April 30, 2012


To read more from Prithak, visit www.astonehillexperience.wordpress.com

Why it matters to me…

Many things happened today; I had my Peer Mentor Interview; I found out that I need to work on controlling my accent to be a good public speaker (I know, accent kicks in again); I had two really thought provoking discussions in my HOPE and MOSAIC groups; and I got selected for the prestigious ALANA-A Brothers and Sisters Leadership Program. (Yes, I was jumping with joy after it actually sunk in that it was real).
Lots of different things you would say, (and you are probably thinking- “this kid talks a LOT!”) but funnily and unconsciously, I went back to the same notion again and again throughout these many different encounters: diversity, individuality, empathy. [*Phew* those are some pretty strong words for a college freshman to talk about, right? Maybe I am just rambling for all you know lol.]
Now, as anyone who knows me well enough will also know that I am pretty involved on campus: Hall Council, Diversity Committee, Clubs, discussion groups etc. Also, as anyone would know, I am also involved specifically with Diversity a lot. I spoke to the faculty about it, I spoke to the Board of trustees about it and I always speak to my fellow peers about it. So, what is the thing with Diversity and me? Why do I even care about it? How does it matter to me? Come to think of it, I am not even from this country! I am just a simple international student like possibly many other international students in this country, whose sole purpose for being here should be to achieve what they have come to achieve! Diversity plays no role in that!
Why should I care if some people have some silly preconceived notions about me? Why should I care if some people place me in stereotypes when they try to assess me? Why should I care if people think my accent makes me different? Why should I care if I am not like the hundreds of others around me?
Well, you see, the problem is not why should I care, the problem is that I care.
Yes, I care. Why?
I honestly have no idea.
Maybe it is in knowing that sometimes feeling “different” is a much more disturbing notion than feeling “alike”. Maybe it is in knowing that having no one to relate to can be much more difficult than having too many friends to hang out with. Maybe it is in knowing that sometimes you don’t have the same access to a life as ten others around you; or maybe it is in knowing that you have a life that tens of others don’t.
I don’t know why I care for what I care. I just know that I do.
I might not know why this concept of “inclusion”, “diversity”, “individuality” means so much to me. But I think I do know what matters to me: it matters to me if someone doesn’t have an ear to listen to them; it matters to me if someone doesn’t have a mouth to speak to them; it matters to me if someone doesn’t have a shoulder to cry on; it matters to me if someone doesn’t have the arms to hug them; it matters to me, if someone feels it’s wrong just because it’s different; it matters to me if someone feels they are wrong just because they are different.
Diversity, social justice, inclusivity, and leadership are pretty big words for me. I probably care for them, but I still have to figure out why. But what I do know is that I have learnt it’s not the differences in a person that really matter, but it’s the person who matters more than the differences.
Yes, I care and no I don’t have any big reason to. I don’t have any dreams of changing the whole world etc etc. like some other amazing students. I will be honest. I am just a freaking stupid freshman! But what I do know is that to me what I care for matters a lot, and I think that’s what makes all the difference. J
Love, thoughts, and smiles
P.s: A shout out to my family on Stonehill who helped me reach this conclusion! You know who you are J Also a shout out to the amazing ABS leaders, both new and old, for the thing you stand for! Know that it matters…and it matters a lot!
P.P.S: I promise the next post will be about more mundane things and not super reflective stuff! lol

Reflections from Thomas

The following is a reflection piece by Thomas Noah '15, an ALANA-A Brother. To read more from Thomas, visit www.tnoah55.blogspot.com

ABS Training

One of the activities we did for the training was to draw the idea Image of an ABS leader. Not going to get into details about it but one major charateristic my group's little ABS leader had was being open-minded. We literally drew him open-minded with symbols coming out of his head. A globe, a peace sign, a gay pride flag, and the cross and other religious symbols. The point is,  I have always been an open minded person, but since I've been at Stonehill and involved with the Diversity program and ABS, my mind has been expanded. Well, mostly in a different way I can not explain. Being at stonehill definately made me realized not everyone come from the same walks of life. AkA not everyone grew up in a diverse environment, we all have different backgrounds. I am constantly reminding myself, mostly through Aristotle's philosophical theory of the identification of catharsis. AkA putting your  self in someone else's shoes and identifying with that person. This help me understand majority of the time where people are coming from when they are being ignorant. In other words, stay patient and keep my cool. Patient and cool is definately not what the high school Thomas would have done. The aggresive, homofobic, sometimes ignorant and unaware Thomas. The don't give a dam what you think or say about me Thomas. In other words, I thought I knew it all.   

My other favorite activity wasn't much of an activity, it was a movie called "The Walkout". It was basically a documentary about five students from East L.A who decided to make a difference. They stood up for their rights to a better and equal education against the school district. Persistence allowed them to continue to push on, despite the police brutality attempt to stop them. Despite all obsticles, they won over the school district and the public by starting a walkout. All it took was five brave and determained high school kids.

The gneral story reminds me of my own personal project, starting a wrestling club at Stonehill College. I currently have the support of Dean of Admissions Dan Monahan who is willing to coach, if everything go as planned. Unfortunately the Athletic Directors refused to get on board with us. Their excuse? "Budget cuts..Too many clubs, blah blah blahh..." Typical excuse they've given to students in the pass who attempted to start a program. Thanks to determination of those five students, I am not giving up anytime soon. I have three more years to make it happen! 

March 22, 2012


Whenever I meet a group of people for the first time -- via workshops, classes, or training sessions that I facilitate -- one of my favorite introductory exercises starts like this: "One thing you can't tell just by looking at me is __________. That's important for me to share with you because _________."  Participants are then asked to complete the sentences and share with the others their answers. Mine usually goes like this:
"Hi! My name is Liza. One thing you can't tell just by looking at me is that I am an avid runner, I have run half marathons, and I am incredibly physically fit. That's important for me to share with you because I am a plus-sized woman, I wear a size 16, and most people assume that women with my body are lazy, fat, and don't care about their health. I'm here to tell you that I'm fit, fabulous, and love how strong my body is both inside and out."

As we go around the room, people share interesting details about themselves and why those details are so important to them. We then talk about how we often judge people by how they look and the dangers of making assumptions about folks.

As the mother of a son with brown skin, the wife of a husband with brown skin, the aunt of nephews with brown skin, the sister of brothers with brown skin, and a mentor to many young people with brown skin, I am terrified by the death of young Trayvon Martin and of the death of DJ Henry (a young college student from my hometown).  The men and boys in my life already have learned the rules of "looking suspicious" (rules that the young white males in my life do not need for survival).

But, when they have done everything right, and still get hassled, treated as suspicious, or worse, beaten or killed, what is there left to tell them? 

Do I tell my son to not leave the house? To never wear a hoodie? As he gets older, we will tell him to always carry ID, to be well spoken, polite to law enforcement, and to cooperate if he is ever pulled over or pulled aside. Though he may be angry at what is happening to him, he will learn that his anger in the face of authority will rarely lead to a good outcome. He will make decisions about whether or not he will want to, or whether his heart will call him to rise up, protest, and refuse to be treated poorly. And, my husband and I will support him. We will love him through the struggles that come with being a young, brown man in our society. We will love him through the "it's not fair!' and the "why me?" and the "why are they treating me this way?" Because we have been there, and unfortunately, hearts and minds don't always change quickly.
The other day, Joli said to me, "Mommy, if you were a smurf, I'd call you Beauty Smurf." I replied, "Oh! You're so sweet! You think I'm beautiful?" She said, "Well, no, actually. I'd call you Beauty Smurf because you like to put on so much makeup that it covers up your beauty. So, if I call you Beauty Smurf, maybe you'll stop. Your face is pretty, brown, and beautiful."

Pretty. Brown. Beautiful.

One thing I hope my children, and all children of color, can tell just by looking at me is that being brown is a blessing. It is beautiful. Being brown does not mean we are suspicious. Wearing a hoodie does not make us suspicious.  We are people. We have futures.

And that's important for me to share with you because a family, a community, and a world lost another young person simply because of how he looked.

When my brother-in-law, an African American man, turned 25 years old, my sister wanted to throw a party -- not just to celebrate his birthday, but also to celebrate an age that many young, Black men do not reach because of violence.  On Saturday, my beautiful, brown son is turning 3 years old.

I pray each year that he has many, many, many more. And, I pray that we create a society together that embraces -- and does not condemn -- him for how he looks.

Peace, love, dignity and humanity,