encourage going to Pride. If you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community, go to Pride. It’s a lot of fun and you’ll be surrounded by people who love you and support you without even knowing you. If you have a friend that’s LGBTQ+, go to Pride with them. Be one of the people to love and support them. One of the reasons I chose Emory and really wanted to go out of state for college was I knew that I would have much more of a support system here and I could be very open and authentic. Emory’s Office of LGBT Life is very active. There are different weekly queer discussion groups such as Queer Men of Color, Aces & Aros, etc. There’s also Emory Pride, a student organization that has weekly GBMs discussing different LGBTQ+ topics. Also, all students can schedule appointments with Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) which a certain number of is covered by tuition. With all these resources and such a vibrant city, I truly feel like I’m in a place where I can thrive.

Picture Gallery

Below are some LGBTQ+ resources:

  • The Trevor Project: | 24/7 Helpline 866-488-7386
  • Emory CAPS: For appointments 404-727-6111 | Crisis 404-727-7450
  • Emory Office of LGBT Life: 1st floor of AMUC |


The Sounds Heard by a Deaf Woman

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life. And see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  – Henry David Thoreau

Caption: Closed captions are correct for those with hearing disabilities.

Walden Pond Concord, Massachusetts

(Perspective of Michael) I leaped off the bus and instantly could smell the fresh pines and soft needles. With each step I gently crushed the leaves and fallen branches below me. The sound of the soil cracking under my shoes urged me to venture out into the trees, but I made sure to remain close. I was only eight years old at the time, but Walden Pond was much more than just a landmark.  Just two towns over from my home, it was an escape from reality. The sounds, smells, and sights of nature engulfed my thoughts. I never wanted to leave. Whether it was a deer sipping water with her fawn, or the sounds of the turkeys trotting through the bushes, Walden pond brought wonders beyond imagination for a young boy like me.

Walden. By, Henry David Thoreau

Six years later, Michael, Kate, Zion, and Josh found themselves listening to Rachel Kolb, an Emory graduate student, analyzing Thoreau’s work. Kolb, who is partially deaf, explained Thoreau’s opinions on the two different “spheres” of sound that he experienced while living in the wild – natural sound and industrial sound. Thoreau described natural sounds as the things that we hear from the animals and natural parts of life. This connects to all of the sounds that Michael heard at Walden Pond when he was younger. However, industrial sounds come from the new technologies of the time, such as “the noises of the train cars passing by.” Kolb concluded this idea by stating that Thoreau related the noise that he heard to interruptions, which seem to be inevitable aspects of modern day life.

Rachel Kolb introducing her paper.

The focus of Kolb’s analysis was on sound, specifically the new technologies of the mid-19th century, which affected people’s ability to enjoy the natural things in life. Kolb described these technologies which, “distract our attention from serious things” as “inventions that collapse the time and distance between two places.” Some of these technologies include railway systems and the telegraph. Kolb argued that these technologies changed the way people perceived space and time, as it was possible to communicate and therefore “listen” to each other while not being in the same location. This phenomenon leads to face-to-face interactions between people having less value. The new technologies of the mid-19th century can be compared to our very own age of social media. The access to information and communication we have from our electronic devices is taking away from our need to talk with each other in person. Both the railways of Thoreau’s period and our modern day digital platforms interrupt our thought and change the way that we interact with each other.

Rachel identifying the main themes of her paper.

While Rachel was presenting her paper, Michael and Kate noticed the sign language translators that sat on both sides of the table. They connected this to the lecture by Jennifer Sarrett titled “Autism in the Classroom”, which stressed the importance of accommodations for students with learning disabilities. They noticed that Rachel utilized many of the teaching techniques that Sarrett described in her presentation–techniques that help students with learning disabilities better absorb information and that help generalize the presentation to everyone. For instance, Rachel’s whole powerpoint was a black screen with white font. This is a common visual

“Autism in the Classroom”

aid. She also passed out packets of her transcript to the class for those who wanted to read along. It was interesting to witness how a writer with a disability interprets effective teaching. By presenting multiple versions of her presentation, Rachel was really demonstrating the effectiveness of the multimodal communication that she was talking about. Getting to see this perspective really opened our eyes to see how the world spreads ideas in different ways. By utilizing the mode of sound in her presentation despite her deafness being a hindrance, Rachel was emphasizing the strength of sound in formulating thoughts and avoiding distraction.

Whether it was the sound of leaves crunching below Thoreau’s feet or the sight of Rachel’s translators, it is clear that sound plays a variety of roles in our world. Though we never fully realize it, we are constantly adapting to newer ways of communicating through sounds and expressions. Listening to Rachel describe the use of sound in Thoreau’s work was like witnessing the combination of different products. Much like how Walden was forced to adapt to the growing technological influence of his world, Rachel was forced to adapt to her disability and find new ways to analyze everyday senses.

-Josh, Kate, Michael, Zion


Break The Silence: Domestic Violence

TW: Domestic Abuse








In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Phenomenal Women of the Omicron Xi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority hosted an event called “Break the Silence!” This past Sunday, October 15, in the Center for Women located in Cox Hall, my roommate and I participated in an open forum revolving around interpartner violence and its effect on and relevance to women of color.

This discussion was a very open and honest one. Jamechya Duncan from Emory’s Respect program, Emory’s central hub for interpersonal violence prevention and survivor resiliency, was the main facilitator. She shared her personal experience with domestic abuse and the struggle that she experienced when she tried to escape the situation. She emphasized the mental and emotional trauma that remains with victims when they are finally able to escape a violent situation. She advocated for the presence of supportive friends through every stage, and shared very personal aspects of her experience with domestic abuse. There was an opportunity to ask questions towards the end and the event ended up lasting an hour longer than anticipated due to the conversational aspect that the forum took on.

If you find yourself in a situation involving domestic/intimate partner violence, there are many outlets for support and assistance on Emory’s campus, in the Atlanta community, and nationally.

MARTA – Make Atlanta’s Rapid Transit Advantageous!

After a short plane ride back from Chicago, I was left in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with one of two options: I could either take an Uber and get back to campus quickly, or I could try to find a cheaper alternative. Using what I learned in my Economics class, I came to the smart decision of taking MARTA. Even though I knew it would take an extra hour to get back to Emory, I decided to go ahead with it. Not only was the trip easy, but it was also borderline enjoyable.

The MARTA station in the airport

I started off by asking the help desk in the airport where to go since it is so massive. Sure enough, they told me to follow the big signs that said “MARTA Station”. After making my way through the terminal, I found some machines where I could buy a ticket. I looked though my wallet only to realize that I had left my day pass, which were so generously given to us, in my room back on campus. However, this didn’t really bother me at all since I knew how much money I was saving. I scanned my ticket, went up the escalator and hopped on a train that was waiting in the station already.

A lovely view of the airport parking lot

Airport station is a terminal stop on MARTA’s red and gold lines, which run north-south. This meant that the only people I saw on the train were airport workers and a lady with some luggage, who seemed to be in my situation. After a solid three minutes of standing still, the train doors closed and we moved out of the station. To my surprise, most of my train ride was above ground. I managed to get a unique view of certain parts of the city from the train, and when I got off I could feel my neck hurting from staring out the window.

The bus to get back to Emory

After 13 stops, my train finally got to my station, Lindbergh Center. I took all my belongings with me upstairs to go catch the bus that would take me to campus. To my luck, there happened to be a #6 Emory/Oxford Rd waiting in the station. I sat down in the back of the bus and we departed for campus. I engaged in conversation with a young man sitting next to me. He told me, “You can get anywhere here for $2.50. I even got on for free because I convinced the driver I have no money, but…” he concluded, pointing to his pocket. Eventually, I started to recognize the area that I was in, so I requested a stop and got off the bus next to the WoodRec. I headed back to my dorm room, very pleased with myself having saved so much money.

Taking such a long ride on MARTA made me compare and contrast it with the transit system in my hometown, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). I was interested in public transit at a young age, so I like taking busses and trains whenever I go someplace new. The first thing I noticed about MARTA was that its vehicles were very clean. There is a no eating or drinking policy on all MARTA vehicles, which makes it less at risk to spills, which probably wouldn’t be cleaned up for a while. Another good addition to MARTA is the “Intercom tour guide”. At every train station, there is an automated announcement that tells passengers the main attractions nearby the station. This is super helpful in figuring out where you are, especially for someone like me who doesn’t know the city at all.

While my experience on MARTA was far from dreadful, I do think that there are some improvements to be made. First of all, I do not think that having overlapping lines is efficient for moving people. It makes stations get more crowded because people have to wait for specific trains, and it leaves only one station (Five Points) for people to transfer between the north-south lines and the east-west lines. In fact, all but one of the green line’s stops are shared with the blue line. I feel like the TTC has done a much better job of figuring out how to effectively get people from point A to point B. One more problem that I have with MARTA is that the bus and train are separated from each other. While the bus stops at train stations, you need to exit the actual station in order to board a bus. The TTC has busses pull into an area which is exclusive for people who have either come off a train/streetcar or paid to enter the station, so no transferring is necessary. This is more efficient for boarding vehicles during rush hour, when there are large crowds. While these are more big-picture problems, there are also some little things that annoyed me, like how the bus doesn’t announce stops like the train does, or how it closes at 12:30 am on weekends.

Map of MARTA trains
TTC’s map of trains

The bottom line is that MARTA is cheap and useful if you have a lot of time on your hands like I did. I personally think that it could use a bit of revamping, since the last time it was really useful was the 1996 Summer Olympics. Even though I may have made out the TTC to be so much better, I am pretty biased. After all, an article on rates Toronto as the fifth worst public transit system in the world, with Atlanta only being fourth on the list. As a college student, I would really like to see MARTA improve so I’d stop having to pay so much for Uber.


Jalopnik article: