Engaging Reality in Theatre: Young Performers, Empathy, and Injustice

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By Ronit Mandelkern

I texted my best friend, Claire, “I honestly think theatre is too close for me to talk about.” I suppose a background story is needed. Theatre was my sanctuary from when I was six until the end of high school. I felt safe on stage. Nothing could hurt me. Outside, however, I dealt with the pain of losing my mother, of dealing with moving to a new school, of having a step-mother, of change. Everything hurt—but I was the performer—I was in my own reality. As I became each character or improvised in theatre class, I could scream or cry or even yell and no one knew that it was coming from a place of desperate pain. I was six when my mom died of Breast Cancer. Too young to process death, too expressive to internalize it, I needed something like a sanctuary. And there it is. The stage became my sacred space: a place both engaged and disengaged from reality, separate but linked to my identity. It was a universe in which reality paused, and life was lived as I performed it. Reality was oftentimes too confusing to understand and too difficult to live in. I needed theatre, and to be honest, I still need it today. Continue reading

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Sugar Never Tasted So Good: Gender, Sexuality, and Sex Work in the Age of “Sugar Babies”

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By Naomi Liss

In the time of sexting, tinder and “hook up culture,” what it means to have a romantic or sexual relationship has changed. While many use online dating sites to simply find a romantic or sexual partner for personal gain, more and more young people, particularly young women and femmes (people identifying with femininity without necessarily identifying as women), have opted to become involved in romantic and/or sexual relationships for financial benefits. Though the practice has been around for some time, “sugaring” has become increasingly popular with the rise of dating websites, such as “Seeking Arrangement,” founded in 2006, designed specifically for young people to find “sugar daddies” or “sugar mamas.” Those who become involved in romantic and/or sexual relationships in exchange for allowances, gifts or help paying bills are known as “sugar babies.” While anyone can be a sugar baby, young women or those presenting as women, who seek male partners are the most common sugar babies. For my research I intended to learn more about the phenomenon of sugaring. Why do young women and femmes get involved? How does the practice of sugaring differ from other forms of sex work? As I am part of many communities made up of mainly queer women and gender nonbinary people, I was interested to learn more about how the practice of sugaring may affect young women and femmes’ sense of identity, especially those with gender or sexuality identities outside of the norm. Continue reading

On the Circuit: Grindr and Emotion

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By Jeffrey Bigman

Towards the beginning of the 1976 film Logan’s Run, the titular character, who is preparing for a party, walks over to a hollow metal cylinder in his room and summons a date holographically. The first person that appears is a man, muscular and shirtless, and Logan shakes his head disapprovingly. He grabs a remote and tunes the holograms the way one would tune a radio until a slim woman in a tunic appears. Then Logan welcomes her into his apartment and tries to have sex with her. After she repeatedly tells him no, he asks her if she prefers women. “No,” she responds, “nothing, I—I felt sad. I put myself on the circuit. It was a mistake.”

This prescient scene predicts the age of app-based sexual encounters that would not come for another thirty years. Now, through apps like Grindr, people do summon others to their apartments in order have sex with them. Through these encounters the Internet transforms suddenly, as it does in Logan’s Run, from a theoretical space where one exists only in photos and language into an inescapably concrete encounter with another person’s body. Continue reading

Creative Entrepreneurship: Learning to Value Uncertainty in Uncertain Times

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By Julia Jung

Exploring Start-Up Culture

In Silicon Valley, California, I grew up surrounded by startup culture—surrounded by people who encouraged innovative ways to create economic value. Although Silicon Valley is well known for their tech boom, this mindset was not limited to those in IT or traditional workplaces. The capitalistic urge to commodify everything is prominent in most industrial countries. We are told to be efficient and make the most of our talent, which is often used synonymously with making money. Numerous classmates in high school begin selling what they had initially began making as a hobby or way to express themselves such as customized shoes, jewelry, and handmade cards. Entrepreneurship is a path that many youthful individuals choose to take, not only as an alternative to the traditional academic path but often as an additional way to follow a passion that they feel they could not devote their entire career to. Continue reading

Yoga: From Tradition to Trend and Back Again

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By Abigail Dennis

Yoga is…

Breath – The stilling of the fluctuations of the mind – A sport – Transformative – Transforming – About finding liberation – Detachment – About the mysteries of the universe – Rehabilitative

Yoga is about life. It’s not about flexibility or gymnastic prowess. It’s about life. It’s what we’re doing here, sitting still in front of the highway, it’s about your life with your friends and your family, it’s about your life in the restaurant, it’s how you are on a bicycle, it’s how you are at your work every day with your colleagues. It’s not just what happens in that studio for an hour and a half every day; it’s off the mat. Yoga is all off the mat.” – Steward Gilchrest (Who Owns Yoga?)

The word “yoga” has represented so much throughout time and across space. From an ancient Indian tradition to a modern western trend, it has made its way across the world and become a significant part of millions of people’s lives in the process. Researchers estimate that today over sixteen million people practice yoga in the United States alone (White 2012). But it is not only the scale of yoga that I find interesting – it is the practice itself. I started this project because I was curious about how young people experience yoga within the modern western world today and how that relates to yoga’s origins. I am interested in how yoga has existed as a religious phenomenon, whether that use of yoga persists today, and how this compares to how modern youth in the west experience it now. As a striking case of east to west globalization, I wanted to know what it is about yoga that draws so many practitioners and how, or whether, yoga has maintained its authenticity through this movement. I have found that although in some ways yoga has changed significantly over time, in others it has remained close to its roots and today allows young people living in the modern western world greater agency over their lives both on and off the yoga mat. Continue reading

Fuck It, This Is Class! Youth Smoking Habits and Attitudes

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By Amy Sokolow

Smoking kills. We all know that. Presumably that is a given among modern-day youths after decades of research has drawn direct relationships between smoking and lung cancer. This does not even consider the other consequences such as yellowed teeth, damaged gums, and brittle skin, among others. In my American education, these facts were drilled into us like algebra equations. Smoking has become demonized in American society, and No Smoking zones litter our streets, campuses, and public spaces. Almost no one in my immediate social circle smokes even occasionally at home. Therefore, the times I left the U.S.— and the insular bubbles of my hometown and my small liberal arts college— I was shocked to see youths smoking everywhere. Otherwise healthy-looking people smoked on the Tel Aviv beaches, outside of Dublin pubs, or while sipping café con leches on a Madrid terrace. Continue reading

Academia’s (Ab)Normal: Reconciling the Minority’s Double Consciousness in the Institution

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(Cover: http://www.amsterdamunited.org/project/itooamuva/)

By Nina Mesfin

“The training of the schools we need today more than ever,–the training of deft hands, quick eyes and ears, and above all the broader, deeper, higher culture of gifted minds and pure hearts.” – W.E.B. Du Bois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” (2007: 5)

Before I arrived at university, I did not know that you could make a career out of academia. I expected to waltz in, study hard for four years, then waltz out again. I was completely unprepared for the world I would soon find. Despite my immersion in a hyper academic environment, pursuing a career in academia seemed intangible for me: a woman of color. This stemmed from the fact that professors who looked like me were few and far in between. Although many treat university as the great equalizer, a space where all of one’s past struggles and experiences cease to matter the moment one steps foot onto campus, academic institutions exacerbate differences in lived experiences. For the first time, I became acutely aware of my intersectional identity and acquired the tools necessary to articulate what I had only ever been able to describe as fleeting feelings. Continue reading