The Impact of Yoga

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that originated in India, speculated to date back to pre-Vedic times. Yoga comprises of a disciplined method for attaining a goal, and has techniques of controlling the body and the mind. It is a great way to exercise as it increases muscle flexibility, body strength, and improves respiratory and circulatory health. Eventually, yoga was introduced to the Western countries by Indian yoga gurus, following the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was the first Hindu teacher to actively advocate and disseminate aspects of yoga to a western audience, and visited Europe and the United States in the 1890s for the same.

yoga1.jpg(Source)

The rapid spread of yoga throughout the Western world is news to no one, but its impact on emerging nations is something to take note of. According to numerous studies and extensive research, it has been predicted that if the emerging nations aim to obtain the wealth and technology they desire, it is likely they will eventually discover the same shocking revelation that Americans have discovered: They are still not happy.

It has often been said that Americans are depressed and stressed out. What can be deduced from this is that our careers, cars, smart phones, and even our flat-screen TVs will not ultimately make us happy, healthy, or feel like we live a meaning life.

One of the great hopes in all this is that in the past decade there has been a huge upsurge in people embarking on self-examination. People are again asking the big question, “What is this life about?” And no matter how hard we may try to deny it, the answer we are left facing is a spiritual one.

Because of this reawakening, thousands of people are accepting yoga not only as exercise, but also as an alternative to the experience of a spiritual gathering they cannot find elsewhere. Perhaps the reason for this lies in the chief difference between religion and Western-style yoga, and that is that yoga is usually offered in a non-dogmatic format, which makes it inclusive to many more people. Because of its message of healing, unity and a simpler life, yoga may be one of the great rays of hope for our future. Why? Because worldwide, yoga is being embraced primarily by college students, the upper middle class section, and businesspeople in positions of power – the very strata of society that has the power to make the changes this world so desperately needs.

There is one organization based in Worcester which is doing exemplary work in the field of yoga. Ivy Child International is a non-profit organization that provides cross-cultural health education and psychological services for children, families, and communities. It offers free yoga classes during the summer for people of all ages! The very popular event called Yoga in the Park has been running every summer for about 4 years now.

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Participants doing yoga at Fuller Family Park last year

(Source: Ivy Child International)

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People of all ages participate! Many pregnant ladies are seen doing yoga as well, since it is beneficial for health.

(Source: Ivy Child International)

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A few members of the volunteer team who helped organize the event.

(Source: Ivy Child International)

This year, Yoga in the Park will be held every Wednesday and Saturday beginning June 1st, 2016 in the Worcester Commons. On Wednesdays, the event is from 12-1pm and on Saturdays it will be form 10-11am. All the yoga classes will be uniquely themed each time to keep the interest and the momentum going. The Ivy Child team will provide free water, sell some merchandise, and host a face painting booth for kids as well.

The team also plans to distribute short surveys to access the value and demand for this event so that they can tailor future events better suited to what the community members want.

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As we all know, Clark students who stay back in Worcester for jobs and internships often need some recreational activities to keep them occupied during the summer days! Ivy Child’s Yoga in the Park is a great way to connect with nature while exercising. I hope to see some of you there!

-Nidhi

Cover photo source: Jano India

 

 

 

No space for love in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is currently suffering from, perhaps not a wave but more of a persistent flood of extremist attacks, manifesting in the form of assassinations of various free-thinking, secular or atheist bloggers, publishers, writers and journalists. While this trail of blood may be linked to a point of origin with the murder of blogger Avijit Roy in February last year, this is something that has existed under the surface of Bangladeshi society for much longer. Conservatism, the quashing of more progressive ideals, rising belief in Islamic homogeneity, and a vicious intolerance for anything that does not fit the Sunni, Bengali Muslim identity. As mysterious men, armed with machetes chip away further and further at all opposing ideologies with violence, the space for liberal and progressive ideals in my country is disappearing. The latest in this bloody spree of “divine” executions came on April 25, when gay rights activists and editor of the country’s first and only LGBT magazine, Xulhaz Mannan, along with his friend, colleague, and fellow activist, Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were brutally murdered by unknown assailants, linked with larger, global Islamic terrorist outfits.

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The two murdered activists – Xulhaz Mannan (left) and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy (right)

(Source: Dhaka Tribune)

Mannan started the magazine, Roopbaan, to promote LGBT rights in Bangladesh. This by itself is an amazing achievement in such a conservative country. In the face of such disapproval and adversity, Roopbaan took off in 2014. Long an advocate in the development sector, especially working with LGBT rights, Mannan’s work went from strength to strength. In fact, on 14 April 2015, when Mannan successfully organized a “rainbow rally”, Bangladesh’s version of a pride parade, during the Bengali New Year celebrations, for a second, Bangladesh’s liberals believed again that the country was moving forward and for the LGBT community, especially the gay and lesbian communities who are legally oppressed, it was a landmark achievement – an announcement that these people not only exist, but are unafraid to stand up and be counted, as people, in Bangladeshi society. For me as well, long having been frustrated by regular news of tragedy, misfortune, oppression and intolerance, reading about the “rainbow rally”, during the New Year celebrations no less, brought me immense pride, and in one of those rare moments, I may have felt something akin to patriotism.

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Pride parade in Dhaka, 2015

(Source)

I could swell with pride for how far my country has come, and like the rest of Bangladesh’s liberals, once a proud tradition in its own right, feel hope for the future. Mannan’s murder feels like a nail on the coffin for a dream that I once thought could be reality.

This dream now seems a long way away. This year, the second “rainbow rally” was cancelled due to death threats and intimidation from a section of society that cannot bring themselves to respect (or even tolerate) other human beings. And the worst part is, this seething hate is winning. And we, Bangladesh as a nation, are allowing it to win. A Buddhist monk had his throat slit earlier this week. University professors, a profession held in such high esteem in my society, are being hacked down for no good reason. The violence is more senseless than usual. The government refuses to acknowledge that we have a terrorist crisis on our hands for fear that we start remembering that their role in how we got here. So they tell us that these murders are unrelated. That we should stay quiet. They tell us to be silent and let hate win. But for Xulhaz, for the LGBT community in my country that have now had to flee for their safety, we cannot. The pride parade is a symbol of love triumphing over everything else, and I hope, for our sake, I see it next New Years. Only then will I remember the dream that me, Xulhaz and everyone that looks forward and looked forward in my country once dreamt.

-Bareesh

Cover photo source: Wikipedia Commons

Humans of Bombay

First of all, Bombay is now known as Mumbai, (Bombay was the official name until 1995, but many people are still attached to it) and is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Being the financial, commercial, and entertainment capital, it is the most populous city in India. Just as USA is a ‘land of opportunities’ for people all over the world, Mumbai is the same for those Indian citizens who don’t have the means or the want to travel abroad. Mumbai’s business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over India, making the city a melting pot of many communities and cultures.

Now, we have all heard of Humans of New York, but what is Humans of Bombay?

Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s widely shared photo blog, Humans of New York, Karishma Mehta’s Humans of Bombay offers an insightful view of Mumbai through a people-led photo series. The 24-year-old street photographer and city chronicler who started Humans of Bombay in January 2014 says, “I love being the point of contact between someone who tells a story and the ones who like to listen.”

A firm believer in the philosophy that everyone has a story, Mehta, a self-taught photographer, is known for sharing vignettes of everyday life in Mumbai. The photo-blog has over 600,000 followers and has garnered a great amount of acclaim for its beautifully captured portraits and anecdotes of thousands of people of Mumbai. And now, you can have the heartwarming anecdotes and pictures as a beautiful coffee table book. Humans of Bombay, written by Mehta, features 100 never-seen-before images, besides popular gems that chronicle everyone from a nonagenarian couple’s ultimate love story to a philanthropic cab driver’s life.

An exceptional read, it tells you tales of people of different walks of life with utmost ingenuity and is a real page turner. In an interview, she talks about her experiences of how this journey started and the stories that really moved her:

The most important life lesson Humans of Bombay has taught you?
The whole journey for me has been about following my passion. I was a business and economics major, and not a trained photojournalist. So I believe that if you follow your passion, things will come to you. It’s just a feeling I started with—holding on to my passion—and it’s something that has been validated after meeting all these people.

The story that moved you the most?
I spoke to a woman who shared with me an intimate story of her time in an abusive relationship and how she got out of it. Over time, we have become great friends. And back then she offered one of the best advice—don’t rush into a marriage.

How do you decide who makes it to the book or the blog?
I feel that every person has a story. In fact, every person I’ve shot till date has been part of my series or the book. Over the years, I’ve mastered this art of extracting stories. In Mumbai, people are always in a rush, so typically they don’t speak longer than two-three minutes, but sometimes conversations get intense and go on for 45 minutes. Some can even be emotionally draining for the speaker and listener. So I start my conversations with “Hi, can I talk to you for two minutes?” and listen without judgment, hoping they open up and find it comforting.

Here are some excerpts from the book:

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When I was 14, I used to talk to boys; drive motor cycles, smoke cigarettes and people in Bandra would often call me a whore because of those things. I never understood the term back then, but sure if doing all those things made me a whore– I’d take it gladly. After my father’s death, I moved to Chicago where there were so many like me and it gave me the freedom to get inked, experiment with my hair and just be myself.

One Christmas Eve in Chicago, I walked out of a bar alone late at night in a short dress and red lipstick. I was 24 and had been drinking, when from a dumpster, a group of guys walked up to me and put a gun to
my head asking me to give them blow jobs, eventually leading to gang rape. I remember walking home, showering and pushing this incident to the back of my mind for years and never letting it break my spirit – I still wear short dresses and the brightest red on my lips.

In years to come, I got married to my high school sweetheart, faced domestic violence and walked out of the marriage wondering how this could happen to ME, a feminist? It’s because sometimes there are things that are beyond your control. We live in a world where everyone stresses the importance of voicing yourself or walking out of tough situations, but I just want to say this – no one wants to be beaten up, get raped or sell their bodies.

It took me 20 years to voice my incident, but for me a woman keeping it all within her because she has no other choice isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a mark of strength and something we need to start respecting.”

 HOB_2.jpg

I’m an 80 year old unmarried woman, and at this stage all I really want is a reason to be happy every day.

What’s that reason for you?

I’m my biggest reason to be happy…celebrating the fact that I’m here, alive and healthy. I don’t think happiness depends on whether you’re married or not, unlike what the Indian society thinks. I’m living with my sister and niece and every single day we’re doing new things to grow and I think that’s what happiness is about– growth and appreciating how fantastic life is.

What are you appreciating today?

The huge piece of cake I’m going to be having after dinner!

HOB_3.jpg

I’ve loved painting since I was a little boy and adding color to people’s lives whichever way I can, gives me immense happiness. A few years ago after we finished painting a bungalow the owner took us to a restaurant to celebrate. This had never happened to any of us before– usually we don’t even meet the owner, the contractor pays us off and that’s it.
I was mesmerized because it was the first time I had even seen a fancy restaurant from the inside and given respect. All my life I had eaten only tea and bread, but that day we ate paneer and daal. That has been the highlight of my life, and I pray for that man every single day.

For more poignant stories of Bombay, follow this link:

https://www.facebook.com/humansofbombay/

-Nidhi

Photo source: Humans of Bombay

 

 

 

A year at Clark from my eyes

What a year has passed by!!!

The year has ended in a blink of an eye. Everything flew by so fast. For a whole year, I have learned and met a lot of people. Thanks to them, I became more attached to Clark, my second home. Clark has handed me a chance to experience so many new things. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where I am from, all year round is summer. The weather is always hot and humid. In Clark or Worcester, every season is so different, and I can feel that every time I walk out of my dorm.

My story began in the summer when I first arrived at Clark during Orientation. The weather is nice and hot, but not as hot as Vietnam’s. My peer advisors and the people I met at Clark were so friendly; they guided me in every way I needed to get adapted to a new place, which is so far away from home. I was lost at first, and never knew where I belong to until I met some people who would later become my best friends.

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The photo was taken during the first week of Orientation

Before school started, I took a ride around Worcester with two new people I made friend with. We rode to City Hall and the area around. Worcester is old and historic, which clarifies the fact of being near Boston, one of the oldest cities in the United States that witnessed many revolutions. Worcester draws a picture of an old city on the way to innovation. There are sites under construction around, but the majority of the buildings wear an antique reddish color of the bricks. I was surprised and a little disappointed when I compared those sites with other scenes filmed at nice cities from some Hollywood movies I have watched all my life. The reality is different.

However, I did not spend much time on thinking about it as classes began. I was occupied with homework and clubs. Every start demanded effort to become used to the routine of going to classes, clubs, and even school. I made more friends, and we did many activities together. Time flew as the wind blows when fall came and went, leaving my friends and I special holidays so that we had time to understand each other more. We planned on trips together to New York and Boston on Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. The times outside school strengthened our relationships when we experienced new things together. To some of us coming from Asian countries, snow is something really special because we have never seen this before. Like children, we played with snow and built snowmen. However, somewhere in my deep soul, I felt a tingle of sadness as this time is for family gathering. I started to miss home, and friends are people I sought during those times.

With some snow showers at the beginning of the year followed by rainy days, spring has come to this land bringing new promises. Work at school became less stressful as I got used to the way Clark worked during the fall semester. I was more active in class and hung out more often with friends. I might have done more things, but to what I remember now, Spree Day was another amazing day as it marked the end of this school year. It was great to have a day off and the school turned into a recreational park with inflatable games, food, and music.

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Then, finals came and we never had much time to play until our last exam finished. It‘s too fast!

It all ended in the same place it started. I said goodbye to my friend and this year at Clark at this summer. My whole year is like a full cup filled with both joy and sadness. Everyone took a different route in the summer, but we understand that “All good things must come to an end”. However, in our heart, we know that it is just a beginning of our long distance relationship with Facebook and Skype and we will soon reunite.

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I saw my friend off when she was about to took off to the airport 

– Anh

All photos were provided by the author.

Leaving and Longing

I do not remember the time or the place. It might have been Bangalore, Kolkata, Shillong, Chennai, Mussoorie, Berlin, Paros, Brooklyn or Worcester. It might have been at a park, a mall, a wedding, a hospital, or even at a bar. Despite the many possibilities, there was always a time when certain places would generate an awkward reaction in me, as if something was not familiar. At some point, this innate angst would verbally blurt out: “I just want to go home.”

As I have come to realize, there was always a home to get back to, regardless of its geographical status. It did not have to be my grandparents’ house. It did not have to be my parents’ house either. As long as there was the comfort of familiarity and a cozy bed, it did not have to be a specific place. My ongoing narrative, has been one filled with many homes. Although I have always felt at home, the distorted inner self I face as I break free from familiarity towards new adaptations, my journey to a “Home” has been perplexing.

(Diary Entry 1)

Date: June 2, 2012

Event : High School Graduation

Place: Woodstock School Gymnasium, Mussoorie, India.

Time: 11:53 am

Action: Walking down the aisle towards school Principal to receive the diploma.

Thought: “Run! Run!”

It was my laziness that first compelled my diary entries to be as short as the one replicated above. Even so, I take pride in these entries’ ability to evoke the exact emotions I had experienced, enabling me to analyze the psychological traumas I was facing or lack thereof. In retrospect, this excerpt exaggerates a general emotion in my life, one generated by the fear of leaving. I loved boarding school. I was a part of it just as it had become a part of me. Even so, I was to leave. Graduation was a challenge, leaving behind everything that I knew. At that very moment, receiving a diploma meant cutting the cord, disconnecting myself from the two year old womb that had become my sanctuary.

The fight-or-flight response has been a topic of much intrigue for me. While Walter Bradford Cannon used the example of the animal kingdom to explain this reaction to traumatic situations, my High School Graduation aided me to personally and socially understand the concept. Although such an event is not as traumatic as facing a hungry predator. It was more of a predicament, which often arouses psychological trauma. I was a coward and like most members of my species, I was afraid of leaving behind familiarity, afraid of change. What I now infer is the curious ability of our primal instincts to jolt a decisive reaction within us when facing a predicament, to choose between dealing with it or evading it. We all have to either fight for familiarity or choose against it. Despite this psychological curiosity being an open-ended topic, I close my diary because I, at that moment, I had no other choice but to leave. Yet leaving behind also creates a hole in one’s inner being.

A year after high school, I decided to travel across Europe. As the nature of my journal writing changed, so did my method at introspection:

 

(Diary Entry 2) Saudade

I was browsing the Internet whilst sitting on a ransacked chair by the ransacked backyard of a ransacked hotel in Athens. Then I saw this woman on the yard: a mop of thick curly hair and a pashmina around her neck. This same woman had shared the same flight with me and had been reading a newspaper at a café whilst I was wandering around Piraeus. I had seen her twice that day. So I barged on, said, “Hi.” Startled, she looked at me, recognized my face and said, with a thick French accent, “You again.” Laughing at our coincidences, we exchanged a little more information. She was a Brazilian living in Paris. I told her I was a traveler of sorts, so was she. Oddly enough, there was no need to know more about each other. So we decided to try learning a few words in Greek. Ef̱charistó̱ is Thank you. I guess that was about enough for the both of us. But I had to learn a little more. So I asked her about her most favorite word in Portuguese. She said: “Oh that is very easy. Saudade!” I asked her what it meant. She said, “I don’t know. Maybe sadness. Maybe longing. Very difficult.” I immediately reach for my laptop and run a Google search. Wikipedia: “It roughly describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.” My reaction: “Man, that is something deep.” She replied, “True. But that is still inaccurate.”

Saudade. I cannot even begin to wrap myself around its definition. True, in geo-cultural terms perhaps, this word could be aligned with Portuguese tradition. A tradition bound by a history of voyages where desire for new discoveries meant an almost assured absence from loved ones. But what did it even mean to long for an absence? Why could I feel the tension of emotion that such a word portrayed, even now? As humans, the emotions we feel when we leave a certain familiarity stirs up a concoction of feelings we thought we’d understood. Only, when these feelings do come up to the surface, there is but little we can do to understand them. The emotions we feel are constantly bound by our own personal histories. They are truly unique, truly individualistic emotions.

Having left behind family and friends. Surely, Saudade would have to be overcome. I just wouldn’t understand whether I actually even went through experiencing it or not. I do not know any Portuguese. But it is true that the emotions we feel, span across an array of things that are undefined. In Worcester, college will and has triggered happiness. But it too will eventually be lost. I cannot wait to learn, experience and grow through the emotions that college charges me with. Yet, still there is assured loss, one to be safely tucked within memories. And I move on from another home to a new one, the burden of these memories within me, yet aligning myself to stagnant stability seems impossible somehow.

-Fileona

(Cover image by author)

Knowing Sylvia

“Everything in life, I guess. When you do something with passion it comes better than just doing it, you know. Everything in life, I think, is like that.”

These are the words that Sylvia imparts as she is being interviewed while having her much deserved lunch before a staff meeting in break (which is just 30 minutes long). For most of you who do not know her, Sylvia is one of the chefs behind the Kosher Kitchen in Clark’s cafeteria, the one who is always full of smiles and hugs despite her demanding duty. And on 30th of April, she talked to me about love, family and passion over a plate of spaghetti, allowing me to get a glimpse into her inner life.

SDG (me): Hi, Sylvia!

SV (Sylvia): Hello

SDG: And where are you from?

SV: Originally? Israel, from the south of Israel.

SDG: When did you come to America?

SV: 1996.

SDG: What made you come here?

SV: My husband (followed by a giggle). We met in Israel.

SDG: Is he American?

SV: Nope. He’s Israeli, but he moved to America. And then after we moved here he said, “No, no we’re just going to be here for a few months and then we’ll go back.” And then twenty years later, we’re still here.

SDG: So, where is home to you then?

SV: (pondering) Right now, home to me is America. But in my heart, Israel is always gonna be my home.

SDG: Always?

SV: Always. You know it’s where all my family is. Basically over here I have my friends, you know when you don’t have a lot of family around you, you surround yourself with lot of friends and they become to be like your second family. So that’s basically what we have here. We have a lot of friends that came to be like a family.

SDG: Friends from Clark or?

SV: Everywhere. Everywhere, community, where I meet people.

SDG: So how would you describe home then?

SV: Home is where your family originally is (from). You know when I go home to Israel, I feel like I’m more….I belong. You know what I mean? I feel like everywhere, we all have the same craziness, we all have the same attitude and now it’s so funny because after 20 years, I’ve adapted all the behavior of the Americans. So when I go to Israel, people make fun of me like “You’ve become American.” So it’s funny.

SDG: So how long have you been working in Clark?

SV: Four years now.

SDG: Four years? So what made you decide to come to Clark?

SV: They needed someone to cook for their kosher section. So they contacted me actually.

SDG: Have you always been cooking?

SV: No, I was a pre-school teacher for seventeen years before.

SDG: Wow, what made you want to cook?

SV: I’ve always loved to cook, always. In the community, whenever people had something, a party or something, I would volunteer to cook for them. So everybody in the community knew that I know how to cook. So when they were talking about opening the kosher section, the rabbi told them, “Oh, I have a lady for you. She knows how to cook.” So they contacted me and asked me if I could come. And when I came I told them, “You know what, I’ve never studied how to be a cook or whatever,” and they said, “Fine, some people have it, god give it to them.” So I started working and they said, “You know what you’re doing.”

SDG: So do you love what you’re doing?

SV: I love it, I love it. Everyday, I come happy to work, you know. I am waiting to come here. Cause the students… I love the students here. It’s like they became to be my children, you know, I care about them. I want them to eat. I want them to love the food. I don’t want them to just eat because they need to eat. So that’s why I make it more special.

SDG: So what do you think is the important thing when it comes to cooking? Is it the recipe, the ingredients, or what do you think it is?

SV: It’s more…. Everybody can follow a recipe, but it’s not going to be the same. The most important thing is you have to love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, and you don’t care about it, it’s not gonna taste the same. Even if I give someone, let’s say I just take someone from the street and tell them, “Here, that’s my recipe you do it and I’ll do it,” it’s not gonna come out the same. You have to have the passion for it. Yeah, everything in life, I guess. When you do something with passion, it comes better than just doing it, you know. Everything in life, I think, is like that.”

SDG: My last question, if you could eat just one thing for your whole entire life, what would it be?

SV: You’re not gonna believe it. Cereal and milk (laughs). I love cereal and milk.

SDG: What kind of cereal?

SV: Cornflake, exactly. You know what’s so funny? Back in Israel, it was very expensive to buy cornflakes. And I remember, when my parents would buy it we’d be so excited. When I came to America (gasps), there’s so much cornflakes! I don’t know why, I just love it.

After the interview is over, which couldn’t last longer due to her short break, she gives me a big hug and an even bigger smile. Then I realize how similar we are – thousands of miles away from home, yet persevering each day to create a sphere of home in a foreign land. And Sylvia does it so gracefully.

-Sonam

(Cover image by author)

Post-Gala Interview with Professor M. Tsaneva

Professor Magda Tsaneva is a professor in the Economics department at Clark University and holds a PhD in Economics. As this is her first year at Clark University, she had never attended the International GALA, and she had a fresh perspective of the event that has become part of the Clark “culture”. Professor Tsaneva is originally from Bulgaria but has lived in many places around the world.

Q: As a professor that has never seen GALA before, did you have any expectations leading up to it? If so what were they and were they met? Had you seen any videos of past GALA performances?

A: I didn’t really know much about the Gala before attending other than the fact that my students referred to the week leading up to it as “hell week” and half of my students were missing from class during that week. 🙂 So I knew everyone was working really hard for it and was excited to showcase their culture and their talents. I hadn’t seen any videos of past performances so I didn’t really know the format of the show. When I was an undergraduate student at Colby College, however, we did have something similar that we called the International Extravaganza so I myself had participated multiple times in such performances in college.

Q: The theme for this year’s GALA was the GALA Effect. Do you think that the theme translated in the show?

A: I think the Gala was very successful in celebrating diversity because it was in the one universal language that everyone, no matter their background, speaks – the language of music and dance. If that is what the Gala effect is, then I think you guys did a great job.

I liked that you also included groups from the community in order to raise awareness about the refugee and immigrant population in Worcester. And this is probably a better manifestation of the butterfly metaphor you used to describe the Gala effect.

I think if you guys want to keep up with the theme of creating awareness and changing the world, you could consider in the future potentially trying to express things through theater or poetry (to keep up with the performance theme). For example, you could have poems (or book excerpts) read about the immigrant experience, or you could do little theater sketches (with words or no words).

Similarly, I think you could have awareness campaigns through poetry or theater or dance or song for various global issues such as women’s rights, child soldiers, migrant workers, political violence, etc. I think this would be both informative and interesting and it will be more engaging and memorable in the long run because these types of acts are more likely to carry a clear message that people take with them when they leave, a message people want to pass on or live up to or do something about. It was great that we took a couple of moments of silence during the performance, but I doubt anyone leaves remembering what those were about or leaves wanting to do something about it. Because really, the focus of the show was dance and entertainment. This is great and it is needed. I am just sharing my thoughts for the future. 🙂

Q: Did you have any favorite dances, or was any one dance the most memorable performance of night?

A: I think people had put a lot of effort and enthusiasm in all of the performances so I enjoyed watching them all!

Q: What did you think of the GALA hosts and their skits?

A: To be honest, I didn’t think the skits that the hosts did were the best part of the show. I think part of it was that some of the jokes were inside jokes that maybe students knew well and could appreciate but were not as funny for the outsiders. But at the end of the day, you guys are putting this show on for you, too, and it is important that you have fun.

Q: What did you think of the inclusion of an awareness campaign for refugees around Worcester in the program for the first time in the 14 years that GALA has been held?

A: I think it was a great idea to incorporate little segments about refugees and immigrants in the Worcester community. This really speaks to your goal of being inclusive, celebrating diversity, encouraging respect and caring.

I do wish that maybe there was a bit more of a discussion of some of the problems that these groups of people may be facing. I didn’t think the video you showed on Centro and SEAC was really very engaging or informative.

Q: As a professor with an international background, do you think that GALA fulfills its aim of bringing together the cultures on the Clark campus, and giving them a voice through dance to show off their culture?

A: I think you guys had representatives from every region in the world and that was wonderful.

Q: What was your favorite aspect of the show and what was your least favorite aspect of the show?

A: My favorite thing about the show was really the enthusiasm all the students had. The performers were enjoying themselves and the students in the audience was certainly enjoying themselves, too. I think enthusiasm is contagious and that’s a good thing to catch. 🙂

Q: Do you have any final comments on the event as a whole?

A: Congrats on a job well done. I hope to see many more performances in the future!

-Ashleigh

(Cover image credit: Amy Wong. Check out more pictures here!)