APRIL 24, 2013

SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE

Jeamme Chia

Sarah Curtis

Sayantani DasGupta

Charles Paccione

Teresa Phiri

Emily Lim Rogers

Ellie Roscher

Wujing Wang

Jeamme Chia, born and raised in Malaysia, is a graduating senior who is excited to see where the world takes her. At SLC she studied Economics, Geography, and Politics. She specializes in international commodity markets and geopolitics. Her other interests include entrepreneurship, technology, and finance. She is driven by the belief that 'People Create Change' and sees the Millennial Generation as more poised than ever to do so. Jeamme is inspired by people who take the world by storm, even in the smallest of ways.

Teresa Phiri's background growing up in three different Southern African countries—Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland— inspired her passion is for poverty alleviation. At Sarah Lawrence she has concentrated in Political-Economics and will soon pursue her Masters in Public Policy at Oxford University. Her passion is to reform the practice of public policy through private sector consulting. She am inspired by the potential that lies in international collaboration- it is by reconciling our differences that we can make a sustainable impact.

Aquaponics: When People Create Food

As we accelerate towards an increasingly urbanized world, new and existing cities will experience stresses on their resources and infrastructure. Central to the problems facing urban slums is the issue of food insecurity, especially in (but not exclusive to) developing countries. Of the 1 billion people that face food insecurity, 200 million live in urban slums. And that number will only grow. Maintaining food security in Urban landscapes and especially slum communities faces a specific sets of constraints that conventional understandings of agriculture cannot resolve. A sustainable solution is one that forces a paradigm shift in the way we view food in cities. We propose aquaponics as a solution that can address the multiple constraints that urban communities face in maintaining food security. Urban slums lack arable land, access to water for farming and access to nutritious food. Aquaponics is a closed system that uses fish waste as fertilizer for plants to produce nutritious food. Fresh vegetables and grains can be grown on a bed that does not require soil. It is space efficient and uses less water than most production systems. We propose that Aquaponics is not only the solution to food insecurity in urban slums but the food production system for future cities.

Sarah Curtis currently teaches at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY. Years ago she attended the Sarah Lawrence Early Childhood Center. The experience of growing up lies at the heart of her interests and endeavors, which include poetry, performing arts, and anything that informs her development as a teacher.

“Cute is a four-letter word”: Virginia Woolf and Preschool

Startling though it may be, Virginia Woolf has a lot to say about preschool. An argument for quality preschool is an argument for the profound value of great literature. It allows children to discover language and literature through play. Research insists that providing quality preschool is the key to pulling this country out of its educational tailspin, which has this year been affirmed as a policy priority by President Obama. Quality preschool isn’t achievement based; it’s play-based. My own early experience as a pre-school student at the Sarah Lawrence Early Childhood Center created within me a room of my own from which I have connected with the world. A truly wonderful education teaches lessons through experience. Such lessons are exceptionally difficult to quantify. Still, they take up permanent residence in human hearts and mind. As a teacher and privileged person, I believe we must continue and complicate the conversation about the power of a wonderful education.

The crisis facing the United States education system is so deep we must work hard to find creative answers. Woolf points to a world of possibility. While they are only beginning to develop as people, children in poverty experience injustice, violence, and a world of adult anxiety. What could be more important than to offer at-risk children a developmentally appropriate preschool experience that values imaginative play as an essential means of intellectual development? There is much more to being a preschool teacher than being nice and liking children. The project of learning can and should be profound, transformative and deeply felt. Play-based preschool locates hope in a genuine relationship between an adult and child—and amongst children themselves. Virginia Woolf and other great authors and artists can help adults create rooms where children may play in order to compose the story of their lives.

Sayantani DasGupta is a physican and writer, originally trained in pediatrics and public health, who is a faculty member in the Master's Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University and the Graduate Program in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence College. Sayantani teaches courses on illness and disability memoir, and narrative, health and social justice. She is a widely published and nationally recognized speaker on issues of narrative, health care, race, gender and medical education, and in 2012 was featured in Oprah Magazine in an article on Narrative Medicine - which she describes as the clinical and scholarly movement to find health care’s lost art of story-telling and story listening. She is the co-author of The Demon Slayers and Other Stories: Bengali Folktales, the author of a memoir about her education at Johns Hopkins, Her Own Medicine: A Woman's Journey from Student to Doctor, and the co-editor of an award winning collection of women’s illness narratives, Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write their Bodies.

Narrative Humility: Listening as Social Justice

Stories have always been at the heart of health and healing. Before fancy imaging equipment or lab tests in their metaphorical black bags, they had the ability to be present, to witness another human being’s life and death, suffering and joy. Narrative medicine is the clinical and scholarly movement to find health care’s lost art of storytelling and story listening. A narrative understanding of health care honors the ancient, storied heart of healing, while teaching those responding to stories—clinicians, therapists, family members, and advocates—how to go about the art of witnessing. Witnessing stories from a position of Narrative Humility acknowledges that stories of the ill are not objects in which to become 'competent' or master, but rather, dynamic entities that for healers to approach and engage with, while simultaneously remaining open to their ambiguity and contradiction, and engaging in constant self-evaluation and self-critique about issues like the witnesses role in the story, expectations of the story, responsibilities to the story, and identifications with the story. Narrative humility is a philosophy of listening which holds potential beyond health care as well, in any situation where more powerful individuals engage with stories of those who are socially, culturally or politically less powerful. It acknowledges that the listener – be that a clinician, reporter, policy maker, or teacher -- must willingly place herself in a position of some transparency. The witness must not only see, but be seen, and by doing so, enable herself to see even more clearly.

Charles is a premedical student at Sarah Lawrence College interested in contemplative neuroscience and Buddhist psychology. Having contributed to nationally recognized laboratories in his field, he has investigated the ways in which traditional meditative practices can modulate our emotions, psychology, cognitive functioning, and behavior. For the last few years he have been developing meditation programs for cancer patients suffering from hypopnea, dysthymia, insomnia, and pain of the chest and stomach. Personal interests include eastern philosophical and clinical studies, and performing on the violin in the Manhattan area.

Mindful Medicine: How Meditation Can Be A Path For Healing

The practice of meditation can be considered as one of the most effective tools to cultivate a healing dialogue when diagnosed with cancer. Within the last ten years, studies of contemplative neuroscience and the phenomenon of neuroplasticity have shown us that the neural circuitry of the brain can become modulated and shaped by human experience and the environment. This provides the biological stage for a specific mental training strategy, such as meditation, to induce functional changes in the brain that can endure and transform our emotions and behaviors. In order to understand how meditation is a transformative practice for the mind, and this transformation of mind can possibly change the face of medicine today, we must consider the differences between what it means to heal and what it means to cure. Charles will make this case through a careful rethinking of clinical practice and sharing important experiences from his own work with patients.

Emily Lim Rogers hails from Vienna, Virginia. Her academic interests include LGBT studies, gender studies, new media, and economics. She is also a member of Student Senate and Curriculum Committee. After graduation, she hopes to pursue graduate work in American Studies.

Self-Made This Way?: Fashioning Queer Identities Online in the Age of Gaga

Knowing no other gay kids, without accepting parents, having no Gay-Straight Alliance in their schools, living far away from the “gay meccas” San Francisco and New York, and being too young to enter a gay bar--how do the many queer youth who fit this profile know what it is like to be gay? How do they know what a “coming out story” is, and how to have and retell one of their own? what “transgender” means and if they identify that way? whether they are “butch lesbians” or “femmes”—and how to dress accordingly? and, perhaps most importantly: how do they know they are not alone? With no physical space to turn to, how do queer youth like this (perhaps the majority of queer youth in the United states) develop ideas about their identities? I ultimately answer: the Internet, a virtual space through which queer youth get ideas about, perform, practice, and fine-tune their identities. The interworking of what happens mediated by the screen is overlooked as we consider these elements of our identity as “natural” or even genetic, or that we were “Born This Way,” as Lady Gaga tells us.

Internet community is a radically different means for an entire generation of queer people to understand their identities. While self-making via the Internet allows for unprecedented access to “queer social spaces” (virtual or not), it can tend to reinforce certain, hegemonic notions of sexuality (and of “how to be correctly gay”). Regardless, if we keep assuming everyone is “Born This Way” all the same, without really defining what we mean by “this way” in the first place, we may miss the ways in which these critical and formative experiences hidden behind screens have had and will continue to have a huge impact on the identities of an entire generation.

Ellie is a educated woman, a social justice teacher, a coach of girls gymnastics and softball and a writer. She writes for Lutheran Social Services of New York. She lives in Harlem with her spouse and enjoys studying education, theology, global citizenship and power dynamics. She has lived and worked previously in St. Paul, Denver and Uruguay.

Thriving Girls Change the World: Supporting a New Slum School Model

Every child deserves access to education and educating girls can lift entire communities out of poverty. Really leaving no child behind is wonderful in theory while extremely complicated, time-consuming and expensive in practice. Many countries like Kenya do not offer free secondary education, leaving many poor children behind. Supporting governments to offer free public education is vital. We also need to support local leaders who are successfully catering to the unique educational needs of the poorest of the poor. Kibera Girls Soccer Academy, founded by Abdul Kassim, is working because there are no fees, lunch is free, they are given sanitary pads. Instead of hiring educated teachers from Nairobi, they are sending their untrained Kiberan teachers to college. Clubs and sports support the classroom work. Although the goal is to keep every girl safe and healthy for four years, KGSA is starting to send graduates to college. Abdul is not a trained educator, but knows that the girls need more than a school, they need a family. KGSA is providing that. I believe in girls and love to see what they can do when given access to school, skills and sports. It is an honor now to share their story—not in hopes not that KGSA will be replicated around the world, but that we will support local leaders like Abdul and small schools like KGSA that are truly leaving no child behind.

Wujing Wang is interested in designing digital tools that help people learn more intuitively and efficiently. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the possibilities of life, which means making all kinds of mistakes and learning from them.

"Shall We Talk?": The Words People Don't Say

Wujing was the quietest kid in her family and the silence later became a "habit". When she discovered that she was not able to express herself even when she wanted, she decided to challenge herself. Though having learned a lot about openness and its benefits, she still found it too hard to open her mouth or heart. Therefore, she started searching for the key to openness by her own and she did it in the oldest way--by asking people. It was in people's real stories that she found the secret ingredient to openness. This talk is about her unique journey and her creative way of letting people who face the similar challenges inspire each other.

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