The five semesters I’ve been maintaining this blog (or perhaps, the five semesters I’ve been at Hollins) have never quite one as overwhelming as this one was. As I mentioned in a previous post, I overloaded my semester: I took 6 classes (maxing at out 22 credits); participated in Model UN; served as a Student Success Leader, a tour guide, a writing center tutor, a global ambassador. Generally, I pushed myself to the limit.
The thing is, this semester I finally learned that some limits aren’t meant to be pushed; in fact, some limits exist simply to keep you sane.
I don’t want to glamorize overworking myself or making it seem effortless. I found myself constantly exhausted and with little time to myself. In fact, I think there is something entirely insidious about the millennial tendency to act as though we can do everything. I received a glaring wake-up call this semester: no, I cannot.
And the thing is, that’s okay. If nothing else, I learned this semester that spreading myself thin makes it nearly impossible to be my authentic self – isn’t that the thing I loved most about Hollins when I first started attending college? Saying no is part of being true to yourself. I seem to have forgotten that this semester.
Despite the stress of this semester, I had some fantastic times. Here are the highlights of a very busy, never-to-be-repeated, but memorable semester semester:
Serving as a Student Success Leader
As I’ve mentioned countless times, serving as an SSL has been such a rewarding position for me. The class I served as an SSL for was the seminar I took as a first-year, which was incredibly exciting for me! I love seeing the transformation of students from apprehensive high-school graduates to engaged, articulate scholars. I am so proud of Professor Ridley’s “Passion for Power” class for all they have accomplished in the last semester and for all they will accomplish in semesters to come.
A favorite book of mine this summer was Susana Fortes’ Waiting For Robert Capa, a novel about the love affair between Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, two photojournalists during the Spanish Civil War. This October, I had the privilege of spending a couple of days getting to know one of Hollins’ invited lecturers, Professor Faber. Faber is a scholar who studies Capa, Taro, and their colleague David “Chim” Seymour, as well as the themes of trauma and memory in the Spanish civil war and subsequent diaspora to Mexico. It was fascinating to hear a scholarly take on something as emotionally driven as cultural memory. This is definitely a new research interest of mine!
Since I didn’t take pictures during the lecture, here’s a shot of Professor Faber in the documentary “The Mexican Suitcase.” It’s on Netflix and I recommend it highly!
International Studies Potluck
Much to the chagrin (and honestly, probably to the entertainment) of some of the International Studies department professors, my friend Mikaela and I decided to have a little fun and proliferate the notion that the annual IS/Political Science potluck had the theme: “Canada: A Model for Multiculturalism.” We spent a few hours making tiny Canadian flag toothpicks and printing out the words to “O Canada” to hang in the Hollins Room. While initially some professors doubted our enthusiasm, by the end of the night, everyone was quite entertained and the annual potluck was once again a hit!
Tori and I at the potluck
Clearly I was not kidding about the flags
This semester, as a junior, I was able to participate in the wonderful tradition that is Ring Night! For those who don’t know, Ring Night is an annual tradition where Seniors pick Junior sisters and assign them with all kinds of fun tasks catered to the junior’s personality and interests. I was able to choreograph a dance to Taylor Swift [her new album was the soundtrack to this semester], dress up as a Jellicle Cat from the musical “Cats!” [refer to my blog post from last semester about my love of musical theater], and perform as a member of the boyband One Direction, amongst other antics. At the end of the night, each Senior sister is revealed and the Juniors receive a basket full of crafts and goodies. Moreover, instead of only one Senior sister, I ended up having THREE!
Pavithra, the Jellicle Cat
Louis from One Direction
My ring sisters (l to r): Tori, Brenna, and Alex
My incredible ring night basket from my main sisters, half sisters, and honoraries! I was blown away by their generosity and thoughtfulness and cannot wait to spoil a Junior next year with this kind of love.
This November, I participated in American Model United Nations conference in Chicago once again. Representing Tunisia, my friend Angie and I were on the Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC). We discussed strengthening the coordination of humanitarian aid and increasing the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners. Moreover, we made a ton of new friends with similar global interests. I can’t wait to go back next year and represent Bolivia.
L to R: back row – Jaime (Italy), Angie (Tunisia – Hollins), Rebecca (Brazil) front row – Wasim (Brazil), Adrian (Brazil), me (Tunisia)
L to R: Komal (El Salvador), Rebecca (Brazil), Patrick (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Angie (Tunisia), and me (Tunisia)
Voguing during caucus session with Adrian from the Brazil delegation
Finally, the last event of the semester was Winter Ball. My boyfriend Clark attended the ball with me and we had a fantastic time. There is nothing quite like dancing all night with your favorite people to put you in the holiday mood.
Getting ready with Alex
Alex and I before the dance
Obligatory pre-dance picture
A candid of Clark and I at Winter Ball (thanks to my pal Taylor for the picture)
Some other fantastic moments…
Posing with Shaheera and Win on the train in Chicago
Hanging out with Natalie and Alex
Gingerbread house making with Grandma and my sister Preetha over Thanksgiving break
Tori and I on Front Quad
I finally learned how to reverse park (thanks Clark), adjust my tire pressure (thanks Clark), and change my car’s oil (thanks Clark).
Meika and I after Ring Night
A double-date 22nd birthday celebration for Clark and Brenna’s boyfriend Iver at Wasena Taproom in Roanoke. Brenna and I decided birthday hats would be fun.
Late night iHop with Hailey and Taylor
For January term, I decided to take it easier than I have in past J-terms. This year, I am working on an independent study cataloging a literature review on critical pedagogy. The subject has interested me for a while and my advisor, Professor Bohland, encouraged me to spend the month investigating it more because “that’s what J-term is for.” I really appreciate that advice: I’m only 20 and have been taking life way too seriously. I think I have forgotten that Hollins allows me the space to explore my passions; I look forward to doing so in the year to come.