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J-Term 2016

For my last January term at Hollins, I devoted the month to working on my Honors Thesis for my International Studies major. My thesis, which is an examination of the themes of Bolivian president Evo Morales’ political rhetoric and its implications, has been a passion project of mine that developed throughout my undergraduate career. While the thought of producing such a massive text is often daunting, I recalibrate by reminding myself of how proud I am of my research and work. This project is more than a paper for me; it’s a reminder of how hard I have worked during my academic career at Hollins. This project, which I affectionately refer to as Thesis Baby, in some ways provides a denouement to the comprehensive and all-encompassing academic work I have completed while at Hollins.

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This stack of sources is now a constant fixture on my desk

While I have had a fantastic senior year, unexpected health issues cropped up by the end of the semester. Yet, as always, Hollins is an incredibly supportive place; I could not imagine a better place to be when unwell. Aside from working on Thesis Baby, I’ve spent January focusing on self-care and self-love. A pervasive trend amongst my generation is overworking oneself and making it seem effortless, but it is so unhealthy to do so. I’ve spent my J-Term dismantling those notions, focusing on whole body wellness and working to be the best version of myself.

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My New Year’s Resolutions

I am so excited for my last semester to begin. I’m taking a number of classes that seem interesting to me: Survey of Spanish Literature; Social Marketing & Campaigns; Race & Media; Wisdom, Reason, Revelation & Doubt; Batten Leadership Capstone. I will again be working as a Writing Center tutor and as a Global Ambassador for International Program, but I will also be serving as President of Spanish House. In the same way my thesis provides a capstone for my academic work, my involvements this semester are positions I have cared deeply about during my 4 years here.

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What may have been my final campus snow…

It’s bittersweet, knowing that I am approaching graduation and a post-Hollins life. It hits me in waves, carrying my clothes to the laundromat, or laughing with friends at 1 am in the kitchen, or hearing Lift Thine Eyes unexpectedly in Mona Lisa Smile: I so deeply love this place.

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Our beautiful little campus. Photo courtesy of my best friend Hailey Hendrix. 

Here’s to a fantastic final semester…

-P

October

October, I’ve found, always flies by. But this year – this being my last fall semester at Hollins – I tried desperately to embrace it.

So many things happened this month. Here’s an overview:

Fall Formal: This year, Fall Formal was held on Oct 17 at the Hotel Roanoke. I attended formal with my boyfriend Alex. The theme was Casino Royale, and we had a wonderful time dancing and playing casino games! Here are some photos from the event:

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C3: The 4th annual Career Connections Conference was hosted on Oct 19. My most rewarding session was a one-on-one graduate school statement of purpose clinic. I was able to workshop a draft of my statement of purpose with a recent Hollins alumna. It was incredibly helpful to get her feedback!

Taylor Swift: On Oct 21, my big sister and I met up in Greensboro, NC to see Taylor Swift on the last leg of her 1989 World Tour! We had an fantastic time – I had never seen Taylor in concert before.

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Tinker Day: Oct 22 was Tinker Day! As a senior, I knew I had to climb Tinker Mountain (I never had before). So despite being exhausted from the night before, I donned my costume at 7 am and climbed Tinker Mountain with my classmates. Here are some photos from the day!

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selfie with President Gray! :)

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Family Weekend: The following weekend (Oct 23-25) was Family Weekend. As my parents are on the Parents’ Council, I took advantage of the opportunity to see them! Here’s a photo of us at dinner at President Gray’s house

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GPS Potluck: Finally, my favorite event of the season, the Global Politics and Societies Department potluck, fell on Oct 28. I absolutely love the potluck; it provides a refreshing change of scenery to hang out with friends and professors alike and eat delicious food!

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While October was a very busy month, November has a lot in store as well, notably Appalachian Regional Model Arab League this coming weekend and American Model United Nations in Chicago on Nov 21-24th. Senior year is flying by…

-P

First Step

On September 2, students gathered in the DuPont Chapel for Opening Convocation, an annual Hollins tradition during which President Gray (affectionately known as P.Gray) declares the commencement of the academic year. After Opening Convocation, seniors gather around Front Quad, donning their decorated senior robes, and await to take their first steps on the lawn. As per Hollins tradition, only seniors are allowed to walk on the lawn of Front Quad; First Step celebrates the senior class’ first steps onto the Quad and the beginning of their senior year.

This year, I took my first step onto Front Quad. Having spent the summer tirelessly decorating my robe, I was so ready to pop my cider bottle and partake in the festivities!

Here are some photos from the event:

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my best friend Hailey and I after taking our first steps onto Front Quad!

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My decorated robe: “she leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes”

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selfie with PGray

I’m ready for this year. As I’ve mentioned before, I have so many new adventures ahead of me: writing my thesis, going to Saudi Arabia, taking the GRE. But I am also settling into my familiar roles: a member of the Spanish House, a tutor in the writing center, a student success leader for first year students. It’s good to be back.

P

Senior Year

It is my senior year.

I can’t believe that – it is my senior year.

No matter how many times I type it, it doesn’t seem real yet.

After a rough junior year, marked by taking on too much and consequently panicking, I feel an odd, unfamiliar sense of calm: it is my senior year.

And I have so much to look forward to!

This year provides a denouement to many of my undergraduate projects and involvements. I am writing my senior thesis for my International Studies major; of course, I’ll be pulling in critical pedagogy and applying it to Bolivian political rhetoric. I will be finishing my Spanish and communications minors. I will complete my Batten Leadership Institute Certificate capstone seminar.

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SO many sources!

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my thesis aesthetic

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happy little homework space

I will be participating in American Model United Nations again, but also in the National Council for US/Arab Relations (NCUSAR)’s Model Arab League. After participating in the South Eastern Model Arab League conference at Converse College in the Spring of 2015, I had the opportunity to apply for a fellowship offered by NCUSAR…which I ultimately received. Over winter break, I am excited to say that I will travel to Saudi Arabia on a study visit. Once I return from Saudi Arabia, as a part of my fellowship, I have the awesome opportunity to host a number of programs on campus and in the different communities I am a part of to raise interest and awareness of different elements of Saudi and Arab culture, politics, society, and economics. As you can assume, I am so excited for this opportunity.

a picture from SERMAL in March 2015

a picture from SERMAL in March 2015

All in all, I’m trying to suck the marrow out of this year and really embrace what it means to be at a liberal arts university. This is a really special place, and it hits me in waves that it won’t be my home forever. While I am eagerly anticipating moving on to bigger things, I will always get a rush of nostalgia when I pull onto campus, drive up around the loop, and see the view of our cozy little home, nestled comfortably amongst the hills.

lift thine eyes unto the hills

levavi oculos – lift thine eyes unto the hills

P

Spring Break 2015

For the last two years, I’ve spent my week of spring break exploring: I spent my freshman year break as a participant in the Jamaica Cultural Immersion Program and spent my sophomore year break abroad, travelling to Barcelona for the week. This year, I decided to capitalize on the fact that I could go home, so I did.

Still, I do not do well with idle time. I ended up visiting a few grad schools, both close to home and in DC, and visiting my friend Brenna who lives just outside of DC. We visited the Smithsonian for a project for my international tourism class and she took me to a bunch of local eateries.

As I have spent much of my last two years at Hollins exploring the world, I’m glad to take this year to really focus on myself and my future. I’m excited to go to graduate school once I graduate from Hollins in 2016. I would like to study international media and communication and am excited to live in the DC area. Spending some of my time there over break got me really excited for this next chapter in my life and even more motivated to make my Hollins experience count.

With Brenna at Fire Works Pizza in Leesburg, VA

With Brenna at Fire Works Pizza in Leesburg, VA

One of the schools I visited - American University. This is their School of International Service building.

One of the schools I visited – American University. This is their School of International Service building.

I'm realizing I won't be on this beautiful campus for very much longer. Trying to soak it in while I can.

I’m realizing I won’t be on this beautiful campus for very much longer. Trying to soak it in while I can.

-P

Over the last weekend, a few Hollins students including myself participated in the Southeast Regional Model Arab League in Spartanburg, SC! Despite this being all of our first time participating in Model Arab League, we were all very excited about the conference, especially because it was hosted at a fellow women’s college, Converse College.

Hollins students represented Libya on a variety of different councils: the Economic Affairs committee, the Heads of State council, the Joint Defense Council, and the Council for Palestinian Affairs. My friend Emily and I represented Libya on the Council for Palestinian Affairs.

On the Council, we discussed a variety of topics varying from ensuring the accessibility of goods to Palestine, rebuilding infrastructure in the region, addressing mental heath concerns for Palestinians, and evaluating the effectiveness of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

I had a great time at the conference discussing the various issues that the Palestine Authority faces, particularly from a Libyan perspective. Emily and I were honored to receive the award of Outstanding Delegation in our council!

Here are some photos from the weekend:

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The group of Hollins students with President Gray’s portrait at Converse College (she was formerly president of the college). Photo courtesy of Professor Lynch.

Emily and I in the Council on Palestinian Affairs

Emily and I in the Council on Palestinian Affairs. Photo courtesy of Professor Lynch.

Giving an extemporaneous speech during the session.  Photo courtesy of Professor Lynch.

Giving an extemporaneous speech during the session.
Photo courtesy of Professor Lynch.

Council on Palestinian Affairs selfie!

Council on Palestinian Affairs selfie!

-P

Where I Am

Upon reflecting on a difficult semester during the fall, I’ve begun spring semester with a very clear mantra in mind: if it is not useful, beautiful, or joyful, let it go.

Learning how to say “no” has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered at Hollins. There is always a  lot of opportunity to take on responsibilities if you look for it, and in my case, a sense of perceived expectation. This semester I have seriously downsized my list of responsibilities to only a few classes and positions that challenge and excite me.

This semester, I am taking:

SPAN 346, “20th Century Hispanic Literature” – an in-depth study of Spanish playwright Antonio Buero Vallejo’s dramaturgy

COMM 315, “Peace, Conflict, and Media” – a course on media’s role in the initiation of conflict and in the peacebuilding process

COMM 348, “Communication and Culture” – a theory-based course that examines the major communication theories used in analyzing culture

INTL 307, “International Tourism” – a course designed to investigate and critique tourism and tourist studies utilizing critical theory and poststructuralism

POLS 102, “Introduction to International Relations” – a course designed to introduce basic concepts of international politics

After the first two weeks of the semester, I definitely feel as though I have more fully embraced the notion of being present and mindful. I’m at a point where I’m experiencing the beginning of the end of my undergraduate career. Rather than dwell on that and the future, I’d rather enjoy where I am right now.

Part of being present and mindful means I’m generally having a lot more fun! From formals at VMI to sleepovers with Alex to ALWAYS making time for brunch (my favorite meal of the day!), I’m really enjoying life right now.

Here are some highlights:

Alex and I have our weekly Thursday night routine of watching “How to Get Away With Murder” on ABC and subsequently freaking out about the plot twist at the end of each episode. This is usually accompanied by snacks and lots of cozy blankets.

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In lieu of actual pictures of Alex and my super fun friendship sleepovers, here’s a dramatization by two kitties. Super cozy!

I attended VMI’s Midwinter formal on Valentine’s Day with Clark! As a self-expressed lover of dressing up, it was such a fun evening!

Flowers from Clark - sunflowers are my favorite!

Flowers from Clark – sunflowers are my favorite!

Midwinter Formal!

Midwinter Formal!

Brunch is a very important part of my life. I cannot express this enough. Here are some pictures of brunches I’ve had with people I love!

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Panera with Alex, Abby, and Meika

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Brunch at Sweet Treats in Lexington with Clark

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Candid of Abby at brunch in Moody!

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Candid of Clark at iHop for brunch :)

Clark and I visited the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, VA which was…odd to say the least. But we truly enjoyed the visit and intend on going back on a warmer day!

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I GOT A FISH! Meet Tofu!

Tofu being the best fish ever! I love him!

Tofu being the best fish ever! I love him!

As I write this, we’re in the second day of a very cold but blissful snowstorm. Such a calming reminder of how quickly things change – it was 65 degrees F last Sunday! Still, campus is gorgeous when blanketed with snow.

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Until next time

-P

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