Back to Clark

It’s that time of year again. Your horrible farmer’s tan is somewhat less noticeable, your fingers are weak and no longer used to writing notes for hours at a time—fall semester is here. For me this will be my fifth and final year at Clark and looking back, I can’t believe I’m that grad student saying, “four years really did go by fast.” But it did, and it was great. The horrors of 25 page papers and sleepless nights all seem much less significant and in retrospect are regarded much more warmly.

This morning I was seated at the last booth in Annie’s joined by some old suitemates. We talked about nothing really for a while, but then I abruptly asked “what do you wish you had known, four years ago, when we were the incoming freshmen?” This is what we came up with:

  • In regard to the meal plan, you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone. As soon as you’re off the meal plan, you’ll start realizing how much cooking and cleaning up after yourself can be a hassle in the midst of a busy school year! Appreciate!
  • Make connections and take advantage of your professors. We have faculty members known well throughout the global academic community—get to know them!
  • Try to get off campus. Worcester has a lot to offer: hikes at Purgatory Chasm, rock climbing at Central Rock, getting a little lost in The Worcester Art Museum… (every Clark student has a discount).
  • The Sackler Science Library is a wonderful place for quiet study.
  • There are so many teams, organizations and clubs on campus…get involved!

Of course these suggestions might already be common sense to many of you already, but the point is: take advantage of what our school, and city, has to offer. I personally value my liberal arts degree because it allowed me the opportunity to explore a wide breadth of knowledge while still focusing on a career path. So remember, look up from your books every now and then, pursue even the faintest of interests, and best of luck this upcoming school year!

-Alexander Santos

A Letter to the Editor

Do you feel strongly about an issue and want to let people know what you think?

Try writing a letter to the editor.

With today’s modern Facebook posts and Twitter rants, we hardly think about sharing our opinions in a formal written way. This month, I challenge you to sit down and really think carefully about your position for or against an issue and write a letter to the editor.

Letters to the editor can be found towards the front section of a newspaper or magazine and are often one of the most read parts of those types of publications. You can use it to talk about your opinion on a certain article that previously appeared in the publication, respond to something you saw on the news, express your stance for/against an issue or simply to inform others about an issue from a different perspective (yours!). If you care deeply about something, writing a letter to the editor is a great way to raise awareness, express your opinion or even inspire action.

How can you do this? Take a look at your local newspaper or favorite magazine and see where the Letter to the Editor section is. Oftentimes, you can find information there on how to send in your own letter. If not, try searching on the paper or magazine’s website to find their personal guidelines and directions for submissions.

Remember, think carefully about what’s important to you and why, take the time to write down your thoughts, provide any evidence to back your claims (if necessary), make sure you follow all submission guidelines, and send it in. Who knows, it just might get printed!

-Danielle Strandson

Submit to the New York Times: 

http://www.nytimes.com/content/help/site/editorial/letters/letters.html

Submit to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

 http://www.telegram.com/section/letters/

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.” - Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman’s latest literary sensation, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, brings his readers to Sussex, England for a tale in which the line between non-fiction and make-believe is curiously blurred.

The story begins by following an unnamed middle-aged man back to his hometown while he is on his way to a funeral. The man becomes sidetracked by the old lane he used to live on and spends the rest of the day (and the rest of the book) reminiscing about his childhood adventures with his long-lost friend, Lettie, and a small lake she adamantly named her “ocean.”

In this short novel, Gaiman captures the pure naivety of childhood and intermingles it with a timeless wisdom, compelling his readers to examine their own youthful pasts. Most importantly, he encourages his readers to remember, if only for a short moment, those distant times when anything could happen and magic was real.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the kind of tale that starts quietly and ends climactically, only allowing several conciliatory before the book’s end. Alas, my only reservation is how quickly the story ended!

However, between the lull and apex of the story, Gaiman riddles the novel with thoughtful anecdotes and haunting nostalgia that will awaken a long-lost part of yourself, thought only to exist in the past.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone from young fantasy fanatics to older non-fiction buffs. Within those 180-some pages, there is enough insight and adventure for any reader and any age.

 

 

Throwback Thursday: “Third-Culture Kids: Identity, Home, Discovery”

This week, we’re bringing back a great post from February that you don’t want to miss twice! Give it a read:

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The lingering debate of nature vs. nurture was subtly addressed this weekend as Clark hosted its 2nd annual Third Culture Kid (TCK)/Global Nomads Conference. For TCKs (those who spent a large part of their developing years living outside of their parents’ culture), especially Global Nomads, identity is deeply rooted within the environment they find themselves in.

Identity and that sense of home are complex and indistinct concepts that play a huge rule in shaping a person’s future. For a TCK, it is even more multifaceted and significant, as it becomes difficult to articulate that to people. Take, for example, the question “Where are you from?” So many answers could exist. Is it where the TCK’s parents are from? Is it where they currently live? Is it the name of the country listed on his or her passport?  Is it the culture they most identify with? Or, does it have to do with their ethnicity? It is a combination of all of these – and more – that defines the TCK.

With more than 50 students and administrative figures attending from schools within the Northeast, the conference was a huge success. This type of conference is a rare event,  and is aimed to address the issues faced by TCKs in an ever-changing world.  It also celebrates the joys and advantages that come with being highly cosmopolitan.

We never realize it, but who we are as individuals depends on so many different factors. All these layers of identity are intricately integrated with our environments. This is incredibly clear when speaking with TCKs, some of who have lived in numerous locations in their lives. For them, identity is established from all of their merging cultures; they are never completely a part of just one culture but can relate to all of their adopted cultures.

Thus, the word “home” takes on an entirely different meaning. It is no longer tied to a single “where”, but numerous ones that change so easily and seamlessly. It becomes about comfort and family, as they adapt to, and incorporate bits and pieces of these new communities and customs.

As the guest speaker, Ellen Mahoney (founder and CEO of Sea Change Mentoring – a program specifically focused on TCKs) told the gathered audience, TCKs “have the skills people look for.” Their experiences, as well as their ability to understand more easily where others come from, makes them highly marketable individuals, whilst their worldly experiences make them extremely fascinating.

One of the struggles discussed, other than the differences in customs and cultures, was the effect upon their education as they moved between different schools and systems. As there is no set standard between different schooling systems and curricula, cross-cultural kids always find huge discrepancies within their schooling; either by having to catch up, or by having to revisit topics that they have already studied. Furthermore, education plays a vital part in how we shape ourselves as the majority of the friends we make come from school. Constantly making, and then leaving, friends is definitely difficult, but at the end of the day, it is amazing to see how they are able to remain close across continents (all thanks to the internet and technology).

As globalization continues to occur, and the resolute barriers that borders once placed ‘supposedly’ diminish, the rise of cross-cultural children – and adults – will only increase. As this occurs, the separation between nationality, ethnicity, religion, and culture will become more and more obvious. Then, dialogue such as this will be vital and prevalent.

Chuan Shabu: Chinese Hot Pot Comes to Worcester

The city of Worcester has steadily been gaining a reputation as a stronghold for cultural cuisine and fine dining. From Jamaican to Albanian, the city’s got a little taste of everything for a curious food connoisseur. Only last year, a new Chinese delicacy has been thrown into the healthy mix of Restaurants on Park Avenue—Chuan Shabu. Chuan Shabu, affectionately known simply as “Shabu,” specializes in “hot pot,” a sort of stew-fondue.

The idea behind hot pot is to utilize broth and a variety of vegetables and proteins to create a (usually) communal stew, traditionally cooked on a tabletop stove. One typically keeps the hot pot simmering as anything from cuttlefish dumplings to angus sirloin are added to the boiling broth.

Sister restaurant to BABA Sushi, Shabu stands to be owner Wilson Wang’s second successful business endeavor, and is conveniently located next door to Worcester’s hottest sushi bar. Wang has big plans to add patio seating between his two businesses, but preaches that the key to his businesses success is in quality of experience: “You give them quality food, good price, good service, and then they will come back.”

Shabu also features a full restaurant menu of Szechuan prepared dishes, known for the bold and spicy flavors of the Sichuan province located in Southwestern China. If you’re legal, you can visit their extensive bar and try one of their increasingly popular ‘Mai Tai’ or ‘Red Headed Panda’ drinks.

Though associated with BABA, Shabu presents a considerably more affordable cultural dining experience. Service is fast, knowledgeable, and a full meal can cost a customer as little as $10 with hot pot typically costing upwards of $15-20.

So if you’re looking for something other than your typical Chinese takeout, check out Chuan Shabu at 301 Park Ave—you’ll be happy you did!

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Crompton Collective

As part of my summer resolution to get up off my posterior and explore more of Worcester, I visited the Crompton Collective last week. Having heard rave reviews of the place, I couldn’t help but have high expectations, which I’ve learnt in life is never a good thing as you’re bound to be let down (I’ve made it a goal to pepper my writing with profound life advice). Happily, the Crompton Collective is one of those rare gems that never fail to fulfill your expectations.

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Officially described as a curated boutique marketplace, the Crompton Collective features the crafts of local artists in Worcester and New England as well as a choice selection of antiques and vintage collectibles. The space was surprisingly large and was tastefully arranged with all sorts of interesting trinkets, knick-knacks and odds & ends. The Crompton Collective is THE place to come and collect pieces to decorate a brand new, bare space or find that one bric-a-brac to complete your room. I was amazed by the sheer variety of items available, from handcrafted jewelry and homemade soy milk candles to antique furniture and vinyl records. The wares of the local artists were especially diverse. They included toys, baby clothes, glass, pottery, art, cards, stationary, accessories, illustrations, T-shirts, even skateboards! I was fascinated by the vintage stand-up globe, the miniature antique chairs complete with plush cushions, the old typewriter hearkening back to the 1900s, and the antique gramophone. The spendthrift in me was determined to wreak havoc in the store and my wallet. After a good part of two hours spent whittling my list of “essential items” down from twelve to four, I decided to walk away with a charming paisley cushion, a wall hanging (very cool, lace stretched over an embroidery hoop) and a teal colored memory box fashioned like a treasure chest. My room looks all the better for it. But more on the Crompton Collective (as this article is not devoted to my shopping habits and good taste). They feature 81 vendors and are said to sell 5,000 items any given month, which speaks for the variety and the success of the store.

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The building itself has a great deal of history to its name, complementing the character of the marketplace. It was built in 1860 by George Crompton, an inventor who is most famous for his patent of the Crompton Loom, which was invented in Worcester. This invention helped his textile business flourish, transforming Worcester from an idyllic New England town to an industrial hub. Fittingly, the Crompton Collective celebrates this history by its focus on vintage goods and local products, and is boosting the local economy and culture as a result. Amy Chase, the genius behind the Crompton Collective, has long been an avid fan of thrift stores, yard sales and vintage retailing. Incidentally, she is Boston’s first Fashion Blogger. Her passion is reflected in the selection of items, the arrangement of displays and the commitment to honor local talent.

The Crompton Collective truly celebrates all that is local and has much more to offer beyond antiques and collectibles. The White Room at Crompton is an über-cool, multipurpose space available for hosting events such as weddings and baby showers. The team behind the Collective even offer décor and design services for such events. The Canal District Farmers Market is arguably the most popular event held in the space. Held all year round, the market is open every Saturday between 9am-12pm and on Thursday nights from 4pm-7pm in July and August. The markets teems full of fresh local produce, and offers goods such as cheese, eggs, meats, fish, breads, pastries, chocolate, and wine for good measure. The summer has additional features, such as free horse and wagon tours around the Canal District. The Crompton Collective hosts a plethora of other events, such as book clubs, photo shoots, parties, knitting nights, jewelry making and clothing swaps.

Whatever your tastes or interests maybe, the Crompton Collective is bound to have some jewel to make your mouth water and your heart leap in (consumeristic) ecstasy. Go on, check it out, and shop Worcester!

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Find the Crompton Collective online, through their website, Facebook (www.facebook.com/CromptonCollective), Twitter (@ShopCrompton), Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/punkystyle/crompton-collective) or Instagram (@shopcrompton)

Themal Ellawala

A Song of Grace: Pastor Judy on saving the lives of LGBTQ asylum seekers – Part 2

Pastor Judy Hanlon and I met up at Peppercorns to discuss her work as a minister and a LGBTQ+ advocate. There was a moment of silence as our food arrived. We both took a moment to breathe in the aroma and dig into our meal, but she resumed our conversation soon afterwards.

“My work with the LGBTQ Asylum started after this experience with helping Marcus*. Our work gained momentum from this point. What started off as a church initiative soon became financially unsustainable—we had so many needing help. So we decided to expand it to a community organization and named it the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force (www.lgbtasylum.org). We work to provide asylum seekers to housing, food, clothing, transportation and support systems. My work is mostly with helping these people overcome the wounds of religious persecution. These are hurts that aren’t healed by any federal or state department, and rightfully so due to the separation of church and state. But that means that someone has to try to fill that void, and it is my passion to celebrate their whole identity and preach a loving message against the thousands of hate-filled religious systems.

“I won’t lie, it is hard work. Our work has gained a lot of attention, and we are flooded with appeals for help but, sadly, not the same level of financial support. Having to refuse people help, knowing what they’re being condemned to is beyond horrifying—that’s what keeps me up at night. There was a time when all the stories—account after account of torture, rape and sheer cruelty—weighed me down. I wondered, what is the point of what I do? How can I make it all right? I felt guilty for enjoying life when all around the world, people were losing everything that they had. One particular story haunted me. This girl from Uganda, Joan*, grew up with her father because her mother died during childbirth. The two of them were inseparable. Although beating children is common in Uganda, her father never once laid a finger on her. The girl went to an all-girls boarding school, which is when she realized that she was attracted to women. When she reached a marriageable age, her father began to arrange suitors to visit so that she could marry and be provided for in his old age. She turned them down one after the other on various pretexts, ‘till finally she sat him down and told him that she was a lesbian. That day he beat her bloody, up and down the entire house. When the blows finally stopped she crawled into bed, but it wasn’t over. Her door was left open in the night, and three men came in to gang rape her. Corrective rape is accepted and common in a shocking number of countries. They knocked her teeth into her mouth and broke her leg, yet she still found the strength to crawl out and get to her grandmother’s house. It was there that she gave birth to her child, conceived during that night of torture. Although she tried to find a job, her father would tell all her employers that she was a lesbian, hoping to reform her in some way. And then her grandmother died, which convinced her to hand her child over to her father in hope that he would care for it. She went to Egypt as a domestic worker and served a family faithfully for four years until they all traveled to California, which is when she realized this was her chance to escape. She did. Armed with the $300 she had saved, she went to the station and boarded a bus to Boston. This is why I believe in a higher power, for this girl had no idea what or where Boston is, but decided unknowingly to come so close to us, one of the few if not the only groups doing such work in America. In Boston, she couch surfed from one house to another till she came to Worcester, and to our doorstep. Today, she is in regular contact with her child, has a job and a car, and is working to bring her little boy and her partner from Uganda to the USA. I pray with her frequently and I am amazed by her one wish, which is to find the strength to forgive her father.

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“So, you see how it could take a toll on you? But I’ve learned to focus on each day and each act. That’s what keeps you sane. And I understand that I am truly blessed. I learn so much about the world and its people from this work. On our way to church on Sunday morning, my grandkids and I usually pick up some of the asylum seekers/parishioners. This has become so normal for the kids. They ask these folk to talk in local dialects of Zambia and Jamaica, and they listen to the happy chatter with glee. My grandson once asked me why our gay friends had to leave their country. I tried to explain to him that in some countries there are presidents who set rules that put gay people in prison. The next time all of our asylum seekers met up at my house to talk about their dreams and goals in life, my grandson piped in that he wants to be the President of the United States and put all the other presidents who don’t like gay people in prison. When I explained to him that he would be doing exactly what those presidents have done to gay people, he gave it some thought and said that he would release them after three days, give them a talking to and a second chance! The rest of the group just watched and cried. That is what I’m thankful for, that my grandkids won’t grow up to be ignorant and homophobic, or say ‘learn our language’ or ‘leave our country.’

“These asylum seekers are incredibly grateful for our work, yet they have a tough time adjusting to the circumstances. You see, it’s the people with money and resources who can flee their countries and travel to the U.S. We have doctors and lawyers selling all of their belongings and arriving at our doorstep. It’s quite a transition, going from those circumstances to eating at a food pantry or a soup kitchen, or juggling three jobs a day looking after the elderly. I am honored to see their determination. Everyone brings their gifts to our congregation. People sing, play music, read Scriptures and even preach. One of them, Vanessa*, a beautiful transgendered woman, performs the most graceful sign language in our services… it’s like a dance. They challenge our most deep-rooted prejudices. Our community is all the more richer thanks to them.

“One of the most difficult learning curves for many of our immigrants is adapting to the racism that is American. We have even experienced racism in the LGBTQ+ community. We visited the Northampton Pride Parade one time, wearing paper bags over our heads to symbolize how others in the world have to hide their identities. Yet, Vanessa would have none of that. She decided to enjoy the celebration in her rather revealing outfit, as this is something she never got to experience at home. We were catcalled! It was by a handful, but it was appalling. After the parade was over a lesbian couple walked by us, and I asked them if they wanted a pamphlet. One of them stopped and simply said, ‘Go home.’ I tried to explain what our organization was but she kept saying ‘Go home’ with several choice expletives added in for good measure. As they walked away I called out and said, ‘Somebody stuck up for you one day’ and she turned around and gestured rudely at me. And the only explanation I could come up with was that all of us, with the exception of me, were black! The LGBTQ+ community is very vocal when it comes to the rights of Americans and contribute to causes like marriage equality, but when it comes to helping ‘the other’, there’s still a great deal of racism in the picture. Don’t get me wrong, they are a huge supporter of our work, but the community isn’t as inclusive as we would like to think it is. I pray for the day when this changes, and all Americans become more accepting.

“But at the end of the day, I think the LGBTQ+ community is our biggest hope. We humans, we draw these arbitrary lines in the sand, by gender, race, color, sexuality. Over time it gets worse and worse. It takes communities like LGBTQ+ to blur those lines and bring us closer to becoming a collective whole. I would like to think that things would get better with time. That’s what gives me, all of us, the hope to march on.”

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For more information, visit www.lgbtasylum.org. To help us share this story, copy the link and post on social media.

 

Themal Ellawala

 

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals

 

A Song of Grace: Pastor Judy on saving the lives of LGBTQ asylum seekers – Part 1

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Pastor Judy Hanlon was waiting at Peppercorns when I arrived a minute behind schedule. She cut off my profuse apologies with a beaming smile and a quick assurance that she is generally always late. Our conversation began on an unusual note with her questioning me, the interviewer, on my story. Within minutes I felt like we had known each other for years. As our food arrived, we decided to change tracks. She asked me, “So, what do you want from me?” I said that I wanted to know her story. What followed was one of the most remarkable accounts I have ever heard.

I was born in Indiana, the second child of seven. My father was a Pentecostal minister, so the church was a big part of my childhood. Playing piano, singing with my family, and being in Sunday school – I loved it. But growing up, I always struggled with ethics. One example: my father would always preach that it’s a sin to work on Sundays. I remember this one time we were getting food at a restaurant after church and Margaret, our waitress, served up my cheeseburger. The little girl in me loved her dearly, so I took this all in and burst into tears. When my parents asked me what was wrong I told them through my sobs, ‘Margaret is going to hell because she had to make me a cheeseburger.’ My parents couldn’t understand what was wrong—they couldn’t connect what they preached at the pulpit with the moment.

I remember this teacher I had in 7th grade who was teaching us critical thinking. We would come up with a hypothesis and try to defend it, all those things. So I raised my hand and volunteered my theory ‘All black people are dirty.’ My teacher wrote it down and then asked me to justify it. So I said ‘Because my father says so.’ He countered it by saying that it’s an opinion. I then said that the Bible says so, to which he said that the Bible is a translation. He challenged each and every answer I gave. I travelled to Gary, Indiana, saw all the African Americans living in slums, and tried to use that as proof. This guy was such a good teacher, he checked with the city authorities and found out that all of the slums were owned by White Americans. He then asked me if it was fair to say that all white people are slumlords. My 7th grade mind was forced to dig deeper. This was how I began to really look at everything around me and question right and wrong.

After leaving my job of 25 years at Verizon with $3,000 to study anything at all, I began to wonder what I wanted to do in life. I knew I was deeply interested in theology, philosophy and sociology. This realization led me to seminary, where I studied and got the opportunity to preach at churches. It was about then that I was made an offer to record some music I had written and to produce an album. I had just got home from a meeting with some musicians in New York, and I checked my answering machine and heard the recording from Hadwen Park Church in Worcester asking to meet with me about becoming their pastor. I was convinced that I was the next big Christian music hit, so I wasn’t too inclined to say yes. However, I did. And for your information, they never called me back about my music!judy3

Looking back, I know I made the absolute right choice. I love the church, I love the congregation, and the United Church of Christ provides an ethos where questioning is honored and dissent is expected. We are a progressive denomination—we leave our doors open to all. The church is interested in the stranger at the gate… in celebrating every faith, tradition, gender identity, sexual orientation, race and all the diversity in our world. I pray with Muslims, and I leave out the part about Jesus and say Allah instead; the God spirit exists and we share in that moment. I became the senior minister of the church in 2000 and a few years later, we openly declared for marriage equality. We seek justice and righteousness, which isn’t glorifying oneself and condemning others. If we have rights that others don’t, we work toward change. When my partner Glenn and I were considering marriage, I preached from the pulpit that if my gay congregation members didn’t have the right to marry that I wouldn’t exercise my right to it either. I marched for equal marriage in Boston and was a part of the ‘Equal Marriage: The Freedom to Marry Coalition in Massachusetts.’ I remember marching against lines and lines of Catholic buses, all there to protest our cause. I was called the ‘daughter of perdition!’ (She laughs it off, but there’s no mistaking the proud gleam in her eyes). I remember thinking that they looked so angry and bitter, while our side of the fence had so much joy. We were all smiling and laughing. I was singing all I could. (Here, she breaks into a spirited rendition of “Jesus Loves Me,” complete with snapping fingers and arms waving in the air). I was invited to speak on a panel before the legislature at the State House, and the speaker before me said that he used to be gay but had changed with God’s help. He questioned marriage equality by asking ‘what next, two men and a woman, two women and a man, two men and an elephant?’ which I found to be so terribly demeaning. So in my speech I spoke of how I counsel gay couples the same way that I counsel anyone else, to love one another and bring out the best in each other. I ended by saying ‘And never in my life have I had to counsel an elephant!’

It was in 2007 that my work with the LGBTQ Task Force began. We had a young gay man, Marcus*, who fled Jamaica and came to America seeking asylum. Many of our asylum seekers imagine America to be a promised land, where everyone accepts and welcomes minority, homosexual immigrants. It was once he came here that he realized that life would be no easier, even though freedom was worth it all in the end. Asylum seekers have enormous challenges that they need to overcome. They arrive at our shores after going through incredible trauma, with no protected legal status. They don’t have access to free legal advice and they are not allowed to work by law. Generally immigrants coming to America find refuge in the communities of people from their home country, yet LGBTQ asylum seekers cannot do that as they would face the same cultural stigma and abuse from which they fled. So, they are often homeless. After finding an attorney and finally getting a hearing to plead their case, which can take years, they must prove in courts that they are gay! These are people who have been terrified by their family, friends and neighbors so deep into the closet that they haven’t come to terms with their sexuality themselves! It was these problems that Marcus dealt with, which led him to believe his religious past that told him he was an abomination, hated by God. In his church in Jamaica, he had been singled out as a sinner by the minister and had been surrounded and prayed on by the entire congregation. His attorney called me for help, and I knew that I had to do something. I sat down with him and discussed all the persecution he had experienced and told him that they were wrong. We went through the scriptures and I tried to explain that homosexuality is not condemned in any way. Rather, the scriptures frown upon immoral sexual behavior, which anyone, gay or straight, could get up to. The cataclysmic moment occurred in the middle of a service, when he got up to the altar, curled up in a ball and began sobbing in pure primal anguish. The entire congregation watched in shocked sympathy, but one man – a big, straight teddy bear of a man – strode up to the altar and cradled him in his arms. I will never forget that moment. Everyone watched this transformative scene through their tears. That was when Marcus reconnected with a diverse and loving God, through the comfort and acceptance of the community.

…to be continued in Part II

Themal Ellawala

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals

The women in Pink

The world around us changing, in ways that we don’t fathom. Yes, we are on the path of globalization, where cultural and ethnic boundaries are blurring and more people are becoming aware and offering a helping hand to the people in need all around the world. But there is still a majority of the world so deeply rooted to their cultures that it hinders progress and suppresses some members of their own community. To tackle this we need the local people to be aware of their surroundings and fight injustices.

A women’s group in India is doing exactly but with a twist. They are taking the stereotypical concept of gangsters but reversing what the word gangster stands for. What does it stand for literally? It’s a Hindi word, Gulaabi= pink/rose.

They even have their own official website, where they keep updating everyone on their progress. This is how they describe themselves: ‘The Galati Gang is an extraordinary women’s movement formed in 2006 by Sampat Pal Devi in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. This region is one of the poorest districts in the country and is marked by a deeply patriarchal culture, rigid caste divisions, female

illiteracy, domestic violence, child labor, child marriages and dowry demands. The women’s group is popularly known as Gulabi or ‘Pink’ Gang because the members wear bright pink saris and wield bamboo sticks. Sampat says, “We are not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice.”

Besides from doing Moral work, they concentrate on economic independence for these women and therefore are looking to venture into this line of work.

They even provide services for weddings. According to them, they provide facilities for a complete wedding within the local community with cost-effective solutions to cater to the modest means of the community. The wedding industry in India is huge and the rural market is an untapped source and provides for a potential opportunity in the field especially for women. Indian wedding industry surpasses others in terms of culture /traditions, especially in Uttar Pradesh where religious ceremonies and rituals are done with great devotion and for long hours. The services will include tailoring bridal trousseau, catering for guests, flower arrangements, henna –make-up application.

Their work hasn’t gone unnoticed and they have been recognized by multiple organizations and have received many awards. Some of them are:

1) Godfrey Phillips Bravery Awards: For the States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi, for the Social Bravery category.

2) The Kelvinator 11th GR8! Women Awards: Is an initiative of The Indian Television Academy, these Awards conferring honor and recognition on Women Achievers from all walks of life, annually. The 2nd Kelvinator award is to be given in Feb. 2012.

They have been recognized worldwide too. There have international publications dedicated to them.

1) A Book by Anne Berthod, “Moi, Sampat Pal, chef de gang en sari rose (I, Sampat Pal, gang leader in a pink sari),” published in France, October 2008. It has been translated in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese

2) The award-winning film, “Pink Saris” by Kim Longinotto, UK, has been screened at several film festivals.

These women may not be the most educated or well spoken, but they have saved lives of thousands of people - not just in their village. They are role models to numerous little girls who grow up in oppressive patriarchal and abusive surroundings. If there were more of these gangs, the world would be a much better place to live in today!